Goals too big?

Did you bite off more than you can chew? If your goal's too big, make it smaller.

Did you bite off more than you can chew? If your goal’s too big, make it smaller.

Are you an overachiever? Do you bite off more than you can chew? If you set goals that are impossible to achieve, it’s not going to help you much. Stretch a bit, yes. But don’t make a list that Superwoman couldn’t accomplish. If you realize that you’ve set goals too big to achieve, just come back and change the goals.

Okay, so I’m an overachiever. I started reading and being left at home alone to watch my brother when I was three years old. I got into the habit early. I was trained to push myself until I collapsed, and I did that for nearly thirty years, though I tempered it somewhat over the last decade. Something substantial changed recently, though.

A friend of mine taught me a question that changed my life. Whether or not it was a good change remains to be seen. It drained the Jenergizer Bunny’s battery pack, but it also means that now I treat myself gently instead of like a machine. Of course, that means I’m not getting as much done. I am hoping and praying that it balances out and good wins in the end.

Goals too big to achieve?

Yesterday, I saw my list of goals, and my eyes popped. Holy Hannah.  It occurred to me that even if I didn’t have children (I do), even if I didn’t need to teach them (I do), and even if I had all day every day to devote to these goals (I don’t), I might not be able to accomplish all of the goals I set for the year. Now, if this list had just been examples of goals a person could set, it would be okay. I could say they were just examples, that I didn’t intend to reach all of them myself this year, but that would be a lie and anyone who has known me for very long would see through it!

Here’s the list I made in December:

I worship at home at least five days a week during 2015.

I earn $50,000 by December 31, 2015.

I publish six books by December 31, 2015.

I edit 12 books by December 31, 2015.

I get up at 4:00 a.m. local time, every day of this year.

I write 730,000 words by December 31, 2015.

I write every day and produce an average of 2,000 words a day.

I attend church at least twice a month during 2015.

I paint or do some other art or craft for an hour each week, for the enjoyment and relaxation (recreation), not the product.

I take one action toward cultivating my relationship with each of my family members daily, and one action toward cultivating each of 50 business relationships each month during 2015. This means setting up a contact management system of some kind, by January 5, 2015. ABC the list?

I exercise 260 times in 2015. This is an average of five days a week. A workout consists of one mile or 15 minutes of aerobic exercise or three minutes of anaerobic exercise.

I weigh 175 or am pronounced “in good shape” by my doctor by May 1, 2015. (A word about weight-loss goals: list your desired weight, not number of pounds you want to lose. Why? Because if you say, “I lose 20 pounds by May 1, 2015″ then you may lose five pounds, gain them back, lose five pounds, gain them back…you will have lost a total of 20 pounds by that date, but it might be the same five pounds over and over! So it’s much better to state how much you will weigh in your goal. The human brain can be very tricky! Outsmart it.)

My hemoglobin A1C is 7 or lower, by March 1, 2015. This means checking my blood sugar three times a day and taking all of my insulin shots on time, and possibly decreasing carb or overall food intake.

I read for an hour a day every day during 2015. The only allowable exception is if I’m too ill to read that day. Too busy does not count. There is no such thing as too busy to feed the mind.

I read at least one book a week during 2015, take notes on it, and apply what I’ve learned.

I do what I say I will do, 95% of the time, by February 1, 2015. This means saying “no” much more.

I make 365 sales calls during 2015.

I make 1,300 acts of promotion during 2015. That is an average of twenty-five promotion actions per week.

I spend at least 15 minutes each day with each of my children.

I consciously and deliberately make decisions about my life by setting aside 15 minutes every morning to plan and make decisions. In this way, I cultivate good things and eliminate bad ones.

I attend some form of Mastermind group at least once a month during 2015.

I invest in my business and growth monthly (Platform University, Free Agent Academy, 48Days.net, AWeber, books, etc.).

I obtain a third P. A. C. E. client by January 31, 2015.

My passive income is at least $5,000 a month by November 1, 2015.

I own a Kitchen Aid or Hobart mixer by June 1, 2015.

I have an up-to-code kitchen sink by March 15, 2015.

I install our clothes-washing machine by March 15, 2015.

I have a working automatic dishwasher by May 15, 2015.

I give thanks to God every day for something or someone in my life.

I thank at least one person, daily, during 2015.

I teach my children the principles of success by sharing with them verbally and visually (they see my actions, which tell them more than my words ever could).

I give my husband attention daily and encourage him in his efforts, whatever they may be.

I invest in my children by ensuring that they are at or above grade level in core subjects by March 1, 2015.

