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Discussion Starter #21
My seventeenth book was just released, entitled DON'T DO THAT! Common Grammar Errors in Manuscripts. Amazon seems to be getting even faster about reviewing and making live these brand-new e-publications. I pressed Publish about 11:00 p.m. yesterday and bought the first copy only a half hour or so ago. Amazing.

Here's the online description for those who may be interested:

I'm a professional US copy editor, working since 2008, the first 5.5 years with a well-known traditional publishing house. Since then I've worked totally with Indie authors. Over all these years and these hundreds of books I've copyedited, what I find odd is how the same grammar mistakes are made over and over by myriad authors, both pro and newbie alike, akin to about four hundred unrelated Americans all having the same dream on the same night. But our US English language rules are not easy to learn, as the rules are not always consistent and do not always make common sense. Plus the rules have exceptions. Some of those exceptions even have exceptions.

Thus this book represents an organized compilation of those "universal" errors I've collected over the years, specifically gathered for American authors publishing fiction and nonfiction in the United States, using accepted spelling and grammar practices for this venue: The Chicago Manual of Style (Sixteenth Edition) aka 16CMS and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition) aka Web11.

However, copy editors, like me, do much more than catch grammar errors and misspellings. I also look for what I call the:

NINE Cs OF EFFECTIVE WRITING
Chronology
Clarity
Coherence
Communication
Conciseness
Consistency
Continuity
Correctness
Credibility

The Nine Cs of Effective Writing are among the more than seventy topics covered in this seventy-one-page (single-spaced) book, serving as a shortcut for you, making your life easier and helping your writing shine brighter. You may be amazed to find a rule or two that you didn't know about. Better to read these few pages than the 1,026 pages of the 16CMS or opening up Web11 fiftysomething times a day, right? Okay, you may still have to consult Web11 more than you thought possible, but my general hyphenation rule as to joining base words with prefixes/suffixes will save you valuable time and will yield the correct spelling more times than not.

As any professional author will tell you, this writing career is all about continuing education, about the growth of the author's expertise. I'm here to help with that.

Let's dig in.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Sending prayers and well-wishes to all the people displaced in Louisiana from the recent flooding (like two feet of rainwater fell in twenty-four hours). I was born in Baton Rouge so my heart goes out to those people there and in Ascension Parish and related areas.

Denise Barker
 

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Discussion Starter #23
As a copy editor and as an Indie author, I get upset when I see grammar-challenged people spouting off insane "rules" as "everybody knows that ... " rhetoric, unfounded (not based on 16CMS), giving the wrong info to newbie and pro authors alike, plus making Indies look bad when they put this to use in their books.

Below is a reprint of my recent blog post on this, entitled "Don't Propagate False Grammar Rules and I Name Today as Be Kind to Your Copy Editor Day."

I'm a professional (and highly competent) copy editor. This makes me the queen of grammar and spelling aka the spelling and grammar police. Even so, I've been told one time too many some version of the "everyone knows the rule is ... " about something. Which turns out to not be a valid rule and yet was spoken by a person who considers himself/herself as a grammar expert. No, the US grammar expert in those cases would be me.

Anytime someone tells you the "rule is," ask them for the following:

1. the name of the publication that they are using as a reference guide;
2. the year of publication of such guide (hopefully within this century);
3. if the publication is widely accepted within the States (or the appropriate reference guide for whatever country you find yourself living in and publishing in);
4. the rule number or the page number of such "rule"; and
5. a Xerox or scanned copy of same from that person's hard copy book that they've read and keep handy to consult with often, or a screenshot from any online version or from an e-book.

Bet they can't provide any of the above. Because it's a false rule. Yet I can give you the exact 16CMS rules for my edits (including screenshots or copies of said 16CMS rules, as needed) and can point you to the Web11 (or give a screenshot for the truly lazy among us, to settle any dispute) for the preferred spelling usages. Both these guides are American mainstays for fiction and nonfiction alike, both published this century, with 16CMS in 2010 and Web11 in 2007.

Granted, if you write articles for a US newspaper/magazine, you probably go by the AP rules here in the States. For medical white papers, the AMA. For Christian works, the Christian Writer's Manual of Style. And so on and so forth.

I'm reminded of NCIS where Gibbs tells his people to double-check everything. Take nothing at face value. Don't believe anything people tell you until you've confirmed it. Applies perfectly here.

