With the persistent cold weather, it’s hard to believe it’s officially spring in Ottawa. Why not brighten up your spring with an editing workshop by one of our fabulous instructors? Read on to find out what the National Capital Region branch has to offer this spring.

Eight-Step Editing: Eight-Step Editing is perhaps the most practical of all the workshops in our canon. It takes the skills that are second nature to many professional editors and breaks them into a sequence of tasks that will improve the readability of the final product. If you’re an editor, whatever your experience level, this seminar will help you develop a systematic approach to editing and identify functions you may have been performing only intuitively. If you’re a writer, the Eight-Step process will give you techniques for improving your manuscript before it goes to an editor. Instructor Moira White is a freelance editor, writer and trainer with both public and private sector clients. Don’t dally in registering as this seminar, offered on Thursday, March 26, is filling up quickly.

Starting a Freelance Career: Being a freelancer is much more than working in your pyjamas. For the privilege of setting your own hours, you also have to be your own boss, the marketing department, the sales team, the office manager, the bookkeeper, as well as the employee. Learn how to get started as a freelancer in this seminar, which outlines the basic steps to your dream job. It will be held on the morning of Friday, April 17. Instructor Christine Leblanc—who started her own business 10 years ago, after spending the previous decade in publishing—is ready to guide you through the maze.

Social Media 101: Social media can—and should—be an important part of your networking and marketing efforts to further your career. It can also help you develop your skills as an editor. In this afternoon seminar, you’ll learn the fundamentals of social media, especially LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and how to make them work for you. Explore why and when you should use each channel both for yourself and for your employer or clients. Christine Leblanc will be giving this workshop on Friday, April 17.

Editing Charts: If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then a data chart must be worth at least 100. Knowing how to edit charts in order to use them to their full advantage will increase your value to your employer and clients. In this workshop scheduled for Wednesday, April 29, instructor Laurel Hyatt will show you how to transform a chart from a head-scratcher into a head-turner. Whether you just want to boost your chart-editing competence or become a guru, this seminar will change the way you look at charts. Come learn from an expert who has been a journalist, writer and editor for more than 28 years!

How to Deliver Effective Presentations: The seminar begins by teaching you how to both tailor the content for your audience and convey this information confidently. Next, you’ll learn how to put together effective PowerPoint presentations. And then you’ll deliver these presentations to a friendly audience—your peers and the instructor. You leave not only with videos of your efforts but also with helpful feedback on your delivery style. Instructor Graham Young is a business trainer with more than 30 years’ experience helping business and government clients communicate at work. He’ll lead this final seminar of the season on Thursday, May 14.

Opening lines…by Bhavana Gopinath

There is something magical about opening an unread book. As I hunker down with my most recent loot from the library, I have a zillion thoughts swirling through my head:  Will I like this, or am I wasting my time, will it transform my life or make my commute more boring, is it the classic that everyone says it is, maybe I will not understand it all. Usually, all my doubts are laid to rest within the first ten pages, and I decide whether to stick with it or return it.

Sometimes though, just the opening lines of the book will tell you all that you need to know. Compelling sentences crafted with such precision, that they knock you breathless. You have to drown in the book before you think of coming up for air. And ranked high among classic opening lines is Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities”:

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us…

I read this book in high school, when we were given heavy doses of Shakespeare and Dickens. I don’t remember the rest of the story in such detail, but these lines stayed in my mind. They are timeless and relevant even today — a quick look at the headlines will prove it. An unsettling realization for the human race perhaps, but a testament to the enduring power of great literature.

Do you remember any opening lines of a book that affected you? If so, we would love to hear about it. Do share your experiences by writing to We might even want to publish it on our blog.