Today is my 65th birthday. This is the first birthday in my entire life when both of the people directly responsible for my existence are no longer here. I will miss my dad’s annual feigned question, “HOW old are you now?” and then the follow up, “I’m not old enough to have a daughter that old!”
Every. Single. Birthday.
So I guess today, I feel a little melancholy. Missing them both, yet so grateful for the legacy they gave me.
I learned from my parents how important family is … immediate family, extended family, friends who become like family. From our annual summer gatherings with extended family to watching my parents trek around the country after retirement in their big motor home to catch up with friends scattered far and wide, I learned how important it is to maintain the relationships in my life.
I learned from my parents to be respectful—of them (my early days were filled with “yes sir” or “no sir,” “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am”) and of everyone else in my world, no matter the color of their skin or their age or their background or their religion.
I learned to respect other cultures as we traveled around Europe in our little Audi, constantly aware of ourselves as tourists but always attempting the language and showing high regard for the people.
I learned to love other people, to be there when needed, to serve and help out. I learned that the behind-the-scenes people are extremely important.
As part of a proud military family, I learned from my parents to love my country. I learned to stand for the flag and put my hand over my heart—because it matters. I learned that freedom isn’t free; it takes brave men and women to defend it. I appreciate that every moment of my life, and I honor the military personnel and veterans who care enough for the rest of us to put their lives on the line.
But most important, mom and dad gave me the legacy of faith in God. They taught me my worth not only as their child, but also as a child of the heavenly Father, brought into this world to live in these particular decades for a purpose. They taught me to always seek God’s guidance and follow it. They showed by example that sometimes that’s difficult, sometimes the way is unclear, sometimes it doesn’t seem logical. But God’s path is always the right one.
They taught me right from wrong, taught me how to stand up for the right, and taught me how to be kind and winsome while doing it.
I can only hope and pray that I’m continuing their legacy and living the things they taught me.
Thanks, mom and dad, for this life you gave me.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:6-8 NIV)
I’m going to burst your bubble, but only a little bit. I’m going to warn you about the perils of publication. Granted, this was your goal. But I want to make sure you’re prepared with a thick skin for the reviews of your book—maybe not in major publications, but everywhere that readers go. On blogs. On book reviewing websites. On Goodreads. On Amazon. And even when you write articles or blogs, be ready for folks to chime in wherever they can.
When your book is published, folks will read it and give their opinions. You may receive some five-star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. You may receive some one-star reviews. Some readers will say yours is one of the best books they’ve ever read. Others will say your book wasted their time, and they didn’t finish reading it.
Be ready for both types of reviews. Take them at face value, realizing that never has any book pleased everyone. It always amazes me—the vast variety of comments and how a book can resonate with some people and be completely disliked by others.
I’ve started going to the Goodreads site online every time I finish a book, first to put it on my virtual shelves to keep track of what I’ve read, then to settle in and look for one-star reviews. Sometimes I have to scroll a bit, and sometimes they are waiting for me on the first page. I want to understand what makes people dislike a book. Sometimes the reviews help me pinpoint a niggling concern I had as I was reading—something I couldn’t quite put into words. Other times, it seems that readers are looking for something to complain about.
Some authors say that you shouldn’t read your reviews at all, for those very reasons.
But, let’s face it. You will.
When you see these reviews, you can’t do anything. These aren’t critique readers or your editor commenting. You can’t make changes. These are readers of your published work putting their opinions out in the world for all to see.
Take everything in stride. Remember that you can’t please everyone. Don’t take the one-star reviews so deeply to heart that you decide never to write again because you’re a failure. But, at the same time, don’t take the five-star reviews so deeply to heart that you decide never to write again because you can’t possibly do another book that would be as good. And if you do get many five-star reviews, stay humble.
Reviews are reviews. When you get hit with a one-star review (and you most likely will), don’t engage, go to battle, or try to change their mind. They read it, they didn’t like it, end of story. Move on. Some people just won’t get what you were trying to say or do in your book.
The problem is that no matter how many encouraging four- or five-star reviews you may get, it is those one- or two-star reviews that will keep you up at night, doubting yourself.
To make yourself feel better, choose a couple of favorite books you’ve read recently (choose some that are fairly new—not a classic from the 1800s).
Go to Goodreads or Amazon. Type in the title, find the book, and read the reviews. Read some five-star reviews (yay! They agree with you!). Now read some one- or two-star reviews (boo! They hated the writing, the metaphors, the characters, the plot, whatever).
Now realize that if your favorite book has such a variety of reviews, surely you are in good company.
Your best defense is to keep marketing your book and engaging with the folks who liked it—they are your audience, and they surely know others who will also like the book. And don’t be ashamed to ask for a positive review from them.
But don’t ASK for trouble
Here is where I get concerned and want to offer a warning. What you don’t want to happen is for your book to get legitimate negative reviews. What I mean is don’t be in such a hurry to self-publish (for instance) that you don’t have your book edited or proofread. If reviewers comment on typos and poor writing, that’s on you. Another issue would be rushing a book to press without fact checking or consideration of truthfulness. Seems obvious, right? Well, here is my plea to be careful and not to count on your editors to catch everything.
I never really thought about this until I finished reading Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin. From the cover, it sounded like a lovely read about a man seeking to make a difference in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the late 1990s and early 2000s by building schools in remote villages. It topped The New York Times bestseller list for three years, so it must be good, right?
Well, not so much. It was an okay read. I didn’t love it, although I found it inspiring.
I finished the book, went to Goodreads to do my thing, and spent the rest of the afternoon reading review after review, which led me to article after article. The reviews, many of them glowing at first about the topic of the book (although many didn’t like the writing) turned negative after flaws and inconsistencies in the book began to be pointed out. Then in 2011, the60 Minutes TV show did an exposé about parts of the book that had been allegedly fabricated, along with alleged mismanagement of funds by Mortensen’s nonprofit. Some articles and blogs vilified the book and the authors. Others pointed out the great work Mortensen had done in the region in spite of those lapses in judgment.
All that to say, sadly, the hard work of the book has given rise to questions and lawsuits. What was the motivation for the material that was not factual—such as the story of getting lost coming down from a failed attempt to summit K2 and crossing a bridge to a village (a bridge that did not exist at the time)? This story in the book’s opening provides the impetus for the remainder of the book. So, having that story’s facts on the first pages challenged called into question the rest of the book.
The author recounts another story of visiting Mother Teresa’s charity just after her death and his thoughts as he was able to sit quietly with her body. Problem is, the author says he was there in 2000, but Mother Teresa died in 1997 (not difficult to fact check). And none of the book’s editors caught it.
Mortensen said in interviews that various details had to be conflated to get the millions of original words down to the workable and publishable amount. Perhaps it was just faulty memory, or editing gone awry, or running stories together to keep the narrative moving. I don’t know. I just know that as I read beyond the whiny reviews by people who didn’t like the writing style and got to these very problematic issues that took down the author’s reputation, I felt terribly sad.
Be cautious with what you put into the world
This is merely a cautionary tale. In your rush to get your book out there, don’t skip the important steps because, trust me, you won’t get away with it. Don’t publish a book that hasn’t been vetted, edited, copyedited, fact-checked, and proofread. Make sure it is truthful and represents writing you’re proud of.
Then, when the inevitable nay-sayers don’t like your book, their reasons will be from their own particular tastes versus legitimate concerns. But in the process, you can stand behind your work with no apologies or backtracking.
The experience of getting published is like nothing else! But as you trek along the pathway to publication, take your time, be careful, do it right. Your moment at the mountaintop will be the better for it.
Copy taken from Linda K. Taylor, Pathway to Publication (Friendswood, TX: Bold Vision Books), March 24, 2023, pp. 211-215.
My sister, that is. Today she leaves to begin on a dream that she’s been holding in her heart for over thirty years. She begins her thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail.
She has been planning this trip for the past couple of years. I first heard about it during a quiet late December evening in 2021 as we sat together chatting, keeping vigil over our dying mom. We held her hands and whispered, and Carol told me of this plan.
And now, the day has come. She and her husband (who will be accompanying her on portions of the trail) have donned their well-prepared backpacks and taken the first steps toward a decades-old dream.
It was in some of those quiet conversations with Carol that a thought came to me: The kind of preparations and patience and planning required for such a trek for her to reach that dream are comparable to the kind of preparations and patience and planning required to get a book published.
I was in the beginning stages of writing my book about the process of publication. I was struggling for a hook, plagued by imposter syndrome. But her words ignited something in me.
And Pathway to Publication — the title, the plan, the hook, and eventually the cover design were born. (Thank you, Bold Vision Books for this perfect cover. Read more about the book on this page here on my site.)
When you get ready for a long hike, you don’t just put on your gym shoes and start walking. You need preparation, plans, accurate maps, and appropriate equipment. Likewise, when you step onto the pathway to publication, you can’t rush the process. The publishing world has its own language, processes, and gatekeepers. You need to take the time to develop a plan, create the required pieces, and understand each step along the way.
I wrote this book for the dreamers. Those of you out there who so much want to get published. You have a manuscript but you don’t know what to do next. What are the steps on the pathway to that dream of publication?
My book will help you get there.
My sister is making her dream a reality. I’m hoping to help you make your publication dream a reality.
You guys! I’m excited to tell you that my book, Pathway to Publication, could be available as soon as next month! (Stay tuned! Cover reveal soon!)
This past weekend, I’ve been working through the PDF of the typeset pages of my book to do a final proofread. The publisher kindly is allowing me to do so (since I’ve proofread hundreds of typeset books across my career and … well … definitely wanted to do it for my own). I have a system for proofreading and was eager to see how it played out.
I thought it might be helpful to you, my readers, to understand what the process looks like in checking the final look of book pages and doing a final proofread.
I love love love doing this part of any project. It’s like a treasure hunt making sure the pages are clean and looking for those errant and persistent typos.
So here we go:
On my first pass through the manuscript, I go page by page and do a visual check in several passes. I learned through difficult experience that my brain can’t handle trying to watch for all of the visual elements while also reading every word.
So I will go through the entire manuscript probably two or three times, focusing on different visual elements.
Visual scan of pages
I look down the right side of each page to make sure all paragraphs are justified right (meaning that the edge of the copy is straight). Most books have a straight right margin. If not, and they’re what is called “ragged right,” then I want to make sure that is consistent.
At the same time, I scan to see if the pages across each spread look even on the top and bottom.
Are the paragraph indents even? (Sometimes a random extra tab gets carried over from the Word document and shows up as a double tab on typeset pages.)
Running heads (or footers)
I go horizontally across each spread looking at the running heads (or footers). I’m checking to see if the wording is correct. Often a book will have the book title on the verso (left) page of a spread and the chapter title on the recto (right) side of the spread. I have often seen that the chapter title on the running head doesn’t match the actual chapter it’s in. (I even once copyedited a book where one of the words of the book’s title was missing from the running head on each verso page.)
I also look for “widows” and “orphans.” These are a single word or short line at the top or bottom of a page, or a subhead that’s hanging alone at the bottom of a page. These look awkward and unprofessional.
I then go back to the beginning and check all of the chapter starts — the first pages of each chapter. Usually designers create an interior design that makes these pages different. The chapter number or title may start halfway down the page and there may be a drop cap on the first paragraph (a larger first letter).
There may also be a design element. (Look at the cool compass on the chapter starts of my book!) I check the first pages of each chapter for consistency. Sometimes the spacing is inconsistent or the drop cap is missing. (In the case below, I would like those two highlighted words, “or an,” moved to the next line so the lines are more even.)
Formatting of elements
I pull up my manuscript — the one I so carefully style tagged. You may not have style tagged, but you do know what level headings go where, what other elements require special formatting, etc.
I scan comparing my manuscript to the typeset pages to make sure the typesetter has differentiated and correctly rendered my levels of subheads. I make sure any box text (elements such as long quotations that should be indented) are done correctly. I check the bulleted text (sometimes bullets are on copy where they shouldn’t be and vice versa). You may have other elements, such as charts, diagrams, pictures. Make sure everything is where you want it and accompanying captions are correct.
Table of contents
I usually print out the pages of the Table of Contents (TOC) for cross checking as it makes less back and forth in the PDF. I always make sure the chapter title in the TOC matches the chapter title at the chapter start (I think every time I’ve proofread a book, I’ve found an error here). In Pathway to Publication, the editor asked me to make a detailed outline that put all my subheads in the TOC.
In my example below, I am marking places where my Level 2 heads need to be indented slightly under the Level 1 heads in the TOC.
Page numbers will be added on our next and final pass.
Now you proofread every word. Every. Single. Word. Start with the title page (in the photo above I had to add the subtitle because — ahem — I hadn’t settled on one yet, so you can see my little highlight and comment), read every word on the copyright page, read every word slowly, look at every piece of punctuation, read every footnote, read every caption. At this point I make the page larger on my screen so I don’t strain my eyes.
Besides the spelling and punctuation, notice lines that look scrunched together or where the letters look too loose. This means the “kerning” is off and you can ask the typesetter to fix it if it looks awkward.
Sometimes lines may look to close to the lines above them. This is an issue with the “leading,” and again, you can ask your typesetter to check and adjust it.
Then you need to read every bit of the back matter. That bibliography? Check the formatting and that each element is included. Appendices, glossaries, indexes, oh my! This is where those of us who also love copyediting really strut our stuff!
And here’s the kicker. I will do all this and there will still be typos. Ughhh. Perhaps I’ll do a contest and we can all treasure hunt together.
Do you have any tips and tricks for doing proofreading?
I’ve never been one of those people who takes the turning of the calendar to a new year too seriously. I don’t make lots of resolutions or feel that I can somehow start over, but I admit to at least thinking positively about some fun things coming this year. From watching my newest granddaughter explore her world to my new book coming out to a great lineup for our writers conference to some fun class plans, I was feeling enthusiastic.
That is, until January 4. After chatting with my 89-year-old dad and several of our family members together on Jan 1, to then dad suddenly needing to go to the ER with difficulty breathing on the 2nd, to thinking we lost him, to having him rally for a couple days, to then die in an ICU in Pittsburgh, PA, on January 4.
The sheer shock and suddenness threw us all for a complete loop. I had arrived on Dec 29 to help family with moving him to a new apartment in his complex to end up staying to plan his funeral … well, let’s just say the roller-coaster of emotions is not something I want to experience again anytime soon.
Not to be morose, but all of this along with losing my mom, my mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, some of my husband’s aunts, another of my aunts and then, just yesterday, an uncle. This all in the past 15 months.
It’s dumb and not really true, but I just always figured my parents would never die. Everyone else’s would, but not mine. I knew I couldn’t handle it, so they’d just have to stick around. They certainly tried, both dying in their late 80s.
I know all of us have lost loved ones. Death is the part of life that comes whether we’re ready to face it or not. The loss is numbing. I’ve been surprised how this has shaken me.
Yet, I do not grieve as those who have no hope. While faith in Christ has in many ways fallen by the wayside in our current culture, looked at as either merely quaint or downright anathema, I remain grateful for parents who instilled that faith in me at a young age and encouraged my growth in it.
I know absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt that one day I will be reunited with those I love in heaven. I can’t explain it (if I could, well, then where would faith be needed?). Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18,
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
People can believe what they will about those of us who hold to these promises, but that doesn’t change the promises. Over my 64 years of life, I’ve watched God at work in my life and the lives of others. I’ve watched new years come and go with new joys and new sorrows. I’ve watched the world spin around me. I’ve felt the ground move beneath my feet. But no matter what, I’ve always always had that solid foundation below me — the foundation that says I am loved by almighty God beyond anything I can imagine and that I was created for a purpose.
So in this new year, as I move forward from grief, I go in peace and deep abiding joy. “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12 NIV).
Is your 2023 starting off hard? Feel free to comment below or message me so I can pray for you.
I’ve posted this very similar post every Veteran’s Day over the last cycle of elections. It seems fitting that this special day to honor those who have served our country in the military comes right around the time that we elect those who lead us. And it seems fitting when those very elections have been so contentious. I’d like to step back and take a moment to think about elections and freedom.
This day means a lot to me because I get to honor my father, Col. USAF Ret. Philip Chaffee, who served 25 years in the military, trained pilots in the T-38 and other trainers, flew F-4 Phantoms in service to his country in Viet Nam, and taught me what it means to love my country (yes, my imperfect country). I get to honor numerous relatives, friends, folks who sit at breakfast beside me and my husband in the local diner, proudly wearing their veteran caps, and men and women I don’t know whose pictures are proudly displayed on banners in numerous small towns as their “Hometown Heroes.” It’s a way to honor my mom and all the military spouses and their families.
I thank you.
I’m here to thank you who swore to protect our freedoms. I’m here to thank you who, answerable to your commander-in-chief (for anyone who might not know, that’s the president of the United States), do what you are called to do. I’m here to honor you who take that job seriously, who are compassionate when you need to be and deadly when you need to be. I’m here to thank you who fight for freedom.
I wish that more people understood the sacrifices you make—in families separated for long stretches and, when not separated, uprooted and moved to new places; in facing enemy fire; in PTSD and things you can’t unsee when you close your eyes to sleep; in doing all of this for pathetic pay and, too often in this day and age, for little respect.
You make these sacrifices because you believe in America.
This is what I thank you for. Too many people just don’t seem to understand that freedom isn’t free. It has to be protected.
Let’s not let it go. Let’s be careful to be worthy of the sacrifices these people have made and make every day to protect our nation “from enemies foreign and domestic.” On this day we honor those who have served; on Memorial Day we honor those who have died in military service.
The best way we can honor our veterans is to handle carefully and respectfully — and dare I say, in awe of — the amazing gift of freedom. When we see it being chipped away, we need to fight back. We are a strong nation because we are a free people.
But here’s the other side of the coin. With freedom comes a huge amount of responsibility. We’re free—but not to hurt one another. Not to badmouth those who disagree with us. We’re free to express opinions, but we must always do so respectfully, realizing that the person across from us with a very different opinion came to that opinion in his or her own reasoned way just as we did.
Being able to express ourselves is the very essence of freedom.
Has America had some very bad policies? Oh yeah. Have some presidents made some really bad decisions? Heck yes. Does America have some really big problems to work on? You bet.
