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Staying Connected during Isolation


Staying Connected during Isolation

Isolating in our homes during the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly increased the amount of time we’re spending in virtual spaces for business, pleasure, and education. 

Before the pandemic, I had weekly meetings with clients on Google Hangouts and Skype, but since the shelter-in-place guidance I’ve seen a big increase in meetings via Zoom (not to mention sessions with friends and family on Houseparty).

I’ve also participated in more online collaboration on Miro, and it’s hard to imagine that virtual collaboration will do anything but increase — whether or not we return to something approaching our old normal. 

The following fun and informative offerings have popped up in recent weeks:


That Word Chat with Mark Allen

Former newspaper reporter and longtime copy editor Mark Allen (@EditorMark) has launched That Word Chat on Zoom. 

Described as a “video chat with lovers of all things lexical,” the episodes air Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. ET. The first episode featured a conversation with Mary Norris, the author of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen.

During the first episode, I looked from attendee to attendee and was struck by the number of respected editors in the virtual room — a real who’s who of Editor Twitter. It felt good to hang for a bit with these great editors.

The second episode welcomed Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries author Kory Stamper and Steve Kleinedler, author of Is English Changing? At one point, the two took word suggestions and wrote on-the-fly definitions. 

Though they made clear that coming up with definitions off the top of their heads was far from the real dictionary-writing process, it was still fascinating to get a glimpse of how they think — and it was also a lot of fun.


Sentence Diagramming with Ellen Jovin

Known on Twitter for her traveling Grammar Table, Ellen Jovin (@GrammarTable) has launched a series of classes on sentence diagramming.

Whatever your reaction to sentence diagramming — be it a quizzical Huh? or a nostalgic Oh yes, I remember doing that — the first two classes have been a blast, and I look forward to the third.

(I remember sentence diagramming from grade school nearly four decades ago and haven’t thought about it a lot since, so I’ve greatly enjoyed the creativity of drawing out sentences with a group of fellow editors.)


ACES and EFA Webinars

I value my memberships in ACES: The Society for Editors and the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), and both have offered free webinars to members during the pandemic (with ACES offering free webinars to nonmembers as well).

Whether for learning something new or reinforcing knowledge, ongoing education is an important part of being an editor who provides the best possible service to clients. 

I also find it can be a boost to mental health, because it feels like such a productive use of time (and while I’ve been lucky to maintain steady work during the crisis, the uncertainty around book publishing is just one of many stressors in this new world).


ACES Annual Conference

For many, ACES is almost synonymous with the organization’s annual convention, and I’ve been fortunate enough to attend past conventions in St. Petersburg, Portland, and Chicago.

This year’s convention in Salt Lake City was canceled because of the pandemic, but ACES has scheduled a day of online sessions for May 1. Session topics include the following:

  • The Invention of the Modern American Dictionary with Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large, Merriam-Webster
  • Grammar Arcana with Lisa McLendon, coordinator of the Bremner Editing Center at University of Kansas
  • Developing a Quality Editorial Process End-to-End with Samantha Enslen, president, Dragonfly Editorial, and Cynthia Williams, editor and project manager, Dragonfly Editorial
  • What’s New in the AP Stylebook with Paula Froke, lead editor, AP Stylebook, and Colleen Newvine, product manager, AP Stylebook


I’m looking forward to these sessions and am grateful that the people at ACES have done what they can to replace their beloved convention.


Evident Ink with Nancy Smay

In addition to serving clients through Castle Walls Editing, I edit romance as a guest editor through editor Nancy Smay’s company Evident Ink, and I am happy to report that Nancy has launched a wonderful series of free live video sessions on Facebook ( 

Nancy welcomes new guests every week, with upcoming sessions including topics such as boosting your writing productivity and using tropes in fiction. The classes take place on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. ET and are well worth checking out.


Corona Con

Because of the cancellation of the Scares That Care horror convention in Wisconsin, author Kelli Owen led the charge to put together a live stream replacement con on April 18.

Guests included Jonathan Janz, Kelli Owen, Brian Keene, Mary SanGiovanni, Robert Ford, Tim Meyer, Matt Hayward, Wes Southard, Somer Canon, Wile E. Young, Stephen Kozeniewski, Aaron Dries, Bracken MacLeod, and moderators Sadie Hartman (MotherHorror of Nightworms), Bob Pastorella (This Is Horror), Steve Pattee (Horror DNA), and Shane Keene (Ink Heist).

A link to the day’s events can be found here:

All the sessions are worth watching, but the Jonathan Janz reading stands out as perhaps the day’s biggest bring-down-the-house moment. Reading from his forthcoming work The Raven, Janz delivered a master class in live reading.

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