Talking Editing with Merilyn Simonds & Wayne Grady—October Meeting Report

Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady (centre) answer questions and sign books after their presentation at the October 11 twig gathering.

by Greg Murphy

Sharing a room with Wayne and Merilyn, two of Canada’s top literary talents and guests at our October 11 meeting, I gladly opened my mind to learn how to be a better editor.

Kingston-based authors and life partners Wayne Grady and Merilyn Simonds have between them penned more than thirty fiction and non-fiction works for adults and young readers. Over the span of forty years, their writing has been published by giants Doubleday Canada, Macfarlane Walter & Ross, McClelland & Stewart, and others, and sold around the world. Wayne is also an award-winning translator. I would list their accumulated awards and accolades here—but they won’t all fit.

At the Editors Kingston October gathering, they offered us an intimate peek into their lives as writers, touching upon why they value good editors and what qualities they look for in them; they’ve worked with some of the best—Ellen Seligman, Jan Walter, and Nita Pronovost, to name a few. Merilyn’s opening remarks were well received by the company of sharp eyes and tuned ears: “To me, editors are essential. I rely on editors to pull me out of creating to remind me what I’m doing.”

Writers, she said, are so involved in the process of creating that they often don’t have room in their mind to be keenly aware of correctness, clarity, and consistency. Merilyn’s message served to remind that a writer has a starkly different job than an editor’s—writers are responsible for creation; editors, for editing. Merilyn said, “The best editors don’t have opinions but rather help a writer with her vision.” She added that every writer has different needs—that a good editor can still be the wrong one. (Indeed, she told one tale of trying to work with an editor who was so very wrong for the project at hand that many in the audience gasped audibly at some of the details.)

Merilyn values editors who’ll push her to write better, someone who’ll not only notice the holes and know how to help her fill them but also notice “the meat” and know how to help her expand upon it. “A good editor, to me, is someone who can explain the points of craft—and who is loyal. Loyalty is very important.”

Her description of the almost superhuman dedication and work ethic of Ellen Seligman, with whom she worked on several books, confirmed all the stories any follower of Canadian publishing has heard. “She wouldn’t even give me Christmas Day off,” Merilyn chuckled.

Emancipation DayWayne began his portion of the night by recounting his experience working with editors on his acclaimed debut novel, Emancipation Day, published in 2013 by Doubleday Canada. His inspiration for the novel arrived after learning the startling truth about his family: his father was black, and perhaps didn’t want his family to know. Having decided to fictionalize the story, Wayne, who until then had been a non-fiction writer, found himself unable to know where to draw the line. The novel’s first draft almost reached a thousand pages and encompassed a story told over a century. It even featured a cameo of “Victor Hugo in Vietnam.” Wayne knew he needed help to focus it. He finally found that help when Nita Pronovost read the manuscript and promptly ticked off three specific areas that needed his attention in order for it to work.

“The ability not only to see what is wrong with the book but also to tell you specifically what is wrong is worth an editor’s weight in gold,” Wayne said. “An editor also should be able to read a book five times but read it each time as though it were the first.”

Emancipation Day ended up a novel of 336 pages that focuses on the story of a complicated love between a black musician passing as white, his wife, and his father. It was long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2013 and claimed the 2013 First Novel Award.

Coming Up Next: Editing Indigenous Texts, with Rick Revelle

For our next gathering, on November 8, we’ll be hosting indigenous writer Rick Revelle, who authored the bestselling YA books I Am Algonquin (2013), Algonquin Spring (2015), and Algonquin Sunset (2017), published by Dundurn Press. He’ll be sharing with us his experiences, including working with non-indigenous editors.

Seminar November 18: Make MS Word Work for YOU!

On Saturday, November 8, Adrienne Montgomerie will be teaching our Fall Seminar, Make MS Word work for YOU. Bring a laptop and join in as she shows how editors can get the best out of Word so that they can focus on more meaningful tasks.

Register at .

For more information, see this post or email Elizabeth:


Coming Up: Make MS Word Work for YOU

Coming Up: Make MS Word Work for YOU

A Hands-On Workshop on Saturday, November 18


After taking this workshop, you might even end up liking Word! (Maybe just a little bit.)

