Love Letter (of Sorts) to My Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition

 

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Every seven years, The University of Chicago Press releases a new edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. As it says on the cover, it is the essential guide for writers, editors, and publishers. When I edit a client’s book, this manual is my bible. It’s how I decide where and how to place every period, ellipsis point, italicized letter, hyphen, and en dash. My copy of the new edition came in the mail last night. I have feelings about this.

This is the third edition during my career. The fifteenth edition I only had for a few years, but the sixteenth and I were together for the full seven. That’s almost one-fifth of my lifetime. When it came out, I had only recently met the man who became my husband, and I was still in my twenties (cough). I was a different person with a different life. Now that I’ve gotten to hold the new edition and flip through its pages, I realize how worn the sixteenth had become. The binding is loose. The pages are dog-eared. The dustcover is faded. But the aging was earned. I haven’t kept exact count, but it has helped me copy edit and proofread hundreds books—even a couple of best sellers.

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To be honest, what I’m going to miss most is all of the highlighting. (That’s my cat, Gene Vincent, in the background. He was “helping” me as I took the photo. He’s “helping” me as I write this, too.)

So I thought it fitting to take some time today to memorialize my copy of sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. My copy, in many ways, became like a family bible. My mother and grandmother would stick odds and ends in their bibles–usually papers from funeral and wedding ceremonies—bits that represented important moments in the lives of their loved ones. Mine’s not quite like that, but I do use a piece of the edging of my baby blanket as a bookmark.

This marked the page that explained how to write how tall a person is. I can never remember whether to write “feet” or “foot.”

And I found a flower I had pressed from my mother’s garden in Ohio, plucked during one of my trips home when I had planned a visit but I also, inconveniently, had a deadline.

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The sixteenth edition was also my external brain, holding all of the detailed information I wasn’t able to remember. And I see how I would use anything I had handy to underline and highlight so I could find the answer more easily next time.

Sometimes I actually had a highlighter.

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But other times it was a humble pen I used.

This must have been a rough day. I’m a black ink gal. I imagine I would only use blue in an emergency. A quotation mark emergency this must have been then. We editors can have those.

Apologies to all of the librarians out there (including my mom), but there were times necessity called for me to bend the corners of a page, in hopes the next time I could flip right to that section without consulting the index.

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Bibliography information. What you can’t see in this photo are the faded tear stains on the pages. But a bibliography, when it is formatted correctly and, mostly importantly, finished, is a beautiful thing.

When the seventeenth came in the mail, I was surprised how emotional I was about it. The sixteenth and I had a good ride. (And the highlighting! Oh that beautiful neon ink…how I will miss you.) But I understand our time has come to an end, and I know one day, when it is properly highlighted, the seventeenth will be as good to me, as helpful, and as referential as the sixteenth was.

When the eighteenth edition comes out. I will be forty years old. I imagine my life will be different, just as it was different when the sixteenth was released. What I hope will be the same, though, is that I will be editing books that I love and helping authors reach their dreams—and inserting every missing serial comma along the way.

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Q & A with Author Becky Flade

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I’m excited to celebrate the launch of Becky Flade’s steamy new thriller, Before the Fall. I had the opportunity to work with Becky through Dot and Dash, my editing services company, and got the inside look as she was preparing for the release.

Becky has published several books in romance genres. In this Q & A, she talks about her new book and her experiences with the writing life.

Where does Before the Fall lay in the Covert Passions series? Can you give us a synopsis of the series thus far?

Before the Fall is the third book in a (planned) series of five featuring the missions and lovers of CIA clandestine agent, Paige Fleming.

Goddess of the Hunt introduces us to Paige. Called back early from a vacation she’d been forced to take, Paige must recover secret US military information from a terrorist cell in Dublin, Ireland. Her contact and partner on this mission is Eoin Fitzpatrick, an MI6 officer deeply embedded within the group.

In The Czech Deception, a dangerous Russian mobster has contracted a hit on one of Paige’s assets, Gregor Kovic. She has to convince her former lover to defect if he wants protection from the United States. Only the situation is more complicated than she’s initially aware: Grey refuses to leave without his latest paramour—the mistress of the gangster who wants him dead.

