Being a Professional – Part 1 of 4

There are many definitions for professional/professionalism, most of which expressing that a professional is someone who does something, a skill or practice, for money. But, there’s more to it than that, which is why I’m sharing with you these definitions of a professional:

Professional: a person who is an expert at his or her work; a person who engages in an activity with great competence.

Before you can even think about making money as a professional for any skill, you must first learn the techniques and tools that go with it. Since I’m a writer and that’s what this newsletter is about – writing – that’s what this article will be about; the skills needed to become a professional writer.

The definition says that a professional is an “expert at his or her work” and “a person who engages in an activity with great competence.” These both give clues that will lead you to being a professional writer.

You must learn spelling and grammar, and POV and tenses to be an expert at the craft of writing. You can’t depend on an editor to do everything for you. It’s unfortunate that most writers believe they don’t need to know how to actually write properly – with correct spelling and grammar – and expect all of it to be the editor’s job.

Editors are not there to clean up your mess because you don’t want to learn things for yourself. They’re there to catch the mistakes that slipped past the writer, because it’s virtually impossible for a writer to catch all their own mistakes. We all make mistakes and it helps to have a second set of eyes.

If you want to be a professional at anything, you must learn the skills and become an expert.

Once you’ve learned the skills and know how to be an expert, you then have to use them with “great competence.” What does this mean? It means don’t be sloppy or lazy, but always strive to do your best. This applies to writing, formatting, and following all submission guidelines. They’re there for a reason and a professional knows this.

Once you have the skills to be an expert and exercise those skills with great competence, you’ll find that your acceptances will increase and more and more people will want to work with you.

No one wants to work with someone who can’t write a decent sentence or can’t use punctuation properly – that involves a lot of editing work and time. They want to work with someone who has clean writing that’s clear and that will take a minimal amount of effort to publish.

Some would say this would be laziness on the publisher’s part. And they would be completely wrong. This would be laziness on the part of the writer for not learning their skill, for not becoming a professional expert at their craft. The writers who think that it’s laziness on the part of the editor or publishers are the ones that haven’t taken the time to learn their skill; it’s a very bad attitude to have. They’re the ones you’ll see griping about not getting acceptances and slandering editors or presses that don’t want to work with them. That in itself is immature and unprofessional (I’ll cover more of that in the 4th part of this series on professionalism).

The fact of the matter is, if you want to be a successful, professional writer. You have to learn your craft well. You have to know spelling, grammar, POV, and tenses. You can’t depend on others to do it for you.

You are responsible for the quality of your writing. Editors aren’t your grammar maids, just there to clean up your mess!

Because remember what professionals are:

Professional: a person who is an expert at his or her work; a person who engages in an activity with great competence.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2014. All rights reserved.

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Nurse Blood – Bonus Content

Bonus Material – Nurse Blood by Rebecca Besser

Nurse Blood by Rebecca Besser
Click on cover pic to visit title on Amazon!
MILES’ INTERROGATION

By Rebecca Besser

Agent Croce watched the man she and Agent McCoy had arrested at the hospital through the one way mirror. He looked pathetic. He’d started crying when they’d clamped the cuffs on him. For his one call, he’d dialed an unlabeled number in his cell phone. From his constantly deteriorating mental state, she assumed he couldn’t get a hold of whomever he’d been trying to contact. They’d run the number and discovered it was an untraceable burner; Agent Limmon was trying to track down the towers the number had used while in the area. They suspected it was someone he’d been working with, probably the nurse.

“I think it might have been her phone,” Limmon said, entering the small room and looking in on the prisoner as well. “He had direct contact with her – we know that for a fact. The pings I found put her in the area of the Housen abduction and the surrounding areas. It doesn’t tell me exact locations, but I know she was close enough to have a good probability of being who we believe her to be.”

 

Croce nodded. “Thank you.”

Limmon watched the diminished man chained to a table in the connecting room. “He would have made an easy target. He might be a patsy.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Croce said. “I think the woman used him and left him to take the fall. You coming in with me?”

Limmon nodded. “Sure. I would love to hear what this bastard has to say for himself firsthand. Who knows, maybe he’ll give us another clue.”

Croce opened the door to enter the interrogation room and stepped through to approach their prisoner.

