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

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spring Skill Boosters for Editorial Types

Get ready to sharpen your editorial skills and make yourself more desirable as an employee or freelancer! The lineup of spring courses offered by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) is now ready:

  • Blogging 101 (online, 4 sessions): For authors wanting to connect with an audience and freelance editors wanting to attract clients. Instructor Rebecca Agiewich is the author of BreakupBabe: A Novel (Ballantine, 2006), whose book was born from her dating blog Breakup Babe. Wednesdays, March 25 through April 15; EFA members, $135; nonmembers, $160.

  • Copyediting II (online, 4 sessions): Goes beyond the basics. Instructor Kris Fulsaas is a freelance editor and proofreader, has 28 years' experience in publishing and is an instructor in the University of Washington's editing certificate program. Wednesdays, April 8 through April 29; EFA members, $135; nonmembers, $160.

  • Résumés for Freelancers (online, 3 sessions): If you're a freelancer, you need a functional—or skills-based—résumé, not the traditional chronological résum7ée of a job hunter. Instructor Sheila Buff, a freelancer since 1981, is an author and ghostwriter and is the author of the EFA booklet Résumés for Freelancers. Mondays, April 20 through May 4; EFA members, $100; nonmembers, $125.

  • Substantive Editing Clinic (at the EFA office in Manhattan): An intensive one-day, hands-on course built on exercises. Instructor Maron L. Waxman is the retired editorial director of special projects for the American Museum of Natural History, was editorial director of trade reference at HarperCollins, and has taught in the New York University and City University of New York publishing programs. Saturday, May 2, 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. EFA members, $135; nonmembers, $160. If you also sign up for the Advanced Substantive Editing Clinic, you'll save 20%.

  • Advanced Substantive Editing Clinic (at the EFA office in Manhattan): This one-day course picks up where the Substantive Editing Clinic leaves off, and you'll work on actual manuscripts. Instructor Maron L. Waxman is the retired editorial director of special projects for the American Museum of Natural History, was editorial director of trade reference at HarperCollins, and has taught in the New York University and City University of New York publishing programs. Saturday, May 9, 9:30 a.m..–5 p.m. EFA members: $160; nonmembers: $185. If you also sign up for the Advanced Substantive Editing Clinic, you'll save 20%.

  • Copyright and Permissions: The Basics (online, 4 sessions): Instructor Tricia Kinman has been permissions editor and permissions manager for Elsevier for 4 years. Mondays, May 4 through May 25. EFA members, $135; nonmembers, $160.

  • Introduction to AMA Style (online, 4 sessions): Interested in getting into medical proofreading or copyediting? You need to know how AMA style differs from Chicago and APA style, how to format tables and graphs, and what the essential elements of a biomedical research paper are. Instructors are Eileen Girten and Jennifer Maybin. Girten teaches chemistry, is completing a master's of science degree in biomedical writing at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and is coeditor of the quarterly newsletter of the Delaware chapter of the American Medical Writers Association. Maybin is a medical writer and editor with 20 years' experience. Fridays, March 15 through June 3. EFA members, $135; nonmembers: $160.
For more information and to sign up, see this page of the EFA web site.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Tea Supply

I don't go to spas; can't afford them. I don't get manicures; I prefer short, unadorned nails. I don't get pedicures; see "I don't get manicures." I'm not a clotheshorse. I go to a cheap place to get my hair cut, and sometimes I don't get around to doing that until my hair has grown unrecognizably out of its simple wash-and-go style.

Good teas—I mean whole-leaf imported teas—are my one indulgence, a way that I take care of myself. I favor Japanese and Chinese green teas and white teas, as they carry more of the agents than black teas do that appear to help prevent colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and other cancers (see this, this, this, and this, for starters). But mostly I like them because they have such lovely subtle tastes, give me a caffeine dose without making me feel jittery the way coffee does (and so I haven't drunk coffee regularly in years), and put me in mind of Asian meditation methods, which relaxes me.

I don't drink soft drinks; they're loaded with sugar and other unnecessary junk and have too many calories. I don't generally drink cow's milk; when I want something milklike with my cold breakfast cereal, I drink unflavored soy milk. I often drink plain old water throughout the day. But mainly, I drink a lot—a lot—of tea, all of it unsweetened.

And here is where I store most of it before I brew it:

My custom tea wheelMy Husband the Master Cabinetmakertm made this tea wheel, which is based on an idea I had. Ever notice those metal wheels with clips on them in diners, where the wait staff clip orders for the cooks to see and fill? I wanted some kind of rotating wheel onto which I could clip my bags of tea leaves from SpecialTeas. (Sometime after I wrote this post, that company was bought out by Teavana, a company I don't patronize. I now get most of my teas from many of the companies listed here.) I'd stored them in the cabinet above and to the left of where the wheel now is, and they'd often fall out onto the countertop when I opened the cabinet door. Or I'd be lazy and tend to just use the bags at the front of the cabinet, and then get bored with drinking the same few teas over and over again. The tea wheel lets me see what I have "in stock" and cleared out some space in that cabinet ... for the teas that I order that don't come in convenient zip-close bags: tulsi ginger tea from India, olive-leaf tea from Olivus, and jiaogulan-leaf tea from Immortalitea. And of course, there are the boxes of pedestrian herbal teas that everyone else in my family drinks. Yes, I am a tea snob.

My custom tea wheel from another angleThat blinding white light that you see in the photo to the right and in the one above is the sun coming through an extremely long but very short window in my kitchen that takes the place of the backsplash (like the tile one shown here) in most American kitchens. That window is currently the only thing that Ed (My Husband the Master Cabinetmakertm) and I like about our outdated kitchen, and that's because he installed the window—it wasn't original to our 45-plus-year-old house. One day when we can afford to do so, we will redo the kitchen and replace the ugly 1970s aqua swirls of the Formica-covered countertops and reface the horrid cabinets that are currently covered merely with rub-on stain and wax. To Ed, the kitchen is a professional embarrassment, because he builds top-end kitchens that you see in magazines, and ours looks like ... well, like ugh. We can't afford his services, and we can't afford to pay for someone else's services (which he'd nitpick) so that he can keep working. ;-) So he begged me to tell you here that our kitchen is in no way a reflection on his talent as a cabinetmaker.

That disclaimer out of the way, I ask this: What do you do to take care of yourself? What refreshes you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Earning His Pay

Hot damn! The new U.S. president is already earning his pay.

Obama has just frozen salaries for two years for White House staffers who make $100,000 or more annually; that affects about 100 employees. And he's placed restrictions on lobbyists:
... Obama's new lobbying rules will not only ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted.

The rules also ban lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to any member of his administration. It wasn't immediately clear whether the ban would include the traditional "previous relationships" clause, allowing gifts from friends or associates with which an employee comes in with strong ties.

The new rules also require that anyone who leaves his administration is not allowed to try to influence former friends and colleagues for at least two years. Obama is requiring all staff to attend to an ethics briefing like one he said he attended last week.

Obama called the rules tighter "than under any other administration in history." They followed pledges during his campaign to be strict about the influence of lobbyists in his White House.

"The new rules on lobbying alone, no matter how tough, are not enough to fix a broken system in Washington," he said. "That's why I'm also setting rules that govern not just lobbyists but all those who have been selected to serve in my administration." ...
He has also already called the heads of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Jordan about the Gaza conflict.

Here's the whole story.

And military judges have responded to the president's request to suspend war-crimes trials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base; he is now circulating the draft of an executive order to close the detention center (story here).

Updated at 4:25 p.m.: And how could I forget this? Yesterday, the day he was inaugurated, Obama halted all of Bush's last-minute regulations until they can be reviewed by the new administration.

Editorial Types, Get Your Winter Learning Groove On

Hear ye, hear ye! The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) has lined up some online classes for you:
  • Magazine Writing Basics (online, 4 weeks): Wednesdays, February 4 through March 4; EFA members, $160; nonmembers, $185.

  • Writing from Healthy Starts (online, 4 weeks): Mondays, February 23 through March 23; EFA members, $135; nonmembers, $160.

