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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Susan May Warren's eBook The Story Equation

As serendipity would have it, I read yesterday (all in one sitting) the wonderful book by Susan May Warren entitled The Story Equation, which confirms my own thoughts in my previous post. Just like yesterday's blog revealed, I'm of the character-driven mind-set when it comes to stories, so I abhor those articles and books and such that say I must answer a one-hundred-question form as to each main character's (trivial) backstory, including high school attended and pet's name. Rubbish! And what a waste of time. [I read a Kaizen book two days ago, so I'm even more into efficiency, plus loving this main principle of Kaizen: DO NOT PRODUCE, TRANSMIT OR ACCEPT WASTE].

As Susan explains in her book, her process, dubbed the SEQ (shorthand for the book's title), is about emotions and values, more intrinsic descriptions that define our heroes and heroines.


Plus, once we have the main plot points drafted (via her special brainstorming timeline), she teaches us about a unique concept: starting from the end and working backward as we consider our scenes needed. That way we know what to foreshadow, and we stay on track with our main plot, the character's growth, the theme of our story. She actually has a separate step where we focus on the conflict, making sure we escalate the three try/fail cycles and also give our hero(ine) enough motivation for his/her journey.

I highly recommend this book. Can be read in about two hours and fifteen minutes. Take notes!

Now I'm off to type up highlighted portions from Susan's book into an Excel spreadsheet as a brainstorming/plotting checklist template for my own use.


"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tips on Creating Characters

I just read an article from Darcy Pattison on creating memorable characters. See it here: http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/why-people-forget-your-character/?utm_source=Fiction+Notes&utm_campaign=71f48904bb-RSS_EMAIL_WEEKLY_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6e22eab634-71f48904bb-394131281&mc_cid=71f48904bb&mc_eid=3bc089de7a.

Five main points were set forth:
  1. Darcy reminds us to mention our main characters (who don't have active parts in our current scenes) every forty pages or so (which Dave Farland also speaks of too), even if you only have one character note the absence of another.
  2. Use name generators to come up with the right name for your character. [Here I must add in not to name any of your characters with the same first letter. So don't have Mark, Mary, May, Matt and Mike all in the same story. It's too confusing for your readers. I'd even go so far as to suggest that you never have a character name that repeats the first letter of another character name within the same book. I know I'm guilty of skimming character names while reading, reducing them to that very first letter, so Clark becomes C, Dale becomes D, Amy becomes A. So don't give your reader a chance to get confused by naming two characters with the same first letter to their name. Just saying ... Also you will find plenty of name generators online, so you don't need to limit yourself to Scrivener's option. Plus you could search baby name books and gather your own "best of the best" list to choose from. Be sure to mark out each name you've used in a previous book. That way you can create a memorable Abigail in a book or series that remains the one source (your own monopoly) where your readers can find this particular character.]
  3. ID your character via a tag from the sense of sight, touch, hearing or smell. [I'd go further to include emotions (angry, depressed, manic) and even something related to their professions (artsy, aware, competitive).]
  4. Show, THEN tell. [LOVE THIS ONE. I always hate it when some author tries to tell me a basic writing strategy that doesn't work 100 percent of the time, like the infamous "show, don't tell." In general, yes. But there are plenty of times when a simple "telling" transition (Three weeks later ...) or a short emotional line (Jesus wept) is all that is needed. As authors, we are told to leave out the boring parts (always good advice). That is precisely what "telling" can do. So FINALLY someone has noted the importance of "telling" when needed. In fact, this new and improved adaptation even tells us creative types WHEN to apply the "telling" portion. Just plain genius.]
  5. Deepen the plot. Darcy's article reminds us that the more we authors relate the character to the plot, the more memorable the character becomes. "More at stake emotionally" as Darcy states.
Good advice. Good reminders of some things we knew. Good insights into others.

Like there are plotters and pantsters, I also believe we authors fall into two distinct camps as to plot versus character. I'm of the mind-set that the main character rules. Not that you should go the episodic route instead of utilizing a plot with its key plot points for the well-known genres, but that plot is the stage for your main character(s) to shine. To me the character arc is the learning lesson for the reader, with the story arc pinpointing the character's growth, even how we readers can duplicate his/her successful attack of a similar problem.

