'Nuff Said

Again, it’s been a while since my last blog post (as I’ve said, it’s been a busy year…oh, to have such problems, right?). I just wish what was inspiring me to post was something more upbeat.

Stan “The Man” Lee has passed.

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Though some critics choose to bash Stan over what he did or didn’t create, his influence on comics and genuine love and enthusiasm for comics fans is the reason there even is a comics industry as we know it today, not to mention all the associated media that comes from it. So as someone who had always dreamed of working in comics—and who eventually fulfilled that dream—I owe a debt to Stan that I can never fully repay, particularly since my first job in comics was as an intern for Marvel.

Included with many of the various remembrances of Stan are a sampling of his “Stan’s Soapbox” pieces, several of which reminded us that he lived by the same creed he coined for Spider-Man—”With great power comes great responsibility”—and did what he could to help shape the morals of his readers, all of whom he made to feel as though they were part of a special club. I’m including one here that I think is still as relevant today as it was when Stan wrote it.

Rest well, Stan the Man. You’ve earned it. EXCELSIOR!! #RIPStanLee

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Insulting with Authority

Greetings, all... Long time no talk. A consequence of being über-busy these past few months. Certainly a good thing, but it does mean that blogging can fall a bit by the wayside.

However, today, as I was looking up a word for a proofread I'm working on (Wolf & Parchment, vol. 3, for Yen Press), I found this article on Merriam-Webster's website: Some Notes On 'Asshat': A serious look at where it came from.

So I thought I'd take a moment to share I choose to take pleasure in the fact that not only did "asshat" make its way into the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but also it comes complete with an origin story. So now when I call someone an asshat, I can both cite chapter and verse on why I've correctly identified them as an asshat, as well as prove it's not a word I...well, pulled out of my ass.

It's one, dear. (Thank you, Merriam-Webster.)

It's one, dear. (Thank you, Merriam-Webster.)

And on that (hopefully) amusing thought, I return you to your regularly scheduled Friday. May your work-life balance tip decisively to the "life" side, and may the margaritas (the official adult beverage of Working Vacation Studios) be plentiful.

The Power of Punctuation

Not sure if y'all saw this news when it broke, but a major contract dispute erupted between the Oakhurst Dairy in Portland, Maine, and their drivers over overtime pay. Just today, the dispute was finally settled. The ultimate culprit in all of this: the serial comma.

Yes, because the guy writing the contract opted not to use the serial, or Oxford, comma, the Oakhurst Dairy lost a major contract claim. While you can read the article to get all the details on the dispute, as well as a glimpse into the whole Oxford comma debate, I thought I'd provide this simple infographic primer on why this bit of punctuation can be very important:

(from The Gloss)

(from The Gloss)

On a separate, but semi-related note, I was once introduced to an attractive woman whose opening words to me were, "So, what are your feelings on the Oxford comma?" Suffice to say, I was then putty in her hands and bought her at least two very expensive drinks. Just an early Valentine's Day tip for the future Mrs. Working Vacation Studios, wherever she may be.

Tools of the Trade

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times Magazine ran a neat article on one of the last pencil factories in America. Though much of the editing I do these days is done electronically, proofreads for the major publishers is still mostly done with paper proofs and a red pencil. So, for me at least, it was pretty interesting to see how this important tool of my trade is made.

Of perhaps equal importance, today is the anniversary of when the first canned beer went on sale. And much as I enjoy what I do, there are many (many) days when I really (really) need an ice-cold beer at the end of the day.

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So, tonight, I'll raise my beer in celebration of two of the editor's most important tools of the trade: the red pencil and the after-work can of beer.

Rising Star

Happy New Year, one and all!

As you may or may not know, there is a bit of a hierarchy when it comes to book reviews. Now I'm not talking about whether one source is more reputable than another (as that can be argued), I'm instead looking at one important thing: a star. Unlike most other types of reviews, all an author needs to earn is just one star, as "starred reviews" are doled out very sparingly and mean that the author's book is most certainly a cut above the rest.

I'm very proud to report that one of the authors I worked with in 2017, Adam Bender, has earned this particular distinction and has been awarded a starred review by Kirkus Reviews, one of the most noted book review agencies out there.

Adam's book, The Wanderer and the New West, was one I definitely enjoyed reading (and not just because it was a Western mashup, which is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine), so I'm glad to see that it's gotten the attention it deserves.

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The book is currently available on Amazon as well as other outlets, so go get yerself a copy, y'hear? And congrats, Adam! I look forward to our next collaboration...

