Blog Archive

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gracious, Has It Been That Long?

Hello all,

So it's been over a year since my last post. As a marketing tool, I'm pretty sure that means I fail at blogging. But I'd like to get into the habit of posting here a bit more regularly, and see if it's at all possible to build up a following again, because well-maintained blogs are, in fact, decent marketing tools. They just have to be, y'know, maintained.

My last post - over a year ago, I know, I know - talked about how it would be cool if I could maybe become an editor somewhere. That has happened. I'm still a little bemused and full of wonder over that fact, even a year later, largely because of how it happened.

It's a funny story, really - and also I absolutely can't give anyone any advice for how to break into editing, because, God's honest truth, I became an editor because Neil Gaiman retweeted something from me and the next thing I knew, I had clients.

No, I'm not kidding. This actually happened.

I wanted to be an editor, and had no official, on-the-resume experience in editing, so I didn't know where or how I could possibly get hired. So I sent a tweet to Neil Gaiman, asking him if he knew of anybody who might take an editor with no experience. He has a habit of responding to people, so I figured he might - or an assistant might, heck I dunno - somebody might respond with an idea of where to start looking. Instead, he retweeted my request. Did I mention Neil Gaiman has over a million followers? Yeah. He does.

I got a bunch of responses almost immediately, and to be fair, none of them actually panned out. To be fair again, mainly that was because people were asking questions I wasn't prepared to answer at the time, like, when could I fit them in and what were my rates. BUT, one of those million followers saw the message, and she knew someone who ran a publishing company, and put us in touch with each other, and the next thing I knew I was editing. For almost no money, because it's a small publisher and they can't afford much. But there are different levels of editing, and if manuscripts need a lot of work, they won't take them; instead, they'll recommend editors to their clients to look into on their own dime. So, thanks to them, I've gotten freelance clients, and now I'm editing.

I'm editing on a laptop I was able to purchase with my editing money. One of my clients says that she names her laptops and that I should name mine, and I strongly considered naming it "Neil Gaiman".

Turns out that I don't actually get into naming laptops, so it's just "the laptop". But it's mine and I love it and I only own it because of my editing money, so that's perfectly fine with me.

However! I am not yet self-sufficient with editing. I make grocery money, definitely, and can splurge on things like this laptop every once in awhile, but I don't make enough to pay all my bills, and I'd like to get to that point. So, here I am. Blogging.

Know anybody who wants to publish their story? Have them talk to me. I charge by the word, and what I charge depends on what type of editing they need and how badly the manuscript needs it. And I'd like to get more clients, so, yeah. Pretty much everyone I've had so far has been pleased with my work, except for the guy who was sent to me by the publisher and who disagreed with the notion that his piece needed any editing at all. (IT DID.)

I'm a pretty good editor, I think. But I'm pretty sure I still fail at "marketing blogs".

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where I want my next paycheck to come from


Hello all,  It's like this.  I'm looking for more permanent work than henna art allows me to have, and after some thought, I've decided that I want to be a copy editor.  What follows is a sample worked out during live chat between me and a client:
Client:
On top of that, it had been a big mistake to choose the evening class. The last thing she needed when she was already tired and worn out from her other classes was listening to the professors unusually monotonous voice that seemed designed to lull her into sleep. She spent a lot of her time absently doodling or daydreaming about Tara to keep her eyelids from dropping.
On top of that, it wasn't the best class to have in the evening when she was already worn out from her other classes; the professor had an unusually monotonous voice that seemed designed to lull her into sleep. She spent a lot of her time absently doodling or daydreaming about Tara to keep her eyelids from dropping.


Heather: okay, in the first one, you want professor's, not professors
Heather: and in both of them you want drooping instead of dropping 
Client: yeh, but which one sounds better? 
Heather: i like the first better, though i'd also change it to "the last thing she needed ... was TO listen to...." instead of "listening to"
Heather: unusually monotonous voice, which seemed Heather: in the second one, "that" sounds fine but in the first one i think "which" fits better 
Client: ok, so with all the errors fixed:
On top of that, it had been a big mistake to choose the evening class. The last thing she needed when she was already tired and worn out from her other classes was to listen to the professor's unusually monotonous voice, which seemed designed to lull her into sleep. She spent a lot of her time absently doodling or daydreaming about Tara to keep her eyelids from drooping.
On top of that, it wasn't the best class to have in the evening when she was already worn out from her other classes; the professor had an unusually monotonous voice that seemed designed to lull her into sleep. She spent a lot of her time absently doodling or daydreaming about Tara to keep her eyelids from drooping.

