All posts by Joe Wallace

Today’s Writing Tip: How to Spell Internet


It comes as a surprise to some people that the word Internet is always capitalized. Ditto for the abbreviation “Net.” Why is this?

The Internet is like a place. It is a large computer network that connects computers all over the world. In grammatical terms, it is treated as a proper noun. However, as Wikipedia points out, when we refer to the World Wide Web and the Internet, we want to capitalize that, but if we are referring to smaller internet channels, we don’t necessarily have to capitalize them.

By and large, when people write about the Internet, they are referring to the big picture, hence the need for caps. One way to make sure that you spell this right is to perform a spellcheck at the end of your e-mail, article, or manuscript.

It will pick that error up right away.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor and two erotic short stories, which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released “The Pink Triangle,” a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here:

Ethics in Freelancing

Joe-Wallace-Vinyl-Collector-and-authorby Joe Wallace

Once I had a client that needed some writing done on financial topics which included those very unsavory payday loans you might keep seeing advertised late at night in infomercial-land.

I was young in my freelance career and hadn’t really experienced much in the way of ethical dilemmas in my work, so in the end, I tried to give this client what was asked for but still keep within a certain ethical boundary. I wound up writing about these payday loans, describing what they are and how they work, but also encouraging the reader to carefully read contracts and especially the fine print.

I wrote that nobody should ever sign a contract they don’t fully understand, and a few other reasonable cautions. I felt like I should probably never take on that kind of work ever again, but at least I wrote something that could not be disguised as snake oil.

But I was wrong. I learned later, confidentially, that my work had been turned over to another person who took out all of my reasonable words and basically distilled my work INTO snake oil. The client WANTED snake oil and wasn’t too happy that they got “read the fine print, too”.

That was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

Ethical freelancing is important. It’s not up to me to tell YOU what YOUR ethics should be, but I can say from experience that when the little voice in your head starts bugging you with nagging urges to ditch a certain project because it’s making you feel crawly, listening is a very good idea. Even if it means losing that week’s income. In the long run, whatever you have to do to make up for that lost cash is worth it.

If there’s any advice to be gained from my experience, it’s that–don’t ignore your instincts, they’re there for a reason.

Today’s Writing Tip: Going to My Parents’ House

sig2010Apostrophes can be tricky and, as a manuscript editor, one of the most common errors I see is the misspelling of the term “my parents’ house.” Most of the writers that I work with are apt to spell the term “my parent’s house.” Why is that usually wrong? And when is it right?

It’s wrong because most of the time, but certainly not always, we have two parents. Therefore the apostrophe goes after the term “parents” because the house belongs to the parents. It’s like saying, “I’m going to the squirrels’ hideout.” If there is only one squirrel, we can say, “the squirrel’s hideout”; otherwise, we use the plural.

Likewise for parents. If our parents are divorced, separated, widowed or otherwise reduced from two to one, it’s appropriate and absolutely correct to write, “I went over to my parent’s house.”

But chances are you’re not going to say that because it’s pretty formal. When you’re referring to both your mother and father, you’re likely to say, “parents” whereas if you’re talking about one parent, you’ll probably say “my mom,” “my stepmom,” or “my dad.” For example, “I went to my mom’s house.”

One way to catch this mistake is to keyword your manuscript or article at the end and look for the word “parent’s.” Then you can tell if the context is correct.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor (, and is both a line-by-line and a content editor for books, articles, magazines, and essays. Visit her at

Happy Holidays From

We’ll be on a reduced schedule for the remainder of the year, but we’ll be back at it in 2013. We want to thank all of our readers and contributors–we could not do it without you! Happy holidays from and we look forward to a new year. Have a safe holiday and remember those in uniform who can’t be home–there are plenty of military members (some of whom are writers, bloggers or aspire to be) deployed or stationed overseas, celebrating with friends and co-workers there. We salute you!

Today’s Writing Tip: Varying Your Style

sig2010Usually I read nonfiction or dramas that take place in the present day, but in the beginning of 2012 I forced myself to read seven Shakespearean plays.

I wanted to break my routine and expand my thinking. Whatever is true for reading habits is also true for writing habits. You can benefit by varying your style.

Maybe you like to write long, lyrical prose. In that case, you might want to try writing short declarative sentences like Hemingway did. If you tend to write very emotionally or persuasively, try drafting an article or something that requires research or precision instead of opinion.

It’s easy to follow our routine – even Bilbo would have preferred staying in his hobbit hole and eating scones to venturing out into the jungle, but he forced himself out of his comfort zone. And as a result he discovered all kinds of character traits that he never would have known he had. You’re probably skilled in more ways than you know. Take the great leap: walk among the wolves, bears, and goblins.

Sigrid Macdonald is an author and editor. You can find her at

Today’s Writing Tip: Establishing Authority


Often writers want to sound modest, so they say things like “I’m not an authority,” or “I could be wrong.”

This may work well in general conversation or on a message board, but it doesn’t fly in a book, blog post, or an article. Why not? Well, if you’re not an authority, why should I care what you write?

Let’s say you’re discussing bullying. If you preface your remarks by saying that this is just your humble opinion and you may not be right, readers have no reason to give your words any credibility.

Take the time and the effort to establish and substantiate your position; then don’t undermine yourself by saying that you’re not an authority.

Sigrid Macdonald is a book coach, a manuscript editor, and the author of three books including Be Your Own Editor. BYOE is available on Amazon in soft cover ( and on Kindle ( Or get 20% off the regular price by writing directly to the author at Read more at