Are you slogging through revising documents onscreen, giving your fingers more of a workout than your brain? Do you find making edits in Word time-consuming and annoying, a drain on your focus and creativity?

Expert instructor Adrienne Montgomerie shows you how to level up your Word game and lighten your workload. Get the software to do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on the meatier issues in your writing or editing project! Learn skills that make editing faster, more accurate, and efficient.

During the course, you will be guided through the steps on your own familiar laptop. There will be opportunities to practice and trouble-shoot. Coffee and lunch breaks will give you time to network and process what you’ve learned.

Workshop Topics

  • Get the most out of Track Changes.
  • Speed up editing with shortcuts and customizations.
  • Make formatting a snap with Styles.
  • Automate complicated or tedious tasks with macros.
  • Use wildcards to turbo-boost the search-and-replace function.
  • And much more!

Registrants will be surveyed before the course to determine which topics they most want to focus on. Any material not covered in the workshop will be included in a 100-page handout with demo video support, so you can keep learning on your own time and review what we covered when it comes time to put it to use.

Registration is limited to 25 people.

What You Need

  • Mac or Windows laptop loaded with MS Word—preferably Word 365 or Word 2016, though efforts will be made to support a couple of versions prior. (Note: For this workshop to be useful, you must have a version of Word that includes track changes and comments. Web-based programs such as Open Office are not sufficient.)
  • Good understanding of basic Word functions such as menus and ribbons, cut, copy, paste, undo, save as, spellcheck, bold, italic, and indenting.
  • Good fundamental computer skills such as mousing, keyboard navigation, and file management.
  • Good night’s sleep and confidence that you can make Word work for you!

About the Instructor

Adrienne MAMontgomerie medontgomerie has been teaching people to make nice with Word since 2003. This specialized editors’ course has been a sellout since she first offered it in 2012. She is a Certified Copyeditor and a 20-year veteran of freelance editing. She used to work mainly on high school science materials, earning her the moniker of scieditor, and today she can be found on the roster of Canada’s largest remaining publishers when she’s not teaching and writing about editing. Right Angels and Polo Bears is her home base.

When: Saturday, November 18, 9:30­ a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Tett Centre, Kingston

Instructor: Adrienne Montgomerie

Early-bird price (until October 20):

  • $160 Editors Canada members
  • $140 student affiliates
  • $195 non-members

Regular price (after October 20):

  • $185 Editors Canada members
  • $160 student affiliates
  • $220 non-members              

Includes lunch by Epicurious!

Click here to register now!

For additional information, contact Elizabeth d’Anjou at or Nancy Wills at

For more about Editors Kingston, see

Editors Kingston is a part of Editors Canada, Canada’s national professional editing organization.

Keyboard photo by John Ward. Used through Creative Commons licence.

Coming Up October 11: Authors Talk Editing—Merilyn Simonds & Wayne Grady

Well-known Kingston-area writers Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady will discuss how the editorial process and relationships with editors, agents, and publishers have changed over their 40 years as authors. They’ll also describe their work as mentors/editors to emerging writers.

Merilyn Simonds_hi resWayne SM

Merilyn Simonds is the author of 17 books, including a Canadian classic, The Convict Lover. Her most recent book, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels & the Lasting Impression of Books, explores the digital shift and how we read today.

Wayne Grady is the author of 14 books, the translator of 15 novels, and the editor of 11 anthologies. His first novel, Emancipation Day, won the 2013 First Novel Award.

Wayne and Merilyn co-authored Breakfast at the Exit Café: Travels Through America.

Join us for an intimate look at the Canadian publishing scene.

The Convict Lover: A True StoryGutenberg's FingerprintEmancipation DayBreakfast at the Exit Cafe: Travels Through America

The speakers will have books for sale; bring cash and get your CanLit fix straight from the author!

Come Join Us!

We meet October 11 at the usual place and time:

Fall Seminar

Don’t forget to register for our fall seminar with twig founder and editing tech guru Adrienne Montgomerie!

  • Do you often find yourself slogging through tedious editing tasks onscreen, thinking “There must be a better way”?
  • Have you sometimes suspected that some advanced features of Word (such as Styles, Macros, and Wildcards) might be useful to you, but feel intimidated by them?
  • Would you like to edit more efficiently and accurately?

