March Speakers Night—Stacey Atkinson on Self-Publishing

Speaker Nights March 15How to self-publish a book

Stacey Atkinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Ottawa. In 2012, she began Mirror Image Publishing as a way to self-publish her first novel, Stuck. She learned so much along the way, especially when it came to publishing and marketing a book, that she began offering advice and services to other independent authors. In 2016, she self-published her second novel, Letters from Labrador.

After self-publishing two books and working primarily as an editor of self-published fiction and nonfiction, Stacey took what she had learned and developed an online course on how to publish a book.

At this event, Stacey will explain her ten-step process and answer your questions about self-publishing. She’ll also be asking people to share their own self-publishing stories.

Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Queen St., Lackey Room, 6:30 p.m.
Free for members; $10 for non-members


Staying organized, swapping books by Tom Vradenburg

 Some are born organized; the rest of us have to adopt or invent tools and tricks to get there and stay there.

If whole stores can be devoted to this vital art, so too can a speaker night.

Program chair Tom Vradenburg will lead this month’s program, but the floor will also be open to others wishing to show and tell how they keep entropy at bay.

Tom will show’n’tell file-naming conventions that have saved time and sanity for two teams he has managed: a book project and an all-purpose communications shop.

This month, he’s working on a major reorganization of a thousand-page intranet site, and has chosen as his go-to tool…Microsoft Excel.

Everyone is invited to bring along or explain their favourite tools and tricks. Anyone for OneNote?

If you come out on Wednesday, do bring a reference book or two you can live without that someone else might find helpful, and swap it for something new-to-you.

When: Wednesday, October 21, 6:30 pm

Where: Good Companions Seniors Centre, 670 Albert Street (at Empress)

Free for members, $10 for non-members

Parking: Construction crews are continuing to work on water mains at the corner of Albert Street and Empress Avenue, and will be starting to work directly on Empress Avenue in coming weeks, forcing the closure of that street. However, the parking lot, just off Empress and behind the Centre, will still be accessible.

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.

May’s meeting: serious stuff—elections and a name change— then fun stuff By Tom Vradenburg, EAC–NCR Chair

Naming or re-naming organizations, companies and products is always a fraught process. The name has to be spellable and pronounceable: it should sound positive, and even describe the activities of the organization. Today, the advent of search engines, and the need to be ‘found’ by them, adds another variable to consider.

Changing our national organization’s branding—its everyday self-identification, as opposed to the name in its constitution or incorporation papers—is partly motivated by search considerations. We have long had “” as a domain name for the national website and for EAC’s webmail service. So, the move to Editors Canada branding—with the new logo, typeface and colours—can be seen as part of the same trend.

The new national branding has also encouraged NCR’s executive to propose a name change for this branch. This normally would not be a high-priority item, but we would like to catch that rebranding train too.

What motivated us to head to the station was ‘search engine optimization’. In the process of analyzing our competition in the seminar market, we discovered that having “National Capital Region” as our branch name has been impeding recognition of our seminar pages by Google and other search engines. Depending on the search terms tried, the EAC national website scores higher on searches, even when “Ottawa” is included in the terms.

We are struggling with growing seminar competition from training companies. Not being found in online searches is a liability we should be able to address.

Our other reason, less pressing, for a name change is that “NCR” is an abbreviation that is understood only, and not universally, ‘inside the Beltway’. Our members do not live in a true federal district, like the District of Columbia, but mainly in two cities, Ottawa and Gatineau. Some Eastern Ontario members, closer to Kingston, rightfully gravitate to the Kingston twig.

I hope this explains why the branch executive would like to do this, and why it is suddenly urgent.

Seeking new executive members

Election of executive members for 2015–2016 is also on the slate for May’s meeting. Several positions are in play at this point:

  • membership chair
  • seminar co-chair
  • marketing chair
  • speaker nights co-chair
  • vice-chair.

Please consider volunteering for one of these: to learn more about what each position involves, and which is the best fit for you, written job descriptions are available for each position: feel free to email me. I can attest that the executive is a collegial, supportive and efficient  group.