I soak in a hottub or water spa by April 15, 2015. (I wrote hottub as one word, so my brain can’t interpret “hot tub” to mean a warmer-than-average bath. Oh, no, I mean the large, multi-person luxury container.)

Some of those have been met. Some of them will be met. Some of them will not.

This list is too long. It’s time to take an ax to it.

Grab a notebook and a pen, or type them up on your computer, but set your smart goals today if you haven't already.

Grab a notebook and a pen, or type them up on your computer, but set your SMART goals today if you haven’t already.

New list of goals

The ones in teal are the ones I’m on track for. For the other ones, I’ll need to step up my game or fail. I usually revisit goals in June, but this year I realized my list was far too ambitious, even for me, so I revisited it sooner. The new list has fewer and smaller goals.

I worship at home at least five days a week.

I earn $50,000 by December 31, 2015.

I publish two books by December 31, 2015.

I edit 12 books by December 31, 2015.

I get up at 4:00 a.m. local time, every day.

I write 200,000 words by December 31, 2015.

I attend church at least twice a month during 2015.

I paint or do some other art or craft for an hour each week, for the enjoyment and relaxation (recreation), not the product.

I exercise 260 times in 2015. This is an average of five days a week. A workout consists of one mile or 15 minutes of aerobic exercise or three minutes of anaerobic exercise.

My hemoglobin A1C is 7 or lower, by August 1, 2015. 

I read for an hour a day every day during 2015. The only allowable exception is if I’m too ill to read that day. Too busy does not count. There is no such thing as too busy to feed the mind.

I read at least one book a week during 2015, take notes on it, and apply what I’ve learned.

I make at least 365 acts toward sales/marketing during 2015. 

I spend at least 15 minutes each day with each of my children.

I consciously and deliberately make decisions about my life by setting aside 15 minutes every morning to plan and make decisions. In this way, I cultivate good things and eliminate bad ones.

I invest in my business and growth monthly (Platform University, Free Agent Academy, 48Days.net, AWeber, books, etc.).

My passive income is at least $1,000 a month by November 1, 2015.

I have an up-to-code kitchen sink by July 15, 2015.

I install our clothes-washing machine by May 15, 2015.

I give thanks to God every day for something or someone in my life.

I thank at least one person, daily, during 2015.

I give my husband attention daily and encourage him in his efforts, whatever they may be.

So, while it’s good to stretch to reach a goal, don’t set yourself up for failure. Feel free to take an ax to your list if there are too many goals on it or if you have made your goals too big to achieve.

Spam comments leading to turning off comments

Due to constant spam comments on this blog, I’m joining Michael Hyatt and others, and turning off comments on this blog. Most of you have never made a comment on any of the posts here (which is totally fine!), so it doesn’t seem to be something that will turn you off in any way. Most of you who do communicate with me do so on facebook or by email, anyway.

If you ever want to make a comment, feel free to go to the HarshmanServices facebook page and do it there, or email me. My email is Jennifer at this domain.

Spam comments waste time

It takes about ten minutes every day to delete page after page of spam comments from my posts. Ten minutes might not seem like much, but when it’s for a hated task, it can seem like a long time, and ten minutes a day is more than an hour a week. Ideally, I can write a couple thousand words or edit ten to fifteen pages in that hour. Time isn’t something that can be “saved up” or anything like that, but even short durations of time do “add up” in a way, if put to good use.

I’d rather devote that time every day to writing, or editing, or looking at videos and pictures of cute puppies. Admit it, looking at cute puppies sure beats deleting twenty pages of spam posts every day. ;)

Spam comments, or puppies? I'll take puppies. <a href="http://www.public-domain-image.com/full-image/fauna-animals-public-domain-images-pictures/dogs-public-domain-images-pictures/puppy-in-leaves.jpg-royalty-free-stock-photo.html" title="Puppy in leaves">Puppy in leaves</a> by C. E. Price

Spam comments, or puppies? I’ll take puppies! Puppy in leaves by C. E. Price

I realize this post is coming out on April 1st, so I want to be sure you understand that no, this is not some attempt at April Fool’s humor. It’s a shame that spammers ruin so much for people, and waste so much of other people’s time. Be safe out there, everyone. Make the wisest use of your time, and yes, sometimes that involves having fun and relaxing. This, from the Jenergizer Bunny. I know. Wonders never cease. Enjoy the puppy.

Who you are, or reader demographics

Some bloggers do an annual reader survey and gather copious amounts of information about their readers and what they want. Others just dive into their Google Analytics account. I check analytics on a regular basis, and in this post, I’m going to share some of that information with you.