Make MS Word work for you for a change, so you can focus on the real editing issues.

The workshop includes a 100-page handout with demo video support and lunch by Epicurious.

Register now!

Download the poster and spread the word!

How I Read My Summer Vacation—September Meeting Report

2017-09-13 20.58.21

by Greg Murphy and Elizabeth d’Anjou

The theme to kick off the year at our September meeting was “How I Read My Summer Vacation.” At times we laughed, at times we sighed, as we recounted the books with which we enriched our minds in spare moments. Some of us read non-stop while others read hardly at all (or, as some editors in attendance put it, “only when paid to do so”).

Everyone had been encouraged to bring a book they read that related to work and one they had read for pleasure. Ellie carefully recorded all the picks (and posted the list to the Editors Kingston Facebook group). A few examples of the work-related books presented:

  • the new edition (seventeenth!) of the Chicago Manual of Style and an old Louis Menand New Yorker article, still hilarious fifteen years after its publication, about the fifteenth edition
  • the classic On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  • the guide by Editors Canada’s own Marion Soublière, Getting Work with the Federal Government
  • You Are a Badass, a guide to career and life subtitles How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero
  • Write No Matter What, in which author Joli Jensen runs through and all-too-familiar list of barriers to writing and proposes tools to work around and through them

The exercise helped members reconnect, to shake off that isolation some of us might have felt at times over the summer.

It also gave us a lovely way to get to know some first-time attendees: Beth Bedore, an Editors Canada member for some years but new to the Kingston twig “just down the road” from her home in Belleville, who enjoyed Nike, Nurses, and Neon: The Ancient Greek and Latin Words We Use Every Day, by Nigel P. Brown, and newcomers Brenda (The Life and Death of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan), “twig Facebook groupie” Jenn (Open Veins of Latin America, by Eduardo Galeano), and John (Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann).

A Warm Welcome Home

The group welcomed home long-time friend of the twig Bob MacKenzie from the prestigious Summer Literary Seminars, held this year in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he, with Kingston poet Meg Freer, shared his writing talents with the world. (He and Meg created a blog with stories & photos from their adventures.)

Upcoming Programs

 We’ve packed our fall program!

At our gathering next month, Wednesday, October 11, well-known Kingston authors Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady will join us to discuss how the past forty years have changed the editorial process and relationships between author and editor, agent, and publisher. Merilyn and Wayne will also talk about mentoring emerging writers.

On Wednesday, November 8, we’ll be hosting Algonquin author Rick Revelle, writer of the three young adult novels I Am Algonquin (2013), Algonquin Spring (2015), and Algonquin Sunset (2017) for Dundurn Press. He’ll be talking to us about the skills we need to work with Indigenous writers.

Our Seasonal Social will be on Wednesday, December 13. Watch this space for details.

Download our fall program flyer and share it around!

Fall Seminar


Make Microsoft Word work for you for a change!

Adrienne Montgomerie will deliver the workshop Microsoft Word for Editors on Saturday, November 18. She’ll be teaching everything editors need to know to make Word work for them (for a change!), so you won’t want to miss out. See the twig web page for more details.

Claim your spot early to get a fee discount: Until October 13, Editors Canada members pay $160; non-members pay $195. After October 13, Editors Canada members pay $185; non-members pay $220.

The workshop will be held at the Tett Centre, 370 King Street, Kingston, Ontario, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Register here.

Download the flyer/poster here.

Please help us spread the word wherever and whenever you can!

Announcements & Business

Elizabeth opened the evening with a few announcements:

  • Nancy Wills has stepped down from the role as twig co-coordinator after many years of service, including managing the money and filing reports to national—and bringing meeting munchies! She was warmly thanked in absentia. Nancy plans to continue as an active Twig member and volunteer.
  • The Editors Canada mentorship program is now up and running! Members and student affiliates can apply to have or be a mentor. Mentorships focus on whatever area(s) both parties agree on; someone could even be both a mentor in one area and a mentee in another.
  • Check out the new Editors Canada webinar series! First up are macros and breaking the rules.

