Friday, September 2, 2016

Charlemagne commands that you hire an editor

Admonito Generalis, Charlemagne (789AD)

“…Be sure to amend carefully [that means edit] in every monastery and bishop’s house the psalms, notes, chants, calendar material, grammars, and the epistles and gospels. For often enough there are those who want to call upon God well, but because of poor texts they do it poorly.” 

Here's an experienced editor! 
Christy K Robinson, the Editornado
Literary, commercial, and educational editing, proofing, and writing.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

REVIEW: The Savage Apostle

I invite you to learn more about King Philip's War by reading The Savage Apostle, by John B. Kachuba. You can access the Amazon sales page and the other reviews by clicking the title hotlink.

The Savage Apostle, by John B. Kachuba
(Review by Christy K Robinson)

The Savage Apostle, named after John Eliot, the Congregational (Puritan) pastor to the Native Americans (“savages”) of New England, is the first historical novel by author John B. Kachuba. The “novel” genre assignment seems wrong, when the events and people were real and documented, but the narrative follows the thoughts and speech of two primary figures: Rev. John Eliot (1604-1690) and the Wampanoag sachem Metacom (1638-1676), also known as King Philip. Historical fiction can breathe new life into dusty history, when thought through as carefully as it was by author Kachuba.

The book begins with the musings of Eliot, who mourns the death of the Native American Sassamon, who was a Christian convert. Sassamon had been murdered and dumped in a frozen pond, perhaps by someone of his own tribe, or by the English settlers of Plymouth Colony. In 1675, tensions were high between the natives of New England, and the thousands of English families pushing them back into the wilderness. When the first settlers arrived in the 1620s and 1630s, they found whole villages made ghost towns by disease. They purchased land from native sachems, but by 1636, tensions broke out in the Pequot War, in which the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay militias massacred thousands and sold women and children captives to the Caribbean slave trade (because they had a naughty habit of running away from their “servanthood” in New England). As tens of thousands of settlers arrived in the Great Migration, the various tribes suffered encroachment on their lands and waters, destruction of their crops by English cattle, and overhunting of fowl and deer. Over the next decades, even as John Eliot tried to convert them to Christianity and “civilization,” they lost civil rights and were treated disrespectfully by the second generation of colonists.

In the book, Metacom has equal time with John Eliot, as they both realize that war will come to New England, no matter how hard they work to avoid it. They both envision innocent deaths and burned-out villages. Eliot wonders if he has failed his God when he sees the “Praying Indians” deserting their villages ahead of the war to return to their tribes. He agonizes over the will of God: why did God seem to direct his missionary work, and then deny Eliot, in his old age, the fulfillment of happy, fulfilled Christian converts? Metacom wants only to die peacefully as an old man, with his children and grandchildren nearby, and go to the afterlife to be with his father and brother, but his advisors are bent on avenging the executions of the three Pokanoket men who were falsely accused and falsely convicted of murdering Sassamon.

Author Kachuba’s depiction of the exhumed body of Sassamon was (as I imagine) quite realistic, but so was his depiction of sudden emotion from Rev. Eliot, looking on the decomposing body of his friend and convert. “From where I now stood, trembling, I had an unobstructed view of the corpse, a view I would gladly have given up so as to have Sassamon’s memory from happier times live on within me… I had to close my eyes for several moments to calm my wild heart. My knees shook and I thought I should fall.”

I’ve read several books set in the time before and during King Philip’s War (among them Flight of the Sparrow, by Amy Belding Brown; Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick; Caleb’s Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks), and have seen descriptions of Eliot and his ministry, and the English versus Indian conflict from several outside angles. It’s a new dimension to read about the precursors to war through the eyes of Eliot and Metacom, who perhaps had the best perspective.

As an author and a student of 17th-century New England history, I found the personal narratives fascinating. The story is so believable as told here, that I’m tempted to think this is what must have happened. As a genealogy enthusiast, I knew some of the peripheral players in the story, and though they weren’t covered in detail in the book (which was proper), it drove me back to my files to compare information. And it fits! Those dusty ancestors contributed to the story in my head. Dr. Fuller administered a potion which may have killed Metacom’s brother. Others lived heroically through the atrocities of King Philip’s War, ferried colonists from grave danger to safety at Newport, or, like one great-great, didn’t survive, when he was taken captive and marched to Canada, where he was burned at the stake.

There were a few confusing bits in The Savage Apostle: Metacom’s flashbacks to his experiences with father and brother took us back about 13 years but didn’t explain the timehop. What was the medieval law of cruentation? And the Pokanoket name of Montaup (Mount Hope, Bristol, Rhode Island) and other places could have been set for the reader who is not from New England, by a map or two. Sure, I can Google them, but that would mean getting out of bed where I’m reading in the wee hours!

