Roasted garlic snacks

OK so I keep meaning to post something here. But I can’t seem to coordinate taking pics for recipes, my editing and writing work, and the rest of life at the same time.

But pro tip:

I stress bake/cook.

Take those little cloves of garlic that are hardly worth peeling, you know those little nibs inside the head of garlic? Those. Peel them (if you pull the string in the top of the clove, and twist the bottom of the clove at the same time, the skins come right off if they’re old enough), toss with enough olive oil to coat the pan to about a 1/4 inch depth (I used a 9×12 for 3 heads of garlic total, of which about a third was the tiny cloves) and roast at 325 for an hour or so. It’s not fussy.

The tiny cloves of garlic? Crunchy on the outside, garlicky on the inside, don’t attempt if you’ve not someone who sees 2 cloves of garlic and adds 6.

Pics if I think of it later and want to turn the other excess of garlic in the house to roasty deliciousness.  (3 heads makes about a half cup total, roughly)

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Would you find it interesting?

So, in addition to publishing stuff, I’m also really into food.

Would you be interested in recipes? i’m mostly talking fairly low effort things that are very flavorful. I’m not much of a photographer. You’re not gonna get food pr0n here. Just things that are relatively low effort, mostly allergen friendly (People in my household are allergic to, in combination: Milk, eggs, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, shellfish, pineapple, poppy seeds, and some beans-mostly black, pinto, black eyed pea, and soybeans, though soy sauce is okay for him.)

Most of what I cook is influenced by Ashkenazi jewish food, Mexican food, italian food, the occasional Japanese/indonesian/Indian dish, and southern American food. Most of what my roommate, C cooks is French, middle eastern, italian, and hunan/szechuan Chinese because his dad lived there when he was a kid. So there’s a broad swath that could be covered, in addition to random one off “I made a yummy thing” posts.

I keep wanting to blog, but I feel like I’ve covered most interesting things in publishing already. And I have a lot of food things people seem to like, so maybe? Alternately, I could do more book reviews, but that requires me to finish more fiction, which has been an issue this year. I’ve stopped reading more books than I’ve finished this year, because if it doesn’t make me happy, I refuse to read things for pleasure that yell that they’re not quite working for me. I dunno. Opinions very much wanted.

Quick update

Things on the personal side have calmed. The floor is replaced, C’s bodily malfunctions seem to be just “a thing that happens sometimes *shrugs in medical*” that will involve a surgery once it’s cooler outside to address, but at least it’s not cancer. Editing’s still going well, I’ve got one slot currently in late September (Two people have asked me about it, but not filled out the contact form with the info, so I’m curious to see if either pans out.) It’s been nice as i’ve settled into my groove, I’ve been busier than I had expected or planned for, though Evan on the copy edit side has been even busier. I think they only have a couple available weeks through the end of the year at this point! Yikes! We’re discussing bringing in another editor I’m friends with to pick up a project or two every once in a while when needed for overflow, though we may just refer people out to them. We’ll sort it out, but busy is a great problem to have!

Meanwhile, it feels SUPER weird to not do #Pitchwars this year. There’s no way I could manage it with the full time editing, plus my own writing. I did a swap with a new CP and I’m revising one of my first projects, writing another, and juggling it all has tested my limits a bit. There’s a project coming down the pipeline for next year though that I may do instead. The proposed timing works much better for my life, and if it works the way we’ve been talking about, it should be much more in line with the reasons I loved doing PW: Giving back to the community. I’ll keep you all posted once I can say more.

Any topics you’d love to see covered? I feel like I ought to blog more, but I’m kinda at a loss of what to cover that I haven’t already. If you have requests, leave them in the comments and I’ll see what I can come up with!

 

What no one talks about

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Some editors and agents are brilliant stewards for their authors. I honestly believe most people at their core are good. They want to put out the best work possible, they want to guide the careers of the authors they work with to succeed, so the agent makes money, and the publisher makes money, and therefore the author makes money. They have great communication, and accommodate your needs. This post isn’t about them.