Ellie led a discussion about a possible new policy of charging a small fee (in the neighbourhood of $5) to non-members who attend Twig gatherings. (Attendance would continue to be free for members and student affiliates of Editors Canada.) This would help cover our upkeep (room fees, honoraria for guest speakers ,snacks and drinks, etc.). However, it’s important to the twig leadership that everyone  feel welcomed. Most of the comments, from both members and vistors, were in favour of the policy—with some suggestions for tweaks and exceptions. We’ll bring up the issue on the Facebook page and perhaps another meeting before making a final decision.

Coming Up September 13: How I Read My Summer Vacation

Happy September from Editors Kingston!

We are gearing up for another great year.

September Gathering

The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel—
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.

–John Updike, “September”


Ellie Barton with a little light summer reading

Our usual second-Wednesday-of-the-month get-togethers resume on Wednesday, September 13, with the theme “How I Read My Summer Vacation.” In an homage to “new books, erasers, chalk, and such,” we’ll be asking you to tell us about a favourite book you read this summer. Better yet, two books: one a pleasure read and one an editing- or business-related read. If you can, bring the actual book(s) for show and tell!

You can talk instead about an article, a blog post—or a tweet :-p

We meet at the usual place and time:

Ongwanada Resource Centre, 191 Portsmouth Avenue

7 to 9 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30)

Light refreshments

Both Editors Canada members and non-members welcome


Word for Editors Seminar

313251851The Word for Editors seminar is on! Now scheduled for Saturday, November 18, at the Tett Centre, it’ll be a great opportunity to improve your mastery of the tool most editors use every day. Learn tips and tricks to work more efficiently and effectively from Kingston’s own editing tech guru Adrienne Montgomerie, take home a comprehensive handbook (including links to video tutorials), and enjoy the opportunity to network over a tasty lunch.

Register now! Space is limited.

Fall Programming

We have a lot of other great programming in the works, including several exciting guest speakers. Watch this space for the full fall program!


Editors Kingston is part of Editors Canada, Canada’s national professional editorial association.

Conference Confidential—June Meeting Report

by Greg Murphy

What better a time is there than the start of a beautiful summer to celebrate the achievements and knowledge of editors and writers from coast to coast? In June, Editors Canada hosted another spectacular annual spring conference, fittingly themed “Guardians of the Lexicon.” It called Ottawa-Gatineau home this year, and for three days spanning the 9th to 11th, editors networked, taught, learned, and praised the work of colleagues both well acquainted and newly met at a prestigious once-a-year awards banquet. Those who were there will tell you the event gives testimony to the truth that we editors and writers are, in a way, guardians of the lexicons, standing up proudly the English, French, and celebrated indigenous languages of Canada in all their variations.

The conference passed me by, sadly. But I was fortunate enough to listen to others of our group who attended:

  • Elizabeth d’Anjou was a speaker at the conference. She shared her lessons learned as a business owner and freelance editor in her funny, honest presentation, “The Top 10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Out as a Freelance Editor.”
  • Carla Douglas, also a speaker, drew on her experience and insight into the shapeshifting world of self-publishing to talk about its future and the editors’ role within it.
  • Stephanie Stone highlighted her attendance at the Preserving Indigenous Languages panel, which was hosted by keynote speaker and award-winning Métis author and editor Cherie Dimaline and featured Anishnabe French-Canadian poet David Groulx; Inuit artist, educator, and translator Evie Mark; and Ottawa-based author and journalist Waubgeshig Rice, from Wasauksing First Nation.
  • Ellie Barton shared her thoughts on James Harbeck’s animated talk on public speaking. Harbeck, who has a PhD in drama, struck Barton with his wit and wisdom.
  • Adrienne Montgomerie, a seasoned editor educator, reported on the “Live Editing” session she hosted with editing colleagues Erin Brenner and Laura Poole.
  • Angela McGovern shared with us her experience as sponsorship coordinator for the conference, a volunteer position for which she was well suited. Angela even secured sponsorship from Tourism Saskatoon, as next year’s conference themed “Building Bridges,” will be hosted in Saskatoon.

Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, editors both veteran and new who attended the conference will move forward with a greater wealth of knowledge, building upon the excellent reputation of Canadian editors.

Details about the conference, and a link where you can download handouts from most of the sessions, are available from the Editors Canada website.

We followed up the edifying portion of the evening with refreshments, networking, and chat full of summer plans.

