Leslie Vermeer and Frances Peck in Conversation originally published The Editors‘ Weekly
Frances Peck, interview, Leslie Vermeer, writing Editing a first-time novelist calls for a blend of sharp-eyed clarity, cheerleading and hand-holding. What if the novelist is also an editor? As part of a series of blog posts featuring conversations between editor/writers and their editors, The Editors’ Weekly asked two editors to reflect on their experience of working together.
Happy new year! I cannot believe how fast the Fall 2017 academic term went by. So fast that I didn’t even get to share this article I wrote for T8N magazine . It’s about the gap between what men earn and what women earn, an issue that continues to be relevant (and has been topical since I was a young, young feminist). If you’re interested, here’s a link to the article .
At the end of May 2017 I gave an academic presentation in Toronto in a session about education for reconciliation. I felt I was something of an odd duck in this session, but the feedback I received from the presentation was strongly positive. At some point I may publish a longer version of the presentation, but for now I would be happy for a few more people to encounter my thoughts about Alberta’s curriculum revision process.
Earlier this year I was invited to write an article for T8N magazine about girls, women, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and it’s such an important topic. If you’re interested in reading it, here’s the link .
MacEwan University had a little ceremony in November to celebrate their authors — both student and staff — and gave me a lovely little Certificate of Recognition for my publication of The Complete Canadian Book Editor.
Review: The Complete Canadian Book Editor by Leslie Vermeer When I first heard about The Complete Canadian Book Editor, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the notion of a “complete” resource on book editing. I edit the works of self-publishing authors, so my knowledge of the world of traditional book publishing is limited — gained mostly through conversations with other editors and my editing courses at Ryerson. Would this book provide useful information for someone like me, a practising freelance editor who would like to learn more about the inner workings of the book editing profession in Canada?
As someone who teaches courses in editing and book culture, I am always looking for thoughtful writing about how readers interact with books. Adam Gidwitz’s essay “Books for Life” discusses how we may be identified by our favourite children’s books. He comes to an unexpected but striking conclusion:
When a child asks for the same book three hundred times, she is telling her parents what she needs to learn, what she needs to come to terms with.
One of my wonderful friends asked me to take a photo of my book for sale, on a bookstore shelf. She herself is an author and says she regrets not having taken such a photo when her first book was published (although I would assure her that her book was prominently displayed in a downtown bookstore when I went into the store a few weeks).
… recently I’ve been attempting to round out both my teaching options and my writing portfolio, so was happy to accept an assignment from St Albert’s T8N magazine . Turns out, the assignment drew on some of my early writing experiences with forestry and resource management. If you’re interested, click here to read the article, “Fighting Fire with Fire.” You can also read it on paper by picking up a copy of T8N at numerous locations in St Albert.
Well, this is it. The Complete Canadian Book Editor is at press at last and should arrive in bookstores on Tuesday, September 6. Woot! (And I guess I’m wincingly looking forward to discovering the first editorial mistake — eek!)
Above is the cover again, now with back-cover copy in place.
I hope you enjoyed the weekend!
Well, here it is: 383 pages of designed (Dragich Design ) and laid-out manuscript. Now I have two weeks to proof it and add an index before the final production details are worked through, and then it is off to the printer.
We are still hoping to have books by September.
The link to The Complete Canadian Book Editor — Leslie Vermeer at Brush Publishing
I’m so pleased to report that my book has just reached two big milestones.
First, the edit is finished. In late May I responded to the copyedit and numerous queries. I also wrote a large amount of new material. The weeks since then have involved signing off the copyedit and reviewing the large number of figures and illustrations created to support the written text.
“Why do you think I won’t like it?” a friend asked after I described a book I had read and liked but said he wouldn’t enjoy. I have been reaching for an answer, because simply saying It’s a feeling I have is insufficient. But Virginia Woolf, whose writing I adore, has provided a reason:
This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room.
Over last fall and winter I wrote a book, tentatively titled The Complete Canadian Book Editor, which has been accepted by Brush Education in Calgary, Alberta, and is poised for publication in Fall 2016. To complement that project, this site will now be a destination for information related to my book, as well as my other interests.
The Complete Canadian Book Editor is a primer for students, teachers, and working editors about what a book editor is responsible for day to day, from manuscript acquisition to marketing.
When I was in my teens I read John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden, an assigned text that propelled me into studying the Modernists and Modernism generally. You may remember that the key to the novel is the word timshel:
But the Hebrew word, the word timshel — ‘Thou mayest’ — that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open.
