September Speaker Night

by Emily Stewart            Capture

On Wednesday, September 19th we gathered at Christchurch Cathedral for our first speaker night of the season. Our theme: literary potluck. Our speaker: writer, publisher, and blogger rob mclennan.

We kicked off the evening with literary themed food and drink. We had salad (Julius Caesar), devilled eggs (Green Eggs and Ham), pie (Life of Pie), Marilla Cuthbert’s red currant wine (Anne of Green Gables) and more.

After networking time, the executive took the floor for introductions and to announce plans for the year. We’ve got lots of fun stuff coming up, so be sure to check out our programming page if you missed out on the announcements.

Finally, we had our featured speaker, rob mclennan, take the stage. rob is a powerhouse in the Ottawa literary community. He does a lot around town to promote literature and bring words into the world. He:

And all this with two young kids at home!

With so much experience under his belt, rob had a lot of anecdotes and wisdom to offer. He told us about how he started writing and publishing and how these efforts led to more creative projects. The discussion also covered the challenges and frustrations of working in literature in Ottawa and some Ottawa history.

He mentioned  literary events that members might be interested in. According to rob, the best way to stay in the know about these events is through Bywords.ca’s events calendar. Check it out or follow Bywords on Facebook or Twitter.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this discussion was “action generates action.” Creating and sharing leads to more opportunities. rob is definitely an example of this and I think this mentality is valuable to keep in mind as we continue building the editing community, our networks, and businesses.

My goal for the evening was to have our members reconnect with one another while learning about the larger literary community in Ottawa. Though we were a small group this month, we had a fun, informal night.

I hope everyone enjoyed it and if anyone has any feedback or ideas for future speaker nights, feel free to let me know.

See you next month!

Emily Stewart, Speakers Night Chair

Interview with Cheryl Stephens

The Plain Language Wizard

 Many of you may know Cheryl Stephens and her editing skills. Cheryl taught me Structural Editing and Stylistic Editing at Simon Fraser University (SFU).

Honestly, I was intimidated to take the courses. Cheryl can slash, cut, and burn unwanted words and sentences, and restructure a document in a flash with her magic wand—impressive indeed! But it’s not magic; it’s experience.

Cheryl has many accomplishments in a career dedicated to Plain Language communications:

  • She has published several books on Plain Language in hard and e-copy, and Rapport: News about Plain Language through the 90s.
  • In the early 80s, she worked as a lawyer, and as a legal educator. Her work as a legal editor brought her to plain language.
  • In 1990, she helped develop a training course for lawyers.
  • In 1993, she co-founded, with Kate Harrison, the Plain Language Consultants Network which evolved into the Plain Language Association International Network (PLAIN). The two women later founded International Plain Language Day which is celebrated world-wide each October 13 and is now managed by PLAIN.
  • She co-chaired PLAIN conferences: Winnipeg 1995, Calgary 1997, Houston 2000, and Vancouver 2013.
  • Cheryl has been an innovator and early adopter of technology and social media. She set up Plain Language On line in 1993. She also ran PLAIN’s list serve and internet discussion group and set up their first website.

 Ms. Stephens. Thank you for agreeing to the interview for Capital Letters.

 Q. What was the biggest motivator for you to leave a legal career to become an editor?

Frankly, I burnt out on law practice. I had always wanted to teach adults, so I got involved in paralegal education. An opportunity arose to supervise paralegals while spending half my time on legal editing to set up a document bank. Editing legal materials would drive anybody toward embracing plain language.

Q. Did you have any difficulty persuading your legal colleagues to accommodate plain language?

I had to persuade them to create a style guide and it took a year of committee meetings to work that out. I characterized it as modernizing and rationalizing their templates.

Q. Are you the original initiator of plain language writing in Canada?

 A. No, not at all. I was late to the game. I only learned about plain language from an article written about the 1999 Canadian tour by Australia’s innovator Robert Eagleson. But the federal government and Manitoba, Alberta, and Ontario were already at work on plain language.