Here’s hoping we’ll all see one another in Saskatchewan next year!

Coming Up June 9: Conference Confidential (and Social Hour)

ad-4-9375x4-8_0Can’t attend the Editors Canada conference in Gatineau this month? Come and get your conference fix vicariously right here in Kingston!

If you are going, make the experience last a little longer! Bring some of that editor magic home with you, hearing about sessions you missed and how your Twig colleagues experienced the big event.

At our June 14 get-together,  a number of Twig members and friends who are attending the conference, which takes place the previous weekend, will give short presentations of some highlights. Three are presenters or panellists (you can see the descriptions of their sessions in the conference schedule):

  • Adrienne Montgomerie—Live Editing (Sunday 10:15)
  • Elizabeth d’Anjou—Freelance Editing: The Top 10 Things I Wish I’d Known (Sunday 10:15)
  • Carla Douglas—The Future of Self-Publishing and Editors (Sunday 13:30)

Also attending and willing to report on a favourite session or experience are

  • Ellie Barton
  • Stephanie Stone
  • Nancy Wills

Come for the Conference Talk, Stay for the Schmoozing

As this is our last monthly meeting until September, we’ll reserve the second hour of the get-together for socializing/networking over munchies and drinks.

Join Us!

Wednesday, April 12

7 to 9 p.m.

Doors open at 6:30

Ongwanada Resource Centre, 191 Portsmouth Ave., Kingston

Both Editors Kingston members and non-members welcome


A Kingston Author Talks Editing—April Meeting Report


Diane Schoemperlen’s memoir, the most recent of her 12 published books, was longlisted for the BC National Book Award and shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize.

“It was my life, and so everything seemed important,” Diane Schoemperlen said by way of explaining why her editor at HarperCollins told her to cut 40,000 words from the draft she submitted initially. Nods and chuckles from the Editors Kingston members and friends who had gathered on Apil 9 to hear Diane talk about her experiences with editing.

While it was hard work, Diane looks back on  this round of cuts to This Is Not My Life as a good experience; she is grateful to her HarperCollins editor, Jennifer Lambert, for the guidance she provided at this point and through five subsequent rounds of structural editing.

The copy edit, however, was another story.

Read about Diane’s unfortunate editorial experience—a cautionary tale that reminds us all of the first principle of editing, Respect the Author—on Ellie Barton’s blog in the post “The Best and the Worst of Edits.” 


Spring Social─Schmoozing and the Daily Special

6ce0495cdf62815f0ee72e4b3c2c1609The daily special, a pasta with scallops, chorizo, and feta, was a hit at the Twig Spring Social─at least half the table ordered it, and many a plate was cleaned. The calamari Grace ordered were also so much admired that she offered to share.

The lively conversation in the lovely, airy─and completely accessible─space at Days on Front ranged from freelance marketing to overseas writing conferences to the effects of the recent local flooding (which contributed to the late arrival of the Picton contingent; who knew a ferry could be restricted by high water?).

Coming Up June 14: Conference Confidential

Join us at our usual Ongwanada location on Wednesday, June 14, for a gathering on the theme of the Editors Canada conference, which will take place June 9 to 11 in Ottawa-Gatineau. Several Twig members and friends who are attending the conference will give short presentations of the highlights; munchies and general merriment to follow!

If you can’t attend the conference this year, come and get your fix vicariously! And if you are going, take the opportunity to make the experience last a little longer: bring a little of that editor magic home with you to share in exchange for hearing about sessions you missed.

(Note: if you’re still thinking about attending, registration is open until May 31.)


The John Eerkes-Medrano mentorship program has launched.

The Editors Canada webinar series continues! Don’t miss the fabulous Kathryn Dean’s summer grammar series.

Coming Up May 10: Spring Social

May Daves on FrontInstead of having a meeting in May and a social in June, we’re switching things up this year. Our May 10 gathering will be a social at Days on Front Restaurant.

The restaurant is located in the west end of Kingston, about 10 minutes from Ongwanada, in the plaza at the corner of Days and Front Roads. We’ve made a reservation for 6:30 p.m.Days on Front logo

Please RSVP Ellie ( by Tuesday, May 9, so that she can confirm our numbers. The restaurant tends to fill up. Hope to see you there!