EAC National Capital Region’s annual Wine & Cheese reception: Be sure to RSVP 

The Howells, long since recovered from their adventures on Gilligan’s Island, have been invited. And so are you.

Brush up on your wine and cheese trivia: Thurston knows his Chateaux, and Lovey knows her cheese!

Enjoy some word games, or just hang out with the Smart Set. Pearls and ascots optional.

Wednesday, November 19 at 7:30 pm

Capital Hill Hotel & Suites

88 Albert Street, Ottawa

Admission: $10 · RSVP ASAP

New Workshops Add to Old Favourites

The National Capital Region branch is proud to be introducing some dynamic new seminars this fall to add to its roster of old favourites. All seminars are designed for editors, but equally appeal to a variety of other communication specialists wishing to upgrade their skills. The NCR branch has built its reputation as a trusted source of quality training; its instructors are seasoned editors whose workshops engage participants through discussion and hands-on exercises and equip them with invaluable communication skills.

Writing and Editing for the Web is the first of the new seminars this fall. It has been developed by Moira White, whose many workshops have been an integral part of the NCR branch’s professional development program over the past several years.

Frances Peck, in demand for her seminars at EAC branches across Canada, is bringing her popular Grammar Boot Camp to Ottawa for the first time. We recommend that you register early if you don’t want to miss out on this extreme workout.

The last of our three new workshops this fall will be given by instructor Chris Lendrum. Some of you may remember Chris from one of our Speaker Nights last winter. We were so impressed that we decided to approach him about delivering a half-day seminar to share his knowledge on Writing Proposals.

The full lineup of fall seminars is listed below. Simply click on the link for a full description of those that interest you.

• Writing and Editing for the Web – September 23 (9 a.m.–4 p.m.)
• Starting a Freelance Career – October 4 (9 a.m.–12 p.m.)
• Social Media 101 – October 4 (1–4 p.m.)
• Grammar Boot Camp – October 23 (9 a.m.–4 p.m.)
• The Secrets of Syntax – October 24 (9 a.m.–4 p.m.)
• Writing Proposals – November 6 (9 a.m.–12 p.m.)
• Practical Proofreading – November 18 (9 a.m.–4 p.m.)

What we learn from our mishaps: Tips from editors’ blunders

By Antonia McGuire

Most people would rather not repeat their most embarrassing editorial gaffes, especially in a room full of professionals. But as mortifying or daunting as it may be, sharing these experiences with each other offers an opportunity to learn and grow. Besides, no one’s perfect!

Our last speaker night featured local editors, writers and members themselves, who checked their egos at the door, and chimed in on a lively roundtable discussion. Over 15 brave souls kept the story-telling alive with tales of their biggest blunders and what they learned from them.

Here’s the digest version.

1. Sleep in your clothes. This one is pretty basic but there is something to be said for simply being prepared. Especially when you have a big meeting with clients the next day!

Editor’s tip: To avoid a rushing around frantically in morning, set aside your outfit the night before. Better yet, when travelling for work be sure to pack your work clothes, including undergarments and all those kinds of essentials. Lie them all out on your bed before stuffing everything into a carry-on piece… that way you won’t just have jogging pants to wear to a business meeting. Eeek.

2. Know your weaknesses and arrange your work around them.

Editors’s tip: If you know you have a tendency to be late, set your deadline a week ahead of schedule.

3. Confirm the goods were received. How many times have you submitted the end product to a client or editor on deadline, only to receive nada in return? No hint of, “yup everything is a-okay on this end.” So naturally, panic sets in when you realize your deadline has passed.

Editor’s tip: Ask client to reply, confirming the deliverable was received. Use read receipt feature in Outlook.

4. Proofread every round as if it’s a new draft – with fresh eyes if possible.

Editor’s tip: try reading each paragraph backwards, starting from the end to the beginning.

5. When networking or trying to make a connection, be respectful and professional. There is an acceptable yet strategic way to reach out to potential clients or new editors to pitch… but pointing out their mistakes in x publication, book, article, etc., is not recommended if you actually want to get work or get a call back. Remain courteous, professional and attentive to their needs at all times. Because a real know-it-all is a real turn off.

6. “Tolkien was not a misogynist.” Find out who you are speaking to before offering your opinion to others, especially before going on a rant in an elevator to the editor of that famous book series, for example.

7. Norwegians know their grammar, but write like Yoda. To make a long story short, check your ego at the door and don’t be afraid to use your reference books or dictionaries to look things up. Always fact-check and proofread your work (sort of obvious) but it’s amazing how many “tweaks” one can find after third and fourth reviews.

8. Commentary or feedback that doesn’t improve the text feels insulting. The 360 feedback loop we get from the editorial process is essential to producing the best quality work possible. And … avoiding career-crushing mistakes or factual errors. Professionally speaking, we all need to learn how to take feedback – the good with the bad. Novice writers especially tend to struggle with this. To survive and thrive in this business, you develop thicker skin and a sense of humour. For editors, reviewers and writers alike, there is a way to give constructive feedback. Ranting and raving is not one of them. If you’re being defensive and difficult to work with, chances are it will be your last chance with that publication.

