Call for Membership Chair by Jean Rath

When I set out to become a freelance editor, the imperative that I heard everywhere, so much so that it is still a constant ringing in my ears, was “network.” So I started attending National Capital Region speaker nights. When I heard they needed new board members, I could see that this was an even better way to network. Besides I had the time to give to it.

But I didn’t have endless amounts of time. So the position of membership chair was a perfect fit for me. It’s a very straightforward position, and it doesn’t demand much time.  The other benefit for me, since it’s not always easy for me to circulate a room, is that as membership chair at speaker nights the room circulates me.

The membership chair is present at the door at all eight monthly National Capital Region speaker nights, from September to November, and then from January to May. She greets the attendees, notes the number of members who attend, collects the $10.00 from non-members, and provides name tags. The NCR executive director provides her with current Editors’ Association of Canada pamphlets and advertising, which she distributes on the tables. She also places the NCR branch surveys on the tables, collects them, and later collates and reports on them.

This position can be held by two people. During my first year on the board, I had a co-chair. This allowed us to occasionally skip a speaker night when we had to. We also shared the administrative duties.

The membership chair attends board meetings (which happen at the same location as the speaker nights, two and a half hours before) and gives updates on the current membership status of the local branch. She also writes up a brief report of the details (not the substance) of the speaker nights, such as number of attendees, name of the presentation, and survey results.

At the beginning of every month, the executive director sends the membership chair a list of all the members in the NCR branch, with the new members highlighted. The membership chair emails welcome letters to these new members. The welcome letter is prewritten  and only has to have the personal details added.

During my first year on the board, my co-chair and I distributed the Editors’ Association of Canada pamphlets and advertising farther and wider than the monthly speaker nights. We both agreed that restricting this material to editors’ meetings was preaching to the choir. The whole NCR board contributed their connections and imagination to this effort. Between the bunch of us we got the material out to coffee shops, the writers festival, government buildings, and university bookstores. The new membership chair will continue to co-ordinate this group effort, ensuring that old material is replaced, and using the board members’ connections to send the material out.

I began as membership chair in September 2013. It was the only reason I got to know people at the NCR branch very quickly. This made me bold enough to actually attend the November wine and cheese (besides, I had to be there to collect money at the door), where I met a woman who runs the local branch of a women’s business network. I joined this organization, and it was through my connections there that I got my first paying freelance work. Networking is indeed a strong imperative.

I’m grateful for the years of learning and support that came from being part of the National Capital Region branch of the Editors’ Association of Canada. I enjoyed contributing to the collective energy of the NCR board, who see the value of the local branch and would like to keep it going. I would have continued doing this job, but my husband’s employer sent him to Australia, and I’ll continue to freelance from there.  I’m sure the new membership chair will enjoy this position very much.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me:

If you would like to volunteer for this position, please contact the chair or vice-chair of the National Capital Region branch:

or the executive director:

Why I Chose Editing (or Editing Chose Me) by Ruth Bradley-St-Cyr, Vice-chair EAC-NCR

This past February, I celebrated my 26th anniversary as a professional editor. But I had been working up to “professional” for several years before I started in the business, first as the poetry editor on our high school yearbook and next as production manager on the Glendon College student newspaper. Back then, everyone assumed that I would become a teacher, because they couldn’t imagine what else one would do with a degree in English. But I was very shy, and didn’t even consider teaching, even though it was the dominant profession in my family. I loved books, and wanted to make them.

I had followed up my MA in English with a brigade organized by Canadian Action for Nicaragua (CAN). We spent four weeks picking coffee and learning about the Sandinista revolution, the Contras trying to undermine it, and the dictator preceding them. When I got back to Toronto in January 1989, it was time to look for a job.

A newspaper ad for a job in publishing caught my attention. The applications didn’t go to the publisher, but to a headhunting agency. I soon met Mr. Tembe, who coached me through the entire hiring process for my first “real” job. He was a great booster. When I had no confidence in myself, he took on the role of cheerleader, even phoning me on the morning of my interview just to tell me I could do it. The fact that I remember his name 26 years later is testimony to his cheerful encouragement.

