Archive for the ‘Information’ Category

A Solid for my Single Girlfriends

Friday, May 19th, 2017

RvL°n

I began this blog thinking the title might be “What I Love About Being Single” but realized I wouldn’t be entirely honest in saying I LOVE being single. Like almost everyone, I always hoped to find lasting love in a partner—but here I am, over 50 with no partner! WTF?! How did this happen? I was supposed to be celebrating my 30-year wedding anniversary surrounded by our loving children, looking forward to the annual summer trip to Europe with my hubby… NOT SO! Instead, I’m divorced, coming up for air after two post-divorce, crash-and-burn, long-term love affairs (the last one was a doozie, let me tell you!), one daughter who still doesn’t speak to me 10 years after I left an unhappy marriage with her dad, and no time for a vacation because I work for myself.

Now, I will be entirely honest. This whole “relationship” thing pretty much sucks! Obviously, the first few months are awesome: the sparkle of new romance, the flattery and attention, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling, and of course…amazing sex (my memory is getting foggy on this last one). Red flags? Please! Doesn’t every single person have “red flags”? Someone who doesn’t have any…well, isn’t this, in itself, a red flag?

Okay, so I didn’t believe the guy who told me upfront he was an alcoholic… And certainly, I was shocked by the one who secretly released a fire extinguisher all over my car because I pissed him off (I saw telltale footprints from him and his little chihuahua Uma in the powder). And then there was the one who was seeing several other women behind my back (and doing strange things with them involving coffee grounds. Don’t ask!). Looking back, it’s feasible that I’ve had some challenges in the picking area. What can I say? All the above “eligible” bachelors were damn cute, charming, sexy, and fun. What’s a girl gotta do to be with a non-insane, honest guy who isn’t extremely homely, boring, ignorant, and/or pot-bellied?

Since it’s probably too late for me anyway, I figure the least I can do is pass on the wisdom from my years of fun-but-futile frolicking:

  1. Watch out for guys who don’t answer your text messages for, like, a day or two. Talk about being near the bottom of their priority list!
  2. If someone says they drink (or smoke, or eat, or gamble, etc.) too much, but that they’re “trying to stop,” this stuff generally gets far worse before it gets better, if it ever does.
  3. If someone likes to be alone more than they like to be with you, start making really good friends with yourself.
  4. If someone avoids (at all costs) talking about your future together, you’re likely dealing with one of the zillions of commitment-phobes out there. They can be really clever and drop little “hints” to keep stringing you along, or silently nod their heads as YOU talk about your future together. The truth is in the action (or lack thereof).
  5. To highlight that last point, if a person says one thing and does another, believe what they DO.
  6. Beware adult males who live with their parent(s) in the name of “taking care of them.”
  7. Beware loner types. There’s always a reason they’re loners, and it’s usually not a good one. Let’s not forget the Unabomber…
  8. If the only time you hear anything about a guy’s inner thoughts and feelings is when you’re in bed together, he may be a maestro at sex, but have real problems with intimacy.
  9. If someone you’re with digs porn magazines – “soft”, “hard”, whatever – or porn websites, don’t be naïve (like me) thinking, Don’t all men read “Playboy”?
  10. If there’s “another woman” in his life, and she happens to be his spoiled, grown daughter who doesn’t think you’re good enough for her daddy, get out fast!

These are just some of the things I’ve learned…love is a battlefield, as the song says. Believe what I say, though—I chill on my bed with my bichon, Oscar, and my kitty, Turnip, and we hash these things out. Fur is very absorptive, by the way. Thankfully, these two besties of mine are the only ones in my life right now who have excessive facial hair.

The Down ‘n Dirty on Copyediting

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Though definitely an art, writing differs from painting, sculpture, and virtually any other form of visual art in one significant way: it has a lot more rules. No matter how impressive or interesting a book or other written work may appear at first glance, if the rules of language are ignored, the piece fails. Like any craft requiring practice and precision, writing has basic standards of grammar, organization, and syntax that must be second nature to an author before they attempt to embellish with pretty adjectives, artful analogies, inventive ideas, compelling characters, or riveting action.

