Tag Archives: reading


The Manuscript Quote

You can only make the manuscript the best that it can be, not reinvent it.

Just found a great post  titled “Tip of the week: Defining an editing project” on the Copyediting.com web page. To say that this was my favorite quote ever about editing this year, would not be an overstatement! ❤


Choosing the Best Pen for You

Some of us still rely on handwritten records of things that happen or that we must remember. For those instances, it’s important to find a convenient, standby writing utensil. But where do you begin? Well, most of us begin by reaching and grabbing the first writing implement we come across (marketing pens, hotel pens, crayons). However, sometimes we need to rise to the occasion, and use the right tool for the task at hand.

Many writing, editing, and design professionals that I know are very picky, as is their nature, when it comes to their trusted, standby writing tools: superfine point pens (black and red), red china peel-off pencils, or simple wood pencils. Some have developed an affinity for their particular tools: a particular mind set kicks in when they grab their favorite writing tool, the physical sensation of the tool is familiar and the strokes are consistent. They typically have been favoring their standbys for quite a long time, and plan on continuing to use them for quite some time. They may even go so far as to stockpile.

I recently asked some folks what should someone look for when looking for a standby writing utensil:

  • when will it be used? is it a daily use tool, are you a reporter with a notebook, do you journal, is it a to-do list, or are you looking to make a splash for occasional/special events?
  • where will it be used? will you be writing at home, in your office, in a busy business environment, during personal/quiet time?
  • what kind of grip are you looking for, watch out for pen weight and hand/wrist tiredness
  • what kind of point are you looking for: roller, gel, ballpoint, marker, wax, pencil, etc.
  • what kind of ink do you need: black or colored?
  • showcase personality or fit in?

Some individuals purchase incredibly expensive pens to show prestige and status (Mont Blancs and Cross) in semi precious stones, precious woods, gold, platinum, and silver (sometimes, these are graduation gifts). On the opposite spectrum, some have stuck with the same writing tools they used in the good old days when they bought school supplies. Many others are victims of whatever supplies their office supply closet is understocked with.

At work I use a Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip in green ink (spotty at best), a wood pencil, and a fine tip red ink marker. I hate how spotty the Bic is and the red marker is too wet. I switch to a black ink pen whenever I’m writing phone messages down or when I’m at a meeting with outsiders because it’s legible and more “official” though typically it shows another company’s logo. I used to take my sterling silver Cross roller point pen (a gift) in black ink to the annual conference to take notes at meetings. It gave me a sense of professionalism and prestige, but secretly, I begrudged the too-wet ink, the polishing the silver needed, and how heavy/tired my hand was. My standby purse/car pen is a Fisher bullet space pen with black ink (tiny when capped, can write under any circumstances/on almost any surface). However, I’ve lost two because they’re so slick and tiny, and it takes forever to find at the bottom of my bag. Did  you keep count? That’s six writing utensils for writing and editing.

I recently came across a pen review on The Wirecutter.com titled The Best Pen. Tempting title, eh? They searched for a good pen under $5 and selected the Uniball Jetstream: “The uni-ball Jetstream is universally loved by our four experts (experts with 1,200 pen reviews between them and over 17 years of combined experience testing pens).” The Amazon link they shared is to the fine-point retractable pack of 3 for around $10 plus change. However, according to the article and the Uniball Products page there are six Jetstream models ranging in ink color and point size (.5 mm, .7mm, or 1mm). I found the review article/post interesting, even if it might be a veiled marketing ploy, and am likely going to look for that pen the next time I’m in the stationary section of a store. Don’t miss the bottom of the article (How to Use Pens Better) for some good tips on how to make your pen-writing easier on you.

How do you find your preferred writing tool? Personal trial or reviews?


Why English is So Hard

Why English is So Hard

So true…and yet so hilarious!

Building a Solid Foundation

Writers and editors instinctively know what’s wrong with a sentence as soon as they see the error, sticking out like a sore thumb from an otherwise calm sea of words. We move with lighting-speed toward it–red cape flapping behind is optional–with pencil in hand, ready to repair the damage…but, let’s stop for a minute. Try to name the particular part of the sentence, or name the rule that applies in this instance. Not so easy, is it?

I feel like editing and writing are visceral experiences, which come from the depths inside. In reality, editing and writing are practical sciences that have rules, terminology, and guidelines that must be followed. These three elements help people communicate consistently. Imagine if we all used different rules to structure sentences…just how long would it take to decipher what we’re trying to say to each other?