Had to share this with y'all because Darcy Pattison's words invigorated me as I'm writing Book 1 of my first-ever series. Hope you enjoy her article too.

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Do You Have the Mind-Set of a Freelancer?

I've been freelancing for almost nine years now, and I can see (back in my former legal assistant career) where I had a soul-deep yearning to be my own boss. Even before that. When I asked for a dictaphone for Christmas when I was barely thirteen (or younger). When I had this teenage affinity for (home) office supplies.

NOTE: I'm at an-home freelancer who gets my projects via email, as versus a freelancing handy(wo)man who needs reliable transportation to get to his/her gigs. Therefore, I'm writing from that viewpoint where I don't require a car to do my job. Now, I do need a vehicle to get to the grocery store for weekly purchases ... unless I go the more European route and walk/bike there daily. Which is always an option.

So, what are some of the telltale signs of an entrepreneurial bent?

  1. You can always think of another (better) way to do things.
  2. You have no problem sharing these ideas (whether solicited or not). Ha!
  3. You are never bored.
  4. You are self-driven.
  5. You have many interests.
  6. You are determined, persistent. Other people may call you stubborn. Embrace it!
  7. While having $0.83 as your bank balance for three weeks is not optimal, you have food enough to last you. Your mantra is: I have enough for today. I have a roof over my head. I have clean clothes to wear. I have hot water. I have a working stove and a full pantry. My favorite flip-flops haven't worn out yet.
  8. While having $0.83 as your bank balance for three weeks is not optimal, even though you tend to be a worrier, you are surprisingly calm and peaceful. You know another project is coming shortly. You just don't know exactly when. And you are okay with that.
  9. While having $0.83 as your bank balance for three weeks is not optimal, it doesn't stop you from seeking out new clients or starting another stream of income. Like me, I'm an Indie author who copyedits to help pay the bills. And, at the start of this my second career, I worked at a pizza place for nine months to tide me over.
  10. While having your car die in your garage is not optimal, you realize it's better than having to tow it home (as you can't tow it to the repair shop yet because you can't pay a mechanic to fix it, no matter the cost). You choose to pay your quarterly estimated tax to the IRS instead.
  11. If freelancing is your gig, it's best to have a roommate (with a working car).
  12. If freelancing is your gig, it's best to have a freelancing roommate whose "bad" months (short on money) are not the same "bad" months you encounter. Like for me, working in publishing, my slow months each year are October through December. Some years all three months are slow. Other years just one of those three months is slow. It's a surprise as to which month. Stock up on canned goods earlier in the year to compensate for this period, like canned meats (tuna, salmon, chipped beef), canned soups, canned fruits, canned veggies, rice, pasta, beans, grits, oatmeal and the like.
  13. Freelancers must be better at dealing with hopes that have not yet materialized in this physical world. And still hoping for these things years later if needed.
  14. You must be able to give up short-term wants and conveniences for the long-term needs that satisfy you, that keep you out of a job or an environment where you are not appreciated and where you would just stagnate and die a slow and painful death. For instance, in my legal assistant days, I would go to the movies weekly and pick up food on the way home (instead of buying movie theater snacks). As a freelancer, I can't remember the last time I went to a movie in an actual theater. I may have gone in 2015, but it's probably a safer bet to go with 2014. Or 2013. You decide what's more important to you.
  15. Some months you will have no money coming in. And yet you don't freak out.
  16. Some months you have one lone $35 deposit. And you forge ahead regardless.
  17. If you are a die-hard freelancer (you know your purpose in this life; you have a set of ethics you live by; you have a manifesto, a creed, that you won't violate), then you turn down projects that aren't a good fit for you, even when your car has been dead in the garage for more than two months now, even when you haven't enough money to pay your mortgage yet this month (and it's the twenty-fifth of whatever month), and you still rise to defend your choice to be a freelancer against the naysayers who are determined to change your mind (even after all the years I've done this). Ahem.
  18. On the flip side, at least with my hands-on business, you have two consecutive months where you earn more than enough to pay your monthly bills but had to work 230 hours or more each month to make all the deadlines. Phew! Those are hectic times. And I love 'em.
Granted, you could be a hybrid, having a freelancing line of work that follows your passion, supplemented by delivering pizzas part-time or even a full-time corporate job (if you are young and can still burn the candle at both ends).

