Friday, 31 December 2010

Celebrate Your Writing Achievement

Give Goals a Rest

The end of the year and throughout the land writers are loudly wailing, gnashing teeth and resolving."I must write more, I must write better."

Slow and steady writers look gloomily at blogposts charting resolutions and goals listed by superwriters with flying fingers and no need of sleep.

Whether you're making New Year Resolutions or SMART goals (Smart, Attainable, Realistic, Measurable, Time-based), just stop for a day and think. 

What is the point of beating yourself up about everything you failed to achieve and may well not achieve again, New Year or not?
Hope springs up like the phoenix on day one of the New Year. But remember the anguish and gradual slide into apathy, knowing that your word count per month hardly equals Wonder Writer's word count per hour.

That slot on the NY Times best seller lists is as far away as ever. No agent or publisher is clamouring for your brilliant novel.

Instead of racking your brains to list goals that don't look too trivial, take the day to list all your achievements for 2010.

List Your Achievements:

List all your achievements even if they're negative: I did not kill Uncle Arnie when he said the turkey was too dry.

Change your negatives to positives: I did not write 250 words a day becomes In November I wrote 1000 words or two blogposts or...

Now divide your achievements into writing successes and personal successes (In July I lost weight--no matter if like me you put it all back on again).

Now put your feet up, read through your list and stop bullying yourself to do better. It's bad for the character. 

Pat yourself on the back. Celebrate every achievement of 2010.

New Year Resolution

Enjoy every moment of 2011. Remember, everything that goes wrong will make a great story one day.

Happy New Writing Year

Friday, 19 November 2010

Killer Valentine Ball--From Non-fiction Writer to Successful Author


November is the spookiest month--partly a hangover from the mystic terror of Hallowe'en, partly the weather. The "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" disintegrates into a time of ghoulies and gales while the dark nights engender primitive fears and fantastic imaginings.

If you enjoy the pleasurable terrors of curling up in front of a roaring fire with a chilling horror story, C.A.Verstraete is an author who takes frightening to the nth degree. She describes her latest book Killer Valentine Ball, newly released by Muse It Up Publishing as "horror with a macabre sense of humor."

Praised by inspirational blogger and book reviewer J. Aday Kennedy, this is a short story which will appeal to teenagers and adults alike.

A journalist turned fiction writer, Christine is used to writing every day.
"It's a habit." she says. "Don't wait for a muse. Just put butt to chair, fingers to keys, and start typing. Something will happen, words will appear. It can be magical. Enjoy it."

That's all very well but as a journalist and features writer myself, I know that there's a great difference not only in the type of writing needed to produce fiction but also in the self discipline. Christine's article explains it well and she uses her experience to motivate and encourage those of us who are slow and sometimes not-so-steady writers. Over to you, Christine.

Making the Switch from Nonfiction to Fiction
Christine Verstraete

Being trained in journalism is a good thing for writing nonfiction, but it can be a bad habit to overcome when it comes to writing fiction. Yes, I had an advantage in terms of knowing sentence structure, grammar, etc, but fiction has its own style.

Early writing partners will attest to my complaints that I just didn't get it. I didn't think I could make the transition. I don't know why. As I mostly wrote for newspapers, I was used to "just the facts." Stringent writing. No exaggeration.

Then one day it clicked.

I practiced. I kept writing even when I read other "better" works that made me want to throw in the towel. I started with short stories and kept writing, going on to completing a children's mystery and an adult mystery.

Sure, I still sometimes struggle. (Who doesn't?) Sure, there are still authors far better than I am, whom I read for enjoyment and to look at their writing style.

Look around and you'll always find someone thinner, richer, better looking, more talented, etc. So? The bottom line: you can't let surroundings, outside criticism, self-doubt or anything else stop you from reaching your goal.

That's the real lesson I learned in transitioning from one writing genre to another: just keep writing.

Making the transition and finding your own writing "voice," does come over time. Yes, some writers have quick successes. Some take longer to peak or like me, are "late bloomers."

That's okay. Writing is not a race. There isn't a timetable. You can start at any age. The only requirement: keep going. Be the Energizer Bunny. Write until you sign The End. Write and submit until
someone says yes, then start all over again.

Thank you so much Christine for visiting Slow and Steady Writers. I have thoroughly enjoyed both your book and your visit. Looking forward to catching up with more of your work especially your children's mystery
Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, which was #1 on Kindle for Miniatures books and a 2009 EPPIE Award finalist for best YA/children's ebook by the Epic Foundation.

Find out more  about C.A.Verstraete
For more information about Christine, her writing and a story excerpt, visit the first stop on her blog tour with Nancy Famolari 
And don't miss the great fun interview with Ron Berry on November 16.
Tomorrow she visits author Roseanne Dowell.
And More about Killer Valentine Ball

The Killer Valentine Ball
Author: C. A. Verstraete
Cover Artist: Delilah K. Stephans
Word Count: 3,094
Pages: 15
ISBN: 978-0-9865875-6-6
Price: $0.99
Warning: Light gore

And More about Christine

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Harvest Moon

As  Hallowe'en approaches, and ties to  the spirit world grow stronger, Canadian First Nations Dancing Cat joins us today to share a little of her story.

This is her introduction to the story she tells in the novella Harvest Moon.

As I sat on the bank of the swallow river, the drums pounding in the distance, I asked myself why the ancestors abandoned me. I had always behaved the way my elders taught me. I worked hard, shared with those around me, and never took more from the Earth than what I needed. I listened to my chief and my elders and respected the wisdom that the Spirits offered them. Why, then, would I be called “Cursed One”, never to be a person again?