Before the Fall opens with Paige on suspension following disciplinary review for her actions in Dublin and in Prague. Her immediate supervisor uses the suspension to put Paige on a hunt for a traitor within the United States information community.

What was your inspiration for Paige Fleming, your main character?

I have a huge crush on Daniel Craig and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE James Bond. After seeing Casino Royale in the theater, I began daydreaming about a female version of Daniel Craig—just as deadly, just as sexual, just as complex. And Paige was born. Note: Her last name is a nod to Bond author Ian Fleming.

Which do you find the hardest to write, the first or the last line of your books? Why?

Oh the first, definitely. I go through dozens of revisions on the first paragraph just trying to find the perfect first sentence. The one that will compel the reader to need to know more. “It was a dark and stormy night” falls somewhat short of expectations. Haha.

How long have you been writing?

Pretty much forever. Well, technically, since I was six. I wrote my first book in kindergarten. It was a nail biter by 1982 standards: my best friend and I got lost in the big city. My mother (and biggest fan) has it pressed between the pages of her family Bible.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your writing journey?

Criticism is more than necessary. I can’t see sometimes the forest for the trees and have such an emotional connection to the story I wrote I can’t chop down the trees that are blocking the view . . . and I’m beating this analogy to death aren’t I? Having a professional set of objective eyes review, trim, and polish makes every story better.

Do have your next book planned?

I’ve already a start on book 4 in the Covert Passions series and created a sketchy outline of book 5, the last in this series, as well as a skeleton for a spin-off series featuring a private military company introduced in Covert Passions book 4.

As for my mainstream romances, I’ve got a release coming soon, another book still in rough draft, and I just signed a contract on yet another with Tirgearr Publishing. It’s going to be a busy year.

 

Thanks, Becky!

You can purchase Before the Fall and the first two books of her Covert Passions series on Amazon.

If you are interested in learning more about having your book edited through Dot and Dash, please check out the website and sign up for your free sample edit.

Erin Servais is a freelance book editor with Dot and Dash LLC. She is too much of a scaredy cat to make it in the spy business, but she is happy to read books about it.

Is Is Capitalized in Titles?

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This is my cat, Buff Buff.  He’s in a box!

Is, with just its two lovely letters, seems to confuse many people as they go about capitalizing chapter titles, article titles, subtitles, and so forth.

Should is be capitalized in titles? Let’s find out.

(Okay, if you’re looking for the quick answer, it’s: yes, you should capitalize is in titles. If you want to discover why it should be capitalized, read on. You can also find a full review of how to write titles here.)

First, let’s review which words get capitalized in titles (according to The Chicago Manual of Style).

  1. First and last words
  2. Nouns
  3. Verbs
  4. Pronouns
  5. Adjectives
  6. Adverbs

Is (like pillage, splatter, and giggle) is a verb. So, even though it’s a teeny tiny verb, it still gets the full capitalization treatment.

Let’s check out this example:

The Cat Is in the Box

The verb in this title is is, so it gets capitalized.

Here’s another:

The Cat Is in the Box, and He Looks Confused

Is and Looks are both verbs in this title. They both get capitalized.

And, when in doubt, you can always cheat. There is a handy dandy online tool named Capitalize My Title that will do the work for you. Simply type in the words of your title, and—voilà—it formats it for you in whichever style you wish.

Erin Servais is a freelance book editor and cat fancier. To learn more about her services, visit www.dotanddashllc.com.

Ten Quotes You’re Getting Wrong

 

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Curiosity killed the cat, but did it stay dead?

You think you know a saying. You’ve heard it over and over (and over), so you never questioned it. Maybe you should. It turns out that many quotes we all know by heart are incorrect. Sometimes they’re a word or two off, and sometimes they are way different.

Here’s a list of ten quotations often misquoted.

  1. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What Gandhi actually said was “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.” The real quote is quite different from the popular version. It’s saying that personal and social change happen together, not that personal change alone is enough.

  1. “Nice guys finish last.”

This saying has been attributed to Leo Durocher, the baseball hall of famer also known as Leo the Lip. What he really said, when referring to an opposing team, was “All nice guys. They’ll finish last.” It’s not quite as catchy, but it still gets the point across.

  1. “Curiosity killed the cat.”