9. Adjective pile-ups make for translation problems. When working with bilingual documents, it is common to discover the occasional awkward English sentence that is difficult to translate. Editing is an iterative process. Practice doing text concordances by comparing English to French. If your language skills aren’t up to snuff, ask a colleague to help you look it over.

10. Double negatives can stymie readers in both languages. Whether it’s due to poor grammar, false punctuation or simply that the writer failed to explain something clearly, double negatives only confuse the reader. Editors shine in this respect by adding clarity, consistency and polishing to pieces when necessary.

11. Know your terminology limits. Use this rhyme to remember: when in doubt, check it out. Some editors and writers who specialize in technical, medical or financial writing will have acquired this in-depth knowledge and terminology from their studies or years of experience in the field. However, most of us don’t, so acknowledge that limitation and compensate accordingly by using back-up resources, contractors or by reading up!

12. Google before you diss. Or, just don’t throw insults out into the public via your Twitter or Facebook account – ever. It’s a small industry once you’ve been in it for awhile. You never know who will be listening or watching.

13. Rigorous checking of dictionary is a must.

14. Extra-rigorous checking of dictionary. Did I mention that?

Okay, now it’s your turn! What did you learn from an editorial mistake? Did you find this post helpful?
Share your thoughts or suggest a blog topic.

Speaker Night: Spring is here! Let’s tell stories.

Roots: Editors Telling Stories

It’s May — can you believe it? Sunburned people are strolling around in flip-flops, daffodils are popping up in the garden, and life seems a little lighter. Come celebrate spring with us as we explore the oral tradition of a language we so often see in writing. Storytelling connects us to the first, primitive linguists, and carries on today through events like the EAC-NCR Speaker Night.

Before we say goodbye for the summer, join us for a relaxed evening of interactive storytelling. Gather ’round to listen and share a work-related lesson you learned the hard way; an “oops!” moment; or even a tale of unexpected success. By telling a story, you pass knowledge on to others who benefit from the lessons you’ve learned. Many might relate to the amusing (or cringe-worthy) experiences you thought were yours alone!

If you’re not comfortable speaking or wish to remain anonymous, feel free to email your story to ncrspeakernights@editors.ca or provide a written contribution for Allison to read on your behalf. Remember, there are no wrong answers and we’d love to hear from you! All guests are encouraged to share their “blooper” or anecdote, but all are welcome to simply listen in.

Coffee, tea and cookies will be served.

When: Wednesday, May 21 at 7:30 pm
Where: Capital Hill Hotel and Suites, 88 Albert St.
Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members

Copy over Coffee

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Looking for a cozy spot to plug in your laptop, grab a java and get a few hours of work done amid ambient chatter and clinking cutlery? The National Capital Region is abundant in coffee shops and eateries that offer free wi-fi connections as well as ambience. From campuses to cafés, we’ll keep you informed on the most wordsmith-friendly spots in town.

Got a favorite location to sip and type? Let us know! We’d love to try it out.

BAKERY BLISS: Panera Bread – 320 West Hunt Club Rd. https://www.panerabread.com

A friend had insisted I try the new Panera Bread that opened recently in Ottawa, so I brought my laptop along just in case I could plug in and stay awhile. I’m glad I did, and will be returning soon!

With about 30 tables, the place manages to be both roomy and full of cozy seating. There are booths, tables and chairs of varying size; I had plenty of space for my winter coat, purse, computer, notes and food.

The menu is elaborate, featuring items from their in-house bakery as well as soups, salads, breakfasts, and hot drinks. Coffee is bottomless and customers serve themselves at an attractive station with several blend options. Twelve bucks got me a sandwich, soup, an apple and a coffee. The sourdough bread was bakery-fresh and tasted authentic, unlike other rapid-service joints where baked goods come with an aroma of cold storage.

Wi-fi is free and doesn’t require a password. I settled into a small booth at 10:30 AM when it was quiet, and by 11:30 the eatery livened up with the lunch crowd. I purchased food at the cash and was given a nifty tracking device that allowed a server to find me when my meal was ready. It was kind of like playing Marco Polo and the winner gets table-service.

Overall, Panera Bread is an excellent location for meetings, laptop work, and brainstorming sessions if you can work with ambient noise.

Perks: Tasty, elaborate menu; in-house bakery; free, unlimited wi-fi; comfortable seating with sturdy tables; plug-in options; great meeting spot; twice as large as most local coffee shops; free parking.

Quirks: In Hunt Club/Algonquin College area; busy at lunch hour; chain restaurant; noisy at peak hours; bakery items are plentiful and hard to resist.

-Allison Whalen