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Debbie Carter

I'm barely a professional editor -- I'm a teacher who does occasional curriculum editing, and I get paid even less often -- but I love your column!

I'm choosing to interpret your admonition strictly. This isn't a brownie recipe; it's an enhancement to the box formula:

Bake brownies from a box, according to the directions, but before they're finished baking,

Chop up 8 York Peppermint patties (1.5" diameter) or 3 larger patties. (This is the number for a 13" x 9" pan; adjust for smaller or larger batches.)

A few minutes before they're fully baked, pull the pan from the oven, spread the mint pieces evenly over the top, and return the pan to the oven.

When the pieces are soft (3-5 minutes), smooth them out with a spatula to make a glaze. It doesn't have to be smooth; clumpy is interesting.

I get rave reviews for these!


The beginning of the curse would probably start off with "Hoccus, Poccus, Pudding and Pie..." and go from there. Cute story. Thanks.


Nice post. :) My own personal curse is one I'm sure other readers have as well; the closer you are to being done with a project, the more computer problems you will have, even if it's just a sudden slowdown. You know, you put the cursor where you want it and start typing, only to find half of your word un in the last place your cursor was blinking.


That "un" was supposed to be an "up." Must make these corrections on such a blog before others decide to point out one's errors. :)

Anderson Rodrigues

My question is: Why don't people number the pages?
That's is one of the first things I do. This should be on a writer's to-do list.

Dave (aka EditorDave)

I have the same curse(s), I guess--in particular the "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" curse. If I let an author get away with a common grammatical slip (because I believe it fits the story somewhat), the author points it out... and if I edit something I believe is incorrect, the author stets it. Aargh! And yes, I've seen many authors who don't paginate their manuscripts before sending them to me. I don't know how to help you with your curses (including those involving cooking)--I'm a disaster in the kitchen.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira

I have a sure-cure method for any kind of curse (but it takes a little time and effort). Want to give it a try? Here's what you do:

1. Preparation: Get a few drops of holy water and mix with half-a-liter of regular water.

2. Before you do the cursed activity, find an oak tree (or any other kind of tree), and, as you look toward the tree top, take seven deep breaths. (Seven: very important!)

3. Back inside the house, perform a gentle aspersion with the prepared water on the location of the third eye: about 30 seconds.

4. Read the instructions again and carry out your activity unimpeded by the former curse.

PS: This method has an infallible proven record of success--but, just as in everything else, there is always the chance of a first-time failure. If it fails, smile and say, "Oh Well!"



Added on to-do list:

-Drop everything to check ISBNs on bluelines
-Double-check and triple-check pagination
-Draft a stern letter template for authors reminding them that we have final say
-Freak out and lose sleep over items 1 and two later

Mike Boudreau

When you can buy Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix, why would you want anything else?


the MAD Goddess

I have a variation on the water cure above. Get a few drops of holy water (holy being fully defined by your faith based belief - for me it is water that has rested in a silver vessel beneath a full moon). Add the drops of holy water to about 12 oz. of tonic or soda water (the fizz is very important!). Fill a large glass with ice, pour a hefty dose of gin over the ice and the holy water mix over the gin. Stir gently, drink leisurely while eating your delicious box brownies and remind yourself not to sweat the small stuff! Hint: For the duration of time you are drinking your concoction, EVERYTHING else is small stuff.


--Counter the ISBN curse with a macro.
--Say: Great catch, I missed that one!
--Cast a spell on the print button so that you can only use it in extremis.

My current curse, in the category of Damned If You Do:

You wonderfully edited a text, but the author sent you the wrong version.

Loved the book, great blog, great seeing you on your Paris tour!


I'm fortunate enough to be married to a man who *prefers* baked goods made from mixes. One year I struggled through an elaborate chocolate-carrot-cake recipe, believing that my self-flagellation was a clear demonstration of my great love. The center turned out completely raw (we put it in the fridge and ate it by spoonfuls - salmonella be damned). The twist of the knife was my beloved's consoling comment, "You know, you could have just made a cake from a box."

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