I was very unsure of myself because there was an editing test involved. I couldn’t spell. I probably had dyslexia. My mother had even bought me a phonetic dictionary because, really, who can look up a word they have no idea how to spell in the first place? I did the test, certain that I would NOT get the job.

When the test was marked, Marta Tomins, the woman who would be my boss if I succeeded, called me in. “I’ve never hired anyone who couldn’t spell before,” she said, “but then I’ve never had anyone score so highly on the logic part of the test either.” She took a chance and hired me, even though she had to keep coaching me along, because I didn’t know such basic things as “a comma never appears before a parenthesis.” I wasn’t the best speller, but I was a quick study; making mistakes is, after all, one of the best ways to learn.

And so I began as a production editor at Prentice-Hall Canada (now Pearson) working on college and university textbooks. Like most of my colleagues, I had a degree in English. Some of them had even gotten partway through a PhD before quitting. I now like to brag to my students – yes, I finally became a teacher when I worked my way through a PhD in English and did NOT quit – that I am one of the only people who has actually read textbooks cover to cover. The crowning achievement certainly is having my name on the cover of a textbook, as the author of the second Canadian edition of A Writer’s Workshop: Crafting Sentences, Building Paragraphs, Designing Essays, published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

Spelling is no longer an issue, though logic is still the stronger trait, but editing – especially when you read textbooks, and now academic journals, cover to cover – is one of the best professions in which to practice life-long learning.

Meet the Instructor – Starting a Freelance Career and Social Media 101

Christine LeBlanc is a communications consultant who started her business, Dossier Communications, in 2005 after a decade in publishing. She specializes in writing, editing, integrated marketing strategies (incorporating social media), and event planning. Christine is the past chair of the EAC’s National Capital Region branch and was the co-chair of the 2012 EAC National Conference, which broke attendance records. She is also a member of the International Association of Business Communicators. She started using social media to deal with the isolation of working from home and has managed social media channels for various clients ranging from a national health care organization to a start-up comic book company.

Christine will be delivering a double-header on Friday, April 17: Starting a Freelance Career in the morning, and Social Media 101 in the afternoon. Come and discover the wealth of knowledge Christine has to offer.


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.

Meet the Instructors – Copy Editing II


Elizabeth Macfie and Moira White team up to share their combined copy editing expertise on taking your skills to the next level at Copy Editing II.

Elizabeth has been a freelance proofreader and editor since 1997. After working as a coordinator of provincial park visitor services and then as a manager of adult education, she has chosen a career clarifying written communication. Her clients include federal government departments and agencies, book publishers, research organizations, and a university publications service. Elizabeth is an EAC-certified proofreader, copy editor and stylistic editor, a past chair of the Editors’ Association of Canada’s National Capital Region branch, and past president of the Indexing Society of Canada.

Moira entered the work world as a social worker and later moved into social policy. In both professions, she found that her organizational skills, attention to detail, and love of words were pointing her in a new direction—the world of editing. Currently a freelance editor, writer, and trainer with both public and private sector clients, she has decades of experience editing print and electronic publications. Moira is a director of professional standards for, and a past president of, the Editors’ Association of Canada.

When: March 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration closes March 5.


Graham Young

Graham Young is an independent writer, trainer and communications consultant with more than 30 years’ experience helping business and government clients communicate at work. It is not an understatement to say that he can compose anything. He writes web content, annual reports, brochures, promotional flyers, data sheets, case studies, white papers, sales letters, advertorials, magazine and newsletter articles, news releases and speeches. Since 2000, he has conducted more than 500 writing and presentation-skills seminars and taught some 6,000 participants from the public, private, and non-profit sectors how to write and speak effectively.

Electronic Editing, offered on February 27, will allow you to take advantage of all the editing “horsepower” that Microsoft Word has to offer. Among other on-line editing topics, participants will become more confident with track-changes and compare-document tools and increase their proficiency at managing and merging changes by several reviewers. To sign up, go to Registration closes on February 22. Bring a version of Word 2010, a laptop and an AC cord.