The word is still the thing

Merry Christmas Eve!!

As y'all likely already know, words are my stock in trade. So, it wasn't surprising that last year at about this time, I was a bit obsessed with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. While I was certainly curious what they selected this year (it's feminism, BTW...another good call), I was more intrigued and amused by what was voted "Most Annoying Word or Phrase Used in Casual Conversation."

According to MaristPoll, "whatever..." has narrowly secured that particular top spot for the ninth year in a row, with newcomer "fake news" coming in second, followed by "no offense, but..." "Literally" comes in a respectable fourth, likely fueled by those who want to literally kill their friends who correct them on the use of literally versus figuratively.

And it's on that note that I close up the shop for the year. Best wishes to y'all for a very merry, happy, and jolly holiday season, and here's hoping that 2018 isn't another year some of us may want to figuratively tar and feather before showing it the door...

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It's the most wonderful time of the year...

And no, I don't mean Christmas.

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First, my apologies for the span of time between this blog post and the last, but it has proven to be a very busy 2017, which is great in terms of Working Vacation Studios (keep those editing requests coming!), but not so good in terms of my ability to do regular blog posts. Another goal to add to the New Year's resolutions list...

Now to the topic at hand: Why is it the best time of the year? Massive amounts of food and time spent with family? Partly. But what I'm really talking about is Board Game Geek Con: a five-day, four-night annual gathering in Dallas, TX, of (now) nearly 3,000 gamers put on by the fine folks at BoardGameGeek.com (obvs). Not only is BGG.Con the one time of year when WVS takes a real vacation (I turn off the e-mail and everything...well, I do check in with my clients who are also at the show), but also it's my opportunity to catch up with my gaming pals and play our favorites while also trying out the new games. Below are pics of just a handful of what made it to the table (including Eurorails, Cosmic Encounter, Trickerion, Flipships, Arkham Horror, and a demo of the upcoming Doctor Who: Time of the Daleks). 

So yes, in addition to editing games, I do really love to play them. And BGG.Con is my opportunity to do just that pretty much 24/7. I highly recommend making the trek if you're so inclined; it's truly an awesome experience.

Now it's time to loosen the belt and prepare for the eating fest that is Thanksgiving. So my best wishes to you all for an enjoyable holiday, and continue to watch this space for more news and views from Working Vacation Studios...

A Friday worth celebrating for more than just being Friday...

This is kind of a special Friday for four reasons:

1) It's Friday.

2) It's kinda-sorta the second anniversary of the birth of Working Vacation Studios.

3) One year ago today, I brought home this skittish shed-monster named Nora, and she has since blossomed into the sweetest companion this working-at-home stiff could ask for (though she still sheds like a beast and wakes me up faaaar too early in the morning).

4) Did I mention it's Friday?

Happy Friday/two-year work-iversary/one-year adopt-iversary, everyone! Now, go have a margarita...

Every editor does one

At some point in an editor's career, he or she edits at least one hard book. And by that, I don't mean one that is difficult technically (lots of errors, plot's a mess, etc.)—I mean one that reads like a gut punch to your soul. Like with many other colleagues, mine was a cancer memoir. And I'm proud to say that Popcorn from the Void: Observations, Manic Kvetching, and the Raw Truth of Leukemia is now on sale.

A compilation of blog posts by Todd Park, a magazine journalist, the text itself was fairly easy to edit. But knowing from the outset how his story would end (spoilers!) made progress tough sometimes, though having to stop every few pages to confirm a song title from Todd's playlist brought one welcome ear worm after another. Then, just as I was in the home stretch, came the manuscript's final sock to my spiritual jaw: Todd died on my birthday. Suffice to say, I was a couple of days late with the final delivery (thanks for understanding, Christine!).

All in all, I'm glad I did it and that I got to read (and edit) the story of this brave man. But, I'm likewise glad I no longer need to pay this particular due.

Be the tortoise

As I scurry about, trying to wrap up my day and week in time to enjoy a Summer Friday (I thought it was just a publishing thing—which I decided to adopt as part of my freelancer life—but not so. Check this out: The number of companies offering 'Summer Fridays' has doubled...), I wanted to share this with y'all before I dive into my (semi-working) weekend.

To all of us who feel as though day in and day out we're just beating our heads against a wall, I offer you the following (be warned, there's a fair amount of good-natured profanity, so you may want to watch with the headphones on):

Happy Friday, and for today at least, may you be the tortoise.