This post is about the ways traditional publishing is not working for many authors, and how that allows people with dishonest intentions to thrive.

Thanks to the friendships I’ve built between internships and pitchwars, twitter and facebook, among others, I’ve seen a fairly wide range of publishing experience. I’ve seen people stuck for years in the query trenches, people who get an agent but can’t get their books to sell to a house, people who get a deal but then little support after, and people who’ve built long term midlist careers over decades. I started writing 15 years ago, and got my first internship around 6 years ago. So I feel like I’ve got a fairly good cross-section to draw from.

What people won’t say-in locked, secret groups, in private DMs, in off record chats-People talk. “Does anyone know anything about (Person)?” is a common question, and the replies are almost always “I’ll message you.” No one wants to get blasted later because they were honest about their negative experience with someone, and it gets back to either that person or someone in the future they want to work with. People are AFRAID to say anything negative, for fear of professional repercussions. I’ve seen authors utterly traumatized by experiences with other industry professionals. I’ve seen people inappropriately propositioned, and afraid of what it would mean to their career to say no. I’m seem authors fret over questions that they’re scared to ask their agent or editor, but are perfectly reasonable business questions. There’s a multitude of other behaviors that would be more at home in abusive relationships than a professional industry.

And THAT? Is why scam agents and shady accountants can thrive.

Most authors don’t understand their royalty statements. Most authors trust their agent is doing what they say they are, because they never see proof one way or another. They rely on the fact that their agent only gets paid when they do, so they must be doing their best for them, right?

In most cases, yes, they are doing their best. Sometimes their best is incompetent. Sometimes the agent doesn’t have the right contacts for your work. Sometimes your agent has life shit going on and they’re just going through the motions while they’re working on getting out of agenting. Sometimes things honestly do slip through the cracks and people don’t notice it. And sometimes, the writer is the problem too.

But when there’s been 3 people in publishing in what, a month or two, between the two agents and the accountant? How many others out there are doing the same things and only warned about in secret, if you ask the right people in the right secret groups or the right hashtag? That’s a ridiculous way to work in a multibillion dollar industry.

What I think publishing needs is like Writer Beware, but able to act as a neutral party on a larger scale. Across genres, and with authority to request records, be that payment histories, contracts, to create some form of auditing system for authors (or editors, or agents) to go to with concerns. To have those concerns appropriately adjudicated, in a way that doesn’t put people on blast for simple mistakes, but resolves those complaints in a constructive manner. It’d take the whisper network that currently exists and transform it into something that keeps everyone involved honest. Ideally, organizations like the AAR would do this already, and they might. But with so many problems coming out this close together, it’s worth considering if some level of audit needs to be conducted across the industry.

The publishing professionals who care for their clients and do their best deserve to be lauded and valued as such, and the ones who rip their clients down, who deceive, abuse, or defraud them need exposed and removed from the industry. It would instill more trust in the process, and make it safer to reach out when there are concerns you just can’t resolve directly with the people involved, or don’t feel safe bringing those concerns to light.

At the end of the day, we’re all in this business to create the special magic stories bring. We just need to ward better against the evil spells of those who would manipulate and hide their maleficence in arcane deals. Until there’s some form of oversight, I expect more stories like this, whispered in private, and only revealed when the abuses become so egregious they can’t be ignored. I’d love to be wrong and these few bad eggs are just that, but from the whispers I’ve heard over the years, I know I’m not.

Two Tweets and a thought

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Ah, life. Just when things are settling into a nice normal, it has to throw other things at us.