As a self-proclaimed defender of the English language, I am passionate about upholding its conventions. The rules are in place for a reason: to support the basic goal of writing itself, which is to convey ideas and information clearly and efficiently. Published writing that lacks proper mechanics miseducates the reader, leading to continued degradation of the art form! Given my attitude on this, know that any work I am asked to copy-edit is going to have usage errors weeded out and recultivated so that the garden of your writing is free from distracting pests. To this end, I put forth the following:

  1. I will change the words you have written. Although this would appear fairly obvious if I am copy-editing your work, many authors become quite offended if their work is corrected to conform to rules of grammar, syntax, and logic. For example, if you use the same word over and over within a short section of your narrative – one of the most common errors I encounter in peoples’ writing – I will eliminate the redundancy. However, in doing so, I may need to completely alter or omit whole sentences, which will make it seem like I’ve rewritten the part where it occurs. And quite frankly, I have.
  1. I will change the words you have written, and I won’t discuss it with you first. With many of my clients, there is an expectation that my edits are all suggestive, up for debate and discussion, and subject to some sort of “author authorization.” No. Unless I’m working with you as a writing coach, my edits are based upon my knowledge of the language and my experience as a professional writer. I am the first to admit that like all writers, I am continually learning more about effective writing; however, if you are hiring me to edit your work, the assumption is that I am more skilled in the language than you. If you don’t like an edit I’ve made, simply change it back…at your own risk.
  1. I don’t agree that poor use of the English language qualifies as a literary “voice.” Of course, writing is full of artistic license, taken at the expense of perfect grammar, but sometimes necessary to tell a story or add particular emphasis. Nonetheless, this should be done with discretion. Keep in mind that you’re not allowed to break rules until you’re a perfect master of them. This may eliminate some of your sentence fragments, run-on sentences, excessive interjections, and nouns preceded by four adjectives.
  1. I might kill your precious darlings. Writers have varying degrees of sensitivity to criticism, and writing is a process of creating something to which authors become emotionally attached…often overly attached. Sometimes, phraseology that they think is their cleverest construct yet – e.g. cute metaphors using peculiar or antiquated words – is actually distracting to a reader and serves to detract from the overall piece. If I remove one of these “darlings,” as they are (and oddly so, in my opinion) termed in the writing world, many authors instantly become offended and conclude that I’m a hack. One author wrote: “The apartment was in a warren of old apartments two blocks off of Prince Edward Road.” In a sample edit, I changed this to: “The apartment was within a cluster of older complexes two blocks off Prince Edward Road.” I think taking out “warren” was the reason the writer backed out on our working together. Really, though, the image of rabbits was just too much for me!
  1. Quality writing takes time. Although an editing estimate of several hundred dollars for a 40,000-word piece may sound pricey, authors would do well to consider the number of man-hours I put into modifying, and at times rewriting, their work! Copy-editing is generally a slow and pain-staking process, because the end product, in my mind, must be “perfect,” i.e. publication-ready. This level of quality is possible only through a close and comprehensive journey through each word of your work. Given the time commitment, my fees are more than reasonable.
  1. Honesty and reasonableness are the key factors in my work with writers. My prospective clients give me a sample of their writing, and I edit and return this portion in order to demonstrate the types of changes I would make on their project as a whole, should we decide to work together. In this way, I am also able to see what level of editing is required – substantive, or heavy, medium, or light copy-editing – and thereby give them a fee estimate based on the amount of time and effort that will be involved on my part. My intent is to provide excellent writing at the most reasonable price possible. Believe me, if money were my main objective, I would NOT be a writer/editor. Fortunately, writing is my passion.

My other passion, however, is not to be greedy, arrogant, or competitive. I am willing to discuss my fees and special time-frames, and occasionally lend advice on publishing options or why I made certain edits (to a limited extent, as mentioned above, unless I’m coaching you). As with any type of calling, working as a writer/editor means I have a personal stake in assisting others and ensuring their satisfaction in hiring me. I say this not as a lie or boast, but to give you an idea of the beliefs and ideals I hold most dear.

If you’re still reading this after all of the above and haven’t crossed me off your list of potential editors, please do contact me, because the time we invest in your project will benefit you, me, and most importantly, your writing.

One Day, While Trying to Earn an Honest Living…

Monday, July 15th, 2013

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I can see the headline now: Struggling freelance writer catapulted into a deadly game of fraud and foreign assassins. Mercy! Remember the good old days, when the worst thing that could happen in a business-client relationship was that the goods or services would go unpaid? I’ve had this occur in my own business, although rarely, because I take certain precautions and am generally a good judge of character regarding prospective clients. But apparently, I’m still naive to the wiles of cyber-criminals, a group growing in number these days due to ever-expanding communication technology. I’ve fallen into a well-disguised techno-trap and unfortunately, I’m still squirming in its grip.

It all started with Craigslist, the internet’s trading hub for anything that anyone might be looking for: houses, roommates, cars, sex partners, and of course, employment. With the effects of a down economy continuing to be felt, many of us are out there pounding the cyber pavement searching for work. As a freelance writer, I am certainly no exception. This was how I came to answer an ad I found there for a “Story Guide Writer.”

I had to request an application, which they sent. But who were “they”? The company – I’ll call them Predator International for now, since I don’t know what horrible things might happen if I identify them – is supposedly an international dating site where people from all over the world can hook up with an intercontinental pen pal, boy/girlfriend, or even a potential marriage partner. My job would be to “edit” emails from users who were poor at English, but sending messages to English-speakers with whom they wanted to connect. Strangely, I could not find any information about the company or their dating site when I tried to research them, but a link they provided in one of their initial emails opened what appeared to be a typical dating website.

I completed their very simple, generic-looking application and returned it to them with my resume. Surprise, surprise, I passed their review of my qualifications and was sent a contract. I noticed that the emails to me from Predator International itself were written in very poor English, but I figured this why they needed my services! The contract, which read like it was composed by foreigners, gave an address in Berlin, Germany as their office location. The contract stated I would be paid per kilobyte of edited text, after a period of 21 days from the first assignment.

The work was easy and basically consisted of rewriting intimate email messages sent from people using the service – all appeared to be women from Germany – to men in the U.S. Some of the messages were so confusing due to misused words and lack of sentence structure, that I had to basically guess what the individual was trying to say and then put this into intelligible language. I felt like I was playing cupid sometimes, because the way I interpreted the mixed-up language could be quite different from what the writer intended. Nonetheless, it was paid work (I hoped), and Predator International praised my work often in their subsequent emails.

I noticed after a while that their messages to me were never signed by a particular person, just the name of the company. I also finally noticed that in their emails, the sender was listed as “Predator International” followed by a period, as in Predator International “.” In my experience with spam and obvious on-line scams, a period after a sender’s name is some sort of code for “This is a fake. Don’t even open it.” I wish I had noticed that period sooner, but I suppose that’s what criminals count on…the victim not noticing.

Anyway, before long I was due to be paid. I had had some uneasiness about the whole gig from the start, but had decided that if they didn’t pay me, I could live with losing about $300. On the other hand, if they were legitimate and paid me, then I would have a great new regular client!

The Predator International “Team” told me that they would wire my salary into my bank account, so they needed the account number and routing number. With even more trepidation, I supplied this information. But after all, I reasoned, hadn’t I had one client before from out of the country? And I wasn’t supplying them any passwords or security codes.

The wire appeared several days later than initially promised, and during this time I was positive I was not going to be paid. However, the company kept in contact with me, assuring me the delay was due to issues at the bank. Finally, slightly over a month after I had begun working for them, I was sent not one money wire, but two! Each wire was an amount about four times what they owed me for my work, for a total of slightly over $3,000. At the same time, I received another email from them, stating that they had overpaid me accidentally, and would I please forward the overpayment to an individual in Odessa, Ukraine. They alleged that this person was another employee, and they had sent me her wages by mistake.

At this point, “FRAUD” screamed in my head, but I didn’t know what to do! Being human, my first thought was to cut off all communication with them and keep the money. After all, why should I be forced to deal with crooks and scammers? I talked to a representative of my bank’s fraud reporting department, who told me this sounded like a money laundering scheme. He didn’t comment on what I should do with the money – whether to keep it or return it – but at the end of our conversation he told me not once, but twice, to “have a nice weekend.”