But it has always been that way. Always. No country is perfect just as no person is perfect. We are all fallible and the best we can do is, when we see a problem, decide that we need to fix it. And we start to figure out how to do that. We need all of the voices in the conversation—but there is no conversation if everyone is offended or upset or name-calling. The way we get to the best decisions is when we sit down and hear one another.
It’s what the Founding Fathers did. It’s what helped build a country that has been unmatched around the world.
Thank you, veterans. We will attempt to honor your lives and sacrifices.
As noted in Part 1 of this topic, quoting material from the Bible (and indeed any source) can be tricky. Editors need to be sticklers when it comes to sacred texts (and indeed, with any quoted material).
I offered 5 guidelines in Part 1. Here are 6 more guidelines when quoting (and then copyediting) material from the Bible.
(6) Watch your punctuation.
In addition to the quotation marks noted in Part 1, watch for other types of punctuation. The style for typing a verse within the text of a manuscript is generally quotation followed by punctuation. Notice in the following example that there is no punctuation at the end of the verse itself; instead, the period follows the close parenthesis of the reference.
“In the beginning the Word already existed” (John 1:1 NLT).
If your verse ends in a question mark or exclamation point, put that inside the close quote and put a period after the close parenthesis.
“Who has a claim against me that I must pay?” (Job 41:11 NIV).
“And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’” (Genesis 17:18 NIV).
Notice in the Genesis verse that I had to add the open and close quotation marks around the entire verse, which means I had to put single quotations marks around Abraham’s words. The exclamation point stays, and the period is placed after the close parenthesis.
However, note that when you have a text in a block, the punctuation closes out the block with the reference without punctuation following.
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! (Psalm 139:16–18 NLT)
(7) Watch how you use ellipses.
Most publishers are fine with quoting a portion of a verse without ellipses at the beginning or the end. That is, if you’re talking about Jesus and what he said, and you want to drop off the “Jesus said” at the beginning of the verse and just quote what he said, you don’t need to include ellipses to indicate that you dropped the words “Jesus said.” The same often goes if you’re quoting just the first part and not the end; you don’t necessarily have to include the ellipses trailing at the end. Of course, you must use ellipses if you’re dropping material from the middle of the verse, or dropping a verse from a series of verses, to indicate that material is missing.
However, I would advise you to make these kind of changes carefully. Always remember that you’re working with God’s Word. Be respectful of it for its own sake and for the sake of your readers. Be careful not to cause contextual problems with ellipses. Make sure that you are letting the verse say what it says, without causing confusion by dropping out parts of it.
(8) Follow consistency in references.
While it’s important to know what to do with the Bible book name throughout your references, you will need to make several other consistency decisions as well—or you might ask your publisher how they want you to do it by requesting their style guide. (You can also get advice from The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style.) This attention to consistency may seem like overkill, but trust me, if you make these decisions early on and are consistent, your manuscript will make so much more sense to an editor and ultimately to your readers. For instance, in the Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, you’ll find an alphabetized text that includes extensive word lists of Christian terms and suggested spellings and capitalizations, along with every other question you might have and want to look up (for example, “Clerical titles and clerical positions” and how to use them is in the section for the letter C).
If you’re going to be quoting several verses from the same chapter (say, you’re discussing the story of Daniel in the lions’ den and your readers know you’re in Daniel 6, but throughout the coming pages you’re working your way through different verses), decide how to handle each reference. It might look awkward to put the full book name or even the abbreviated book name and chapter in each reference after each quote. Maybe opt for saying (verse 6) and (verse 7) and (verses 8–9), or maybe even (v. 6) and (v. 7) and (vv. 8–9). Or maybe keep just the chapter without the book name (6:6), (6:7), (6:8–9). The most important consideration is clarity for your readers.
(9) Let readers know if you are using emphasis.
Perhaps you want to emphasize a portion of a verse you’re quoting. Do that by putting it in italics, but let your readers know that the emphasis is yours. (This rule is true for quoting from anything anywhere, not just Scripture.) After the reference, say something like “italics mine” or “emphasis mine.” If you want to focus on the word patience in these verses about the fruit of the Spirit, do this: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23 NLT, emphasis mine).
(10) Use brackets to indicate added material.
As we’ve established, quoting from anywhere is sacrosanct. Leave the quote exactly as it is rendered—and this rule is obviously extremely important in Scripture. But sometimes, you’re quoting and must give your readers some context. Indicate that you are editing the direct quote by putting the edited material in brackets.
For example, quoting Genesis 45:25, “So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan” (NIV). You might need to explain who “they” refers to. Revise the verse to explain who “they” is by replacing the word and putting the referent in brackets, as follows: “So [Joseph’s brothers] went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan.”
Don’t use parentheses, because parentheses could be part of the quote. The brackets make it clear that you have added the material.
(11) Stay true to the Bible version.
Take care to always use the place and people names as rendered in the version you’re using. For example: Is that son of Saul named Ishbosheth or Ish-bosheth or Ish-Bosheth or Ish Bosheth? It’s actually all of them, depending on the Bible version. Some versions have John the Baptist’s mother spelled with a z “Elizabeth,” some with an s “Elisabeth”; some have his father as Zechariah and some as Zacharias. In some, Esther is married to King Ahasuerus; in others, King Xerxes.
Did the Israelites wander for 40 years in the “desert” or in the “wilderness”? Depends. In some Bible versions, place names are rendered as two words, others hyphenate, others just run them together, and capitalizations vary: Baal Peor, Baalpeor, Baal-peor, or even Baal of Peor.
This is not an issue of error; it’s an issue of translation and sources and Greek and Hebrew—and I suppose, whatever the translation committee eventually agreed upon.
And then, of course, some versions include upper-case deity pronouns (such as the NKJV) and some do not. So in some cases God is Him, His, Himself; in others, him, his, himself.
Even if a publisher’s style guide says not to capitalize deity pronouns, if in that same book you quote from a Bible text that does capitalize those pronouns, then always quote the Bible text as it is.
I know it seems like a lot, but, as with anything, the more you do it the easier it will become.
When quoting anything from printed material, always be exact, always give the source, always double check yourself.
After all, if someone quotes you, you would want it to be your exact words.
Because I worked in Christian publishing for many years, I have learned a thing or two about copyediting and proofreading quotations of Scripture.
Authors have a tendency — no matter how careful they are — to inadvertently misquote the words of a verse, miss punctuation, or (often) give the wrong reference.
That’s where careful copyediting and proofreading comes in. (This post will focus on the technical details; it goes without saying that you as copy editor will want to make sure that your author is quoting the verse in context and correctly handling the word of truth, as noted in 2 Timothy 2:15.)
Some authors decide that they will quote just from one version of Scripture throughout their self-help book or devotional; others want to use a variety of versions. All versions read differently, and these authors may want to change up and quote different versions just because of the way it renders a passage. If you’re an author, please always tell your editor what version of the Bible you’re quoting.
If your author has quoted from only one version throughout the manuscript, there is no need to give the Bible version after all of the references. The line on the copyright page stating that “All Scripture quotations are taken from …” is sufficient. However, if the author at one point decided to quote from another version—even just one verse—at that verse reference the author will need to note the version, and then you as copy editor need to make sure that the correct copyright clause for that Bible version has been added to the copyright page.
Some publishers follow the Bible quoting and sourcing guidelines in the Chicago Manual of Style, others follow The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. In addition, all Christian publishers have their own style guides for how to abbreviate Bible book names (Deut., or Deu., or Dt.), how to write references (hyphen, comma or en-dash between verse spans), and the capitalizations of various scriptural words (temple or Temple; rapture or Rapture). Some publishers use the lowercase letters a or b to indicate in the reference that the author is using the first or second part of a verse (Psalm 139:14a); others don’t do that. If you are editing for a particular publisher, ask for their style guide. If not, make your decisions at this point and note them on your style sheet so that you’ll be consistent.
Over the years, I’ve gathered up a list of items important to remember when quoting from or otherwise using Scripture in writing. Following are the first five of ten key rules for quoting and sourcing Scripture (the other five will be in the next blog post).
(1) Know what version(s) you’re using—and quote it correctly.
“Be careful, for writing books is endless” (Ecclesiastes 12:12, NLT).
“Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12, NIV).
“There’s no end to the publishing of books” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 MSG).
Follow the various style guides or the style guide from the publisher for the details; barring that, be consistent. Use your style sheet to make note of how you write the references (1:3, 4 or 1:3-4 or 1:3–4) and whether you’re writing Bible book names out in full or abbreviating them (and how you abbreviate them). The moral of the story is, be consistent.
By far the most important key to quoting Scripture is to quote it accurately. I can’t stress enough: Read the verses carefully, word by word. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen typos in quoted verses … well, I’d have a lot of nickels. And if the author has copied verses from Bible Gateway or some other electronic Bible, still double check it. Do a comparison read, a phrase at a time—read aloud and read the punctuation as well. If you’re working with an electronic Bible, minimize both screens so that you can see the document and see the electronic page at the same time. That makes it much easier than trying to flip back and forth between screens.
(2) Be sure that “Lord” or “God” is small caps where appropriate.
Throughout the Old Testament (and in the New Testament when it’s quoting the Old), the word Lord will be rendered as LORD, with the “ORD” as small caps and, in a few cases, GOD is that way as well. (Note that my WordPress program isn’t allowing me to make those small caps, but take a look in your Old Testament and you’ll see what I mean.) When you see Lord in small caps, you’re seeing the translators using this special formatting to show that the word is the Hebrew word for the name of God, YHWH or Yahweh, as opposed to other names of God (Elohim or Adonai, for example). It is important that when you quote Bible verses that have small caps, you include those small caps.
If you’re not seeing a verse quoted with the small caps and it should be, you can quickly create small capitals by highlighting the “ord” (make sure that you start with the letters in lower case) and then pressing Control + Shift + K. You can also highlight the three letters, navigate to the Home ribbon and Font tab with the dropdown to open up the Font menu, and then click on the box for “Small caps.” Mac users, do Command + Shift + K.
(3) Don’t worry about italics.
Some Old Testament texts italicize words that have been added for readability in English but are not technically in their source texts. You may not see these on the electronic Bibles, but if you’re copying from your Bible, you may see various words italicized. Unless the words are italicized for other purposes (for example, in the New Testament where Jesus speaking in Aramaic), then don’t worry about copying the italics. Most publisher style guides specify not to do that.
For example, Genesis 1:10 in the King James Version reads, “And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.” Notice the italics on “land” and “it was.” When you copy this verse into your manuscript, you don’t need to italicize those words. (However, note that you do need to maintain the capital letters beginning Earth and Seas.)
However, if you’re quoting Jesus as here in Matthew 27:46 in the New International Version (2011): “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?‘ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’),” then preserve the italics because this verse is following the rule of putting foreign language words in italics.
(4) Use quotation marks accurately.
Generally, when you’re going to quote a verse, you will put it in quotation marks, as here, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT). However, if you’re quoting a passage with more than five lines, generally you’ll put that in a block, so then you will not use open and close quotes (this line-count rule applies to quoting any kind of block text—not only Scripture). For example:
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. (Romans 5:3–6 NLT)
If you’re running a quoted Scripture verse into your text that has a quote within it, you will need to change the double quotes to single quotes, such as, “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’” (John 14:6 NLT). Notice that since I had to enclose the quote in quotation marks to quote it here in this paragraph, I needed to change the original double quotation marks around Jesus’ words to single quotation marks. Also, if you need to capitalize a letter at the beginning or lower case a letter because you’re folding the quote into a sentence you wrote, do so.
The exception is when you do a block (as above). Since there are no open or close quotes around a block of text, any internal quotation marks will remain as in the original.
(5) Don’t include verse numbers.
When you’re quoting more than one verse, either running into your text or in a block quote, you don’t need to include the verse numbers at each verse. These verse numbers may carry over from electronic Bible software if you copy a block of material, so be sure to remove them.
“Versification” refers to those Bibles where each verse starts in a new paragraph; that is, the verses are not run together to create paragraphs. When you’re copying from such Bibles, you do not need to keep the verses separate. That is simply a stylistic decision made by the Bible publisher. For your purposes when quoting, run the material together into one paragraph.
The same rule applies to quoting poetry in Scripture. You can preserve the poetic lines or type the poetry into paragraph form. Also note that when presenting poetry together into paragraph lines, you may need to lowercase some letters. The text may have capital letters at the beginning of each new line or verse, but when run together, these would be incorrect. Fix the capitalization to match sentence case.
So that gets us started! We need to be very careful as we work with material that quotes Scripture. Watch for rules 6-10 in an upcoming post.
Here she is. All 332 pages of her. I told you about this book contract and, well, after some weeks of imposter syndrome and some constant worry about if I could actually write this book … well. Ta-da.
The working title is Pathway to Publication. I’m still trying on some subtitles, such as “A publishing professional turned college prof leads the way” or “guides you.” Not sure yet. But we have a little time to hone that part.
The writing process has not been easy. I look at these pages and honestly am astounded.
But it wasn’t done alone. It took a team of people to help me get to this point (and I’m not even at the publisher yet!).
A dear publishing friend helped me see beyond the “this has already been written a million times” dilemma to look instead at my personal perspective on this publishing process. She helped me see that I could write this from the college professor angle — so the book is shaped by the college classes I teach in Professional Writing and is very hands-on, including worksheets to help readers go from the theoretical to the practical. (Thank you, Kim.)
Another publishing friend recommended that I revise my website to focus on the teaching angle and build on that. (Thank you, Rhonda.)
My sister has been talking to me about preparations for her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail next year. The more she talked, the more I discovered a hook I could hang this book on — preparing for the months on the AT could be compared to preparing a book for publication. That metaphor helped me lay out the chapters. (Thank you, Carol.)
A former student who now has a business helping authors promote their books will help me create a pre-publication marketing strategy. (Thank you, Jori.)
A high schooler I met at our writers conference teen track, who is new to the publishing process, is reading some chapters to help me know if I’m answering her questions. (Thank you, Eliana.)
A current student and another writer friend are reading to see if I’m staying true to the content and my voice, writing clearly, and speaking in the right way to my target audience. (Thank you, Anna and Dave.)
And, finally, yet another student who has started his own freelance editing business just completed an astounding copyedit of the manuscript. He caught me in my wordiness and in my tics. He smoothed and refined and questioned and commented. And, as I taught him in editing class, he remembered to offer a few positive comments as well. And boy, did I need them! (Thank you, Kipp.)
And I’m thankful to the many publishing professionals I’ve learned from across my almost forty years in the industry. Their wisdom guided this book. I’ve added their titles to a recommended books list and quoted several of them throughout. Instead of feeling like “this is just another book on the same topic,” I simply feel humbled to add my voice to the many others who have a passion to help writers.
All of this to say, we writers need folks around us — some with publishing advice, some with writing advice, some with editorial skill, some with marketing skill, some acting as the target audience readers — to bring out the best in our manuscripts.
I still have a week to go with this pile of paper before it goes off to the publisher. That’s why I printed it. I always need to see it on physical paper to highlight and mark the final changes I need to make.
Then, of course, the editor at the publisher will tear it apart — but I already know that. I teach about this. (Thank you, Bold Vision Books.)
Happy July 4th, everyone! Independence Day. This is one of my favorite holidays. I do love our country so much and, while we certainly have had and continue to have our problems, we are a great country with a great heritage.
Which is why the picnics and parades and fireworks on July 4.
As I write this on July 2, it was on July 2, 1776, that the Continental Congress formally declared independence. It was two days later, on July 4, that the Congress approved the final text of the Declaration.
It had taken a few weeks and several versions to get there.
Apparently, the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson was known for having a way with words in his writing (you never know when and for what your writing skills might be called upon!). On June 11, Jefferson, along with four others, was commissioned to draft a statement justifying the colonies’ break from Great Britain — a Declaration of Independence. The Committee of Five included Jefferson (VA), Benjamin Franklin (PA), John Adams (MA), Robert Livingston (NY), and Roger Sherman (CT). Jefferson wrote the first draft, then Franklin and Adams acted as first readers, making some corrections that Jefferson incorporated before the Declaration was presented to the Continental Congress for approval.
The process of consideration and revision of Jefferson’s declaration (including Adams’ and Franklin’s corrections) continued on July 3 and into the late morning of July 4, during which Congress deleted and revised some one-fifth of its text. … The delegates made no changes to that key preamble, however, and the basic document remained Jefferson’s words. Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence later on the Fourth of July.
What was that one-fifth of the text that was revised or deleted? Constitutionfacts.com gives a little info:
Jefferson was quite unhappy about some of the edits made to his original draft of the Declaration of Independence. He had originally included language condemning the British promotion of the slave trade (even though Jefferson himself was a slave owner). This criticism of the slave trade was removed in spite of Jefferson’s objections.
In addition, the Congress made 86 other changes before finally adopting the approximately 1,320-word Declaration.
Jefferson later wrote about the process in 1823:
… the other members of the committee “unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections. … I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress.”
The National Archives site quoted above goes on to explain, “Jefferson’s rough draft, however, with changes made by Franklin and Adams, as well as Jefferson’s own notes of changes by the Congress, is housed at the Library of Congress.”
In this link are photos of four hand-written pages with scratch outs and rewrites. You can see, for example, on page 1, how the words “a people” were changed to “one people.” You can see that the next entire line is scratched out, replaced with what did become the final words, “… dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume …” And the first line of the next paragraph, to me one of the most beautifully written in all of literature, appears to have been edited several times to get it just right: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Note that “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” remained unedited.
Who knows what discussions occurred as those Continental Congress delegates edited by committee over those two days in 1776? (And if you’ve ever sat in on a meeting where an entire group is attempting to edit a document, you know how frustrating that can be.) Why did they make certain cuts? What were the compromises? Why didn’t they understand freedom truly for ALL people? What subtle wording changes occurred? Indeed, Robert Livingston, one of the Committee of Five, did not ultimately sign the Declaration, believing it was too soon to declare independence.
But on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress finalized the document, then on August 2, 1776, 56 men signed it, knowing that they were putting their lives literally on the line by doing so. This group of men, as imperfect as they were, believed in freedom. They had the vision to create a nation with founding principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — and the documents they created formed our United States of America.
Odd fact: Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Continental Congress’s approval of the Declaration of Independence.