As a writer, a reader, and an editor at a professional association, I enjoy working on a variety of written materials. One day I’ll work on cleaning up a short article, the next I’ll dive into a longer, academic-written publication that will end up being published in soft cover for a practitioner audience. These projects vary in size, complexity, audience, tone, and content. This type of diverse work is a blessing, sometimes in disguise, because it keeps me (and my skills) on my toes, fluent and adaptable.

More complex pieces stretch my imagination–and skill set. How to help the author communicate a convoluted model to the laymen in the audience? If a sentence causes me to tune out or become bored as I’m reading it, I know I need to revise it so it’s more appealing and communicative to the audience.

I can recall doing well in grammar classes in school, but then had a tendency to forget the “fancy” terminology and rules as soon as I stepped away at the end of the semester. While reading, I can immediately spot what’s wrong with a sentence or paragraph, but I’ll be darned if I can remember what the difference is between a compound predicate and a compound sentence.*

I’m always eager to shore up my skills and knowledge. Lately, a self-perceived lack of precision when calling out errors and not being able to immediately prove my point have become hot buttons. I’ve looked for some resources to help me take care of this little issue.

I’ve discovered a new favorite website called Grammar-Monster.com (completely trust-worthy name, don’t you think?). It has helped me refresh my memory about each part of a sentence, terminology, grammar rules, and definitions by reading about them and seeing easily understandable examples. The quizzes follow-up on what I read and test my retention of the information later. This is a great little resource. It’s helping me shore up what I’ve felt is a personal/professional weak point.

So this discovery and internal dialogue got me to thinking. I wonder out loud: how does a writer stay updated without losing sight of what s/he’s learned thus far? It’s not as if we had to explain predicates, prepositions, and conjunctions to other people on a daily basis–that which we don’t practice tends to be forgotten.

We’re meant to intrinsically know how to fix grammar and typos, or write our work perfectly each and every time, right? Well, not really. The ability to correctly use nomenclature and refer to exact grammar rules is incredibly valuable for writers and editors. It adds credibility and justification to our work.

Although we may cringe initially, as nomenclature and rules have been infamous tools of harassment in the arsenal of grammar snobs and guideline nazis for years, they’re invaluable to equip the run-of-the-mill writer and editor.

It’s like a little internal vision test, so we don’t lose our sight when it comes to grammar nomenclature and its rules. After all, everyone knows it’s important to learn how to walk before we can run or fly. There’s few sights as beautiful as a writer taking flight on the page.

*A compound predicate makes two or more statements about the subject of a sentence.  A compound sentence is formed by two independent clauses joined together by a conjunction and a comma.


Grammar Gets Love

Grammar Gets Love

I couldn’t pass up sharing this little gem. I pinned it on Pinterest and wrote under it: “Get the love of your life today, hire a copywriter/editor to make you look as good as you think you are :D”

Words that Come Back to Bite

From a post (Barnes & Noble, the Last Big Bookseller Standing: But for How Long?) I was reading from the Knowledge @ Wharton blog:

“Barnes & Noble is the last bookseller standing, but it’s still unclear whether there’s a future for its box-store business model. Niche, independent bookstores might be better placed to compete against cheap online retailers…”

Who knew that small indie bookstores would come out on top in the end, eh?

Discovering: Printers Row Journal

In early 2012 the Chicago Tribune launched a literary membership program that includes a new periodical titled Printers Row JournalI am kicking myself for not having located this wonderful resource sooner!

I recently became acquainted with this effort by reading a series of articles online on the publishing industry based in Chicago, during a personal research project.

A TribNation article (New ways to get Printers Row Journal, the Chicago Tribune’s literary membership program) describes the membership program as follows:

“Printers Row Journal features 24 pages of essays, photos, reviews and criticism, news and commentary from the Chicago Tribune’s best writers and thinkers, as well as impressive guest contributors. Our members have responded enthusiastically to it, and we hope today’s special sample hints at why. ”

Registration and a yearly membership fee of $99 gets you a copy of the journal and tickets to Printers Row Live events. If you are only interested in accessing the digital journal, the subscription fee is a mere $29. Honestly, if you love publishing, books, and reading you should really shell the money out right away and sign up.

There is a demo copy of Printers Row Journal available to give you a taste of the great content published in this channel. One of the participants is journalist Julia Keller, whom I had the pleasure of seeing speak at National-Louis University’s Writers Week one summer day a couple of years ago.

Interested writers can submit their stories online via an easy form.