After a few more days of living under the delusion that I had luckily netted over $2,500, I was reminded by a couple close friends of possible consequences. Predators International was, after all, crooks and scammers…hmmm. Perhaps keeping the money was not such a good idea, I began to think. What if they had eastern European operatives in this country who would threaten me at gunpoint? Or beat and rape me outside my bank? Or hurt my family? Anxiety set in. And besides not wanting to piss off crazy people, was I not being a thief as well if I kept money that was not mine, no matter where it came from?

But I didn’t want to send the money to the address in the Ukraine, as doing so would accomplish exactly what they wanted if this was a money laundering operation. I thought about sending it to the address in Berlin that was on the original contract. In the meantime, Predators had begun sending poorly-worded emails that still relayed a clear message: return our money to us, or “big trouble await you.” This was only one or two days after they had notified me of the overpayment, and I hadn’t responded. Anxiously I sent them a response to the effect, “Hey guys, my computer has been broken for a week, and I just got your emails! Wow, I’ll get your money back to you and sorry you’ve been so worried.” At least I could buy some time this way, too.

I decided to take the matter to my local police department. With print-outs of Predator International’s sketchy contract and latest threatening email in hand, I explained the situation to an officer there. The female deputy was clearly unimpressed by my story, wearing a bored, we-get-this-all-the-time expression on her face. She asked me if I had lost any money, and I told her “no.” At this point, the company’s only “crime” was intimidation, I suppose. And since, as the officer reminded me, U.S. law enforcement has no jurisdiction outside the country, there was nothing they could do. She then asked me why I would give my bank account and routing number to people who couldn’t even write in proper English. I didn’t answer her. Clearly, I was not only a victim of intimidation, but a stupid one at that.

The deputy told me she could almost guarantee that the funds in my account were no good, or would somehow be contested by another victim in the near future. Instead of a money laundering scheme, her opinion was that Predators International was attempting to steal my good money using their counterfeit money. When I explained that I did not want to hold onto the money of criminals, she told me if I was worried about “stealing” (she used both index and middle fingers to make quotation marks in the air) their money, I could advise them that I would return the overpayment after 30 days, if it was still undisputed or not alleged fraudulent by anyone. This seemed like a reasonable idea. I would worry about how to send the money later.

That night, I sent them another email laying out my 30-day plan. I received their response a day later. Apparently, they didn’t like either of my emails, and their “experts” had determined that I was a thief trying to hold onto their money longer. They then demanded my social security number, and copies of my driver’s license and passport so that I could be somehow prosecuted. As I mentioned above, I am a stupid victim, but not quite this stupid…

This is where I’m at now, waiting 30 days and hoping I’m not assassinated in the meantime. I reported the incident on a government website for reporting international crimes of this nature called www.ic3.gov. On this site I learned about all the various types of internet scams out there, as well as how one can avoid being involved. It was far from comforting when I read the highlighted warning on the report site: “If you think your life is in danger, contact your state or local police immediately!” The site indicated they get thousands of reports every month, and basically do what they can to investigate and track down the perpetrators. It is nice to feel that I’m not alone, but I’m still wondering about the danger part.

At the suggestion of a very smart person, after 30 days – and hopefully I will still be alive at that point – I plan to wire the overpayment back to the account from which it was wired, then close out my account. But for now, I continue to receive creepy emails from Predators International. They even phoned me twice, but I missed the calls, thank goodness. In addition to being uneasy, I’m angered to have been roped into this stressful situation while just trying to do what I do, write and copyedit. As if having to find work and trust clients to pay is not bad enough…

On the bright side, this whole drama has motivated me to write the story you have just read. And isn’t that what every writer wants – inspiration and a good story? I just hope this blog doesn’t become my last.

Postscript:

Well, readers, I am fortunately still alive to write an ending (hopefully) to this story. A few days ago, I wired the amount of the overpayment, less my “wages,” my bank’s international wiring fee of $45, and an extra $100 for all my time and anxiety, to an account Predator International provided in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Once my account balance was at “zero,” I immediately closed it in an attempt to remove myself and my money from the international fraud radar. I did learn that in the case of wire transactions, money wired between accounts managed by two financial institutions is always “real” money. Criminals can forge checks or money orders, and even counterfeit currency, but wires between financial institutions cannot be falsified.

Obviously, I’ve learned to exercise much greater caution in answering job ads and providing information to clients or prospective clients. I choose to regard this whole ordeal as a valuable lesson. And the best part, other than the fact that I haven’t been murdered, is the dramatic satisfaction I get when friends ask me how this worked out and I tell them, “No problem. I’ve paid off the Russians…”

 

Art For Barks…for Artists, Writers, and Animal Lovers

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

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Call for Submissions! Are you a writer…and an animal-lover too? Here is a unique opportunity to share your talent and creativity by contributing to Art for Barks on-line journal. Still in its inception, our journal is an opportunity for you to educate, inform, inspire, and entertain with your work. And all while writing about something you love…dogs! We also feature cats, horses, and wildlife. Contributors will build their on-line platform, showcase their work, and obtain publishing credits. To contribute, check out our website, http://ArtForBarks.org. Click on Writer’s Inquiry for more information.

Resume

Sunday, April 8th, 2012
Christine E. Miller, M.S.
4232 Vista Panorama Way, #222
Oceanside, CA 92057
(760) 207-0685
www.tellmewhatyouwanttosay.com
  • Experienced, intelligent, and educated professional with high-level, broadly-applicable writing skills.
  • Over 16 years experience as a writer and editor. Currently working as a freelance consultant.
  • Superior computer skills, including very extensive experience in internet research and social  media. Extremely proficient in Microsoft Office and a variety of other programs and software.
  • Extensive and long-term experience in marketing writing and practices, for my own businesses, employers, and clients.
  • High personal integrity, able to generate trust in others.
  • Ability to prioritize tasks, adhere to deadlines, and maintain positive attitude under pressure.
Career History:

10/09 to Present    Tell Me What You Want To Say    http://www.tellmewhatyouwanttosay.com
Owner – Writer/Editor
Provide writing and editing services in a wide array of written genre, including but not limited to:
§         Non-fiction Book Proposals
§         Ghostwriting and Editing of complete book manuscripts
§         Blogging, articles, essays
§         Marketing copy
§         Business reports/correspondence
§         Academic papers/reports
§         Resumes
Background includes in-depth knowledge and practical use of scientific, medical, and legal terminology.


7/99 – 2/06            Done-Write Services
Owner – Writer/ Editor
Specialized in writing and editing technical reports, business contracts, marketing / advertising copy.
Provided high-level editing for additional genres, including book manuscripts.
Utilized prior experience in investigations, medical terminology, and Workers’ Compensation / insurance issues.
Marketed the business.
Interacted with clients / handled all issues, including customer satisfaction, invoicing and accounting, other office management practices as needed.


10/93 – 6/99    Kelsey Investigations – Agoura Hills, CA
Office Manager / Marketing Representative / Report Writer
Established branch office for investigative firm (undercover surveillance specialists) in San Diego North County.
Through designing and implementing a variety of marketing techniques, acquired several major insurance companies as new and eventually long-term clients.
Wrote detailed and time-sensitive investigative reports.
Generated marketing / advertising copy and professional correspondence.
Handled business licensing; oversaw development of business logo / letterhead.
Acted as liaison between clients and investigators.

Other Employments:
·         3/09 – 4/09            Department of Commerce / U.S. Census Bureau
      Enumerator
·         6/08 – 12/08          Ipitek (Telecommunications)
      Executive Secretary
·         4/07 – 6/08            The Judge Group (Personnel Recruitment)
      Administrative Assistant
·         9/06 – 2/07            Gatzke Dillon & Ballance, LLP (Law)
      Legal Administrative Assistant
·         3/06 – 9/06            Grancell, Lebovitz, Stander, Barnes & Reubens (Law)
      Legal Administrative Assistant

Education:

Cornell University
Bachelor of Science, May 1983

University of Southern California
Master of Science, May 1985


Excellent References Available