I’m Tired of the Line

I was thinking today of how I miss the days of neighbors being neighbors, instead of human fence posts divided over a vote (or a nonvote).

I’m tired of the line that says, “Do not cross unless you agree.” Tired of sides. Tired of suspicious looks or decisions to keep a war going without thought of the cost. Because war always has a cost. If you don’t believe that, take a gander at all of the crosses at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

I’m tired of us and them being wielded like blades. Whatever happened to our and we? Whatever happened to together?

I remember, back in 2005, when Hurricane Rita hit Texas, where my parents live. Their neighborhood (outside of Houston) was without electricity for over a week. Since many had electric stoves, they were forced to cook on a grill. Neighbors cooked for other neighbors, gladly sharing what they had.

In geometry we’re told that a line is the shortest distance between two points (though some dispute the type of line). Maybe we could draw a line of connection between each other instead of a line that separates.

Neighbors being neighborly: https://laurabrunolilly.com/neighborly-meals/

Line image from imwithlee.com. Normandy crosses from duffelblog.

This Is Fall

These days, when I think of fall, I think of falling into bed onto my mass of pillows, because of long workdays. And because of said workdays, I think of these:

  

😄 😁 The chocolate came from a friend who sent a care package of goodies. The apple cider donuts are a fall favorite.

But on a day like today, with the weather so lovely, I headed out to snap tree photos (though some were taken on a different day when the weather was equally gorgeous).

 

And I couldn’t help noticing that the squirrels, the usual suspects around here, have partaken of another fall fave. Thanks, guys. ’Preciate it. 😐 😑So glad you don’t have access to my apple cider donuts.

Fall is my favorite season, because of the beautiful colors of the leaves and the cooler weather. Sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit—that’s ideal to me. But I also enjoy the snap of a forty-five degree day.

Today, however, the temperature shot up to 72 degrees. Woooooo—summer is back! (You might be thinking I’ve lost it, if you’re someone who thinks the perfect summer day means an 80-degree day.) Several people were out in T-shirts, enjoying the breeze.

What’s your favorite season? What do you like or love about fall? While you think of that, as promised, I will announce the winner of the preorder of Saint Ivy by the fabulous Laurie Morrison.

 

And that winner is Marian Beaman! Marian, please comment below to confirm.

Author photo and book cover courtesy of Laurie Morrison. Author Photo Credit: Laura Billingham. Other photos by L. Marie.

Check This Out: A Home for Her Daughter

I’m so pleased to welcome to the blog today the fabulous Jill Weatherholt. Many of you know her and love her. She’s here to talk about her latest Love Inspired novel, A Home for Her Daughter, which was published on August 25.

 

      Here’s the synopsis:

One little girl could change her mom’s mind about love…To give her daughter a brighter future…she must leave the past behind. Inheriting a house, money and a camp is the fresh start Janie Edmiston has been praying for. But the will stipulates Janie must work with her childhood friend—and crush—Drew Brenner, to get the camp running…or lose it all. The newly divorced mother and the widower aren’t looking for love, but sometimes it takes a child to show two broken hearts the way forward…together.

Since Jill is known for her Would you rather . . .? interviews, I decided to use the same format with her.

El Space: Would you rather research and write your next book in Paris or Hawaii?
Jill: Definitely Hawaii. I’m not a city person at all. The ocean is my happy place. The sound of the waves, the smell of the salty air, the gentle breeze, the feel of the sand on my bare feet. I’m ready to go now! I could walk for miles and miles. For me, it’s the perfect place to be still.

El Space: Would you rather have to write a novel next to a room in which a baboon will screech for three minutes every hour for nine hours or write with the knowledge that at some point in the day, an unknown animal will suddenly appear (no advance warning) and brush you with its tail feathers for fifteen minutes?
Jill: I’ll take the baboon. I’m not a fan of surprises, so the idea of something suddenly appearing without notice, would scare me to death. Plus, I’m very ticklish. I could prepare for the baboon’s visits. I like to be prepared.