The earliest known printed reference of this phrase dates to 1912 as part of a proverb printed in The Titusville Herald newspaper. It reads: “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” This time, the real quotation differs drastically from the well-known version. The cat doesn’t stay dead; he comes back to life once he’s satisfied (from eating ghost mice, perhaps).

  1. “The end justifies the means.”

Do you think Niccolo Machiavelli said this? Most people do. However, it’s nowhere to be found in The Prince. The closest to this the Italian philosopher and writer got was “One must consider the final result,” which doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

  1. “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

All those high school social studies teachers have it wrong. The true quote is “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s attributed to Lord John Dalberg-Acton, a famous British historian from the nineteenth century.

  1. “My country, right or wrong.”

This is only the first part of what the German revolutionary and American statesman, Carl Shurz, said in 1872. The full quote is “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” The correct version has the opposite idea of the slogan nationalists promote.

  1. “The British are coming!”

Nope. Paul Revere never said this on his famous horse ride. It’s believed that what he did say was “The regulars are out.” “Regulars” was what the rebels called British soldiers.

  1. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

While the premise of this quote may be true, it’s not what the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century playwright, William Congreve, wrote. The real line from his 1697 play, The Mourning Bride, goes like this: “Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned.”

  1. “Houston, we have a problem.”

This is close. But Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell really said, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

  1. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Similarly, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong swore he said, “One small step for a man.” It’s just that people didn’t hear it on the transmission. Without it, the quote essentially says, “one small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind.”

 

Does this mean you can’t use these sayings any longer? Not necessarily. But it may be prudent to note they’re variations of the true quotations. Plus, knowing the difference will make you look smart.

 

I.e. vs. e.g.

This is a drawing of an animal, i.e., a unicorn.

This is a drawing of an animal, i.e., a unicorn.

 

Latin roots
The abbreviation i.e. comes from the Latin words id est, which mean that is.

The abbreviation e.g. comes from the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which means for the sake of example.

Mnemonic device
To remember what they mean, we’re going to say i.e. equals in other words because both start with the letter I and e.g. equals example because they both start with the letter E.

i.e. = in other words
e.g. = example

Using i.e.
We use i.e. to give more information about something, to clarify, and to explain it further.

Example: Liza has only one hobby, i.e., making taxidermy unicorns.

Here we say that Liza has only one hobby, and we clarify that her one hobby is making taxidermy unicorns. We could also say that Liza has only one hobby, in other words, making taxidermy unicorns.

Example: Liza’s favorite animal is the unicorn, i.e., the mythical pony beast with a horn growing from the top of its face.

Here we use i.e. to explain what a unicorn is. We could also say that Liza’s favorite animal is the unicorn, in other words, the mythical pony beast with a horn growing from the top of its face.

Note that the explanation that comes after i.e. can be the only explanation. A unicorn is a mythical horned pony beast. It’s not both a mythical horned pony beast and a mythical horned sea creature. That’s a narwhal. And a unicorn can’t be both a unicorn and a narwhal.

Using e.g.
We use e.g. to give examples of something.

Example: Pete saw many animals at the zoo, e.g., elephants, tigers, and unicorns.

Here we use e.g. to give examples of animals at the zoo. Pete saw elephants, tigers, and unicorns at the zoo, but those weren’t the only animals he saw. We could also say Pete saw many animals at the zoo (example: elephants, tigers, and unicorns).

Example: Unicorns eat a wide variety of candy, e.g., gumdrops.

Here again we use e.g. to give an example. Gumdrops are one example of what unicorns eat, but unicorns eat more than one type of candy; the sentence says they eat a wide variety of candy.

Note that unlike with i.e., more than one explanation can come after e.g. I could have inserted lollipops, licorice, and gummy bears along with gumdrops because unicorns eat a wide variety of candy, not just gumdrops. If they only ate gumdrops, I would use i.e. instead.

 
Quiz
Insert either i.e. or e.g. in the spaces below. The answers are at the end.

1) The unicorn is skilled at hundreds of games, _______, poker, charades, and field hockey.
2) Unicorns are found in the wild in only one area, _______, the Philippines.
3) Unicorn meat is made into many dishes, _______, burgers and shish kebabs.
4) Sal the unicorn has a favorite trick, _______, blowing glitter from his horn.

 

 

 

Answers: 1) e.g. 2) i.e. 3) e.g. 4) i.e.