Just within the last three days [of the original publication date of this blog post], I've heard two such fallacies. One was about how supposedly there are no spaces before and after an ellipsis. Wrong. See 16CMS 13.48 and 13.51. The other was the stupidest fake grammar rule I've ever heard (to date anyway): how there should end up being two periods at the end of a sentence that terminates at a word with a period (like "etc.") or with a person's initials (like, instead of Charles Daniel spelled out, using his initials, "C.D."). OMG. Wrong again.

A WRONG Example: Here are my copies of the 16CMS, Web11, the manuscript, etc..

See 16CMS 6.117 and 10.12. And that last one comes from an otherwise gifted storyteller who got hit by a ginormous stupid stick the day she adamantly stated this two-period "rule," like some valid grammar rule to follow instead of the 16CMS rule I explained. Not the first time for her to conjure up these aberrations either.

So, Indie authors, to protect yourself from these misguided people who purport to be grammar experts, ask them for the five items listed above. And for you guys spewing this dung, who are too quick to hand out these supposed "rules," please, please, please don't pollute the waters with this misinformation anymore. Go check it out yourself, for God's sake. Consult 16CMS, Web11.

If you are a US author and don't own a physical copy of 16CMS and Web11, both reference guides have online resources available (some for free). Even the first full page of a Google search will tell you to not ever end a sentence with two periods. Duh! It doesn't hurt to double-check yourself, as we are all human, subject to misinterpretations or giving someone too much credence.

I'm begging you to not make our self-published authors look stupid by giving them these made-up rules that were pulled out of someone's a**.

Plus do not insult your professional copy editor by espousing one of these inane rules as the gospel truth, who (if any good at being a copy editor) knows ten times more than you combined with your ten best writing buddies, who just think they know about English grammar rules. Your copy editor is there to make your books shine, not to make you look like an idiot by applying these pseudorules. If you have a question, ask me. I'll gladly discuss it with you.

So don't mistreat/abuse/bully/delay paying your copy editor (or, worse, Reject her grammatically correct edits within your Track Changes doc on a whim or merely thinking how much smarter you are than your copy editor). That's not making good use of your copy editor's expertise on 16CMS grammar rules. Meanwhile, your copy editor remains the consummate professional, doing her usual outstanding work in spite of your shortcomings. Because her work (as originally completed, not as adulterated by some grammar-challenged author) is her trademark. Her work is her brand. Her work speaks for her integrity, for her skill. If your copy editor is competent, he or she is worth every penny (and more) that you pay for such services. So, for Pete's sake, treat said copy editor like the skilled professional that he or she is. You can't learn what I know in two to three days of on-the-job training. Not even with two to three months' worth.

I shouldn't have to tell intelligent adults any of this. Yet here I am. Because obviously growing up physically is no guaranteed marker of growing up mentally or morally or socially. Or grammatically.

While I'm on my soapbox, if you have a disdain for the US grammar rules, don't hire me to be your copy editor. It's like going to Starbucks, asking for Folgers, when you should be at Kroger. (And I happen to like all three brands here, so don't get me wrong on that.) Now I won't speak for any other copy editors. You can check with yours on this issue as needed. I'll repeat what I said in my opening: I'm a copy editor. This makes me the queen of grammar and spelling aka the spelling and grammar police.

So, if you have no intention of following the grammar rules or the spelling guidelines, don't even want to be bothered with my notations of them within Track Changes comments to explain the reason for my edits, then please reciprocate. If I can't share with you the 16CMS rules, then don't begin to proffer your imaginary ones, like they have merit or something.

Save your money and my time, and go hire instead your gardener, your dry cleaner, your yoga instructor, your favorite niece or that writing partner who agrees with you about everything. No fact-checking needed. No exceptions to the exceptions within the 16CMS grammar rules to cull through. No use for Web11 or any dictionary as you'll just spell stuff phonetically, right? "The spell-checker catches all that," a naysayer may retort. Nope. Even with a version of Microsoft Word that lets you choose your default dictionary (always go with Web11 for US texts), a human eye is still needed for those pesky homonyms, for context problems, for missing words, for one-letter words that should be two-letter words, even for some instances of ALL CAPS, etc.

Let me make myself clear. I'm not belittling any of the professions listed herein. I'm just pointing out that, given the choice of a competent copy editor or a gardener or your dry cleaner or your yoga instructor or your favorite niece or your (very gifted) writing partner, if you are looking for the expert on grammar rules simply by these individual descriptions alone, go with the copy editor. Again duh! This should be a given. I'm shaking my head still at how this is not understood by enough people. Are we humans, as a group, getting stupider as time keeps ticking away?