But this post isn’t really about how the air conditioning convector got a mouse stuck in it that clogged it and flooded the floor of our living room which now needs replaced, or how a friend is having a medical issue that has me in worried big sister mode, and all the things that are horrible in the larger world. The tweets above combined and got me thinking about what is really under our control when it comes to writing. Doesn’t it seem sometimes that no matter how hard you try, something finds a way to throw you off? You try to plan, OK, I’ll have this draft written by July 1st, and then edited by September 1st, and so on. Then an afternoon is spent chasing the dog around because she has diarrhea because she was an ass who decided to, in the 15 minutes between humans, get out of her bag, open the bedroom sliding door, and eat a cough drop (No actual harm, they weren’t sugar free, she just has a historically sensitive tummy). Or you just get going on the project and the phone rings where your mother in all but law finally has time to talk and you need to coordinate what’s going on with the whole floor thing. Or, let’s be real, your social media feed is a mix of politics and cute animals and you reallllly need to stop scrolling and get things done.

What do you do, when it feels like you’re overwhelmed, to stay productive?

Sometimes, nothing. Sometimes the best answer is to stop and step back, breathe into a plant for a while (seriously, it helps more than regular deep breathing!), and let the project sit. Snuggle that baby, or dog, take a walk, and eat a thing that makes you happy. Watch one of those BBC reality shows where nothing bad ever actually happens and if you zone out for a while, you haven’t really missed anything. (I’m getting quite fond of Lords and Ladles for this purpose.)

But deadlines, I hear you scream. I have to get this done.

Yes you do. Take time though first to work through your immediate feelings, sleep, eat, and shower, and you’ll find it easier to deal with. Once you’re not feeling so overwhelmed, then make a plan. IE I’m only allowed to scroll social media while I am actively eating. I must have it blocked with an extension the rest of the time. Hold yourself to whatever deal you make, but treat yourself the way you’d treat your best friend. If you screw up, smack yourself on the hand, and get back to work. Outsource what you can (Your friends are more willing to help than you realize, and no, you wont be bothering them to ask!), automate where you can, and focus on spending the limited time and energy you DO have on the things that will get you closest to your goals. For me, that’s editing client books and working on my own. If that means the dishes only get done every few days instead of daily, or that we eat a bit more takeout, then that’s what happens.

Spoiler: No one really has their shit together. No one has a wand that makes all their problems go away. The best we can do sometimes is to figure out, OK, for this next hour, I’m going to go write. I’m going to go schedule some tweets for later, including some cute animal pictures, because it might help someone when they’re having a bad day.

Second trick-Look for something good. One of my writing groups does a “Things that Don’t Suck” that people can ask for whenever they feel they need it. Talk with a friend about what you’re dealing with, but also about what’s not sucky. Maybe they had a really good idea on how to fix a problem with their book, and it’ll lead to feeling energized about yours. Ask your friends if they have some good news to share, or search for book releases, cover reveals, or deal announcements. Realize that all those books? Were probably interrupted by problems both small and large. They did it eventually, and eventually so will you.

No one knows what the future holds, except in this: There will be shitty (sometimes literally) days, and there will be amazing days where you feel like everything has come together. There’s always good ahead, you just gotta put up with the shit to get there. Someone grab the bleach spray and the rubber gloves, and let’s get down to work.

Re: GDPR

I don’t collect your info, nor do I care to. If someone emails me or comments it goes to my email, and I just use it to reply to you if a reply is needed, and then archive it. If you really ever want me to delete any of it, tell me and I will, just don’t use that to be a jerk, please. For Chimera, I only use the information to render whatever service we’re doing for you and to bill it. Again, I archive it after so that if you email me with a question later, I can reference back to the project/my critique. I keep a copy of anything you send me or I send you, in case of computer issues later. If you ever lose a file because of  a hard drive issue, I’ve got your back if you’ve sent it to me. But I won’t email you for other random purposes, short of something REALLY coming up. Like, if I stop doing editing at some point, I’d probably contact all my existing clients and give them a heads up. Not something I ever plan to do, but that’s about the only situation where I’d email you first and not in regard to a specific project we’re both actively working on.

