Captivate, Inspire…Dream.

Sometimes writing’s hard to do.  At other times, it’s effortless.  But then there are the times when you’re like — Writing, who?

I’m a writer and I confess.  I get writer’s block. <sitting down>

Most of  the time the wordless time periods come from having a lot going on in my personal life.  For instance, the last 3 years has been rather dry.  Why?  I am an older woman who now has a 3-year-old, a son in college and one in his last year of high school.  <Dumb.  I get it.>

That leaves me in a position of parenting up, and down.  Needs have changed.  Diets have morphed.  And my need for sleep has skyrocketed.  <Yeah, uh-huh.>  Then, there’s just the shocks of life, the absence of life via passing to that next realm of which we know little.  That happened late last year to three close family members.  I was devastated.

How do you move forward without negating their existences?  Without “properly” mourning them?  This is what I’ve finally learned — you LIVE.  You continue to do what you know you’re supposed to do.  For me, that’s to write.  To go to my day job.  To have deep conversations with my children.  To play with my daughter.  To wrestle with my budget to make it stretch further.  To be human.

That’s why I’ve stopped the madness and forced myself to look at my ‘inventory.’  My longer works still are in need of editing.  However, my short fiction was in pretty decent shape.  So, The SciFi End of the Supernatural, a collection of science fiction short stories came into being.  It will be available on Jan 30th in print and ebook formats.

This book wouldn’t have been possible without my writing communities #WriteStuff and #StoryDam.  Both groups support me, and listen to me, and I them.  They help me get it that writers are a kooky bunch.  We’re NOT normal, nor were we ever meant to be.  That’s the way it is.

Our job is to translate the madness in our psyches into readily digestible written forms of entertainment so that you can pass the time away when your life becomes overwhelming.  That’s what we do.

What do you do to captivate, inspire and dream?

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Bleeding on the Page

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  And, there’s a lot going on good stuff, mainly.  My day job’s been quite busy.  My children are growing up but still needing time and attention.  (Gee, imagine that.  They still need a mom…)  And, to boot, I added in some fun work in mid-April — curating the Horror Writers Association Twitter feed.  I am one of the contributors.

Did I mention that my New Year’s goal for 2016 was to write a new short story each month?  Oh, and then try to submit a story, or two, each month?  (Not necessarily the one just written.  I do have quite a few stories written from previous times that I NEVER did anything with; except write them.)

So, I’m in the middle of all of this.  Hubby just keeps watching me and asking if I’m alright.  As well he should!

Going along now for several months and my writing goal is going as planned.  But in April, I hit a snag.  Yes, that’s when I took on a bit of extra fun work and I had to get used to fitting in the work curating entailed.  That took a few weeks but then all of a sudden it was PitDark (May 12, 2016)!  I had only a few days to prepare.  It crept up on me.  And that’s when the big wham-o happened.

What the heck was I doing writing a graphic horror novel?!  (This thought comes fully two years after it’s written; 102K+ words.)  Shocker to my system, I tell ya.  You think you know yourself and then — oops, you don’t.

Somehow, this book poured out of me and characters were born (a few died, of course).  An awesome book cover is all in place and I’m feeling like a skittish bride — right before PitDark.  You could say it was classic cold feet as it was my first online pitchfest.  You could say it was fear of rejection.  You could say it was regret at not having written say, a romantic comedy.  You could.  What do I say?  I dunno.

I ignored the sensations, prepped my tweets in advance.  Had writer friends peek at them.  I revised them.  Took the day off so I could focus on the tweets and possibly revise my tweets as the day went on (as advised by many experienced pitchfest attendees/hosts).  I was as prepped as possible.  And what happened?  I received one ‘official’ like late in the day after having held my breath ALL day.  Imagine my exultation at knowing someone out there in publishing wanted to take a gander at my full MS!  Wahoo!  I happydanced until my heart felt it would burst (all of 30 seconds).  Then, I got to work submitting my book the proper way.  It took me a couple hours to get it all done.  Now, for the hard part — the waiting for a response.  I’m still waiting.  LOL.  That’s publishing folks.

During this time, I re-focused back on my short stories and wrote two new stories in May and increased my stories in submission by 3.  Total stories in submission right now is just under 10.