So celebrate today! Wave your flag and thank the founders of the Declaration of Independence for their vision. It laid the foundation that we should continue to cherish, even as we as a nation have been adjusting and changing over the last 246 years. Let us celebrate our freedom.
I tell my students this all the time: “You want to be a writer? You want to get published? You want to get your writing into the hands of readers? Then develop a thick skin.”
Sounds tough, I know. But it’s 100 percent true.
And this theme is a key element of my upcoming book, which has no title yet but is right now affectionately called, “So you’ve finished your manuscript? You want to get published? Here is everything you need to know, prepare, do, and plan for.” I know, too long. But that’s basically what it’s about.
And there’s a whole chapter on the idea of having a thick skin. Because writers need it.
We need it before we get published, and we need it after (which I will discuss in a later post as Part 2).
First, the BEFORE. Anyone who has been writing and submitting for more than a week has discovered that rejection is simply a part of the process. Writers need thick skin to be ready to handle those inevitable rounds of rejection and maintain personal mental health. No matter how many years you’ve been at it, no matter how many pieces you have or have not published, those four simple words “not right for us” hit right in the gut.
Why does it hurt so much? Well, as a much-rejected writer, I believe it just comes down to how much of ourselves we put into every piece we write and how rejection feels like a rejection of us personally. Whether it’s a literary story, or a transparent memoir, or a how-to on keeping houseplants alive, we worked hard and put ourselves out there. So it is always with great fear and trembling that we send out the piece or the query or the proposal and anxiously await the response.
We fear that someone out there will laugh uproariously at our audacity to think we can write and that anyone would publish us, show it around so everyone else laughs at our expense, and then reply with the terse email, “Not right for us.”
Can I offer up a few facts to help keep those rejections in perspective?
However, first, I’m going to assume that you are a careful writer and researcher, that others have read and critiqued your work, that you’ve revised and revised to make it the best you can deliver. That is my assumption. (Please don’t be one of those writers who tries to send off the first draft or who dares to think that “God gave me the words” so therefore it’s perfect as is.) Good, solid writing takes time and care.
Beyond that, here are some thoughts from my own (and many others’) experiences:
Everyone gets rejected. Every single famous author started out right where you are — wallowing in the misery of the “not right for us.” If you don’t believe me, here’s an article about best-selling books that were initially rejected (often many times).
You have to understand how many pieces these editors are seeing every single day. Sometimes hundreds. You have a lot of competition when there are a couple hundred submissions for a single spot in a magazine, or when there are hundreds of book proposals for perhaps five publication slots at an imprint of your genre for the next publication season. So don’t take it personally.
It could be that, although your piece or proposal is stellar, someone got in right before you with something very similar. And yours gets rejected. There’s no way you could know that.
Acceptance is very subjective. The gatekeeper reading your query or literary piece or proposal needs to “feel it.” They need to resonate with your topic or your voice. And if they don’t, then it will be rejected. Not because you’re a terrible writer, but simply because this particular editor just didn’t have that gut reaction. And there’s no way you can control that.
Rejection is about the piece, the query, the proposal — it is not a rejection of you as a person or as a writer (no matter how much it feels that way).
So how can you handle rejection? Here are a few more thoughts:
Allow yourself to feel bad for a bit. It does hurt. (Give yourself a day to wallow, if needed. But no negative self-talk. Remember, it’s not a rejection of you.)
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go back to your tracking system for the next place to submit. (You do have a tracking system, don’t you? If not, create one. Make a list of all the places you want to submit to on something like an Excel doc. More on that in a later post — oh, and also in my upcoming book. <just a teaser>). What I mean is that on such a list you can now mark down that XX publication or publisher rejected it, so now turn around and send it to YY. Of course you’ll have to revise your piece, and double check submission guidelines and word counts, but get it out there again. If you really believe in it, keep trying at other places. You might hit right at the moment when they DO need just your piece and the editor DOES resonate with it.
You could even take an optimistic approach, like this writer, on why you should aim for 100 rejections a year (pardon the swear word in the article — but the point is valid). The basic premise is that the more you’re submitting, yes, the more you’ll get rejected, but by the law of averages, it also means the more chances you’re giving yourself to eventually be published.
Stay classy, don’t burn bridges with any editor or publisher, and thicken that skin.
You writers out there who have experienced rejection, how do you handle it and keep your writing sanity?
It happens to me every year, around May, you know … graduation. Every year, another set of students in whom I’ve invested for four years whatever knowledge I have to share, whatever words of wisdom I have to offer, and whatever encouragement I have to pour out on them — every year, another batch of them leaves. I wrote about this feeling back in 2015, about my annual heartache, and it has followed me every year since then.
Seriously, it feels like it did when I had to let my kids go. We parents know what it’s like to launch our children. To watch them drive away to that new job, or to hand them off in marriage, or to stand by and hold our breath as they learn the joys and frustrations of adulting.
I know these aren’t my kids, but they have definitely become a part of my life and the letting go still hurts my heart.
But here’s the deal. These folks are really special to me. They entered the Professional Writing program just as I was taking it over in the wake of some unexpected changes. They stuck with me. They offered thoughts and advice and encouragement as we worked to update the program to better prepare them (and future ProWrites) to successfully leave college and enter the work force.
And here’s another deal: They’re doing it! Four of them already have jobs in their field! I mean, job jobs. Jobs they have trained for. One of them is going on to graduate school for an MFA. The others are in interview processes that will land them shortly, I have no doubt.
They are ready.
I’m happy, I’m sad. I’m letting them go knowing that indeed that’s what I’m here for. To bring them in, train them as best I can, and send them on their way to whatever God has for them.
Seriously. I have the best job in the world.
Blessings to you Ellie, Kipp, Zach, Grant, Tarah, Alyssa, Katie, Lindsey. Go with God.
I’ve been thinking about my writing rhythm as I’m working feverishly to meet my book deadline (mid-May). First was getting past my imposter syndrome that plagued the early writing.
Now is, you know . . . finishing the actual book.
In mid February, when the spring semester began and I worked up my weekly class schedule, I thought I would take advantage of a free hour here and there during my work days between classes to keep the momentum going. “One hour of writing,” I boldly declared to myself in the box on the weekly printed schedule.
It has yet to happen.
There is too much else needing my instant attention in those in-between hours — whether it’s emails or grading or prep for the next class or students wanting to meet or just plain taking a breather. (As a card-carrying introvert, being “on” all day long is exhausting. Sometimes I just need to recharge in my quiet office before venturing back out in front of the classroom.)
I’ve discovered that I just can’t work on my book in those in-between hours. It takes too much for me to get going, and then, once I get going, I don’t want to stop and then have to pick up later. A single hour just isn’t enough. But give me an entire Sunday afternoon or give me a free day during our college’s spring break, and I can write for five or six hours before looking up and realizing I should go get something to eat.
Allie Pleiter (creator of The Chunky Method — check it out, it’s cool!) would call me a “big chunk writer.” There are “little chunk writers,” those folks who can pick up and write in the cracks of time between other events. Some of my students fall into that category. In the few minutes between classes, they write. Others are like me and need to find a place and a time where uninterrupted hours allow for uninterrupted flow.
Indeed, famous writers past and present have very different types of rhythms. This article, The Daily Routine of 20 Famous Writers (and How You Can Use Them to Succeed) by Mayo Oshin, offers up the routines of twenty of them. Stephen King tries to write six pages a day, while John Steinbeck strove for one a day. Ernest Hemingway, Susan Sontag, and Maya Angelou wrote in the mornings (it seems that for many of them, mornings are key). Ray Bradbury wrote one short story a week, figuring that, with the law of averages, at least one out of 52 would have to be good. Mark Twain wrote all day from after breakfast until dinnertime. Charles Dickens always took a three-hour midday walk.
Some need music; some need silence (I’m a silence worker). Some write at the same time in the same spot every day. Some are compulsive about page or word count, others not so much.
The point is, no rhythm is right or wrong — you just need to find yours. And granted, I’m guessing you’re not making your living writing, so you probably have to work your writing time around job and family responsibilities. It’s a challenge.
My senior capstone students are currently reading Andrew Peterson’s excellent book Adorning the Dark (if you haven’t read it, please do!). He writes, “If you wait until the conditions are perfect, you’ll never write a thing” (p. 40). And all of them resonated with that statement. (And, if they think it’s tough now while in college …).
So if you’re going to make your writing life work, you need to figure out a rhythm that works for your life right now in this season. Even then, a few months from now, your life routine may change and you’ll need to readjust. But figure out something that will work for you now.
Decide if you can make use of small chunks of time or you need long chunks of uninterrupted time.
Consider the time when you’re most productive (and have time to put into writing). If you’re a morning big chunk writer with a full-time job, maybe you’ll have to use Saturday mornings. If you’re a morning small chunk writer, maybe getting up a bit earlier and putting in an hour each morning will work for you.
Determine if you can work amidst chaos (will the kitchen table work while folks are moving around you, or a local coffee shop?) or if you need quiet. If you need a quiet space, can you set up a work table in a large closet, or the garage, or an attic? Is there a space you can set aside where you can work?
Can you do chaos but with earplugs or earphones? Does music help or hinder?
Find out what works for you. Just because someone says to write X number of words or pages a day doesn’t mean YOU have to do that. But if you’re going to keep moving ahead with your writing, you’ll have to find a rhythm that works best for you.
If you’ve found your writing rhythm, what does that look like? Share in the comments below.
I feel it (almost) every day. “Imposter Syndrome.”
An imposter, a fraud. Someone who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive.
A syndrome, a group of symptoms that occur together creating some kind of abnormality. Over at the U of Utah Health site, it says, “A disease usually has a defining cause, distinguishing symptoms and treatments. A syndrome, on the other hand, is a group of symptoms that might not always have a definite cause.”
Put together, one feels like a fraud because of some undefined group of symptoms with no definite cause.
People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them.
It looks like me asking such questions:
“What am I doing teaching at a college? I never trained for this! Everyone else on faculty is so much more [academic, interesting, challenging, capable, professional, creative] than I am.”
“What am I doing writing a book about publishing? Everything has already been written. How can I possibly add anything new to the mix? All the other authors [are better writers, have deeper knowledge, have stronger writing voices, can promote their books better, are already on the circuit, are more fun to be around].”
Then basically choose any other task or role, and I’ll find a way to feel like either I shouldn’t try to do it or shouldn’t be there if I am doing it … because, you know, someone else could do it so much better.
I’m not alone. Again according to Psychology Today, 70 percent of adults may experience this at least once in their lifetime. But my imposter syndrome is less about me feeling undeserving of accolades or awards (don’t currently have any to speak of); instead, it’s more about me feeling like I’m merely acting a part and, yes, someone at some point is going to find out I’m not as competent as I pretend to be and they’ll call me out.
Ever feel like that?
I don’t want to feel like an imposter, even as I humbly acknowledge my shortcomings in so many areas. So I’ve learned to ask myself three questions because, as a Christian, I look not just within but outside myself as well, to my heavenly Father, for help in dealing with this negative thinking and self-doubt.
(1) Did God call me to this job or give me this opportunity?
(2) Have I sensed his clear guidance and peace in pursuing it?
(3) Do I continue to sense his presence — whether things are going smoothly or not?
If I can say yes to these questions, then I can look imposter syndrome in the face and calmly explain that I am NOT a fraud. I am not perfect, I’m still learning, I’m still striving to improve, but I’m not going to let imposter syndrome cause me to do less than my best or refuse to take risks or try new opportunities. I won’t let it stifle me or God’s plan for my life.
(Well, at least I’m going to keep trying …)
What’s that verse we all love? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). When Christ is giving me strength to do a task he has clearly called me to, then who am I to feel like I’m just an imposter?
Have you ever been inflicted by imposter syndrome? What has helped you through it? Share in the comments!
You sort of stand out. Most Starbucks employees are pink-haired, nose-ringed youngsters happy to have a first job that isn’t sitting behind a desk. I can say this because my daughter used to work as a shift-manager at a Starbucks right out of college. She was not pink-haired and nose-ringed, but she was young and happy to have a job that wasn’t behind a desk. She loved that job, although a marriage and three daughters later, she has moved on to—you guessed it—a job behind a desk.
But you, sir, you’re tall and grey-haired with glasses. You’re very distinguished looking. You have on the green apron and the headset. I’m at the cash register getting my chai and watching you heat up my blueberry scone. You’re staring into the microwave window as the scone circles. There’s a lag in the activity, a rare quiet moment for you in the day of busy baristas. You’re looking in that window, but you’re not seeing anything.
Why are you here amongst these young bouncy extroverts? Do you have this job because you have to or because you want to?
Is this a job to get you out of the house because a beloved wife passed away and being alone at home all day is just too much?
Is this a job to give you some money because social security just isn’t enough to live on?
Did you get hammered in the stock market? Did your mortgage get under water? Is the economy taking such a hit on you that you have to be here taking latté orders with a shot of this or that?
I’m sorry. I want to come around the counter and give you a hug.
I want to tell you it’s okay that it takes you a little longer to get my drink or to heat my scone. I want to tell the flurry of baristas to just slow down a little.
After all, I bet you have a story to tell. Are you a veteran? What have you seen?
Were you at the top of your game—a CEO or an academic?
Were you a solid and loyal employee for a company that repaid you by downsizing or moving away?
Why are you here?
I could ask but I just think that would be rude. But I want to hear your story.
Why are you here?
And then I think about how I’m suddenly seeing so many older people in jobs where they shouldn’t be—at the checkout line at Walmart, handing me my burger through the McDonald’s window, mopping the floor in the grocery store.
All of them are someone’s mom or dad, someone’s grandpa or grandma. What if you were my dad? What if an impatient punk lit into him for taking an extra ten seconds to gather his thoughts and count the right change? I’d wanna punch that kid.
I really hope you aren’t doing this because you have to, but I suspect that isn’t the case. I wish the economy wasn’t tanking and COVID wasn’t turning everything upside-down.
Sir, I’m not sure why you’re here. I don’t know what circumstances led you to put on the green apron and headset and heat up my scone for me.
But I appreciate you. Whatever your story is, I appreciate you.
I won’t sugar-coat it. Christmas this year kind of sucked. I mean, it was good to be with family, but the gathering was because we knew my mom was not going to live much longer. My family and I arrived in the early hours of her 87th birthday, December 24, and that was the last day she was somewhat coherent and knew us (a blessing in itself). She breathed her last late in the evening of December 27th (although hospice confirmed it in the wee hours of the 28th, so that is her official death date). Her obituary is here. (Incidentally, this followed on the heels of losing my mother-in-law in October and brother-in-law in November.)
The blessing side was having family together to surround her. During those final days, she was never alone (whether she knew it or not). Between dad, my sister’s family, and my family, someone was always there to talk to her, read to her, sing hymns and carols to her. She died peacefully and entered heaven’s glory. What a blessing to know that fact and rejoice even in sorrow.
In the days following the funeral as we began to help my dad adjust to his new normal, he shared lots of fun stories. This one stands out and I simply have to share it, for it is the power of the written word and letters to begin a legacy of love that, for my parents, lasted for 67 years.
The power of the written word and letters begins a legacy of love that, for my parents, lasted for 67 years.
My dad shared the story that, home from college during his senior year, he went to the local roller rink for an evening. A lovely young woman caught his eye. He finally got a chance to skate with her and was able to get her name and city: “Reva Grover, Corry” (Corry, PA). Then she went home with another guy, saying he couldn’t take her home because she didn’t know him.
But dad couldn’t forget her. So from his dorm room at college 300 miles away, he wrote her a letter, telling us that the envelope had nothing more than her name, city, and state (this was pre-zip code days). He mailed it on the truly off chance that she would ever receive it.
And thank goodness for small towns, because the letter found its way to her.
My daughter went to mom’s “hope chest,” which has been in their bedroom for my entire life. Sure enough, buried beneath various memories was a box of every letter she and my dad exchanged, starting with this one. We couldn’t believe we had the actual letter!
Of course, we wondered what in the world dad had said in this letter so, with his permission, we pulled it out and read it aloud. The letter began: “9/23/54 Hi, This is going to be a shot in the dark if I ever made one.”
Then, of course we wondered what she had said in return. Finding that letter, we pulled it out and read it aloud.
My dad, leaned back in his easy chair and said upon our finishing that letter, “Well, don’t stop now!”
So began an evening reading each back-and-forth letter as my parents, having only met once, began to learn about each other. They asked questions about family and about faith. There were local Corry football scores from mom; tales of fraternity life, final exams, and chorus travels from dad. The letters became more and more frequent with Thanksgiving being their next opportunity to meet. Clearly their first official date and time together went well, for the post-Thanksgiving pre-Christmas letters become more frequent, all the while both of them counting the days until Christmas when they would meet again (on her birthday, December 24).
Clearly, they had fallen in love over the Thanksgiving holiday and knew that Christmas was going to be very special.
Indeed, another set of letters from January to May surely lays out their future (we didn’t have time to get to those letters; dad said they were probably pretty mushy anyway). That next summer, after dad graduated from Colgate University, he proposed to mom and they were married in Corry, PA, on November 5, 1955.
Before she passed away, they’d had 66 years of marriage.
During those 66 years, they had also weathered a separation for eight months while my dad served his country in Viet Nam. Also buried in that hope chest are eight months’ of daily letters back and forth between them. A future task for me is to transcribe all of those letters, along with daily entries from my dad’s journal while he was there, as a legacy for our family.
I can’t help but feel that, in the future, we’ll be missing something of our heritage for our children and grandchildren and beyond without having physical letters. While I’m sure my dating parents would have been delighted by the technology of texts and phone calls without the prohibitive long-distance charges, I’m thankful they wrote (and my mom saved) these letters. It’s a window into their story.
Hey writing friends! I just have to share some good news.
I got a contract for another book and I’m so excited.
I’ll be working again with Bold Vision Books, who published my last book titled Word by Word: An Editor Guides Writers in the Self-editing Process (you can read more about that book here).
This will be a revised and expanded version of that book–probably incorporating much of what is in the current book but then bringing in everything that a writer should be doing in the process of preparing for publication. After all, the actual writing of the manuscript is only part of the process.
So I began an outline. See what you think. What am I missing?
