Tag Archives: Canadian history organizations

Editors: Writers Most Valuable Allies

Blogging feels like freedom, but surprisingly, what I have most missed while creating these freelance blogs is an editor, a second set of eyes to pick up any mistakes. No matter how much we have written, we overlook details when proofing our own work. We “read” what is in our heads, not the words as they appear. Similarly, when new to a genre, we may not realize how style or technology impacts the process.

With WordPress, options abound, and I know I’ll appreciate them as I become more proficient. However, the tiny window for drafting means I can see only one paragraph at a time. Too, I still haven’t found the spell and grammar checks, but initially, I posted without ever proofreading a black and white print copy of the entire article.

As an individual reader and writer, I applaud the concept of going paperless, but it doesn’t work for me. I am a print learner, so seeing the words on paper is the best process for my learning style. I need to view the entire draft to know if it makes sense. I need see the printed words, pick up my red pen and separate myself from the content. I need to become an editor, and that is an extremely difficult task if working with our own words.

When proofing our drafts, we don’t notice that we have repeated ourselves or bored readers with irrelevant details. Similarly, we may not recognize that what is clear in our own heads is not clear for the detached reader. Certainly, I have improved my process. I’m using a word processor for drafts, printing the posts and proofing with pen in hand. But I will always miss some mistakes. So, I was elated when a good friend said she would edit and proofread for me.

I am so pleased to introduce Shirlee Smith Matheson to all of you. She is a talented and experienced writer, author of 16 published books and many short stories. A popular public historian, her specialty is Canadian aviation, as well as the stories and history of northern Canada. Nine of her books are adult nonfiction, but also, she has written seven novels for the juvenile and young adult market. Shirlee has offered hundreds of readings and workshops at libraries, schools and museums, and she has mentored writers as writer-in-residence for Medicine Hat Public Library, Calgary Public Library and Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society (AWCS), Calgary. As well, she has instructed workshops for young writers’ conferences throughout Alberta and B.C. In addition, she has taught for Mount Royal University and AWCS.

Herself an award winning author, Shirlee has been a judge for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, a responsibility that has required her to read 60 or more books to determine which ones should be the award winners. An avid reader and a graduate of Athabasca University, Shirlee is a member of numerous writers’ organization and aviation museums. In 2001, she received an Honorary Associate of Arts Degree from Northern Lights College in recognition of her contributions to the literary arts. Shirlee understands the power of words and the world of writers.

How fortunate I am to have her help. Shirlee, what an honour it is to welcome you to my blog and to the blogosphere! For more details about Shirlee and her work, be sure to check out her website www.ssmatheson.ca

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History Hermits Unite!

 Are you a history hermit who sits alone studying old papers, unaware of possible support systems or heritage buddies? Likely, you buy history books and DVDs. You watch The History Channel, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) documentaries and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Then, just for fun, you tackle genealogy on your computer. You might interview elderly Aunt Doris or begin a memoir. All are commendable, but like writers, history buffs benefit from participation in organizations of like-minded people.

In Calgary, we have the Chinook Branch of the Historical Society of Alberta (www.albertahistory.org), and I’ve been a member for years. I’m a huge fan of the organization, its magazine, newsletter and activities, but others—those who have served on the executive, as editors for publications and as volunteers assisting at events–deserve all the credit for its success. Fortunately, most Albertans have access to similar branches including ones in Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Peace River.

Of course, numerous societies are dedicated to our history. Perhaps, the Danish Canadian Club, the Alberta Native Frienship Centre, or Friends of the Ukranian Village Society better suit your priorities. Just do a little digging, and you will find the right organization to support your passion for heritage. Such groups exist all across North America and the world, but regional groups are often the best places to start.

The British Columbia Historical Federation represents many groups in BC, and it has various categories of memberships. On its website this year, the federation boasted of 25,875 members! Interested individuals simply need to go to the website (www.bchistory.ca), follow the link to members and discover groups sponsoring activities in their local communities.

To its credit, the Saskatchewan govenment has made historical resources a very high priority. Perhaps because the province has so many history-related groups, it is hard to find a simple online list. Your best bets are Heritage Saskatchewan (www.heritagesask. ca), the Saskatchewan History & Folklore Society, Inc. (www.shfs.ca), and the Saskatoon Heritage Organization (www.saskatoonheritage.ca). Generally speaking, once on the webiste, go to the list of members.

Also, following links on the Manitoba Historical Society website (www.mhs.mb.ca) is a great way to discover that province’s historical organizations. On the site, select “About Us.”Then find “Affliated societies,” and voila! But, this website provides links to fascinating documents and web exhibits, so set aside time for browsing.

Everywhere, history buffs have organized to find ways of preserving and sharing our heritage. Certainly, you don’t have to be a history hermit—unless of course that’s truly what you want to be. When I have a tight book deadline, even I embrace that option.