Find yourself some clients, they said…

And every single thing I have ever read on the subject makes it sound just that easy.  I’m going to be honest with you here. It’s NOT easy to find clients when you are just starting out as a freelance writer. People are not going to be lining up in droves to buy your written words. A single person isn’t going to make a line of one either. It’s a bitch to get established, okay? That is why content mills wind up flooded with writers. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fairly easy money that generally requires  minimal research. The more you write, the more you make.  The editors tend to be less exhaustive, although you will get the stray editor that thinks s/he works for the Washington Post. If you’ve ever read some of the mass content presented on sites like Facebook, you understand that a lot of these people churn out garbage on a daily basis. And by garbage, I really mean garbage. If you don’t care about building a portfolio, if you don’t need clips or a byline, and f you are fluent in at least one language, then you can make some great spare cash this way. Use a little common sense, though. If you want to write for, say a Spanish audience, you’ll do much better if you are actually fluent in Spanish. Google translate can only do so much.

So, how do you go about building your portfolio, getting your clips, and seeing your byline out there? Use the rule of K.I.S.S. Keeping it simple to start is going to be your best bet. Stick to writing what you know in the beginning. You may think your research skills are phenomenal, but there’s an editor out there just waiting to tell you otherwise. If you write about something you know, you write with confidence and that shows. You’ll be amazed at how much you do know about something once you start writing about it. the words will just flow, and that saves time over struggling with every single word you type. Make sure of your sources and definitely fact-check! In the information age, there is always some armchair expert ready to troll you mercilessly over misrepresented ideology and misstated facts. Once you’ve got a handle on the basics, it’s time to find your audience.

So, go, find yourself some clients!!

Just kidding. I wouldn’t throw you out there like that. That’s how I was tossed out there years ago, and nobody should have to learn everything the hard way.  So I’m going to give you one resource I wish I had had years ago.  It’s simply this link here. This will connect you to submission guidelines for hundreds of different news and magazine titles. Back in the day, I had to go look this up in the library, one magazine at a time, and one outdated book that listed contacts and guidelines that were no longer valid. This is my gift to you. You’re welcome.

One last thing. Don’t quibble over pay to start. As a new author, you won’t win any contests doing that. Take the scale offered, and keep the ultimate goal in mind. Soon enough, you’ll get to ask for different scales based on your work, but for now, you need the exposure more.

Now.

Go find yourself some clients!

 

Big Girls and Bathtubs

It’s no secret that I have put on a few pounds in the past year. Ok, so it was more than a few. Thirty. It was thirty pounds. Living at a hospital does that to a girl, you know? Anyway, I was able to fool myself pretty well at the hospital, having a walk-in shower and all. I finally did have to accept that I am a bigger girl when I sat down in my bathtub for the first time.

It’s a standard tub, no frills, about as average as a tub can get. My fat behind barely fits. If I try to recline, my elbows are forced into my ribcage and my once-flat tummy looks like the biggest island in that stream. I’ve tried, valiantly, to lie to myself and others by saying I have one of those small tubs like you find in single wide mobile homes. Today, for reasons I refuse to examine, I decided to measure my tub. Life is cruel. Tape measures are even more cruel.

I’ve now confirmed it truly is a standard bathtub. Which is too small to be comfortable for my non-standard booty. Nothing will dash every ounce of feeble self-denial like not fitting in your own bathtub. I would vow to only shower from this point forward until I either lose weight or get a garden tub, but I can’t shave my legs in the shower. I’m not graceful  enough to pull that off, so it is much safer for me to sit in the tub.  Or in my case, ON the tub. Yes, seriously.

I started watching what I eat, cut out all but maybe one diet soft drink a day, drink plenty of water, and started exercising about a month ago. I’ve lost 2 pounds. Two. TWO!

What the hell is up with that???

Guilt or Innocence Aside, What about Due Process?

Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have been in the global spotlight since the release of the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer. A little over 10 years ago, their spotlight was much smaller, and focused with laser intensity. Everyone in Calumet and Manitowoc counties knew their names, and thanks to a couple of questionable press conferences from then special prosecutor Ken Kratz, everyone was 100% certain of their guilt. Why should they doubt it? This respected prosecutor virtually said so, complete with sordid details of a horrific crime. This was reinforced with ill-timed press conferences with Dassey defense attorney Len Kachinski basically proclaiming his own client’s guilt. It wasn’t until Making a Murderer was released that people began to see that the narrative didn’t exactly match up with the physical evidence. People began to question, perhaps for the first time, if the men incarcerated for the horrific murder of photographer Teresa Halbach were actually guilty. Both men were going through the process of appealing their guilty verdicts, with little to no success. Things had continued quietly in the background from the time of the first verdict, with little press attention, and certainly without the world watching. The world is watching now.