Seeking an agent
Seeking a publisher
Building (or enhancing) your social media presence
Self-editing your manuscript (that part I have)
Going to writers’ conference and what to expect
Writing the book proposal
Writing the one sheet
Perfecting your pitch
Preparing for book promotion
Being confident in your work
Understanding contracts and rights
As I have attended and taught at many writers’ conferences, I have begun to realize how much knowledge of the industry I take for granted and how much most people simply don’t know. A one-stop basic book for writers just putting their toes into the publishing waters will offer them understanding and confidence as they move through the process of trying to get published.
There is a lot to unpack here. If you have thoughts about something newbie writers should know but don’t — in other words, topics I should address in the book — please comment below or write to me. I would love to hear from you.
I recall it vividly. I was just out of college at my first job working for a small publisher (ETA–Evangelical Training Association that does basic books about the Christian faith). The company hired me as an assistant editor. I was green, knew nothing about the publishing industry, and very little about editing and proofreading.
(Now, after forty years in the industry, I teach everything I didn’t know to my Professional Writing students so that they don’t have the same experience I did. I want them to hit the ground running in any new job with solid understanding of what’s needed.)
But I digress.
Mind you, this was the mid-1980s. No computers and fancy Microsoft Word programs. No fun little “comments” added to Word documents. No squiggly lines on a document pointing out misspellings and potential grammatical problems.
No. This was printed galleys (long printed pages of a book on big sheets of paper) and red pens.
This was where I learned on the job.
As I began proofreading our galleys, revising a sentence to update it meant dutifully crossing out the offending sentence and then writing the revision neatly in the margin. (Thankfully, I have neat writing.) So far so good.
Deleting a stray comma meant marking out the comma, running the red line across to the margin, and writing “delete comma.”
Removing a word meant crossing out the word, running the red line across to the margin, and writing “delete word.”
Capitalizing a currently uncapitalized word meant circling the offending letter, running the red line across to the margin, and writing “capitalize.”
Two words that should be one meant circling the word, running the red line across to the margin, and explaining that “the two words should be one word.”
I’m sure you’re seeing a theme … lots and lots of red lines, lots of explanatory words.
Here’s what I remember vividly. After I had been working on my first set of galleys for several days, the office manager / editor / person-who-knew-more-than-me stepped into my office with a sheet of paper. She had seen my proofreading pages and was coming to the rescue.
She handed me a sheet of paper neatly laid out with what I came to discover were proofreading marks. A squiggle to delete. Three lines to capitalize. Carets from above or below for insertions. Sideways parentheses to close up the space between words or letters. A hashtag symbol to insert a space. She patiently explained to me that these magical marks would replace my explanatory scribbles.
Smooth, clean, easy.
I’m attaching a sheet with proofreader marks that I use in my classes. It’s free for you to download here.
And yes, I still teach my students how to read and use proofreader marks. Is that a waste of time? I don’t think so for a couple reasons:
Not everything is copyedited or proofread electronically (either as Word documents or PDFs). Knowing proofreader marks allows you to quickly and easily show what needs to be done if you’re handed physical copy to work with.
Sometimes you’ll be working with older folks who know these markings and maybe not the Microsoft Word tools. If you’re handed a physical copy with these markings all over it and it’s your responsibility to incorporate them, you’ll know exactly what to do. (I once had a student message me in a panic. He was at his internship and his boss had done just that — handed him a proofread piece all done with proofreader marks, and it was his job to incorporate the corrections into the Word document on his computer. “Can you send me that sheet of symbols?” he asked. I like to think I saved the day.)
And if you’re interested in a little fun, enjoy these “lesser-known editing symbols” courtesy of Brian A. Klems. The photo below is from his post. (And seriously, sometimes these are just what a proofreader needs.)
So yes, I still think proofreader marks are valuable to know and valuable training for anyone who seeks to become an editor.
Hey you guys! I did a thing! I created a YouTube video on my very own YouTube channel that now has exactly ONE video!
It’s taken a while, but YES, YouTube!
In many of my previous tech-y posts, I’ve talked about how to work in Microsoft Word in order to prepare a manuscript to the industry standards. Agents and acquisitions editors are pleased when clients understand some of these basics and can put together a manuscript that has the key elements (as I noted in this post and various posts thereafter).
A feature of Microsoft Word that is somewhat unknown is style tagging. Word has a powerful way of either messing up your documents (despite your best-laid plans) or making them consistent and beautiful. You just need to know the process.
The purpose of this video came from my designer/typesetter friend who has been trying to explain to his clients why style tags are so necessary in the process of designing and typesetting books. He knows this is my wheelhouse, so he wrote and asked me to “please find a way to explain the why and how of style tagging!”
This can be helpful whether you’re a college student writing papers and trying to have consistent subheads or an author preparing your manuscript to be typeset.
(Note that this is sort of a step beyond what most people need to know. If you do all of the steps I’ve outlined in previous posts, you’ll be good to go.)
If, however, you’re considering self-publishing your book and creating it yourself, or if you hope to work in the publishing industry one day, understanding this part of the process of prepping manuscripts for typesetting (flowing the Word document into an InDesign program, for example), will show that you really know your stuff.
I teach style tagging to my Professional Writing students for that very reason.
And this process is much more complex than my previous posts where I could do screenshots; hence, the video. If this part of the process intrigues you, well here you go.
As I have time, I’ll go back through all of my tech-y posts and add an accompanying video.
Do you have any particular issues with Microsoft Word or with creating a manuscript that you have questions about? I’m happy to help, or at least try to find the answer for you. Let me know in the comments below, or write me through the contact form.
After you’ve created your title page, copyright page, and table of contents (as explained in the linked previous blog posts), you may have other pieces that you will need or want to include in the front matter. Here is Chicago Manual of Style’s order of front matter.
Title page (must have)
Copyright page (must have)
Table of Contents (standard in nonfiction; optional if fiction)
Acknowledgments (if not part of the Preface or in the back matter)
Introduction (if not part of the text)
In this article I want to focus on everything on this list except title page, copyright page, and table of contents.
If you want to include a dedication, this should be placed after the copyright page and before the table of contents. Create a new page, then center the material vertically and horizontally. Choose your dedication carefully, and word it carefully. Remember that this is an honor to the person or people to whom you are dedicating your book and will remain as a memorial—even long after your book goes out of print. It can be touching or funny, but remember that it is also timeless. You aren’t required to include a dedication. This is totally up to you.
A foreword (not a “forward”) is written by someone else. This person might be a celebrity or someone well known in the field about which you’re writing. This person tells your audience why your book is valuable and worth their time to read. It amounts to an endorsement.
A preface is written by you to acquaint your readers with some interesting information about you, how you came to write the book, or other interesting circumstances surrounding the book’s creation. This could also include information such as “How to Use This Book” if that is necessary. However, realize that many times your readers will skip both the foreword and the preface. Don’t give any significant issues regarding the content. If you need to do that, then do it in the introduction, or do an introduction instead of a preface.
An introduction gets into the content of your book (and may be used instead of a preface). You want readers to read it because it sets them up for what is to come. If your potential reader is standing in the bookstore and has lifted your book from the shelf, he or she is going to look at the cover, read the back cover copy, and then open to the introduction. You want to explain to the reader exactly what the book is offering. The introduction should provide information that leads right into the first chapter.
A prologue is similar to an introduction and can do the same thing as the introduction—except that if you have a prologue at the beginning, you also need an epilogue at the end. So think both ways: If you think your book will include an epilogue to provide information to the story after the official end of the book, then you’ll need to include a prologue in the front matter. The prologue and epilogue are like bookends.
Your editor will thank you if you take the time to both understand and create the front matter material in your manuscript. Stay tuned for more on creating your back matter.
If you’re writing nonfiction, you will definitely need a Table of Contents (TOC). If your book is fiction, you may or may not include one.
You can prepare a TOC a couple of ways. While Microsoft Word does offer an automated feature, it can be a bit cumbersome to use if you don’t understand how to add style tags and use them on chapter titles. (I will be making a video on style tags next, and will also then show how to build a TOC this way.)
For now, if you want to not be overly tech-y and still get the job done without jumping back and forth in your manuscript, you can make use of the “Split Screen” feature. After the copyright page (or the dedication page if you included one), insert a page break, start at the top line and type “Contents” or “Table of Contents.” Insert a return. Place your cursor where you want to type the next entry that appears in the book (such as Acknowledgements, Introduction, Prologue, or Chapter 1, along with the name of the chapter if it has one).
Now you need to split the screen. Navigate to the “View” tab. On that ribbon, you’ll see a button about halfway across that says “Split.” If you click that, a bar will appear that splits your screen.
The split screen allows you to scroll in one part of the screen while leaving the other part in place. Thus, you can keep the TOC page intact to keep typing and adding to while you scroll through your manuscript, stopping at each chapter and including the chapter title. This also helps make sure your TOC matches the actual titles in the manuscript itself. (I can’t begin to tell you how many times these don’t match in books I’ve proofread.)
So keep the top window intact and viewing the TOC page, while you use the bottom window to scroll through the document. Scroll to the start of the first item that should go in your TOC (as I have below, Acknowledgements). Type the title into your TOC. Start the next line in the TOC, and drop to the bottom screen and continue to scroll until you have included all the front matter pieces and all the chapters. Also include any back matter pieces (such as an Index, Bibliography, etc.).
When you’re finished, hit that same button (which now says “Remove Split”), and the split will disappear.
You can include the page numbers from the manuscript in your TOC as you go, or you can include only the chapter titles. (Realize that page numbers really mean nothing because when the book is typeset, the page numbers will need to be readjusted to match the actual book pages.) But if you want your manuscript TOC to reflect the page numbers in the manuscript, just include the numbers from each page right after each TOC entry. Place your cursor in the bottom half of the screen, then read which page number you’re on by looking at the bottom left. This will tell you which page. In the photo below, the bottom half of the screen is page 10, so I put the number 10 in my TOC page beside that chapter name. (You have to be sure that your cursor is in that bottom half of the screen to give you the correct page number.)
There you have it! After your TOC is completed, do another page break before the next page (which would be the first entry in your TOC) and you’re good to go.
Watch next time for an understanding of the various other front matter pieces you can include and the differences among them. And watch for notification of the style tagging video, soon to come!
(This article, without visuals, originally appeared in The Christian Communicator magazine.)
I am recently inspired by a book that I randomly picked up in a dusty resale shop in Marion, Indiana. You know how it goes — at least if you’re a reader or writer — the first stop is in the back where castoffs unsold at garage sales or lugged from overflowing home libraries rest precariously on makeshift bookshelves or in unorganized piles.
I’m usually looking for classics, memoirs, or books about writing, although our own overflowing bookshelves force me to try to be selective. But that day, I found a treasure. In Season and Outis a book by John Leax, my writing professor from Houghton College, whom I’ve written about before. A bonus is that the lovely illustrations are by a dear family friend, Roselyn Danner, now in heaven.
The book is simple, beautiful, lyrical. Divided into four seasons beginning with summer, the entries are dated and chronicle Dr. Leax’s woodcutting, vegetable gardening, teaching, and small town living. This passage, in particular, resonated with me:
Last night while walking Poon, I suddenly realized I had walked past nine houses within one quarter mile and did not know the occupants of any of them. I can rationalize my ignorance. The generation gap accounts for part of it, most of the houses are occupied by elderly couples or widows who keep to themselves. The cultural gap figures in it too; college English profs are not easily assimilated into the daily life of a small rural town. And the inevitable knowledge gap between old and new residents finishes it off; I’ve only been in this town nine years — I’ll never possess the local knowledge of those who go back generations.
(In Season and Out, Zondervan, 1985, p. 41)
My husband and I take a twilight walk. We’ve been in this tiny country town for almost exactly three years, slowly remodeling our 110-year-old house. We don’t know most of the 986 occupants of Swayzee. Fortunately, we do know most of our direct neighbors along our street, but any conversation quickly uncovers the truth that no matter how long we live here, we will always be newcomers who will “never possess the local knowledge of those who go back generations.” Folks here grew up together, went to school together, and lived around one another as they married, had children, worked, and grew older.
As much as I love our small town, I mourn the boarded-up and vacant buildings, the cafe someone bought to remodel and never finished, the houses unkempt or uncared for, the closed-up hardware store still full of supplies, the empty downtown building that fell (literally fell) because of neglect. At one time, this was a vibrant town — now the biggest news is that we watch a field outside of town slowly transform into a Dollar General.
But there is splendor here, splendor in the ordinary. The open fields, the sunsets, people’s care for one another, the annual rummage sales, the tractor day parade, the parks, the elementary school kids lugging their backpacks, the fresh wind bringing the scent of a new harvest.
Dr. Leax’s book inspired me to spend my summer writing about my small town, our butterfly gardens, our slow remodeling progress, our attempt at growing vegetables, my preparation for fall classes — all of which he touches on. I want to celebrate my very ordinary life, capturing its splendor as best I can.
I am not trying to get this published. I am writing to sharpen my skills and voice, to keep doing what I teach my students to do.
I owe it to my old prof, forty years later. Once again, Dr. Leax, thank you for your inspiration.
As I noted in this previous post, the key must-haves in your manuscript include your title page, your copyright page, and your Table of Contents (standard in nonfiction; optional in fiction). That previous post covered creating your title page; now let’s talk about creating the copyright page.
If it doesn’t, navigate to the Insert tab, and on the far right of that ribbon is the Symbol button. Click on the down arrow. That will open a series of possible symbols. (you can actually see that the copyright symbol for me is right there on the second row. I could just click and it would insert).
If you don’t see the copyright symbol there, click on More Symbols. That will bring up another couple menus. Click on Special Characters, and then the copyright symbol.
After you have entered that symbol, put the current year and your name, like this:
One quick note: Don’t put this information on the cover or title page. It is understood in the industry that the very fact that you created this piece protects it with copyright. You need not worry about someone stealing your work if you don’t put a copyright symbol on the cover page (in fact, if you DO put it there, you’re going to look like an amateur—like you don’t really understand the industry. Don’t do that).
Instead, I’m having you create this copyright page for your manuscript because the publishing house will add it anyway, but you can add the material for the sources you used.
For example, on this copyright page you include the copyright lines of material from which you have (or obtained) permission to quote or use artwork or illustrations (this could be any number of sources depending on what you’re writing). Often, for Christian writers, this may include Bible versions. And while you don’t need to request permission to quote verses from Bibles, you still need to include the copyright lines of all the Bible versions you quote throughout the text.
As you wrote your document, you kept track of your source(s) for Bible verses—that is, what Bible version you were quoting from (you did, didn’t you?). Perhaps you just typed the verses from your well-worn Bible. Or maybe you quoted from several different Bible versions because you liked the nuances of the way various versions translate your key verses.
For the copyright lines for your copyright page, look at the copyright page in the Bible from which you’re quoting. For example, in my New Living Translation, it says: “When the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, is quoted, one of the following credit lines must appear on the copyright page or title page of the work.” Then follow three options. The first is used if all of the verses you quoted were from the New Living Translation. In this case, the NLT says to write the following on your copyright page:
If the NLT is your default and the only version you used, you would type the above exact line onto your copyright page.
Perhaps the NLT was the main one you used, but you sprinkled in a couple other versions, such as the King James Version. In that case, you do need to make sure that KJV is noted at that reference. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 KJV), and on your copyright page, you will choose this line from that NLT copyright page:
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from . . . (etc.)
and then you’ll also include a copyright line from the KJV Bible.
Scripture quotations marked KJV are taken from the King James Version . . . (etc., with the copyright line from your Bible)
If you used a variety of versions, make sure that after every reference throughout your entire manuscript that you note the Bible version—for example: (Genesis 1:1 NIV) and (Romans 5:8 NLT) and (Philippians 1:5 KJV). Then, on the copyright page, you need to include the copyright lines as noted on the copyright page of each Bible.
If you’re using a source such as Bible Gateway for your Bible verses, note that the copyright line for any version you choose is given to you, as here:
If you use other Bible software, look around for the copyright information on the Bible versions.
After you have put in the copyright material for Bible versions, also include some standard information such as this:
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is for your manuscript submission. When your book is published, the publisher will take care of adding their boilerplate copyright page information, their Library of Congress information, the printing numbers, etc. You just need to provide these basics.
If you’re self-publishing, you need to include this page as part of your book. Here are a couple of article links to help you create a copyright page when self publishing. Here’s a how-to guide and another guide with helpful info.
Great work! Next we’ll talk about creating your TOC (Table of Contents).
(This article, without visuals, originally appeared in The Christian Communicator magazine, May-June 2018.)
Part of delivering a pristine manuscript is to make sure all the pieces are in place. This includes your book’s front and back matter. Whether you’re delivering your book to an editor or preparing to self-publish it, make sure all of the front and back matter (referring to material that comes before and after the text itself) is included and in the correct order.
In case you wondered, there is a certain order for all those pieces as determined by the Chicago Manual of Style. You generally won’t have all of these items in your front matter. The only two you must have are the title page and copyright page. A nonfiction book will generally also need a table of contents; you may or may not have that in a fiction book.
Front matter can include:
Title page (must have)
Copyright page (must have)
Table of Contents (standard in nonfiction; optional in fiction)
Acknowledgments (if not part of the Preface or in the back matter)
Introduction (if not part of the text)
In this article I want focus on the first piece of the front matter—the title page.
Creating your title page
If you so desire, you can use one of the Cover Page options that Microsoft Word gives you. Click at the start of your manuscript, probably at your first chapter number or title (if you haven’t done any of the front matter yet–in any case, at the very top of your manuscript), and click Insert on the ribbon, then the dropdown arrow in the top far left corner that says Cover Page.
This will open up a window of several design options for the cover page of your manuscript. Scroll to see all of them. Keep in mind that some of these are created to be for academic papers or for other purposes. Don’t be overly fancy. And it’s best not to use one that has a lot of deep color (such as the full page of blue or black) because if your manuscript is being printed by various readers, using all that ink makes them annoyed. (Just sayin’.) When you click on one, that design of the cover page will be inserted. You can then add your title and name.
You can also just do this old school and very simply without using one of the templates. Go to the top of your manuscript and hit Insert and then Blank Page (the Blank Page option appears right below that Cover Page option in the visual above). You can then type in your title and your name by just visually centering the material vertically (go to your View tab and in the Zoom menu click on One Page so you can see the entire page). You can then do return-return-return to scoot the title down to be basically near the center of the page. (I know I told you not to do this between chapters in this earlier post, but since this is the title page and nothing will come before it, it’s okay.)
