Project: Book Blog Website

Website | Content Strategy | Design | Code

Visit this site!

This VERY NEW site is still under development—please excuse the small amount of material and a few rough edges! The site is a personal project, containing curated book lists and book reviews both long and short. More>

Posted in web |

Project: Logo for a Non-Profit

Logo | Social Media Integration
A logo design I created pro bono for a very small organization whose mission is to empower seniors and others through improvisation. Combining Gill Sans in its somewhat quirky Ultra Bold weight with Mistral, this logo/graphic took its square shape from an early target use: a Community Page on Facebook.

My Editing Reference Shelf

editing-bookshelf-generalHere are some of my most frequently used references.  This list is not complete—the books on my desk vary from project to project.

Style Guides

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Most of my copyediting has used Chicago style. I occasionally dip back into the 14th and 15th editions. 

American Medical Association Manual of Style, 10th edition. More than a manual of style (though it is certainly that), this volume contains some impressively clear thinking about the nuances of authorship (A did the research, B did the writing, e.g.).  

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Useful.

Copyediting Advice

Judd, Karen. Copyediting: A Practical Guide, Third Edition. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Learning, 2001.  

Einsohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications. Second Edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006.

Stainton, Elsie Myers. The Fine Art of Copyediting. Second Edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

Plotnik, Arthur. The Elements of Editing. A Modern Guide for Editors and Journalists. New York: Macmillan, 1982.

Saller, Carol Fisher. The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Highly recommended: a voice of sanity when sanity is scarce.


Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition.  Many presses (following the Chicago Manual of Style’s recommendation) use this as their first spelling authority, backed up by the Webster’s Third Unabridged. These days I often just go to

The Oxford English Dictionary. Often the second source I consult—keeping in mind that this is a dictionary of British English. (Ursula K. LeGuin has a marvelous passage in The Wave in the Mind considering the OED and the I Ching as oracles—a younger oracle somewhat like an elderly aunt; an older one so ancient as to be almost unintelligible; both dispensing sometimes difficult wisdom from perspectives beyond the present. My OED is also the Compact Auntie.)

The American Heritage Dictionary. Usage notes both descriptive and prescriptive; etymologies extending back beyond the immediate transmission of a word from earlier European languages to English, to include Indo-European and other early sources.  I come away feeling like I know where I am in the world of usage, and where I am in the history of language.  You can check out a variety of dictionaries here, though the premier ones may not be represented in their current edition.  Some very specialized lexicons are searched also.  A postmodern oracle, but handy.

I also have around the house some fairly hefty dictionaries for Greek, Latin, Coptic (yes, really), French, and German, plus smaller or paperback dictionaries for some other languages. I have the Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary on my hard drive, but I usually use it online.

Guidance for Substantive and Developmental Editing (and Writing)

Norton, Scott. Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009. An organized and coherent way of thinking about larger-scale interventions. Excellent!

Williams, Joseph M. and Gregory G. Colomb. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Williams and Colomb turned my thinking about organization upside down.

Kane, Thomas S. The New Oxford Guide to Writing. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Line by Line. How to Improve Your Own Writing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985. An editor’s presentation of principles of editing at the sentence scale for the use of writers, but helpful for an editor, too!

Fernald, James C. English Synonyms, Antonyms, and Prepositions. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1896. This somewhat derelict volume has wonderful information about what preposition is/was used with specific words.

Norton, Scott. Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Tufte, Virginia. Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style. Cheshire, Connecticut: Graphics Press, 2006.

Guidance in Freelance Editing

The Editorial Freelancers Association’s page of Common Editorial Rates

The Editorial Freelancers Association’s Code of Fair Practice


Beyond that, it just depends on the project. Reference books are often needed when some type of fact checking is involved; sometimes, these are primary sources.

As I write this (in December of 2012), I am working with Gregory Kramer on a project that has required the checking of many quoted sutta passages. The books on my desk include Wisdom Publication’s editions of Dīgha Nikāya, Majjhima Nikāya, Saṃyutta Nikāya, and Aṅguttara Nikāya, plus Greg’s two prior books (both of which I edited), Insight Dialogue and Dharma Contemplation. I have also given the website a workout, along with the Pali Text Society’s Dictionary.