To say the deck was stacked against the two men would be an understatement. It was not only stacked against them, it was braced with rebar and coated in a concrete shell. Those ill advised press conferences given by not only Ken Kratz and Len Kachinsky, but also Calumet county Sheriff Jerry Pagel have come back to haunt this case time and time again. Millions of people have watched and dissected each and every televised appearance, casting those men in a decidedly unfavorable light. While the press conferences by Kratz and Kachinsky guaranteed that the jury pool was tainted and removed any hope for an impartial jury to be seated, it is a press conference by retired Sheriff Pagel that is going to cause a lot of problems now. Problems for the prosecution, though, not the defense. People all over the world have been asking why it was Manitowoc officers that found so much of the evidence, when Pagel publicly stated that they would only be used in a support capacity. Was he lying? Or was the county that was supposed to be heading up this investigation just that oblivious to what was going on around their crime scene? Neither option looks good. It should have been a lesson learned the hard way, but it wasn’t.

Ken Kratz still makes public appearances, peddling his book , and loudly and vociferously proclaiming he was right to anyone who will listen. His fiancee, who must have been about 15 at the time of the original trial, has made a Twitter career of doing the same. Len Kachinsky still gives interviews trying to affirm his former clients guilt, while simultaneously trying to make himself appear to be the victim of an unjust system. And then there is Michael Griesbach, who has authored a pro-guilt book about the case, and most recently has penned an op-ed piece attempting to do damage control from the previous press conferences and still sway the public opinion towards guilt. His way of doing this is nowhere near as graphic and sweaty as Ken Kratz’ was, but is actually more disturbing on a fundamental level. He ridicules Avery’s post-conviction counsel, Kathleen Zellner in a shallow and obvious way, claiming she seeks two things she already has; fame and fortune. He takes potshots at Making a Murderer filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi for daring to profit from making the film, and flaunting it by buying a house. While petulant in tone, these are no cause for actual concern.

What is cause for concern though, is his repeated public apologies to the Halbach family for these men appealing their convictions. He makes it sound as if they have found a way to circumvent the system strictly to add pain and grief to the Halbach family. Surely he doesn’t mean to imply that these men are not entitled to due process, as afforded to every citizen of the United States. He can’t possibly mean to imply that both the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution are actually not worth the paper they are printed on? It is Due Process and it is 100% guaranteed to these men, regardless of guilt or innocence. It is their right, under the laws governing our country, to be able to appeal their respective verdicts. What’s more, the Halbach family should have been told at the time of the original convictions to expect this to happen. Ongoing public apologies here are only for grandstanding in an attempt to continue to sway public opinion. What happened to the Halbach family is something most people will never have to face. Apologies cannot make it any better, no matter how heartfelt and sincere. Insincere apologies by rote are a slap in the face, and more vile than any fantasy Kratz could author. It seems that if Manitowoc et al were as certain of the convictions as they claim to be, they would say nothing at all, letting the facts speak for themselves, privately keeping the Halbach family abreast of the ongoing procedural volleys and what to expect. They don’t seem to know, or care, that the more they talk, the less believable they become. Perhaps radio silence while they dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s would be better. That way, if they missed something, some vital clue that could lead them to the real killer(s), they’d be one step ahead of the game when these convictions are vacated. The Halbach family has the deepest sympathy of the world for their loss, and for the failure of the system that has yet to find and convict whomever was responsible. The murder of Teresa Halbach has been lost amid the vanities and egos of lesser men who cannot understand that they are not gods.

AC – The final chapter

I have done loads of work, it seems to me, on this AC unit with the ultimate goal of having cool air flowing over my fevered brow as I write. Whether it is here, or writing copy borderline clickbait, my little office has a huge window that makes it uncomfortably warm. Added to which I have accepted a research assignment that keeps me for long hours in front of a computer screen. Ok, it just gets frigging HOT up in here. So I did all this work, a bit at a time, as I could afford it, to get the AC running. And now I know a fair bit about AC maintenance. All that remained was to put a vacuum on it, and then hopefully load that sucker up with freon.