Some people are just better suited to work for others in a 9-to-5 job (what I call a "corporate" job, as my catchall term for nonfreelancers). These employees need the stability of seeing a paycheck come twice a month and knowing it will always be the same $1,000 or whatever each time. You are needed in this world. Go find a place that appreciates you and give the company your best efforts.

Maybe the corporate workers want benefits too. Just be aware that, as a freelancer, I have free Obamacare. Not that I need it or use it. I'm healthy with no need for medications, not prescription and not even over-the-counter aspirin and the like.

And if you're looking for matching 401(k) plans, I'm afraid you won't run into those nearly as much as found even one decade ago. And the gold watch at the end when you retire from the one company you've worked at for forty (or more) years? Does any company do that in 2016?

Plus, even if you are the type of employee to stay with a company for forty years, do you have any guarantee that said company will be around four decades from now? I worked decades with law firms and went through four downsizings myself. Not fun. Look at the Big 5 publishers, who used to be the Big 6 publishers and, in another decade, may be the Big 2 publishers (with Amazon being #1).

So I've said all that to say this: Don't criticize my choice to be a freelancer (especially after I have done this for 8.5 years and counting). It's my choice. I'm the only one who gets to decide what's right for me.

Just as you corporate workers have every right to decide what's right for you, such as working 9-to-5 for other people.

Both kinds of people are needed. Just because someone drafted a blueprint for the next generation car doesn't mean s/he has to build every one of those vehicles himself/herself. Even a third option, the hybrid worker, has a place in this world. And I just wish everybody was more accepting of our individual needs and rights.

We should dispense with judgment-by-labels and simply observe if a person is empowered, is happy, is fulfilled in the job that he or she does. For, to me, that is the stick by which I measure. Plus, I'm still able to pay a mortgage based on my legal assistant earnings (which greatly exceed my freelance earnings to date). But that could change with the next ebook I publish. You just never know.

Here's to following the beat of our own drummer. No matter what the dream-stealers have to say.

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Just uploaded my latest ebook on October 14, 2016. I write these books as much for myself as to share with others. Enjoy! For the Amazon link, click here: http://amzn.to/2eehrh0. And now for the cover reveal:

I think we all need more self love to counteract our internal critic. Here's some preventative medicine.

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Copyediting Process Explained for Prospective Clients

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.
Enrique Jardiel Poncela
When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing and subsequent copyediting.
Enrique Jardiel Poncela (as added to by Denise Barker, freelance copy editor)

This post will answer the usual questions I get when an author is searching for a copy editor (the spelling and grammar police), which post I hope streamlines the usual flurry of e-mail exchanges between me and my prospective client at the beginning of our relationship.

Thank you all for considering me.

1. My Copyediting Duties: NOTE: These are my duties I've determined to carry out as a copy editor. I cannot confirm what other copy editors do. In other words, I go above and beyond the usual grammar and spelling edits. I follow my own creed, applied to each and every book I copyedit (as I do for those I create myself), called the Nine Cs of Effective Writing, as follows:
See my previous blog post (original version since amended) on this subject for further details here: http://livingthedreampublishing.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-eight-cs-of-effective-writing.html.

2. My Background: I've been a professional freelance copy editor for 8.5 years as of this writing, my first 5.5 years with Harlequin, overlapping my current work strictly with Indie authors. In my initial career, I was a legal assistant for decades to defense/trial attorneys and also some trademark/copyright/patent attorneys. So my former career needed the same skills that I utilize in my current career: my particular legal knowledge gained from reading the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (and related Intellectual Property rules), my attention to detail, my innate spelling and grammar expertise, my firsthand knowledge of the 16CMS rules as to fiction works (from my reading of said 16CMS fiction rules) and where to find the needed nonfiction rules (regarding bibliography entries as versus endnotes and such) as well. I double-check myself against the 16CMS and Web11 regularly during a copyedit, especially 16CMS when coming up against some unique sentence construction created by an author. I've worked on more than four hundred copyediting projects to date, all timely returned.

