Island Editor: May 2018

In this bulletin:

Mark your calendar 

  • Wednesday May 30, 2018 
    Members' meeting: Details to follow.
  • Tuesday June 26, 2018
    Summer party: Save the date!
Member meeting location: 
Greater Victoria Public Library, 735 Broughton Street (between Douglas and Blanshard).  FREE PARKING in the parkade underneath GVPL. 
Join our coffee get-to-know-you sessions on Saturdays at 10:30 am at the Breakwater Cafe, Ogden Point. Delicious breakfasts, the best views in town, and excellent company!

Coming? Need a ride? Contact

Notes from the April members' meeting

A note from co-chair Moira Dann:

We had a successful and interesting meeting on April 25 in the smaller, second-floor meeting room at GVPL, featuring former Malahat Review editor John Barton. He spoke to us (there were 15 in attendance) about editing invisibly from “the blind,” how to read from “the author’s point of view” and how a writer must “internalize the reader,” so the reader is an “active participant” in the alchemy of creation. John talked about “editing by learning”
— developing expertise with help from advisory boards in (say) fiction, poetry (John is a poet and essayist himself), creative nonfiction, and drama. He also talked about how we read to see ourselves reflected in the story, or we read to learn something new.  John said his mantra as an editor is a quote from (I wrote down) Phyllis Webb: “I throw a bridge of value to belief.”  Noting that empathy and professional integrity are crucial, John answered questions generously after his talk. He’s a PEAVI member now and I’m grateful he’s in our midst. 

Member News
Congratulations, Lenore Hietkamp!

Congratulations to Lenore Heitkamp on being shortlisted by Editors Canada 2018  for the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence!

Lenore is shortlisted for her work on The Embodied Violinist by Gwen Thompson-Robinow (Gwen Thompson-Robinow).

Profile series: PEAVI's founding members

Here is another wonderful profile of one of PEAVI's founding members. This one is from Fran Aitkens. Like the others, it is real treat. Enjoy!

Fran Aitkens: An unexpected career

How did you get started as a freelance editor?

Like many of us, I’ve been writing and editing for ever, but with no thought of becoming an editor. My dream after university was to be a field geologist, stomping over hills and cracking rocks to solve mysteries of geologic time. Wrong era (1960s): “We don’t send women in the field.” Off on other pursuits: office geologist (GSC), marriage and children (two), Land Surveyor’s assistant, book store clerk, briefing note writer, conference organizer, proceedings editor. Aha, I enjoyed that! How can I keep doing it?
Business Women’s Network provided some tips: find a niche market, have an eye-catching business card, get comfortable with cold calls, practice a one-minute intro. With my background and interests, science editing would be my niche. Conferences could provide contacts. Shake hands, drink coffee, pass out my cards, edit pro bono for non-profits (good practice and great publicity).

What drew you to this group?
To work on a freelance basis, I needed colleagues and education. I had the language and cadence of science in my brain, but formal grammar was less strong. I joined FEAC Vancouver (old EAC) in 1994 looking for workshops and support. I attended FEAC Victoria “node” meetings just as rebellion was fomenting. To be there at the birth of PEAVI was such an exhilarating time. 
Support of colleagues has been a key for me. A member’s referral for a Ministry of Forests editing test resulted in years of MOF and Wildlife reports. So many friends made, questions kindly answered, and talks given by members.

I have served as membership chair and historian for PEAVI, but I see my main contribution as hosting Christmas Parties. My house does love entertaining.

How did you develop this niche market?

I joined several science-based professional associations: Council of Biology Editors (now Council of Science Editors), Association of Earth Science Editors, wrote the certification exam for Board of Editors in Life Sciences. As with PEAVI, these groups provided job boards, colleagues, and friends for email discussions. Yearly conferences educated me about scholarly publishing, editing numbers, understanding statistics in research papers—and there were great field trips.
Once Internet arrived, the ability to work remotely opened. A friend designed a website (, which brought International contracts for computer manuals, medical journals, and my favourite publisher, Smithsonian Institution Press. The managing editor, trolling the web one evening, sent me a test sheet. He returned my submission with a contract and the comment “Not stellar, but pretty good.” (I didn’t correct a misspelled version of “Philippines.”)

What were some highlights of your editing career?

My favourite memories are of authors, such interesting people, passionate about their subjects:  How do frogs communicate by noisy streams (wave their feet)? Do Komodo Dragons play (yes!)? Will plant DNA change old classifications (unfortunately, yes)? As a team, authors, editors, and publishers work together to bring clarity to complex subjects. Many felt like friends after a year or more of collaboration.