  • Introduction to Developmental and Structural Editing: Fiction (online, 6 weeks): Mondays, March 2 through April 11; EFA members, $160; nonmembers, $185.

  • Indexing Basics (online, 4 weeks): Wednesdays, March 4 through March 25. EFA members, $135; nonmembers, $160.

  • Online Editing/Writing for Corporate and Media (online, 4 weeks): Wednesdays, March 9 through March 30: Wednesdays, 8-9 p.m. Eastern time; homework due Fridays, 5 p.m. Eastern time; EFA members, $160; nonmembers, $185.

For more information and to sign up, see this page of the EFA web site (courses not yet posted there) or write education@the-efa.org.

A More Inclusive Wish

The current trend of U.S. political leaders closing their speeches with "God bless America" seems to me to be dismissive of those who don't believe in God and to uncomfortably mix church and state. And I call myself a practicing Christian.

If politicos feel the need to close with some sort of wish for the greater good, how about "May we all always be our best selves, for the sake of one another, the sake of our nation, and the sake of our world"?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Joyful Day

Crowds on the National Mall in Washington, DC (Reuters photo)10:33 a.m. — I am attempting to work today, on what should be a national holiday: the inauguration of a new president. This one is mature, intelligent, even-tempered, young, forward-looking, and, incidentally, the first half-black national leader.

I am watching the festivities and solemn ceremonies on TV, from the warm comfort of my home. Please forgive any hyperbole that you might perceive here as I post throughout the day, but you must understand that I, like the thousands of people crowding the National Mall, have been waiting for such a long time for government that makes sense.

Forgive me, those of you who are not religious, but this day feels holy to me, in the sense that so many people are coming together to celebrate their plans to be their best selves for the next several years. It is going to be the "in" thing to be optimistic and hardworking and kind and selfless, and that is holy. Barack Obama is not perfect, but neither is anyone else in this country, and yet most of us will be striving to get back to our best selves and our best community. That is holy.

That is hope, and hope is vital to living fully.

11:24 a.m. — It's so amazing to see all of those former presidents filing into one place. Jimmy Carter looks so much healthier than George H.W. Bush.

And what a snub that Republican Sen. John Cornyn delayed Hillary Clinton's confirmation as secretary of state by a day, supposedly because he wasn't satisifed with her answers to questions during confirmation hearings. I'm sure that he just didn't want her to be able to attend Obama's inauguration as secretary of state.

12:56 p.m. — What an inspiring speech by our new president! It was strong yet conciliatory, a call to action and a call to be our better selves. I'm ready to work hard for my country. Are you?

3:15 p.m. — The only thing that I did not like about Obama's inauguration was his choice of the homophobic Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation. I understand wanting to build bridges between opposing schools of thought, but Obama's inviting that guy felt to me as if Obama had invited a member of the KKK. Blech!

But then came the benediction given by the Rev. Joseph Lowery. At one point, he prayed, "We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right." Powerful truth there in the guise of humor. Way to go, Rev. Lowery!

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Name Is Katharine, and I Am a Dork

I'll admit it: I had a fairly insular, provincial life as a child growing up on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Someone calling my childhood home long distance—only from somewhere else within the United States, of course; never from another country—on our rotary phone was cause for great excitement; shushing all around, so that the called could hear the caller and nothing else; and then ending the call as soon as possible, because long distance was expensive, you know.

Since becoming an adult, I've been a newspaper reporter and seen all sorts of grisly and appalling things, worked in publishing in Manhattan and risked getting run over by cabdrivers and talked by phone with people across the country, and been a parent and seen and heard all sort of wondrous things and gross things. You'd think that I wouldn't have much of a sense of awe left.

But I do, and I'm approaching my fiftieth birthday.

I just got off the phone with a new client from South Korea who wants me to edit his manuscript before he submits it for publication in an English-language U.S. medical journal. It was thrilling to know that I was speaking with someone from the other side of the world, from a completely different culture, whose clock said that it was 14 hours later there than it is here and who probably didn't get that much sleep last night because he was on duty, who is doing surgery on people and making their lives more livable, ... and who wants my services so much that he didn't care about the cost of first faxing me long distance and then calling me long distance from his cell phone—he tried everything he could think of, after his ISP blocked my domain, to reach me. Long distance!

Is that cool or what? And if you think I'm a dork, I just don't care.

Want to Look Smart?

Want to be taken seriously, bloggers and blog commenters, copywriters, and wannabe authors of best-selling books? Learn how to spell and use punctuation!

And please learn before you contract for my services, or you're going to be paying a lot of money that you shouldn't really have to. I'm expensive. You just want to be paying for help with transition, flow, comprehensiveness, documentation, concision, and clarity—not all of that plus the basics of spelling and punctuation.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Good Kid

snowI'm so pleased to be 14-year-old Neil's mother.

He got home from school a half hour ago and volunteered to use the snow blower to clear our driveway and his grandparents'. (My in-laws live in the downstairs apartment within our home; they have a separate driveway.) After a quick phone consultation with Ed, who had just left for his evening job, about Neil's capabilities with the snow blower, I consented.

Neil safely backed our old car out of the driveway and parked it perfectly parallel with the curb, then competently plowed the driveway. Then he pulled the car back in. Next, knowing better than snowto take risks with his grandparents' two vehicles, he left them where they sat in their driveway and plowed a path from the grandparents' door and down their driveway to the street. He even went next door, without my suggesting it, and offered to plow—for no charge—the driveway of our friend, a woman who moved here after having grown up in Hong Kong and whom we suspect doesn't own a snow shovel. She, not being aware of my gangly guy's prowess with the snow blower, thanked him but turned down his offer, mostly likely concerned about the safety of the rental car sitting in her driveway.

When he came back into the house, I told him that I was very pleased with him. He said, "I just feel like I should help other people out [by using the snow blower] because it's more snow blower than we really need."

Good kid.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Tongue-in-Cheek Look at the Publishing Process

I especially love the part about 18 copyediting passes. Uh-huh.

Monday, January 12, 2009

You Just Never Know

Back on December 31, I told the weird tale of how things went when Ed tried to get a job with Peapod, a grocery-delivery service.

The job is finally a reality.

On Saturday, the interviewer left a phone message for Ed, who had just left for his shift at the dreaded Walmart: "Ed, it's X. I hope to God you're still available, because we need you. Please give me a call and we'll get the paperwork finished and get you scheduled for work." Ed starts work there on Wednesday.

Ed questioned the interviewer about why he had seemed irritated with Ed the last time that they had spoken. The man explained that he was irritated with Peapod's human resources staff. He was being pushed by management to set up a new delivery route but human resources wasn't passing along paperwork on interviewed job candidates in a timely fashion. So he finally told management, "No. I'm not setting up this new route until your human resources people get their act together." Ed's paperwork showed up with the batch that the human resources magically produced in an instant, so Ed got that call. Soon he will be getting good tips, making more money in 3 days with Peapod than he did in 5 days at Walmart, and getting more respect from his supervisors than he did at Walmart, where employees are mere commodities. And meanwhile, he's still working on that kitchen refinishing project.

Lesson? Don't count your eggs till they're hatched, but don't assume that if they take a very long while to hatch that they're duds to be disposed of. ;-)

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Here is a Wordle of my business web site:

KOK Edit Wordle

And here's one of this blog:

EditorMom Wordle

Go make a Wordle of your blog or of the text of your choice. Why? Because word clouds are fun, don't dump rain or snow on anyone, and are a form of art.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hate Speech

Here's a video clip that a lot of teens need to see:

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My Spirit Guide

My Grandma Lillian Anna O'Moore Sheppard, with my Grandpa John Allen SheppardA mourning dove; photo courtesy of WikipediaMourning doves are my favorite birds because a community of them used to sing in my maternal grandmother's beautiful flower-laden backyard in San Antonio, Texas.

Ever since she died when I was 28 or so, I've pictured her spirit embodied in a mourning dove. When a mourning dove coos at me,* it's as if Grandma has stopped by to tell me that everything will be okay. It was her birth surname, O'Moore, that I took as my surname after my first marriage ended ... and that I kept as part of my surname when I married for the second time.

Whenever it's cold and gray outside, as it is today, I yearn for spring, when mourning doves will be cooing everywhere I look.

*The birdsong sound file is found at Bird Watcher's Digest, which obtained it courtesy of Lang Elliott, NatureSound Studio.

Knowledge with a Price

2008 Sichuan earthquake (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)Sometimes my work makes me sad.

This afternoon, I'll be editing a manuscript about gas gangrene in wounds caused by buildings falling on and trapping people in China during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. I know that what the researcher-physician authors learned during the quake will help people wounded by all sorts of severe physical trauma. But just imagining the anguish on the faces of those injured parents and children and grandchildren—and the faces of the friends and relatives searching for them—makes me hurt for them all.

To help people so badly hurt and not fall apart yourself takes incredible courage and emotional strength and resilience. I'm grateful for physicians and other health-care workers who can do that.

Friday, January 02, 2009

My Exciting Life

My LinkedIn statusUpon noting my most recent LinkedIn status ("editing a manuscript on volumetric analysis in intertrochanteric fractures of the femur"), a friend e-mailed me with the injunction to get a life.

I replied that my getting a life this evening shall consist of watching Ghost Whisperer* while eating a lovely, fragrant bean-and-tomato stew concocted by my mother-in-law. Here's hoping that the episode neither is a rerun nor is preempted by stupid football. The only good thing to come out of Ed's having to work at the reprehensible Walmart is that I get all of this great food to myself. Of course, its being both tasty and healthy means that neither of our boys will touch it. They will likely eat grilled-cheese sandwiches instead, but at least they will also deign to eat the small spinach salad I will insist on.

Editors live such wild and crazy lives, don't they? ;-)

Updated at 11:37 p.m.: Damn! Tonight's episode was a rerun. But at least a second rerun episode followed it, and the promo for next week's show says it'll be a new one in which Jim (see footnote below) just may recover his memories.

*The plotline of which has taken a very distressing turn: Jim, beloved and hunky husband of ghost-whisperer Melinda, was accidentally shot and killed by a police officer. His spirit hung around, disembodied, for a while because he couldn't bear to leave the love of his life. When a young firefighter died, Jim's spirit saw a chance to hang around physically too and swooped in to inhabit the newly dead firefighter's body, thus bringing the firefighter back to life with Jim's spirit instead of his own. Now Melinda has to wade through lots of emotional pain waiting for Jim (in a new body) to recognize her as his wife. Argh! Very stupid move on the writers' part.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Very Close to Home

The New York Times has finally noticed that the recession has spread to where I live, in a small wrong-side-of-the-tracks neighborhood in downstate New York that is surrounded by large areas of affluence:
This winter day begins a new year of the mortgage crisis. Nothing is certain about the miseries ahead except that they are growing. It is, for example, a freezing morning on Long Island—a national symbol of the single-family suburb. Its two counties, Nassau and Suffolk, boast well-run governments, an educated work force and a long history of stability and affluence. Comfort and consumption are the twin strands of their DNA. But the struggle there is acute.

In Nassau County, New York State's richest one, the foreclosure whirlwind hit hard. Shelters are filling up and food pantries are emptying. More than 500 people sought emergency housing from the county in a recent December week. Most were families with children. ...

As people lose not only homes but also jobs, pain is cascading to the bottom rungs of the economy. The Workplace Project, a longstanding defender of immigrant workers' rights in Hempstead, has seen an alarming rise in reports of unpaid wages, said Nadia Marin-Molina, its executive director. Contractors are cutting costs by missing payrolls and are counting on an undocumented work force not to complain. ...
Those are the same contractors who haven't been calling my husband, Ed, for the last 4 months to ask him to subcontract for them.
"I've been doing this for over 30 years, and I've never seen it like this," Ms. Lassandro of Nassau County said. "Nobody's exempt from it."
Hear that, father-in-law of mine? Nobody.

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