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About writing, editing, publishing & getting it out there


Errors in Using Quotations


… here’s another quick writing tip from one of my favorite sites


5 Errors in Treating Quotations.

1. “When an attribution (“so and so said/wrote/agreed”) leads into the quotation without intervening punctuation; the quotation becomes part of a framing sentence, and the first word of the original quotation is not capitalized.

Original: Alfred North Whitehead wrote that “The best education is to be found in gaining the utmost information from the simplest apparatus.”
Better: “Alfred North Whitehead wrote that ‘the best education is to be found in gaining the utmost information from the simplest apparatus.’” Read More


How To: Choose a Style Guide | Copyediting.com

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Andrea Altenburg at Copyediting.com writes: “A style guide creates consistency for all writing, such as spelling and language.The benefit of adopting a style guide is that it puts guidelines in place to ensure consistency across all documents that go out the door.

I “grew up” with the Associated Press Stylebook because I started my career in newspapers, and that’s what newspapers usually use. According to Wikipedia, “The AP Stylebook is considered a newspaper industry standard and is also used by broadcasters, magazines and public relations firms. It includes an A-to-Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals and usage.” This style guide also includes sections that reporters and editors might need: business guidelines, sports guidelines and style, photo caption rules, a chart of editing marks, and a briefing on media law. Read More



In an online forum about grammar, one person complained about bad grammar in texting:

What makes people think it’s all right to drop all usage and grammar rules when texting or messaging? If I see one more “u” I’ll scream. Ugh. Don’t write how you talk. It makes you look like an idiot. I don’t have a qwerty keyboard; I have a flip phone & I text using T9. I care about the language enough not to butcher it no matter what I’m doing.

(Note: I didn’t know what T9 was, so if she was complaining that abbreviations and slang make texts hard to understand, she lost me.) Read More


In The News: Call for entries for national headline contest | Copyediting.com

I wanted to spread the word about this to fellow editors:

Since you have been so busy this year writing publications, it is time to reminisce over your past writing year and enter your work in The American Copy Editors Society‘s headline contest. According to the press release, “Our annual contest welcomes entries from individuals and staff in a wide variety of categories for all publications published in English, either in print or online. Individuals stand to win as much as $300; students can win up to $125; and staff members take home a plaque for their organization and certificates for all involved.”

via In The News: Call for entries for national headline contest | Copyediting.com.


Copy editors’ group plans national summit on plagiarism, fabrication in journalism


Plans are taking shape for a summit on plagiarism and fabrication being organized by the American Copy Editors Society. ACES President Teresa Schmedding called on other national journalism organizations to join ACES in tackling the problem.

The event will take place April 5 in St. Louis during ACES national conference.

Former ACES Executive Committee member Bill Connolly, a retired senior editor of The New York Times and a co-author of its style manual and its policy on ethics and conflicts of interest, will lead the team. Connolly is a founding member of ACES and has served as the president of its Education Fund.

Click for more: Copy editors’ group plans national summit on plagiarism, fabrication in journalism.


ME o’ MY! Skip if you’re not a grammar geek

I emailed my husband about a trip I was considering to go visit my friend. I typed the sentence, “Would you want me to book you a ticket to join me or would you be OK with me going by myself?” Then I said to myself, “No, that’s not right. It should be ‘…MY going by myself’ … right?” Because it’s a gerund, the noun form of a verb made by adding “ing,” it should take a possessive subject, yes?

Dammit. I read something about this. It may not be wrong. (Cursing to self … can’t let it go … have to go look it up.) Read More


Souvenirs and mnemories…

From Grammar Tip of the Day (gtotd.blogspot.com)

My best friend in college had an Italian last name with four syllables. I could say it, but spelling it drove me nuts. I believed (and still believe) in correct spelling, especially for names. Her name was consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. The consonants were easy enough to remember; it was the vowels that gave me trouble. One day I looked at her name and had a flash of genius. I suddenly saw that the vowels were in ascending order starting with “a”: A, E, I and O. Perfect. I had the spelling down from then on. I pointed this out to my friend and she said, “You know, I NEVER noticed that before–pretty cool!”

I’ve always tried to come up with memory devices to remember things. In high school, one English teacher had a vocabulary quiz every Friday. It was maybe 10 or 20 words, not much more, and we had a list ahead of time that included those words. The ones I didn’t know, I would come up with mnemonic devices for myself to remember them. I aced every quiz. To be honest, I didn’t always remember the words six months later, but I remembered them long enough to get a good grade! Read More


Irrational fears, meandering thoughts

I wrote earlier about procrastination and getting distracted, and these are two big issues that I need to get a handle on. It’s not so easy. A big part of it is fear and negativity—if I sit down to write, I am not making money, and I should be doing something very specific toward making money, since I am not permanently employed right now—I’m doing freelance and temp work. So sitting down to write generates a fear that I’m doing the wrong thing.

