Archive for March, 2012

Weird Editing Requests

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for not pointing out the fact that April Fool’s Day is on Sunday, not Monday, and invalidating the entire first paragraph of Wednesday’s post. I appreciate it. This way I don’t feel like an idiot and can still pretend that I’m funny.


So, I think y’all know that I am an editor by profession. I work freelance, for the most part, with the exception of a couple of different contracts that I work on periodically. Most of the people I deal with are people who have a single project they need help with, which is lovely; it lets me fill up the time in between my contract work and gives me a wide-variety of things to do, which is always good for keeping the ol’ brain in shape. I love trying something new.

Most of my advertising is done on the internet. If you ask, I will tell you it is because it allows me to serve a greater number of clients, but the truth is that the less I have to talk to people, the better. (My husband often, exasperatedly, asks if I could get any more introverted.) All the places I advertise, I make sure it’s clear that I deal in documents. I talk about proofreading and grammar. I give examples of what I’ve done before – resumes, essays, scientific papers, novels, short stories, newsletters, etc. I talk about word counts.

Most people are literate enough to read these and figure out what services I offer. Some people see “Editor” and don’t bother to look any further. And I swear some people don’t actually get that far.

Weird requests I’ve gotten:

  • There was the guy who wanted me to reformat his phone. The hardware.
  • I get a lot of requests for video editing. Also image editing.
  • Someone wanted me to fill out online job applications for him while he dictated what he wanted to put in over the phone to me.
  • I received a request for me to type up a 75,000 word document from the original hand-written pages.
  • Within the last few days, I had a request from someone to edit their music composition. Not the lyrics – the notes. What does that even entail? I’m still pondering this one because I can’t figure out what they expected at all.

Also, people, if you are self-publishing, I do not need your Createspace/Lulu/Smashwords, etc. password to format your book. You send me your files. I make them pretty. Then you upload them yourself and have full control of your financial and creative material. If someone wants that information – don’t give it to them. I bring this up because I have to tell almost every formatting client of mine this.

It’s been busy this week. Remember: Grammar Week next week! Monday we shall explore the proper usage of speech tags.


April Fools!

I can hear you now. Kit, you say, shaking your head, do you have a ceiling turtle gnawing on your brain? It’s still March. April 1st is next Monday; you blog on Mondays. You could do an April Fools post then.

Let me say to you: I don’t get April Fools. I can never think of anything good. All the ideas I have are invariably cruel in some way, and I would never actually do them.

But we’re not talking about that.

April Fools is a writing challenge that happens in – you guessed it – April. You can pick any word count goal you want, starting at 500 words and going up to whatever (I have seen people declare – and make – 300,000 words. And then I never saw them again, so I assume they died in the process.), and there are fun things to help you along, like pips and status bars (usually available every 5K). There are also word count clubs so if you’re only doing 5K you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the people doing 70K.

I know April is a bad month for writing challenges for a lot of people because of school and finals and oh, God, it’s so pretty out, so what’s nice about AF is that is allows you to count words written for school or work, if you so choose. (I never choose.)

For those that like to stick closer to Nano Central, April is also the month for their screenwriting challenge Script Frenzy. (Or Screnzy, as I like to call it.)

For those that are torn, you can count your Screnzy words for AF. Just saying.

Writing challenges, go!

Oh, I do want to apologize for missing Monday’s update. I had a big project I needed to get done, and then my brain died. (Possibly from ceiling turtles.)

Next week is going to be Kit’s Grammar Week, so if that appeals to you, stick around! Tell your friends! Send me flowers!

Too Many Books?

My husband and I will soon have a free shelf. You see, it’s currently occupied by a wooden ship model that I inherited from my grandfather, but the ship will soon be moving to a new room that has a nautical theme. So, free shelf.

There’s so many possibilities for a free shelf. Admittedly it’s not very large, but we could put movies on it, or video games, or decorative turtle sculptures. But we might put books on it, even though it’s in the middle of the family room and every other shelf on this particular case is, indeed, filled with movies and video games.

(We are sadly lacking in decorative turtle sculptures.)

We are in desperate need of more book shelf space. We have three six-and-a-half foot tall bookcases that are stuffed to the gills. Additionally, there are books hiding around the rest of the house. I’ve got at least two on my nightstand. There’s a new Orson Scott Card on the kitchen counter, partially concealed by the wine rack. My newest purchase – The Day of the Triffids, found at my local second-hand store – has joined a stack on the buffet in the dining room.

Plus there’s two boxes of books in the basement, and another three and a half wedged in the office between the reading chair and the bookcases.

One might look around and come to the conclusion that we own too many books. I would argue that there’s no such thing as too many books, but that may be semantics.

On the other hand, I may never get through all the books I do own, and maybe we could stand to stop buying more.

(Admittedly, we have so many boxes of books because our mothers recently made us come home and clear out everything from our old rooms. But still.)

I can’t help it, though – I love the things, and I love that each and every one contains a journey inside. Even if I never get to all of them, there’s something about just being surrounded by them.

How about you, Squiders?

How to Lure In the Elusive Ceiling Turtle

To continue our extremely amusing (to me, at least, and probably Ian) on-going series on ceiling turtles, there may be a point in your life when you actually want, no, need, ceiling turtles in your life.

But Kit, you say, I thought ceiling turtles were a bad thing? Don’t they lurk on your ceiling, waiting for their victims to meander beneath them, before they drop onto your head and nibble your ears? Why would I ever want them around?

While it’s true that the ceiling turtle is a menace, and a pain in the ears, they do have their benefits. You see, the ceiling turtle can also be used to cure eye strain.

It’s true. Very few people can complain of eye strain after a small aerial turtle has eaten their eye.

So if you or a loved one have spent too long staring at a computer, it might be worth your while to lure a few ceiling turtles into your home, even if you’ll have to pay exorbitant amount to have your house fumigated later.

How do you accomplish this, you ask?

Well, you see, there is one thing that ceiling turtles cannot resist.

French fries.

Or freedom fries, if that’s what floats your boat.

I couldn’t tell you if it’s the potato-y goodness or the salt or what, but if you leave some fries out, you’ll have more ceiling turtles than you can train to dance the mamba.

(Only 12 ceiling turtles can dance the mamba at any one time. It’s one of their sacred laws.)

On the other hand, if you don’t want ceiling turtles, you might want to re-think your choice of sides.

Why is Tag Called Tag?

I’m not going to answer that question, I’m just wondering. Does it have something to do with tagging animals? Except it seems like the game is a lot older than tracking animals, so who knows.

Anyway, KD Sarge has tagged me on a writing meme, and so here we are. Rules of the game:  answer the questions, come up with eleven of my own, and tag more people to keep the game going.

1.) Of your characters, who would you most like to have as a real-life friend?

Hm. I think I’ll go with Sara from Bleachers. I tend to twist friendship themes into just about all my stories, but Sara can be depended on to make sacrifices for her friends, and to work tirelessly to make sure things are set right. She’s also able to be fairly open-minded to trying new solutions when her normal standbys fail.

2.) Which would you not want to be around anywhere but in the pages of a book?

Oh man, that’s easy. Paran, the Queen’s advisor, from the Trilogy. I’ve got some nasty characters, but Paran is the king. Here’s someone whose ideas and morals are so twisted that even when you see where he’s coming from, you still can’t remotely justify his actions. Plus he’s not above some truly terrible manipulations, and there is pretty much no limit to what he will do to get to the ends he desires.

3.) When a song bowls you over and you have to hear it again and again, what is probably the reason? (Great voice, real emotion, clever lyrics, et cetera)

It depends. It can be lyrics, or it can be beat, or it can be both. Sometimes a verse will hit just right, and all of a sudden entire scenes can appear. Beat’s probably stronger than lyrics, though, honestly. I like songs based off their beat, but when you get a perfect blending of meaning and musicality, it’s the best.

4.) Of everywhere you’ve been, where was your favorite place to be? (Home is a perfectly acceptable answer!)

I adored York. I’ve been a lot of places, but York has a tangible feel of ancientness. I know that’s not a word. But when you step inside the walled part of the city, something resonates.

I also really liked northern Austria, with the Alps towering overhead, and the deep, dark lakes and occasional forests. Completely different feel from an ancient city, like York, but powerful all the same.

5.) Where do you want most to go?

I want to see the Great Wall of China. Absolute top of my list.

6.) What is the meaning of life? (okay, okay–YOUR life.) What do you think your life is about?

42. Life is hard. I am not a terribly introspective person. But I think that life needs to be enjoyed and shared.

7.) What’s the best thing about what you do for a living?

Since I work from home, I get to set my own hours. And if it’s a slow day, it’s totally okay for me to go watch an episode of Merlin with lunch.

8.) What do you do when you need inspiration?

I listen to music, and I look at nature pictures on the internet. Nothing gets the ol’ juices flowing better.

9.) When you need some time for you, where do you go?

I go to my local coffee shop, grab a table by the window, drink some tea, and do whatever needs to be done.

