Poem: "Lockdown" by Richard Hendrick

Lockdown” by Richard Hendrick 

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

Article: "Looking for the Pot of Gold"

An author I work with wrote a blog post this weekend that I had to share. We’re watching the world change at a rapid rate, and all the uncertainty is overwhelming. But there’s something beautiful inside all the chaos that’s important to remember:

That we will get through this, I have no doubt, but it is up to each of us to decide what we will take from the COVID-19 assault on our pristine shores. Taken all together, the events of this year have changed my life permanently. What I have learned is that the most precious thing we have in life is each other—not just our relatives and friends, but our whole community, and that includes the weakest, the strongest, the youngest, the oldest, and all those in between.

To read more from the wonderful Kathleen Chamberlin, click here.

Plagiarism and “Common Knowledge”

When we talk about plagiarism, some things are obvious, including the fact that when you directly quote someone or something, you need to include the source of the quote.

But what about when you’re writing without the use of a specific source, condensing the knowledge you’ve gained from books, articles, films, etc. into a piece with your name as the author? That’s when it’s time to learn about the connection between “common knowledge” and plagiarism.

According to an article on “Academic Integrity” from MIT:

Broadly speaking, common knowledge refers to information that the average, educated reader would accept as reliable without having to look it up. This includes:

Information that most people know, such as that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or that Barack Obama was the first American of mixed race to be elected president.

Information shared by a cultural or national group, such as the names of famous heroes or events in the nation’s history that are remembered and celebrated.

Knowledge shared by members of a certain field, such as the fact that the necessary condition for diffraction of radiation of wavelength from a crystalline solid is given by Bragg’s law.

However, what may be common knowledge in one culture, nation, academic discipline or peer group may not be common knowledge in another.

To keep reading, click here.

Collective Nouns: The Rolling Stones

I recently copy edited a book on the Rolling Stones, and for any fellow editors and writers who run across a situation in which a collective noun appears plural on the page, I wanted to share my research and save you some trouble …

First things first: This research is only for users of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). Other style guides, including Associated Press (AP), do it differently.

Per CMS (edition 17, section 5.5), a collective noun “refers to a group or collection of people or things {a crowd of people} {a flock of birds} {a herd of rhinos}.”

Obviously, a band is a collective noun. It refers to a group of musicians.

Per CMS, collective nouns take singular verbs. For instance, “The crowd was rowdy” or “The flock is flying south,” not “The crowd were rowdy” or “The flock are flying south.”

Also, “The band is playing tonight.”

Here’s where it gets tricky …

The Rolling Stones is the name of a band—a collective noun. But “Stones” looks plural. So your first instinct will likely be to use a plural verb. If you’re working with CMS as your style guide, however, that instinct would be incorrect.

Per CMS 5.15, “Names of companies, institutions, and similar entities are generally treated as collective nouns—and hence singular in American English, even when they are plural in form {General Motors reports that it will earn a profit} {American Airlines has moved its headquarters} [italics added].”

This means that when you have a collective noun, you use a singular verb—even if the noun looks plural:

  • The Rolling Stones is one of the longest touring bands.
  • The Beastie Boys has won numerous awards.
  • The Beatles was on its way to America.

As you can see, it feels very strange to read/type singular verbs with a word ending in “s,” but if you’re working to align with CMS, this is the way to go.

Q. It grates on my ear to listen to the BBC (particularly sports) newscasts talk about countries in the plural form, e.g., “England are preparing for next week’s match.” Can this be correct? I only began noticing it a couple of years ago, and I seem to recall that the practice even extends to cities or team names (Bayern Munich are out of the playoffs . . .). Your assistance would be much appreciated. 

A. The British are much more likely to consider collectives in the plural rather than the singular. I first remember noticing this when reading about English rock bands back in the seventies (the Who are the loudest rock band in the world; Led Zeppelin, some say, have sold their souls). Fowler’s points out this difference between American and British usage at various points. In American English this usage has largely disappeared. (CMS online Q&A on “Usage and Grammar”)

Trusting Your Editor

When working with a client, I’m looking to create a collaboration, a joint effort, a partnership.

In short, I want to work with you, rather than for you.

This, of course, implies a level of trust, and I know that doesn’t come easily, especially if you’ve ever had a bad experience with another editor—or even no experience at all.

One simple way to build trust in your editor is to get an idea of their previous work experience, whether through their resume, references, or a list of other projects they’ve worked on. Do they turn in their work on time? Are they experienced in your project’s genre? Do they have a positive attitude? When you are able to verify that they know what they’re doing—and that people have good things to say about them—it can help calm your fears.

To build trust with your editor, be honest. From the beginning, you should let the editor know your timeline, your budget, your overall goal, and how hard you’re willing to work. Those should match the editor’s schedule, billing requirements, and skillset. The better the match, the better the outcome.

Finally, you can build trust between you and your editor by asking questions. I thrive when a client is eager to discuss ideas, put serious time into revisions, and/or ask about the changes I’m suggesting. All of those things show me how excited the client is, which in turn makes me excited!

Starting any new relationship can be scary, but working with a good editor should lift you up, make you believe in your work, and ultimately help you tackle the project at hand with confidence.

Quick and Simple Ways to Polish Your Manuscript

When you’re getting ready to contact an agent, a publisher, or an editor, there are some quick and simple ways to ensure your manuscript looks its best and, thus, makes a good first impression.

  1. Use Microsoft Word. This industry works in .doc, and while you can convert a Pages file, the intricacies (like formatting) can sometimes get lost in translation.
  2. Type a single space after the end of a sentence. Some of us grew up with two, but the standard today is one.
  3. Stick to simple, easy-to-read 12-point font. No handwriting-type fonts or teeny text. Both are too hard on the eyes.
  4. Exchange all caps for italics. If one of your characters is yelling, format the dialogue in italics for emphasis (“Like this!”).
  5. Run spellcheck. It’s not going to catch everything, but you will be in better shape than when you started.
  6. Give it one last read through. By the time you’ve completed your manuscript, you’re likely sick to death of working on it. But because you know what the text is supposed to say, your eyes skip over what’s actually there—meaning words are probably missing, character names might be switched around, and bits of old story are likely mixed in with the new. So take a few days (even employing a friend or two) and go slowly over every line. Trust me: what you think you’ll find is likely very different from what’s actually there.
  7. Finally, don’t make big decisions at 3 a.m. Why is it that things always appear worse in the middle of the night? If you have an idea, a worry, or a decision about your manuscript that comes to mind when the house is dark and the moon is up, write it down, sleep on it, and look at it again in the light of day.

Have any questions, comments, or other suggestions? Leave them below!