If your title and name are appearing flush left on your page, you want them to be centered, so use the centering button (Home ribbon, Paragraph menu) to center your lines horizontally. You can see there that you have buttons for flush left, centered, flush right, and justified (meaning straight edges both left and right). Highlight the words on this page, then click on the centering button to center everything horizontally. You can play with your returns to make sure all of the material looks good when you see it in single page view.
On the title page, include your title, subtitle, and your name (as you want them to appear). Do not type a copyright symbol with your name on the cover page; it is not necessary to “protect yourself,” and you’ll look amateurish if you include it.
If you are submitting to an agent or a publisher, look carefully at their submission guidelines. They may ask that you also include your address and other contact information on the title page as well. Be sure to follow whatever guidelines they give you.
Next time, we’ll talk about other pieces of the front matter.
(This article, without visuals, originally appeared in The Christian Communicator magazine, May-June 2018.)
The next piece from our bulleted list of creating solid manuscript submissions (see the post here) to send to publishers is to put a page break between chapters (and everywhere that you need to start a new page). Fortunately, Microsoft Word makes this easy.
First of all, here’s what not to do. DON’T get to the end of your page or chapter and then do return-return-return-return-return (etc.) until you get to a new page. If you turn on the Show/Hide button, it will look like this. And if you would continue to do those returns until that chapter 2 finally jumps to the next page, then you’re doing it wrong. (Sorry not sorry.)
A key problem is that those returns will stay in place and, if you continue to edit the section above, those returns will then end up wreaking havoc on the rest of your manuscript. Instead, let’s do it the easy way, creating a page break that stays in place, no matter how much material you add or remove above it.
Position your cursor in front of the words that should be moved to a new page (in the case of my example, at the numeral 2). You can do one of two things:
You can simply push Ctrl + Enter and that will insert a page break.
OR you can go to the Insert tab and then click on the Page Break button.
Now you have a nice clean break between chapters. To see what this actually looks like, turn on the Show/Hide button again (on the Home tab), then go to the View tab and click on Draft. (You may or may not see that column that I have to the left. That’s a discussion for another day.) Most likely you’ll have just the main page where you’re typing, and you’ll see that there are none of those returns showing up; instead, you can see the clearly marked Page Break.
Now, if you were to go back and remove or add material from above the break, the break will stay in place, always separating that next chapter.
Do this between every chapter and every time that you need to start a new page in your manuscript.
If you need to remove a page break, just position your cursor at the break and push Delete.
Stay tuned next time when we’ll use the Page Break command and get our front matter created!
It’s a difficult habit to break. If you learned to type on a typewriter (as I did), you were taught to put a double space between sentences. Now, however, that’s incorrect and will be problematic when you send in that submission. Editors expect that you won’t do this.
Why did we (ahem, old folks) learn to do it this way? Well, letters on typewriters are monospaced, meaning that every letter takes up the same amount of space or width in a word (like the Courier font you still have as an option on your computer). Thus, a “w” takes up the same amount of space as an “i.” This made it very difficult to then distinguish between sentences on a typewritten page. With the advent of some electric typewriters and especially computers came proportional type, which means that a “w” takes up more horizontal space than an “i.” With proportional spacing, it’s easier to distinguish between sentences. Hence, a single space is now sufficient.
However, I have excellent news for you! You don’t have to retrain that ingrained habit. You can simply fix your manuscript after the fact and before you submit.
So don’t stress. Go ahead and type those double spaces to your heart’s content. Here’s how to fix it.
After you’re finished, go back to the beginning and set your cursor there. Then, on the Home ribbon, in the Paragraph section, click the Show/Hide button (it looks like a backward P). This will show hidden characters like paragraph returns, tabs, and spaces (every space will appear as a dot). You can see below the two dots between each sentence, showing the double spaces between sentences.
You don’t have to go through and individually fix every single location. Instead, let’s do it all at once. Here’s how:
On the Home tab, in the Editing section, click on the Replace button. This will bring up the dialogue box. All you need to do is put your cursor in the Find What line and type in two spaces (you won’t see anything except your cursor will move over). Then place your cursor in the Replace With line and type in one space. Then click Replace All.
You’ll get another dialogue box that tells you how many double spaces were changed to single spaces. If you have a long manuscript and an ingrained habit, you may have it report thousands. For good measure, you might click OK and then click the Replace All button again. (If you randomly had triple spaces anywhere, you’ll need one more pass to clean it all up.) Keep going until there are 0 replacements.
When I do any editing, my first task (after taking the manuscript and moving it onto my template, as noted in an earlier post) is to run this quick fix to clean up those double spaces.
For good measure, I use this same technique to find and replace all the quotation marks and apostrophes so that they are all smart (curly) and not straight (again, this is part of the industry standard). Just put a quotation mark in the Find What space and a quotation mark in the Replace With space and Replace all. Do the same with apostrophes.
This quick cleanup takes just a few seconds and helps bring your manuscript up to expected industry standards.
I’ve been watching Twitter feeds in the #writingcommunity hashtag and seeing lots of folks post that 2021 is the year they will finally submit — to magazines or literary magazines or a book publisher. I say, YAY. GO FOR IT! You pour yourself into those words and you have something to say into the world.
In order to do that, you’ll need to submit to gatekeepers at these various publications. Let’s make sure you do everything you can to get read! Following are a few tips as you make 2021 your year for submitting!
1. Follow the submission guidelines.
I can’t stress this enough. Read those submission guidelines — don’t just send off your piece. Not following the guidelines will assure that your submission will be rejected before it’s even read. Remember that editors and agents receive hundreds of submissions. They will immediately toss or delete anything that isn’t submitted per the guidelines.
You can find submissions guidelines on most publication or publisher websites (same for literary agents). You might need to scroll to the fine print at the bottom of the home page, or locate the contact page, but generally they will be there. You can also find information in Writer’s Market (or Christian Writer’s Market Guide if you’re writing for the Christian market).
For instance, if you’re going to submit to Grit magazine, navigate to their submission guidelines and follow them to the letter. Here’s the link as an example. Notice on the Grit submissions page that it tells you:
what they publish and what they don’t
the fact that you can’t send anything unsolicited; you must send a query letter first
where and how to send the query (even what to put in the subject line of your email)
how to write your submission (even how the first paragraph should read)
how NOT to write your submission
that you must submit through their website
That basic information will get you a long way toward getting your piece in front of an editor’s eyes. Of course, you still need to write well, have a compelling piece, and fit the editor’s desires or needs (which, of course, you have no idea about necessarily). But you could have all of that but will lose the opportunity if you don’t follow the submission guidelines to the letter. So make that a resolution!
2. Proofread your submission and have someone else (who knows what they’re doing) proofread as well.
Have your proofreader double check your submission along with the submission guidelines. (They might see something you missed.) Make it a joint effort. Don’t be in such a hurry to meet your goals of submitting that you hurt yourself. And proofreading by yourself is never a good idea. You’ve read the piece so many times your mind will automatically correct words or fill in missing words. I have previously noted some tips and tricks to help you proofread.
3. Don’t take rejection personally.
You’re going to get rejection letters. The more you submit, the more you’ll get rejected. That’s just the way it is. But also, the more you submit, the more opportunity you have to get published. It might help to do as this writer did and actually set a goal for rejections — the point being, of course, that eventually out of all those submissions will come publication. Sort of takes the sting out of it . . . a little . . .
4. Keep good records of your submissions.
Do this now if you haven’t already. Create a document or an Excel sheet or some kind of system whereby you track where you send what. Trust me, over time, you’ll forget. Whether you’re writing articles or seeking an agent/publisher for your book, you want to capture:
the name of the publication/publisher/agent
submission guidelines general information
title of the article/book you queried (or sent)
date sent (so that if it says they’ll respond in one month, you know when that month has elapsed and you can follow up)
In addition, you can keep a running list of various places that you want to query. In my Freelancing class (in the Professional Writing program at Taylor University), where we focus on writing articles, the students create a tracking system listing at least 10 possible magazines they can submit to, a separate page for literary magazines, and then another page with their various article ideas or WIPs captured. If they hope to one day get a book published, a new page can begin to capture potential agents or book publishers for the genre of their book. For every piece they write, they have to write an accompanying query letter, and then actually send three of those letters during the semester. Learning to have the discipline of creating solid query letters, tracking where they’re sent, and having a list of potential publications means that they can keep writing.
For example, you send out the query, you receive a rejection. Instead of letting that stop you, you go to your tracking list and mark down the rejection (so you don’t accidentally send the same query to them again). Then you look on your list for another publication that might like that same article or that article with a slightly different slant or focus or word count. You revise your query letter and send it to that publication. I know some writers who have such a system that, when a rejection arrives, they have that same article pitched somewhere else within 24 hours.
The same goes for book publishers. Find the agents and publishers that accept what you’re writing, create a solid query to them, and send it on. When a rejection arrives, move on to someone else.
The point is, keep going, dear #writingcommunity. Make 2021 your year!
Do them once, and they will appear on every page. The magic of Microsoft Word makes it fairly simple to add page numbers — but there’s always something that could be confusing.
Last week you created a template. Open that template and give it a title. Push “Save As” and then decide where on your computer you want to save it and the name of the piece you’re writing. OR simply open your work in progress (WIP) that doesn’t have page numbers on it.
Now, let’s insert page numbers.
(1) Navigate to the Insert tab. Look across to the Header & Footer box.
(2) Click the dropdown arrow beside “Page Number.”
(3) At the first dropdown box, you can choose the placement of the page number. You can click where you want the page number to be—top or bottom of the page. For our purposes, choose Top of Page. That then will open up another menu that will allow you to choose where at the top of the page you want the number to appear — top left, top center, top right. Again, for our purposes, click on the top right choice. (There are dozens of other options you’re welcome to play with; for now, I’m sticking with the basics.)
(4) Voila! Once you click it, a header will appear on every page with a page number.
Perhaps you want to include more information in the header besides just the page number.
(1) Click into the header area with your cursor beside the page number. Now you can simply type in other information such as your name or the title, which will then appear on every subsequent page. When you are working with numbers that are flush right, as here, put your cursor beside the number and type. The letters will work their way to the left.
Note: Follow submission guidelines for where you submit. Various publishers ask for various renderings of page numbers and what information they want in headers or footers. They usually have submission guidelines on their websites. If you’re not sure, at least include your last name and page numbers in the headers or footers on your manuscript.
Now to answer some reader questions:
I tried to format page numbers with my name/book title/page number at the top right. Each time the page number got bumped to the line below my name/book title. And then the title page ended up with a 0 on it, not what I wanted at all.
How to fix page numbers moving down to a separate line
Let’s deal with the first question about why the page number got bumped. I think it has to do with a tab setting. Click into your header. If you see a tab setting right there in the center, grab it and slide it off to your left (or right depending on where you’re putting your page numbers). You should then have the space across the entire header. My guess is that your name/book title/page number is quite long. It was going past that tab, and thus bumping the page number to the next line. If that doesn’t answer your question about that, let me know.
How to remove a page number from the title page
Now let’s deal with the title page having a 0 on it. If your document has a title page, you don’t want a number on it at all, and page number 1 should actually be your second page. So we want to do something different with the first page. This gets a little complex, so bear with me.
(1) First, you’re going to need to make a section break (not just a page break) between the title page and the first page of your manuscript. If you already have a page break there, remove it so that your copy runs right below your title.
See below that I have run chapter 1 into my title page. Now I need to separate the title page from my chapter 1 with a different kind of break. With my cursor set right before the word “Chapter,” I then click on the Layout tab, then Breaks. Under Section Breaks, click Next Page.
My title page is now on its own page with Chapter 1 starting on a new page. But the header is still appearing on my title page along with the page number 1, so here’s what to do:
(2) Now make sure you click with your cursor into the header section on the title page (or footer if that’s where your page numbers are). Then click on the Design tab and put a click in the box labeled Different First Page. (Note that Show Document Text is already clicked; leave it as is.)
The header on your first page will disappear, but page 2 still says page 2. Let’s fix that so it will be page 1.
(3) Click with your cursor into the header area on page 2. Then go to the Insert tab, back over to Page Numbers, then click Format Page Numbers. It will give you another dialog box.
In the Page Number Format dialog box, you’ll see a section called Page numbering, and then a bullet that says Start at. Click that bullet and put a number 1 in the box, then say okay.
The header on page 2 should now read page 1, and there should be no longer a header on your title page.
Your document may have a lot more complexity, and this is simply a way to set page numbers and separate out a title page.
As always, let me know if you have questions and I’ll research the answers. More to come!
But there comes a time when all writers have to understand that those carefully wrought words need to show up in a well-formatted manuscript, set to industry standards. And this is where things can become very frustrating.
So I’m here to show you how, along with a little help from other editor friends. I’m going to begin a series of posts to help you deal with some of those technical parts of prepping your manuscript–one step at a time.
Longtime author and editor Andy Scheer (andyscheer.com) one day posted on Facebook how thrilled he was to receive a correctly formatted manuscript. I dropped him a note to ask, from his perspective, what constituted a manuscript that is “formatted correctly.” Here’s the list he sent me. The manuscript should be:
Manuscript is .doc or .docx
12-pt Times New Roman
No extra space between paragraphs
Paragraphs indented—but NOT with tabs or spacing
No double spaces between sentences
Page headers with page numbers
Page break between chapters
Front matter completed (title page, copyright page, table of contents if needed)
Copyright page includes copyright info for all Bible versions quoted, especially the default Bible translation
In coming weeks, I’m going to walk through each of these bullet points individually. I’ll help out with the basics and offer some technical tips, screen shots, and more. BUT FIRST, we can deal with several of those issues by creating a template that you use as your base for every piece of writing you plan to submit. So let’s start there. (Note that the following uses a PC; if you have a Mac, stay tuned. I’ll work to get the information you need as we go.)
How to Build Your Template
Having a template that has all of the settings you need already embedded will be a huge help to you. (Just FYI that this is technically simply a blank Word document, but it will have embedded in it all of the settings you need to create a perfectly formatted document and save you trying to redo it every time.)
The following the instructions will walk you through the steps in Microsoft Word. Doing that, you will create a template that will give you the first 6 bullets above: the .doc or .docx extension, 12-pt Times New Roman, double-spaced copy with no extra space between paragraphs, no extra space between paragraphs, 1-inch margins, and indents not with tabs or all those spaces.
(1) Open a new blank Word document. (2) It most likely defaults to one-inch margins, but to check, click on the “Layout” button to give you that ribbon. On the far left is a button called “Margins.” Click it. You should see a “Normal” setting that defaults to all one-inch margins. If that is not clicked, click it.
(3) Now go back to the Home tab to give you that ribbon. Above the “Styles,” box, you’ll see a series of styles that are common to this document. You’ll probably see Normal and some various heading styles. Most everything you type will default to the style called “Normal,” so let’s make sure that “Normal” is the normal that we want for our template. Click on the little down arrow at the bottom right of the Styles box that will drop down a menu of styles (your menu may look different from mine, but you should be able to find Normal).
Locate Normal, click on the down arrow to its right, then click Modify.
This will open a dialog box with lots of options. (4) About halfway down on the left, you’ll see “Formatting.” Make sure that the first box says Times New Roman and the second box says 12. If they don’t, click on the dropdown arrow and choose those options.
(5) Next, below that, you’ll see buttons with lines in them. The first set on the left is giving you the options to have your copy flush left and ragged right, centered, flush right, or justified (straight on both sides). You want to choose the first button for flush left and ragged right. (6) The next three buttons show lines really close (single spacing), sort of close (1.5 spacing), and far apart (double spacing). You want to click on the third button for double spacing.
Wait, you’re not done yet! Let’s deal with the other issues:
(7) In that same box, bottom left is a button that says “Format.” Push it, and then click on “Paragraph.” Yet another dialog box pops up!
(8) In this box, halfway down on the right side, you’ll see the word “Special.” In the box should be the words “First line.” If not (it probably says “None”), click on the dropdown arrow and choose “First line.” In the box beside that, you can set how far the indent should be. It’s probably best to put .5 there. This will automatically indent your new paragraphs so you don’t have to add a tab each time. (9) Keep going, there are a few more boxes on the left below that under “Spacing” with “Before” and “After” choices. Make sure that those read 0. (The default often has 10 in the After slot, which is creating extra space between the paragraphs. You want it to say 0—so change it. And don’t use “Auto.”) (10) Since you already set this to double spacing on the previous menu, you should see the word “Double” under “Line Spacing.” (11) Now click OK. This will take you back to that previous dialog box. Do one more thing here to seal the deal and help you not have to do this again:
(12) At the very bottom, right above that format button, are a couple of choices. Put a dot in the circle that says “New documents based on this template.” Now click OK. (13) This will take you back to your blank document. Now do a “Save As” and save this document as your own personal template for doing all of your writing. Calling it “Mytemplate” should work. Store it on your desktop and you’ll always have a template ready to go when inspiration strikes. So now you have:
Manuscript is .doc or .docx
12-pt Times New Roman
No extra space between paragraphs
Paragraphs indented—but NOT with tabs or spacing
Every time you start a new book or a new story, open this template, do another “Save As” to save that piece of writing with whatever title you want to give it. That way you’ll always preserve the settings you created in your template and won’t have to redo them every time for every piece of writing.
We’ll continue our tech-y talks in coming weeks to help make sure you’re submitting your documents the way the publishers want them.
If you have some other tech-y questions, write them below and I’ll see what I can help you with in future posts.
I’m guessing that the Bible is probably one of the world’s most misunderstood books. It’s also one of the most owned but unread books. How many people sitting in the pews of our churches, or claiming the Christian faith, or attending Christian universities have read through the entire Bible, let alone taken time to truly study it? How many read it daily as the source of guidance and inspiration it is? How many truly see it as God’s words spoken to us?
Too many in our “enlightened” world look upon this ancient book as nothing more than that — an ancient book for a time and a place long before we all came along and now know better how to live our lives (*sarcasm*).
