KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Kitty

Ana, the Halloween kitty

My 17-month-old granddaughter, Ana, is trick-or-treating as a kitten. Cute little thing, isn't she?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Marriage Rights for Everyone

This video clip breaks my heart:

If you live in California, please vote no against proposition 8. If the proposition passes, it would take away the right of same-sex couples to marry. If you know anyone who lives there, please urge them to vote against the measure.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Audio Conference on Medical Editing

audio conference on medical editingOn Tuesday, October 28, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern time, I'll be a copresenter of an audio conference, sponsored by Copyediting newsletter, on common problems in medical editing. The conference is for new medical copyeditors and for those who would like to become medical copyeditors. You can get more details and register by going here.

My main topics will be

  • When to stet jargon and when to eliminate it

  • How to describe patients—they aren't their diseases and they aren't on meds

  • How statistics can trip up researchers and editors alike

  • Where to find solutions to problem reference-list entries

  • Which sections of the AMA Manual of Style you'll keep returning to

I have spent the last 18 years of my 24 years in publishing as a medical copyeditor, most of them as a freelancer, and I'm also certified by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences as an editor in the life sciences. I'll be speaking from the viewpoint of an editor who works on both medical textbooks and medical journals.

There will be a Q&A period at the end of the conference.

If you can't change your schedule to participate in the audio conference, you can go here to order a CD of the conference. If you can't afford the cost of the conference yourself, you and one or more colleagues can register under one name and make arrangements among yourselves to share the cost. International callers are welcome; consider using VoIP to decrease the cost of your time on the phone. And remember, if you're already self-employed as a freelance editor in the United States, the cost of the audio conference (and the audio CD, if you purchase it) is a business expense that you can write off on your income tax forms.

Get ready to pick up your phone and learn from the comfort of your employer's office, your home office, or your home. If you've wanted to know what makes medical copyediting different from copyediting in other fields, this is the conference for you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Certification Is Valuable

I'm a certified editor in the life sciencesYesterday I wrote about my pleasure at having been notified by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences that I am now officially certified as an editor in the life sciences.

But why is certification a big deal? After all, I've been a medical copyeditor for nearly 18 of my almost 25 years in publishing. But having certification certainly will help me be more confident in raising my rates come January. And yesterday, I notified all of my clients by e-mail that I'm newly certified and explained what I believe that it means for them:

What this means for you as my client is that whenever I edit medical documents for you, you are getting the services of someone well trained and very experienced in medical editing. My skills have been vetted by experienced professionals in my field. Even when I edit nonmedical documents for you, I bring to my editing the precision and attention to detail that are earmarks of a medical editor. I sought the certification as part of my continuing commitment to excellence in serving you. I will continue to seek out educational opportunities to keep my skills current so as to serve you well.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf, ELS

Several of my international authors are now oohing and aahing over my certification, viewing it as the editorial equivalent of their being board-certified in their medical specialty. And they're telling their colleagues that they know of this great certified medical editor, which will certainly mean more clients for me in the near future. One author in China, on hearing that I was preparing for the certification exam, told his supervisor and mentor, who suggested that he write, for the hospital's newsletter, about the editorial assistance I have given him. I have apparently now been profiled in Chinese in the newsletter; he even asked me for a photograph of myself to accompany the article.

And because I got into medical editing through the back door—by learning on the job rather than by first earning a degree in the biomedical sciences and then taking medical-editing courses—the ELS (Editor in the Life Sciences) designation lends extra legitimacy to my skills. After all, my only academic degree is a bachelor of arts in journalism. I will likely eventually sit for the ELS(D)—ELS diplomate—exam within the next few years.

I suspect that the reason more U.S. clients don't seek out BELS-certified medical editors is that BELS hasn't done a great job of educating the publishing world about its existence, its goals, and the value of the certification that it offers. I hope to help change that. After all, how many copyeditors in nontechnical fields have bemoaned the lack of certification for copyeditors?

Monday, October 20, 2008


I'm a certified editor in the life sciencesI am delighted to announce that I have passed the examination of the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences and am now a certified editor in the life sciences, which is what the newly acquired initials ELS after my name in work-related situations mean. It's nice to have an organization recognize that I know what I'm doing as a medical copyeditor. After all, I've been doing it for only the last 18 of my almost 25 years in publishing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fear Response

It is always true that if you reach out, friends will respond.

I reached out here in my
previous post, and lots of you handed me generous helpings of care. Because we all know one another only through cyberspace, you will likely never literally see how much good you did me, but I am no longer feeling alone. I am warmed, cheered, and inspired by your words. Thank you so very much. If I could hug you all, I would. I think my husband, Ed, would hug you too, if he could. He's the kind of guy who makes instant friends of everyone he meets. You'd like him.

Ed now has a job interview scheduled for Friday with one of the big-box home-improvement stores, and people everywhere are offering him ideas. My in-laws, on a fixed income, have withdrawn a chunk of their retirement funds for us to use in paying our personal bills and business bills for about the next 30 days.

editing business, which has been going strong now for almost 14 years, seems poised to get stronger, if that's possible. My e-mail in-box is overflowing with offers of new projects. If I could clone myself so that I could take it all on, I just might do so.

What's next after 30 days? I don't know. I'm fervently hoping that Barack Obama becomes president, and that when he gets his financial plan ready for when he's in office, he'll up the measly 15% that he wants John and Jane American to be able to withdraw from their IRAs without a tax penalty, even if they're not ready for retirement, to use for financial emergencies. Fifteen percent of Ed's and my IRAs wouldn't be big enough to help us much. And I know we're not the only ones in the same situation. I'd also like to see him and Congress offer some real financial assistance to small businesses. We have two of them in our family, and with both of us at the peak of our experience and earning capabilities, going back to work for the man ain't agonna get us what we need to put our boys through college and help them get started on their own one day.

And now, back to work until the final presidential debate comes on TV.

Monday, October 13, 2008


It has become painfully clear that the sudden gut-wrenching drop of the economy is making it impossible for my husband, Ed, to get work. He was laid off, after 14 years with the same company, in October 2007 from his cabinetmaking job. He started up his own company, without any financial cushion, thanks to that layoff. Despite that, his business has done very well for the last 9 months. His clients are the usually-recession-proof wealthy of the Hamptons on Long Island.

But now that the bottom has suddenly dropped out of the stock market and many large banks and investment firms are failing, none of those people are clamoring to have custom work (new furniture or cabinetry, new kitchens, refurbishing of existing kitchens, etc.) done, or if they are wanting anything done, they want it done at half price, which Ed can't make any money on. We suspect some of them are now losing their high-paying jobs. It is now likely that we won't be able to make our November 1 mortgage payment, November 1 health insurance policy payment (through his company), his business loan payments, or several other payments.

I'm not a person to panic easily, but I'm fairly panicked now. I spent the weekend scrambling, with Ed, to find ways out of this problem. One thing we do know: Though my business is doing very well, it won't support a family of 4, plus his parents (who live in our house, have a fixed income, and pay us a small rent) and Ed's business expenses. He is out now looking for jobs, but no one's hiring in his field at the income level he needs to make. He'll likely end up with a Home Depot–type job, which won't begin to pay things off.

We'll talk to our accountant tomorrow (we hope; we've left a phone message for him) and to our banks (personal and business). We may end up pulling all of our funds out of our IRAs to give ourselves a temporary cushion.

I suspect that there aren't enough antidepressants in the world to ease the anxiety of everyone in the same position as Ed and me.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Girls Are Calling My Son!

Girls are calling my sonOkay, it's only one girl.

But a young female person did just now call and leave a message on our land line's answering machine for Neil, my almost-14-year-old ninth-grader, with her phone number. He says that at school, she'd asked for his phone number. He's sitting over there on the living-room couch right now, continuing to play his computer game as if this is no big deal. I told him that it was fine with me if he wanted to take the phone into his room to call her back. "Oh, I'll write down her phone number," he says, not making any move away from his computer. Either he's trying to play it cool or, more likely, he's like all of the nerd boys with whom I fell madly in love at that age who really hadn't yet developed much interest or skill in dealing with girls.

I never had the nerve at 13 or 14 (or at any time during adolescence!) to call a boy. And there's another girl on the school bus with whom Neil watches movies on his laptop sometimes.

Huh. My son, the chick magnet. His voice already breaks as it decides anew each moment what register it will land in. What's next—facial hair? A learner's permit? Ack!

Friday, October 03, 2008

A McCain McMansion

Yep, ol' maverick John McCain is a man of the people. He knows our pain. He knows how we live.


Take a tour of one of his little bungalows, a 13-bedroom, 14.5-bathroom Phoenix compound on 2.7 acres, now up for sale:

McCain's little bungalow

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Case of Moaning Myrtle

For your amusement, here's a poor drawing (mine) of what my husband, Ed, was working on for a large part of today:

Home maintenance projectWe don't have central air-conditioning (AC) because this 40-plus-year-old home wasn't built with it. Instead, we have several window or wall AC units in the upstairs. The setup in the drawing is what we have in the living room (with the AC unit) and the master bedroom (oscillating fan instead of AC unit). A few years ago, Ed put the two little stereo cooling fans (shown in the drawing as being green) inside the wall to pull some of the cool air out of the living room and into the master bedroom. The setup works really well; on hot days, our bedroom is quite pleasant, temperature-wise, for sleeping in. The job was a big, hairy deal back then, involving cutting a hole through the wall, installing the little fans into the tight space, and framing out the hole on both sides of the wall.

Today he was dealing with the recent problem of one of the stereo fans moaning periodically. It had begun to sound a bit like a bass Moaning Myrtle. Ed had to get into the very small space to take the stereo fans out, replace one because its bearings had worn out, and lubricate both. He's done now, but his work style is vastly different from mine. When he encounters a really difficult task, he bitches and moans loudly throughout the whole process, winding himself up until he achieves mental vapor lock. When I encounter such a task, I keep quiet and remain calm, knowing that if I wind myself up, I won't be mentally clear enough to think through any problems that might come up. Our house is so small that whenever he's in "[wood] shop Nazi" working mode (my term) inside the house, it interferes with my ability to edit because his cursing winds both of us up. There's no quiet place for me to escape to.

I understand having different working styles. I just wish that I could turn off his volume when he's working in my space. Now that he's done and calmed down, I like him again. ;-)

Template created by Makeworthy Media