Reader demographics

Three out of four of you reading this are women. That’s down from four out of five of you a month ago. My readership was 80% women for quite a while, but that has shifted—it may still be shifting. It’s not that female readers are dropping off; more men are joining us now. I wonder why, and what to do about it. Should I change anything I’m doing, or just keep it the same?

Almost all of you are between the age of 35 and 55. It’s a little different on the HarshmanServices facebook page, with the age range there starting at 25 and extending to 55. I found that interesting, and I think I know why that is. Cathy Jackson, one of the authors for whom I edit, promotes my page quite often, and her readers trend a little younger.

Google Analytics also includes information about your interests, based on what else you do when you’re online.

 

Google Analytics includes information on site visitors' interests.

Google Analytics  reader demographics  page provides some interesting information about site visitors.

None of this is shocking to me. About 25% of you are unemployed and looking for a job and a place to live. That is not surprising because it reflects the true unemployment rate in the United States (which is at the level it was at during the Great Depression). I would have expected more of you to be in the category of “avid readers,” but I don’t know what Google uses to define that category.

I also don’t find this page particularly useful, yet. Now, if it showed that 90% of you were into Christian fiction or nonfiction business books, or that 75% of you were looking for remedial writing courses, that would be some seriously helpful information.

Statistically, one in two households have pets, but you’re not showing up as people who own or are interested in pets, which tells me that you’re probably satisfied with your source of pet toys and pet food and your veterinarian because you’re not Googling those things. Or that you actually do not have pets, which would be head-scratching, indeed.

Reasonable expectations for book editing

You’ve written your book and you’re looking forward to seeing it on Amazon or store bookshelves. Just one big thing is left on the list before that: getting your book edited. If you’ve been published through a traditional house or small press before, you probably have reasonable expectations for book editing. If you’ve self-published and you hired an editor in the past, you probably do, too. If it’s your first time working with an editor, you might not know what to expect, and that’s okay, but you may be in for a shock when you approach an editor. Maybe this post will help prevent that.

Within one week recently, several authors approached me about editing their books, and a few of them had very unreasonable expectations. It prompted me to write this post.

Book editing overnight?

One author wanted me to edit a 350-page book and to have it done that week. With line editing and three rounds of proofreading, assuming an average rate of 10 pages per hour, that would be about 80 hours of work, not counting the important eye-rest time and mental-break time between rounds. The last thing you want as an author is an editor/proofreader who is too fatigued to do her job, so it’s important for an editor to take visual and mental breaks sometimes.

I had to explain to that first-time author that what he was asking for was 80 hours of work to be done in 20 hours, and for me to behave unethically—to drop the book I was working on at the moment and to boot the other people from their places in line in order to work on his book. One of those expectations is simply impossible: 80 hours of work cannot be done in 20 hours by anyone, even yours truly (although I’d love to be able to produce that much that quickly). The other is simply not happening: I’m not going to break a contract with a client so I can land another client. It wouldn’t even matter if the new guy offered double the industry standard rate plus a rush fee. Nope. Not happening. While my services may be bought, my integrity cannot. I’ll treat him with the same respect and integrity by not bumping his book when it’s his turn.

Another author asked me to edit a manuscript in one week and for one tenth the standard rate. I know that many authors simply cannot afford to pay the standard rates set forth by Writer’s Digest in the Writer’s Market. My purpose is to get helpful writing out into the world, and to that end, I’m willing to accept payment that is somewhat lower than the industry standard rates, but not 90% lower. That’s totally unreasonable. Copyediting and proofreading are both valuable services. They improve the manuscript and the reader’s experience (sometimes immensely), and make the author look good. Valuable services do and should have a price tag.

Book editing rates

Expect to pay at least $1,000 to have your book edited by a line editor. If the editor is good, expect to pay more than that (Writer’s Market says up to $5,500 per book). If you need developmental editing, expect to pay at least $2,000 for that kind of editing. If your book needs both (many books do), that means budgeting at least $3,000 for editing. Proofreading costs, on average, $4 per page, and that’s almost always a separate process, done by a different person.

It is possible to find good editors who are affordable. I charge $6/page for line editing and proofreading together, saving authors a substantial amount of money, and I know a few others who also are affordable. I’m happy to make referrals if that would help you find the best fit.

How long does book editing take?

Editing can take anywhere from two days to 12 weeks. Two days is very rare (or very bad), but I know it is within the realm of possibility because I’ve done it. I line edited and proofread a book on a deadline of 48 hours. I knew it was coming and planned for it, and during that time, I left my chair only to sleep and use the bathroom. There was a deadline, and I was doing a big favor for a wonderful friend. That effort is still bringing dividends, years later.

