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If I'd only put an X instead of one

It was an old song, sung on an old scratchy record, and I loved it. The protagonist in the musical tale had won some kind of lottery, and wished he hadn't. At least, that's how I remember it. So now he lamented, "If I'd only put an X instead of one." Maybe it was the tune. Maybe it was the fact that the song really did tell a story. Or the singer's voice. Or knowing I could only hear it if Mum and Dad would put the record on for me...

We signed up for healthcare recently - got help with it, because, well, it's kind of a really big deal and we didn't want to make any mistakes. But then I couldn't create my online account, so I called the helpline. "Ah, we're having problems with the website. Just wait till January," they said. Then, "Ah, we're having problems with the website. Just wait a few more days." Then, "Ah, it's the website. Don't worry; you really are insured." Which helped, a bit.

Then I phoned my doctor's office, gave them my new insurance information, and was told it didn't work! Which didn't help. So I phoned the helpline again. I suspect "My doctor says my insurance doesn't work" carried more weight than "I can't create my account." They asked all the same questions - name, date of birth, address, last four digits of my social, member ID number, group number, more... then passed me on to someone else who asked all the same questions... and then worked out what was wrong. My date of birth had been typed in incorrectly!

If they'd only put an X instead of one (where X and one could be any other digit too).

I'm glad to say, it's all fixed now. But it offers an interesting lesson in editing. After all, every person I spoke to on the phone asked that same set of questions, and checked the same set of answers. But nobody spotted the error until that final call. If people whose job is to confirm the caller's information can't spot a wrong number, how can we authors expect to check all our letters, words, and sentences?

And how can authors expect editors to get everything right? I almost certainly won't find every mistake when I edit for you. But I'll help you get rid of lots of typos, polish lots of sentences, fix lots of continuity or historical errors, and more. And I'm sure you'll be pleased with the result. (I might still leave an X instead of one somewhere, but I'll try to avoid its affecting your book's health or insurance.)

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Read Reviews of Sheila Deeth's Books

If you've written a review of one of my books and would like me to include it here, please let me know. I love hearing from readers. All quotes from reviews used with permission. CHILDREN'S STORIES: Excerpts from reviews of Genesis People: Imagine a group of children sitting mesmerized when learning about the Creation of the World. (Fran Lewis, author of the Bertha Series of books) How I wish I had found Genesis People when my boys were young! (Ginna Vickory) I think they would have understood the verses better and had fun (Gina Carn) Adults will also see with new eyes and understanding. (Myrna De Mots, preschool teacher) ...fact-based stories capable of entertaining both the young and old alike. (Joyce Bergstrom) Writing with spiritual stimulation from true Bible stories, Deeth exercises “holy imagination” and takes us on a journey with fresh insights into biblical characters, their original surroundings and God’s heart for his people and the whole of creation. (Carl Lee

Ethical Editing

Someone told me recently "Ventilators kill people," adding, "70% of people put on ventilators die. They're killing people." So I argued with her. But what if she'd written an article and hired me to edit it? What if her article began exactly as above? What would I do? My first "edit" would complain that "Ventilators kill people" is stated like fact while, since it's not common knowledge and it's not yet supported by facts, it can only be opinion. I'd suggest she change it to read " I think ventilators kill people." Then, if the article contains an argument to prove her statement, she could end with "So, ventilators kill people" as her conclusion. Next I would complain about the 70% statement, arguing that writers should not deliberately mislead their readers. Looking for minimal edits, I'd suggest "70% of victims put on ventilators die" or "70% of people put on ventilators still die,"