The book contains a reading list and discussion guide, and would be appropriate reading for high school and college history students, as well as history enthusiasts of all ages. The few descriptions of violence (at the very end of the book) are necessary to a book about the prelude to war. The physical book is well made and the text is easy on the eyes. The cover image appears to be an aerial view of a landscape with water and clouds in the distance. The cover texture feels a bit like peachskin.

Disclosure: The publisher sent me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Penny-wise and £ foolish

© 2016 by Christy K Robinson

Arizona taxpayers will pay $400,000 to reprint and re-mail a ballot because it wasn't edited before it was published.
Ballot screw-up to cost taxpayers $400,000
by E.J. Montini, Arizona Republic columnist
I type for a living, and I have made more mistakes than you could imagine. Or maybe you could, since so many of you generously point out each one to me. Thank you.
Word omissions. Grammar errors. Misspellings. Sometimes an errant clause gets cut and pasted into the wrong spot. It goes on and on.
The landscape traversed by a news columnist is a linguistic minefield and my life a series of explosions.
Still, I don’t believe that any of my errors have cost my employer $400,000.
Apparently, that is what occurred when Maricopa County elections officials printed the same Spanish-language title over the text of Prop 124, which deals with pension reform,  as the title of Prop 123, which deals with educations funding.
The texts of the propositions are correct, but having the same title on both can be confusing.

By the way, these were the same Maricopa County elections officials who tried to save some bucks by reducing the number of polling stations in the March 2016 presidential preference primary from nearly 300 to 60-some, which created five-hour lines to vote at precincts that ran out of ballots and had misclassified voter registrations by the thousands. Lawsuits are pending.

Penny-wise and pound (£) foolish.
Stingy about small expenditures and extravagant with large ones... This phrase alludes to British currency, in which a pound was once worth 240 pennies, or pence, and is now worth 100 pence. The phrase is also occasionally used for being very careful about unimportant matters and careless about important ones. It was used in this way by Joseph Addison in The Spectator (1712): “A woman who will give up herself to a man in marriage where there is the least Room for such an apprehension ... may very properly be accused ... of being penny wise and pound foolish.” [c. 1600 ]
City, county, and state governments release booklets, brochures, ballots and voter guides, legal notices, and many other documents that need editing. They may be well-written, but a writer is intimately connected with the meaning they're projecting, and will often overlook a spelling or punctuation error because they're blind to it.
A document edited in Track Changes mode

Every writer needs a proofreader and/or editor. But government agencies, especially, need editors. They're quick to jump on the "cut big government" bandwagon, but once they've fired every editor or person with institutional memory, they screw up and have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to rectify the problem.

For the cost of a contracted editor, or a full-time employee at $70,000 with benefits, government agencies, universities, and corporations could have security from silly mistakes and bureaucratic messes. The editor will more than pay for her own salary, in savings of money, redux, and embarrassment. Now that is a conservative fiscal policy to get behind. Don't wait until you have to face angry constituents--hire an editor now!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Today's lesson, boys and girls: HOMOPHONES

Not this kind of homophone!
 © 2016 Christy K Robinson

Oooh, I said “homo.” Don’t call the American Family Association to make war on me. Homophones are a type of homonym: words that sound alike but have different meanings.

In the comments on an article in The Nation, one commenter implored the author, "Katrina [vanden Heuvel], I besiege you..." 

(Besiege/beseech, whatever.) 

Beseeching money
verb: beseech; 3rd person present: beseeches; past tense: besought; past participle: besought; past tense: beseeched; past participle: beseeched; gerund or present participle: beseeching
  1. ask (someone) urgently and fervently to do something; implore; entreat.
"they beseeched him to stay"
implore, beg, entreat, importune, plead with, appeal to, exhort, call on, supplicate, importune, pray to, ask, request, petition;

verb: besiege; 3rd person present: besieges; past tense: besieged; past participle: besieged; gerund or present participle: besieging
Beseiging the castle
  1. surround (a place) with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender; lay siege to.
"the guerrillas continued to besiege other major cities to the north"
lay siege to, beleaguer, blockade, surround;
"the Romans besieged Carthage"
    • crowd around oppressively; surround and harass.
"she spent the whole day besieged by newsmen"
surround, mob, crowd around, swarm around, throng around, encircle More
"fans besieged his hotel"
"guilt besieged him"
    • be inundated by large numbers of requests or complaints.
"the television station was besieged with calls"
overwhelm, inundate, deluge, flood, swamp, snow under;
"he was besieged with requests"