This book — this singular book — holds the key to a life well lived and a secure eternity (as I noted in this post). Yet so many sit idly on bookshelves gathering dust as we spend our hours scrolling through the latest Facebook argument or watching movies on our phones. Yet life’s answers are nowhere else. Indeed, media and social media most often leave us empty and confused, even angry. Maybe a warm-hearted video of baby elephants will lighten the mood momentarily, but it will not bring answers to the dilemmas of life.
The Bible can and will. But it must be read, read carefully, studied and understood with guidance from Christian scholars who also believe in its truth (and not merely the latest blogger with the biggest fan base), and then respected as sacred Scripture — God’s Word speaking to the individual through the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s love letter to the human race.
Yes, perhaps that all sounds a little mystical, and in actuality, it is. It’s spiritual power, beyond our comprehension, something we can’t rein in and explain. It’s faith.
The Bible is losing ground in many places (see Barna research from 2013), being seen as nothing more than a book written by men and having no bearing on life today.
Other bloggers tell me that to see God’s Word as speaking to me is nothing more than “Western narcissism.”
It’s not narcissistic for me to daily go to God’s Word in prayer and seek what He’s saying to me. It’s what He wants me to do. The Word of God, written by people and compiled by people was not a people-driven enterprise. If I truly believe in the all-powerful God, then I also believe that Scripture came together exactly as He planned and that it is still “living and active” in our world and in my world. (And wow, is this becoming an increasingly unpopular opinion!)
It is a complex book with a simple message: God’s great love for us all. When we can grasp that unfathomable kind of love, when we have faith that is “the substance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen,” when we get out of our own way, when we come with faith as children, we discover Truth with a capital T that helps us begin to make sense of a complex world.
God speaks, and He speaks through His Word given to us. We would do well to blow any dust off that sacred book and dig in.
I did that several months ago. I had managed to let my own Bible gather dust or go missing from Sunday to Sunday (there’s something very convicting about not being able to locate your Bible before church on a Sunday morning). Now, I’m back in. Reading a little a day. Whether I’m in a glorious psalm or the depths of Leviticus, I’m sitting with God and His sacred love story to me.
It helps me refocus, regain my perspective, and rest in Him. No matter what happens in my world, I am called to bring His love and peace and joy to every situation. I am called to be His hands and feet. I am called on this particular pilgrim’s path, called to do what I’m specifically made for.
And so are you, fellow pilgrim.
That journey of simple steps, of daily service to Him, adds up to a life that will glorify Him and only Him.
I simply want to one day hear Him say, “Well done.”
It’s a brand new school year and a brand new way of thinking and teaching. If I thought that going completely online with my classes last March was a challenge, I’m now trying to teach in masks. Below are pics of me trying these various masks and the pros and cons of each.
I’m only a few days in and already trying to determine what’s going to work for me. I started with the standard mask that I’ve been wearing into stores since March.
I purchased some nicer, heavier-duty masks that I thought would be healthier by maybe screening out those germy germs better …
Received this cute one with cats on it from my sister. (Does anyone else find it odd that these masks are now fashion statements?)
Received this one from our department chair who felt it would be especially appropriate for me.
Got hold of this one because … well … school spirit.
But still, the issue became that I really like to smile at my students. It’s bad enough that I’m looking at masks and eyes and receiving very little feedback visually. It seems worse that they can’t get any kind of visual feedback from me. So I have now opted for this:
So, why choose the one mask with the most cons? Well, I feel like the ability to offer some kind of visual feedback to my students is very important — hair, spit, echoes, itchy nose, and all.
Around campus, I’ve seen masks of various materials, colors, and styles. We are indeed making these into statements to try to reflect a bit about ourselves, even … ahem … behind the mask.
What about you? How are you dealing with the masking situation and what are you doing to make your masks reflect you?
I truly tried. I had a list. I had a schedule. I had good intentions. I was going to GET STUFF DONE.
Write some articles. Work with writing prompts. Submit. Start a more vigorous exercise program. Learn InDesign and Google Analytics. Write some letters.
Instead, you know what I did? Not that.
I rested. I slept. I read books. I spent more time in God’s Word. My husband and I spent many hours deciding on paint colors for our three rebuilt rooms. I cheered him on as he painted all those rooms (I offered to help, but he knows my shoulder problems would only be made worse). We brought some furniture to replace what was destroyed in the fire. We bought a dining room set at a garage sale. We planted and maintained our gardens.
But, honestly, I feel like I accomplished nothing.
I frustrate myself so often. What is it that makes me create lists and check off the little tasks (buy coffee) but let the bigger ideas, the longer-term items (finish that creative nonfiction article) go from week to week in my schedule book, carried over as if I can do so indefinitely?
What makes those writing tasks so hard for me?
Some if it is rejection. Some of it is imposter-syndrome. Some of it is being just plain tired. I could blame the pandemic and all of the stress of online teaching this past spring. I could blame the pandemic for lack of personal contact with many of the people I love most. I could blame the worries over the many issues bombarding our world today and how my brain is tired trying to navigate them. I could blame our house rebuild that has dragged on because of scheduling issues with various contractors. I could blame my age.
OR I could just let it go and say it’s okay. I did what I did and it was all good. Time with books and in God’s Word and resting were probably what I most needed considering everything else going on in my life and in our world.
Yeah, I think I’ll go with that.
I’m a Type A personality who always feels the need to “be accomplishing something.” Everything I do needs to be something I can check off a list or post on Goodreads or have something to show for it. My writing so often doesn’t. It sits on my computer because no one else should ever see it. Or I took the chance to send it out and get rejected.
Maybe I need to add “take a nap” and “get a rejection letter” and “write X number of terrible pages” to my daily to-do list.
That’s actually not a bad idea. I could at least trick my brain into thinking I’m accomplishing something. I already know that rejections and terrible pages are the stuff of good writing (well, probably naps as well).
It’s been since March, the 18th to be exact, when our classrooms went dark, when tearful goodbyes were said (especially by seniors), when all of the faculty at Taylor University looked around at first with a sense of odd horror. Spring break had begun three days early, and that gave us about 12 days to pivot and move all our classes to an online format.
Since I live a half hour from campus and have good internet, I decided to teach from home. So I vacated as well, packing up files and books and planners. We still live in half a house, so I spent a day of spring break clearing out boxes that were stored on our upstairs landing and creating a desk space for myself. Getting physically organized helped me get emotionally and mentally organized.
I have to say, by the time I posted final grades on May 26, I was exhausted. And I know I’m not alone. I know my fellow faculty and students were exhausted as well.
To all of you out there — students, parents, teachers — I salute you. This was weird, but we did it the best we could. I know it wasn’t easy; it was downright difficult.
Here are 6 things I learned about myself during this time:
1. I really do enjoy the classroom and interaction with my students — and this is a God-thing.
Ask me 15 years ago about where I’d be today, I never never never would have put myself at the front of a classroom talking for a career. I’m an introvert. I don’t talk in groups. I don’t like having attention on me. Yet here I am. God can work in mysterious ways.
2. Despite my insecurity, I can do tough things with lots of support and lots of prayer.
Even though I’ve taught online classes before, this was obviously a new challenge. Syllabi had already been carefully prepared, group projects planned, assignments set. The challenge was repurposing the rest of the semester to make sense to my students while still allowing for the learning outcomes I hoped to achieve. I started with the hoped-for outcomes and worked backward — determining how to revise assignments, changing group projects to individual ones, making the needed teaching videos, and creating benchmarks of smaller pieces to keep everyone on track in the larger assignments. Taylor worked hard to support us in every possible way, and this was an encouragement. Oh, and I prayed … a lot.
3. Sometimes difficulty forces improvement.
A few times my class adjustments showed me improvements that I want to carry into my regular classes. That’s a good thing.
4. I’m not very tech savvy, so I opted for K.I.S.S. and that was okay.
“Keep it simple, stupid” was my mantra. So many of my fellow faculty had great ideas and apps and programs they shared in our private Facebook group. After feeling overwhelmed and techno-phobic, I realized I just needed to do what I felt comfortable doing. I did have our Blackboard specialist help me learn how to record videos and share my screen so I could do some lectures. Zoom worked great, but I used it mostly for one-on-one advising appointments. The simpler, the better, which gave me a lot less stress. But at the same time …
5. I need to invest time in training to use the tools at my disposal.
Our university uses Blackboard and it’s a pretty powerful program, but I realized this spring that I’ve only scratched the surface. I struggled with grading columns and discussion boards. I’m sure I can make use of other features if I know about them. I intend to get some training this fall.
6. Nothing beats clear organization and expectations.
My students appreciated my daily checklists of assignments. Laying out each day’s work and clearly listing due dates in red helped them keep up (and, seriously, it helped me just as much). Adjusting expectations helped as well — some students had difficulty with internet reliability or broadband strength (especially if siblings were also doing school and/or parents were working); others struggled with a variety of home situations. As crazy as college life can be, there’s a schedule to everything that helps keep life on track. Judging by the fact that my students were turning in work on time (mostly) and seemed to understand what I wanted from them means I maybe did something right!
Yes, it’s over, but who’s to say when something unexpected will hit us again? I hope I learned a few things to make the next transition easier.
Whatever you’ve been doing these last couple months, what have you learned about yourself?
Last week’s post about surviving as a virtual college student offered some basic info for many students heading home to finish their semester. I (and all my colleagues at Taylor University and teachers pretty much everywhere) have been trying to comfort students and rework courses so we can deliver the desired learning outcomes in an online format.
Then I came across a post on Facebook by Lori Heinrichs Cahill. I don’t yet know the source of this material (indeed it may be her), but it’s so helpful that I want to repost much of it. If this is coming from another source, as soon as I know if there is an origin beyond Ms. Cahill, I will happily add that source here.
And, also happily, there are … wait for it … 6 tips! The advice here is really only going to be workable if (1) your student does what I’ve suggested in the previous blog about creating a schedule and being in the school mindset, and if (2) parents and their student(s) figure this out together. Start the communication now and figure this out together now. Trust me. There will be a whole lot less stress later if you lay the groundwork now and then adjust along the way over the coming weeks.
So here you go with credit to the original author (and additional comments from me in purple):
A message from a faculty member to parents of students now doing college from home:
Many of us are navigating new terrain beginning this week, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts as we move forward.
1. Your student is not home for break, and don’t treat it as such.
Your student is still carrying a full course load and class schedule. They may have a class scheduled during your normal family dinnertime. They are not going to be able to supervise younger siblings all day. They may not be available to drop off groceries for Grandma. That’s not to say they shouldn’t help with things around the house. . . . But make sure that you are making requests when they are truly available and respect their schedule.
[Author’s note: While some teachers will be allowing students to do their own work at their own pace (hence, the need for them to create a schedule that forces them to do the credit-hours-worth of work each week), some teachers will be creating a few classes that will require students to log in at the same time for a virtual class. It is going to be vital that your student be able to do this–both in terms of schedule and in terms of capability. Many Internet services are offering help during this time of great need. Check with your provider.]
2. Realize that they are under A LOT of stress.
We are entering the most stressful time of the semester with final projects, papers, and course material that is at its peak difficulty. We are asking them to navigate new online systems that they may not have used before. On top of that they have been displaced from their normal routine, their social interactions, their campus resources, etc. Many of them (especially seniors) are grieving the loss of anticipated spring performances, sporting events, and campus activities that they have been working toward all semester/year. Some of them have lost the opportunity to say goodbye to their senior friends.
3. Make sure they have the resources they need to be successful.
To the best of your ability, make sure they have a place to work where the rest of the family knows to leave them alone. Do they have the computer/Internet connection they need to do their work? Have they retrieved all of the necessary textbooks, notes, etc. from their dorm room? If that’s not feasible, have them check with their professor about online access to the text. Many publishers are providing free Ebook access during the pandemic.
4. Remember, they are not in high school anymore.
They do not need you to remind them when they have assignments due, and you don’t need to tell them when they should start studying for the next exam or writing that paper that is due tonight. They are adults and fully capable of managing their workload.
[Author’s note: But as is mentioned above, they are indeed grieving, feeling confused, and worried. We’ve been through a lot in our lives (our grandparents remember rationing during WWII, our parents remember the draft during the Vietnam War, we remember 9/11). Our kids don’t have a way to process this since they’ve never experienced anything like this. They might need a little bit of encouragement. You know your young person. Help out as needed and be available, but don’t be a helicopter parent.]
5. Just a warning, college students have really weird working and sleep schedules.
It is not uncommon for them to schedule a meeting with team members at 9 or 10 pm, and prime study time for most is after dark. Just let them do what works for them and remind them to shut the lights off when they finally do go to sleep.
[Author’s note: They may still be working on group projects that will require them to work together on some form of group communication platform (if your broadband can handle it). This may mean some late nights. Let them do what they need to do when they need to do it.]
6. Discourage them from getting together with local college and old high school friends.
. . . Reassure them that in a few weeks, when the coronavirus cases start to decline, they will be able to go out and do things with friends. For now, stay home as much as possible. And (I never thought I’d say this) encourage social interaction through the phone that’s always attached to their hands for the immediate future.
Most of all, enjoy having your kids back under your roof for a while.
P.S. Remind them to be kind to their professors. Most of us have had a week or less to completely revise our classes, assignments, and assessments to an online platform. We are using technology that we have never used or never used in this way. Many of us also have children home from college, school, or daycare — or elderly parents that we are concerned about. We will do our absolute best to provide your students with the quality education they deserve, but we will make some mistakes and some things we try are going to fall flat. Be patient, we’ll get through it together.
[Author’s note: Amen and amen.]
I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing to help make this transition work for your college student?
With the current closing and moving to online classes of many schools and universities (including mine), I’ve realized the challenge that many of my students will be facing and want to offer some pieces of advice.
(1) Remember that you’re still “in school”
As you head away from campus — whether you’re going home or elsewhere or staying on campus due to other travel restrictions — your mind will shift into “break” mode. It will take some mental gymnastics to force yourself to realize that isn’t the case. Just because you’re changing your venue doesn’t mean you’re not in school anymore.
It’s a location shift, not a vocation shift.
And since for our school, spring break begins early, and then we’re back to virtual school, then a couple days off for Easter break, and then potentially still online (if things don’t change in the next two weeks), everyone will need to mentally shift at least twice.
Tell yourself that as soon as the next “in school” date rolls around: I am not on break! Then tell yourself again after the next break when school is again on your own. I am not on break!
(2) Make sure you pack everything you need
At my school, the students are packing up to leave on Tuesday; I realize many of you at other schools are already gone from your campus. If you’re still in packing mode, remember that this time, you need to take all class materials. Spend a few moments at your desk thinking about what you normally carry to class each day and the materials you’ve been collecting all semester —
folder with handouts
Do this for each class and pack these up to take with you.
(3) Create a schedule
It’s not going to be easy to maintain a study schedule when you don’t have to arrive at classes at certain times. Depending on how your prof sets up the online learning class, you may be on your own. If you’re required to log in at certain times, set your phone alarm to remind you. In any case, for all your classes, create a schedule and stick to it.
For your 3-credit classes, you’re in class for 3 hours a week and you have homework for at least that many hours.
Create a weekly schedule — if it helps, plan to work during the same time that you would be in class anyway. For your 9:00 class, set aside Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 9:00 and sit down to work on your class assignments.
If that doesn’t work or if you need to work around your family’s schedule to find quiet study time, do so, but find those needed hours somewhere.
Remember that you usually sat in class at that time and then did homework, so set aside another couple of hours during your week (at least) to work on those class assignments.
Give your family that schedule so they’ll understand your need to not be interrupted (see point #4).
(4) Find a quiet spot to work & limit distractions
Again, this is the concept of not being in “break” mode. Make your family aware that siblings can’t be interrupting nonstop; you’re trying to simulate school because you need to keep up with homework. (You may run into the same problem with interruptions at school, so whatever you do there should work at home.)
Wherever your work spot is (and it may well be the kitchen table!), you’ll need to be especially focused. Younger siblings may be home as well with their own school closings. You’re going to be tempted to do what you normally do on break, so it’s going to take focus and discipline to keep up with your classes (see points #1 and #2).
(5) Work ahead & beyond
Realize how many hours you spend on campus going to and from class, goofing off in the dorms, spending time at meals. All of that time is now yours. Don’t waste it. Now is the time to make headway on that end-of-the-year project, do some extra reading or practicing, or get a handle on that one concept that you’ve been struggling with all semester.
Use the online resources your university library offers. If you’ve not been in the habit of online research (beyond Google), now is the time to experience what your school library has to offer through their online portal.
(6) Keep calm
Don’t let this semester get away from you or fall apart because you’re not planning well during this enforced online learning time. This is all part of the adulting you’ll soon be doing. Life often throws curve balls, and you’ll need to adjust and keep moving.
Stay calm. Be organized. Take advantage of the opportunities these coming weeks may offer in terms of revised schedules, time with family, or extra time to do the things you already love.
Sitting here typing away on my laptop has become second nature. There are moments, however, when I fondly recall my old Smith-Corona typewriter. What a treat it was to carry it to college in its snazzy case — my first electric typewriter. Toggle the on button, listen for the whir, insert bright white paper, roll down to an inch from the top margin. And type.
The force needed to push the keys on my old manual typewriter gave way to easier tapping. But alas, errors had to be either carefully erased with a clean eraser or whited out with the ever-present bottle of appropriately named Wite-Out or with Liquid Paper. (Fun fact: Did you know Liquid Paper was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, mother of Mike Nesmith — member of 1960s band The Monkees?) I loved to use “onion-skin” paper because it was so much easier to erase — the surface just didn’t hold the ink as well. Teachers hated it because it also made the papers extremely difficult to read. (As a college prof now always reading printed papers, I publicly apologize to all my own college profs who suffered through such papers from me!)
Ribbons would run out and need to be replaced, causing your paper to appear in two tones. Not paying attention could cause you to type for several words with nothing appearing on the page. Not paying attention might also cause you to type right off the bottom of the sheet of paper, which meant either retyping the page or slathering Wite-Out across the entire bottom of the sheet of paper and blowing on it until it would (eventually) dry. Same thing with making sure you heard the ding at the right margin and reached up to push the carriage back to start the next line.
