Checking In Post-Procedure

Hello, everyone. Nothing major to report. I should be okay-ish in about 2-4 weeks. I had a minor in-office procedure done this afternoon and practically ran out of the building screaming because, sick people. If you’re sick, please stay home. Running to a hospital attached medical building might not be the smartest decision. I was there for continuity of care, or I would not have been there at all. I was as careful as humanly possible, but I’m sick of having to be. I am sure you feel this way, too. It’s a LOT.

This week, Peace Talks by Jim Butcher is on my reading list. I included a link in case you want to check out his books (Start with Storm Front, link included). I can’t believe how long I’ve been reading Jim’s books. Fun fact: He and I share the same birthday. The first time I read his work, I immediately knew he was a Scorpio. Jim is a brilliant story teller. If a friend hadn’t recommended his books to me, I never would have found 5-6 other authors, some of whom are friends all these years later. Everything happens for a reason.

I’ll get some writing done, too. After all, it IS my job. 😉

Anyone have interesting plans this week or a book they want to share?

Tools of The Trade

photogrid_1559769284227

Being without my laptop has been trying these past few weeks. I’m SO READY to be writing and creating, and I hate being stalled. Poor thing is a very expensive paperweight at the moment. 😔 I don’t want my creativity to dry up or meltdown. If anything, it’s ramped up considerably. Talk about frustrating! I found something that could be the perfect fit for 75% less, but I still have to wait, which sucks.

This week, I picked up some notebooks so that I could at least get some chapters written. The pens I already had. I purchase a box or two of the pink Uni-Ball Signo pens each year. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The ink is black and these pens are my faves. We won’t discuss how many pens are in my purse at any given moment. I was teased last year for signing something in purple ink while wearing a purple t-shirt, sneakers with purple accents, and I had a bottle of water with me that matched. “Do you usually match your ink to your outfit and water?” 😂 Smart ass.

Current hardcover inspiration: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare, Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu, and Next Level Basic by Stassi Schroeder. I finished the latter this afternoon. It’s decent, but I cringed over the editing, which, in my humble opinion, was not well done. 🤷 However, I supported three different libraries, so that’s a positive. 👍

At the moment I’m on page two of a new scene, and I started reading Red Scrolls a few days ago. I always have 2-8 books in my current rotation. I’m trying not to be too miserable or upset, but I won’t lie; I’m getting there. However, I feel like there’s a lesson to be learned here, so I’m trying to keep calm-ish.

I’m having an in-office medical procedure done Monday afternoon. The anxiety is already creeping in. 😔 It’s 30% procedure and 70% Boston traffic, which is a fucking nightmare, and makes other major cities look GOOD. Especially if you don’t have to view the nearly three billion dollar casino that has yet to open. It looks like it was accidentally dropped off in the wrong neighborhood, except this monstrosity is intentional. I feel like it’s going to be an epic fail, but to each their own. I always come back with a vicious migraine, but after eight months, my migraine medication was finally approved! Celebrate the small things, yes? The photo series will continue.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

li

 

Doubting Myself

All writers have moments when they feel unprepared. Me? On occasion I will say “I wish I were talented.” or “I can’t write this.” In other words, even the best of us have bad days. Or weeks. We all have a little doubt, or we’d be completely full of crap.

I hold it in really well, but I have a lot of doubt when it comes to material I haven’t been writing since day one.

When I first began writing, I did toy around with some fiction. I spent about four or five years writing it for FUN, and when I moved from one state to another, I trashed every single printed page and everything I’d saved it to. Why? Because I took a look at it, saw my growth, and realized that even though it had been fun, it was infantile compared to what I truly wanted to be writing. I didn’t ever want to come across it again because it was nonsense. I decided then that it was okay to read fiction, but it wasn’t in my best interests to be writing it. I did not personally excel in made-up worlds.

Fast-forward and I’ve since created a Dark Urban Fantasy series, which I will be refocusing on at some point in the future (Meaning not today, but soon.), and I am currently working on something I’m not completely comfortable with. However, it is allowing me to explore my emotional depth, and maybe that’s the entire point. Maybe that’s why this story haunted me for months. Maybe it is a reminder that I’m human, and that not every part of me has to be put into storage under lock and key. There are certain lines in the book that are straight out of my own life.