Even with all of this activity, there’s a thing still happening with me.  What’s that thing?  The question of what kind of writer am I.  I researched and talked to some writing friends and researched some more.  The most helpful article I found is this one by Holly Lisle:

Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice

There are many pieces out there but this one resonated with me especially because it suggested I create lists — I love lists! 🙂 — More importantly, you’re supposed to play games with your lists.  How frickin’ cool is that?  (Yes, yes.  Nerdy writer.)

Feeling some kind of way about having hit this particular wall so many years into my writing career.  I definitely thought I had my ‘voice’ down pat.  It seems I didn’t, don’t.  This is the underlying discomfort I had surrounding the horror novel.

But, here’s the thing.  That novel?  It came so easily!  The voice, the characters, the plotting, the plot shifts — it all flowed so well.  Some of it scared me out of my wits.  It’s supposed to — it’s a horror novel.  But, I didn’t think about it, I just wrote.  I was also pregnant with my third child during the majority of the writing of that story.  Maybe that freed me up and allowed the story out.

Now, I am past postpartum emotions.  I’m back to ‘me’ again.  And, herein lies the problem.  I’m back to me.  The horror novel?  I did what Hemingway suggested.  I sat at my laptop and bled a little.  Maybe, more than a little.  While pregnant, it didn’t bother me.  Now, not pregnant.  It bothers me — a lot.

Hemingway_bleed 2 quote

It seems I played it ‘safe’ with my stories and my readers.  Without getting pregnant again, how do I bleed onto the pages?  That’s the question.  Working through it.  Will let you know when I come out the other side…

 

 

7 Sites You’ve Got to Check Out About Journaling!

It’s mid-year.  Okay, a squoosh past mid-year.  Are you where you want to be with your writing goals?  No?  Yes?  Then, why not keep a journal?  Even if you are where you should be/want to be with your writing goals, maybe there are some articles you can read, that can help you excel even more so your WIP can be completed that much faster.  [Dare you hope!]

Here are some great writing tips, blog posts and websites that can share some info that may just be the inspiration you need to get going better, faster and more efficiently via journal writing.  Or, maybe these posts can help you to just get going! 🙂

  1. Writing Forward: This eight-year-old website has TONS of great writerly information to share including a really wonderful piece about descriptive writing.
  2. A great post about the healthy psychological benefits of journal writing specifically for military veterans: http://www.realwarriors.net/veterans/treatment/journaling.php.
  3. Writing to Heal – more on the benefits of journal writing to help us build a healthier immune system by the American Psychological Association (APA). (Who would have thunk it? That thing we do instead of sleep is actually good for us in some way!)
  4. Keeping a Journal to Remember Events – ‘nuf said.
  5. Dawn Herring is a Journaling Guru! Follow her site Refresh so that you can receive prompts & find inspiration for journaling from a new and different perspective.
  6. How and Why You Should Start a Daily Positive Journal – This is just in case you don’t journal…
  7. And for the last one, I couldn’t leave out a nod to the age-old discussion of paper?  Or, computer/laptop?  Here’s a recent study that may shed some factual information that you may, or may not!, like – http://www.medicaldaily.com/why-using-pen-and-paper-not-laptops-boosts-memory-writing-notes-helps-recall-concepts-ability-268770.

Ta-ta for now,

NB

My Journaling: The Greatest Benefit

You’d think I’d have a LOT to say about journaling since at one point in my life I had 67 journals that spanned approximately 12 years of my life.  That’s 5.58 books per year for a dozen years.  The size of each book varied.  Most were the regular black and white marble traditional notebooks (read: cheap) but there were a couple of thicker true journals.  Then, a few 5-subject spirals thrown in for a bit of spice.  Those 67 does not to include some random legal notepads and the stray mini notebook that I needed to catch the odd entry, or two when the ‘official’ book was not on hand.

But, as I sit here and think about the single greatest benefit of my journaling I am coming up with way more than one answer.  The main one being peace of mind.

Journaling_Zen Rocks

By journaling, I am able to clear out mental space by truly seeing what I am thinking.  For me, writing things down brings clarity of purpose.  I am able to get passed the emotional white noise and go beneath the fray to the true thoughts, feelings and motivations behind it all.

Prior to journaling, I did not know this.  I used to do things and surprise myself (and others!) constantly.  I had no idea why I did certain things.  I was just moved to do it.  Now, if I am troubled, I sleep on it and then journal and the meaning becomes clear.  Now, I may need to journal to get the ‘topsoil’ off but then things move smoothly from there on.

Mind you, this system of how I ‘work’ has evolved over decades (Dear me, did I say decades?! Sheesh.).

To summarize, for me, journaling is a much better and cheaper form of therapy than the traditional paying through the nose analysis method. 🙂

I fully understand that therapy is awesome but for me this method has done the trick.  And after the emotional garbage is out of me for me to see and read, I then can journal about things more important such as plot lines, character quirks, settings I’d like to use in future stories and great lines I may use at some point in time.

Journaling_Dog Catch Tail

Journaling provides me the mental space and clarity to express myself more fully when I write.

What about you?  How does journaling benefit/work for you in your writing, or your life?  Please take a moment and comment below.

This post is part of the #JournalChat Live 5 year celebration hosted by Dawn Herring.  You can find Dawn’s FaceBook page here.

 

8 Ways to Know Your WIP is Going Well

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8.  You have an outline for your writing project.  Even if it is only a rough sketch with only an emotional arc written on the back of an envelope, or on a napkin.  Having some inkling of what you want to do helps to keep writer’s block at bay.

7. Have a character questionnaire completed for at least your main character/POV character.  This questionnaire can be as simple as the POV character’s name and physical description.  Or, it can be a full biographical sketch complete with major childhood events and any psychological issues.

6. Have a very thick skin.  Yes, you need to begin developing a thick mental skin right now.  Even if you have never completed any writing project you must protect your inner Muse by taking critique well.  Meaning, hear what is said about your work and not take it personally.  You may need to put down your work for a couple of days and come back to it once you’ve digested the critique.  You may also need to turn to a trusted writer friend and bounce the critique off of them to ensure that you received the message you think you did from the critique.  Why is this #6?  Because if you don’t have a supportive circle of writers around you you will need to create, or find one.

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5. Create/find a writing circle.  In these new and revolutionary days in which publishing is no longer ‘kind and gentle’ (if it ever was), your manuscript needs to be as perfect as you can make it before an agent, or a publisher reads it.  Meaning, your story arc is honed and sharpened to the specifically right one that works for your book, characters and setting.  That your characters’ voices are clear and distinct from each other.  That your theme is clearly depicted throughout the book.  That your story has complexity with added sub-themes and/or plots that support the central theme of the book.  A supportive writing circle, or group, can help you do just that without the cost of a structural book editor (which can be costly; sometimes as much as 20 – 40 cents per word depending upon the length of your document).

4. Be prepared and know that your first-draft is not your masterpiece.  The first-draft is just that…your first pass at telling this story.  Think of your story in terms of a human pregnancy — it has 3 trimesters — just like your story.  The first one is your first-draft.  The second trimester is the phase where you REST.  You move entirely away from the story for as long as a month before going back to it (this applies to longer works such as a novel).  This resting time is to give you distance from your work so you can look at it objectively.  While you may never be able to be completely objective giving yourself time will allow you to see things you may not have seen shortly after completing the first draft.  The third trimester is the editing phase where YOU go over your work and add in scenes to more fully develop and flesh out characters, or the plot.  Where you add in characters (or remove them) to make the story more realistic.  You may need to go in and re-work your theme as you see holes you left, or red herrings that go nowhere (because you may have been rushing through the first pass as getting the story out).  This is the stage where you identify your book’s team.

3. Every great book took a village to bring to market.  You need an editor.  You need a book cover designer (if you’re Indie), you need a book formatter (if you’re Indie).  You need a fact-checker (if you’re with a publisher this generally is embedded in the several editorial passes they conduct for your book.  [Publishers usually have 4 – 5 editors go over your book to ensure there are no typos, grammatical errors, wrong facts, etc.  Indie authors — you’ve got to find a team that will help you have the same types of checks on your manuscript.] You need beta readers; people you trust to give you an honest opinion.  You don’t need to know your beta readers personally but you do need to feel comfortable with them and how they process what they read.  So, research online folks whose book reviews you appreciate.  You should also be mindful of the types of genres your beta readers usually read.  You ideally want beta readers who currently read the types of books you are asking them to read — unless you want someone totally outside of your genre’s opinion.  That has value also.  People who don’t read the genre will generally pull out things that are story/plot holes, or character flaws.  They read the story.  People who read the genre you have written will do that as well (usually) but they tend to focus on things that make, or break, the genre rules.  These beta readers will keep you true to the rules of engaging your readers in your work’s genre.

2. You must have discipline.  Without a writing ethic of writing on a regular basis (at least once a day), it will be difficult to finish a project in any kind of timely manner.  ‘Nuff said.

1. You have no idea how tomorrow’s scene will turn out.  Putting your characters’ collective backs against the wall is the best thing you can do for your readers, and therefore, your story.  No one likes a predictable story.  If you, the writer, cannot figure out how to get your characters out of the mess they’ve created for themselves you are doing great!  You may need to do some research online to figure out how to pull yet another rabbit out of your writer’s toolbox.  But hey, this is what you signed up for when you decided to become a writer!

Success Key

The Aftermath of Publishing My Third Book

It’s very hard to believe that I have published three books already.  Yet, somehow I feel that there is so much more to learn! My latest book, Making Dollars & Sense Work, is the first and only book thus far that I have decided to make available as a softcover (read: real book).  That one tiny decision made me absolutely crazed!

I knew I needed a book formatter and…I didn’t know what else!  Yes, I was that thrown by one additional detail in my indie publishing journey.

I survived indie publishing tshirt pic

It was my very best friend and writing buddy, K.C. Wise, who alerted me to the fact that I need images/imagery incorporated into this nonfiction personal finance book.  This way, the reader eye will not become fatigued by the information &/or the density of words on the page.  My brain farted when she first told me this; but I pushed through the feelings of ambiguity and began researching to find an answer that I knew was out there.

[Did I mention that K.C. is an amazing nonfiction writer?  Her fiction kicks butt, too! Can’t wait to read her first published book!]

The solution was E.M. Tippetts Book Designs.  Emily and her team of graphic and book designers made the process easy!  They even called me — yes, on the phone! — and walked me through the steps and gave me insight into the process so I could be a collaborative partner in the process of making my theoretical book into a physical reality.

I am now anxiously awaiting my galley proof from the publisher to see my work in actual reality!  You have no idea how excited I am by all of this!!

Being an Indie author, I knew that the content itself is very important.  I knew that the words themselves were key and that the work had to be edited!  So, my faithful friend and editor/proofreader/book re-structurer KLM Editorial was on the case.  My beta readers were all very helpful after I got down the first and second drafts (thank you KC, Sharon, Andrew and Sue!).  Then, back to KLM the book went.

By adding the physical softcover book as an option, this is where 3 additional sets of eyes were employed to further perfect Making Dollars & Sense Work.  In total, this book has been viewed by 8 pairs of eyes plus the review system of my publisher (have no idea how many sets of eyes are there!).  The team that arose to make this book happen puts me in awe.  I did not set out to have this many people involved; it just happened.  This book just happened!

Love Indie Authors pic

Long story short, I started 2015 with a New Year’s resolution of beginning a novel generational women’s fiction novel for which I have a fully drafted outline from start to finish.  However, I felt such a resistance while writing it that I became conflicted.  I spoke with a trusted friend and they suggested that I pull back and write for myself.  I should write that thing that was important to me that would bubble out of me without hesitation.  My reaction?  I laughed.  I had just finished book 1 of a paranormal series (Fury From Hell) and I had two fully executed outlines to choose from  Writing what I wanted?  There was no time for that!

About a week later, I tried to write more for the generation women’s fic novel.  I gave up after only writing one page and began to doodle-write (free-write) on a blank MS Word page.  About 3 hours later I looked up and had about 5,000 words of what 2 months later became Making Dollars & Sense Work: A Financial Primer for Single Moms & Dads Plus College Kids Too!

Making_Dollars_and_Sense_Work_cover

So, you see, from its inception, this book has been a group project.  This is why I say this Indie journey I find myself on is ever evolving and I know that no matter how many books I publish there will always be more to learn.

To all of those who helped directly, and those who helped indirectly (thank you, Mom!) I send you blessings and heartfelt thanks to all you sacrificed to help me get this book out to those who will find it useful.

I would love your comments and thoughts on your experiences in your Indie journey.  How has it been for you?