You should respect the copy editor you work with (or get one you do respect), giving him/her the appropriate dues for reading the 16CMS alone. You go read it. Time yourself for ten minutes and see how many pages you have read and understood. I double-dog dare you. The 16CMS is 860 pages of mind-numbing text (not counting the appendixes in the back matter), each page therein with probably an average of at least 10 rules per page. The 16CMS contains so much data that your mind shuts down pretty quickly, so this would never be a quick one-sitting read.

In all likelihood ~8,600 rules are in the one volume. The first part deals with fiction, and the last part deals more with nonfiction. And I've read over 90 percent of it (all the sections dealing with fiction writings), checking more nonfiction-related rules as needed. And, of course, I search it often to confirm how to treat certain anomalies that arise within myriad sentence constructions.

What are my qualifications to be a grammar expert? Honors English classes in high school. Decades of working with attorneys, honing my attention-to-detail skills. It's amazing how my innate gifts for clear and concise communication, plus a curious nature to go to the source and to read the rules (TRCP), which all made me a great legal assistant, are the same traits that make me a brilliant copy editor. Then there are the 8.5 years and counting where I've been a paid professional copy editor, first for Harlequin for 5.5 years, overlapping with the four or so years I've devoted myself to Indie authors. Plus my reading of the 16CMS gives me a definitive edge over all the posers. And I like to think my 150 IQ and my 80 percent eidetic memory don't hurt me either.

So I deem today as Be Kind to Your Copy Editor Day. Or maybe it should be a weeklong reminder. Go forth, and send your appreciation and thanks to people you may not have told yet.

Denise Barker
Author, Blogger, Freelance Copy Editor
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #24
When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.
Enrique Jardiel Poncela​

Amen. And what a beautiful quotation to explain the copyediting process.

If a sentence/paragraph is hard to understand, has to be reread, then the meaning isn't clear enough yet. Rework that section marked as confusing by your beta readers. Also even the author can find these messy parts when reading sections out loud.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
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Discussion Starter #25
Praying for world peace on this anniversary of 9/11, as well as for the survivors and families who lost loved ones. May God bless you all.

Denise Barker
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Fall is on its way, the first official day being Thursday, September 22, 2016. I'm ready for cooler temps and not having to mow the lawn weekly. But, here in Texas, we still have mowing into November.

Have a great week, y'all.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
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Discussion Starter #27
We are three months away from Christmas, folks. If you are planning a pre-Thanksgiving release, you've got two months to make it happen. In my business, you should generally expect a one-month turnaround on any copyediting project (the grammar and spelling look-see) you submit. (Same for any developmental edit as to plot/character/pacing/etc.) If doing both, the DE comes first, then the CE. To upload your book for this Christmas season, your spit-shined first draft of that novel better already be in the DE process, then give yourself a week to make any related story updates. I return copyediting projects a bit faster than the norm usually, but the thirty-day allowance is a good generic baseline. Again give yourself about a week to Accept/Reject those edits and maybe another week to do the final Indie-publishing process (including your own cover design, online description, previews and uploads to the various online venues). Go forth and conquer!
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Happy October 2016. Soon I'll have to remember to write/type 2017. Where did this year go? I hope y'all got more done than you expected or you got most of your To Do list done. Kudos to you.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
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Discussion Starter #29
Yes, the 16CMS (the accepted US English grammar guideline for fiction and layperson's nonfiction alike) covers various comma rules. Even rules about spaces. Check in with your professional copy editor for all the vagaries involved in US English grammar (and spelling).

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #30
I uploaded my eighteenth e-book recently. As usual I write them for myself and hope others need them at times too. Check out my Stress Less: 365 Tips for when you are seeking some relief. I think we all need more self-love to counter our own internal critics, much less external stresses. Take good care of yourself. It's preventative medicine, the best kind in my opinion. Have a great day, y'all.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #31
I'm enjoying the cooler weather in Texas and mowing my yard one final time this year, plus working on Book 1 of my first-ever series and reading some books in between copyediting jobs. It's a grand time of year. Hope y'all are having fun too.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
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Discussion Starter #32
A few days ago I read a book on the Kaizen practice of gaining more efficiency but also not to create, transmit or accept waste, plus Kaizen has this great A3-X Matrix template for dealing with problems and analyzing the results. Check it out online or in many of the books written on the subject.