My blog does not feel like as much a waste of time as fiction writing does, though, because it is linked to my website and I may, potentially, get freelance clients who need an editor or blogger or some other editorial service. But what about Twitter and Facebook—is spending time there productive? Are any of these things more or less productive than sitting down to write fiction, or an essay potentially for publication? Read More


I sit down to write a blog…

I do admit I get distracted and procrastinate a lot. Just now, about to sit down and write a blog, I thought it would be better to have pictures with it. I was going to write about my new laptop, and my frustration about being told by Microsoft that my computer was not eligible for an upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8. The Staples salespeople (there were several trying to convince me that day) had told me that they offered a rebate on upgrades to Windows 8 on all new laptop purchases, since it was coming out in October and this was the end of September. I emailed Staples and got details on how to order the upgrade and then apply for the rebate. I’ve gotten rebates from Staples before; you can do them online and there’s never been an issue beyond having to wait a few weeks for a check. So I started the process, confident that even without my computer-savvy husband Paul around I could do it myself. He had braved the roads to drive into work.

Because Hurricane Sandy has put NYC public transportation out of commission (the subways are flooded and I’ve just heard the wonderful news that a bunch of MTA buses in the yard at Jamaica were flooded and damaged, too (seriously? That couldn’t have been avoided?), my company is closed again today and I’m losing another day’s pay. Again, I have work to do here, but because I was home and had time, I thought it might be good to get the upgrade out of the way before I forgot about it and lost the paperwork and/or the offer expired. Knowing my past history, either one of those could easily happen.

But when I got the email from Microsoft that I was not eligible, before I let myself get upset (either I’ve been screwed or I’ve made some mistake in the process–hopefully the latter), I grabbed a pen and dialed the customer service number. There was no email address., naturally. I steeled myself and promised to be patient with the barely understandable customer service rep who would inevitably pick up. Oh, yes, I could get lucky and get someone from the U.S. In the past that’s been someone from Texas calling me Honey. Is that better than the overseas call centers? It’s a toss-up — sometimes I do understand the Indian accents better than the ones from the deep South. 

Anyway, it was all a moot point, because the call didn’t go through. Damn. Oh, yeah, we just had a massive hurricane!

Grumble grumble.

Anyway, my point is that I sat down to write the blog and decided I needed a picture of my laptop as illustration. The laptop didn’t look good against the ugly flowery tablecloth we currently have on our dining room table, so I moved it to the coffee table, where it looked better. Then I decided that if I were really going to illustrate “working on my laptop,” I’d need a prop — a coffee mug, which I frequently have next to me. I didn’t have one just then, though, because I’d already had two cups of coffee. OK, I thought, I’ll get the mug and pose it (and I can show off the pretty new handmade cup I got on my trip to Ireland). The mug was obviously empty so I decided to fill it with coffee I wasn’t planning on drinking. I debated with myself briefly, but felt that heating it in the microwave to try to capture some steam rising was a bit obsessive.

On my way to the kitchen, I saw that my cat, Pip, had shoved himself into the bag containing all the service and refund information that Staples had given me when I bought my laptop. Obviously, Pip had ennui due to being stuck with us in the house for two days straight, and he was attempting suicide. Of course I took his picture (being an impartial journalist) before talking him back out of the bag.

So. I do not have Windows 8 yet. A guy (girl) from Staples customer service with a name I have never seen before in my life said that it would be easier to discuss the issue over the phone, if I would call customer service. Suuuuure it will be easier, H——— uhh ….. Sir (Ma’am?). I didn’t attempt to make the call just yet; without actually trying again, I just told them my phone was out due to the storm. I will deal with this later. I have more important things to do. Like catching up on some editing, and … no, not playing with the cat–editing.


Sad typo is sad (from vacation)

My husband Paul and I were on vacation in Spain and then Dublin over the last two weeks. I was still keeping an occasional eye peeled for a good typo.

For the first part of the trip, I figured that most of the signs would be in Spanish, so either typos wouldn’t be noticeable (I only speak and read a little Spanish), or, if a sign was in English, it would have been written by a non-native speaker. Although I think everything should be proofed and  produced error free, I’m not going to give anyone a hard time for a mistake in a foreign language.

However, the town we were staying in, Benalmádena, on the Mediterranean, turned out to have a large population of British transplants, while many other UK folks were there on vacation. Bars, restaurants and stores all over the town were run by Brits and a lot of the signs were only in English. So while we were waiting for our toasties–battling flies and cigarette smoke–I felt justified in snapping a photo of the sign outside a little seaside pub.

I was enjoying myself too much to spend too much time looking for typos. When I return to work on Tuesday, I’ll continue my quest.