About Me: Proofing

Check out my business website for more information (or if you need proofing or editing on a project–small or large).

Background

I earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and worked for a NASA contractor as a FORTRAN programmer modeling space-shuttle reentry for more than five years.

After I “retired,” I learned relational-database programming to replace my church’s not-really-a-database system. I worked on that project for more than nine years, trying to branch out to paid work, with only a few jobs.

In 2000, I read a couple of great books by Randy Ingermanson, a nonfiction and his first novel. Both were terrific, and “coincidentally,” he and his friend John Olson were writing a novel on the first manned mission to Mars. I had e-mailed him about the nonfiction book and was greatly surprised to receive a response almost the next day. I became their go-to for NASA-ese and pointed out a few proofing/editing things along the way. They said I should consider a new job.

I submitted information to several publishing houses and even took a “freelancer’s test” to see if I had enough skill. I never heard back, so I figured I didn’t. A year later while cleaning off my desk, I found the cover letter that had accompanied the test, so a follow-up seemed in order. It turns out that the editor’s response letter had gotten lost in the mail, and they wanted to add me to their list. They wanted to add me to their list!!!

So in 2003, I was on the list. I was on the list. I was on the list. But I never received an offer to work on a book.

When Hubby’s mother became so ill she was bed-ridden, we moved in to help care for her during what turned out to be her final illness. Bad times for sure, but there was good in it too. Hubby’s grandmother died six weeks after Mom did. While Hubby and I recuperated, I decided to quit doing database and was soon trying to figure out “What’s next?”

Within a month I was contacted to copyedit my first book. That was November 2005 and some 140 books ago.

In fall 2014, a friend of a friend led me to submit a proposal to edit a character curriculum for grades 3 through 8. Over six months, I edited 995,000 words in 503.5 hours. (Yes, I created a database to track time and words for me.)

I always tell people I get paid to do two of my favorite things: reading and nitpicking. But all glory to God for bringing me to a job that suits me so perfectly!

An Engineer Turned Grammarian?

It is an odd switch. But I had studied French for five years in high school as well as taking a year of both Russian and Spanish in college. I learned more about grammar in French than I ever did in English class, where we were too busy trying to interpret the meaning of the candle flame on page 154.

My favorite explanation of what it means to have a bachelor’s in engineering is that I’m a well-trained problem-solver. Engineering has rules, and there are steps you follow as you solve the problem at hand. Grammar is also rules, so in a weird way, an engineering degree is a good background. It also helped on books that used math or included descriptions of physical phenomena (like how an airplane’s wings provide lift).

The foreign-language study has also come in handy, as I’ve done books set in France and Russia (they had a sprinkling of foreign words and touched on the cultural stuff one usually learns along with the language itself). I also did two books of a three-part series set in the Pennsylvania Dutch areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio: is it a “coincidence” that all four of my grandparents spoke Pennsylvania Dutch? Definitely not!