Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Happy Election Day, USA!

Not planning to vote? Check out some of the third party and independents I posted yesterday.
Don't know where to go to vote? You can either type "Where do I go to vote?" into Google and enter your address when prompted or click here.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

An Election Break


The biggest tragedy about this election is NOT that the Democrat candidate is Hillary Clinton (a person who has no regard for the laws of this nation and thinks she is above them) and the Republican candidate is Donald Trump (a person who is guaranteed to only make decisions that benefit himself)—although that is definitely a tragedy big enough to hang your head in shame when people ask if you are an American.

 

No, the biggest tragedy is that 90% of the people who step into the pole booth on Tuesday will believe that those are the only two candidates from whom they can choose. So depressing was that thought to me, that I almost considered not voting at all in this election. Now, for many of you, not voting is a common thing. For me, I have only missed two elections in which I could vote in my entire life. Last year, we moved on October 30—that means that I would have been voting for local representation in an area where I no longer lived if I had chosen to vote, so I didn't. There was also one election in an "off year" (we only vote for three years in Indiana and then take a year off) that was simply a referendum that I had no opinion about.

 

I have since revisited my decision not to vote. This is the year when a third party SHOULD be able to overturn the other two. The Republicans and Democrats have been in league with each other for years to the point where they have really stopped representing the ideals on which their respective parties were founded. They have long stopped representing "We the people…" The instead represent whomever gives their party the most money. This is not me, and I would be willing to bet it is also not you. The top two parties have also ensured that other parties do not make it on the ballots because they are the ones who write the laws for who can make it on the ballot. Some laws they have concocted are literally so restrictive in their wording it would be impossible to get on the ballot unless you are the Republican or Democratic nominee.

 

The top two are also broken because they allow ANYONE to vote in their primaries. That means I, as an independent who frequently votes across party lines, can go down and vote for the Democrat nominee without even remotely wanting to be in the Democrat party. In my state (Indiana), I do have to choose whether I want to vote for the Republican or Democrat and I cannot vote for both, but the one time I did it I was not given the chance to vote for the Libertarian, which tells me their primaries must be more selective. Some states allow you to vote in both the Democrat and Republican primaries (so I have heard). Why? Shouldn't only registered party members be voting in primaries? Yes, they should if you truly want a representative of that party.

 

However, as I said before, the Republicans and Democrats are only one party. A vote for one, is a vote for the other. Both support their top donors. I literally have somewhere in my garage a signed letter from a Senator stating he would not ever vote for something and then a printout showing he did in fact vote for that thing. In the next election, this senator advertised that he did not vote for that thing (but his voting record showed different). Thankfully, he is no longer in office, but I am pretty sure he is not alone in his deception especially since both of Indiana's current senators have advertised they would never vote for X and then turned around and voted for it! When was the last time you actually checked the voting record of the people you vote for?

 

So, I will be at the poles but I will be voting for a third party. There are actually some really SOLID choices this year. I am encouraging you (1) to please share this with all your friends and (2) please do a little research and check these people out; you may find you support their party beliefs more than you support your traditional Democrats or Republicans. DO NOT BUY INTO THE HYPE THAT THERE CAN ONLY BE TWO PARTIES. The reason that statement was first made historically is because by the nature of our elections (the person with the most votes wins even if the most votes are 25% of the total votes), only one or two parties will make the voting laws and thereby make it difficult for a third party to get in. That is the purpose of this post. If you live in a state that has barred third parties from being on the ballot, WRITE IN one of these candidate names below—unless you truly want to vote for Trump or Clinton (keep in mind though, a vote for Clinton may actually be a vote for Trump if he can get a felony tacked to her by January). 