Whatever wordpress and/or gmail are doing with your data? That’s probably way more than I personally would, ever. Honestly, I attempted to figure out google analytics and just got a headache, so I don’t really understand any of that junk. I just want to edit awesome books, write awesome (someday!) books, and read awesome books. I have zero interest in your data. K? So Europe? don’t get cranky at me. PLZKTHANX! ❤

Happy Book Birthday @KTHanna and Initializing

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If you’re fond of me, you may want to take a peek at the dedication on this one. Yes, I did squeefit and cry at bit at that. I remember as a child, once I realized books were written by actual people, looking at dedications and thinking, “Wow, that person must really be important to the author.” Acknowledgements are wonderful, when I get my workspace reorganized I’m printing a bunch of them on pretty paper and framing it, but that’s a whole ‘nother level. I’m so proud of what Kt’s accomplished on this one. For those not familiar with Gamelit/LitRPG, it’s basically novelizing playing a fake game, usually an MMO, but in a way that still ends up immersing you in that world. The genre expectations are a bit different than a standard scifi, there’s a slower pace to the larger series plot because the game elements drive a lot of the action. It’s a subgenre that is really popular in other countries but still under the American radar, though I expect that to change fairly quickly. Check it out!

Discover the class you were born to play.

Wren, a seasoned healer, is dismayed when Somnia Online automatically assigns her character, Murmur, to the Enchanter class. Determined to overcome the unexpected setback, she assembles her guild, intent on the coveted #1 spot. Twelve keys stand between her and victory, but finding them is only part of the puzzle.

Armed with telepathic abilities, Murmur rises to the challenge. However, old rivals have followed her to Somnia Online desperate for revenge. Intricate quest lines become more dangerous as NPCs absorb powerful artifacts, and Murmur begins to wonder just what sort of AI controls the world.

Murmur questions her sanity as the real and virtual worlds mesh together. Everyone is keeping secrets from her, even the AI, and Murmur’s determined to uncover them.

Available through Amazon

Excerpt:

A skeleton shambled to the left, its bones creaking softly as it jangled about. Straight ahead was a spider with ridiculously long legs, and off to the right was a cluster of so mething she couldn’t make out. All of the mobs she could see were yellow, probably at least level three. But if she didn’t try, she’d never know.

Feeling reckless , she cast minor suffocation and pulled the skeleton toward her. The fact that the spell manag ed to convince an undead creature it was being strangled was quite amazing. It let out a cackle and jangled over to her as she backed up, hoping to let a third tick hit before it reached her. This time her spell was hitting for five and four. A slight incr ease was at least something. The skeleton flailed a wooden staff in the air and Murmur hoped against hope her hit points would outlast it.

Then it was upon her, three ticks of her Damage Over Time down. The thing was tall and gangly and she realized these skeletons had to be locus , too. Even its empty sockets glowed, like some type of magic possessed it. Considering it was a walking skeleton, that probably wasn’t far from the truth. It swung at her, and barely missed when she managed to dodge. She could fee l the heaviness of her body, and the unwillingness with which it made the movement. That was probably her one dodge for the next twenty. She’d better make it count.

Killing a skeleton was far more difficult than a beetle. For one thing, it was already bloo dy dead. That blasted staff hurt too, though not as much as the pincer claws had. It made Murmur wonder if locus could bruise. Finally, after what seemed like an age, she managed to hack its skull off. She leaned forward and looted the mob. It had twelve c opper on it. Maybe skeletons were a good idea for a while with or without her quest. Not only that, the staff it had been wielding was hers as well.

“Score,” she muttered to herself, aware she was probably grinning like a loon. Sure, her staff skills were n’t up to par but she was sure it wouldn’t take too long. It’s not like melee did most of her damage or anything.

 

Author Bio:

K.T. Hanna

KT Hanna has such a love for words, a single one can spark entire worlds.
Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically designed to kill you.
KT creates science-fiction, fantasy, and LitRPG like it’s going out of style, with a dash of horror for fun! She freelance edits for Chimera Editing, plays computer games, and chases her daughter, husband, corgis, cats, and snake.

No, she doesn’t sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, Chipotle, and sarcasm.

K.T. can be found in the following places:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Patreon
Amazon

 

Worth a shot!