More than once I’ve caught myself saying “Do I have to publish it under my name?” Yes. Yes, I do. I cannot worry about the thoughts of others. I can only tell the story, and move forward. There will be good reviews, bad reviews, and middle of the road reviews. I’m used to that, because not everyone likes my writing style and plenty of people like me even less. Regardless of what people think or say, I still have to tell the story.

For the last few days, I took it upon myself to do some research. I read a lot to see if anyone had anything similar out there, as a precautionary measure. Even if I didn’t know about it, someone could still accuse me of a form of plagiarism. My determination after a few books is that after a certain point, a lot of stories start to blend into one another. Everyone tells their stories a little differently. Some are good, some aren’t, but ultimately I need to stop worrying. Comparing and contrasting isn’t my job. Writing IS.

And so I sit here today, as per usual, with a lower back and left shoulder that are in desperate need of medical treatment. Just walking yesterday killed me, and by walking I mean 3 ½ miles worth. I have no idea how I’m functioning today.

No, I’m not being stubborn. The insurance I had doesn’t cover the doctor I want to see, who is local, so I switched temporarily, just to be able to get in with ONE doctor until I can find someone to see me on the other plan. They told me it wouldn’t go into effect until May 1st, but that I am still covered regardless and not to worry. However, when I went to pick up my medication yesterday, I was already covered by the new plan. I stared at the pharmacy tech and she said “They’re SUCH liars. You can speak to five different people in a day and they’ll all tell you a different story. This happens every day, all day long with these people.” It isn’t the first time I’ve thought that in regard to this company, she just got it out of her mouth before I said something equally as honest.

Technically, I should be at Urgent Care instead of sitting here writing. Alas, this might be another one of those weeks where I don’t get to prioritize my health because of outside circumstances beyond my control. The doctor can’t see me until the end of the month/early May, so Urgent Care seemed like a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, they have bankers hours and I don’t want to show up only to be told they don’t take my insurance. I’d probably lose it on someone. As it is, I have until June 29th to change my insurance AGAIN and then start over with a whole new set of doctors that will be G-d only knows where! What’s the point of having health insurance when no one is accepting new patients OR they’re so far away, it’s utterly pointless?! It’s extremely frustrating to me.

And so, I write. I write through the pain, I try to write it out of my system emotionally, and I desperately try not to sit here in tears when the pain is too much (which is 99% of the time).

There are days I’d like my original life back. One where very few doubts entered my mind, and where being able to walk, sit, stand, think, etc., were not issues because my life wasn’t chock full of agonizing pain.

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

1471222_10152731028111246_2796567550269720068_n

How To Be A Client An Editor Wants To Work With

Author’s Note: These are all true experiences. I will never name names, but I’m not going to filter my honesty either. If something I say here offends you, then you probably don’t want to be a writer. 

11391782_571280002974635_4049651769842289849_n

Not every client I work with is a breeze, but a small percentage are truly fabulous (One I had this week was wonderful.). There has been a tiny percentage over the last 20 years that have enraged me with their constant inquiries, rude comments, whining, tantrums, or those who simply do not understand the process.

It’s 2015, so I think it’s important for writers, especially new writers seeking publication by any means, to understand that editors are human beings. We have families, we have things that go wrong in our lives, and no matter how much we may love what we do, we’re just like everyone else. We have bills to pay, we have responsibilities, children to raise, meals to prepare, animals to care for, homes to clean, clothes that have to be washed, etc. Why would you treat your editor as a lower life form and expect them to respond well to you? I wouldn’t treat a stranger the way some people treat their editors, so here are a few things I feel are crucial information for you to have.

If you’re about to work with an editor or are currently in the process, even for the smallest project, here are some surefire ways to be a good client and not make said editor contemplate a move to a Brazilian rainforest (Another good goal is not to end up on a list of clients they’ll refuse to do business with in the future.)

#1- Don’t call or e-mail within 15 minutes of sending them your manuscript to ask if they’re finished. I JUST started. I’m on page three. Why are you asking if I’ve read the entire thing that you JUST sent to me? Precisely how does one get it into their head that a non-magical entity has just inhaled 100,000 words (or more) in 15 minutes?! It is annoying to the point of something more severe. Here, let me whip out my magic wand…  Don’t do it, and if you’re thinking about doing it, lock your phone in a drawer and change all of your passwords to stifle yourself.