Some days, when I’m writing and backspacing with ease on my laptop (no clumsy erasers or Wite-Out bottles in sight), when I’m moving paragraphs around and changing my mind only to move them somewhere else, I think how different my college papers would have been with this amazing machine instead of my clunky Smith-Corona. Would I have done a final revision, knowing I should move a new paragraph to the beginning but also knowing that would mean retyping the entire paper? I’m sure, too often, the pages were just left as they were because it would have been far too much trouble and too time-consuming to retype.
Which also gives me awe for the likes of Hemingway and, indeed, those classic writers, who worked by hand and on manual typewriters. Hemingway once told The Paris Review that he rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times. Whether he did this on a notepad or on a trusty typewriter, I honestly am amazed at picturing him yanking the paper out of the typewriter, scrolling in a new piece, taking a drag on a cigarette, and trying again and again and again until he was satisfied.
All of this makes me happy to report that typewriters are apparently making a comeback. Young people have always had screens and easy-to-push keys. I wonder if they are finding some kind of tangible joy in the feel of a typewriter and getting one that “fits” them individually — has the right angles, the right tension, even the right lines and color.
I have a couple of old typewriters that merely decorate my office, although my 11-year-old grandson is fascinated and attempts to type against the ancient ribbon each time he visits.
Now I’m thinking I need to clean it up, try to find a usable ribbon, and work my hand and wrist muscles a bit.
Nah. Writing is hard enough. But I still admire Hemingway.
Those of you readers who typed on typewriters, what do you miss (or not)?
Back in June of 2015, I wrote a post about how excited I was to teach a class in our Professional Writing major called The Writer’s Craft. As it turns out, I’m teaching the same class again this spring semester, five years later. I have enjoyed recasting this class with some new writing to explore, new pedagogies to try, and five more years of teaching confidence under my belt.
As I noted in the earlier post, this class does not look at the why of a piece of writing. Instead, we focus on the mechanics, the how, the craft. What words does the writer use? How are those words making this piece sing? What about sentence structure? Paragraphing? How is this dialogue telling us the story without telling us the story? We’re still using some tried and true greats (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck), but I’ve added a few titles still classic but not as old (Tim O’Brien, E. B. White, John Updike, Flannery O’ Connor), along with diversity (Joy Harjo, Jame McBride, and a few names I’m still researching), plus some YA and fantasy genre pieces (also still researching).
Seriously, the class is planned, but in the short time frame between closing out J-term capstone class and beginning the spring semester (3 days), I found myself with a few TBDs on the reading schedule that I’ll fill in as we go along.
The essence of the class is what Prose calls “close reading.” Usually when we read for pleasure, we skim along, anxious to discover who falls in love, or whodunit, or how to solve that problem the book promises to solve.
With close reading, however, we linger over the words. The students receive printed copies of the pieces they’ll be “close reading” so they can write all over them — commenting, highlighting, underlining, circling. This kind of reading helps us to read, as Prose says,
. . . more analytically, conscious of style, of diction, of how sentences were formed and information was being conveyed, how the writer was structuring a plot, creating characters, employing detail and dialogue. . . . I discovered that writing, like reading, was done one word at a time, one punctuation mark at a time. It required what a friend calls ‘putting very word on trial for its life.’
As writers, our currency is the words we string together. We write our first drafts and then go back and revise, putting every word on trial, forcing it to explain why it should stay, removing or replacing it if the case isn’t made — if the lyricism or characterization or structure or foreshadowing requires something else.
As we read these masterful writers, we stand in awe at how they make look so simple a scene that we know required dozens of small perfect choices.
And even as I continue to journal Scripture, close reading is causing me to slow down on familiar passages and read them more carefully, seeing them anew.
In our busy culture with quick social media posts and constant bombardment of words, it’s almost a relief to be forced to slow down and delight in the world an author so carefully crafted for us.
Try a little close reading. It’ll do you good.
What’s your favorite book that has delighted and astounded you with its writing?
The Bible is a funny book. Imagine if publishers today were trying to consider various books of the Bible on their own terms and whether or not to publish them:
Gospel of John: “Really too much like three other books already on the market. And a bit too esoteric compared to the biographical and chronological approaches of the others.”
Hosea: “While we like the titillating back story of the wife turned prostitute, the author simply doesn’t finish the plot arc and tie up her story. And the female character’s name is ‘Gomer.’ We can’t take that seriously.”
Revelation: “The style of writing in this book fits well into our spec fic line, but the author is insistent that this is not fiction. We feel that he has spent way too much time alone on that island and thus takes his writing too seriously. Could publish if he’s willing to put it in our fiction line.”
Speaking of the book of Revelation:
I am enjoying my experiment with the Scripture engagement plan of journaling Scripture, as I described in my last post. I used the Christmas story in Luke 2, and then moved on the Matthew 1 to read about Joseph and the magi and Herod (who subsequently sent soldiers to kill the little ones in Bethlehem–a horror story if there ever was one).
I’m going to spend the next couple of days in Revelation 12, which tells the same story. The woman (nation) giving birth to the male child (Messiah), the dragon (Satan) waiting to destroy the male child (as Satan used Herod), chasing the child and the nation attempting to destroy both (all of history bears this out).
Fascinating. I wonder what God has for me as I journal these passages . . .
But then, what’s next? I’m still stuck with the same problem of “what to read now.” And I’ve been-there-done-that with the through-the-Bible-in-a-year plans. But now I’ve found something new. Again at Bible Gateway, you can choose any of several reading plans. This time, I want to do a Bible reading plan that takes me through the Bible chronologically.
I signed up for a free account at Bible Gateway so I can have the daily reading delivered to my email box. The “what to read” question is answered with the added highlight of studying God’s Word in a different way. I can spend time journaling through these passages. I’m excited to pair my Cultural Backgrounds Bible with reading Scripture chronologically.
And as I read, I can check off my reading and the program will keep up with me. Perhaps I want to take a couple of days on a passage. Perhaps I miss some days (and I will). All is not lost . . . I can just pick it up the next time and finish when I finish. Start when I want (as in now) and finish when I want (as in, whenever–maybe a year, probably not).
So what about you? With the new year approaching, many of us have plans to “be more consistent” or “try to do better.” What will you be doing to stay in God’s Word (and stay in love with God’s Word)?
And while you’re at it, what might be a current publisher response to a book of the Bible?
I have a strange problem. As much as I love God’s Word and as important as I know it is for me in my daily life (and as much as I talk and write about that), I have struggled with my daily quiet time with God.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been deep in the Bible for almost thirty years, daily editing notes or articles or devotionals for various types of study and devotional Bibles. I have read it in its entirety over and over and over. So when I want to have a quiet time, I don’t know where to start without feeling like I’m on the clock and editing. When I try various devotional books thinking I’ll get some new insights, I’m frankly bored by them.
Maybe you’ve been a Christian for a long time. Maybe you, like me, are trying to find a way to come to Scripture with fresh eyes and open heart without feeling the same-old same-old that too often blinds us.
Then I have a treat for you, something I just discovered that I want to share.
It’s called “Scripture Engagement,” and it’s over at the BibleGateway website in a section created by the Christian Educational Ministries faculty and students at Taylor University.
As I learned more about these many types of Scripture engagement, I discovered some new ways to “engage” with God’s Word. The link for Scripture Engagement gives an overview of 14 types of Scripture engagement techniques, and then sublinks guide you to various helps and videos that show you how to incorporate that new kind of Scripture engagement into your own quiet time. Many of them are good for individual study; some will work with group study.
I am starting with the Scripture engagement practice of “Journaling Scripture.” I watched the accompanying video, taking notes in my new notebook where I want to capture my thoughts as I experiment with these various types of engagement. I read all the tips and helps; I wrote down the questions and thoughts where I should focus. Basically, Journaling Scripture means to read a passage and begin by asking God, “What do you have for me today?” Then write:
verses that stand out
questions that arise
truths to hold onto
personal action steps
praises, prayers, confession
It’s a time to listen to God speak to me through His Word and a time for me to write what I sense God is saying to me.
I’m a student at heart, and so I really want to study the passage for a bit more depth. So when I read the passage for the day, I also read the study notes in both my Life Application Study Bible and my brand-new Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Reading these helps me keep that “wow” factor alive as I learn something new or relearn something I forgot. Then I begin the process of journaling, sitting quietly, and seeking God. As the pages in my journal slowly fill with my handwritten thoughts, I get a sense of God and I engaging together.
To get into the Christmas spirit in our decidedly un-Christmasy situation, I read Luke 2 and Matthew 1. I studied about Bethlehem (where Rachel is buried, Gen. 35:19; the story in the book of Ruth takes place; David was anointed, 1 Sam. 16; Micah prophesied as Jesus’ birthplace, Micah 5:2). I read the notes. I thought about Mary and Joseph basically putting their reputations on the line for their entire lives by their willingness to obey God’s call. I imagined the long trip to Bethlehem. I asked God,
“Why do you seem to do everything the hard way?”
“Why does obedience so often lead to difficulty?”
And those questions led me to much introspection about God’s working in my own life. Several pages’ worth, actually.
I encourage you to try Journaling as a method of Scripture engagement. And stay with me as I experiment with this and a few others in the weeks to come.
Like me, you might find a brand new way to listen to God.
From the fire at the end of August to our now sadly undecorated and still unfinished restoration that will not happen before Christmas (we’re living in two rooms and a kitchen), life has managed to be an adventure.
October found my husband and me visiting Washington D.C. Highlights included the Library of Congress, seeing the Gutenburg Bible, all the wonderful monuments, and meeting up with several dear high school friends I haven’t seen in over 40 years.
But the main reason for visiting was to attend a celebration at the Museum of the Bible honoring the release of the third edition of the Life Application Study Bible. (Read more about the event here.)
Thirty years ago, this group (pictured above) worked together on what would become the bestselling study Bible of all time (I discussed the process here.) We didn’t know then that God would use our prayerful labors to sell 20 million copies so far of the Life Application Study Bible. I am humbled to have worked with this group and appreciate the honors we received on the evening of October 16 as the pioneers on the project, now also celebrating those who completed work on the third edition of this Bible that has been updated for a new generation. We so enjoyed hearing from special speakers Ed Stetzer (director of the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton) and Dr. Barry Black (chaplain of the US Senate). It was a wonderful evening of celebration of the power of God’s Word.
Finally, in November, Tom and I drove to Nashville to attend the meeting of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. I recently became a member of this group, knowing that in my teaching about publishing, I need to stay on the cutting edge of the industry. Was fun to see a former student, Amy Green, publicist at Bethany House, who helped to plan the Christy awards celebration.
Now I’m prepping for final exams and papers and decidedly NOT decorating for Christmas. But we’ll get in the spirit. I’m looking forward to sharing how I’m working on that. Stay tuned!
How was fall for you? What are you doing to get into the holiday spirit?
When the complete Life Application Study Bible in The Living Bible paraphrase came out around 1988 (as I discussed last week in this post), I worked on other Bible versions of the LASB by revising every ancillary feature to match that version. We began in The Living Bible, then did the King James Version, the New King James Version, Revised Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version, New International Version, New American Standard, and Holman Christian Standard.
Seven years, approximately a translation a year. The life application concept was such a massive success and such a new approach to a study Bible that suddenly every publisher wanted it. (In the world of Bible publishing, there are public domain texts, such as some versions of the King James Version, and then pretty much every heavy-hitting Bible publisher owns its own—pays to have it created or purchases one. That way, they can create various kinds of study and devotional Bibles without having to pay royalties to another publisher.) Those publishers wanted to be able to sell the LASB in their own translation.
What that meant was that someone needed to go through all of the ancillary material and make it match the wording of the new Bible version text. During those seven years, I would receive the default original version of all of the Bible notes (thousands of them) and features (map copy, chart copy, people profile notes, book introductions) and a Bible (not electronic, just a book) with the new version. The base files of all that material came to me on 5-1/4-inch floppy disks. I would insert the disk in my computer, open Genesis and begin to work. Wherever we quoted Scripture, I had to look it up and make it match the new version. At times, place names or people names would be treated differently: Is that son of Saul named Ishbosheth or Ish-bosheth or Ish-Bosheth or Ish Bosheth (it’s actually all of them, depending on which Bible version).
Eventually I learned to watch for key words that might be different (NIV says the Israelites wandered in the “desert”; most other versions say “wilderness”). Some versions have John the Baptist’s mother spelled with a z “Elizabeth,” some with an s “Elisabeth”; some have his father as Zechariah and some as Zacharias. In some, Esther is married to King Ahasuerus; in others, King Xerxes. This is not an issue of error; it’s an issue of translation and sources and Greek and Hebrew—and I suppose, whatever the translation committee eventually agreed upon. And then, of course, some versions include upper-case deity pronouns (such as the NKJV) and some do not. For those that did, every single reference to God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit as a he or a him or a himself or a his had to be tracked down and fixed with a capital H.
I went through the Bible several times over the course of those seven years. A couple of years later, Tyndale House set aside their popular but often-questioned Living Bible paraphrase for an actual translation done by teams of scholars. This became the New Living Translation, and, of course, Tyndale wanted their signature study Bible to be available in this new Bible text. And who do you think they contacted for that work?
Well, it was me. What a privilege it has been to read and reread Scripture and these notes across all these years.
I’m in love with this book. Reading start to finish over and over has given me appreciation for the big picture of God’s salvation from creation to the promise of His return in the future.
It’s all about my heart’s desire to help others to fall in love with God’s Word. Because when we do that, we’ll read it and we’ll begin to understand God’s great plan for us all.
I have been privileged to be involved in some amazing publishing projects over the course of my thirty-plus years in the industry. But for sure one of my favorites and most life-impacting was in the early 1980s: a partnership between Tyndale House Publishers and Youth for Christ (where I worked) to create a brand-new kind of study Bible.
What became The Life Application Study Bible involved thousands of hours and dozens of people and lots of meetings and lots of writing. Our purpose was to go beyond what most study Bibles of the day were doing, which was to offer a lot of information but little insight, a lot of esoteric and theological thinking but no real-world application. We wanted to create a Bible that gave information and insight but then also took the person from that to the “so what?” question. We wanted to help Bible readers understand what various verses and passages meant for their lives.
The partnership with Tyndale was marrying Ken Taylor’s Living Bible text (which had made such a difference in my life, as I noted in a previous post) with our vision for Bible notes (which would do the same thing). We wanted to focus on application. If some etymology or philosophy or theology were needed for understanding, we would make the explanations simple and succinct. Our focus was to make sure every note helped guide the reader to answer the question personally, “I just read this in Scripture. So what? What does that mean for my life?”
So we began work. A group of five of us kept our regular jobs at Youth for Christ, but each day several hours were set aside when we gathered in the conference room. We would stay late, sometimes come in on Saturdays. With the conference room table piled high with commentaries and Bible dictionaries, we’d begin the day’s work. One person got us started with a question working verse by verse, section by section, and everyone else dove into the commentaries and other Bible helps to read about various passages and knotty issues and then summarize them in an understandable way. My job was to sit at the end of the table, take notes on what they said (I was writing on note cards—gosh, a laptop would have been nice!), create a readable Bible note, and read it back to them. We’d edit until it felt right, and then the card would be set aside and go to the next question.
Sometimes whole teams of people joined us and were assigned to various sections of Scripture to do the same thing.
For instance, a note in a typical study Bible for John 3:16 says something like this:
3:16 God so loved the world: God’s love is not restricted to any one nation or to any spiritual elite. World here may also include all of creation (see Rom. 8:19-22; Col. 1:20).
In our Life Application Study Bible, the note at this verse says the following:
3:16 The entire gospel comes to a focus in this verse. God’s love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in. Here God sets the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships—when you love someone dearly, you are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice. God paid dearly with the life of his Son, the highest price he could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that he had bought for us. When we share the gospel with others, our love must be like Jesus’—willingly giving up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God’s love.
We sat around the tables, read the verses, read various commentaries’ comments on those verses, talked, discussed, argued a little bit, laughed, and ultimately tried to write a note on the note cards that explained to any reader somewhat unfamiliar with Scripture what the text says and, beyond that, what it means. What does it mean to take Scripture and apply it to life?
Now obviously, there are many interpretations of Scripture—from very liberal to very conservative. We tried to stay mostly “evangelical,” meaning centrist and mainstream, with our applications. When various opinions needed to be noted, we included them (for example, explaining the four main views of the end times in the notes in the book of Revelation). The applications do not tell readers what to do but instead attempt to help readers think about how Scripture is more than just words on a page; it’s meant to be lived.
My job after each of our marathon sessions was to take those note cards and type the contents into the brand new Digital computer purchased for our office just for this purpose. It had a black screen with orange lettering. I entered the notes in canonical order and then would print each Bible book’s material out on the wide paper with the holes on each side—the obnoxious holes that wouldn’t always stay on their little spindles as the paper jerked through the printer line by line, often jamming. These hard copies then went through a series of editorial passes by the head editorial team, then came back to me to enter changes. (Often with markings showing the hard work—a red splotch with the apologetic explanation, “Sorry, ketchup from my hamburger” or a brown circle, “My coffee mug leaked a bit.”)
As I entered the changes, if an edit was located far down in the file, I’d hit search and then go get a cup of coffee. By the time I got back, the computer might have finally found the note I wanted.
This process went on for a couple of busy years (66 Bible books, 1,189 chapters). In the end, we came up with an amazing product—totally and completely new in the marketplace, something never seen before.
And the privilege I had to work my way through all of Scripture with such deep study and application focus just made me fall in love that much more with God’s Word.
Scripture matters. Scripture must absolutely be the foundation and the focus for every believer’s life. It speaks. It applies to every situation, to every life.
In fact, Tyndale has just released the third edition of this best-selling Bible (along with Zondervan, who released it in the NIV). Read the news release here.
What’s a favorite verse that has made a difference in your life?
Image courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers, tyndale.com.
I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian home with parents who nurtured my faith, answered my questions, located churches in our many stations along my dad’s military career, and ultimately sent me to a Christian college.
Perhaps I was sheltered — I didn’t have a lot of doubts about my faith. I trusted God’s Word. I let it and my faith in its truth ground me through the tumultuous junior high and high school years. I know that looking into God’s Word and understanding the depth and breadth of my faith kept me from decisions that would have negatively impacted my life. I trusted its promises, knowing that I was a child of God, saved by my Savior.