So I’ve mentioned in the past on here how hard I’ve found it to put my work out there. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I started writing. I got better about it when I was doing short stories under a pen name (which lapsed when the others involved got too busy with their work/kids), but putting it out under my real name? Oh, that’s a whole different ballgame. But I’ve realized as time goes on, it’s too much work to keep a pen name. I’m not willing to devote that much time to social media, among other reasons. Putting my work out under my actual name makes me worry that readers will judge my ability to edit based on my own writing. Telling others what to improve on their writing doesn’t translate 100% to making my own stories perfect. I wish it did!

Putting my ego where my mouth is, I entered Revpit. I didn’t get chosen- I didn’t expect to, the MS I entered is too short for genre norms, and a lot of awesome books enter competitions like that. But I found a bunch of cool writers, befriended some, and had my instincts on that project confirmed. (I’m now working out the outline for the other half of the duology it was always meant to be so they can be released together quickly.) And it got me thinking about how I really want to chase being both an editor AND a writer. Balancing the two is an issue, but less so when I get steady editing work and don’t have 9+ hours a day taken up with the dayjob/commute.

Coincidentally, a #Pitchwars mentor was setting up a mentoring style MS swap within a private group, and fresh with confidence from putting my work out there once, I asked to join. I’ve already found so many in there I want to read, so this should be fun. One of my other groups was talking about how hard it is to find compatible crit partners, and I was thinking about that.

An old writing buddy of mine (literally, one of my first writing friends) and I were talking after a hiatus, and I really looked at where she’s at, career wise, vs where I’ve gotten so far. When we first met, I really looked up to her. But she always got caught up in drama and social media and a whirlwind of other problems seemed to never stop for her. She got caught up in it all, and her words always came last to everything else. We now run in completely different circles. Not better or worse, just different.

An old college friend was bemoaning the fact that her favorite author is her age, and it struck me as silly (Sorry Miche!) because it’s all about prioritizing. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. If you write, and help other writers, they’ll help you too. I have a whole list of people I’ve critiqued informally for, who I can ask for help when I’m ready. But that’s not why I helped. I helped because we’re friends, and that’s what friends do.

I’ve spent 15 years really, building connections in the writing community. Slowly, offering to help whenever I could, consistently. It’s paid off in friendships and opportunities alike, and it struck me that this is really what they mean by networking. People confuse networking with an immediate, what can you do for me attitude. That’s where it goes wrong. I’m not offering to help my friends because I want something from them. I’m offering to help because I want them to succeed, and I want to celebrate their success. If it comes back to me eventually, then great! That’s friendship. I’ve noticed so many people getting stuck on one project, one element, one contest and if they don’t get in, they’re shattered. Building community, writing friends, people who are more experienced and less experienced, that’s what these contests should be about. I never went into Pitchwars expecting my mentees to get a deal. I went into it wanting to help writers who were telling the sorts of stories I wanted to see more of in the world.

Speaking of putting words last, I’m going to go outline, write up a review for this Gamelit I’ve devoured, and see what I can get done on this short story idea I’ve been kicking around… Happy weekend!

(On a functional level-Expect more posts here soon, I’ve got a miniproject in the works as time allows, and I’d forgotten how nice putting life into the tidy box of blogging feels!)

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY @LH_Writes REALITY WEDDING!

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This series is SO fun, and Laura is probably one of the sweetest writers I’ve met, no exaggeration. Ok, so we may have bonded arguing over a MS in Pitchwars behind the scenes, but seriously. Check it out!

Lights? Camera? Action! In this irresistible final installment of the Reality Star Series, one woman’s dream wedding may be about to turn into a reality nightmare…

 

 

Synopsis

SAY ‘I DO’—OR ELSE

When Jen Reid escaped a reality TV cruise with her relationship intact—if not her hair—she swore she was done with the cameras for good. Sure, she and Justin met, had their first kiss, and got engaged with tape rolling, but manufactured drama and ruthless producers have shaken them up more times than she can count. With Jen’s reality-themed bakery just getting started and her brand-new lawyer fiancé in a pile of debt, they’re a long way from glitz and glamour, and that’s fine by Jen. Until the Network calls and tells her that unless she says “I do” to a wedding special, Justin will be out of a job.

