Excuse me, dear publisher, but…

About fifteen women from my church and I have been working through (and thoroughly enjoying) a Bible study which uses, besides the Bible itself, a study guide written by a very passionate author. (I’ll call her Jane Jones.) Jane writes in a very exciting, engaging way, which I think is awesome.

There’s just one tiny problem.

Her study guide is full of typos!

Sometimes I am working through the study and an egregious error glares at me. For example, this past week one thing we participants were supposed to do was to “Read Matthew 29:16-24.”

Ummm…this is impossible to do, because the Gospel of Matthew only has 28 chapters. Oopsy-daisy.

I am 99 percent certain that Jane Jones knows well that there are only 28 chapters in Matthew. What I’m guessing happened is that someone’s finger hit the 9 instead of the 8 on the keyboard. At least, I want to give Jane the benefit of the doubt.

Jane’s study guide contains other errors as well, but I will not list them all. Although I continue to enjoy the reading, I have to say that errors in a published work are highly distracting. In fact, I am not the only woman in my church group who has noticed them.

I recall being on the beach one summer while savoring a novel written by a bestselling author. The book contained a character named Spencer, who was one of the “bad guys” and quite intriguing. Imagine how my reading flow was disrupted when I stumbled across a single instance of the villain’s name being written as “Spenser.”

“How did that get by quality control?” I asked myself as I snickered.

I have to admit that I have sometimes been tempted to contact publishers whose books contain a great deal of typos and beg for a job offer my services. I have not done this, and I have been advised against doing it. After all, how would you like it if a stranger contacted you and told you that your job performance stinks and that you could do the job better?

Do you find a lot of typos in books you read?

Shock to the system

Hello, readers. It’s good to be back with you.

This weekend, I suffered a shock regarding a US holiday that is coming up in November. This holiday is Veterans Day.

Notice how I wrote it above. No apostrophe anywhere. That’s the surprise that I got.

My church has an annual Veterans Day luncheon and for the last couple of weeks, the church program has had an announcement about it. The trouble was that the person who wrote the announcement wrote the name of the holiday as “Veteran’s Day.”

Upon seeing this, I thought, “That isn’t correct, because using the singular possessive means that you are honoring only one veteran. We, as a country, are honoring all of our veterans, not just one.” And so I changed the holiday’s name in the program to what I thought must be correct: “Veterans’ Day.” I remembered reading a column in The Washington Post when I was a teenager where the author insisted that the plural possessive was correct.

This weekend, it finally dawned on me that I should look up the name of the holiday in The Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition, which is the gold standard for most editing and of which I have both a hard copy and an online subscription. “After all,” I mused, “the church’s luncheon is not until November 13 and the announcement will most certainly run in the program at least one more time. Better make sure it’s right.”

According to CMoS section 8.89, the name of the holiday is “Veterans Day.”

No apostrophe.

Such embarrassment on my part. Huge sigh.

This was one of those instances where one’s mistake and the correct alternative are not quickly forgotten, because the level of humiliation is so high.

Frederick Christian Fellowship Church, I owe you a great big apology.

Before I retreat into my shell, I would like to point out something that I do know: the names of secular and faith-based holidays are always capitalized: Christmas Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, et cetera.

CMoS 8.89 taught me that, too.

Pass the crow. I’ll have another helping.

Out for another week

Dear readers,

This is just to let you all know that I will be away from the blog again this weekend, since I will be traveling to visit family in another state. I plan to be back at blogging the weekend of October 22-23.

Ice-breaker or nosy question?

Why is it that when most people meet someone new, one of the first “getting to know you” questions they ask is, “Where do you work?” or “What do you do?”

Is it because we as a society identify others by their job or career?

I was unemployed for a very long time during the last decade, and I absolutely hated it when I would go to any kind of event and someone who was trying to get to know me better would ask, “Where do you work?”

And I would always answer truthfully. “I’m unemployed right now, but I have a master’s in biochemistry.” As if it were any of the person’s business.

I remember one person to whom I gave that answer; the person immediately replied, “Hmmm…You don’t often hear the words ‘unemployed’ and ‘biochemistry’ in the same sentence.” Excuse me, could you stand over there for me? You reek of ignorance.

One gentleman I know in my hometown once said, “Why do people have to ask where you work when they first meet you? What if you’re unemployed? What if you’re on disability? What if you can’t work?” As I listened to him, the more right I realized he was.

This gentleman opened my eyes to the fact that it’s actually insensitive to ask someone where they work, or what they do for a living. It’s none of your business.

I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of this lots of times. I remember back when we lived in Baltimore and I asked a lady I knew from church where she worked. She replied, “I’m on SSI.” To say I felt sheepish was an understatement.

Here’s an alternative: Next time you are asked, “What do you do?” tell the person what your hobbies are—what you do for fun. It’s a much better answer, for it tells people what you are really like. If I told you that I am a scientific editor, what would that tell you about me? How about if I told you that I love to travel to the beach?

Please think about it.

If at first you don’t get to go…

Every year, one of the professional editors’ organizations to which I belong (ACES, American Copy Editors Society) holds a conference in a large city in the United States. Ever since I joined ACES almost three years ago, I have wanted to attend. I very much want to network with other editors and refine my copyediting skills and knowledge.

Alas. There has always been something precluding my attendance.

The first two years that I was an ACES member, the problem was the same thing that was canceling everything in the world. It starts, of course, with the letter C and ends with the number 19. (The conferences for those years were made virtual, but I didn’t want to be at home and look at people’s images on my computer; I wanted to have the total experience.)

Then came the following year. I wanted to go, but the conference was in San Antonio, Texas, which would have required a pricey flight. After looking at my business income and financial records, I sadly resigned myself to the fact that this conference was out of my reach.

This coming year’s (2023) conference, however, is in a city to which one can drive from Maryland in a day: Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus is now my target.

I have been through the greater Columbus area on I-70, but I’ve never actually been in the city itself. The more I think about Columbus, the more interesting it sounds.

And the more in-reach this conference sounds. The early-bird registration opens at the end of this month and runs until the day before Thanksgiving, after which the conference fee increases. My goal is to be able to register during the early-bird period.

If I am even luckier, my husband will get to tag along. He can tour the city while I am at the conference meeting and networking with other editors and attending seminars to enhance my editing.

Wish me the best, everybody. COLUMBUS OR BUST!