10.) Plotter or pantser?

Combination. I tend to pants the beginning of a novel, and then, somewhere around halfway, I plot out the rest to make sure that all my subplots and strings are concluded successfully and logically. Short stories are outlined completely before I start, otherwise I can’t get going.

11.) To close with a (fairly) easy one–talk about a book. Any book. :)

I just finished The Island by Tim Lebbon. I’m not typically a fan of his – he’s too dark for my tastes most of the time – but he’s my husband’s favorite author and so, occasionally, I am talked into reading one of his novels so we can have an intelligent conversation about the book. However, I actually really enjoyed this one. Good characters, just the right amount of stuff going on, lovely description. I admit I called the ending from 50 pages out (I said to myself “There is only one logical way this can end”) but I can do that with most books, so.

Let’s see, I shall tag my lovely writing partner Sarah, my sister so she’s forced to update her blog, and the infamous and extremely devious Ian Dudley. You’re welcome to tag yourself as well, if you’d like. Just let me know you’ve done it!

Questions for you to answer:

1.) What was the first story you ever wrote? Spare no embarrassing details.

2.) What’s your favorite nonfiction topic to read about?

3.) How much research do you feel like you need to do before you start a new story?

4.) Writing challenges (ala Nanowrimo) – useful, or merely stress-inducing?

5.) Why do you write your main genre?

6.) What genre/author/book do you secretly love but would never admit to in polite conversation?

7.) What’s your favorite movie-adaptation of a book?

8.) What is your favorite type of cephalopod?

9.) What is your writing tool of choice?

10.) What are your feelings about the proper usage of whom?

11.) What are you doing to bring yourself closer to your writing goals?

Revisiting Picture Books

January I brought up how I was going to be participating in #kitlitart’s PB dummy challenge. It’ll be new and exciting! I said. It’ll be fun! I said.

Turns out writing picture books is really hard.

It’s interesting, because I’ve never really been terribly in-tune with picture books before, but now that I’m working on one myself, they seem to be everywhere. I’ve been getting requests in my editing/formatting business for picture books left and right – and believe me, formatting has not been truly frustrating until you have to convert a picture book into an epub. (Epubs? Don’t like pictures.)

(On the other hand, editing picture books? Lovely. I would do it all day.)

I even went to a critique group last month and someone had a picture book.

Picture books are hard for a number of reasons:

1) How much description is right? Too much and you risk bogging the story down for the kidlets. Too little and no one has any idea what’s happening, and you can only distract them with landsquid for so long.

2) Word choice. A few new words are probably okay, but you have to make sure the kids are going to understand what’s happening.

3) I am a not a child. I occasionally read picture books but am definitely not the target audience, so sometimes it’s hard to get in the right mindset.

I know that picture book writing, like everything else, is something that will take time and dedication, and I’m beginning to wonder: am I spreading myself too thin? I don’t really need to be good at novels and short stories AND picture books, necessarily.

Not to say that I’m giving up. I have a first draft and I’ve gotten some feedback on it. I’ll try to fix it up before I throw in the towel. But it kind of seems to be going the way screenwriting did – interesting, good to try, but not necessarily what I want to do.

Time will tell, though.

How do you feel about picture books, Squiders? Ever tried to write one? How do you feel about choosing formats of writing and sticking to them?

A Medley of Arts

I have a confession. I hang with the infamous Ian on a fairly regular basis, usually every other Wednesday, and a lot of times we will brainstorm blog post ideas, which is why Wednesday posts tend to be a little odd or why, if you read both our blogs, we seem to be oddly in sync at times. (Ceiling turtles. Just saying.)

Today we were waxing poetic on our thespian days (well, I related a story about Macbeth’s blood and how the theater then caught fire, and he told me about secret passages and trap doors) and I realized that a lot of the writers I talk to also have a strong interest in another creative venue. It may be acting, like Ian and me, or it might be drawing, knitting, painting, dancing, music – you get the point. It seems like creative people just tend to gravitate towards creative activities, and a lot of time, will try out a variety and possibly cycle between multiple arts.

I’ve also found that they tend to be doing at least one at any point in time, even if it’s not the main ones. Most writers, even if they’re not writing at that particular point in time, will be doing something creative, whether it’s trying their hand at drawing a comic book, planning their wedding, painting their nursery or crocheting cephalopods.

And they always seem willing to try something new as well. Usually the response to someone starting a new project or challenge is “Oh, that’s interesting, I will try it as well!”

Which leads us to having too many projects going at once, but you know what? I think we thrive on it.