3. My Request for Author's Pertinent Background Info: Should you send me an e-mail to inquire about my current availability or other copyediting-related matters, please attach a five-page writing sample from the book you wish to have copyedited, which sample must have some dialogue therein so I can adequately determine how "clean" your writing is (how well you know both grammar and spelling rules). Please also inform me as to whether this is your first book or your tenth or whatever, and include a short book description so I know the subject matter and genre. I appreciate those who follow these instructions, which streamlines the prospective client process.

4. My 2016 Copyediting Rate: My current rate for this year is $0.011/word count (based on the submission's actual WC as confirmed by Microsoft Word's own tally), which general 2016 fee is subject to some caveats that may raise my usual rate or will have me not taking on the project no matter how much you paid me. If the sample provided by the potential client shows every line of dialogue has multiple punctuation errors, I will bow out of copyediting that project, as I find it triples my time spent on such a book and generally makes me one grouchy woman. If the sample work shows massive grammar and spelling errors, I may undertake the copyediting job but will charge more than my usual going rate to pay me for the extended time involved. I also reserve the right to refuse to work on some projects that involve descriptive physical and verbal abuse of women and/or children and other such subject matters (yet murder is fine, as long as the bad guy gets caught. Go figure).

5. Microsoft Word (MSWord) Documents Only: I don't work on Mac docs.

6. My Preferred Author: I love working with prolific authors of various genres, all with a wonderful gift for storytelling and a better-than-average grasp of the US English grammar and spelling rules. While I will take on new or "newbie"-like authors at times, the vast majority of my clients are multipublished authors with a grand command of the US English language, who love my work and respect my abilities as a copy editor, and I love and enjoy their work and respect their abilities as great storytellers. We have formed a mutual admiration society of a sort. And I'd love to keep it that way as I bring in new clients.

In that vein, any professional author knows to spell-check his/her book before passing it along to anyone, be it beta readers, CP groups, much less an agent, a traditional-publishing acquisitions editor, a freelance developmental editor or a freelance copy editor or the like. Right? Right.

And any professional author knows not to watermark every page of his document with the words Copyright Protected or some other obvious restatement as to their Intellectual Property rights. If you know anything about copyright protection, you know you are covered (up to $5,000 I believe) the minute you type the document. Don't tell me about mailing a copy of said document to yourself. I'm so exhausted from refuting that nonsense. The Properties info on your MSWord doc predates any mailing to you of said doc. You could lose a court case just by going with the later date and the opposing side having an earlier one! Duh! Ask your IP attorney if you don't believe me.

Also, but please check with your copyright lawyer to be sure, you don't have to file a copyright application with the USP&TO to retain some (the up to $5,000 noted above) coverage. However, from my understanding, if you do file a copyright application, you can sue for more than the basic $5,000. The last time I checked, the USP&TO was charging $35 per application online. Visit uspto.gov for updated information. Just FYI.

On a final note, don't do what a newbie author did recently. Don't tell professional Indie authors or your professional copy editor that your rights are your own, like we don't already know that. OMG! That's one of the main selling points of being Indie, of going Indie over trad-pubbed. Not to mention such a statement shows the newbie has no knowledge of copyright law, plus just insulted the professional Indie authors, like any would stoop to steal the uninformed newbie's work to pass it off as their own. Sigh.

The newbie obviously doesn't know what Indie publishing means or entails, plus distrusts all-too-easily the very Indie authors whose group the newbie wishes to belong to. A newbie putting people on an instant defensive footing like that is a newbie with a very judgmental and highly biased mind-set, which is not the way to make friends or to endear the very writing professionals who could otherwise have greatly mentored said newbie to become a professional Indie author one day too. Rant over.

7. Getting Started: Once I discern the author's writing level from the sample submitted and learn the actual WC length of the doc to be copyedited by me, I can then give the author my proposed deadline for return of a Track Changes version of their original submission (based on any prepaid documents already in my queue, which will be worked before any additional projects come my way). Said deadline is contingent upon (1) full prepayment of my copyediting fees via PayPal being made immediately to hold the book's spot in my line, (2) that I actually received said funds in my special PayPal account (to be divulged later), said receipt confirmed via my subsequent issuance of my prepaid statement which notes the deadline date therein, (3) that the most recent author-approved version of the intended manuscript to be copyedited has a WC that matches the WC used to figure my full prepayment amount and (4) said author-approved latest version of the doc to be copyedited by me is sent on that same date as prepayment is made but to me via LivingTheDreamPublishing@gmail.com.