It was almost a decade ago that I first read Mark Bracher’s powerful essay “Transference, Desire, and the Ethics of Literary Pedagogy.” At that time I was a fairly fresh post-secondary instructor, beginning my doctoral studies and feeling my way between literary theory and pedagogical theory. In this essay Bracher argues that “transference is ubiquitous in literature classes” (128). From my own experiences in the classroom, as both student and teacher, I cannot dispute Bracher’s assessment.
As someone who works at the university, I find these sentences personally relevant — and poignant.
University administrators have discovered that only in exceptional circumstances is the “success” of a classroom positively correlated with the academic excellence of its instructor. In fact, it’s more likely that the two are inversely correlated. The greater the instructor’s academic excellence, the more work she requires of students, the less “fun” they have (of the type I’m describing, at least—for some of us, real effort is fun), the poorer her student evaluations, the lower her subscriptions, and, therefore, the less “successful” her classes.
Returning to one of my long-term interests, this time in the context of literature and analysis. This article has really struck a chord, personally and academically.
Academically, gifted girls are usually precocious readers. The National Association for Gifted Children’s (2006) position statement on early childhood states that characteristics of young gifted children include early reading skills and advanced vocabulary, and most of the gifted eminent adult women were precocious readers whose talent was nourished at an early age (Kerr, 1997).
In Smoke Proofs, Andrew Steeves offers a series of essays to ask critical questions about contemporary printing and publishing practices that most people in the industry take for granted. The essay “Why We Accept Shoddy Books” challenges literary publishers to think about how — and how badly — we deploy our limited financial resources in the making of cultural objects:
Strangely, the giant, profit-driven multinational publishers—those firms which are by their very structure and mandate most likely to become estranged from the literary and cultural values of the books they publish—tend to field more skilfully- and interestingly-made books than many of the grassroots, mission-driven and publicly-subsidized literary publishers.
Socialism is a badly misunderstood word. Does it refer to a concept, a philosophy, a political system, an insult? Here’s an excellent explanation of the basic premise of socialism, such that I could use with undergrads (and other people who need it).
In my view, the most fundamental characteristic of socialism is its commitment to the creation of an egalitarian society. Socialists may not have agreed about the extent to which inequality can be eradicated or the means by which change can be effected, but no socialist would defend the current inequalities of wealth and power.
If you are an editor, a grammarian, or just someone who enjoys the quirks of the English language, you’re sure to like Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris. I was happily surprised by the great good humour and the tidy fusion of editing memoir and language instruction. Kudos, Ms Norris!
There is no way a single sentence could sum up the many delights of this book, yet one lovely clause keeps ringing through my memory:
This excerpt comes from an urban fantasy series about libriomancers, people who are able to use books to produce magic. It expresses, in a tidy rhetorical figure, a feeling I’ve always had about books and reading but never been able to articulate.
I had said before that all stories were magic. It had never occurred to me that all magic was stories.
Jim C. Hines, Unbound (New York: Daw Books, 2014), p.
I was astonished to learn the following about Victor Hugo (1802–1885), author of Les misérables (1862) and many other texts.
[Hugo’s] love affair with Juliette, though discreet, was another of the worst kept secrets in Paris. By the time the item went public, Victor and Adèle had agreed upon a discreet open marriage, exactly as his own parents had, a thoroughly contemporary arrangement. She slipped off through the escalier dérobé to see Sainte-Beuve and Victor left the front door to meet Juliette — and others.
Last year I heard Richard Nash speak about publishing and learning to manage abundance. Several times in my teaching this year, I have quoted his memorable comment “Abundance breaks more things than scarcity does.” The excerpt below, from Giles Clark and Angus Phillips, amplifies Nash’s idea and sets it into the specific relationships among publishers, authors, and readers.
However, scarcity is still present and comes in different guises, especially in respect of the resources needed to publish.
The Eleventh Time-Saving Tip: … make all trivial decisions as soon as possible and keep all vital decisions as late as possible. The magazine, on paper and on digital, is now ‘plastic’ until it is fixed. (124)
This advice certainly applies to magazine editing, but also to editing in general. Editors need to think carefully about how to use our limited resource of time, particularly today, when digital workflows and leaner staffing mean that we have to work smarter than we did in the past.
Welcome to Reading with a Pencil, a blog about books and text. I am an academic, a professional editor, and a reviewer; my entire life is reading and writing. This blog will function like a commonplace book, a repository of text that strikes me; from time to time, it will also (I hope) present reflections on textual matters, from the professional to the aesthetic.
As an inaugural post, here are a few lines from the song “When I Go” by Over the Rhine.