So my buddy-who-actually-owns-a-vacuum-pump-and-gauges comes over at the beginning of the week. He HAD to come, because when I called to see about renting the vacuum pump and gauges, the guy scared the doggy doo out of me, and had me convinced that if the AC worked, I could make it not work beyond all repair. Which serves me right for listening to a parts jockey at Auto Zone. Oh, and they no longer rent gauges. So, see? He had to come. And he did, with all his AC accoutrements and the big moment is HERE!!!!! I could already feel that cold air circulating through my sweltering house, turning my tiny office into an tiny icebox office…   …   …   …   …   …

Only, not. Have you figured it out, yet? No? Ok, well the anticlimactic ending to the AC repair saga was that it wouldn’t hold a vacuum. If it won’t hold a vacuum, it won’t hold freon. And just like that, my dreams of writing and chill, Netflix and chill, bathing and chill, ANYTHING and chill evaporated into an overheated puff of steam. So maybe by this time next year I will have saved enough money to replace the AC. But for this year, Graceless under fire is melting gracelessly under the heat.

So, who killed Sister Cathy?

Netflix is becoming an expert at putting out thought-provoking documentaries on crime, and they’ve roped me in once again. I’m still slogging through all of the evidence from Making a Murderer, and what happens? Netflix releases another one, The Keepers. Where Making a Murderer is fraught with voracious claims of guilt and innocence, depending on who you believe, The Keepers has no confirmed bad guy for the actual killing of Sister Cathy. Not to say there is no bad guy overall. Father Joseph Maskell certainly fits the bad guy role throughout the series. He’s that guy you’re going to love to hate. As much as I would love to say he probably killed Sister Cathy, the sad, simple truth is that he most likely did not. I can’t say he didn’t set the wheels in motion. In fact, I think he did just that, whether he actually knew it at the time or not. And he certainly used it to his advantage to control Jane Doe (Jean Hargadon Wehner).  So let’s start at the beginning, and the beginning is not with Sister Cathy’s death. The beginning goes back much farther than that.

For Jane Doe (JHW), the beginning was the first time she went to confession at Archbishop of Keough High School, and encountered Father Magnus.  I’m still researching Father Magnus, but he would have his own beginning. Then there is Father Maskell’s beginning, which could be from 1957 when he entered  St. Mary Seminary School, or it could go all the way back into his childhood.  Lastly, there are the beginnings for everyone involved in what can only be called a pedophile ring. Most of these are shadow figures, comprised of other priests, brothers, police and others. I don’t think anyone really knows how large the ring was, or how high up in both church and government it went. That is ultimately the root of the problem, and what caused the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik. My personal belief at this time is that if it had only been Father Maskell and Father Magnus, Sister Cathy would have prevailed in her attempt to protect these girls. It was the sheer number of men involved in this ring that cost her her life, in my opinion. Until we can uncover other key players involved in this ring, we won’t know who killed Sister Cathy.

And what about Joyce Malecki? Was she a red herring, killed to throw off the investigation of Sister Cathy’s murder? Was her murder related at all? She did know Father Maskell, after all. And as rampant as the abuse seems to have been, it is not inconceivable that she too knew something that was dangerous to the ring. It seems her murder has lost a lot of focus that it should have received. What strikes me about the investigation into her murder is that it was/is handled by the FBI, as she was found on federal land. So that would remove the local law enforcement from it entirely. I would think that this fact would make a pedophile ring nervous. It would be a lot easier to control the direction of an investigation at the local level, rather than the federal level.  So that lends itself to the idea that either her murder was unrelated to  that of Sister Cathy or that whoever murdered her knew how to beat the system. The FBI has not released any records as yet, but it didn’t stop me from requesting them. And I’ll request them again and again, if for no other reason than to reassure myself that the reach of pedophile central based out of the Holy Roman Catholic Church could not reach that far. To think otherwise is a scary thought. I would prefer my government not answer to a single religion or church. I’m picky like that.

Like I said in an earlier post, I’m not trying to solve these crimes. I’m just not qualified to do that. What I am qualified to do is dig, research, ask hard questions, and evaluate what I learn. I’m qualified to tell you all about it. I’m qualified to let these survivors know they are not alone, they themselves did nothing wrong, and they are not forgotten.  And that is all I am trying to do here.

Coughing Like A Barking Seal

But I am slowly getting back at it. Yes, very slowly, but, hey, it’s better than nothing, right? I warned you that you never know what I might write about, and I am going to drive that home over the next few blog posts. I have been moved, and I am going to write about it, and you can blame Netflix and Chill, and a horrid summer cold/cough that gave me time to binge watch. So if you haven’t watched THE KEEPERS yet, go and watch it now. No really, now. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Anyone that is familiar with me on any sort of personal level will know that I couldn’t watch that and not say anything. I don’t want to make my first note about this full of spoilers, but the injustice portrayed in this series boggles the mind. Aaaand the Mucinex is wearing off…..