 

LIBERTARIAN: Gary Johnson (former governor of New Mexico) Libertarians believe that states (and ideally individuals) should make most of the laws governing America. They see the Constitution as the ultimate document for determining law. Traditionally, they support abortion, but they believe a person who disagrees with abortion should not be forced to pay for it (in other words they would remove government funding but allow it to remain legal). This candidate does have a vested interest in the marijuana industry (he used to be a CEO). He supports legalizing it at the federal level and allowing states to decide- similar to what our current president has supported. Despite what I have heard a lot of Democrats say, Libertarians are more aligned with their actual beliefs. (Democrats tend to tell me Libertarians are just Republican but this is not true.)

 

CONSTITUTION: Darrell Castle The constitution party supports the Constitution, but they see the Bible as another important document in determining law. This party is most aligned with what the Republican party believes. This candidate is pro-life. He believes the U. S. should exit from the U.N. and he would like to get rid of the Federal Reserve. Although the Constitution party is on the ballot in more than 20 states, plan on writing his name in if you want to vote for him.

 

GREEN: Dr. Jill Stein The Green Party believes in putting the environment first (big surprise, I know) and where the environment is silent, they tend to be Democrat in thinking. Their platform revolves around protecting the environment. This candidate supports public ownership of all energy sources, banning pesticides and other toxins, ending fossil fuel extraction that is disruptive to the environment, labeling and getting rid of GMOs. She would like to outlaw insurance but create national healthcare, and she supports any form of abortion.

 

There is actually a long list of write-in candidates that you can vote for, but these are the top three. A few others (who are on the ballot in 5-20 states) to research are:

 

(No party) Evan McMullin

Party of Socialism and Liberation Gloria LaRiva

Reform Party Rocky de la Fuente


Socialist Workers Party Alyson Kennedy (that is the official platform website, I couldn't find a specific webpage for her. Ballotopedia has a clearer presentation of the party platform but I don't know how accurate it is.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why is it when you look online you can find many different ways to do Harvard style citations?

So, one employer asked me to take a test to show I have editing skills. This is not the first time I have employers require tests (even though I have already taken tests through Guru and they are displayed on my profile). However, as all of you should know, editing is not cut and dried: This is right; this is wrong. Yes, certain things are right and certain things are wrong, but there are some things that change depending on the style manual you are using. The last time I did an editing test for an employer, I was told I failed because I did not know which style manual they were following (after the fact, I determined it was probably Chicago style, which is my least favorite).

Before taking this test, I asked which style it would cover. I was told APA and Harvard. The first part of the test was simple, but then the second got tricky. When I came to the first Harvard style question: "Which is the correct way to cite this reference in Harvard style?" Neither of the two answers was correct: (Wayne, Smith, Johnson, & McClennen, 2014) OR (Wayne, Smith, Johnson and McClennen, 2014). The correct in-text, parenthetical, Harvard style citation would be (Wayne, Smith, Johnson & McClennen 2014). This happened for three questions- I only guessed correctly one of the three times.

Needless to say, I went online to find out why this test was messed up- after all they had to use some resource that obviously wasn't the original (which is the Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th Ed. 2002). What I discovered was that people are confusing Harvard style (which is a complete style guide) with the Harvard system of referencing. I also think I know why Harvard style is called Harvard style even though it is from Australia.

It all started when a Harvard professor decided to use the in-text citation at the turn of the 20th century. The other methods of citation use footnotes and endnotes (Vancouver- IEEE uses this). Technically, any parenthetical citation in-text is the "Harvard" system and that is probably why the AGPS became known as Harvard style. However, some people use "Harvard" to refer to the name-date parenthetical style. This is where it gets confusing. If, as some people on the Internet claim, Harvard style refers simply to a citation system where you use the name and date in parenthesis- it has nothing to distinguish it from, say, APA which is also a name-date citation style. In general, if professors and journals want any name-date style, they will simply say use a "name-date citation style." (Or that is what they should say rather.)