For different project, it would of course be a completely different selection!


Generally, the best way to contact me is by email.

My Skype name is marthaleeturner. I don’t keep Skype running continually, so it is best to arrange beforehand if you want to talk with me using Skype.

I can also be reached by telephone at 312-401-1650. Please leave a message (or even better, a text) if I am unable to answer. Under most circumstances, email is likely to produce a quicker response—it really is the best way to contact me.

By the way: “Lee” is my middle name: not part of my first name, not part of my last name.

About My Work

I help individuals and small businesses present their messages compellingly.

Sometimes I do this through words: editing and writing, ranging from minimal involvement to major restructuring—always in service of your voice and message. I can also develop content to your specifications. Words clarify, differentiate, inspire, and provoke insight.

Sometimes I do this through images: designing and wrangling code to create websites that are feature-rich, database driven, standards compliant, and responsive—as well as beautiful and typographically persnickity. Or through photography, or graphics, or book/e-book design and layout. Images give breadth, context, and resonance to a message.

Surprisingly often, these approaches grow together.

My work is to bring together content and presentation, substance and form, words and images, to create a compelling presentation of your message.

Please look around this site, get a feel for what I have done. Maybe I am the right person to work with you!

About Me

mlt-softwall-june15You can learn more about my work and background on my LinkedIn page.

I earned my BA and PhD in subjects that were both beguiling and rigorous: BA in History & Philosophy (Skidmore, 1985), PhD in Christianity & Judaism in Antiquity (Notre Dame, 1994).

For the past twenty years, I’ve earned my living mostly by editing & writing plus website development, along with some occasional adjunct teaching.

Some old photos of me—and of furniture I designed and built (a really long time ago), some of my art (pastels), and some of my photography (pinhole photos! tree flowers!) are up on Flickr.

I’m rather slowly collecting insights into the connections among interpersonal practice, meditation, active mindfulness, and play at Half of the Holy Life. (Maybe this project will grow up to be a book someday, or something else—who knows?)

A new(ish) project—still sparsely stocked and a little neglected—is The Buddhist Reader, in which I curate a list of books on Buddhism, with notes and short reviews.

I am not very active on Facebook, but you are welcome to visit my page there, if you wish.

You will find ways to contact me under the Contact tab on this site.

Project: CD Cover for a Folksinger

CD Cover | Project Management
My friend and website client Margaret J. Nelson was issuing a new cd, and I was lucky enough to make the cover! The front cover emphasized the global themes of several of her songs along with her signature antique typefaces, while the back used another friend’s oil painting of Margaret with her autoharp. More>

Project: Editing, Book Design, Layout, & Project Management

Substantive Editing | Design | Layout | Project Management
The largest portion of my work on this project was editing the text. Along with making some smaller scale edits, I significantly re-shaped and re-arranged some sections. I also designed the book, did the layout, and shepherded the project through the printing process.

The author of this book, Greg Kramer, wrote a sweet and very specific Acknowledgment—singular, not plural—about my editorial contributions to this project. More>

Project: Book Design, Layout, & Logo Design

selftoself-cover-600After some years of publishing a small newsletter—with changing formats—this organization wanted to re-publish its best articles. The size (11″ x 17″ paper folded to 8.5″ x 11″), photocopy technology, and the two-column format were all givens for this very inexpensively produced volume. I chose fonts and metrics and formatted the text. I also created a logo for the cover and title page, and inserted a few small black-and-white photos, optimized for photocopy reproduction. More>

Project: Campaign Website for a School Board Candidate

2011 & 2015
Website | Design | Code

This website, using WordPress with a customized version of the Thematic framework plus Constant Contact, PayPal, and Facebook integration, was built in a hurry for a local school board candidate.

Four years later, in the spring of 2015, incumbent Mark Metz was running for re-election—so we resurrected the site, spruced it up just a little, and went live again for a few months. Mark is now happily re-elected, and his site is again retired. More>

Posted in web |