So suffice it to say, I have already submitted Freedom of Information Act requests, assured the government that I don’t stand to make any money off of this, (with my wopping, what…10? readers??) And Now I am digging into some online research. Again, if you know me, you know that’s something I do fairly well. Because of the series, the internet fairly vomits up information gone over in the show. I am looking for more than just that, though. Call me a tick, but I am going to burrow in on this one.  I’m not trying to solve this case. There are those much better equipped than I to do that. I just want to understand, because right now understanding is hard to come by. A fresh eye never hurts though, and the more information we have about these atrocities, the more likely we are to prevent them in the future. And who knows, maybe some armchair sleuth will solve the cases I will be writing about. Anything is possible.

If you are still reading, that means you aren’t watching yet. Fair enough. but you’ll need to watch to understand future posts, which will include;

  • Who was Brother Bob?
  • Who was Skippy?
  • Is the necklace actually related?
  • Is Joyce Malecki’s murder related? How?
  • Is Gerry Koob believable?
  • How high up did the pedophile ring actually go?
  • Is Sharon May believable?

Trust me when I say this is the tip of a very, very large iceberg. I hope this opens a discussion, and brings awareness, and maybe even a little bit of healing. Go watch the show. Then report back for serious discussion about the issues raised. It’s a bee in my knickers, y’all, and it isn’t going away, so you may as well enjoy the ride.

This Air Conditioner is Killing Me

Ok, so if you’ve been following along, you are familiar with the saga of the AC repair. This freaking AC is gonna kill me, or I’m going to kill it. One or the other. Where did I leave off? Oh yeah. The contactor. The verdict was that I needed a contactor. Like everything else on this damned unit, it wasn’t the easiest thing to find. I went to Mayer Electrical Supply. Very nice folks, truly, but they didn’t have what I needed. The told me to check over at Grainger, so that’s what I did. Again, very nice helpful people. And again, they didn’t have what I needed. Well SHIT. Another customer told me to go over and try Wittichen Supply. He assured me they would have what I needed. Well, why not? I’m already driving all over Birmingham, so I may as well, right? Wonders never cease, they had it! I was so excited I might have had an orgasm. Maybe. That’s sort of what it felt like, if memory serves. I go tearing home, ready to slap this baby in and finally have central AC. Cold freaking air throughout my house.  By the way, whoever installed this unit needs a foot up their butt. Seriously. The access panel is on the back corner, with about 1 foot of clearance between it, the fence and the house. Who the hell does that?? Asshole.

So contortionist act in full swing, I get the cover off, the old contactor out, and the new one in.  I turn on the disconnect, run inside and turn on the AC. It. Blew. That. Fucking. 3 Amp. Fuse. AGAIN! I fully admit that being a girl, I sat in the floor of the hallway and had a brief but intense girly moment. Every woman out there will understand, I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t hurt, I wasn’t defeated. I was PISSED. I mean seriously, knife throwing, gun toting PISSED OFF. There was no way this thing was going to beat my ass. Wasn’t happening. So I thought about it, and circled back around to the thermostat wire. So, it made perfect sense to just cut it and see what happened.  It worked. There was a click and suddenly air was rushing out the vents, and the fuse wasn’t blowing. Well hell YEAH! It wasn’t cold air, but it was air. To my way of thinking, if the thermostat wasn’t actually hooked up, the AC didn’t know I wanted cold air. I ran down to the neighborhood hardware store, Richardson’s (they don’t have a website or I would link it) and bought 50 feet of 18/2 thermostat wire.  My plan was simple. I’d tie it to the wire I cut inside, then go out to the unit and pull it through and hook it up. Well, of course it didn’t happen that way. I can’t be sure, but I think they must’ve stapled it to the floor joists, or gorilla glued it or something, because it wasn’t pulling. At all. Now I will do a lot in the name of home improvement, but I won’t crawl underneath a house for love or money. Just NOPE. But that’s ok. I had a Plan B.

Back inside I go, to grab that roll of wire. I ran that crap around the corner, behind the sofa, and right out the living room window. I redneckified the hell out of it, but I got both ends of the wire where they needed to be. I’ll worry about looks later. I wired up the thermostat,  turned everything back on, and BAM! It was RUNNING!! Sort of. Guess what?

The compressor is just kind of laying there buzzing like a cheap vibrator. I swear to God. I can’t make this up. I have a sneaking suspicion this unit wasn’t serviced regularly. Ever. So, once the Noah’s Ark type rain clears out later this week, I’ll replace the capacitor. And get my buddy to check the Freon. And go from there. Jeez.