Internationally, commas are frowned upon as a general rule (sad, but true). So the AGPS, which is the official style manual of Australia, is an international standard when house style manuals are not used. Keep in mind that Harvard style is a full style guide. If you are writing a thesis in Austrailia, you will be required to follow it. Harvard referencing or the Harvard system of referencing only means you should not be using foot- or endnotes. Keep in mind, though, that many of the websites talking about Harvard referencing (1) Are university websites compiled by librarians and seem to be based on what the librarians themselves prefer, and (2) have no clue what they are talking about: One stated that MLA was a footnote/ endnote referencing style. MLA is actually a parenthetical style (like Harvard) that uses the author and page number (instead of author-date).

So, that is why there is the confusion about style online. Some people (and universities) have created their own style guides using Harvard referencing as their citation method. This is very wrong of them to do. If they want to use Harvard referencing, they should call it the name-date system to help avoid confusion. Especially since they use "Harvard referencing" to specifically mean name-date as opposed to parenthetical referencing. In general, I think it is due to a lack of knowledge- kind of like when I bought the Harvard Blue Book, which is not a style manual but a legal citation guide. To further reduce confusion, Harvard style should go back to being AGPS style, but that will probably not happen.

So, your professor told you to write a paper and you don't know if you should follow the style manual or just cite works using an author-date system- what do you do? First, if you follow the Harvard style manual, you won't get marked down- or if you do you have a case you can present and you should win. (You did know you can appeal university grades, right?) Second, if you don't want to purchase the Harvard manual, you could just use its method of citation (follow the link above under "Harvard style"). Third, you could ask your professor what exactly is meant and impress (or irritate) him or her with your knowledge of citation and referencing systems. Or, fourth, you could hope your professor meant Harvard referencing, find a citation method that is name-date that you like, and be consistent throughout.

Consistency is the key with anything. That is the whole reason style manuals were developed- so you didn't use serial commas in the first paragraph and drop them elsewhere (for example). In fact, that is the whole reason Webster wrote the dictionary- so there would be more consistency in spelling. As an editor, consistency is the number one thing I have to fix.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What is an ISBN number?

Someone sent me a comment on another one of my posts, but I am not going to publish it there because it was slightly incoherent and one of the things the person was griping about was a typo that I have since fixed. However, I would like to clear up one argument the anonymous person raised about the ISBN.

An ISBN is a number specific to each book. It has nothing to do with whether or not you own the rights to your book, it has more to do with the way a book is cataloged. It is primarily for distribution purposes.

If you purchase an ISBN, you can distribute a book through CreateSpace or other distributors. Likewise, if you do not purchase an ISBN, one will probably be assigned by the distributor (like CreateSpace). An ISBN is unique to each book. That means that every time you change the book format- i.e. you have a print book with an ISBN and you want to now make an e-book- you will need to purchase a new ISBN. Every time you come out with a new edition (or update your book), you will need to buy a new ISBN.

This person seemed to believe that when you allow CreateSpace to assign an ISBN number to your book, you lose your rights in some way or another and this is not true. CreateSpace needs the number to distribute your book- without it, it cannot do this. If you purchase the number independently, CreateSpace will not distribute through all of its channels. Why? Because the ISBN is like a tracking number- if you purchased it, you should be responsible for tracking it. You should be responsible for distributing it (independently) to bookstores and libraries and anywhere else. It is a tracking number. Registering your book independently means you are going to take care of all those things. 

However, most independent publishers do not have time to do this or a need, really. Add to that the fact that if you are going to use the ISBN system, you need to purchase an ISBN for EVERY edition and every format. It adds up. Especially when all you are purchasing is a unique tracking number and chances are good you are not going to be using it for its intended purpose. Purchasing an ISBN is nothing more than false bragging rights.

So, what is the worst thing that could happen if you allow CreateSpace to assign an ISBN number for free? Well, let's say a big publishing company sees you have been selling millions of books and wants to pick your title up (the only way they will be able to do this is if they looked at your ISBN tracked sales). Well, then when they pick your book up, it will get a new ISBN number assigned to it. Guess what? If you purchased an ISBN number at your own cost and the same thing happened, they would still need to assign the book a new number because it is a new edition when printed by them.