Q. Accessibility started years ago with streets and sidewalks. Is Communication Accessibility the new kid on the block?

A. Yes, we have a right to understand. The internet has given us website and content accessibility and standards. Ontario’s disability law provides the right to usable information. The proposed Canadian Accessibility Act will cover communication. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with  Disabilities recognizes the role of  plain  language and provides that when  an  institution  is  required  to  provide  information, it  needs to be understandable.

 

The Facets of the General Public as Audience

(Cheryl co-authored this paper with Mariah Stufflebeam in February 2017)

Q. You refer to the audience and the reader as a “multifaceted diamond with a multitude of complexities including physical, emotional, intellectual, and mental challenges”. How can we ever, as writers and editors, possibly address all these issues without becoming blocked?

 A. Perhaps you cannot. But you can:

  • Find out as much as you can about your readers and cater to them. Some disabilities and challenges have specific guidelines for communication. Google their needs as readers.
  • Become aware of the many challenges facing even competent adult readers and be as simple and clear as you can be.

Q. Many people don’t think about communication when they think of accessibility. In your paper you point out that 48% of Canadians are lower level readers. Is grade six still the level we should consider standard for plain language writing?

A. I am going to start refusing to discuss school-grade reading levels although there is chapter about them in my book Plain Language in Plain English.

The International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS) is the best framework for discussing reading abilities. These are the levels they have described:

Level 1 – difficulty reading, few basic skills or strategies for decoding and working with text

Level 2 – limited skills, can read, but not well and can only deal with simple material, clearly laid out

Level 3 – can read well but may have problems with more complex tasks

Levels 4 & 5 – strong literacy skills, including a wide range of reading skills, many strategies for dealing with complex materials (only about 3% of readers are at highly skilled readers at level 5)

 Level 3 is the target audience for clear communication. The Canadian government says that Level 3 is the minimum level to function in modern society. The Conference Board of Canada has said that people in the top half of level 3 are employable in an information society. That 48% is the readers at Levels 1 and 2, people who avoid reading or seek help with documents.

People at level 4 will be grateful for clarity of information. As you know from reading the paper, even readers with level 4 skills can suffer situational low literacy.

 Q. To what extent does an editor correct an author’s work to make the communication accessible as described in the paper?

 A. The editor is the reader’s advocate. The editor must negotiate terms with the author, in the best interests of the reader.

Q. In your paper you indicate that more than 50% of medical patients have trouble understanding medical information. Do you know of initiatives by health ministries or hospitals to address plain language issues?

A. Yes, there are many initiatives in Canada, the US, and UK. The term used in that field is health literacy which encompasses the communication responsibilities of professionals and institutions.

Q. Do you think that editors and writers should routinely create personas of their readers for everything they write or edit? Would there be exceptions?

 A. Not routinely, but whenever one needs reminding of a particular reader or a diversity of readers. Personally, I have not used them, but they have been useful tools for teaching—for getting editors to think about their readers.

Q. Your resource posters from the UK are very helpful. How long have the UK and other countries been advocating for plain language in communication.

 A. The recent story of plain language starts from the consumer rights movement in the 70s. There was a convergence of interest in plain language from literacy advocates and proponents of access to justice in the 80s.

Plain Language Association International Network (PLAIN)

Q. In 1993 you co-founded Plain Language Consultants Network. How did this evolve into PLAIN?

A. After being its coordinator for 7 years, I was able to hand it over to others who changed the name and incorporated. I was on the sidelines while that all happened.

Q. You are a strong advocate of social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. How has this enabled your career?

A. For many years, I dominated the first page of a Google search for plain language. I have gotten many clients from a search that turned up my websites. But my use of the internet and social media has allowed me to make connections internationally that have made my life better and my work easier.

I think anyone needs to limit themselves to just a few platforms and the ones that seem most productive and safe. I do tell my students that they should join online editors’ groups.

Q. You have a following of 18,000 in LinkedIn Group Plain Language Advocates. Does this group promote plain language in an organized way?

 A. I had built the LinkedIn Group to 15,000 members before turning it over to PLAIN. I passed on another group for plain language legal writers to Clarity, the international movement for plain legal language. I hope both organizations will be able to maximize the group impact.