Now Jen has two weeks to plan an all-expenses-paid “dream wedding”—and dodge the tricks and traps of a showrunner happy to mess up her future in the name of ratings. Luckily for Jen, she’s got plenty of experience with cake and popcorn. But when real-life drama and reality TV twists collide, the cliffhangers may just follow her right down the aisle . . .

 

Praise for Reality Wedding:

“The third book in Heffernan’s Reality Star series is such a fun and entertaining read, as Justin and Jen – and all the drama that seems to follow them everywhere – are back. Will they get married is the big question here, and will reality TV have any part. Heffernan will keep readers guessing, as the story has some twists to it. With lots of drama, a bit of humor and a sweet romance, this series is as addicting as reality TV. Fans of Sophie Kinsella might want to give this series a try.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars 

Available now from all major retailers. Order today!

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play iBooks

 

 

Excerpt:

 

 

“Justin, I can’t hear you. Where are you?”

“Airport…on.”

I fought the urge to chuck my useless phone across the room. “What? Justin, I can’t understand anything you’re saying. We’ve got a terrible connection.”

The phone went dead. I called him back immediately, but nothing happened. The several voicemails he’d left shed no additional light on anything: a lot of static, a couple of broken airline announcements in the background, crowd noise, and one that sounded like a butt dial from the men’s room. Awesome. My concern grew with each uninformative message. All the texts were variations of “Please call me ASAP.”

Heart pounding, I dialed Sarah’s number. The call went straight to voicemail. She should be on a plane, not at the bakery, but I dialed the landline, anyway. The phone at Sweet Reality rang and rang until the line started buzzing. Since the shop should be open, getting no answer made me even more nervous.

I was still standing in the kitchen, staring out over the pool, when Rachel entered wearing her swimsuit. “You okay? One of the producers said they heard yelling.”

“Yes. No. I don’t know.”

“Well, that clears things right up.” She tilted her head at me, eyes full of concern. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. Justin called, but the reception was all wonky, and it sounded like there was some issue with his sister. I tried to call Sarah, too, but her phone’s off. I hope she’s okay.”

“Hold on a sec. He said there’s a problem with Sarah?”

“Yeah.”

“When are they supposed to be flying in?” Rachel pulled out her phone and started tapping. “Do you have the flight number?”

“He was supposed to fly out of Florida a few hours ago. When he called, I thought his flight landed early, but he was apologizing and sounding stressed. It doesn’t sound like they were on the plane. Should I go to the airport, just in case?”

Rachel kept tapping, a grim look on her face. Then she held her phone out to me. “No, Jen, I don’t think you should.”

I snatched her phone out of her hand. Then all the wind rushed out of me. She’d pulled up a news site. HURRICANE CARA STRANDS THOUSANDS. Below the headline, a picture showed a Florida airport, absolutely packed with people.

He said Cara, not Sarah.

“I’m sorry, Jen,” Rachel said, “but I don’t think Justin’s flying in tonight. According to this site, he might not be able to get a flight for days.”

“What about Atlanta? Can he drive to Atlanta? My family’s flying through there.”

She tapped a few more times, biting her lip. I found the answer on my phone right when a low murmur told me Rachel saw it, too.

All flights canceled. My entire family stranded.

 

 

My heart sank. Just when things finally started to go right, when I started to think the whole wedding might not be a complete disaster, my groom wasn’t even coming.

 

 


Be Sure to Check Out the First Two Books in the Reality Star series!

 

 

 

AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR

 

Millennial Jen auditioned for a reality show hoping to win the $250,000 cash prize.  With puzzles, games, and more, this show is right up her alley. But when she meets co-contestant Justin, she finds herself questioning what really matters. Can she trust that his feelings for her are real? Or is it all a showmance put on for the viewers?