Limmon followed her and closed the door behind himself.

Croce sat down across from the man they were preparing to interrogate and opened the file she’d been holding.

Limmon stood back a little from the table and slightly to the side to observe.

“Miles Gardner,” she said, “we know you’ve been involved with an organ harvesting team. We know you’ve been in contact with a blonde woman, and that she’s your main contact with this group of people. So, let’s make life easy for all of us…especially you. Tell us what you know about these people and we might be able to reduce your prison sentence.”

Limmon watched the man as she spoke – he seemed to slump down more and more with each word. The man seemed to know he was defeated, that there was no hope. He almost felt sorry for the man…almost.

When Miles didn’t respond, Croce spoke again.

“Let’s start out simply,” she said. “What’s the woman’s name?”

“Sonya,” Miles muttered.

“I’m sorry,” Croce said. “What did you say?”

For the first time Miles lifted his head and looked the agent in the eyes – his were filled with tears.

“Her name is Sonya,” he said in a shaky voice. “She said she loved me…” He broke down and started sobbing openly as he cried.

Knowing that the interview was being video and audio recorded, Croce didn’t pause to write it down.

“Is Sonya her real name?” she asked.

“I don’t know…” he gasped out.

“Do you know her last name?” Croce asked. Of course she knew the woman’s name from the files they’d collected at the hospital, but she wanted confirmation.

“Garret,” he said, nodding.

“Do you know where she lives?”

Miles nodded and leaned forward to wipe tears off his face with his tethered hands.

Croce slid a pen and piece of paper across the table to him.

“Please write it down for me.”

He complied, sniffling.

Croce handed the paper to Limmon when Miles slid it and the pen back across the table.

Limmon read it and nodded to Croce; it was the address they had for Sonya from the hospital’s employee files. He turned, opened the door to the adjoining room, stepped through, closed the door, and pulled out his cell phone. He called Agent McCoy to let him know that the name and address they had for the woman was the right information.

 

After ending the call, he reentered the interrogation room.

“…I don’t know if any of the names I know are their real names,” Miles squeezed out between sobs. “I don’t know their addresses or anything else. The only places I saw Sonya was at work, at her house, and the building.”

“You know where the building they were using is?” Limmon blurted out, unable to stop himself.

“Yes,” Miles said with wide eyes, surprised by the sudden outburst from the usually silent man.

Croce slid the paper and pen back across the table to Miles. While he was writing, Croce looked up at Limmon, smiled, and winked.

He grinned down at her.

They were finally getting somewhere in the investigation that had been stale for too long. They finally felt like they had a chance at catching the perps who always seemed just out of their reach.

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2016. All rights reserved.

My Goals – Passion Planner

My Goals – Passion Planner
By Rebecca Besser

Last year I kind of took time off from writing; there were many reasons for it. And you might find that funny, because I still wrote and had publications in 2017. That’s because even when I’m not writing like I should, it doesn’t mean I’m not writing at all. Writers write—it’s part of who we are. Not writing makes writers stressed and grumpy.

In case you didn’t notice, I’m staging this to announce I’ll be writing more this year!

Since I know I’ve struggled with planning in the past, and I need something to keep me motivated long-term, I took serious action. I ordered a specialty planner. I ordered a Passion Planner, and I love it!

This planner has you set goals, figure out steps to reach those goals, and encourages you to make changes to meet your goals. And it motivates you for your professional and personal goals. It has daily/weekly schedule pages, monthly planning pages, and reviews at the end of each month to help your figure out what’s holding you back and what you need to do to push forward. I think I chose well for me.

As far as writing, I’ve set myself a minimum daily word count that will give me a minimum weekly word count. I’ve set my publishing schedule on my minimum word count goal. If I keep myself going at a steady pace for the year, I’ll finish multiple books—more than I’ve previously written in a year.

And I’m sure everyone’s thinking: “Duh, that’s how you do it!” But it’s not always that easy. A lot happens throughout the day, and sometimes it’s a very real struggle for authors to hit a set word count.

Previously, I just tried to write as much as I could, whenever I could. That worked for me for years. My life, however, has gotten busier. That leads to writing being a serious struggle, especially with stress. Stress reduces creativity for me. And then I get more stressed because I’m not writing. This leads to writing being hard and me not wanting to write. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m sure some of my creative friends can relate. I had to find a way to reduce the stress and find the strength of my creativity again, and I think I’ve done it!