A good editor will update you during the process, there is no need to nag. You may find yourself so excited that you can’t help but constantly send your editor messages, but eventually, even the best editor is going to lose their patience with repetitive questions. The only time it’s acceptable to keep track of them is, if by some strike of lightning, you never hear from them again, which happens to people on occasion. However, a person that responds to you and keeps you updated is working, and you probably aren’t their only job, so be patient. Take this from a person who is being nagged every few days by a client. If strangling were legal…  

#2- Don’t say rude, insensitive, inappropriate, idiotic shit. If an editor lets you know right away that they are dealing with any kind of emergency (We’re people, life/shit happens and it’s not always good.) decide whether or not you can hold out. If they are in the middle of the work, let them finish. Continuity is important. Hiring another editor to do what they’ve been working on is a headache because that person will only start from the beginning and make changes more suitable to their style, and that’s additional time, and money, being spent.

If they just started working and you’ve barely paid them, it’s okay to move on if need be, but don’t take hostility out on them or, if you agree that you can wait, don’t send them messages every few days, or weekly, to ask about the progress. Let them work. If I have to stop what I’m doing to answer your repetitive e-mails, I might not be pleasant, polite, or anywhere near the word “professional”. I might give you one word answers. If I respond three days later, that does not mean I was ignoring you. It means I was working. Don’t make assumptions. 

#3- Realize that every freelance editor does not have a team behind them and/or a slew of assistants. I’m a one-woman show. There are days I knock out 25,000 words in the editing and/or proofreading process and there are days I am only able to get through a few pages. The dirtier the manuscript, the more face time it requires.

#4- Read your work in advance before you submit it. You might even want to read it twice. Use spell check. Hell, use a grammatical tool so I don’t stare at the page flabbergasted by your complete and utter lack of knowledge regarding the use of the English language. “Did she actually write “ancestory” instead of “ancestry”? I think I’m having a stroke. (This happened to me Thursday.) That is not a typo (look at where each letter is on your keyboard), it’s someone trying to sound out a word and failing, miserably.   

#5- You may have a few self-published titles under your belt, but that doesn’t make you a writer. Yeah, I said it. Anyone can self-publish. If you don’t have an audience to sell to and a solid story, don’t make it out to be more than it is. There are some exceptions to this rule and they are people who have properly marketed themselves as a brand. I know a few of them and their decency measures up to the quality of their writing.

#6- You cannot self-promote anything that isn’t edited, clean, and ready to go. It’s childish and unprofessional, and it’s not going to work in your favor the second a prospective agent Googles you and finds your blatant self-promotion, for a book they may or may not want to buy, in places they probably don’t want to see it. They might like your chutzpah, because you will need those skills later on, but they’re not going to want unedited excerpts on every writing web-site from here to Calcutta. Know when to hold things close and even better, know when to keep your mouth shut. Unless something is a done deal contractually, zip it. Afterwards, I’d still refrain.

#7- Write what you know. If you’re choosing a place you have never been and will never visit, you’re not going to capture the essence of the most crucial things, and a local resident or someone who has been there is going to pick up on that immediately. There may be a lot of competition to write about things in major cities, but if you’ve actually made the statement that Johns Hopkins University and their respective Hospital are in New York City when it most certainly is not (Hello, have you ever heard of Baltimore, Maryland?! Unless I’ve had a recent lobotomy, they’re both still there.), I strongly recommend NOT making New York City your setting. (Yes, this happened. I had to walk away from the crazy because insistence does not make something truth.)

#8- Speak to me, on the phone & in e-mails, the same way you want to be spoken to. If you’re incessantly rude, eventually even the nicest person is going to snap. Ultimately, treat people the way you want to be treated, in all things.

#9- You may love your editor, but he/she is not your bestie. Unless we’re genuine friends outside of work, I cannot take time to counsel you on your marriage, friendships, parents, or children. Not when you constantly ask me “Is it done yet?” It’s NOT a piece of chicken.