 

 

 

 


 

SWEET REALITY 

After her brief brush with fame, Jen’s ready to start a new life: New location, new roommate, new boyfriend, new business. But when a killer competitor threatens to put her new bakery out of business before the grand opening, Jen steps back into the spotlight to snag a show-stopping recipe. Can she save her bakery without destroying her relationship? 

 

 

Praise for the Reality Star series:

America’s Next Reality Star is one sweet, sexy brain-candy read! You won’t be sorry you indulged.” —Leah Marie Brown, USA Today bestselling Author 

 

“Smart, witty, and really freaking good, America’s Next Reality Star is a fun read that has you cheering from the first paragraph through the last page. Laura Heffernan spins an entertaining tale, expertly mixing the main character’s real life events with the reality show’s challenges. With enough drama to not only satisfy fans of reality TV shows, but readers who thrive on a good story with humor and romance, this book is a perfect read.” —Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal bestselling author

“Reality TV fans, this is your book! Laura Heffernan captures all the drama and over-the-top craziness in this fun and flirty romance.” —Amy E. Reichert, author of Love, Luck, and Lemon Pie

“If you like sweet contemporary romances with a reality show theme, then you are going to enjoy Heffernan’s Reality Star series. Her second book, Sweet Reality, takes place about 16 months after the first and features the same great couple, Justin and Jen. These two are likeable and relatable characters and there is more romance in this one than there was in the first. There is also an interesting cast of secondary characters. Heffernan does a wonderful job with character development and painting vivid scenes. There are also some cute and funny moments that makes this book a worthwhile and entertaining read. If reality shows are your guilty pleasure, give Heffernan’s Sweet Reality a try.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

 

 

 


 

About the Author:

Laura is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys board games, travel, board games, baking, and board games. She lives in the northeast, where she spends far too much time tweeting about reality TV and Canadian chocolate.

 

 

Connect with Laura:

A Long Overdue Personal Post

So some of you may have heard me mention some life changes in social media over the last few months. I needed some emotional distance before I went into it. If you’re just here for the writing advice, feel free to skip this. It gets a bit long. Also, the words I’m sorry are stupid and please, save yourself the comment.

So Nanowrimo and I have a long history. I’ve failed more nanos than most people have even tried. I’ve been doing it annually to the point where it’s more of a tradition to me than Thanksgiving. I was ~3k out from the end at Thanksgiving, and closing in on the end when I get a message from one of my best local friends, C. We work together, he was literally the only person I knew in Philly when we moved here, and he’s become basically like my slightly younger brother over the years.

His fiance, A, partner for the last several years, was in the ER, with what was intially thought of as a Problem but not a Crisis related to a genetic liver issue he’d had diagnosed a couple years ago, but the effects stretch back to his young adult life even. Then the MICU. On life support.

And then I was there when A died.

Throughout the weeks that led to A’s death, there were ups where we thought he’d make it, and downswings where death seemed imminent. It was a roller coaster, and A’s family completely checked out, leaving the entire burden of decision on C’s shoulders, even at the last hours. I couldn’t let him face it on his own, so Owen and I made sure to do whatever we could to help. A handful of other friends did as well, but it’s so small vs what A meant to him, that I still don’t know to answer when people ask me how he is. They were as close as Owen and I are, and that mirroring is painful.

I warned my dayjob boss that with all this, I was likely to be short on patience and needing a bit more tolerance and patience with, as customer service calls it, soft skills. For those lucky enough to avoid working any customer service jobs, soft skills are things like word choice (Don’t say the wierd way they’re claiming their medical insurance works is unusual, just ask “what do you mean by that, because “they might feel judged”), tone (which is mostly sexist bullshit. I can say the exact same words as the guy next to me and be judged more harshly because if I have any inflection in my tone, it’s considered a flaw, not a feature), and other emotional markers which are, as a whole, biased towards the straight, white, male expression. My dayjob has a known issue (someday I’ll link you to their glassdoor reviews) with this. They give a lot of lip service towards transparancy, accommodation, and wanting people to succeed. It’s not reflected in their actions, with me or others.