What do you think, Squiders? Any new things caught your fancy lately?

Boo on You, Network Television

I am swearing off network television. Admittedly I only follow, at most, a show at a time, but with rare exceptions science fiction and fantasy don’t fare very well. So I get into a show and it invariably gets cancelled. And I wonder why I bother. Wouldn’t I have been better off just never having watched at all, instead of getting involved and being forever without answers as to what is/was happening?

(We talked about this a bit back in August.)

Back in August, we were watching Falling Skies and debating watching Terra Nova. Well, long story short, the attraction of time travel and dinosaurs proved to be too much, and so my husband and I tuned into Terra Nova. And admittedly at points it was really corny, but I really liked it. I liked that it wasn’t dark all the time like so much of scifi feels it needs to be. And man, the season finale was amazing, promising at all sorts of new mysteries.

So of course it gets cancelled. The show ended in December and they just announced the cancellation last week, after dragging it out for months, waffling so much that they renewed some of the actors’ contracts before doing so.

I knew, since it was on Fox, that it stood a good chance of not making it to a second season, but I’m still disappointed. It seemed to be fairly well-received and was getting decent viewership, plus, come on, dinosaurs.

Between this and FlashForward the year before, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth my time to tune into any new show. Maybe I should just wait until they get a second season before I tune in, just in case.

(Falling Skies, by the by, got a second season, hurrah. So I’m 1 out of 3 of my last three shows.)

How goes your television viewing, Squiders? Breaking your heart? Or does your favorite show continue on? Any recommendations to heal the dinosaur-shaped hole in my life?

Pomp and Circumstance

Rounding out our Kit is Extremely Random Week, let’s talk about Pomp and Circumstance. Also known as the graduation march. You know the one, where they play the same four measures over and over and over while hundreds of people cross the stage and receive whatever is appropriate for their education level.

(Random aside: the full title is Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches, Opus 39, and there are six marches. The part that’s typically played at graduations is part of March No. 1.)

I had a friend in high school who was a bit of a genius at lyrics, whether it was changing existing ones or adding ones to instrumental music. His version of Pomp and Circumstance went like so:

My reindeer fly sideways
Your reindeer fly upside down
My reindeer fly sideways
Your reindeer are dead

Thirteen years later, I still can’t hear the song without hearing these lyrics. If they get stuck in your head forever too, well, at least it helps pass the time.


Reliquaries and Ramblings

Sometimes it’s interesting what hoops you have to go through in order to get internet. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m losing, and it may be very late when this finally gets posted.

(Yep, losing. Apparently this particular university requires you to obtain a guest ID from a professor or someone else otherwise affiliated. That’s so not going to happen.)

Anyway, I apologize but apparently this is Kit is Extremely Random Week. I’d draw you some sort of picture, but I’m mobile and even I won’t subject you to something I whip out in Paint.

Actually here:


It’s a mouse. Who knew that all those years making tiny ASCII pictures in random AOL chatrooms would be good for something?

Well, you can make Star Trek commbadges too: =/\= . DS9 and later era. If you weren’t aware that I am a giant nerd, well, NOW YOU KNOW.

It almost doesn’t seem worth it to write about what I was planning to write about now. I could spend this entire entry complaining about unnecessarily secure networks and making strange text pictures. =^,,^=

But I wanted to talk to you about how creepy reliquaries are. What’s a reliquary? It is a bit of someone, usually a saint, or maybe some of their hair or clothes, but usually some bit of bone, that someone else has stuck into some sort of fancy holder to keep forever.

And then they are put into churches or chapels or other places of worship, and people come from all over to pray to said saint for whatever it is that that saint is known for.

They look like this.

I’d heard of them, but it wasn’t until my husband and I were in Germany not too long ago and they were everywhere that I realized how disturbing they are. Tiny bits of dead people, on display, solely for the purpose of worship.

I had kind of forgotten they existed, but I was reading an article in National Geographic earlier about the apostles and of course they came up. And I thought I would alert you to their existence if you were unaware, because as creepy as they are, they’re kind of neat too. Occasionally, the Church will have reliquaries tested to see if they’re real. And guess what? A lot of time they are the right gender, age, come from the right time period, and come from the right geographic area.

(Sometimes they are fake. Sometimes they are not even human at all.)

And I get to wondering about the power these random bits have. And what if some of the power is actually based in the reliquary, and not in people’s beliefs, and what would happen if what you thought was a bit of saint was actually a bit of something a lot more sinister?

Think about that for awhile, Squiders.

(Dun dun dun…)