El Space: Would you rather have coffee or tea for deadline days?
Jill: Coffee for sure! I do enjoy tea, and I drink a lot of it in the winter months to stay warm, but I’ve yet to find one strong enough. I need that jolt. I drink my coffee black and extra strong. Derek has often referred to my cup of joe as “motor oil.”

El Space: You’re celebrating the release of your novel. Would you rather have a slice of cake, a cupcake, or the world’s finest granola bar?
Jill: Granola bar? Seriously? No way! I’m celebrating. Give me the slice of cake and cupcake, but only if it’s chocolate. Anything else is wasted calories.

Thanks, Jill, for putting up with my strange questions!
Looking for Jill? You can find her at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Looking for A Home for Her Daughter? (I couldn’t help chuckling at how that question sounded if taken out of context.) Head to Jill’s website for places to purchase. But one of you will find this lovely book in your very own mailbox. Winner to be announced on October 15.

Author photo courtesy of the author. Baboon image from blogspot.com. Hawaii image from Wallpaper Cave. Coffee image from Cup of coffee from clker.com. Granola bar image from the Food Network.

Editing Phases

Not that you asked for this, but because someone I know had nooooooo idea what I’m currently doing to put bread on the table (“Um, writing?” was the guess), I thought I’d share what I do before I announce the winner of John Howell’s scrumptious novel, Eternal Road. Feel free to mentally check out if you’re not interested. Or, find yourself some coffee/tea and a doughnut/muffin/cookie/peanuts/whatever if you are.

 

I mentioned in a previous post that I wear many hats. These days, I am a freelance book editor/writer. Some people think editing is glorified proofreading—that all I do is check for typos and maybe correct a few mistakes in grammar.

Usually, when I’m hired by a publisher to edit a novel, I have to do what’s called a revision pass on the book. During that phase, I read the book and make notes on what the author needs to revise before the line edit occurs. This is the big picture phase. I have to say what works and what doesn’t. This is the place to address issues of character/perspective, setting, timeline, etc. Some big picture issues, however, don’t rear their heads until the line edit begins.

At this point, I’m not yet communicating with the author—just the in-house executive editor, publisher, or managing editor (whoever hired me to do the work). But this is the phase where I might say, “This character is not doing anything for this book. I suggest you cut him/her” or “Maybe this scene should come from this character’s perspective.” I often have to make hard calls like that. Another hard call is to say, “This scene that you’ve probably worked on for two weeks has to go, because it’s not advancing the plot one iota.” Believe me, I’ve been there in regard to cutting cherished scenes. (I’m the one who worked on a scene for two weeks only to have someone tell me to cut it.) So having to say that to someone is hard.

Some of you might be getting mad right about now, wondering how dare I tell an author to cut a cherished scene. But I do it, because that’s my job. I don’t work for the author. I work for the publisher. My job is make sure that whatever book I work on is acceptable to the publisher. So I can’t be a pushover in this regard. After all, would anyone want a dentist to tell you to keep the cavity you worked on for a year? If it’s hurting you, it has to go. But I will do my best to be fair. After all, editing choices are not a spur-of-the-moment choices. They come through a careful analysis of the book.

If the deadline is tight (and I don’t know too many publishing deadlines that aren’t these days), I’ll get a head start on the style sheet while the author revises the manuscript. The style sheet is a list of every character, place, and animal in the book, as well as other important proper nouns (wars, inventions, festivals, setting details), and issues the copy editor or proofreader might run up against. If the author spells a word a certain way (good-bye versus goodbye), that has to be noted as well. Terms that could be spelled a certain way have to be verified via the dictionary to avoid any confusion for the copy editor, proofreader, or anyone else who works on the book. Terms and grammar issues also have to be verified through The Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) and the publisher’s style manual. I have to turn in the style sheet when I turn in the edited manuscript.

It’s a challenging job! Though as I mentioned I don’t work for the author, I am the author’s advocate. Everything is done to help that person’s book to shine.

Reinforcements I sometimes need when the going gets tough

I’ll stop here and get to the winner of John’s book. And that person is Laura Bruno Lilly. Congrats, Laura! Please comment below to confirm.