Should a payment not show up in my PayPal account at some point, I'll notify the author. Once that happens, the related deadline given is automatically rescinded. My business is very fluid. I can press Send on an e-mail to a prospective client and come back to my in-box to see my new e-mails include three 100K WC projects. All prepaid. So my prepayment-in-full rule holds a spot in my line, based on the time of arrival on that day, if need be. If you pay later, you may get a deadline one month later, which is usually the outer limits of any of my deadlines.

Only three times in the last 8.5 years did I have so much work that I didn't think I could return all in thirty days. So, when I get a 300K WC project (or know one is coming down the pike), I block off a four-week period to accommodate such a huge undertaking, and I'll adjust my new deadlines accordingly, with an explanation as to why I've exceeded my generic "within a month" turnaround time. I've actually returned some TC docs to their authors in as few as five days' time. It just matters how backed up my queue is and the length of said docs.

I do build in some buffer time within all my deadlines to accommodate for electrical outages or me getting sick or other such "surprise" events. Also, with each project I turn in, I notify the remaining authors in my queue at that time of such movement in my queue and if it allowed for their deadline to be moved earlier. That way all authors awaiting a TC doc from me are updated as to any new and improved deadline related to his/her manuscript.

NOTE: This freelance copyediting business seems to have a lull at the end of each year, whether October through December fully or just one of those months (I can't forecast which unfortunately). So keep that in mind.

8. FULL Prepayment Required (nonnegotiable): Since I charge by the WC, the author can easily multiply $0.011/WC x the actual WC of their submission (confirmed by MSWord's own tally) to arrive at my total copyediting fee due, and the author can then pay me in full ASAP via my particular PayPal account. If there is any payment discrepancy (based on MSWord's actual tally of WC on the original doc I receive from the client), I'll either return the overage paid or ask for the balance due before any work can commence on that related project. If the balance due arrives after I've gotten full prepayment of other projects, then the late-paying client's deadline is pushed back to a later date, and I will notify said author of same.

I work on a first-come, first-served basis based on full prepayment made to AND RECEIVED BY my PayPal account (as to time and date, if need be to distinguish a pecking order). I have a specific PayPal business account (not tied to any of my current e-mail addresses) that I will share with any prospective client who wishes to prepay and reserve their slot and related deadline.

9. My US Guidelines: The accepted US guidelines for fiction and layman's nonfiction alike are The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition (16CMS), for grammar rules, and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Web11), for spelling rules (when not overridden by 16CMS 7.85), both sources being the latest editions of each guide and released in this century. These are the only guidelines that US authors of both fiction and nonfiction should go by (unless a medical white paper, that should follow the AMA guidelines, etc.). Beware of any (grammatically challenged and misinformed) persons who state "but everybody knows the rule is ..." if not reciting the specific 16CMS rule or the Web11 preferred spelling or when citing some obscure reference from a book published in another century (or valid for another country, like whatever grammar style guide is used in New Zealand, for instance).

See my previous blog post where I rant about false grammar rules bandied about. Click here: http://livingthedreampublishing.blogspot.com/2016/08/dont-propagate-false-grammar-rules-and_24.html.

Granted, there are other US manuals for newspaper/magazine articles (AP guidelines), for medical articles aka white papers (AMA guidelines), another for Christian writings, etc. Also there are other manuals per each country of a foreign author's residence and for publication therein. But for US authors of both fiction and nonfiction overall (with exceptions for certain "publish or perish" academic "white papers"), the 16CMS and Web11 are the rules to go by. Don't let anybody tell you differently.

10. Microsoft Word Track Changes: I use MSWord's Track Changes (TC) software to electronically mark digital copies of each manuscript I copyedit. If you are not familiar with the ins and outs of Track Changes, visit this site https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUf-IxzXyVk and others like it.