CLOSING

 Q. What advice do you have for editing students who hope to have a career in editing?

 A. Unless you can find a staff position, you must learn to run a small business, do the marketing and networking required, and love the work. And join professional associations.

Q. What does the future hold for you? Do you have any new projects underway?

A. I continue to teach online for SFU and for the Plain Language Academy. I am a subject matter expert with skritswap, Inc. which is developing editing software. I will be presenting at Clarity2018 in Montreal in October. I volunteer with 2 community organizations and I am organizing amateur artists in my neighbourhood.

Thank you for your time, Cheryl. It has been a pleasure and a learning experience to interview you.

                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Blogging

Vicki Gregory, a student at SFU, will complete the final project for the Editing Certificate in November, 2018. She recently took a web writing class which required her to write a blog post. The post is a recipe but encompasses techniques, length, style, keywords and titles   recommended as good practice in blogging.

Thank you Vicki. We get to see a well-written blog post and a recipe for our cook books!

 

vg

                             How to make vegan pâté

This vegan pâté recipe was given to me by my friend Christine. We met about 20 years ago at a homeschool group. We were close friends for many years, but ended up losing touch – lives change, and in our case, got complicated.

Last year Christine passed away, way too young, from long-term health problems. This brought up a lot of sadness, and regret for me, wishing I’d found some way to bridge the gap before it was too late.

This recipe may have come from a book, I don’t recall, and the details are lost to time. In my mind it’s Christine’s creation, and has become a family favorite recipe. I’m sharing it with you as a tribute to her. She was generous, witty, could laugh like a kid, got to the truth in any matter, and raised two great kids – now the nicest men you could ever meet.

A quick and easy meal

If you are looking for an easy lunch idea, this vegan pâté recipe fits the bill!

It’s filled with nutritional yeast, a must have for a vegan’s vitamin B12 intake, and just plain yummy!

vg2.jpg

                                      Nutritional yeast – versatile and yummy!

Allergy friendly

Free of dairy, eggs, and peanuts –  some of the most common food allergies!

The ingredients

The ingredients for vegan pâté are very easy-to-find, everyday foods. If you’re new to vegetarian or vegan cooking, the only thing just a little off the beaten path is the nutritional yeast (aka yeast flakes). This can be found in the spice aisle at Bulk Barn, or order online at Amazon – and is very cheap, so get lots!

Speaking from experience do not substitute other ingredients, or even think about reducing the salt!

It’s just not the same without each and every ingredient. Try it, you’ll see!

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ cup spelt flour
  • ½ cup light olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup very hot water
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium raw potato with skin left on, grated
  • 1 medium raw carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp dry basil
  • 2 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 tsp dry sage
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt

Making the recipe

  1. Place sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, spelt flour, olive oil, lemon juice, onion, hot water, all spices, and salt, in a food processor and pulse until it’s still a bit chunky but mostly liquid. Like it smoother? Just blend a bit longer.
  2. Grate the potato, and carrot into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. Add in your blended ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour the whole works into an oiled no-stick loaf pan, and bake at 350 F (177 C) for 1 hour.

Mix well! Bake! Enjoy!

How to serve it

If you can’t wait, get a fork and eat it straight out of the pan!

Best served warm, but will be very tasty refrigerated, and will last up to 1 week.

Vegan pâté is great in wraps with lettuce, and mustard, or vegan mayo.

Can also be eaten as an appetizer on crackers with Dijon mustard, or Sriracha.

Paleo version

Update! The ‘no substitutions’ rule has been broken! After reading this article my daughter was inspired to create a paleo version – just as yummy!

Have you made this recipe? Leave a comment!

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Capital Letters…seeking bloggers! Experience not necessary

I hope you are enjoying the glorious summer.  Do you find it hard to be inside when the sunny blue skies are inviting you to enjoy the great outdoors?

I am a believer in stats. I know they can be used to fulfil numerous needs, but I do try to use them to move forward in positive directions.