Would I do that again? There are only a couple of people in the world for whom I would do a two-day deadline. That was one wild ride. Sorry, but you’re not one of those people. It’s two weeks, minimum, especially now that my calendar is pretty packed and I can’t just “clear the decks” and dive into one thing for days. Expect your book’s editing to take two to three months. The only way to know how long book editing will take in your case is to ask your editor.

Reasonable book editing expectations

Have reasonable expectations, and no one will get hurt. Okay, people will be less likely to be hurt. Without a good fit between author and editor, even reasonable expectations won’t help much. So make sure you find a good fit.

Expect book editing to cost a few thousand dollars, for it to take a couple of months, and for it to result in a few errors remaining in your book. I’m the only one I know who guarantees it to be typo-free, so expecting that from anyone else will set you up for disappointment. Your book probably won’t be perfect, but with the right editor, it will be much better.

How spammers get into your blog—spam comments on blog posts

I was asked a question about blog comments today, and it made me realize that I should write a post about it, because if one person is asking a question, others have the same question, too. So, why do spammers make “nice” comments on blogs?

Many blogs are set up so that the first comment a person makes on a blog must be approved by the blog owner before that comment will go live and be able to be seen by blog visitors. After that, the person is able to comment freely, and the comments go live immediately. If those comments are spam, the blog owner might not see them for a while, so the spammer gets free advertisement until the blog owner sees the garbage comments.

Spam comments on blog posts

Sometimes spammers are pretty smart about it. They post something complimentary, something designed to stroke the blogger’s ego, so the blogger will grin and go, “Heck yeah, I’ll approve THAT comment!” Approving it opens the door for a flood of spam comments on blog posts. So be careful if any of the comments is complimentary but doesn’t have something that is very specific in it about your post. If you could take that comment and apply it to any of your posts, or to someone else’s posts…chances are it’s a spammer trying to sneak in the door.

I said that sometimes the spammer is smooth, sweet-talking his way past the gatekeeper. Other times, though, the spammer has the finesse of a wrecking ball, such as the one below. If you see anything remotely like this, mark it as spam.

{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting
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{In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web
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{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
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{so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.
Thanks.|
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{It’s|It is} {lovely|pretty|beautiful} {worth|value|price} {enough|sufficient} for me.

{In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made {just right|good|excellent} {content|content material} as {you did|you
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me also commenting {here|at this place}.|
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really really {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious} {article|post|piece
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{nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}, my {sister|younger sister} is analyzing {such|these|these kinds of} things, {so|thus|therefore} I am going
to {tell|inform|let know|convey} her.|
{Saved as a favorite|bookmarked!!}, {I really like|I like|I love} {your blog|your site|your web site|your website}!|
Way cool! Some {very|extremely} valid points! I
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{come back|return|revisit} {once again|yet again} {since I|since i
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Money and freedom {is the best|is the greatest} way to change, may you be
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I must say {that you’ve|you have|you’ve} done a {awesome|amazing|very good|superb|fantastic|excellent|great} job with this.
{In addition|Additionally|Also}, the blog loads {very|extremely|super} {fast|quick} for me on {Safari|Internet explorer|Chrome|Opera|Firefox}.
{Superb|Exceptional|Outstanding|Excellent} Blog!|
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{points|factors|things} here. Any way keep up wrinting.|
{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you guys {are|are usually|tend to
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works guys I’ve {incorporated||added|included} you guys to {|my|our||my personal|my own} blogroll.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey}! Someone in my {Myspace|Facebook}
group shared this {site|website} with us so I came to {give it a
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{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you guys {are|are usually|tend to be} up
too. {This sort of|This type of|Such|This kind
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own} blogroll.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey} would you mind {stating|sharing} which blog platform you’re {working with|using}?
I’m {looking|planning|going} to start my own blog {in the near
future|soon} but I’m having a {tough|difficult|hard} time {making a decision|selecting|choosing|deciding} between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

The reason I ask is because your {design and style|design|layout} seems different then most blogs and I’m looking
for something {completely unique|unique}.
P.S {My apologies|Apologies|Sorry} for {getting|being}
off-topic but I had to ask!|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hey there|Hello|Hey} would you mind letting me
know which {webhost|hosting company|web host} you’re {utilizing|working with|using}?

I’ve loaded your blog in 3 {completely different|different} {internet browsers|web browsers|browsers} and I must say this blog
loads a lot {quicker|faster} then most. Can you {suggest|recommend} a good {internet hosting|web hosting|hosting} provider at a {honest|reasonable|fair} price?