When I return a TC doc to a client, they will see many comments citing 16CMS 7.85 or 16CMS 9.2 and other various and sundry grammar rules, plus some notations of Web11 and Web11 pref. sp. (Web11 preferred spelling) comments where needed. For the author with an average knowledge of the US grammar and spelling rules, I usually find errors totaling 10 percent of the original document's word count. In other words, in average projects, for each 50K WC, I easily find 5K errors, as noted within TC's Reviewing Pane.

I have three stellar authors (out of the more than three hundred different authors I have had the pleasure to work with) who are so knowledgeable as to US grammar and spelling rules that their books fall below this usual 10 percent error ratio. Impressive. And that's from a copy editor's viewpoint, so I mean this is highly impressive and rarely found. Kudos to you three, who I have already shared this awesome finding with.

11. My Process: My heart is all for the Indie author, as I am one too. And I want to show readers, traditional publishers and trad-pubbed authors alike that Indie authors can publish a well-edited book, just like the trad-pubbed authors supposedly do better. However, I'm always finding numerous typos (like twenty or more) in trad-pubbed books I read in my downtime, and each time I send a list of same to the respective publishing houses to hopefully fix them on the next reprint.

For my Indie-author clients, I do two complete read-throughs of each copyediting document to catch as many errors as humanly possible. On my first pass, I'm clearing out all the grammar and spelling issues to make way for a more "whole picture" pass the second time, wherein I find plot holes that some developmental editors have missed, where I find legal issues that could burn the author and where I give them my pat suggestion to "see your lawyer" (as I am not a lawyer. I just used to work for them). I also give writing advice about myriad things, such as utilizing more white space to keep the reader moving forward by cutting down your long paragraphs into smaller ones, especially when thinking of a reader using his/her cell phone screen as an e-reader.

I may also give layman's marketing advice to the extent I know of any, as I am not a marketing guru by any measure. Hire your own publicist for those matters. I may also do some layman's formatting, but I tell my authors to consult their professional formatter, who does all the HTML coding and whatnot that I do not do. Note that Amazon requires a table of contents even for fiction books. So your professional formatter may set that up for you if you haven't already done so in your novel.

I explain certain edits made within the manuscript in a TC Comment as to the rule applied at the first change, not every time the same rule is violated thereafter. Some edits require no explanation, like changing "there" to "their." If I notice an author has a particular "blind spot," I'll point it out as a learning tip in another TC Comment, so the author can apply this new knowledge to future books created. So I teach grammar rules and weird spelling issues, and hope some authors take it to heart and use it toward clearer communication next time around. I make every effort to spell out any issues in the Comments section of TC. However, if the author still does not understand a point or two, I'm willing to answer a couple e-mails of questions after the work is turned in. But this rarely happens.

12. On or Before My Stated Deadline: I will return the TC doc to the respective author usually before the deadline date I gave when I was first hired to work on said project. In fact I return 99 percent of my projects early (before the stated due date) and only the rare 1 percent of my projects are turned in on the actual due date. I have never missed a copyediting deadline in all 8.5 years I've been doing this. I have never missed an attorney-related/trial deadline in all the decades I worked for them either.

The TC doc will, of course, contain thousands of detailed edits and comments for the author to review and Accept/Reject. For my new clients, I provide a cover letter, which basically sets forth the info found here, along with a very general overview of the work I did for said author, noting where most of my time was spent (those "blind spots" I mentioned earlier) and other general issues. I will also remind the author in my e-mail sending these documents how I already sent my prepaid statement for services to said author on a particular date, at the time the PayPal funds reached my specified PayPal account.

13. What I Don't Do: I don't work in person with anybody, anywhere. My workplace must be distraction-free for me to do my best job. As noted earlier above, I don't do professional formatting, but see my layman's formatting post here: http://livingthedreampublishing.blogspot.com/2016/08/a-laymans-basic-microsoft-word.html. I don't do professional publicity work; hire your own publicist. I'm no lawyer; contact one of your choosing. I'm not a marketing guru either, nor will I design your cover nor create your online book description (but will happily copyedit same, if you provide me with one).

I'm also not your virtual assistant. Meaning, if I tell you that I have an opening to squeeze you in on October 21, 2016, don't ask me three more times to tell you what date it was again. Hire a personal assistant or a virtual assistant or the teenager down the street to keep track of that stuff, or simply buy yourself a physical calendar and handwrite in the reserved date the first time I tell you this via e-mail. We're adults, folks. We each have our own responsibilities. And this one is not mine.