So, although this person tried to make the argument that you could not put your own publishing company name down in CreateSpace/ Amazon records if you used their ISBN and that was important, I have to question the logic. You are not printing the book in your backyard or at your local print shop and offering it on Amazon- they are doing the printing for you. Why not let them put a free tracking number on it?

Now, before you start grumping in the comment section that you want your publishing company name there, consider this: with self-publishing so massive these days, I don't think looking at the publisher and seeing "CreateSpace" is going to have any more detriment than looking at the publisher and seeing Joe Smoe Inc. or Dreaming Reality Publications (my company) for that matter. I get more sales from Amazon.com than I do from my personal website and I don't think that has anything to do with the fact I didn't purchase my book's ISBN. The fact of the matter is, no one has heard of Dreaming Reality, just as no one has heard of your company and so if a reader is looking at publishers they are not going to turn your book down any more or less than if it says "CreateSpace."

However, without expanded distribution, you will lose some of the money and sales you could have gotten if CreateSpace were doing your distribution for you. As I said, I sell about $50 worth of books on CreateSpace each month and $0 worth of books in the lifetime of my website on it. I can still sell books on my website with a CreateSpace assigned ISBN, I can still say my publishing company is Dreaming Reality Publications. Until I am big enough to have retailers and libraries come to me for my books directly, I am perfectly happy letting CreateSpace take some credit for their printing of my work.

Perhaps it is because I see the benefit of extended distribution. Perhaps it is because I think it is silly to purchase something someone is giving you free with only a by-line as the string attached. Or perhaps it is my sense of justice and truth. Really, what it comes down to is that if CreateSpace is doing your printing, why do you want to pretend you are doing it yourself? If your book is good, no one is going to look at the publisher- except to praise it.

UPDATE: If I still haven't convinced you that purchasing an ISBN is a waste of money, please know that only one company per country has the ability to directly sell you ISBNs. In the United States, that is Bowker. As you could guess from my post above: I do not endorse this process. However, please do not purchase from someone else and think you are getting an ISBN for your book and your publishing company when they have sold you junk. Read: The number you have may not be internationally registered (or has already been registered to another book) and therefore it cannot even function as a tracking number! Or worse - you purchase a real, unused ISBN, but instead of being able to use YOUR publishing company, you now must list the company from which you purchased the ISBN as the publisher.

 If you live in a different country, you will need to find your copyright registry, although here are links to a few others that are the legitimate ones for their country: Canada (English), Canada (French), Russia, China, U.K. and Ireland, France, and Germany.

Also, DO NOT PURCHASE THE COPYRIGHT GARBAGE from Bowker. Go to the U.S. Copyright office directly- and I DO recommend copyrighting ALL your work.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Why is it taking the freelancer so long to edit?

So, I push the need for all authors to hire professional editors. However, sometimes it can take longer than expected for the editor to do the work. I, in fact, have had bad feedback because of the time it can take for an editing job, but I want to explain the editors side of it.

On the particular project I am thinking of, if everything had gone the way I had planned it, the project would have taken a month. However, this particular job required a LOT of rearranging of chapters because none of them made chronological sense. Then, our transmission in our van stopped working.

Well, that meant for two weeks I had to spend 4 hours each day just driving - driving to take my husband and kids to work and driving to pick them up. You don't get much editing done while you are driving, but I let the author know what was happening.

When we got the situation taken care of, I settled in, already at my month's deadline, and finished the first edit. I sent it to her, and she sent it back in a day or two. However, instead of accepting or rejecting the changes, she sent it back to me just as I had sent it to her. I asked some questions and she said she was going to upload some pictures for it, and then she disappeared.

Now, in all fairness, she had some family issues that she needed to take care of. She did send me some sporadic e-mails saying she was busy. The process for her took over a month. When she returned, she had expected me to keep editing without her - uh, and she hadn't even told me what changes to keep or reject...

In the end, it seemed as if she just wanted me to keep all the changes I made. So I did - that at least was easy enough. And I started my second edit. Now, at this point, I left my comments from the first time in because she had not addressed any of them. I worked through the manuscript and sent it back to her.