{Thanks a lot|Kudos|Cheers|Thank you|Many thanks|Thanks}, I
appreciate it!|
{I love|I really like|I like|Everyone loves} it {when people|when individuals|when folks|whenever people} {come together|get together} and
share {opinions|thoughts|views|ideas}. Great {blog|website|site}, {keep it up|continue the good work|stick with it}!|
Thank you for the {auspicious|good} writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
Look advanced to {far|more} added agreeable from you!
{By the way|However}, how {can|could} we communicate?|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wanted to
give you a quick heads up. The {text|words} in your {content|post|article} seem to
be running off the screen in {Ie|Internet explorer|Chrome|Firefox|Safari|Opera}.
I’m not sure if this is a {format|formatting} issue or something to do with {web browser|internet browser|browser}
compatibility but I {thought|figured} I’d post to let you know.
The {style and design|design and style|layout|design} look great
though! Hope you get the {problem|issue} {solved|resolved|fixed} soon. {Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}|
This is a topic {that is|that’s|which is} {close
to|near to} my heart… {Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take
care|Thank you}! {Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?|
It’s very {easy|simple|trouble-free|straightforward|effortless} to find out any {topic|matter} on {net|web}
as compared to {books|textbooks}, as I found this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} at this {website|web site|site|web page}.|
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I’ve got some {creative ideas|recommendations|suggestions|ideas} for your blog you might
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{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your {site|web site|website|weblog|blog} for {a long
time|a while|some time} now and finally got the
{bravery|courage} to go ahead and give you a shout out from {New Caney|Kingwood|Huffman|Porter|Houston|Dallas|Austin|Lubbock|Humble|Atascocita} {Tx|Texas}!
Just wanted to {tell you|mention|say} keep up the {fantastic|excellent|great|good} {job|work}!|
Greetings from {Idaho|Carolina|Ohio|Colorado|Florida|Los angeles|California}!
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I wonder if that spammer ever expected her comment to go live in this manner.

The truth about free websites

If you’re not paying for a service, you’re the product being sold. This is true for radio, television, facebook, and free websites. In most cases, information about you is sold to third parties (like advertisers). That’s not the really bad part, though. The really bad part about free websites is that you, your website, and your brand can be held hostage and even tanked at the real owner’s whim, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

How free websites work

When you get a “free website” on a site platform like Weebly, Website Tonight, Wix, Yola, or any of the others, you’re not getting your own website. You’re getting a subdomain—a “room” inside their website. You’re adding pages to their website, and when many others join you, it pushes the site up in the search engine rankings. That’s not necessarily bad. Here’s what is.

You can’t move your website from there. What? It’s YOUR site, right? No, not at all. They own it. The domain name belongs to them and can’t be moved. If you want to move your content, you might be able to, depending on the contract you signed (you did read that thing where you signed away your rights, didn’t you?). They might even own the content you created on your “free website.” Even if they don’t own it, it is a pain in the tail to copy and move it to another site, and you won’t be able to move your domain name. You’ll have to get a new one.

Free websites are bad

When those companies go out of business, or decide to delete your content, there is nothing you can do about it. You’ve spent all that time telling people about your website; it’s on your business card, your letterhead, maybe even your signage, and all of a sudden, it’s gone. You’ve worked hard to drill into people’s heads what your url is…all of your marketing materials…all of that has to be changed. You have no control over any of that happening, and it can ruin your business that you’ve worked so hard to build.

Okay, so what are you supposed to do? You can’t afford to spend five grand on a website, and you’re not tech-savvy enough to set up your own blog or website on your own webhost. Good news! There is a third option, and while I provide it, many others do, too, and you’re welcome to go wherever you like. What is that third option?

Hire someone affordable to set up a simple site or blog for you, so you get control over your domain name. You own it. It’s not part of somebody else’s website. It’s yours. As long as you pay the domain name registration on time every year, and the hosting fees, it can be yours for life.

Have the affordable person put your website or blog up on their webhost. You can move your website to a new hosting company if needed (it rarely is if you trust the person). Or, if you want to be sure you have total control, have them set it up on your own hosting account (it’s more expensive that way, but it’s an option). You could also get your own hosting account and set up a WordPress blog yourself, even if you think right now that you aren’t capable of doing that. If you need help, you can always reach out for it.

Why say what free websites are really doing?

Some might say that I’m just saying this because I set up sites and blogs for pay. I want to be clear. It is true that I do set up sites and blogs for people, for pay. My husband and I started building sites for people because we saw people getting robbed when it came to website construction. It’s just wrong. But that’s not why I’m saying this. Even if we never built a single site again, I’d still tell people what we know about those “free website” places. That’s why I said upfront that yes, I offer this, but you’re free to go anywhere you want.

