CMOS, root saw, and Kindle e-reader

The Right Tools for the Job

I’m not much of a consumer, but in the past couple of months, I’ve acquired three items I consider to be tools for specific purposes: a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition), a Silky Gomtaro 240 mm root saw, and a Kindle e-reader.

Chicago Manual of Style
Self-publisher’s tool.

As someone who edits her own writing, I finally decided I need a definitive authority on matters of grammar, punctuation, and usage. Working through beta readers’ comments on my WIP, or trawling through the manuscript before moving on to the publishing stage, I kept encountering questions I couldn’t answer. Should “the” in the name of a pub or bar that begins with that word (as in “The Blue Poppy Pub”) be capitalized when it occurs in the middle of a sentence? What is the correct order of punctuation marks when a word is quoted in dialogue just before a question mark? Example: “What do you mean by ‘a problem’?” I asked.

Trying to find answers on the internet yielded a lot of irrelevant stuff (depending on how I worded the search) as well as contradictory answers. It wasn’t usually obvious how authoritative any specific answer was, either. So I shelled out the nearly $100 (in Canadian dollars, and including shipping) for a copy of CMOS.

And those two example questions? According to CMOS 8.45 “An initial the as part of a name is lowercased in running text, except in the rare case of an initial The in the name of a city.” So it’s “I’ll see you at the Blue Poppy.” And the matter of punctuation after a quoted word within a spoken sentence? It’s explained thus in CMOS 13.30: “Exclamation points, like question marks, are placed just within the set of quotation marks ending the element to which such terminal punctuation belongs.” To be honest, that sentence is pretty murky, but the examples had ‘?” rather than ?'”

Silky Gomtaro Root Saw
Cutting tool. Suckers, look out!
Root saw label

I’ve complained before about shrubs that spread by underground suckers. Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is one of the worst. The little saw intended for cutting sheetrock (gyprock) I’ve been using to cut suckers isn’t up to the job. So I tracked down a saw made for cutting roots. Strangely, Amazon was unable to supply it, but I was able to order one from a farm and garden supplies store in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I still use tools I bought there when I lived in that city more than 30 years ago. I suspect they happened to have one hanging around in old stock, whereas the ‘Zon was affected by “supply chain issues.” I intend to tackle the Oregon grape later this spring, using the new saw judiciously. (It wasn’t cheap, also almost $100 with shipping).

Kindle e-reader
Reading tool.

I’ve resisted for years buying one of these. Until now, I’ve read Kindle ebooks on my tablet, with the Kindle Reader app. But the tablet is fairly heavy and needs frequent recharging. It’s fine for scanning blog posts first thing in the morning, but for reading books, I much prefer my ancient Sony e-reader. It’s light and runs forever on a single charge. But of course it can’t be used for Kindle books. When I realized I was avoiding Kindle books written by fellow indies because my reading instrument was awkward, I caved in and bought a Kindle reader. An hour after it arrived I had activated wi-fi, linked it to my Amazon account, and was reading a book I bought months ago. (But I’m still a bit disturbed by the extent to which Amazon intrudes into my online life. Plus it doesn’t feel as though I own Kindle books the way I own the epubs I buy from the Smashwords store and read on the old Sony reader.)

The right tools for the job do make a difference.


  1. I got a CMOS one year for Christmas. Fabulous gift. I don’t know much about root cutters, but it sounds like you got a good one. As for the Kindle, I love mine, and I didn’t think I would at first. I mean I REALLY enjoy it, use it every day!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi. You chose wisely! I go my own way sometimes with punctuation, though. For instance, if The is part of a name, I capitalize the The in the middle of a sentence. Such as: I like The Beatles. Makes more sense to me that way. Anyway . . .

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I’ve found that having the proper tool can really make the job more enjoyable. When I was a systems librarian, our webmaster gave me my own set of computer tools. I put red tape around each one to identify it as mine and I still have it and like it as much, 20 years later.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful post! I was hoping you bought that saw to help cut unnecessary words during your editing process, though! CMOS and Kindle for the win. When my eyesight worsened, the only reading I could do was on my Kindle Paperwhite because of the ability to massively enlarge the font size

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m one of those who like definite answers to specific grammar questions. Interestingly, the answers are sometimes different depending on which guide we use. That doesn’t help my obsession with wanting to get something right. 🤣 If that wasn’t complicated enough, English has changed over the years. What was once accepted may no longer be the case and vice-versa.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Shouldn’t it be TCMOS? Or I guess tCMOS…

    If you have a PC (Mac || Win) you’ll wanna get an app called “Calibre”. You can put practically anything you want to on your Kindle through that app.