This time, she not only did not accept or reject ANY of my changes, but she commented - in text - when she wanted me to accept or reject them. Now, the first edit I did was a lot of moving things around, this was a bit more than just a grammar edit. When I edit, you can expect an average of 70 changes per page - especially if I am your first editor. She rejected about 30 changes in the entire 100 pages. She did it in text, not using the comment feature, but her "changes" (read comments) showed up in blue. This meant, I had to go through and click every single change, stopping at the blue ones to see what they said - usually "keep this part you deleted" after the deleted section.

Authors, it is very important to learn how to use the track changes feature. It is also important that you go through each change and accept or reject it. If you don't care, just accept everything. Do not return the red manuscript to your editor and expect them to be able to work with it. Do not comment in text because that makes it even more difficult for the editor. Editors should work with changes tracked- I say the one exception is with formatting because you need to see your changes immediately when you are doing that. Keeping the track changes feature on while you accept or reject changes can be helpful because sometimes you may want to make a change that the editor doesn't know about. However, if you want to directly speak to the editor or address comments the editor had made. use the comments feature.

Aside from the issues that came up in my life and hers, there are many other reasons why an editor may be taking longer than expected. For example, the document may have been well edited in the beginning so the editor glanced over that and decided it was a quick job; then, as the editor got into the work more issues appeared. If you did your homework and hired a good editor, you should be confident that there is a reason for the delay. In most cases, a quick e-mail to the editor should resolve the reason. However, keep in mind that if you want a rush job, the editor may not be able to reply to daily e-mails because he or she is working on the job.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Goodreads Book Reviews Post 1

Goodreads is a great way for authors to connect with others. I have talked about some of the review groups that allow authors to exchange reviews. Here are a few of the books I read for the Review group:

(swearing, sex, some violence)
I received this book free from the author for an honest review.
In Strange Worlds by Brenda Cheers begins on page one with tension as the main character wakes in a Melbourne, Australia, hospital. The plotline is solid as the story unfolds we see the main character taking charge of her fate and learning to survive on her own. Plot twists keep the reader turning pages to unravel the mystery surrounding the new world the character has entered.
There were a few things I didn’t like. I thought the author had only done precursory research on some of her topics. However, I suppose it would be easy to brush these off as part of the plot twists, but I don’t like that excuse. I didn’t feel the things that were inconsistent were purposefully placed, but accidental. I also didn’t like the pacing of some of the story. However, this did fit in with the plot twists, so I can accept it.

_________________________

I received this book free from the author for an honest review.
Maisy and the Missing Mice: The Maisy Files Book 1 byElizabeth Woodrum is written in a style similar to the Encyclopedia Brown mystery series with a female protagonist. The plot is fascinating and unique. The author knows her audience and has delivered writing that is spot on for the upper elementary age group. It does not contain inappropriate material, either.
I only had a few problems with the book. There are some descriptions that are repeated. I enjoyed that Elizabeth Woodrum was trying to imitate that Maltese Falcon era style (cue the background solo saxophone), but she doesn’t quite have it nailed with this first book. It will be interesting to read book 2 and see how she has continued to develop this.
Also, once we are introduced to the black and white world, I would have liked all colors to have faded. Instead, Woodrum sometimes wavers between color and grayscale (along the lines of : “her hair was not really the dark gray Maisy was seeing. It was actually a dark, coppery-red mass…”). At other times, she does a great job of keeping it without color: “She peeled the grey shaded peel from the banana…”. This is just something minor, though, in the overall scheme of things.
All-in-all, I am planning on passing this book on for my daugthers to enjoy. I know my oldest will be re-reading it again and again. Any child who loves mysteries will like this. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hiring Me

Over the past year, I have gotten a lot of comments asking how to hire me. I don't make it a secret that I work on Guru. In fact, when I type "Paradoxical Guru" into Google, my profile is the first thing that comes up. It amazes me that after reading my blog and being familiar with my tongue-in-cheek attitude that some of you would want to do this, but if you do hire me, I will give you the best job I can. As you probably know, I don't candy coat things. 

