Ornery Copy Editors – A Plea

By | Writing | 5 Comments

Copy editors can be an awfully ornery lot. They love correct grammar and punctuation so much, they are willing to make writers feel bad in order to get them to fall in line with their style guide standards of perfection. While I can never condone imperfect copy, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about perfecting the world.

And I quote (from Twitter posts in the last few hours):

Jerry Tarkanian hospitalized after a WHAT? Why Sports Illustrated needs a copy editor.

Just saw an Edwardian corset cover described as “Islet” – really, people, you need a little textile knowledge, and a good copy editor…

Copy-editor fail: “It’s a viscous rumor.”

some many typos on it. Do you need a copy editor, Mr. Professional Journalist? “its diversity andbreadth of experience”

Well, they could do with a decent copy-editor for one thing; the whole thing is RIDDLED with typos!

A vandal corrects the grammar mistake in this ...

A vandal corrects the grammar mistake in this sign at Leeds City station by crossing out the extraneous apostrophe.

I will refrain from pointing out the obvious errors on the copy editors’ parts.

The thing is, sometimes people ask for our opinion and sometimes they don’t. As copy editors, we usually never ask for an opinion, and if an ornery copy editor tries to criticize my editing, I will be just as ornery in return (see related post below for evidence, haha). If, however, the chief editor of the CMOS pointed out an error, I would have nothing but nice things to say in response. I can already imagine my “Thank you for taking the time out of your royal duties to stoop to my level and further my career” style of reply.

One girl said, “My copy editor … seems to enjoy pointing out how silly I am.” Yuck! I hate to have that implied because my pride tells me I am good at my job. I dislike (intensely) having someone point out things I missed while neglecting to highlight the good job I did on everything else … but … I am a fallible copy editor, and I need to be gracious when corrected. How else will I remain on the path to perfection?

I could change things. I could say nice things when I notice other writers’ mistakes, such as: “I noticed something you must have overlooked,” or “Not sure if you caught this. ” When (not if) I’m corrected, I could thank the person who took the time to let me know my mistakes instead of getting all riled up and blasting back. I’m probably only writing this to myself because you’re all so perfect, but humor me while I write this last statement to myself.

Ornery never won anyone over.

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And We Let Him Go

By | Creative writing | No Comments

It’s just past daybreak and my husband is calling my name.

“Bear fell down in the yard and he can’t get up. I need help getting him back inside.”

Bear should be our six-year-old 105lb Lab/Pyrenees mix. Now he only weighs 75lb. His skin has turned yellower with each day that his liver cancer has marched on in conquest. His eyes have lost their zest. His heart for living has disappeared.

I throw on my dressing-gown, fighting against the sleeves which want me to stop pushing them back to normal, and together we walk out into the early morning. Five a.m. on any other morning in Texas is a welcoming time of day. The birds are stretching, the air doesn’t stick to the skin; all is calm. But not today. Today my dog lies helplessly in the far corner of the yard, and his dejected eyes follow us to his side. I wrap my arms under his belly and my husband holds up the rear. We daren’t see if his legs will hold, so we carry him across the grass, through the sliding door, up the steps, and into the living room. While he has been sleeping with us at night, we want him to lie on the rug rather than the hard wood floor. My husband lays a sheet on the floor beside him and prepares to sleep with him once more.

Minutes later I hear the familiar sound of Bear, my white-haired beast, walking into the bedroom and lying down by the bed. Even this close to death, he strives to be near us both. He circles and circles, afraid to start sitting in case he collapses. My husband leans forward to support him.


We took him to the vet a few weeks ago. He was too thin and had gone off his food. An ultrasound told us that there were shadows on his spleen and it looked like the cancer was moving toward his liver. Would we like her to do an aspirate to confirm her suspicions? We’d already put too much on a card we shouldn’t have used. We took him home, not knowing when we would have to say goodbye.

And then he began to eat again! We cooked him grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken. We made meals with organic rice and fried eggs. We took him for small walks at any time of day he wanted to go. We sat on the floor with him just to keep him company. We told him he was loved.


And now it’s eight a.m. and Gerry is calling my name again.

“It’s time. We have to let him go. I don’t think he has much longer. Will you call the mobile vet?”

And I’m sitting in front of the laptop. I’ve left four messages and spoken with two receptionists. No one has time.

Until …

Until my call is answered by a woman I will be forever grateful to.

“Are you booked up today?” I ask.

“Yes, we are.” My spark of hope flickers once more. “What’s going on?” she asks.

She cares. She actually cares about my reason for calling.

“It’s our dog. He’s dying, and I think we need to…

My voice chokes up for a second.

“Where do you live?”

“We’re about twenty minutes away, but none of the closer places would see us.”

“Bring him in. We’ll take a look at him as soon as you get here.”


It’s so quiet in the car. Four adults now—two were teenagers when he joined our lives.

We back up to the front door of the clinic and have to get a stretcher to carry him in.

And now here we are on the floor of a room set up to simulate a living room specifically for this time. The vet has explained exactly what she will do. The IV line is already in. We have as long as we want to say goodbye.

And we stroke the long white hair that drove us crazy one last time. And we kiss him and flatten our hands up against his warm body, feeling the shallow in and out of his struggling lungs and wishing our love could change reality.

And we look into each other’s faces and silently agree. It’s time.

And we let him go.

And Up the Hill to Dinner

By | Creative writing, Writing | No Comments

I’m racing down the gravelly hill of our home, out through the gate and on past the blackberry bushes and the crumbling stone wall and the white church crooked into the elbow of the country road. And on we run, my brother and sisters, turning a sharp left into the driveway of the old country home that has seen many children like us through its broken spectacles.

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Sporadic Moments

By | Creative writing | 2 Comments

I sit in this quiet chair in this quiet house alone. Not completely alone—the dog lies to my left, right ear splayed out on the shaggy carpet, his breathing restful. A persistent hum surrounds us both like the gentle song a nursing mother sings over her breastfeeding child. The wind of a passing car swishes by on the street outside. A dog barks sporadically in the distant distance.

The refrigerator starts its funny jiggle and the dog lifts his head to ensure our safety, only to rest it again.

I’m not accustomed to such peace, such quietness, such solitude. But right now … right now it feeds my soul.

Writers and Hoarders

By | Mind at Work | One Comment

The writer’s life usually consists of coffee rings and papers strewn over every visible area of free space. It’s not that we’re a messy lot; we know where everything is, but we just don’t feel like filing it all away. Writers and hoarders….

But today …

Today I went ahead and started to file.

It’s not that I felt like doing it; the piles just got too high and things were starting to fall onto the dog-haired carpet.

As writers, we work kind of the same way with words. We write when we feel like it, and then when the words inside us start to spill over we make ourselves sit down and organize all those thoughts into neat little stories so that we can clear some space for more thoughts. That way we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are not up for the next Woarders show …

You heard me: Writing + hoarders. Woarders. I’m a genius. 

Tell all your friends this was my idea so that when Hollywood calls me to talk about my new reality show, I can send you all flowers. Remember, as the cliché goes, you heard it from me first.

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Create more Income Streams

By | Business advice | No Comments
These days, making money is all about strategy, and part of that strategy needs to include the possibility that you won’t always be ready and willing to work. An accident, a family tragedy, a sick child, an ailing parent — anything can upset the carefully planned schedule. Enter the multiple income streams strategy.

Income stream: The flow of money generated by a business. ~

Let’s say your business (like mine) is a service to both businesses and solo entrepreneurs. How can you monetize all that you bring to the table? How can you spread your knowledge and expertise?


Cover for the Business Strategy Wikibook.

Cover for the Business Strategy Wikibook. (Wikipedia)

Keep in mind that the goal is to have both active and passive income, and that the passive income will need to keep coming when you are inactive. Here are some suggestions:

Your particular service
Public/workshop/conference speaking

E-books with your advice
Printed books/curriculum/workbooks
Live webinars — one-topic classes
Video courses — accessible by paid, private link
Private video series that requires the purchase of your workbook

Affiliate links
Affiliate programs

Advertisement buttons on your website

*Anything you do should keep you in your niche and support your overall vision for your business. You don’t want people to come to your site to read about copywriting and start getting lost in your family vacation pics.

*Everything you offer needs to benefit the consumer.

In order to come up with your own list of sellable items, ask yourself

“What do I have that people value, and how can I make that easily available?”


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Terrible Limericks

By | Creative writing | No Comments

We had to write limericks in English class many moons ago, but sometimes I still like to write the odd nonsensical poem …  just to keep it real and not let my brilliance go to my head. ;)

According to Wikipedia, “The origin of the name limerick for this type of poem is debated. As of several years ago, its usage was first documented in England in 1898 (New English Dictionary) and in America in 1902, but in recent years several earlier uses have been documented. The name is generally taken to be a reference to the City or County of Limerick in Ireland

“The standard form of a limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth usually rhyming with one another and having three feet of three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyming with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables.”

Gate and rhyming sign

Gate and rhyming sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Below are two horrible examples.

 A writer of copy from Ireland
Whose last name could not have been Moreland
Hooked up to the Web
And her words became lead
No longer they draped like a garland.

 An editor by name of Sally
Grew up in a green verdant valley
She liked to correct
All words, they were checked.
That editor Sally, so pally.

 Send me your own. I will edit one sentence, for free, for the winner. ;)

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Tax Returns Are a Pain in the Butt

By | Creative writing | No Comments

Yes, tax returns are a pain in the butt. I know … such professional wording, but it’s the only kind that fits my current sentiments. In order to try and console myself over the fact that we owe more than it would cost us to buy our daughter a used car, I decided to write some bad poetry.


Tax (Photo credit: 401K)

Oh taxes, you kill me.
Upending my nonexistent bank cart on the street of desire,
you destroy my dreams of time wasted.

A dollar here,
a dollar there,
a dollar going who knows where.
A thousand here,
a thousand there,
a thousand pulls out all my hair.

See, it takes real talent to write bad poetry; and when you make it rhyme, it sounds even worse.

I think I’ve proven my point. Wanna try it yourself?

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