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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

June 2012

Ending on the Upbeat Side

Between allergic rashes and a tar-coated neighborhood, I've been a little grumpy this week. So let's end Friday with a cheerful note.  Here's the prettiest thing I've seen all week -- the proposed cover of my upcoming book.  It's a design by Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics--who was recommended to me by Helen Hollick.  The book itself won't be ready for distribution until sometime in September/October, but Katzenhaus Books is gearing up already.  Thought you might like to see a sneak peek at what is coming.


When under House Arrest, One Can Always Do More Editing

Latest bulletin: We should be able to get out of driveway by 2:00 this afternoon. Of course with the temperature going to 101 degrees and our ozone alert level headed for "Code Purple." I'm not sure why I would consider going outside.

- - - - - - -

I've been passing the time by running one more "final" edit on my upcoming book, even though its editor and I have already passed it back and forth several times.  This time, I'm just looking for last-minute blips, not substantial changes. As a guide, I've been following a list put out some time ago by Joel Friedlander. This is what he says you should look for before you submit your final manuscript

1.    Get rid of extra spaces. Whether you’ve used them for spacing or between sentences, your file should contain no double spaces at all.

2.    Get rid of extra paragraph returns. We space things out so they look nice on the screen, but we don’t need or want them for typesetting. Your file should have no double paragraph returns in it.

3.    Style, don’t format. When you highlight and format a piece of text, it may not survive the transition to the layout software. But if you learn to use styles your document will be more consistent and all the styles will translate just fine.
 
4.    Account for unusual characters. If your manuscript uses unusual accents or other diacritical marks, make sure your designer knows in advance. They’ll be able to tell you the best way to ensure they are accurately translated.

5.    Eliminate underlines. In book typography, we use italic fonts for emphasis, and almost never use underlines, not even for URLs.

6.    Eliminate bold in your text. See #5, above. Although bold is often used for headings and subheadings, it doesn’t belong in the body of your text, use italic instead.

7.    Resolve markups. Sometimes manuscripts arrive with unresolved issues in the markup, perhaps from an early reader or an editor. Your designer won’t know how to resolve them before the file is stripped of its code and ported to layout software.

8.    Check for completeness. It’s very common for some parts of your book to arrive later than other parts. For instance, you might be waiting for a Library of Congress number or a CIP block, or there might be permissions late to arrive, or an index that will be dropped in after everything else is done. But don’t send a manuscript off to production if it’s missing major elements, whole chapters, some dialogue you’ll “be finished with in the morning,” or the rest of the quotes you want at the chapter openings, but haven’t picked yet. All of this makes the production of your book less efficient and more prone to errors.

9.    Find and eliminate errant spaces. This is a tricky one, but will be caught in a close reading. You are proofreading before you go to press, right? What happens here, especially in books that are heavy with dialogue, is that a space will creep into the wrong place. You can’t catch these by searching for two spaces in a row. For instance, a space before a closing quote might turn it into an open quote when it gets to typesetting.

10.    Proofread a monospaced copy. Every one of the errors I’ve talked about here is easier to spot if you do this last one. Save a copy of your book manuscript and change it to a monospaced font like Courier. You can use 10 point or 11 point and set your line spacing to 1.5 lines or double spacing and print it out or make a PDF. Then proofread that one, you’ll be amazed at the things that pop out that you completely missed when you read it in Garamond or Times New Roman.

Have I found problems?  Oh, yeah! Of course I have, and I have many  pages to go.  That last idea of using a monospaced copy really makes a difference.  I hate it, but it works.  That's where I see the errors.

- - - - - - - -

One last item.  In the next couple of days I'll be sending the completed manuscript out to a selected group of beta-readers, with several goals in mind.

(1) If there's a real problem with anything in the book, I need to hear about it now, not after it is in print.

(2), I'm asking that each beta-reader send me a review that could be used (or quoted from) in the book, in promotional materials, and on the internet. I still have a couple of slots to fill, so if you would be interested in doing an early review of "The Road to Frogmore," please let me know right away.  I could especially use a male point-of-view.

(2) I will reciprocate by giving each reviewer full credit and by promoting your own work (book, website, etc) in my promotions, social media pages, and my own website.

Under House Arrest

How did I end up under house arrest? Well, it started innocently enough about 8 years ago when we purchased a retirement home in a lovely new condo community. All the units are one-story and semi-detached, with lots of yard and green space. We love it.

The problem? There is only one entrance for about 120 homes. The road comes straight in and then loops around to form a giant circle. All the houses are located on cul-de-sacs that branch off that one road. That one road, however, is now desperately in need of repair, and laying down asphalt or sealing coats required a work and setting period during which no one drives or walks on the pavement. Uh-oh!