I don't give out my prepaid phone number for obvious reasons. I may charge for extraneous e-mails to capture my time in the form of a hourly wage (currently $35/hour). I don't do contracts, especially one-sided abominations. And the two people who asked me to sign a contract had trust issues based upon someone's actions earlier in their life, but for which I seemed to be the one to pay for such indiscretions. That insults me to no end as I refuse to be lumped in with the untrustworthy thieving cads in this universe. I also refuse (but with much less venom) to be lumped in with the generic label of "all women love to shop at the mall." I'm an individual and should be respected for who I am. So don't even ask me to review a contract, much less create one. I'll mark your e-mail as Sp*m in a nanosecond. I've wasted days in that fruitless and maddening endeavor and have exhausted my patience for dealing with it. Forever. I hope those two found copy editors better suited for them.

14. The Freelancing Entrepreneur versus the Indie Author Who Copyedits: When I'm wearing my businesswoman's hat, I am endeavoring to run a successful business (without burning the clients, but also without any client with an excessive e-mail habit cutting into my time for which I've been prepaid to work on other authors' manuscripts with the ticking time bomb of corresponding deadlines). So, as I get more clients, I do need to reduce wasted time and capture some otherwise unpaid time of mine and turn it into revenue-producing time. The bigger the tribe, the more need for rules, right? Plus, I am a copy editor. I'm all about concise and efficient communication (on both the receiving and sending ends).

Now, as the freelance copy editor who has a real heart for the Indie author, I'm frank but tactful when needed; I share my knowledge of various matters to help each author understand the underlying tenets applied, if only to make sense of our sometimes confusing US English language. As an author myself, I know how criticism can sting, so I'm very careful how I broach any suggestion to my clients. I never want to discourage any author at any time. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, I may seem impatient at times, yet I am extrapatient when handling copyediting changes with clients. I hope you can appreciate the difference.

Thanks again for considering me as your future copy editor. Regardless of your decision, I hope you find the best copy editor for you. db

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Two Great Quotes to Live Your Life By

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. Alice Walker
 Complaining isn’t a strategy. Jeff Bezos

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Quick Tip re Obamacare

DISCLAIMER: I'm no expert on Obamacare. However, I do my own taxes and have read the related IRS literature (which was confusing to me that first year), but I figured out the right forms to use the next year. Further, I'd prefer a more preventative-based plan (eating organic foods, etc.) than only a fix-it-now-that-it's-broke mentality, plus I lean toward holistic and homeopathic treatments rather than what is currently offered by traditional medical practices. Also I find it offensive that age is the factor which determines the Obamacare premium amount. I'm healthier than most twentysomethings and thirtysomethings, yet I get charged more than twice as much. There are always exceptions to these pat generalizations. And I should get some added benefit for being healthy to begin with, with no pre-existing conditions and taking no medication whatsoever (not even aspirin or other over-the-counter meds).

That said, here's my tip as Obamacare currently stands and per my understanding of the plan:

My two-person household (both freelancers) can earn up to $75,000 total a year and still qualify for the free Obamacare.

Yep. It amazed me too how high the earnings threshold is. But, when you offset the earnings with the insurance premiums the government is paying monthly for my particular household ($483 and $217 per this year's coverage through Molina), then the combined $75,000 earnings for two people don't seem so high when $8,400 a year ($700 a month) is the cost for medical insurance to cover the said two people. Yikes! Glad I'm not paying for that. Would rather have half of that paid to me for buying organic food instead. The government would save half, and I could eat healthier. Just saying ...

Of course this may be a moot observation if Obamacare is rescinded.

Denise Barker
Author, Blogger and Freelance Copy Editor

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Quick Tip for Those of You Who Create Your Own Beauty Products with Essential Oils

I ran across this great idea in my readings of various blogs which I subscribe to. If you are making lip balm (without citrus essential oils or other EOs that shouldn't be in plastic containers but should strictly be in glass ones), consider storing your creations in old contact lens cases. Pretty ingenius way to recycle, right?

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor