Fall 2015 Seminars by Elaine Vininsky, Seminar Chair

Things are busy as the National Capital Region Branch is offering six seminars this fall. First up at bat is writer and Certified Professional Editor Frances Peck with two courses. Secrets of Syntax will help you become more adept at manipulating word order—or syntax—to improve prose. Grammar Boot Camp focuses on high-level grammar errors— the ones that make it past editors and proofreaders and into print.  Frances is always up for a challenge, and invites participants to bring along any difficult examples they’ve encountered in their work. These courses are offered back-to-back on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1.

Creating a House Style is next, on Friday, October 23. Elizabeth Macfie is an EAC-certified copy editor, stylistic editor and proofreader. Though dictionaries and style manuals provide answers and rules, there is often more than one way to write. Accordingly, every organization should have a house style, as it offers consistency and saves editing time.

Plain Language: Building Results will help you create documents that say what they mean—efficiently. Instructor Graham Young is an independent writer, trainer, and communications  consultant with more than 30 years’ experience in helping business and government clients communicate at work. He’ll be giving this seminar on Thursday, October 29.

We’ve listened to those who’ve been requesting more business-oriented courses, and have engaged Adrienne Montgomerie to teach Marketing for Freelance Editors. Adrienne is a certified copy editor and an educational editor with more than 180 titles and 18 years of experience. She’ll suggest ideas of how to market to your clients, whether they are publishers, businesses, or authors. This half-day seminar is offered on Tuesday, November 10.

Carolyn Brown offers Editing Scientific Papers and Reports on Wednesday, November 25. Carolyn is a Certified Professional Editor and accredited Editor in the Life Sciences, and is a scientific and medical publishing consultant for two of Canada’s two largest scientific publishers. In this seminar, editors will learn how to help researchers communicate clearly and effectively to their peers and the greater community.

All seminars will be held at Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, 88 Albert St., Ottawa, ON K1P 5E9.

Click here to register for any of these exciting fall seminars.

Meet the Instructor – The Secrets of Syntax and Grammar Boot Camp


Frances Peck is a writer and Certified Professional Editor (Hon.) who works on material ranging from manuals and websites to technical documents and reports. She has taught at the University of Ottawa, Douglas College and Simon Fraser University. The former Chelsea resident and long-time EAC member is now based in Vancouver and travels the land giving workshops and presentations on language. She is a partner with West Coast Editorial Associates and on Twitter refers to herself as an “east coaster on the west coast.”

Frances co-authored the popular HyperGrammar website and wrote Peck’s English Pointers, a free e-book published by the Translation Bureau. Pointers has educated and entertained language buffs with lively articles and quizzes spanning grammar, punctuation, mechanics, usage and clarity. Frances brings this light-hearted look at the rules of the English language to her two fall seminars. She is always up for a challenge and encourages seminar participants to bring along any difficult grammar examples they’ve encountered in their work.

When: September 30, 2015, and October 1, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 4p.m

Registration Closes September 24, 2015 for both these seminars

Click here to register.

Time Management: Or, Tricking Yourself into Working at Home by Ruth Bradley-St-Cyr

In one of the seminars that I hosted last year, one of the participants was most concerned not with editorial questions, per se, but with the issue of how to manage one’s time as a freelancer. This got me thinking about how I get things done, or perhaps if I get things done in my busy life of editing, research, and teaching.

It is true that working from home has many distractions. Five of my distractions have fur and two are just hairy. (Translation: five cats, a husband, and a teenage son.) There’s also the laundry, the dishes, the infernal ringing of the phone, etc. etc. But I manage to get things done somehow. I did, after all, manage to squeeze a PhD out over the past several years.

I once collaborated on a project with a young, unattached man who said he just sits down to edit and starts his timer to keep track of his hours. As soon as I sit down to edit, the gray cat comes to show me how cute she is by rolling around in front of me and pushing on the space bar. If she moves off, the tortoiseshell baby moves in and lays down on my mouse-moving arm for a nap. Keeping track of my hours has never worked for me, so my editorial estimates are all project based and done by word count. Sometimes this goes very wrong… all words are not created equal!

One method for big projects, like writing a book, is to form a project-oriented support group and meet once a week or so for breakfast. Every week you are accountable to your group for some progress, at least a smidgen, on your project. I modified this method once and teamed up with my friend Trish who similarly has more to do than she can handle. We nagged and goaded each other for a couple of days and both got a tremendous amount done. Somehow this was more motivating than being nagged by my husband to “bill something, for heaven’s sake!”

Although I am haunted by my friend Gillian’s story of finding a ten-year-old To Do list only to discover that she hadn’t done ANY of the things on it, my favourite motivational method by far is the To Do list. My standard To Do list covers a month at a time, one page, double column.

First I sort the items by type: Reading, Writing, Editing, Household/Gardening (not that I garden), Friends/Appointments, Knitting/Crocheting/Sewing, Phone/Correspondence, Miscellaneous, and Regular Gigs. This helps me to remember what I need to do and to set goals for the month – read four novels, finish a baby quilt, editorial deadlines, remember to pick the rhubarb, etc.

Then I ditch those categories and sort the items into weekly lists. This helps me to figure out exactly WHEN a task has the best chance of getting done, considering all the other To Dos. Actually, I’ve had to conclude that every week is two days short of the number of days required to do everything, but it seems I can’t change that.

Since it is intimidating to look at a whole month of To Dos at once, my latest strategy is to list daily To Dos in my Day-Timer. I do this by hand, as it is so satisfying to cross them out. But the trick is not to pick too many, or nothing will get done. I’ve decided that ten is the right number. It just isn’t satisfying to write down ONE thing, especially if it is so big that it might not get done by the end of the day. If you are tackling a big project, then break it down into its component parts.

On good days, the list looks like this: 1. Find dog fabric for Diane; 2. Edit OLBI; 3. Write Post doc application; 4. Read Royal Commission report, etc. But even the most unproductive days look good on paper if you’ve been able to cross off ten things: 1. Pee; 2. Feed cats; 3. Eat breakfast; 4. Sudoku; 5. Brush teeth, etc. Actually, there have been periods (usually post-partum) where I was happy if I managed just to brush my teeth…

Whatever method of self-motivation you choose, make sure also to take advantage of your high-energy times. I used to have those. I miss them. Good luck!

What’s on Your Bulletin Board? by Ruth Bradley-St-Cyr

More than two decades ago, the company I worked for, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, brought in a motivational speaker for the staff. I was so taken with Grace Cirocco’s presentation that I wrote up her “ten steps for achieving your potential” and added my own notes to them. For the past 20 years, that list has held a prominent place on my bulletin board, right over my desk so that I can keep these rules in sight.

I just recently found out that Grace has also written a book called Take the Step — The Bridge Will Be There, which is perfect for anyone changing careers (transitioning from government to self-employed anyone?).

Her influence from just that one little seminar on January 10, 1994, has been so pervasive that I thought I would share the list with you. (I keep an electronic copy in case I need to print a new one. The original has about 50 holes in it from being moved around the bulletin board.)

I invite all of you to share a blog about what’s on your bulletin board.

Grace Cirocco’s Ten Steps for Achieving Your Potential 

  1. Should — “Don’t let anyone should on you,” says Grace. — Make three lists; one for things you have to do, one for things you want to do, and one for things you should do. Then throw out the last list. If you don’t have to do it and you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. (I actually learned this formula from Vogue Patterns magazine in an article about how to make more time for sewing.)
  1. Acknowledge and complete the past — Don’t let little things remain unresolved; they suck away your energy like mosquitoes always coming back for more blood. An old Scots tradition was to finish up everything before the New Year. House cleaning, repairs, mending, fixing relationships, etc. — everything was to be tidied up before January 1st so the New Year would be a clean slate. (For example, for about 2 years my photo of my father had a cracked glass that I had kept meaning to replace “when I got around to it.” Finally, after Grace’s seminar, I fixed it. Cost: $1.69 and a trip to the hardware store. Result: Tons of guilt gone.)
  1. Trust and use your intuition — Women are said to have intuition but men have it too; theirs has not been acknowledged, however, and may be a little rusty. Intuition helps, for example, in avoiding assault. If your guts tell you that the person you are with is making you uncomfortable, listen to your feelings, don’t just be polite.
  1. Touch is a human requirement — 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance, 12 for growth.
  1. Choice — Don’t be a victim to your own responses to people and events. Choose your own response.
  1. Reject perfectionism and strive for excellence. Perfectionism takes more time than it is worth.
  1. Limit the amount of TV you watch — It sucks the little grey cells out of your brain. (P.S. I don’t think this applies to Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, or Call the Midwife!)
  1. Exercise — Exercise releases endorphins that keep you positive and help you deal with stress. Walking is the best exercise, as it also gets you outside.
  1. Have realistic expectations — Don’t catastrophize when things don’t go as expected.
  1. Sharpen the saw — Upgrade your skills; learning is a life-long pursuit. Don’t turn off your brain when they hand you the sheepskin. “We are human becomings not just human beings,” says Grace.

Publishing to “shift the narrative” by Tom Vradenburg

They founded a publishing house on idealistic principles to help those in need. But what’s remarkable about the three Somali-Canadian sisters behind Qurtuba Publishing House is their ability to understand their market niche and what it desperately wants to know about.

Ilhan, Hodan and Ayan Ibrahim, are children of the Somali diaspora of the 1990s, all in their twenties. They face the challenges of Muslims everywhere, in particular Muslims living in Western countries.

“All over the globe, Muslims are suffering from social polarization, economic decline, and political turmoil. Mainstream media has immensely contributed to the negative portrayal of Muslims, creating a narrative that is neither factual nor representative of the global Muslim community. It is becoming exceedingly difficult for Muslims to reconcile what Islam teaches and the dynamic context of our world today. We felt that we had a social and religious obligation to counter these growing challenges,” said Ilhan Ibrahim in a recent blog post.

While the Internet offers plenty of resources for Muslims, the Ibrahims saw a lack of insightful, practical information to help Muslims find their way through very real everyday difficulties—conflicts with immigrant parents, eating healthy and halaal, fitness for Muslim women and entrepreneurship from a Muslim perspective.

Meet the Ibrahim sisters and hear about their ambitious publishing venture.

When: Wednesday, September 16, 6:30 pm
Where: Good Companions Seniors Centre, 670 Albert Street (at Empress)
Free for members, $10 for non-members

Please be advised that construction crews are continuing to work on water mains at the corner of Albert St & Empress Ave, and will be starting to work directly on Empress Avenue in coming weeks, forcing the closure of that street. Access to the Good Companions Centre will never be denied so please be patient and obey flaggers and/or Ottawa Police Service personnel, who will be directing traffic around the construction site.