Edit image from clker.com. Proofread image from dreamstime.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

The Care and Feeding of a Freelancer

I have been a freelance writer/book editor/developmental editor/manuscript reviewer/indexer/copy editor/proofreader/several other hats for many years. I won’t say how many. Suffice it to say that when I started, cuneiform was the hot new mode of communication.

Being the kind and considerate person that you are, you probably have questions about freelancers. Perhaps a stray freelancer followed you home and you’re wondering how to take care of him or her. So glad you asked me to provide tips.

Handy Tips
• Always brush with the fur and not against.

• Be quick to offer chocolate, doughnuts, cake, cookies, other kinds of candy, and salted snacks of all varieties. The freelancer undoubtedly is house trained and won’t make a mess.

 

• Keep your freelancer hydrated with coffee, tea, and especially water during work hours.

 

• Homecooked meals are appreciated, especially during weeks when deadlines keep your freelancer chained to a computer. But don’t be surprised if your freelancer tells you, “I only have eight minutes to eat, so I’ll have to eat and run.”

• Encouragement/affirmations of any kind are welcome. Here are a few if you can’t think of any right off the bat: “You are the most interesting person on Planet Earth.” “Pajamas are a good look for you.” “That book should win a Pulitzer simply because you edited it.” “Don’t worry. I’m sure your client didn’t notice your bedhead in the last Zoom meeting.”

Things to Avoid
• Calling in the middle of the day to ask, “What are you doing?” with the assumption that “Nothing, because I’ve been waiting for your phone call” is the answer. The middle of the day (and sometimes the middle of the night) is prime working time. If your freelancer is anything like me, he or she probably works around the clock and doesn’t get weekends or paid holidays off. (If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.) Also, freelancers often are hired to take on fast-track jobs that regular staff members don’t have time for, hence the tight deadlines necessitating long work hours.)

• Saying things like, “You must get paid a fortune since you are freelance.” Freelancers have things like self-employment tax, equipment replacement, and other worries. Though many freelancers may have a number of projects to work on, the income is not often steady. I waited three months one time to get paid.

• Telling a freelancer, “Get a job with a steady income.” You might think that sounds logical. But have you checked the unemployment statistics lately? Need I say more? This piece of advice is about as welcome as “Snap out of it” is to someone depressed.

And there you have it! Just keep chucking chocolate and affirmations at your freelancer and before long, his or her coat will be glossy, and he or she will continue to thrive.

Now onto the winner of War of Nytefall: Ravenous by Charles Yallowitz. (See this post for more information.) That winner is Jill Weatherholt!

  

Jill, please comment below to confirm. Thank you to all who commented.

P.S. Thoughts and prayers are with the people on the West Coast in the wake of the terrible fires.

Freelancer image from PHXNews.com. Peace dove from clipart-library.com. No cell phone from firstoaktm.wordpress.com. No money sign from crazzzytravel.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

Taking Root

So, a dear friend sent me this housewarming gift:

Because that is what kind, wonderful people do. (And for anyone reading this, that was not a hint for you to send a gift. You’re kind and wonderful without that.)

Though I was really pleased and thankful, I also had this reaction:

Because as far as plants are concerned, I have been this:

I texted a Plant Whisperer friend who knows what to do, since I really want these plants (the basket has multiple plants) to survive. She texted me a gif like the following for the plants.

Sigh.

Seriously, being the great friend that she is, she told me what to do for them. Eventually, they will need to be divided into separate pots. But for now, they seem content to be together.

After examining the basket of plants, another awesome friend (I am rich in friends) told me, “These plants are hard to kill.” Guess they’re like terminators in a way, only they aren’t out to kill Sarah Connor or her son John. (If you’re scratching your head, Google the Terminator movies.)

Plants represent for me the need to be planted where I am. Possessing even one has always meant, “I’m not going anywhere.” So, this plant grouping reminds me to put down roots. (Fun fact: some of the tenants of my apartment complex have lived here over forty years! Talk about roots!)

