Some more writing tips for authors


In this post, I would like to address a few errors that I often see in writing.

  1. “Affect” vs. “effect.” “Effect,” written with an “E,” is a noun. It is a result of something. For example, “Lung cancer is an effect of smoking.” However, “affect,” with an “A,” is a verb. It means to cause something to happen. For example, “Smoking negatively affects the lungs.” The best way to remember the two spellings is to remember that “affect” is an action, and both “affect” and “action” begin with the letter A.
  • “Immigrate” vs. “emigrate.” I have to admit that I had a hard time with this one until recently. One immigrates to a country and emigrates from a country. For example, if a person leaves Canada to come and live in the US, this would be written as “She emigrated from Canada and immigrated to the US.” The trick for this one is to remember that “emigrate” and “exit” both begin with the letter E, and when one emigrates from a country, one exits that country.
  • The use of the word “adult” as a verb. I have seen this in several Facebook memes: “I don’t want to adult today,” or “Realizing you have food at home is part of adulting.” The word “adult” is either a noun (“He is a young adult,”) or an adjective (“The children could not watch the adult movie.”). It is not a verb. (This is one of my major pet peeves, so I had to restrain myself while writing this paragraph.)

Lastly, I wish to discuss the use of “suicide” as a verb. Until a few years ago, I did not know that the word could be used as a verb. I was first alerted to this by a doctor who told me that her patient’s daughter “suicided” ten years ago. This unfamiliar grammar (as well as the plight of the poor mother) struck me almost immediately, and it was only recently that I looked it up in Merriam-Webster and was surprised to see that the faithful dictionary acknowledged that “suicide” can be a verb. I learn something new every day.

**EDITOR’S NOTE: I will be away from the blog for at least the next week while I tend to matters involving my aging parents. Thank you for your understanding.

Lest we forget…

Since today is September 11, I really want to write about my feelings and thoughts on what happened on this date 21 years ago. Kindly refrain from criticizing me for writing this because it’s “not professional.”

Everybody who remembers that horrific day remembers where they were when they first heard the news. I was working in a university research lab at the time, and that morning my boss, a coworker, and I were cleaning out one of the lab freezers. While we were toiling away at this unpleasant task, a young woman from one of the other labs on the floor appeared in the doorway and stood there. This woman often visited our lab, since she and my boss were friends. But that day, she had a different reason for coming to see us. “A plane crashed into the World Trade Center,” she said.

I remember how her voice was completely devoid of emotion because she was in such shock.

A little radio in the lab was turned on, and I got on one of the computers to look at news sites. “What a horrible accident!” I was thinking. If only it had been…

The radio soon announced that the second tower had been hit by another plane, and soon afterwards, that there was an explosion at the Pentagon. That news especially hit home for me, since the Pentagon had been my father’s workplace for decades (although he had since retired). And as if all that wasn’t enough, then came the news of the plane crashing into a field in Pennsylvania.

“Do you know how many people are dead? Thousands!” my boss barked into my face as if the whole disaster were my fault.

“Jesus will come,” my coworker, a Christian who spoke broken English, said to me, trying to be soothing. Although I was a Christian (and still am), the thought of Jesus coming frightened me; I had always found the Book of Revelation terrifying.

Around noon, everyone at work was sent home, and when I arrived at my apartment, I alternated between watching the TV news reports and lying in bed. I could do nothing else—not even eat. I just tried to shut everything out because I couldn’t take any more.

Do you remember where you were?


On August 29, I accomplished something great.

I finished Macros A to Z, the six-week online course I had been taking through the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), one of my professional organizations. Boy, did I learn a ton of information! I learned about downloading and installing macros, assigning them keyboard shortcuts, and trying out many of the different macros on Paul Beverley’s macros menu (there are thousands). I learned how to pick and choose the macros that were the most helpful for me and install them.

Also, very importantly, I learned how to back up my macros and how important it is to do so every time I install a new one.

(If you are unfamiliar with what macros are, please refer to my post from a few weeks ago, “Macros, macros everywhere.”)

The course instructor, Jennifer Yankopolus, was awesome. She provided helpful how-to videos in her weekly lessons and promptly answered each student’s posts in the class discussion forum. Jennifer also facilitated three Zoom sessions during the six weeks, where students could ask questions and learn “bonus” information. We even got a treat during the third Zoom session: Paul Beverley attended from his home in the UK. (Poor Paul…it was nine o’clock at night for him when our session started!)

I’ve taken a few other courses through this same organization—namely, Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Copyediting (all taught by Lourdes Venard), as well as Getting Work from Publishers and Book Packagers (taught by Jennifer Lawler). Lourdes and Jennifer are awesome as well. I highly recommend all three copyediting courses to anyone who is just starting out as a professional copyeditor, and I greatly recommend Getting Work to anyone who has just become a freelancer.

I have to admit that after I took the four courses mentioned above, I thought to myself, “There. I am done with courses. I don’t want to be bogged down in courses forever. That’s it.” But then I heard about macros and kept hearing about them over and over again, and thought, “I really should learn them so I can become a more efficient editor.” Macros A to Z was first offered last fall, but I passed on it because I knew my schedule was going to be pretty full then. Then it was offered this summer, and I jumped on it.

What kinds of professional development courses have you taken? What did you think of them?