If you get a chance, please follow me on Twitter (my favorite social media platform). I’m on Pinterest, too.  Still trying to figure that one out! LOL.  Oh! I have a new FB writer page but I am so in the dinosaur phase of learning FB I hope I direct you to the right one! 🙂  My new FB Writer page – https://www.facebook.com/RochelleScribe.

All the best,

Rochelle aka The NoteBook Blogairy

#WriterWednesday Tip: A Strategic Partner – Your Book Editor

If you are any type of writer — Indie, or traditionally published — you know the importance of having your work properly edited by an experienced, caring and compassionate editor.

I’ll tell you a ‘horror’ story.  My very first book that I released called Opening Up was a labor of love.  I had worked on it for upwards of four years.  I tweaked and primped it and thought I was finished by the end of year four.  I sent it to my editor – KLM Editorial Services — and she ripped it apart…kindly, of course.

However, this is exactly why you have an editor to do just that — tell you when you need to cut, revise, or throw out completely.  Well, maybe that last bit is going overboard but you get the point.  I did revise Opening Up.  I did publish it and the reviews came back that readers loved a minor character that was introduced towards the middle of the book.  Readers wanted that minor character to be the focal point of the book!

This was not the job of the editor to ferret out.  That was the job of a supportive writer’s group which at that time I did not have.  Readers did comment that for an Indie book it did not have the grammatical, punctuation and other technical flaws one saw from a new independent author.  Kudos to KLM Editorial!

Needless to say, I pulled that book and have re-worked the story arc and have a fully executed outline ready to go.  But that, as they say, is another story!

Every Wednesday is #WriterWednesday on Twitter and I wanted to do something special for it.  Something we writers can appreciate.  I would like to share my editor, Karen, with you — KLM Editorial Services!

Here is a Q & A with Karen so you can get a sense of how she works and if she may be the perfect fit for you and your book.

How would you define success as an editor?

Personally, I feel I’m a success when someone will refer me to a possible client, because they are very satisfied with work I have done for them in the past. I also get satisfaction if any book I’ve worked on has been nominated for, or received, an award.  Although most of the effort is that of the author, I also had a hand in that success.

When someone gives you something to edit, what do you do?