Afterward I read a wonderful book (in my top ten and probably will remain there), which I highly recommend: Susan May Warren's The Story Equation (aka SEQ) which gives brilliant tips on plotting a character-driven story that draws in the reader. I'm typing up my highlights within her ebook (and I have many) and from there will condense the goodies into a chronological checklist of her genius SEQ application for use in my own creations.

Have a great week, everyone.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Here in the States, Election Day is tomorrow. I encourage everybody to get out to vote in this year's presidential election. It may be raining in Texas November 8, so take your umbrellas! I get to avoid all that as I voted early.

In the meantime, I'm hard at work finishing the first draft of Book 1 of my first-ever series. I figure, once I get my world and characters set up just so, then the next books should go faster (in theory). In actual practice, I'll have to let you know later.

Take care, all!

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Little did I know that my July 4 posting here, my prayer regarding the United Kingdom and their Brexit vote, would be applicable to us here in the States now after our recent November elections. Here is my prayer again, revised for the United States: For all of us affected by our American "Brexit," my prayers for a smooth transition are with us all as this change is made.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
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Denise,

Somehow I missed welcoming your vendor thread, so here it is!

Welcome to the KB Writers Cafe! [br][br]You're welcome to promote your business and website here in the Writers' Cafe![br][br]Now that you have an official thread, you'll want to add your listing to our Yellow Pages Listing, found here:[br]http://www.kboards.com/yp/[br][br]The listing is free to KB members and is completely self-service; you can add and edit your listing from the page. More information on our Yellow Pages listing can be found here.[br][br]In your thread here, we ask that the same basic rules be followed as we have for authors in the Book Bazaar: you may have this one thread about your service and must post to it rather than start a new thread each time. New threads about the service wil be removed. Please bookmark this thread so that you can find it again to post to. And, you may not make back-to-back posts to the thread within seven days. If someone responds (such as this post), you may reply but otherwise must wait seven days, thanks![br][br]Note that members may provide civil and honest feedback about your service to this thread, and you may respond in a civil manner. Disputes between you and clients should be handled off site.[br][br]Betsy[br]KBoards Moderator [br][br]Note that this welcome does not constitute an endorsement or vetting of a service by KBoards. Members should do due diligence when considering using a service, for example, by asking KB members for feedback and doing an Internet search such as "service provider name" complaints.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
The Christmas lights are more plentiful in my neighborhood this year, both as to the quantity of those brilliant bulbs in the yards and as to the number of yards being decorated. I love watching the blinking lights (even the stationary ones), akin to the appeal of sitting before a lit fireplace. The multicolored arrangements appeared overnight once Thanksgiving had been celebrated and leftovers shared. We are truly in the holiday season now.

Take time to enjoy these days. Take more days off if you can. Take nighttime drives to see the lights in other neighborhoods. Take a moment to just breathe.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
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Discussion Starter #38
I'm currently working on Book One of my first fiction series. And belatedly (I'm at 68,542 WC of an estimated 80K WC novel), I've added in subhead notations (for me only) at each chapter and time break (in other words, for each scene). A new scene or three had interrupted my previous order.

And, if you're like me, rereading my draft (word for word, starting at p. 1 onward) has me copyediting (dealing with grammar and spelling issues), not focusing on plot continuity.

So I'm using Header 1 of Word's Styles for my chapter headings (CHs) and Header 2 for my subheadings (Subs). Plus these Styles help in creating a Word-generated Table of Contents. Better to read four or five pages of my TOC (as a story overview) instead of the 275 pages currently making up my MS (as a detailed mechanics view).

I interrupted myself to do a sample cover, but I easily talked myself into starting my scan of those 275 double-spaced pages to come up with scene descriptions, knowing this will help me greatly and save me tons of time. Once scene labeling is done, I can read my TOC, locating what sections to move to where, plus seeing where my plot goes awry or where I've got too many things going on in one day or have forgotten another day or have too much emphasis on one major POV than the other one.

Hope this helps someone out there too. Have a good week, everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
When to use "L.A." and when to use "LA":

"L.A." = Los Angeles (the city), per 16CMS 7.62 and 8.4.

"LA" = Louisiana (the state), per 16CMS 10.28.

I see this often misused in my copyediting projects.

Have a good week, everyone.

Denise Barker
Freelance Copy Editor
[email protected]
 
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