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Capabilities, talents, and strengths

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Achilles’ heel: A weak or vulnerable factor. From the legend of Greek hero Achilles, who had one vulnerable part of his body, his heel. As an infant, his mother had held him by one heel to dip him in the River Styx to make him invulnerable.

Wordsmith: A word expert who uses language very well

Wordsmith with an Achilles’ heel: Someone who has to check yet again if well or good is the correct word to use in the previous definition

Take a look at what Shenouda employee Donna Muldoon learned from a recent informal and unscientific study of colleagues and their Achilles’ heels.

The rules, they are a changing

In the survey, colleagues noted that once-standard rules have changed, making it necessary to research and confirm they are using the most recent format. For example, some businesses are still unaware that double spaces after a period or full stop are no longer the standard. A change that is more jarring for those who focus on grammar is the more recent revision to the singular subject and plural verb agreement format. It is now common to see variations of “Each owner should have their own copy of the lease.” Through use, and supported by guides such as the APA Style Blog, the new format is becoming acceptable.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Even wordsmiths who adeptly manage sentence structure sometimes hesitate when it comes to basic English grammar issues. Writers in the survey gave examples that cause them to rethink what they wrote. Is it that or which? Alternative or alternate? Since or because? On site or on-site or onsite? More than one writer found it necessary to look up when compound adjectives or prefixes take a hyphen. Some writers keep their own customized reference sheet to solve nagging, recurring wordsmithing questions.

While good spelling is common among writers and editors, specific words were an Achilles’ heel nevertheless. Condolences tripped up one writer, license another. An editor who often reviewed documents in both American and British English, would begin to lose focus on which version of fulfill/fulfil, practice/practise, aging/ageing, or program/programme to use. There was also a tendency among writers to watch for repetitive use of certain words, such as so or but. A technical writer who wrote with a controlled language that specified words could only be used in their approved category of noun, verb, or adjective found difficulty writing more creative, less restrictive marketing content. Read More

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A long-time member of the Shenouda Associates Inc. team, Donna Muldoon shares her entry into the technical writing business. Reluctant or not, her writing skills are strong and solid, and her editing skills are impeccable.  — Judy Shenouda

Donna-Judy

Donna, the reluctant writer, with Judy, the boss!

I am a reluctant writer.

From my first aptitude test in junior high to my last career counseling tests as an adult, I was told that I should be a writer. Even Mrs. C, my high school English teacher with the feared red pen, commented that I should be a journalist. But I always disliked writing. It was painful, a dreaded chore, whether it was a simple thank you note or a speech to be presented. Sometimes the words came easily, but other times, they wouldn’t come out of my pen no matter how soon that assignment was due.

But here I am—after 22 years as a technical writer—still reluctant to do any real writing. I’m defining real writing here as creative writing—the opposite of technical writing. For me, creative writing requires thought, imagination, attention-grabbing sentences, interesting characters, and maybe some human emotion. None of that is in my wheelhouse.

So, when a career counselor suggested that I consider technical writing, I needed more explanation as to what that entailed. The counselor set up a meeting with someone in the field, with the warning that this was not a job interview. With a business writing sample in hand and absolute certainty that no amount of information would convince me that writing was for me, I went to the meeting. The expert in the field turned out to be Judy Shenouda! Over the course of two hours, Judy explained the concepts of technical writing and showed me some examples. The sight of 200-page finished publications did not fill me with waves of excitement, anticipation, or confidence! But Judy made me an offer that very few people ever receive: I could try out working on a technical writing assignment for a month to see if I liked it. If Judy was willing to take a risk, there was nothing for me to lose.

The first 10 years, the next 10 years, and still counting

I tried out that job for 10 years, becoming the sole writer for one complex product that encompassed over 50 manuals, totaling more than 2,000 pages. In addition to becoming familiar with the product, I learned how to write using a controlled language, how to publish on FrameMaker, and how to build periodic CDs for the distribution of the manuals.

Skip ahead to now. Read More

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With second editions of my three books now published, I’m launching them! Ready or not, world, here they are. Happily, there are some occasions to introduce them.

What’s happening?

October 6, 2018, Irondequoit Library’s Local Author Day, 1 to 4 p.m. Along with other authors, I′ll be there discussing, selling, and signing my books. If you’re in the area, please stop by. For more information, click here.

October 7, 2018, Hosted by The Shift to Wellness, 5 to 6 p.m. EDT. Kirstin Kurtz Pinit interviews me during this online discussion and reading of Living Well in Froggy′s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud. If you missed the discussion, take a look here.

December 2, 2018, at the Irondequoit Public Library, 1290 Titus Ave, Rochester, NY, Room 113. Author meet and greet at 1:30 p.m., author reading and talk at 2:00 p.m., and book sale and signing at 2:30 p.m.

I’m ready, willing, and able to participate in events and tell the story of these books, including why I wrote them, who influenced me, and how they came to life. I’m eager to share bits of wisdom learned about living well that, in one way or another, found their way into my books. My intention is to inspire you and others to live with abundance.

How can you help?

Take a look inside these new 2018 second editions:

Career Success in 12 Easy Steps, A Journal

Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud

A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way

If you like what you see, write an Amazon review, ask me to be a guest blogger, and invite me to participate in your events. Tell me where I can share a little of this and a little of that about living well at work, in nature, and with food, family, friends.

Reach out to me at Shenouda@easescommunication.com. I would love to hear from you.

 

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When family members wanted to compile a cookbook of favorite recipes, I was happy to oblige. They know how to cook and bake. I know how to write, edit, and publish. We all know how to eat tasty food. Thus, the first edition of A Bisl of This and That: Eating Our Way was born.

Yummy first edition

I loved sharing the first edition with family, friends, and many others who delighted in the recipes and stories as evidenced in their comments:

“This book made me hungry in more ways than one: the delicious recipes, of course, but also the sweet family stories connected with them. From the Stuffed Cabbage to the Noodle Kugel to the Honey Cake for dessert, my mouth watered with every page. These recipes range from simple to complex, sweet to savory, little-bits and whole-lots—all delish! By the end, I felt like I was a member of the family having shared a meal and a song around the piano all together.”

“The recipes are easy to follow, which I can only imagine is a result of having been put together by an author with years of technical communication experience, and I believe the Spanish Rice and Tzimmes dishes may become a part of my own family’s go-to favorites. As a bonus, each recipe comes with a family story about how the dish was enjoyed. It is a great way to enjoy the time while the food cooks in the oven.”

A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That…the perfect title for this delicious cookbook has replaced my old, worn, always dependable go-to cookbook. Judy Ellison Shenouda has compiled not only a mouth-watering collection of varied recipes but has invited you into memories of her childhood home as (extended) family members recall and share delightful gatherings, framed by love, remarkable food, and always…music. This wonderful book almost has you sitting at her family table sharing culinary history as you imagine the aroma of home-made food that even you can easily duplicate.”

Even more yummy second edition

At book events, folks flipped through the pages of the first edition and asked interesting questions. “What, no Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls?” “No Half-Moon Cookies?” “Can you find a recipe for the Plum Kuchen my mother brought with her many years ago from Europe?” With this new second edition, you can now make these dishes and more. Start your day with Bagels or Bread Pudding. Try a wonderful meal of Chicken Paprikás, Hungarian Dumplings, and Cucumber Salad. Cook the Amish Onion Cakes and Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie for lighter fare. Cap a meal with Mahogany Cake or Orange Cookies from Poland.

Look inside

Take a Look inside Amazon for this new edition. I bet you’ll like the recipes for eating well and the stories for living well found within these jam-packed, food-filled pages.

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A new cover, refreshed content, and a larger page size greet you in Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal.

First edition

Several years ago, I was spending too many hours in front of a computer, writing manuals for clients and managing a technical writing business. Working from a home-based office, I missed being with people. I remembered my teaching days and the exchanges that take place in group settings. I wanted to get out more to talk and listen and learn, and created a plan to transition from computer time plying my craft to sharing my work with others. Thus, the motivation for Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal was born.

Authoring, publishing, and marketing the first edition of my first book had its rewards.

Others enjoyed journaling their way to career success as evidenced in reviewers’ comments:

“Using it as it’s meant to be used, as a journal, you’ll be amazed at what you reveal to yourself.”

“The magic of this work-book is that it can be used by people at any stage in their career to help focus on what they want to be doing—a key ingredient to being successful.”

“It’s an unassuming little book that will not intimidate young people preparing to go forward with more confidence. It’s a good way for experienced adults to mentor them without preaching!”

“Quite unique to this book were a fill-in-the-word story at the end of each chapter and a complete story at the end of the book. These are not just silly Mad-Lib stories! Each section asks you to own your own dreams, successes, skills, etc. I feel like my story of career success has been written, and it is now up to me to live it and make it a reality!”

“The question ‘What are you wearing?’ led me to my ah-ha moment. I pictured myself in casual sporty clothes, holding a patient chart. Combining this with other pieces of the puzzle I had put together with the help of this book, I have found my new passion.”

Second edition

Over the past several months, I have worked on a second edition of Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal. Like the first edition, this new, improved edition is intended for those in transition from school to work, from one work experience to another, or from work to other meaningful pursuits. The scenarios and guided journaling activities offer readers time and space to think, explore, doodle, draw, dream, and create success stories. Parents, teachers, and other growth coaches might just find this book the perfect tool to support those who are journeying toward a productive, fruitful life.

This second edition of Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal has refreshed content, a new cover, and a larger page size, allowing readers to journal away. Go ahead. Take a Look Inside. I hope you like what you see.

Living well

Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal offers a path for living well at work. The living well theme finds its way into each of my books.

Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud, through Froggy and his critter friends, explores living well in nature.

A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way has recipes and stories for living well with food, family, and friends.

Heres to happy reading and happy living.

Rudolph

Tis the season of lights. Whether a flame that miraculously flickers long past the expected time, an antidote that casts out darkness, or a beacon that guides, lights glow—just like Rudolph’s shiny nose. When our own light shines, we, too, sparkle. We radiate. We wear an aura that makes our world a bit brighter.

During this season, let your light shine by dwelling in a happy place. Bask in memories of moments that put a smile on your face, pep in your step, and warmth in your heart.

I will do the same, right here, right now.

Recipient

One morning, I stopped, as I often do, for breakfast. I read a little, collect my thoughts, and scribble a few to-do notes. I eat, I drink, I pay, and I leave. On this day, the check for my breakfast did not arrive. When I asked the waitress for it, she said, “You’re all set.” While placing a tip on the table, she added, “You’re all set with that, too.” A patron at the restaurant gave the waitress money to pay for someone’s breakfast. “I chose you,” the waitress said. That was one delicious start to my day.

On another morning, at a different venue, I purchased coffee to go and later discovered a surprise treat in the bag, something yummy to enjoy with my coffee. I stopped in the next day to say thank-you and pay for this item when I learned that this treat was a freebie. Why? “Because I like your face!” How sweet is that.

“Thank you for coming here today.” That’s the greeting I regularly heard at a client site whenever I arrived to do some work. Before I settled in to tackle a writing project, I was in a happy mood. How nice to hear words of appreciation said with sincerity.

Read More

Remember I wrote about Froggy who wonders what made that annoying wart wander away? Well, every now and then, I think about Froggy and his human friends who experience wellness, somewhat mystified as to how the healing really occurred.
I committed to writing Froggy’s story and I’ve made some progress. I’ve dipped into my own well, my reservoir, my creative source for exploring wellness. I needed a place to hold what pokes through the gray matter and created a template for my new book. I simply took the file for my earlier book, stripped away the content, and had place savers for a book title, subtitle, front matter, chapters, and end matter. I had styles for headings, paragraphs, lists, and quotes. With a container all set to go, I pasted my start to Froggy’s story into a chapter. With the momentum building, I was on a roll.
About This Book started to take shape.

Wellness is all encompassing. It touches all aspects of one’s being. Wellness permeates—and transcends—the person. When one is well, there’s a sense of wholeness, a sense that all is right with the world.
Annoyances, irritations, aches, and pain subside, fade away, dissipate, and disappear. One becomes open to the light. One is free to attend to the good, the sacred, even the holy.
Experts in various disciplines know something about wellness. The doctor… The nutritionist… The athlete… The naturalist… The musician… The entertainer… All have their take on the subject.
Yet, the composite from the many disciplines is not the whole story. A mystical ingredient exists. In the process of writing this book, I am hopeful that the known ingredients of wellness and the mystical might just meet.

The Dedication helped me to establish a timeline.
With my late mother’s 100th birthday one year from now, I have a goal—to honor the occasion with a book in hand, one that serves as an expression of a daughter’s love and admiration.
Progress is sweet.
What I have, thus far, accomplished are little steps toward turning an idea into a book. Yet, little steps are steps nevertheless. Progress is sweet. I feel good.