I have been looking at Capital Letters stats to find when readers engage and what they want.

Since September 2017, the monthly average is 158 views by 90 people. Wednesday, 7 pm is the most popular day and time for views.

The stats tell me that the Capital Letters Blog has a steady following of 88 people. Imagine if each follower wrote an entry just twice a year, we could have more entries in a year than we have had in six. Since 2012 there have been 130 posts and 75 comments.

I volunteered to be the “motivator blog-editor person”, but this is not my blog, it’s yours!  If I, a novice in the field can do this thing, so can you!

Do you have any thoughts or comments about your editing experience? Is it a lucrative endeavour for you or is it an opportunity for you to express your creativity and love of the written (and edited) word? Or all the above?

I challenge each of you to share your thoughts…be it writing a blog entry about your passion for editing or posting a comment.

It would be so helpful to hear from as many of you as care to share.

Oh, and tell us how you love to spend the crazy, lazy days of summer!

Post comments directly on-line or mail your blog entry for uploading to erb.editing@gmail.com

By Barbara Erb

Editors Ottawa Gatineau: AGM

 

Barbara Erb

Welcome to the 2018-2019 year of activities for the Ottawa-Gatineau Branch. Thanks to Bhavana Gopinath for her work as the former blog editor. As your current blog editor, I hope I can fill her shoes.

As you may recall, I was the person in the “editing crisis blog entry last year. I will follow-up with more thoughts on editing and the like…with hopes of getting input, comments, and entries from all of you in the near future. I will also be inviting your suggestions as to ways we can continue to make our branch activities meaningful to you.

This entry is to provide you with an update from the AGM which was held on April 16th, 2018 at Christ Church Cathedral. We are hoping to have a much better show of members next year. As we plan for events of the coming year we are also extending the invitation for you to participate and join the team who are currently striving to meet your membership needs. If you wish to review the job descriptions of any of the volunteer positions, they are available on the “About Editors Ottawa-Gatineau” page of the blog.

Please take note of Sara Caverly’s message below:

 “As a member of Editors Ottawa–Gatineau, you’re invited to participate in building our executive team for the year ahead.

Your branch executive for 2018-19 is made up of members in the positions below, but there is still a chance for you to join them. This is an exciting time to volunteer with the branch, as we work together to stay relevant, support professional development, promote editing and build community.

If you would like to hold a position on the executive, please submit your intent to stand to the Acting Chair ott-gat.vicechair@editors.ca by June 30, 2018.

The vacant roles to be filled by board appointment are: (Student affiliate or full members)
Membership Co-Chair                      Speaker Night Co-Chair

The vacant roles to be filled by membership election are: (Full members only)
Chair
                                                   Secretary

Note: Acting officers are assuming vacant seats until members are elected to fill them.

A/chair: Sara Caverley, vice chair      A/secretary: Tom Vradenburg, past chair

Should you have any questions, please contact us at: ott-gat.vicechair@editors.ca. We look forward to sharing results with you in July.”

Thanks for your support and involvement,
Editors Ottawa–Gatineau executive

 Editors Ottawa–Gatineau Executive (2018-19)

Returning executive officers

Vice Chair: Sara Caverley

Past Chair: Tom Vradenburg

Treasurer: Lindsey McDonald

Public Relations Chair: Ariel Vered

Returning appointed board members

Seminars Chair: Sara Fowler

French Relations Chair: Béatrice Verley

Membership Co-Chair: Maurie Barrett

 New appointed board members

Capital Letters Blog Editor: Barbara Erb

Emily Stewart (standing for appointment)

Join us for wine and cheese on November 15!

As the days get colder, what could be more enticing than spending a cozy evening with friends? Especially friends who love language, wine and cheese?

If this sounds like your idea of fun, then join us on November 15 for Editors Ottawa—Gatineau’s annual wine and cheese social. Our guest this year is Rod Phillips—a wine writer, wine historian, and wine judge who writes a regular column for the Ottawa Citizen.