Somewhere during high school I got a copy ofa New Testament in the brand-new Living Bible paraphrase called Blueprint for Living! (complete with exclamation point!). When I was freed from my King James Version and could read Scripture in words I understood, God’s words to me began to make sense, the promises came alive, Jesus became more real.
Was I still confused sometimes? Of course. Do I now, 44 years later, understand the Bible completely? Of course not. But I understood the power of the book in my hands and how it had changed the world and could change me. In the words I had underlined in this very Bible comes an invitation I love to this day:
For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.
He knows about everyone, everywhere. Everything about us is bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God.; nothing can be hidden from Him to whom we must explain all that we have done.
But Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest who has gone to heaven itself to help us; therefore let us never stop trusting Him.
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since He had the same temptations we do , though He never once gave way to them and sinned.
So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.
–Hebrews 4:12-16, The Living Bible
The gold Eurofest ’75 sticker on the inside was from a youth conference I attended in the summer of 1975, just before my senior year of high school, with thousands of Christians from all over Europe. Held in Brussels, Belgium, this event gave me Billy Graham speaking in the evenings and Luis Palau in the mornings, with small group meetings of students in between. In the front of my notebook I wrote the names of the people in my group: Manima from Portugal; Katie from Colerhine, Northern Ireland; Richard from Bangor, Northern Ireland; and Janelle from Peoria, Illinois; plus me, who had traveled from Bonn, Germany.
This conference also gave me the moment that I understood that Jesus had to make a difference in every aspect of my life. He needed to be not just my Savior but also my Lord. As I sat in the stadium with thousands of Christian high schoolers from all over the world (in the section where the translators gave us English; everyone had to sit in a designated area where they could hear the speakers’ words translated in their languages), I understood and fully committed myself to following Him.
The letter in the front of our notebook explains the purpose of the conference: “God’s master plan for our lives is to become like Jesus.” This is still the master plan for my life. And in my imperfect way, I awaken every day hoping to honor Him.
So there’s my testimony. It’s not earth-shattering. Perhaps it sounds lame to some. Maybe people see me as deluded in my simple faith in God’s Word. Yet it is what it is. This is me. Simple faith, yet the outworking is incredibly complex in our broken world. More thinking on that in coming weeks.
In the meantime, my little Blueprint for Living! has been just that for me. I’ve moved on to different translations and study Bibles, but this book has been a blueprint for building a life that I hope honors my Lord. Every day I need to go “boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help me in my times of need.”
Share your faith story with me. When did Scripture come alive for you?
As a Christian publishing professional, editor, writer, and now faculty member teaching Professional Writing, I have been considering my responsibility to my students about their responsibility as Christian writers.
The first concern, as noted in this post, is that my students stand firmly on the foundation of their faith. From the first day of the 101 class to the last day of capstone, I want to help them understand that they must stand on solid foundational truths that will undergird their writing (and, by extension, their lives).
Most of my students have a foundation of faith that drew them to Taylor University. Most are Christians but with a wide variety of perspectives on doctrines, social issues, and politics. There is room for all of those perspectives in my classroom, but I always want to draw them back to where we all agree: belief in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior. Scripture is pretty basic: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NLT). We have our theologies and our beliefs and our opinions, but it really comes down to that.
So where do they land? Where is their faith, personally? Much of this exploration occurs outside of my classroom in other classes, at chapel, in their small groups in the dorms, and just in living lives as college students. I want them to wrestle with these questions so that as they take the classes across the Professional Writing curriculum, they stand on a foundation as they think critically about how their faith matters in their lives and how it affects their writing.
It matters because their faith matters first and foremost. They don’t know if their words will ever get published into the world, but they do have a responsibility to write where they are called to write. They must not make their reason for being or their standard of success tied to getting published—that should never be the “be all and end all” for any writer. Far more important is their obedience to God wherever He places them and whatever words He gives them. Their relationship with God trumps anything else in life—it trumps every success and every failure, for it is ultimately what matters most.
I encourage them to pay attention in the Biblical Literature classes, to explore Scripture in small group studies, to read the Bible all the way through, to listen to God in a quiet time (in whatever way that looks to them). I want them to understand how God’s Word is “alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT) and how Scripture needs to be a daily “lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105 KJV). I want them to love the Bible.
So then, what it means to be a Christian is to have foundational belief and, I would add, to seek in individual, faulty ways to live and act on those foundations through a daily personal walk with Jesus. It means staying in Scripture and prayer so as to always walk closely with the Father. This doesn’t mean that all Christians will believe the same, act the same, apply those foundations the same, or carry that faith into the world in the same way. We are each working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13). But still, the biblical faith foundation is vital.
Christian writers must be marinated in Scripture, in prayer, and in a daily walk with Jesus.
That’s the foundation we must have.
Christian writer friends, how do you keep your faith fresh and alive?
It’s been an interesting challenge, this past school year, as I’ve taken on new classes (translate—learn what I need to teach and then figure out how to teach it) and gotten out of my comfort zone.
But it has forced me to do some deep thinking about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and what really matters.
Why do I teach writing and publishing?
What do I really want my students to know?
In the past few months, three things have become more clear to me. For the Christian writers who come through the Professional Writing major at Taylor University, I am committed to them graduating with the following understandings:
as Christians, I want them stand strong on the foundations of their faith, understanding that Scripture and their faith impacts every aspect of their lives; I want them to fall in love with God’s Word and see its power for the rest of their lives;
as writers, I want them to understand that their love for and ability with words is a calling and a gift from the Caller that they should and must continue to hone and improve;
as Christian writers, I want them to comprehend the power of those words and their responsibility to God for how they use their giftedness with words, especially as they seek to publish those words into the world.
How can my faith intersect my discipline as I teach the Professional Writing curriculum? How can I—a Christian publishing professional, editor, writer, and faculty member—bring these fundamental truths into our program? How can I bookend my students’ learning from their 101 introductory class to their final capstone class with these truths that matter?
It feels like a very heavy load.
But down deep in my soul, I sense that this is vital. This is more important than anything else I can do.
It is incumbent on Christian publishing professionals—whether authors or editors or publishers or marketers or bloggers or social media experts or agents—to deliver material that is well written, winsome, true, biblical, and honors Jesus Christ.
In a recent discussion, one of these Christian publishing professionals told me, “Too much of Christian writing is either preachy or saccharine. We need to bring wisdom, winsome words, and truth from our foundation into our writing.”
But what does that even mean anymore? The world is so deeply divided. Even among Christians there is so much division we sometimes act like a circular firing squad. I wonder how we can impact our world for good. How can we disagree about living out our faith (our politics, our work lives, our theological beliefs) but do so in a winsome and respectful way? How can we engage the questions so important in our culture, even as we disagree, while still being able to help others find what we have discovered in the foundations of our faith? In the end, that foundational piece is going to be all that matters to us anyway.
How do I guide my students to these understandings—even as we learn good writing and style tagging and editing and platform building and how to do a book proposal?
How do I guide them—even as we look for truth in Scripture and perhaps disagree on many other areas?
How do I help us all “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” and work out our writing and publishing lives in the same way?
There’s a lot to unpack here, and I invite you to join me both as I prayerfully seek God’s guidance and express my thoughts in the blog. I invite you to comment with your own thoughts and ideas as I think this is a big conversation worth having.
I’ve been reading the essays of author Andre Dubus, considered a master of the short form. In his book, Meditations from a Movable Chair(New York: Vintage, 1999), Dubus writes an essay called “First Books” and offers this encouragement to writers:
An older writer knows what a younger one has not yet learned. What is demanding and fulfilling is writing a single word, trying to write le mot juste, as Flaubert said; writing several of them, which become a sentence. When a writer does that, day after day, working alone with little encouragement, often with discouragement flowing in the writer’s blood, and with an occasional rush of excitement that empties oneself, so that the self is for minutes longer in harmony with eternal astonishments and visions of truth, right there on the page on the desk, and when a writer does this work steadily enough to complete a manuscript long enough to be a book, the treasure is on the desk. If the manuscript itself, mailed out to the world, where other truths prevail, is never published, the writer will suffer bitterness, sorrow, anger, and more dangerously despair, convinced that the work is not worthy, so not worth those days at the desk. But the writer who endures and keeps working will finally know that writing the book was something hard and glorious, for at the desk a writer must try to be free of prejudice, meanness of spirit, pettiness, and hatred; strive to be a better human being than the writer normally is, and to do this through concentration on a single word, and then another, and another, and another. This is splendid work, as worthy and demanding as any, and the will and resilience to do it are good for the writer’s soul. If the work is not published, or is published for little money and less public attention, it remains a spiritual, mental, and physical achievement; and if, in public, it is the widow’s mite, it is also, like the widow, more blessed. (162-63)
Writers, we must endure. We must keep working knowing that the words we write are worth it . . . it being the process, the “splendid” work, the worthy and demanding work.
No one said it would be easy. No one said it would be a sure path to fame and fortune. But as writers, we must be true to ourselves, to our giftedness and our calling. We must reach and try and write and rewrite and reach again because it matters.
If we’re true to our giftedness, then we will continue to write — no matter whether published or not, read or not. It is the “widow’s mite” that we offer up, and we are blessed.
While a few men in the early centuries tried to build what would be called early dictionaries (including Samuel Johnson in 1755), these trials would be eclipsed by the proposal in 1857 for a “big dictionary” that was to be an “inventory of the language.” This proposed dictionary would be “the history of the life span of each and every word” that appeared in the English language (104). This dictionary would chart the life of each word, recording its first mention in literature, then subsequent usages, “for every word, a passage quoted from literature that showed where each word was used first” (105). It would then show how the meanings of the word changed across the years — in some cases, across the centuries.
After some fits and starts and times when the very idea of this task seemed impossible (no computers!), Professor James A. H. Murray of the London Public School Mill Hill and member of the London Philological Society was chosen to take on the task of editor and find a way to complete the work. After getting Oxford Publishers on board, the project continued in earnest in 1879.
Murray’s first step was to recruit an army of English-speaking volunteers who would read books and gather words and quotations. The call for volunteers went out in flyers across Great Britain, the British colonies, and America. As people volunteered, Murray mailed them the following, which amounts to a style sheet of guidelines for these researchers:
The quotations, said the editor’s first page, were to be written on half sheets of writing paper. The target word — the “catchword,” as Murray liked to call it — was to be written at the top left. The crucial date of the quotation should be written just below it, then the name of the author and title of the cited book, the page number, and finally, the full text of the sentence being quoted. …
Murray’s rules were clear and unambiguous: Every word was a possible catchword. Volunteers should try to find a quotation for each and every word in a book. They should perhaps concentrate their efforts on words that struck them as rare, obsolete, old-fashioned, new, peculiar, or used in a peculiar way, but they should also look assiduously for ordinary words as well, providing that the sentence that included it said something about the use or meaning of the word. (134-35)
The volunteers began working — sending their slips of paper by the thousands every day. A first editor read to see if the slip was legible and had all the required elements; a second editor sorted the slips into alphabetical order. A third editor then divided the words into parts of speech (the same word being used as a noun, verb, adjective, etc.). A fourth editor began to “subdivide the meanings into the various shades it had enjoyed over its life [and] . . . make a first stab at writing that most crucial feature of most dictionaries — the definition” (151). The plan was to have “at least one sentence from the literature of each century in which the word was used” (152). Murray did the final edits of the definition, chose the best quotations, and determined the word’s pronunciation.
These new dictionaries were published alphabetically in sets. Portions of A – B appeared in 1885; another portion of B in 1887; the book comprising the letter C appeared in 1897 and was dedicated to Queen Victoria in her jubilee year.
The Oxford English Dictionary was officially completed in 1928, taking 70 years, resulting in 12 volumes with 414,825 words defined and 1,827,306 illustrative quotations. Sadly, Murray died in 1915 and did not live to see the completion of the work to which he gave so much of his life — practically living in the Scriptorium at Oxford University, placing slips of paper into over a thousand pigeonholes on banks of shelves specially built to sort words. A supplement was published in 1933, and four supplements came out between 1972 and 1986. In 1989, the computer aided in creating a second edition of the OED.
The OED website now boasts “over 600,000 words over a thousand years.” The “big dictionary” is now updated on a quarterly basis, revising existing entries and adding new words and senses of words.
Current principal editor of new words, David Martin, explains that 600 new words have been added in the latest update — new words and phrases such as crowd-surfer, Debbie Downer, facepalm, hashtag (as a verb), and TGIF.
And just who was the madman in the title of Winchester’s book? He was one of the most prolific of Murray’s word-seeking volunteers. You’ll want to read the book for all of those details!
In the meantime, grab the nearest dictionary — you probably don’t own an OED, but you probably have a dictionary of some sort. Revel in the plethora of information therein about every single word.
And be thankful for this great editor James Murray and the thousands of little slips of paper that got the whole thing started.
<Note from author: I wrote this in 2016, reposted in 2017, and am sharing again on Veterans Day 2020. As of this date, November 11, 2020, our nation is struggling with an undecided election because of allegations of voter fraud. We all should care so much about this that any kind of fraud is unacceptable–whether we’re on the winning side or not. If we cannot trust our voting system, we are destroying the very foundation of our nation and the freedom that our veterans fought for and our military protects. To me, that’s what matters most.>
Today is Veterans Day. Today we honor the men and women who are part of our American military.
I know that so many people wish that we just didn’t need you—that there were no wars to be fought. That we could all just get along.
One day, yes. But that’s a description of heaven. That’s not what we have here on this imperfect planet. Have there been unjust wars? Yes. Have wars been fought for stupid reasons? Yes. Is war terrible? Yes.
We could get into a big discussion about that here. But I’m not going to.
I’m also not here to talk about the merits of various wars. I’m not here to honor or condemn any particular commander-in-chief.
I’m here to thank the men and women who swore to protect our freedoms. I’m here to thank the men and women who, answerable to their commander-in-chief (for anyone who might not know, that’s the president of the United States), do what they are called to do. I’m here to honor the men and women who take that job seriously, who are compassionate when they need to be and deadly when they need to be. I’m here to thank the people who fight for freedom.
I wish that we didn’t need you, that everyone in the world could just get along. Unfortunately, that is just not a reality. The best way to preserve freedom is for our country to have a strong enough military that says, “Don’t mess with us.” You who go into harm’s way to help preserve that freedom, who protect us, who help the rest of the world know that to mess with us is to bring the greatest nation in the world down on them—thank you.
I wish that more people understood the sacrifices you make—in families separated for long stretches and, when not separated, in families uprooted and moved to new places; in facing enemy fire; in PTSD and things you can’t unsee when you close your eyes to sleep; in doing all of this for pathetic pay.
You make these sacrifices because you believe in America.
We just came out of a very divisive election. The country is split. But you know what? That’s what voting is all about. Some win; some lose. I have cried my eyes out over a few elections; I’ve sighed with relief at others. To those of you out there protesting that the new president is not yours, look around for two seconds and realize that you are allowed to do this. You are allowed to feel this way. No one’s going to put you in jail for your opinion (unless you start doing something illegal). You live in the greatest country in the world. You’re FREE!
And here’s the bottom line: One election cannot destroy a free people.
Take a look at our history to see what we’ve survived.
This is what you thank a veteran for. Too many people just don’t seem to understand that freedom isn’t free. It has to be protected.
But here’s the other side of the coin. With freedom comes a huge amount of responsibility. We’re free—but not to hurt one another. Not to make fun of one another. Not to badmouth those who disagree with us. We’re free to express opinions, but we must always do so respectfully, realizing that the person across from us with a very different opinion came to that opinion in his or her own reasoned way just as we did.
Has America had some very bad policies? Oh yeah. Have some presidents made some really bad decisions? Heck yes. Does America have some really big problems to work on? You bet.
But it has always been that way. Always. No country is perfect just as no person is perfect. We are all fallible and the best we can do is, when we see a problem, decide that we need to fix it. And we start to figure out how to do that.
We need all of the voices in the conversation—but there is no conversation if everyone is offended or upset or name-calling. The way we get to the best decisions is when we sit down and hear one another.
And for everyone upset about this election, realize that for the rest of your life, you’ll win some, you’ll lose some. Also, realize that most voters look at a way larger picture and take into account way more things—especially those of us who are older and try to look at the office and the nation and the future, which are way bigger than a single man or woman. And take a quick look at history. This country swings back and forth between Democrat and Republican presidents and Congress. If we don’t like what we have, we are able to vote them out next time around.
That’s what you thank a vet for. Helping preserve that freedom for the last 240 years.
Many of the greatest changes that happened in our country have not been top-down decisions from a president. That’s the genius of our system of government—a system people have fought and died for. Change happens when FREE people voice their opinions and work for change and vote in the lawmakers who could make the changes happen. In at least one case in particular, we fought a horrifying war on our own soil because of those differing opinions.
And if those lawmakers don’t win? Then stand strong on your principles, keep your respectful voice being heard, and keep working for the change you feel needs to happen.
Thank a vet for that.
Thank a vet that we are still a free country where we can have vastly different opinions and live together, work together, serve together, worship together.
The best way we can honor our veterans is being worthy of their sacrifices.
So instead of letting our opinions divide us, instead of being angry that there are actually people who think differently than we do, why don’t we instead find ways to make positive change—in our personal lives, in our families, in our communities and workplaces, in our world? Why don’t we now take a deep breath, listen to one another, learn from one another, understand the very deep feelings on both sides, and work together to make whatever needs to be improved better?
Our country has made a lot of mistakes, but I can say without hesitation that the United States is the greatest country in the world. But FREEDOM is a privilege that must be handled with great appreciation and great care. We have come a long way. We still have a long way to go. We will always have a long way to go. There will always be huge new problems to face. But we won’t face them down by refusing to listen to one another or refusing to learn from our own history.
Today, I thank my Uncle Howard (who has passed away) for his sacrifice in World War II, and I thank my dad, who bravely flew a hundred missions over North Vietnam and faced enemy fire.
Thank you, Dad, for serving our country. Thank you, Mom, for providing a haven wherever we moved, for making each new house a home.
So why should you thank a vet? Because these men and women sacrifice for an ideal—the ideal of freedom.
So you can be FREE.
Thank you, veterans, for serving and preserving this great country. May the rest of us learn from your example.