I do offer subdomains to writers whose work I edit, but not to everyone. They own their content and can move it anytime they like, of course.

I’d be willing to handle the hosting and domain name registration at cost, just so people aren’t getting messed over by the “free website” places. For that matter, I’d be happy to see people going to someone else. Would it be nice to land some clients at $1,000 each by saying “Don’t go with the freebie sites, they are bad?” Sure, but, again, that’s not what this is about.

This is about YOU. This is about you not getting screwed. As long as you don’t get messed over, I’ll be happy, whether that means you pay me to set you up with a website or a blog, or to host a blog you will handle yourself, or whether you go with someone else, just as long as you escape those “free” website building places that can cost you everything. There is a difference between price and cost, after all. If setting up a site involves one of those places, where you don’t know the owner, free websites are bad for you. They’re not free at all.

Share the truth about free websites

Those companies dominate the search engine results pages because of their sheer size, what with alllll those people who are after freebies, creating content for them, creating pages for them on their website (that’s what your “free” website is, after all, just pages on their website), and boosting them to the top, there is no way that anyone who speaks out against them will ever rank highly in the search engine results pages. The only way the word will get out is if people like you link to it and share it with others. Don’t let your friends get screwed, either. I care about you enough to share the information with you. Please care about your friends enough to do them the same favor.

“You keep using that word.” Word-usage errors

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means,” says Mandy Patinkin’s character, Inigo Montoya. Does it annoy you when people commit word-usage errors? If not, you might want to skip this post. Then again, you might benefit from this one, because communicating well is what writing is all about and if you’re fine with people using the wrong word in their writing, then you probably make word-usage errors, too.

Word-usage errors hinder your ability to communicate well. The world has far too many writers who are apathetic about making and leaving mistakes in their writing. If you want to be a good writer, you should care about word-usage errors. Take a playful attitude about it if you’d like (as I did with the Princess Bride quote above), and enjoy the humor that can be found in it (see below), but take it seriously enough to get it right when you write.

Using a noun as a verb

Word-usage errors are really annoying, but they may also be job security for editors—at least as long as enough people care (sadly, that number is dwindling daily, it seems). Sometimes nouns can become verbs; a living language is in flux and new verbs are created all the time. That’s not what I’m referring to here. I’m talking about using the wrong word out of ignorance or apathy.

“Workout” is a noun. It is a thing. It’s an abstract thing as opposed to a concrete object, but it’s a thing nonetheless. You don’t workout. That’s like saying, “I’m going to language now.” No. Just no. You’re going to speak now. The compound word “work out” takes nearly twice as long to say as “workout” does. Try saying, “I’m going to workout now” and then “I’m going to work out now.” Do you hear the difference in speed?

“Setup” is a noun. It is a thing. Your setup looks great. “Set up” is a verb. Go to this link to set up your account. Not setup your account.

“Login” is a noun. My login works fine. “Log in” is a verb. To log in, go to…

“Checkout” is a noun. The employee went to the checkout to help customers. “Check out” is a verb. Don’t check out just yet.

Examples of word-usage errors

There are several different kinds of word usage errors, and it’s not my purpose to write an exhaustive list of the different kinds. Here are just a few malapropisms for your edification.

“Pacifically”should be “specifically.”

“All and all” should be “all in all.”

“For all intensive purposes” should be “for all intents and purposes.” I chuckle when I hear this one. Not for all purposes, just all of the intensive ones.

“Abject lesson” should be “object lesson.” It’s not a horrible lesson; it’s a practical one.

“Bad wrap” or “bad rep” should be “bad rap.”

“Beckon call” should be “beck and call.” A beck is a nonverbal signal (a nod or wave) intended to bring someone to oneself, and a call is a verbal one.

“Day in age” should be “day and age.”

“Taken for granite” should be “taken for granted.” Something was mistaken for a rock?

“Deep-seeded” is actually “deep-seated” and should be “deeply-seated.”

“Doggy-dog” should be “dog-eat-dog.”

“Far be it for me” should be “far be it from me.”

“Hare’s breath” should be hair’s breadth. This one just makes me laugh. “The stalker was a hare’s breath away…”

“Could of” is the bad-grammar cousin to “could’ve” or “could have.”

“Must of” should be “must’ve” or “must have.”

“Should of” is “should’ve” or “should have.”

“Neck in neck” is just disgusting. It should be “neck and neck,” meaning two people or things are in close competition with each other.