Something positive I’ve discovered from setting myself a minimum daily word count, is I’m going over. The first week it was hard to meet my word requirements, but the second week, I found I was getting into the story and more words were pouring out of me. And, no, I didn’t count the extra words toward the next day’s count. One day I did skip because I was finishing something else, but I made up for it the next day and then some.

My goal is to stick with my self-imposed deadlines as well, which I’ve been doing well on so far. Not all of them have to do with writing, but most do in some way or another.

There have been two things I’ve fallen behind on, but I’ve finished one and the other is almost completed as well. I expected minor delays on some things. I know life isn’t perfect and won’t always go as planned no matter how well I plan it. So, with that in mind, I’ve given myself a “within the month” allowance. Meaning, as long as I complete all my plans for the month, within the month, I’m still going to count it as completing and meeting my goals.

It sounds fair to me, and makes things more “doable” in case life gets crazy for a week. That way, if someone at my house gets sick or my son’s goats decide to kid, I’m still good on my goals.

I’ve also noticed, with doing a detailed planner, where I can get more time out of my life if I would need to. This will help me implement new activity to meet more goals in the long run.

In the past, I thought planners were unnecessary and more work. Maybe something has changed for me. Maybe I’m now at a point in life where I appreciate writing things down so I don’t have to remember them.

Maybe it’s because I’m determined to meet my goals for 2018.

Regardless, I have faith in myself. I will accomplish more.

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2018. All rights reserved.

Self-Publishing – The One Author Show

Self-Publishing – The One Author Show
By Rebecca Besser

Life doesn’t always go as you plan. Take today for example… My plans were to go grocery shopping, write a blog post, and work on my taxes (it’s more involved when you’re self-employed). Guess what happened? My son’s pygmy goat decided to have twins…today (Saturday). Guess what that means? That I spent most of the day sitting in the cold barn. I have the smallest hands, so if the goat has issues, I’m the ones that gets to “go in” after it. There were minor issues, so I did a bit of going in and pulling. But both the babies are out and seem to be doing great.

Obviously I worked in writing this post. I also managed to do a bit on my taxes. But groceries will have to wait until another day. Not to mention all the other little things I’d had planned for the day that weren’t big enough to make it on the actual “to-do” list.

That’s how life goes, especially for an author with a family. Especially an author with a family that’s running a small farm. There’s always someone needing something… Your child’s sick, your spouse needs you to run an errand, you have to make a call about something, you have to check on animals multiple times to make sure everything’s okay, you have to help with your child’s activities, you have to go to your child’s school for one thing or another, you have to try to take care of yourself…you have to handle life.

What does that mean for an author? It means your schedule gets blown to shit sometimes. What does that mean to an author who self-publishes? Your book(s) get pushed back until you get time to do the writing, editing, cover, formatting, etc.

I had a book planned to come out in October. It didn’t. I intend to have it available by the end of February. How did that happen? The beginning of October is our county fair where my son shows animals. So, that’s a week of limited time for anything other than that. Then, there’s recovering from everything that got pushed back because of that week. Then my son injured himself and was on crutches for a little while. Then there was Thanksgiving and my son was sick. Then I was sick. Then we were in a car accident. My son had a birthday. Then my son and husband were sick. Then there was Christmas. Are you seeing how just living can suck the life out of life? LOL

I’m not complaining. I’m just letting you know that authors are humans too, with lives. Unfortunately an author’s life can’t always revolve around books, no matter how hard they try to make it revolve around books.

But, since I realized all my flaws in planning, I’ve made changes to remedy that. (More about that in my next blog post.)

Regardless, with all that going on, a self-publishing (sometimes) author like me gets behind. Because writing a book takes a lot of time. Editing a book takes a lot of time. Creating a cover for a book takes a lot of time. Formatting a book takes a lot of time. And when you self-publish, all the quality of the work is on you (even if you have someone help you with any step(s) of the process).

When you’re doing it all on your own, it takes a lot of time that has to be worked in and around…life.

 

©Rebecca Besser, 2018. All rights reserved.