I have always believed, and stressed to “my” authors, that their story is theirs – I’m only here to help them make it the very best possible story it can be.  I don’t always agree with content, but it’s not my place to do so.  Spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure, now – that’s a different thing entirely…
I know some people believe that you should be able to work with any author/editor, but sometimes personalities just don’t mesh.  When that happens, it’s to the author’s benefit to get a different editor, otherwise she/he runs the risk of getting a poorly edited story that may not do well in the market.
My definition of Freelance work:  An author has written a novel.  They wish to find an editor to polish that novel before a potential publisher sees it.  They have heard of me through “the grapevine” or through a publishing house or some other means (for example, my name is in many of the books I have edited, listed on the copyright page as editor).  They contract with me to edit their book, and pay me an agreed upon amount, in portions, to edit the work.  I have also done freelance work when a publishing house says “I have a novel.  It needs an editor.”  They give me a synopsis of this book, and ask, “Do you want to do this book?  If so, what will you charge, and what will you do for that money?”  They then negotiate the contract for me, and have the author contact me with the manuscript.
What I do —  SUBSTANTIVE EDITING  (an explanation:  http://grammar.about.com/od/c/g/copyeditingterm.htm)
I was trained by an acquisitions editor at Doubleday to do a total edit….from proofreading and copyediting to the Substantive Line Edit as a complete service.  That’s what you get from me.
I copy edit (grammar, punctuation and spelling) of the content of the manuscript. I check for continuity errors.  I pare all extraneous words out…and can point each of them out.  All the little IF, AND, BUT, THEN, THEY    etc.  I check for smooth flow, and help tighten the manuscript, WITH the author.  I make suggestions…  I question what the author “means” if something is unclear.  Do you mean “a”  or do you mean “b.”   I do try to encourage the author with their work.  If I see they have potential (in my opinion) I try to point that out.
I am NOT a book “doctor.”  I do NOT re-write the book.  I do not LIKE to give writing lessons to the author that truly writes dreadfully…giving writing lessons is not the job of an editor.
What I wish writers would do and not do before I see their
manuscript —
DO:  Spell and grammar check the entire work.  Cut as many extraneous words, and make the work flow before an editor sees it.  Write your work, and let it sit for a time (probably about a month) and then re-read it with a “fresh eye” to see what changes might be made — and make them.
NOT DO:  Expect the editor to write their novel for them.  They can take the editor’s questions about what is already written, and the editor’s comments of what the editor has read.  Using that information they craft the work; an editor does not.
Tell us about an example of a conflict you’ve experienced in an editing situation and how you’ve resolved it.
I was given a manuscript by a publisher with whom I had worked for a few years.  The author was a novice; this was his first book.  I did my complete edit, and added comments and suggestions for improvement.  Apparently the author took none of my suggestions, and made no changes or adjustments.
The publisher knew that nothing I suggested was used because of the previous quality of my work.  She apologized to me for the author’s attitude, which was quite kind of her.
A different client, who was also a first time author, hired me to work on his book.  What irked me was he changed and added chapters to the story after I had completed my edit, but did not allow me to go over the new material.  The new material was not as good as what we had worked on improving during my editing pass.  He added my name to the copyright page of the book as editor without my permission.  This one title I never refer to when I’m asked for my credentials since the novel was changed after I worked on it.
This author later wanted me to do subsequent books in this series, and I refused.  He was of the opinion that, “everyone has a price,” and he would pay it.  No amount of money would be enough for me to go through those headaches again.
What would the ideal editing job be for you? [Please say Indie authors! I’m an Indie author. :-))]
LOL!  Most of my clients are indie authors these days!  I was trained to edit almost anything.  I’ve edited titles from historical fiction, romance, science fiction, children’s books, historical articles and gay fiction.
Editing, in my opinion, is the same for the indie writer than for one that might be submitting to a publishing house.  You need to deliver a high quality product to the end-user: the reader.
What if an author, or organization, has several editorial candidates with similar qualifications.  Tell us some reasons why we should hire you?
I have decades of experience, and let my resume speak for itself.  I was trained by an acquisitions editor from Doubleday in the 1970’s-80’s.  I always am mindful that the manuscript is the work of the author.  I try to keep their “voice,” in all that I do.
Here is a selection of the books that I have edited.
SHORT STORIES
Immortal State by Barry Nove
Nowhere to Go But Mars by Barry Nove
Crossroads of Sin by D.H. Aire
Time Out by D.H. Aire
Novels
Merchants and Mages by D.H. Aire,
Human Mage by D.H. Aire,
Highmage by D.H. Aire,
Well Armed Brides by D.H. Aire,  (release date: tentatively March 15, 2015)
Dare 2 Believe by D.H. Aire,  (release date: tentatively May 1, 2015)
Terran Catalyst* by D.H. Aire,  (*forthcoming)
Highmage’s Plight —  proofing of second printing.
Flights of Fantasy, Volume One, edited by Colin Neilson, featuring the stories of D.H. Aire and Barry Nove
Nonfiction/Fiction
The Ellis Island Experience: A Sampling of Stories and How You Can Research Your Own by Barry Nove
Works by DONNA FERNSTROM
SORROWS
SECRETS (Short Story)
Works by ROCHELLE CAMPBELL
LEAPING OUT ON FAITH
FURY FROM HELL
“Single Mamas Guide to Being the Best Mom Ever: Getting Your Financial Life on Track”
 
Works by K.L. SCHAEFER
The Caring-Shell
Once Upon A Cloud
Walls of Ancient Stone
Works by KARL FIVE
Orgasm Incorporated — books 1 and 2
Okay, last question.  What types of editorial services do you provide?
I DON’T format manuscripts for publication.  I do offer to suggest possible publishing sources such as Create Space and X-libris.
  • check for continuity errors
  • copy edit (grammar, punctuation and spelling) the content of the manuscript..
  • pare all extraneous words out…and can point each of them out.
  • check for smooth flow, and help tighten the manuscript, WITH the author.
  • make suggestions for improvements
  • question what the author “means” if something is unclear.
  • substantive editing

Karen, KLM Editorial Services

You can find out more about KLM Editorial Services by clicking these links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/klmacleod

http://www.simegen.com/bios/klbio.html

Please note: Any formatting issues in this post are the sole responsibility of this author — not her editor!