“For the love of all things holey,” I’m not sure what holey things one might love…colanders, perhaps. I certainly appreciate colanders. It’s “for the love of all things holy.”

“Handing glove” or “hand and glove” should be “hand in glove,” a term meaning two people who fit very well together.

“On tenderhooks” is a mishearing for “on tenterhooks.” A tenter was a wooden frame for stretching cloth, and it had hooked nails called tenterhooks. Saying “on pins and needles” would convey a similar meaning: waiting in tense and uncomfortable anticipation.

“One in the same” This just doesn’t make any kind of sense to me. The phrase is “one and the same,” meaning that something has both—often seemingly disparate—characteristics being mentioned: “The baby’s mother and murderer were one and the same (person).” Sorry for the grisly example.

“Hard road to hoe” should be “hard row to hoe,” and is one of the many idioms inspired by farm life.

“Butt naked” should be “buck naked.” I’ll just leave you with that mental image and say please avoid word-usage errors whenever you can. Look it up, ask a knowledgeable friend, or message your editor. Don’t give yourself or your reader “a hard road to hoe” and “for the love of all things holey,” do a good job with your writing.

Catherine’s Pascha book review

Catherine's Pascha book about Easter in the Orthodox Church

Catherine’s Pascha is a book about Easter in the Orthodox Church

Just as some children try to stay awake until midnight on New Year’s Eve or stay awake until Santa comes on Christmas Eve, Eastern Orthodox Christian children try to stay awake until after midnight on the eve of Pascha (Easter). Pascha is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, and it’s the most important and most exciting day of the year for Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Catherine’s Pascha book about Easter

After 40 days of Lent, with its fasting and increased prayer, everyone is looking forward to the Pascha service. It means Christ is risen, and it means a feast: an end to the vegan fast, with meats and cheeses of all kinds. Everyone packs a Pascha basket with their favorites and takes it to the church for the feast after the service.

The Pascha service starts late at night, and the church is mostly dark. Around midnight, the excitement builds and reaches its peak, and so does the light, with candles everywhere. Parishioners greet each other with “Christ is risen.” “Indeed, He is risen,” in many different languages, because Eastern Orthodoxy is celebrated in most countries around the world.

Catherine and her brother want to stay awake all the way to the end of the Pascha service this year. Will they be able to fight their sleepiness and make it?

Beautiful picture book

Catherine’s Pascha is one of the most beautifully-illustrated books I’ve seen in years. It portrays well the beauty of Orthodox churches and it provides an excellent view into the oldest and purest form of Christianity. Churches all over the country are buying multiple copies, and understandably so. I hope to see more by this author and this illustrator.

I knew both the author and the illustrator prior to this book’s publication, and while I was fully aware that R.J. Hughes was a talented illustrator, when I saw the galleys and again when my contributor’s copy arrived in the mail, I was amazed at her ability to grasp the symbolism and portray the ornate quality of Orthodoxy so quickly. The art fits the text so well, and both do the Orthodox Christian Church a loving honor. I am blessed to know these women and to have read this book. I hope you all buy it and read it every year. May it become a tradition in your homes and churches during Lent as Pascha approaches.

English greeting: Christ is risen. English response: Indeed, He is risen!

Navajo greeting: Christ daaztsáádéé’ náádiidzáá. Navajo response: ‘Aáníí, daaztsáádéé’ náádidzáá.

Take a break

Most of the people in my life tell me that I should not work so long or so hard or so much. They keep saying, “Take a break.” Of course, when they want something from me, they want me to be available and energetic and accept the task. I should take a break from what other people want, I guess, and from what I want to accomplish. I’m not saying that any of the people in my life are malicious or selfish users. Please let me be clear on that.

Most people are good people, and that’s especially true for the people in my life. But when a person wants something, he hopes he can get it. A person might not think about that double-standard thing going on there: Take a break, but not when I want something from you, please. Although if I said, “No. I need a break,” I think 90% of the time it would be received graciously. Your percentage wouldn’t be that high? You don’t feel so lucky? Don’t feel bad. Over the years, I have curated who is in my life, and most of them are gold. I apologize for missing a post on the 11th. I tend to write posts in spurts and to stockpile them, so I might finish up five posts on a Monday, and schedule them out for that Wednesday and the four following. The time I was working at a local daycare last year (and didn’t have the energy to write as much), I used up my stockpile, and I haven’t worked on posts very often lately. Then that Wednesday came and went, with 11 drafts and none complete.

