During this Covid pandemic, what would Mister Rogers do?

Recently I watched the 2019 Tom Hanks’ film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the biopic about Mister Rogers, inspired by the 1998 Esquire article “Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod (republished in 2017). I was particularly struck by how genuinely kind Mister Rogers was in real life; more importantly, I was struck by the fact that, for Fred Rogers, kindness was not an innate personality trait but rather a decision he made minute by minute, day by day, to embrace, to employ, to embody. This got me thinking about Read More …

Amazon wade back into serialized content with Kindle Vella

A new addition to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Vella is an online writing platform where readers can purchase tokens to read serialized content. Initially Vella will be offered only on the Kindle iOS app and Amazon.com, not on Kindle devices or the Kindle Android, Mac, or PC apps, suggesting this may be aimed at stealing some iPhone users away from Apple Books, or may be a means of beating Apple to the punch. Serialization of paid digital content first became popular in Asia (particularly China, Korea, and Japan), and initially Read More …

The comma and the compound sentence

Webster’s Dictionary defines a compound sentence as “a sentence consisting of two or more independent, coordinate clauses (Ex.: She drinks coffee, but he prefers tea.)” A clause is a group of words that contain, at minimum, a subject and a verb: He eats. We play. The dog sleeps. The standard grammatical rule is that compound sentences should be separated by a semicolon or by the combination of a comma and a conjunction (e.g., and, but, or). However, The Chicago Manual of Style allows writers to omit the comma if no Read More …

The case of the misplaced modifier

In my work as an editor, a common error I see is the misplaced modifier. As its name suggests, the modifier is placed incorrectly in the sentence, often creating ambiguity. (The irony is that the term misplaced modifier is itself ambiguous, as misplaced can mean either “incorrectly placed” or “lost.” But I digress.) And this error, as the above image illustrates, is not just common with new writers, but also among those who get paid not to embarrass their clients. A misplaced modifier can be a word or a phrase. Read More …

There will always be another train

How much time does it take to change a life? A second, a minute, an hour, a lifetime? Or is it all these at once, a complex intersection of lives colliding like atoms, inextricably drawn together by the force of fate, destiny, or the otherworldly needs of two souls? I was young, only twenty, a backpacker who had travelled to India on a whim, who had arrived unprepared for the poverty and the multitudes. After three stressful months of wandering about that vast subcontinent, I found myself in what was Read More …

Is Chris Hedges a hypocrite?

A few months ago I attended at the University of Alberta’s Augustana campus in Camrose to listen to a lecture by the esteemed author and journalist Chris Hedges, whose latest book, America: The Farewell Tour, I had read with interest. America is a call to action, a call to reject materialism and capitalism and to embrace socialist democracy, to clean up our politics, economics, and the environment before it’s too late. Yet a quick check of Hedges’s personal circumstances made me wonder if he walks the walk, or if he’s Read More …

READ THIS before shipping books to Canadians!

The recent upset over changes to Australia’s rules on GST applied to low-value goods has for some of my clients once again raised the spectre of similar issues selling and shipping to consumers in Canada. Those using Fulfilled by Amazon or Amazon Advantage have had to open an account with Amazon Canada and ship product to their fulfillment warehouses there or use a Canadian broker. All of which is expensive. You can, as many do, simply elect to use a different method of selling to Canadians, such as through eBay Read More …

READ THIS before selling books to Australians!

Last July, Australia changed its sales tax law to level the playing field between international sellers and domestic ones. Previously, Australia’s sales tax, the GST (Goods and Services Tax), was not collected on physical items purchased outside Australia for less than AUS $1000 (“low-value goods”) and imported by the consumer. This allowed Australians to save money by buying off international websites, especially ones that provided free shipping or a price low enough to offset the shipping costs. But it also hurt those Australian businesses that do have to charge sales Read More …

Time is no excuse for our past sins

As a Canadian child, I was taught to celebrate the Fathers of Confederation, in particular John A. MacDonald, our first prime minister. As a Catholic child, I was taught to celebrate the missionaries who helped to build and educate this country, who opened the first hospitals and schools. Later on, as a student in the UofA Women’s Studies department, I was taught to celebrate the champions of women’s rights, people like Canada’s Famous Five — Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby — who campaigned Read More …

Holocaust Memorial Day is not just for the Jews

In a recent Facebook post of an acquaintance, I was accused of antisemitism and racism for expressing my disapproval of the way in which the Holocaust — and with it Holocaust Memorial Day — has been claimed by the Jewish community to the exclusion of the other victims. I also voiced my displeasure at the way the state of Israel uses the Holocaust to justify aggression against their neighbours, in particular the Palestinians. I was particularly vilified for stating that I am as equally offended by such Holocaust exploiters as Read More …