Write down your top three favourite wines, and we’ll swap and collect them to build a list of editors’ recommendations! RSVP by November 10 to ottawa-gatineau@editors.ca.

When: Wednesday, November 15, 6:00 p.m.

Where: Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, 88 Albert Street, Ottawa

Cost: Tickets are $20 for members and non-members for sale at the door for cash only. Please also consider bringing a non-perishable, nutritious food donation for the Ottawa Food Bank.

Meet the Instructor–Marketing for Freelance Editors

Second picture of Adrienne Montgomery

Adrienne Montgomerie is a certified copy editor and an educational editor with more than 130 titles and 18 years under her belt–mostly high school science textbooks and all of the support materials that go with them. She is also an experienced instructor, computer support tech, and course designer. In fact, she has produced handouts, lesson plans, activities, teacher guides, course notes, and worksheets for a staggering range of topics. You will find her in person at Editors Canada’s Kingston twig, or online as scieditor teaching software for editing as well as writing at Copyediting.com and her Right Angels and Polo Bears adventures in writing blog.

Marketing for Freelance Editors (Tuesday, November 10) will address the following topics: networking, cold “calling,” guerilla marketing, social media and traditional marketing products and methods. You will leave this half-day seminar with an idea of how to market to your clients, whether they are publishers, businesses, or authors. In your hand will be the beginning of your marketing plan. To sign up, go to https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=29&EID=20352. Registration closes on November 4, 2015.

To chair or not to chair by Gael Spivak

To chair or not to chair

What’s it like co-chairing an Editors Canada conference committee? Well, it depends.

I’ve done it twice. Once, by design. The second time, totally by accident.

The first time was for the 2012 conference in Ottawa. The national executive council approved Christine LeBlanc as the chair and she then asked me to be her co-chair. We’d worked well together on the branch executive and I thought it would be fun. It was (mostly!). A lot of work but really fun.

And I learned so much. I learned

  • how to supervise a team (we had about 15 core volunteers),
  • how to use social media to market,
  • how to run a big event, and
  • how to split tasks with a co-leader.

All of those are transferable skills that I took back to my workplace. I’d just been laid off in the big sweep of government cuts, so I knew I’d be looking for work once the conference was over.

I went on an assignment in another branch at my workplace. After a few months, my new boss said something about my volunteering (on the conference and on the national executive council). He commented that with all my skills, and all the things I’d learned in my volunteer work with Editors Canada, there was no doubt they’d find a place for me. That really struck me, that he noticed that (it wasn’t something I talked about a lot but he’d seen my resumé). And they did. I got hired back on, in another job. And I was told that my volunteer work contributed to me getting the job.

The second conference I co-chaired, the international one that happened in June of this year, I did not intend to be so involved in. Yes, I am the director of training and development but I figured that would be it. And with Greg Ioannou chairing, there would not be much for me to contribute (except cajoling him to submit chair reports). Then he asked me if I’d help him by providing some input and advice, and maybe working a little bit on getting speakers.

After I agreed to that, this conference (to some unusual circumstances) ended up being almost entirely volunteer run (instead of the usual volunteer–office division of tasks). And I got completely drawn in to helping.

It was a ton of work but we had such a fabulous team (and we never did really settle on if I was truly the co-chair or if we actually had five co-chairs). And I got to be part of something brand new and huge: the first ever international editing conference, a pretty cool thing to get to work on.

Things I learned about this time around included

  • figuring out how to effectively work with someone whose style is utterly different from my own (and everyone else’s on the team),
  • learning how to delegate with no strings but still keep a good grasp of the overall picture, and
  • creating mini-communities of editors from around the world, to talk about how to run editing associations.

I also learned that there is more than one way to run a conference and both ways are right. There often is not one right way to do something.

Those are also things I can take back to my workplace. In fact, the people at my work who got really excited about the last point (creating international groups) are two executives. They immediately understood the significance of that kind of experience, as a volunteer but also for government work.

Running a conference is a big deal. It’s a lot of work. But it’s also a lot of fun, and you learn so very much. Co-chairing these conferences were a big investment of my time but the return on my investment was pretty big.