    And, you know, you can email your kindle epubs, too. But, Calibre works the best for managing your Kindle’s library.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hang my head in shame time…..I never knew there was a Chicago Manual of Style… thanks for this Audrey.
    Just as a matter of interest, which Kindle Model did you buy- I can read from my laptop on Kindle Cloud and my phone, but interest does drift back to ‘A Kindle’

    PS: Finally kicked myself out of my lazy reading ways… and there’s a review of Friendship of Mortals on UK Amazon…..under Greyghost 51- fascinating and compelling read.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah–that was your review! I thought I recognized your prose style. A thorough and thoughtful review, Roger. Many thanks.
      I bought the most basic Kindle reader, not Paperwhite or Fire. It’s a lot like the old Sony, except it can be used for Kindle books, of course. The app works well on the Samsung tablet, but depletes the battery quickly, and the tablet is heavy in the hand.
      I’m sure there’s something like the Chicago Manual of Style in Britain, a compilation of rules for proper grammar and punctuation in publishing?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure Audrey. I could never ‘feel’ (in a positive or negative way) Lovecraft’s characters and was always imagining reactive scenarios in dealing with the various beings, (as happened in ‘Shadow Over Innsmouth’) probably a predilection for reading ‘hard science fiction’ ‘space opera’ and military history. Says more about me than Lovecraft.
        Anyway, the reason why I wrote that was to say, how refreshing it was to be able to relate to and visualise believable people, West, Milburn and Alma and see them as favourable to the ghastly West Brothers. You succeeded admirably in bringing the folk in the book into focus for the reader, I felt rather sorry for West, a man locked into a quest he may never find a full answer for. One of the gems was the empathy between him and his housekeeper Mrs Fisk; I did like her, a grounded and honest lady.
        There’s a backlog of Kindle books awaiting me, but I will have to catch up on the West saga at some stage. (At least I started reading fiction again…instead of ‘audioing’)

        The Chicago Manual of Style does appear to be quite well known in the UK for folk who take writing seriously….Perhaps I should have found it 20 years ago when I was but a stripling of 50?

        Kindles, I will think on…Basic seems a good choice- some of the reviews of more advanced models had my head spinning.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Checking Amazon reviews in the UK it seems as if CMOS has been quite well known here for some time. My oversight.
        However since my own ‘style’ and use of punctuation; spelling, etc seems to owe more to Frank Zappa or Captain Beefhart I guess it’s too late to change- should have when I was a sprightly 50 years old.

        Warning: Dignified insufferablity, as practiced by all Britis.
        Our ‘U’s are as our Tea; a symbol of our culture and identity.
        Whereas we accept American will do others ‘Favorrs’, we reserve the right to do ‘Faverrs’ . Hence our ‘U’
        (And driving on the correct side of the road🙂)
        Sits back and sips more tea…having had the one cup of coffee of the day-with milk and sugar)

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I picked up a new e-reader at Thanksgiving, a Kobo Libre 2, which I like, if only for the page turn button. (It replaces a Kobo from many years ago. The modern front lighting makes it much more pleasant to read on.) A couple of months ago I also picked up an 8″ Fire tablet on sale for $45 US for reading kindle books & library ebooks, since the local library is pretty focused on supplying ebooks for Kindles. And I can play solitaire on it, as well.

    As for grammar, most of us are publishing worldwide, and since English English is different from American English, even with the CMOS you will likely still have something wrong somewhere in the world. Still, I suppose that it is better to be right in one region than wrong in both.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it was more so I had an authoritative place to look things up and get them right most of the time, if not all. That’s the idea, anyway. For instance, I did look in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and noticed that pub names in the Shire not only have “the” capitalized, they’re also in italics. No idea what rule was being followed there!
      It is nice to have page turn buttons; there are none on the Kindle, but the 2012 Sony has them.


  8. You have done well my friend. Can’t go wrong with CMOS. Also, it’s great that you went to an independent for the garden tool. Yay for supporting anyone other than the big beast. I use Amazon begrudgingly. It’s like a fungus. A little bit gross but you can’t make beer or bread without it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s certainly wide-ranging and detailed. Reminds me a little of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules I used to work with as a cataloguing librarian–rules for describing books and other published works, but similarly complex.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yay! lol A Kindle at last. 🙂 We have trouble with wi-fi so the Offspring and I both download books to our pc’s and then copy them to the Kindle via the charging cord [it has an USB plug at one end]. In theory, at least, the copies on the harddrive should be safe from meddling.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s what I do with the epubs I download from Smashwords. Because they’re sitting there on my computer’s hard drive, and copied into my old Sony e-reader, it feels like I own them. With Kindle books, it’s as though I’ve bought permission to read them, but they exist somewhere else. I must admit, though, that buying Kindle books is indecently easy. One click and you can read it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had a working wi-fi for a while so I do remember how easy it was to buy and get ebooks. But…if you go into your ‘Content and Devices’, and look at Books, to the right of each book is a drop down menu that includes the option to download via USB. The you can specify where to save the download. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Such exciting purchases! Reading about the cutting tool costing you almost 100$ was just mind blowing! Also, the kindle is going to bring you a lot of joy, I’m sure 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Excellent purchases, Audrey. I agree about the challenges of researching punctuation on the internet. My questions, like yours, usually are related to less common situations. And love the root trimmer! And finally, congrats on the kindle. I really like mine, mostly because there’s no glare when I read outside. 🙂 And the battery lasts for weeks! Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Silky saws are the crème de la crème of the sawing world! 😀 … and getting as scarce as hens teeth and just as pricey … the manufacturer is/has increased the wholesale price by up to a whopping 30% so far this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspected something like that when Amazon didn’t give me a shipping date for 2 months. Iwas thrilled that the business in Saskatoon had one in stock, so I ordered that and cancelled the Zon order.
      Now I’m scared to use the thing, given its rarity!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This book sounds like a great buy, Audrey. I am considering getting one too now that I know about it. I currently read on an ipad and am quite happy with that. Maybe when it needs replacement I’ll get a kindle. I don’t garden and those other tools like like something I should avoid at all costs (haha)

    Liked by 1 person

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