It's a long time since I've thought about these books, lifted them from the shelf, turned some pages, remembering how once I’d read every word —many times!
The Ecology of the Marine Fishes of Cuba was produced during the US embargo on Cuba. I worked with the American lead author to combine the papers of 13 Russian and Russian-trained Cuban authors. Not only were papers translated from Spanish and Russian, sometimes oddly, but their research methods and theories differed from western ideas.  Everyone appreciated a neutral (and apparently calm) editor. I was offered a trip to Florida and Cuba but I didn't have the funds for it then. [Smithsonian Inst. Press, 2001]
The little book What did you do in Alaska, Grandpa?  was a side project for a friend's husband, a retired fisheries biologist, to organize photos and stories of his seven summers in the Alaskan wilderness. A great raconteur. I enjoyed his tales and we made a great little book. [David W Narver, self pub., 2010]
A real highlight was using my formal education and love of geology as part of the team editing Exploring Geology. A college-level textbook, it was designed for the modern (?) student. No full-page text—each double page covers one topic using photos, diagrams, and captions. My greatest contribution was to notice that our Fraser River was spelled ‘Frazier River’ (after Dr. Frazier Crane perhaps?) [McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2008]
A Hard Road to Travel was part of a series by several retired Alberta foresters. The  first book (Learning from the Forest) told the history of their company, establishing a town in the 1950s in virgin forest between Edmonton and Jasper. One day I emailed asking "Where are the women in this story?" At first they said there were no women foresters then. That night when my query was mentioned at the dinner table, the men got an earful from their wives. Soon lots of interesting women turned up, including foresters, Metis and First Nations women with forest-related businesses, and wives, nurses, teachers in this raw new town. I'm still chortling. This second book (Hard Road) covered earlier history and people, explorers and fur traders, and more women’s stories. It was wonderful to watch the history change and expand. [Foothill Model Forest, 2006]
Canadian Upper Mantle Report 1967 marks the opening chapter (unnoticed then) of my unexpected  career. I’m acknowledged as technical editor of this odd, primitive-looking report, typewritten text,  Courier font. [GSC Report 67-41] 
What are you doing now?

For a while I edited one book a year. One day I closed the computer, put the books on the shelf, and bought an iPad. Other interests called: Travel—Portugal, ElderHostel geology courses, hiking, family visits,  and a new granddaughter. Volunteering—as a patient-and-family advocate with Patient Voices Network, currently involving residential care. Genealogy—researching and writing a history of the Aitkens, and discovering that my mother’s ancestors may include a Mayflower passenger. Now, that’s unexpected!

Thanks to Lenore Hietkamp for the idea for this profile series and to Jean Layland for coordinating it.

Your news?

Members, do you have news you would like to share, an interesting project, perhaps, or a new job? Has a book you edited recently been published? We would love to hear your editing news

Volunteer corner

Professional Development Coordinator/s: PEAVI's workshops are always a treat. We all leave feeling inspired and excited to get back to editing. We've enjoyed vibrant discussion, learned a lot, made new friends and reconnected with old ones. We're already looking forward to the next event.

The challenge this year is we don't have folks to coordinate a workshop. What we do have are excellent notes from past coordinators. Our previous team of Paula Marchese and Rowena Rae described the role as
 "very rewarding . . . a wonderful opportunity," and Paula would be happy to mentor the next coordinator/s. 

If you'd like to facilitate PEAVI's professional development or share the role with someone, please contact Did I mention the great notes?

Editors Canada Annual Conference

This year's EAC conference<> is in Saskatoon, May 25-27. Yann Martel, author of the Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, will be one of the keynote speakers. A number of sessions will focus on Indigenous publishing issues. 

Interesting reads 

We found these interesting and thought you might, too.
  • Elevating Editing.
    Eat Sleep Edit Repeat: Liz Jones
  • Martin Gavin sent this link with the following note: 
    "This article is priceless. And the comments, over 2,000 when I last checked, are just a hoot! (Spoiler alert: the science proves nothing of the kind, so they say. The debate rages on!)" 
    One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong.  
    Avi Selk.The Washington Post. 
  • The ban on split infinitives is an idea whose time never came. To boldly go where grammarians have feared to tread. The Economist. Johnson

On the lighter side

  • Are your editing skills sharper than those of the New York Times copy editors? 
    New York Times Copy Edit This Quiz 12: Correct grammatical errors in recent New York Times articles.
  • How the Grinch Stole Grammar!
    The Stroppy Editor. Tom Freeman
Before my surgery, the anaesthetist offered to use gas or knock me out with an oar. It was an ether/oar situation.
With thanks to Sally Jennings.

Ideas? Content? Feedback?

Do you have content, ideas, or feedback to share, an idea for a monthly meeting topic or a suggestion for a particular speaker? We're all ears!

Please contact Lynne Graham at
Island Editor is coordinated and compiled by Lynne Graham and copyedited by Dave Henry. PEAVI members provide the content.
Copyright © 2018 Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island, All rights reserved.

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