Take a break

Did I take a break? Is that why I missed publishing a post (for the first time in a long time)? Not really, unfortunately. The Rescue Time software program tells me I did play 14 hours of computer games in one recent week, though. I was a bit ill and thoroughly exhausted, and a mindless game was all I felt like doing when I wasn’t at seeing clients at a local learning center or editing books in my home office. I hope that doesn’t come across as an excuse. It’s just simply how it is. I didn’t have much brainpower and I did not produce.

One man’s break is another man’s breaker

Nature abhors a vacuum. A person can’t “not do” something. A person has to do something. It doesn’t have to be work, of course. It could be sleeping, reading, talking, listening, eating, meditating, walking, viewing. It could be burning candles, receiving a massage, painting, jogging, or petting an animal. It can be mindful or mindless, but it has to be something. It can’t be “nothing.” I overcame much of my childhood training and I am able to sit down and be doing something other than work. I know how to relax, contrary to popular opinion. I just don’t do it often. When I need to take a break, I’ll take a break. With chronic illnesses, I get far less done than I’d like.

All the rest of the time, however, I’ll be as productive as I can. I’ll do my best to have a post for you each week—back on track. What further contributes to my reputation as a workaholic (I’m not one, I tell you, I’m not) is the fact that most of the things that I find relaxing and rejuvenating look suspiciously like work because most of them are productive. I even find some types of work to be relaxing and completely enjoyable. Freak, I know. But when you’re the one wanting me to get something done, you’ll be glad I am like I am. ;)

Over the weekend before the missed post, I received referrals from two author friends. I spent the first few days of the week answering a number of questions and going through negotiations. I signed two new book-editing clients. During that time I also heard from some small presses who would like me to be their go-to editor, and passed some time answering questions they asked. I’ve worked out an agreement with one of them, so far. I also finished line-editing and proofreading a book for another client. Since then, at least one person has contacted me each day. Not everyone who contacts me is a good referral; not everyone is at the stage that they’re ready for the kind of editing I do, and not everyone is ready to pay for a valuable service yet. I am thoroughly grateful for all of the business that’s coming to me. Thoroughly. My calendar for the year is nearly full, and it’s only February. I am thankful—deeply thankful.

59 Seconds book review

If you’re looking for a book that really helps you, isn’t full of mind myths, and gets its information from real studies instead of thin air, then 59 Seconds: Change your Life in Under a Minute by Richard Wiseman is for you. This is not your typical self-help book, and for that I am grateful. It is, in fact, the holy grail of self-improvement books, covering everything from managing your anger to obtaining favors to achieving goals and being more successful. It shows you how you can make real changes in your life—each one in about a minute.

When common knowledge is wrong

As I was reading through 59 Seconds, I did a few fist-pumps, glad to see that the author knew and was reinforcing some of the things I have known for years (don’t you hate fighting myths?). Okay, I realize that statement might sound totally prideful and arrogant, and that’s not how I want to come across, so I’m going to clarify. I really do not think I know everything—that’s why I have read 15,476 books now and keep reading every day. I do know some things, though—and not just from books—and it’s frustrating when you know that what “everybody knows” about something is wrong.

For example: anger. It’s common to hear that you should scream into a pillow or pummel your bed with your fists when you’re angry. Even professional counselors, who should know what works, tell people this all the time. It’s supposed to “let off steam” and “vent your anger” so it decreases, but, anyone who has done that has experienced not a decrease in anger, but an increase in anger. Screaming, cussing, ranting about it…do you feel better as you go along? You might feel empowered, but you won’t feel more serene. That is not the way to get rid of your anger. Go for a walk, listen to soothing music, watch a water fountain, list things you’re grateful for. Any one of those things, though they go against what “everybody knows,” is better for helping you stop feeling angry.

When you’re fighting “conventional wisdom” about something, you’re swimming upstream, and it’s tiring. So when someone else—an expert— says the thing that you know to be true and have been the lone voice in your corner of the world about for so long, it’s validating and it feels good. This book is full of things like that. The author uses actual studies and real data to back up each of the 59-second-tips.

Learn something new in 59 Seconds

There were some things in this book that I did not know—certainly some things that I had not read before—and that was nice to experience. Because I have read so many books, it is unusual for me to come across something I haven’t read before—in the areas in which I read. I am not widely-read in automotive, physics, or tech of any kind (just to name a few), so if I did read a book in one of those areas, I’d definitely come across things I did not know. But I digress. I learned some things about habits and self-help, and I think that most other people will, too, when they read 59 Seconds. I recommend it, and am adding it to my shelf. You won’t hear me say that about many books. Oh, I’ll eat up all sorts of books, yes, but very few are good enough to merit shelf space. This is one of them.