The homeowners association spent all last summer trying to schedule re-paving, but the weather never cooperated.  It is going to take eight days of sunshine. This year, we got the weather--it's dry with low humidity and 100 degree temperatures and is scheduled to remain that way for at least a week, so paving is on!  The crew is working on one section at a time (we're #3), so Monday and Tuesday, we could get out of the neighborhood by using a small emergency exit at the back of the complex. But today's our day.

We awoke at 6:00 AM when a growling machine entered our cul-de-sac to clean debris off the pavement.  That resulted in all sorts of stuff flying around and bombarding the house.  The cats were terrified; I was annoyed. They have just applied a narrow band of sealant on every edge of the pavement. Now our section is completely blocked off from the rest of the world.  If we had to get in or out, we could go out the other door and hoof it on the grass around the hilly perimeter  of the complex, but the car stays put in the garage for the duration.

And now we wait for the big trucks and rollers and spreaders to arrive outside our back door. After they finish our section this afternoon, we will have to wait another 24 hours before we can drive or walk on it.  Until then, no mail, no newspaper, no garbage pick-up, no other deliveries.

In some ways, I expect to enjoy the enforced stay-at-home time. I can run around the house in the frumpiest outfit I can find, with no fear of an unexpected visitor. However, due to some health issues over the past two weeks that resulted in a massive and nasty rash, I am on a steroid pack this week.

Carolyn on steroids is not a pretty picture -- a hungry insomniac, with a low tolerance for the normal irritations of everyday life and a loose tongue that blurts out whatever I happen to think.

If you happen to remember us during the day, take pity on my husband, the cats, and any telephone pollster who happens to dial our number.

Save Your Newspapers and Send Lewd Women to Arkansas


In recognition of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, "Civil War-Era Memories" features excerpts from The Memphis Daily Appeal of 150 years ago. Perspective from our staff is in italics. More excerpts at commercialappeal.com.

June 18, 1862

(From THE APPEAL in Grenada, Miss.) Holly Springs was occupied by a considerable force of the enemy night before last...A train was about ready to leave for the South at the time, upon which many citizens attempted to take refuge for the purpose of escaping. The crowd was fired upon, (several) were killed...

By order of Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman, LaGrange, Tenn. - The laws of Congress command that we do not surrender back to the master a fugitive slave. That is not a soldier's business nor is it his business to smuggle him away. Let the master and slave look to the civil authorities and not to us.

June 20, 1862

Many people like newspapers, but few preserve them; yet the most interesting reading imaginable is a file of old newspapers...The newspaper of the present day will be especially interesting years hence, as containing the current record of events fraught with tremendous import to the cause of freedom in all the civilized world. We therefore would urge upon all the propriety of preserving their papers.

June 21, 1862

Lewd women are not allowed to walk the streets at night. Some of them presume to violate this rule occasionally...Yesterday the Provost Marshal sent four lewd characters to the Arkansas side of the river.

June 22, 1862

A letter from Memphis says that the Federals are coming to the city daily and coming down with a heavy hand - tighter and tighter. Arrest, persecution, etc., is the order of the day.

June 23, 1862

THE MEMPHIS PRESS - Our information...with reference to the present status of the journals remaining in the city is that the Argus has been placed under surveillance...The Avalanche accommodated themselves to the new order of things...Its tone, which has long been fishy, is now so cringing and subservient as to deserve no milder designation than that of treasonable.

Compiled by Rosemary Nelms and Jan Smith, The Commercial Appeal News Library

Americanisms


The BBC Magazine's recent piece on Americanisms entering the language in the UK prompted thousands of people to e-mail examples.
Some are useful, while some seem truly unnecessary, argued Matthew Engel in the article. Here are 50 of the most e-mailed.

1. When people ask for something, I often hear: "Can I get a..." It infuriates me. It's not New York. It's not the 90s. You're not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really." Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire

2. The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall

3. The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath

4. Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester

5. The one I can't stand is "deplane", meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase "you will be able to deplane momentarily". TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland

6. To "wait on" instead of "wait for" when you're not a waiter - once read a friend's comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive - I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand

7. "It is what it is". Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US

8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada

9. "Touch base" - it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK

10. Is "physicality" a real word? Curtis, US

11. Transportation. What's wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US

12. The word I hate to hear is "leverage". Pronounced lev-er-ig rather than lee-ver -ig. It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to "value added". Gareth Wilkins, Leicester

13. Does nobody celebrate a birthday anymore, must we all "turn" 12 or 21 or 40? Even the Duke of Edinburgh was universally described as "turning" 90 last month. When did this begin? I quite like the phrase in itself, but it seems to have obliterated all other ways of speaking about birthdays. Michael McAndrew, Swindon

14. I caught myself saying "shopping cart" instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I've never lived nor been to the US either. Graham Nicholson, Glasgow

15. What kind of word is "gotten"? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington