International Dublin Writers Festival – 19-21 June 2020

We’re ecstatic! We’ve been invited to present our popular Editing Untangled Workshop at the 2020 International Dublin Writers Festival.

The festival will run from 19-21 June 2020 and will be held at the Academy Plaza Hotel, just off of O’Connell Street in the centre of Dublin. There will also be a special welcoming book fair and cocktail party on Thursday night.

Our workshop will be held from 2-4 pm on Saturday 20 June 2020.


Full conference details and registration can be found on International Dublin Writers Festival

Conference admission is $149 and includes the Awards Dinner on Saturday night. Or attendees can sign up for the Saturday sessions only.

Final details for all sessions will be posted by the end of January.


In addition Railtours Ireland is offering a Special Discount for conference attendees (Discount Code: Writers10)

The discount is 10 percent off on all tours plus the following special additions:

  • Free Upgrade to a four-star hotel in Killarney (Usually B&Bs are used)
  • Free full Irish breakfast on board the 7 am train to Cork on day one of the tour
  • Free tickets for the Dublin hop on hop off tour ticket per adult (A 22 Euro value)


Tours offered by Railtours Ireland cover all of Ireland and a full description can be found on:

Reservations can be made directly on +353 1 856 0045 or toll free 1 877 451 4783. Be sure to mention “Writers10” for the discount.

Questions to:



Editing untangled – Why do you need an editor? – Part 1


One of the things we have noticed as we’ve attended writers’ conferences and writers’ group meetings is the confusion surrounding editing. From why do I need an editor, to what does an editor do, to what type of editing do I need?

Here we’ll attempt to clear the confusion by answering these and other common questions about editing.

So, let’s start with: Why do you need an editor?


Yay! Congratulations! You’ve finished your story. You’ve pored over it and over it and over it. You’ve made it absolutely perfect. Or so you think.

But now everyone says you need to get it edited.

Why? Because a professional editor is a second set of unbiased, educated eyes.

An editor doesn’t know:

  • your story or where it takes place
  • who your characters are
  • what your characters look like, act like, feel, how they behave
  • who’s likable and not
  • what your scenes and settings look like, feel like, smell like
  • what you meant to write
  • what word you thought was right
  • what your character really meant to say
  • why you switched POV or tense.

In short, they have no preconceived ideas about your plot, where it’s going and will not read into it what you intended to write. It’s up to your story and writing to tell them all that. Finally, they’re also trained to spot and not read over grammatical, punctuation, typographical and other errors.

Simply put, editing helps you perfect your work. It can range from helping you build your story to polishing it or suggesting a complete rewrite.

How much an editor does depends on the status of your work and the type of edit you’ve requested.

Here is a link to the three basic types of editing.


Not sure what edit formula’s right for you?

In Part II we’ll go into a lot more detail for each type of edit to help you select.


Have you used an editor at any stage of your writing? How did they help you?

Brain Teaser


This is an unusual paragraph.

I’m curious how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so plain you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it. Study it but you will still may not find anything odd.

Email us if you think you know the answer!

Business writing series: Minute Taking: A team effort


Take the initiative and build a relationship with the Chairperson says Robyn Bennett

One of the key points I aim to get across to participants on my minute taking course is the importance of producing clear, concise and condensed minutes.

The success of this depends on several factors including the minute taker’s experience, skill factor and initiative.

What is the purpose of minutes?

Simple. To provide a document that records the key points, decisions and actions.

But that’s easier said than done. How many times have you been in a meeting, there has been a discussion and the group wander off to the next agenda item without resolution of the previous item? Or the discussion has been so long and convoluted, you’re confused about what should be recorded? Quite often the minute taker is left floundering and is now playing catch-up as the group delves heartily into the next agenda item.

Building a relationship with the chairperson

I encourage minute takers to build a relationship with their chairperson. This can include having a pre-meeting with the chairperson to discussing the agenda, to helping the chairperson keep to the agenda and allocated timeframes.

At the meeting the biggest influence you have is encouraging the chairperson to summarise at the end of each agenda item. Don’t be afraid to seek clarification on what’s required to be minuted. A gentle reminder to the chairperson to summarise key points, decisions, actions and timeframes will help you ensure you’ve got down necessary information. And will make your job so much easier!

This is one of the significant learning points I encourage participants on my course to take away. It’s now up to them to educate their chairpersons.

The understanding of the chairperson’s role in a meeting is critical. Some chairs get it, others don’t. In fact, some of them believe it’s the minute taker’s job to summarise the minutes.

A manager’s perspective

Several years ago, I connected with Bob Boze. Bob has held a number of senior management positions. He read my Minute Taking Madness book, and a lightbulb went off.

Here is Bob’s light bulb revelation:

“I am probably the last person in the world who would be asked to take minutes at a meeting. However, as a Project Leader, Program Manager and finally Department Manager several times over, I have conducted more meetings than most people ever will. I’ve also attended numerous meetings at customers’ facilities all over the world where I walked away being responsible for most, if not all, of the action items.

In more cases than I care to admit, I later stood scratching my head as I read the minutes from a meeting asking: What is that? When did that come up? Is that an action item and if so, whose? Uh, where is…? Wasn’t there a second item to that? And on and on.

Being a manager, I did what most managers do. I blamed the poor person designated as scribe for the day, who typically was unfairly forced to take minutes. Did they get any training in minute taking? No. Did I help them accurately record minutes in how I conducted the meeting? No.

Minute taking is not an easy task and the person tagged to do so needs to be properly trained. Accurate minutes from a meeting are critical; especially to those who couldn’t attend, those assigned action items and whoever is responsible for making sure the meeting is accurately reflected and all items are closed. (Uh, that last one would be me!).”

The manager and the minute taker as a team

Bob and I both agree that minutes can only be as good as the person chairing the meeting.

Your minutes will improve immensely if you can encourage the chairperson to do a summary at the end of each agenda item.

With your minute taking skills, your initiative of building a relationship with the chairperson and working together as a team will ensure that there is a shared responsibility in ensuring the minutes are outcome focused.


This article first appeared in Executive Secretary Magazine, a global training publication and must read for any administrative professional. You can get a 30% discount on an individual subscription when you subscribe through me. Email and tell them I sent you.


Business editing

When we originally founded Writing Allsorts, our initial goal was to help authors and writers. However, two things convinced us that, perhaps more than authors, small and large businesses alike needed a lot of help with their written and digital communications.

As we traveled throughout the US, New Zealand, England, Ireland and Australia, we couldn’t help but note mistakes on signage, menus, flyers, sandwich boards, and yes, even parking lot and road signs.

But, it wasn’t only spelling errors that we noticed. Often incorrect words were used, improper punctuation, spacing or layout changed the meaning or colloquialisms were used to advertise things to people who had no idea what they meant.

A lot of this we have addressed in our business book, How Not to Fail in Business Without Really Trying. And, in all honesty, many of these mistakes often create a lot of laughs.

However, when you’re in business it can have a major impact on how your customers view and even rate your business or cause them to just walk on by chuckling.


Commonly misspelled or misused words

there, their, they’re while, a while, awhile a lot, allot
accept, except affect, effect cache, catch, cash
principal, principle loose, lose Two, too, to
buy, by, bye, dessert, desert borrow, lend, loaned
allusion, illusion that, which it’s, its
fined, find your, you’re conscientious, conscious


Common phonetically misspelled words

Note: Use of phonetic words can vary widely, and might even be considered proper, depending on the country and/or region your business may be in.)

unortherised thru doin
excepion goin gonna
lemme (let me) tho cuz (because)



Here, layout and spacing, as well as spelling can easily create some very unique and often funny signs. We’ll start with a sign that was on the board to the entrance of the room for one of Robyn’s training sessions, The Art of Minute Taking.


Cruise ships

Use next exit

We bye used cars Customer parking only Others will be toad
Executive Bored Room Hunters please use caution when hunting pedestrians

use walking trails


Slow children crossing


Handicapped ramp



Menu mistakes

Ah yes, our favorite. (Please note that we will not even go into translation issues, which truly can be an editor’s nightmare and have them laughing till their side aches.)

green pee soup Ask about our 0% discount Homemade pene paste

(should have been penne pasta)

pickled leggs (eggs) Fried bum

(we’re not sure what that should have been)


All meals served with white or whole meat bread


Defried chicken

(Colonel Sanders just had a heart attack!)



Okay, so we’ve had enough fun but, we haven’t even touched on color contrast, font that’s hard to read, spacing, size, and on and on. All of which can send the wrong message or no message.

NB:   All of the examples given here are real. Some we actually saw and some we took from the Internet, which is full of business communications boo boos.


Seen or had some funny edit issue? Let us know. We always enjoy a good laugh or a puzzle to try and figure out.