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Editors Canada conference 2019: A great way to connect with other editors and learn new skills

by Ann Kennedy

Editors Canada 2019 conference artwork

On June 7, 8, and 9, editors from across North America and as far away as Australia gathered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to reconnect, learn new skills, and refresh long-used ones. The annual Editors Canada conference was held this year at The Westin Nova Scotian, an ideal location for hitting the local farmers’ market for breakfast before sessions started, and just around the corner from the boardwalk for an evening stroll and a lobster roll at one of the popular waterside restaurants.

Four pre-conference seminars were offered, and though I wished I could have attended all four, I opted for Amy J. Schneider’s seminar, “Macros 101: Work Smarter, Not Harder.”

Photo of Amy J. Schneider at her seminar “Macros 101: Work Smarter, Not Harder” on June 7, 2019, at Editors Canada 40th anniversary conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Photo of Amy J. Schneider courtesy of Editors Canada

For the uninitiated like me, a macro is a computer program that runs inside Microsoft Word and enables a set of pre-defined, customized instructions to efficiently, accurately, and consistently perform tasks. These tasks can run from the mundane (such as converting two spaces to one or changing British English to American English) to the complex (such as ensuring that every instance of a certain abbreviation is capitalized and in bold). As someone who just finished a manuscript that was in dire need of consistency, I was very excited to learn more about macros and how they can save editors time by automating frequently performed tasks. The session was well worth the extra fee, for both content and quality. I came away with not only several pages of hand-outs with the session highlights, but also a list of websites and books to consult for more information.

The main conference itself took place over two days and included an opening keynote by renowned journalist and author Linden Macintyre; a closing keynote by multi-award-winning writer, speaker, and educator Sheree Fitch; the Editors Canada annual general meeting; and 40 sessions on topics ranging from managing a freelance business to editing scholarly papers to navigating language and diversity to preparing for the Editors Canada certification exams.

Highlights from the main conference programming for me included Michelle Waitzman and Jess Shulman’s “Making smart choices: Which freelance projects are right for you?”; James Harbeck’s “Translating medicalese into everyday English”; and Dean Jobb and Kim Pittaway’s “Negotiating the truth: Drawing the line in creative nonfiction”. As a freelance editor living with a physical disability whose dream is to edit memoirs, these sessions alone were worth the trip to Halifax!

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How to manage translation and still have fun

by Alana Chalmers

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

This is one of those inspirational, yet anonymous, quotes that makes you want to hunt down that person and dump a pile of work on their desk. Or their beach towel. Because they probably have some sweet gig that doesn’t include a desk or deadlines.

Managing translation at a large company can be high stress, fast paced, and unrelenting. But it’s also challenging and fun, and you meet the best people doing it.

What is it like to manage a translation process? Well, it’s really not that different from managing an editing process.

Here are some common phrases you might hear if you manage translation.

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Book Review: Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper

by Michelle Waitzman

Cover of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper

Most people take dictionaries for granted. They are available to us, at home or at school, from the time we first learn to read. Those of us who work with words rely on them regularly. But few of us spend much time thinking about how a dictionary is put together and kept up to date. It’s almost as though we expect them to spring into existence, fully formed. The truth is much more complicated—and fascinating.

Kory Stamper is a lexicographer,* and her book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at one of America’s best-known dictionary publishers: Merriam-Webster. Sound boring? It’s not! Stamper takes us on a memorable journey through the ways in which the English language has evolved (and continues to evolve), the lengths that lexicographers go to in order to describe current usage, and the backlash that can result from a seemingly innocuous definition.

Each of the book’s chapters is named for a word chosen to illustrate the topic of that chapter. For example, the “Irregardless” chapter is about words that many people argue are not “real” words at all; the “Take” chapter discusses the challenges of defining small words that are used in a multitude of ways; and the “Nuclear” chapter is about differences in pronunciation.

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Editor for Life: Carolyn Camilleri, editor and writer

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster.

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Photo of Carolyn Camilleri

Please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (and where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

I am a freelance writer and editor based mostly in Toronto but also in Victoria. I have been doing this work since 1996, and I have been self-employed since 1998. I write for and edit magazines, mostly custom and trade publications now, but I have a few consumer magazines on my resumé. I especially enjoy launching and rebranding publications; it’s a lot of work, but it’s exciting and fun. I also help businesses with websites, marketing materials, and anything else they have that might need new words or better words.

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Post-script: Professional Editorial Standards in action

by Michelle Waitzman

Anyone who has considered (or completed) any of the Editors Canada certifications has probably reviewed Professional Editorial Standards (PES). But how were these standards developed, and what do they have to do with the day-to-day tasks of editors and proofreaders?

Editors Toronto’s November program looked at PES through the eyes of four editors, each working at a different career stage and/or in a different editing niche. The speakers made it clear that the standards involve much more than taking tests; they are a practical and evolving guide to professional editing, which editors can use in a variety of ways.

The program started with an overview and history of PES from experienced freelance editor and instructor Elizabeth d’Anjou. Editors Canada first began discussing the standards in the early 1980s, and Elizabeth’s mother was a member of the committee that first created the standards, so Elizabeth practically grew up with them!

One of Editors Canada’s early goals was to set up a certification program so that professional editors could be easily identified (and their work properly valued) by potential clients. But before the organization could create a test for editors, it first had to define what it was testing. They considered questions such as the following: What skills are important? What tasks should editors know how to do? What kind of industry knowledge should they be expected to have? PES was created to answer these types of questions—a task that took many years and involved a number of consultations with members. The standards were not only important for informing a certification program, they were also a key tool for Editors Canada to use to raise awareness about editing as a profession and to explain what editors do.

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Book Review: Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau

Side Hustle

(Crown, 2017)

by Jessica Trudel

Do you find your day job fulfilling? If you answered “no,” Side Hustle is for you. If you answered “yes,” Side Hustle is also for you.

That’s what author Chris Guillebeau gets across in the early pages of Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days. “Everyone should have a side hustle. Even if you love your job, having more than one source of income will give you more freedom and more options.”

Who doesn’t want the freedom that more money can bring? And if you could start bringing in more money in less than a month, even better.

Side Hustle outlines Guillebeau’s five-week program to launch a successful side hustle. Besides being a veteran side hustler himself, Guillebeau is also the bestselling author of The $100 Startup.

In his book, Guillebeau targets those people who want to want to make money as entrepreneurs but who aren’t prepared to fully commit to self-employment. Perhaps they like their day job and want to keep it, or perhaps they just aren’t ready to quit yet.

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The Nitpicker’s Nook: early October edition

The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].

Nitpickers Nook Image by Deven Knill
By Carol Harrison

Thanks to Sara Scharf for her contributions and to Deven Knill for the lovely new banner image!

 

Blimey! The Guardian’s Mona Chalabi reports that data shows the Americanization of English is rising.

“Friends with benefits” and other idioms that may not translate: or that time The Guardian’s Mona Chalabi made her mom guess the meanings of English expressions.

Because, at the end of the day, the bottom line is that idioms can be annoying: So say The Globe and Mail readers.

On people, language, and respect: Alex Kapitan writes about person-centred language in the blog The Radical Copyeditor. 

It is my great honour to introduce a new honorific: Merriam-Webster on Mx.

So, does this mean my computer will swear back? In The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance writes about how AI has created its own language.

Carol Harrison is editor-in-chief of BoldFace and quality assurance specialist at FRAS Canada. When she isn’t focusing on words, she’s focusing her Nikon D3200. 

This article was copy edited by Ellen Fleischer.

Editor for Life: Heather J. Wood, freelance editor, author, and artistic director of the Rowers Reading Series

Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Heather J. Wood

Heather J. Wood

Heather, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I think of myself as a “wearer of many hats.” I started my career as a marketing copywriter for Reader’s Digest Canada in Montreal and now realize that was part of my early editorial training, as the work often required the editing/rewriting of marketing and promotional material from other Reader’s Digest countries. And, of course, all written material had to conform to Reader’s Digest’s specific house style and proofreading, which was a huge part of the job. I started editing officially sometime after I moved to Toronto, and was focusing more on my own fiction writing, while also working as a freelance copywriter. It was a natural, if unplanned, progression. I learned a great deal about the book-editing process from working with a fiction writers’ workshop and, especially, from working with my fantastic editor, Shirarose Wilensky, on my two novels, Fortune Cookie (Tightrope Books 2009) and Roll With It (Tightrope Books, 2011).

I work with Tightrope Books as the managing editor of the Best Canadian Poetry and Best Canadian Essays series, and I perform a variety of copy editing and proofreading tasks for these two series. As a freelancer, I edit fiction and non-fiction projects, as well as provide individual authors with marketing and publicity services. I’m also the artistic director of Toronto’s Rowers Reading Series and I’m often called upon to edit the series’ grant applications. When choosing writers to read at the series, nothing makes me happier than authors with well-edited books.

The highlight of my editing career so far is the Gods, Memes and Monsters anthology from Stone Skin Press in the UK. I was nominated for a 2016 World Fantasy Award for my work on Gods, Memes and Monsters, which involved curating and editing the short fiction work of 60 international authors. While working on that anthology, I discovered that I very much enjoyed editing fantasy, science-fiction, and horror writers. (more…)