Book Buzz: I never metaphor I didn’t like Dr. Mardy Grothe Harper Collins, 2008. A review by Bhavana Gopinath


I never metaphor I didn’t like

Dr. Mardy Grothe

Harper Collins, 2008

“An idea is a feat of association, and the heights of it is a good metaphor”

Robert Frost

Dr. Mardy Grothe is a collector of quotations, and the author of Oxymoronica and Viva la Repartee. I never metaphor I didn’t like is an extraordinary collection of examples of figurative language. Dr. Grothe explains the basics of figurative language —analogies, metaphors and similes—and then takes readers through a tour of the English language’s greatest word pictures. The gems in this collection are classified by topics, like Wit & Humor, Life, Insults & Criticism, The Literary Life, etc.

There are examples from writers, (“A friend is a present you give yourself”: Robert Louis Stevenson), philosophers (“It is best to rise from life as from a banquet, neither thirsty nor drunken”: Aristotle), poets (“Love is a fan club with only two fans”: Adrian Henri), playwrights (“Children are the anchor that hold a mother to life”: Sophocles), and many others. Some astounded me, some dogged me for days, while others made me laugh out loud.

Dr. Grothe’s compilation grew from a period of uncertainty and doubt in his youth. He began a program of intense reading and reflection to help him find his place in the world. He would jot down observations from writers on index cards, and tack them on the walls of his room. These words re-inspired him. This book was borne out of those index cards, and as I read it, I began to understand how these metaphors could guide, illuminate, and heal.

As Kafka said, “A book should serve as an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us.”


Elizabeth Macfie

Elizabeth Macfie has 18 years’ experience as a freelance editor, proofreader, and indexer for government departments, university presses, research organizations, and authors. She is an EAC-certified copy editor, stylistic editor and proofreader, and she is a past chair of EAC’s National Capital Region branch. Elizabeth presents popular seminars and conference talks on editing, proofreading, and business networking.

In her upcoming workshop, Editing for Non-Editors: Find and Fix the Most Common Errors in Documents, you’ll learn to

  • organize your work according to the four levels of editing
  • target a text to its audience (content, tone, and length)
  • find and fix the most common errors in grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, and layout
  • find answers and back up your decisions using reference sources and dictionaries
  • apply plain-language principles, and check language level using online tools
  • shorten texts
  • work efficiently using an editorial process, version control, style sheets, and checklists
  • use consistency-checking software and Word’s editorial tools
  • focus on all aspects of a product while proofreading

You’ll get hands-on practice with electronic files and hard copy, have an opportunity to ask decision-making and process questions, and find out where to learn more.  Bring questions and situations from your workplace to discuss with your trainer—and the other participants. You’ll leave with a detailed handbook on the workshop content.

When: February 18, 2015

Where: Capital Hill Hotel, 88 Albert St., Ottawa

Meet the Instructor – Fact Checking

Laura Byrne Paquet has an extensive portfolio. She edits both fiction and non-fiction and has written for more than 80 magazines and newspapers in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, including National Geographic Traveler, Islands, enRoute, Chatelaine and The Ottawa Citizen. She has written or co-authored 12 books and novellas, her most recent being Wanderlust: A SocialHistory of Travel (Goose Lane Editions). Laura is past president of the Travel Media Association of Canada.

“Finding out what makes people, places and processes tick is my specialty,” says Laura, “whether that involves delving into the history of Avon ladies, writing about Canada’s largest coffee pot or flinging myself off a B.C. mountaintop (the latter because a friend dared me to try paragliding”). Visit Laura’s website at for more information on her professional activities and personal interests.

Fact Checking is a new half-day seminar offered on Thursday, February 5, 2015. Laura will help participants develop this important editing skill that prevents mistakes, avoids loss of money,avoids lawsuits, and establishes client/author credibility. She will share her wealth of knowledge and equip you with the skills to perform the job effectively. Registration for this three-hour morning workshop will close on February 2, 2015.