I don't necessarily think it is difficult to find me; however, getting on Guru as an employer can be a daunting task. At the top of my profile, you will see a "join now" link and that is how you set up your own profile. Then you will need to create a job post and make it private if you only want to work with me and aren't interested in seeing what other freelancers have to offer. I actually recommend JoyMC and Pam Pieroni because they have equal or better skill than me. I use them to edit and help with my stuff. They have learned the art of PR and so probably wouldn't be as abrasive as my ADHD makes me at times. 

Once you post a job and invite me, it will show up in my leads. Now, if you invite me to a job for something I don't do- like say you send me a job wanting me to write an app for you- I will either (a) ignore it or (b) send you back a slightly sassy message that says the equivalent of REALLY?! Guru keeps track of a variety of matrices. When you see the listing of Freelancers, the ones that appear at the top either (a) paid for it or (b) earned it. Guru lets you know who paid for it so the ones that are toward the top and not marked as premium bids are the ones that deserve to be there. Part of getting to the top of that list involves not only how well you keep and retain employers (and how much you make) but also how well you bid on things. Every time I bid on a job and someone else is hired, I get points against me and can drop down that list. If I bid on a job that doesn't fit what I do, then my chances of getting it are poor. 

Also keep in mind that I CAN do some things because I have the knowledge, but there are many things I don't like to do. I know about SEO and writing web content, but I hate doing it. If you try to hire me for that, chances are good I will ignore it. I also won't work for peanuts- I prefer pecans... My going rate as of today (read: it will go up in the future) is $4 per page for formatting and proofreading. If you can't afford that, you should save until you can. I am not saying you should hire me, but I am saying I am on the cheap end of the scale for good editors. 

Finally, some times I get bogged down with work, and I may not be able to respond or accept your job. For example, I was recently hired to format and proofread a master's thesis (my absolute favorite job). It was 400 pages, filled with tables and figures that need reformatting and a general mess. I was given a week and a half to do it. That is really pushing my skills to the max and most nights I got 6 hours sleep some nights I got less. I had one guy try to hire me for a job during that time, and he got upset that I didn't get back to him. I told him I was busy and he complained that it only takes a few seconds to send an e-mail. That may be true, but it takes a little longer to check e-mail (which may have more than just his message in it), craft a reply, and then send it. I suppose I could set my e-mail to autorespond with a generic, "I am currently working on a rush job, I will get back to you when I am done." But again, that would take time and I would rather be blogging. And then my life still happens. I now have five children who all require doctors visits and other appointments, as well as a baby who requires a lot of my attention. I am thinking about a vlog for the joys of parenting.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Joys of Freelancing

Over the past year, I have been pregnant and now have a beautiful baby girl by my side as I type. In addition, my son has been struggling with depression and been in and out of the hospital. He was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The best thing about being a freelancer is that it enabled me to take time off throughout the whole year. As you can see from my infrequent blog posts, I took a lot of time off.

We have friends who are going through a battle with cancer. He was supposed to stay in the hospital for several months after receiving a bone marrow transplant, but he left early. The reason was because his wife was going to be fired for spending so much time with him. I thought businesses were supposed to offer leaves of absence in situations like that- but I guess not.

With freelancing, I do have to deal with the guilt of not getting out my next book or blog post, but I don't have to worry that I am going to be fired if I take a year off. I did work some this past year, but mainly for people who had been my employers for a long time. I only did about a fifth of what my annual income should be, but I still got some work done. Everyone who hired me did so with the understanding that my son and I had health issues and that I may have to step out.

I am finally starting to get back into freelancing regularly again, This blog post should be the start of my return to blogging as well (the true sign of my ability to work and balance the other areas of my life). I am thankful that my job is more forgiving about leaves of absence than my friends. I only wish other employers would have a better attitude when it comes to illness and the need for time off.