Any death is going to shake you. Watching someone die, even in a controlled medicalized environment, is an experience I both wouldn’t wish on anyone but one I’m grateful I was there for. I can’t take solace in faith. I wasn’t raised with much of one, I consider myself agnostic pagan at best. But my mind inventoried so many details. The way the hospital staff acted before, during, and after. The way the body slowly turned cold and turgid. The way the equipment was handled. Despite asking for a priest or chaplain or other clergy of the appropriate faith, because of the time and day, no religious official was able to attend, and my friend was faced with losing the love of his life, the first really stable relationship he’d ever found. And I know it’s cheesy, but they were an amazing pair. They had what Owen and I have, that utter trust and reliance. And then, it wasn’t there.

A few days before A’s death, C moved into my office. It was intended as a stopgap. They were living out about an hour away in a New Jersey suburb apartment. Their lease was almost up and they would normally have been looking for a new apartment anyway. It made sense given that A would, at best, be in the hospital in Philly for a while and then maybe in a rehab and then maybe requiring frequent specialist visits, for C and A to move in with us. And mind you, this is a couple that, in retrospect, I would have been happy to have as roommates, especially knowing what I learned after the fact about how much A’s liver issues were impacting the day to day household stuff for them. Part of me regrets not having asked and pushed more, but C and A are both very private people, and so I also can’t blame myself, because they’d always only said what was relevant to situations at hand.

Now, it’s for the foreseeable future. Because of C’s health issues, he isn’t comfortable living alone. And frankly, right now?? I wouldn’t want him to. He’s, as you’d expect, devestated. They had wedding plans, even a finalized guest list. There are few things more tragic than what might have been, and never will be. There are so many things that, in the aftermath, I’ve gone, well damnit, why didn’t I know? And I know that part of grief is anger. The anger at what could have been and never was. Knowing things intellectually doesn’t make it less sucktastic in the meantime.

All this led to my examining my life, as death often does. And I realized, I have been on cruise control over the last few years, and not really working on building my life into what I want. I want to be a full time editor, and I’ve spent the last, oh, 15 years, forcing myself into the customer service role that chafes badly. I am not someone who can obsequeiese to nonsense. I had a woman tell me recently that “A doctor batman, it’s short for something but if you google dr batman and dehydration it comes up…. says that disabilities are caused by dehydration and my son is autistic and getting him to drink more water may cure him.” …Yeah, that abelist crap is utterly unscientific and moronic.

So I’m doing a few things. First, I’ve got a doctors appointment later this month to do the overdue health checkup on me and to also attempt to document the ADHD that I’ve suspected for a long time I’ve had but was never diagnosed when I was younger because I’m also high IQ (the two are actually linked, but back when I was originally evaluated, having a high IQ gave you a pass for ADHD, because the interaction of the two was not understood). Once that’s officially stated in paperwork form, I can get this PA form of medicaid called MAWD, and then I don’t need to have the dayjob to maintain health insurance. So I can, in theory, quit the dayjob, and have medical insurance covered. I am in a fortunate position where, if I ask them to, Owen and C can take on a lot of the day to day expenses. And I can focus on growing my business for 3-6 months, based on what I have saved and the effects of marketing when I have tried.

TL;DR: If you’ve thought about hiring a freelance editor, or me specifically, now is the time. Once I start doing the marketing, I plan to book in 2-3 clients per week, and while I always try to give existing clients priority, I can’t promise I’ll have the exact spot you want. I’ve dreamed for a long time about being able to hang this shingle without the limitations of a dayjob. I’m very much in favor of referrals, if you know someone who might want my editing services, please point them my way! I have a rare chance here to chase my dreams, and I’m going to do so while it’s available to me. In the long run, gods only know what will happen. But real talk, I’ve never been more ready, and it’s worth a try. I might fail, but I might fly, and worst case scenario, I get another dayjob.