#10- An editor who knows his or her shit is going to push you to be better. We are going to tell you to re-write, revise, and altogether tell a better story. It’s our job to dissect what you’ve written and help you make it into a cohesive, readable body of work. Telling you it’s the most fabulous thing I’ve ever read when it is not and kissing your ass for writing it “in three months” is NOT in my job description. I can tell when something took no time at all.

#11- There is a relatively long list of words I will cut out of a manuscript the second I see them in an overly repetitive fashion. “Very”, “Awesome”, “Seriously”, “Really” “Totally”, “Umm”, “Just” “Ya” as opposed to “Yeah”, are merely a few. The deal-breaker is “Alright”. I flip my lid every time I see it and you’re out there calling yourself a writer. Don’t insult me, I’ve been writing for 28 years and I’m almost positive I have always known that “all right” is two fucking words, not a creative amalgamation for the lazy. If ever I DID make errors like that, there was always someone present to correct me.

The occasional slip-up is not the end of the world, but if you regularly use the word “Y’all”, or any variation thereof, please exit stage door left so I don’t throw something. I realize it’s a part of some people’s daily vernacular, but if you’ve written it into a book that does not take place south of the Mason-Dixon line, I’m cutting it.

#12- If you want five hundred pages edited in 1-3 days, you’re either looking to hire a machine or highly intelligent zoo animals. Let me know how that works out for you. (This is a regular request. These are the same people who think this level of editing shouldn’t cost more than $30 U.S., not Canadian. I would rather starve for a week than do that much work for so little money. That’s not even my current hourly rate!)

The very best editor for you is someone you have fostered some sort of professional, communicative relationship with, maybe even someone you know who edits and who you have come to respect, but it’s not the person you picked out of a line-up as the cheapest person for the job. Unfortunately, sometimes you get what you pay for and other times you find someone amazing. It’s the luck of the draw.

At the end of the day, I do not have all the answers. I have 95% of them, but not all of them. 😉

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

words

Mid-Week Musings

“This life, which had been the tomb of his virtue and of his honour, is but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” William Shakespeare

I am grateful to have been spared the snow that was predicted for my area yesterday. Yes, there was plenty of rain. Two inches of snow is expected between today and tomorrow, which is easily handled and doesn’t bother me in the least. I am incredibly grateful to be able to write in a home with heat, where I can nurse my injured feet (Don’t ask. I feel like I’ve been in six inch spike heels for a month!) and nurse my post-migraine stomach issues (If this happens to you, I highly recommend Zico Coconut Water. I’ve been religiously drinking it post-migraine for four years. In a pinch, Gatorade or Powerade will do, but they will not rehydrate you anywhere near as quickly, or as naturally, as Coconut Water. Zico is my personal preference after horrible experiences with some utterly vile brands.). I did manage to get some sleep, but I’ve been having the freakiest dreams and nightmares. Whenever you watch a TV show or a movie and you dream about it afterwards, you have to decide if it really affected you or if it’s simply the last thing you saw before going to bed. Sometimes, I cannot decide and it nags at me.

a006a006

Writers are influenced by all kinds of things. I, personally, don’t ever like feeling like I am borrowing or stealing someone else’s ideas. I realize that everything under the sun has already been thought of at one time or another, but that doesn’t make it right in my eyes. I spend a lot of time looking for a more original angle or taking pieces of my own life and twisting them into good fiction. There should be some finesse involved, it’s not something that is easy, but once the ideas flow, the words flow quite well.

I am trying to finish reading two books before starting anything new. Unfortunately, even though I truly want to read both books, my brain just cannot comprehend words the way I normally do. I’m going to blow it off as a sluggish end to the year and not take it too personally. I can always break them out when I’m feeling better. No harm, no foul. It’s incredibly bizarre for me to not be able to finish a book within a day, or a few days, so this long period of time where I am staring at the same page is unbearably frustrating for me. I just might fail my Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, but I’m okay with that. It’s not the end of the world, just something I enjoy participating in. Maybe I’ll skip it next year, maybe I won’t, but I think committing myself to more than 12 books is probably a stretch, so if I do decide to partake, 12 it is.

I realize this is scattered and that my last few posts have been pretty sub-par. I have yet to decide if it’s better to not post at all or to post and be real. Today, you get the real. I’ll figure the future out on a day when my brain decides to fire on all cylinders.

All the best…..L

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

10850173_10152963424857650_5795575199492824192_n