Call for volunteers

The Ottawa-Gatineau branch of Editors Canada is hosting the Annual Conference for 2017, and we are looking for volunteers for the position of co-chairs. We will need two (or more) co-chairs. According to Appendix II of the Editors’ Association of Canada Conference Handbook (2015), the conference co-chairs have the following responsibilities*:

Conference co-chairs

  • Two (or more) co-chairs.
  • Co-chair weekly teleconferences with conference committee and national office staff; meetings take about an hour.
  • Establish conference theme (approved by NEC) and steer conference direction.
  • Recruit, hire and manage committee members.
  • Manage work of committee to meet deadlines; prepare task lists or other tracking methods.
  • Recruit advisory group (optional); ask advisory group for input on theme, speaker line-up, marketing.
  •   Review and approve all communications.
  • Source, evaluate and recommend conference venues (NOTE: all agreements, quotes, contracts must be approved and signed by the executive director).
  • Facilitate branch/ twig involvement in conference. Your branch or twig will organize and promote pre-conference workshops, promote conference to branch members, host welcome reception, share connections to potential speakers, etc.
  •   Source and coordinate sponsorships; keep track of amounts committed, contact info and mailing addresses (sponsor thank you letters prepared and sent by the office).
  • Source and coordinate donations, samples and giveaways, such as items for conference bags; keep track of items committed and received, including contact info and mailing addresses (donor thank you letters prepared and sent by the office).
  • Find opportunities for ongoing informal and formal volunteer recognition.
  • MC the Awards Banquet (optional); main role as MC is to introduce award presenters.
  • Write thank-you notes to conference committee volunteers after conference.

If you believe  you can help organize our conference, please contact  Director_Training@editors.ca. We look forward to hearing from you.

*Reproduced with permission from Editors Canada

The National Capital Region branch has a new name: Editors Ottawa–Gatineau by Ruth Bradley-St-Cyr

With our national association changing its brand name from Editors’ Association of Canada to Editors Canada this summer, the time was right for the NCR branch to change its name as well. The impetus behind the change, from the branch executive’s point of view, was to make our seminars—far and away our biggest source of revenue—easier to find online since attendance had been dropping due to increased competition. This search engine optimization (SEO) is the same reason that the history magazine The Beaver changed its name to Canada’s History (well, they had other issues as well…). The point is, the Internet doesn’t do subtle, it doesn’t do abstruse, it doesn’t do equivocal. It does precise. And no one searches for “National Capital Region” when they want to find an editing seminar in Ottawa or Gatineau.

In May the branch executive consulted in person with members and found general support for a name change. Then we launched an online discussion to include people who had not been at the May meeting. In September we polled the membership, Survey Monkey fashion, and got a great voter turnout. From our 177 members, we received 80 responses—a 45% response rate that would be the envy of any survey company. The choices for a new name were Ottawa, Ottawa–Gatineau, and Eastern Ontario–Western Quebec. Of those who responded, 77% agreed that the branch name should be changed and 76% agreed that the new name should be Ottawa–Gatineau. Paired with the national rebranding, the new name of our branch is now Editors Ottawa–Gatineau.

A couple of members who did not support the name change were concerned that the rebranding would cost money, but since we are only rebranding once—both national and branch at the same time—it will not cost us any extra.

We also asked members why they supported the name change. The response was evenly split (40%/40%) between two main reasons:

  1. Because “National Capital Region” is understood only by some people
  2. To improve search engine results when we advertise seminars

Some respondents who supported the name change also sent comments:

  • It’s shorter. As an editor (and a marketer), brevity and punchiness are always my main concerns. Also, not everyone understands “NCR.”
  • To be specific and clear.
  • To be more inclusive but also to be realistic about where most of the branch’s activities occur. It gives an idea of the central “broadcast” point of the branch.
  • Because it lends itself to an unhelpful acronym.

Over the next few weeks, you will see the new brand roll out. Our branch’s Executive Director, Maureen Moyes, is all ready to go with the new branding materials sent by the national association, into which we will plug our new shorter, punchier name.