Client: i used to prefer the second one, but now i think i'm leaning on the first one too 
Heather: well, now i like them both equally 
Client: the first one has more words 
Heather: your call
Heather: the second one, add a comma "have in the evening, when" Heather: they both work well and i like them both equally now, so pick your favorite 
There.  As you can see, I'm not actually writing the words for my client; I'm helping her clean up and clarify the words she has already written, by correcting grammar and punctuation and suggesting other word choices.

If anybody out there has a suggestion, or contacts, or anything like that to help me get a foot in the door, I'd be very grateful.  My challenge right now is that, while I do this on a volunteer basis for the ladies in my amateur writing group, I have no actual, professional "on the job" experience to put on a resume.  I've never done it for pay and don't have a former employer I can use as a reference.  All I can do is say, "but I'm really good, honest" and hope someone is willing to believe me and take a chance.
I hate the job search.  Even - maybe especially - when I'm searching for a job I actually want.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In brief

Let's see.  I could go on for paragraphs about how long it's been since I've posted anything, but I'd rather not waste your time or mine.  So here's what I've been up to since July.

Pennsic was crazy.  Spent more time trying to work as a henna artist than just chilling.  Came home burned out on henna but happy to have made the trip anyway.  There is no experience quite like Pennsic and I'd really missed it.

My mother-in-law stayed with us for a week.  It was both weird and pleasant.  She's such an amazing person.

Hurricane Isaac messed with GlobalFest and the final Mosey Down Main Street of the season.  Actually weird weather kept me away from the farmer's market too, for about a month.

I got  hit over the head with not one but six or seven ideas for more fiction.  I don't show my stories to people who I've ever actually met, and I don't get to talk about the writing with my husband because he's not too thrilled that I spend time on it at all.  Not that I blame him, but it's depressing.

On a related note, I now know far more about Ancient Egypt than I ever had reason to learn before, including mythology, standard clothing, a bit of weaponry, typical house layouts, and apparently grammar and vocabulary.  I finally made myself stop "researching" when I realized I was trying to teach myself how to read hieroglyphs.

And I've been commissioned to do some more calligraphy, this time an entire booklet.  Today I spent time making sure that the paper that will become my pages was folded exactly in half, and drawing margins.  It doesn't get much more exciting than that... unless you actually do want to watch the corn grow or the paint dry.

Ah, bookmaking - the hobby for really really fussy people.

Yeah, that's all for now.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Me Write Good, the sequel

So, remember back when I wrote a novel-length fan fiction story in only three months, and then I got all excited because someone nominated me for Best New Author, and the story for Best Drama?
Yeah.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tropical flowers at the farmer's market

As you know, I have a booth at the west side farmer's market every Wednesday.  If you live locally, you also know that we've had some really dry and occasionally really hot weather pretty much since February.

When you combine the two, things get interesting.  For one thing, the market is set on the asphalt parking lot of Cumberland Park, with only token trees to offer a minimum of shade.  Once our popup shelters are in place things start to cool down, but it takes a bit for all the heat in the pavement to radiate out.  I'm really glad of my bamboo rug on the hot days; people tell me that my booth is actually a little more comfortable because of it.

When the weather tops 90 degrees or so, two things appear in the market that you never see at any other time.  One is my foot bath.  It's a little camp tub with a gallon or so of water in it and some ice cubes, and on the really horrible days, the ones where most people just give up and start whimpering, that little thing makes the entire day survivable.  I make no apologies for having a foot bath in my booth; hell, I'be got a bamboo rub in there.  The whole thing is pretty much a portable day spa.

But the other thing that appears is just neat.  The really hot days are the only times - the only times - that you see the little old Indian ladies at the farmer's market.

See, we have a lot of families around here from India, Pakistan, and that general part of the world, thanks to the university and especially its grad program.  We see young moms and dads, and their kids, all the time.  But apparently, if you're in your seventies and you've lived most of your life in a country where the word "monsoon" isn't used as an exaggeration, the weather here is too cold to set foot outside for most of the year.

But when the temperature tops 90 degrees, ah, that's when the little old ladies finally feel comfy, so that's when they come out.  And, of course, being old-school and traditional, these women are not interested in our dippy Western clothing, thank you.  While the rest of us are whimpering in our shorts or reaching for our foot baths, they are strolling in quiet dignity through the market, wearing these gorgeous saris in brilliant red and gold and green, marriage dots between their eyebrows, picking through the vegetables with their little old men nearby to offer their elbows and hold the grocery bags as they go.

It's sweet.

The little old Indian ladies remind me of tropical flowers - all these beautiful, exotic colors that only come out a few days of the year, when the climate is just right.  I always used to think it was my imagination, but I checked with some of the market staff, and no - it's true.  The little old Indian ladies won't come out if the weather is too cold.  It's just that for them, "too cold" is anything under the level where the rest of us start begging for mercy and cranking up the A/C.

Seeing them always makes me smile.