Plants also remind me to be responsible. I can’t just leave for weeks on end without a game plan for their care. Not if I want them to live.

Do you have houseplants? Enjoy caring for them? Or are you indifferent to them? While you think about that, I will move on to the winner of Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack by another dear friend, Sandra Nickel. See interview here.

   

The winner is Nicki!

Nicki, please comment below to confirm. As usual, I’m grateful to all who commented.

Author photo and book cover courtesy of the author. Rabbits and Grim Reaper gifs from tenor.com. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the terminator gif from somewhere online. Other photos by L. Marie.

Move Update

Hi! Remember me? I feel like I need to reintroduce myself, since it’s been so long. I’m L. Marie. And this is my blog. 😄 😁

Okay, so I moved to the next town over (about ten minutes from where I used to live). Thank you all for your well-wishes. It was a challenge that was finally surmounted.

Out with the old . . .

 

  

. . . in with the new.

    

Kind friends helped with the packing and did all of the unpacking. That’s right. ALL. Due to a very pressing editorial deadline next week (which I’m still working toward), I had to hit the ground running. So, I’m sorry I haven’t been able to visit many of your blogs or even write a post until now. I hope to return to blog visiting when I get this project to a manageable place. For now, here’s this update.

The old saying, “You can’t go home again,” is true in my case. Sadly, my old apartment building will no longer exist soon, as it will be torn down. I have no idea what will rise in its place. But I’ll miss being there, and especially miss my neighbors. We’ve all scattered to various places in the area.

I will miss you, old friend.

Photos by L. Marie.

Moving

  

I’m sorry I haven’t posted much recently. Life has been a bit hectic. I’ve had editing projects, auditions for projects (waiting), and—most of all—I’ve been packing. My apartment building was sold recently, so we all have to find another place to live by the end of the month or very early next month. Sigh. I’ll let you know what happens. I will try to post again before then. If I can’t, I’ll see you when the dust settles. Just know that I miss interacting with you.

Photos by L. Marie.

Grace and Truth: The Tension

    

The other day I heard a sermon by Robert Madu (Google him) on the topic that is this post’s title. I feel you flinching. Don’t worry. I will not preach at you (unless you want to talk privately). But I found it interesting because of the discussion on the dichotomy of grace and truth. Too much grace, and a message is watered down. Too much truth, and compassion goes out the window. Yet it is possible to live in the tension of both.

I’ve struggled to know what to post lately. With so many voices already lifted, what could I add? (By the way, for a great post on giving voice, I recommend Laura Bruno Lilly’s latest post. Click here for it.) And then I heard the above sermon which really hit home to me. So here I am.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that we’re all struggling, hurting, sad, afraid, and overwhelmed. That we all want to be heard. That we all were children once who grew up without all of the answers, no matter how much we pretend otherwise.

So, we criticize, complain, ignore, put down, demand—I feel exhausted just thinking about that list. And by we, I mean me. I’ve done all of the above in just the past week or so. “They see what they need to do. Why don’t they do it?” I grumbled. Truth without grace.

Or, I have thought, Let’s all just move on! Grace without truth.

Living in the tension of grace and truth is not easy. But we need that tension, don’t we . . . when we mess up. When we see someone else mess up. When we’re afraid. When we see someone else with a fear that’s different from ours and we are tempted to judge.

We need it from each other. We need each other.

Grace and Truth images found somewhere on the internet via Bing.

Speechless

I debated about whether or not to post at all in such a time as the one in which we find ourselves. But when I thought about this illustration, I had to post.

You may wonder what this is all about. Mel Blanc provided the voice of many, many Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters (Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, etc.). Consequently, he was known as the man of a thousand voices. After his passing, this illustration was done as a tribute. The title was perfectly chosen. And it describes how I feel these days. Maybe you feel the same. I would add outraged, full of grief, sad, overwhelmed, and struggling to the mix as well in the wake of recent events. Yet in these speechless days, I take comfort in these words:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me . . . to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3

Illustration found on Pinterest.