Then, the fun stuff

The lighter, latter portion of May’s meeting involves games, similar to the format of previous May ‘game nights’. Expect a combination of group activity and individual trivia and logic questions. The competition may be keen, but these games will be much more civil than the hockey playoffs. Details to follow!

When: Wednesday, May 20, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, 88 Albert Street, Laurier Room
Free for members, $10 for non-members
Pre-registration is not required for this event.

The Web Content Style Guide: An unofficial preview by Tom Vradenburg Chair, EAC NCR

It has been nearly 20 years since Public Works published The Canadian Style. At January’s meeting, I summarized this new ‘content style guide’ published by Treasury Board on

Where the guide fits

While not exactly a replacement for The Canadian Style, the guide says, “in situations where this document disagrees with Canadian Style, follow this document” (quotes mine). And so much about publishing has changed in 20 years, so an update is nice. What I really appreciate is how this document consolidates things that editors should know from several other Public Works documents about publishing, such as the standards on web interoperability.

The greater emphasis on plain language is good to see: Canadian Style does mention it, over a few pages at the back of the book. Here, the message is stressed throughout.

This new guide presents itself as the rulebook only for publishing on the site, which will carry content from many departments. But if you work in any government department, this new web content style guide, with the weight of Treasury Board behind it, may be good style guidance you can take to the boss.

My presentation, in PowerPoint format, is posted.

05_E_CanadaWebGuide (1)

How April’s town hall went By Tom Vradenburg, Chair, EAC NCR

Before relinquishing the chair in May, I wanted to bring forward some questions about the progress and future of the branch—some straightforward; others, difficult. This is why I held April’s membership meeting as a town hall.

I am worried about the eroding of branch membership, which has slipped gradually from 300 a decade ago to 200 or so the last few years to 173 as of this month’s report.  However, size is only one indicator of the health of a branch: a less tangible one could be called ‘vitality’. Buying an EAC membership represents a basic level of commitment; coming out to meetings, taking part in discussions and volunteering are subsequent rungs on that ladder.

In late 1990s, we had 130 or 140 members, but 30 to 40 people came out for a meeting. In recent years, we have had 200 or more members, but lower attendance at meetings. The meeting programs year after year tend to cover similar subjects, and are of good quality and value to professional editors. Why is such a small portion of our membership coming out to meetings? What has changed?

I asked the town hall for suggestions about the meeting format. Some members said earlier meetings would be better. If meetings started at 6:00 or 6:30 pm, they could leave work, get together for dinner, then go to EAC. The executive meeting, now held before the membership meeting, would have to be held at another time.

As well, people like to socialize at meetings, and the current format leaves little time for that. Sometimes I have started meetings 5 or 10 minutes late, just to give people a bit of mingling time. In the 1990s, meetings typically started with a short segment of association business, then 15 minutes to socialize, then the program.

So, there’s more than one way to manage meetings. The executive is working on options for a different meeting format for next year: I hope a new format will inject some new vitality.

February Speaker’s Night Presentation – What’s new in the new edition of Editing Canadian English

The third edition of EAC’s guide to ‘only-in-Canada’ editorial issues will be launched later this month. As it turns out, a large portion of the ECE team hails from the NCR branch, and several of them will be on hand at this month’s branch speaker night to preview the new edition.

Like the Web Content Style Guide presented last month, this new ECE edition is, in more than one sense, a product of the Internet age. It covers new issues that have emerged since the second edition was published in 2000. As well, its distribution has been adapted to the Internet age: Editing Canadian English ‘3.0’ will be offered initially as an online, subscription-based product, and later in print-on-demand format.

Anne Louise Mahoney, Heather Ebbs, Marion Soublière, Carolyn Brown, Laura Paquet and Kevin Burns will present highlights of the new edition.
When: Wednesday, February 18, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, 88 Albert Street, Laurier Room
Free for members, $10 for non-members
Pre-registration is not required for this event.