The crowd in the distance sang and whooped in excitement, rhythmic drums echoing back to my isolated patch of ground. My job during the Gathering consisted of fetching water from the cold stream. Fearful of my presence polluting the festivities and angering the ancestors, several small children were designated to collect the bladders of water from me and run them back to the celebrating people. I could not even bring the water itself.

I was no longer Dancing Cat, messenger of my people. I was Cursed One. I would not experience the opening of the Sacred Bundle and receive guidance.

I looked out and over the endless field of grass opposite of the river and sighed. Someday, I will find a way to deliver myself. Even if I have to call upon death to rescue me.

Krista D Ball, author of Harvest Moon, is one of my favourite writers, one you can always rely on to produce a story that is different, a story that keeps you wondering what will happen next.

How did you go about writing this book ?

I’m a partial outliner. I like to write a quick blurb about the main purpose of the book and the outcome. Then, I ask, “What is the risk?” That answer allows for the overall direction of the story. For Harvest Moon, I wrote “discovery” as the risk. In reading Harvest Moon, you’ll find several instances of Dancing Cat’s fear of discovery.

How much research do you do?
As I knew some basic information about First Nations people in Alberta, Canada, I did my research after writing my first draft. If I do it before hand, I find that I include way too much back story and historical information that distracts from the main character’s path. I tweaked their wardrobe, their diet, and the passing months to better match the moon phases.

Do you have any feedback before you submit for publication?

After that stage, it went to a few of my beta readers in my critique group. I made some changes based on the feedback. The largest feedback was the assumption of this being set in the United States and the confusion over a six month winter! Inserting geographical references was the hardest part of writing the story, since Dancing Cat’s world is pre-contact.

After it was all tidied up, Harvest Moon entered the world of submissions and, happily, found a home at MuseItUp Publishing.

To whet your appetite even further, Krista has allowed me to share one further excerpt. Enjoy.

Harvest Moon
Cross-legged, Dancing Cat sat pounding the sun-dried Saskatoon berries between two hand-sized rocks. The stone, her hands, and her buckskin dress all bore the tell-tale signs of berry duty. Streaks of red dye, impossible to clean, striped her clothing and tanned skin. She tried pushing her hair off her cheeks, only to have the sticky residue coating her fingers glue the dark strands in place. The black flies swarmed and buzzed, ready to feast.
She worked in silence as part of the greater circle of twenty women, who chatted as they worked. Dancing Cat had no reason to join in. They only spoke to her to criticize or belittle, never for companionship. The band no longer even called her by name.
Her attention faded away from her work. She stared past the women to catch a glimpse of Eagle Eyes, her brother, mounting his horse. He was only six years older than her and already leading hunting parties, while she sat, docile and obedient, making powdered berries. His gaze caught hers, full of warning. She looked away with the heaviness of her situation pressing against her chest. Dancing Cat pounded her berries harder, trying to crush her own aching loneliness.
“I wish I could ride again,” she mumbled.
Her mother, Crow, glared at her. “I have no patience for you today. We have berries to crush. Shall I remind you why we need them?”
“No,” Dancing Cat said, sullen. They couldn’t start the pemmican cakes without the berries. Without them, they would starve when winter fell. Shed heard the lecture many times before and did not want to hear it again.
“Good. Put aside your childishness and work in silence, Cursed One.”
Dancing Cat swallowed down the slight. She remained silent against the grunts and nods of the other women. She dropped her gaze, making snide, internal comments about how her mothers black hair no longer resembled a crows blue-black feathers. It made her feel better, petty though it was.
Some days, she saw herself as Cursed One instead of her name. But today was not one of those days. Today, she was still the girl who wriggled out of the womb twenty years before and was joyously named Dancing Cat. Today, she hated her duty and silence. But she would do both and would not complain. One day, she would escape into death and be free.
Using a sharp stone, she scraped the mound of berry powder off the buckskin in front of her into the main pile. She dumped several handfuls of the tiny Saskatoon berries back on her ragged buckskin to resume pounding. But not before licking her fingers clean of the tart, feathery residue. No one noticed.
“Creator wills it, the men will bring home a buffalo from the hunt,” Crow said to the other women, who nodded in agreement.
Dancing Cat let her mind wander as the women chatted about the tribes need for a buffalo. The herd would move southeast in another moon cycle and so the entire tribe would move with them before the final move into their winter camp. Faded memories of riding ahead of the hunt flashed across her mind; images so foreign that she wondered if they were true anymore.
A chill crept up her spine. The late summer wind had turned cold. She flicked her gaze back to the hunting party. The rest of the men mounted their horses and galloped off to the nearby buffalo herd. She sighed, remembering the freedom of riding. She had been their tribes first female messenger. She missed it.
“Cursed One! Pay attention. You are chipping your rock. If I find stone in my cakes this winter, I will take yours and let you go without.” Her grandmother glared at her, her thin lips pursed. “Stop daydreaming.”
Dancing Cat stared at her grandmother, trying to control her tone. “Sorry, Nohkom. I was just…”
“Daydreaming,” Hawk Sight snapped. “We expect you to do your share of work. If you do not, you will be the first to starve this winter.”
Dancing Cat hung her head, fingers trembling from the nauseating mix of anger and fear. She bit back the disrespectful words that boiled inside her. Hawk Sight was not just her maternal grandmother, but also the band healer and an elder. No one would dare speak back to her, let alone the band exile. 
She looked up at the several generations of women around her. The nodding heads and smug looks told her that the threat of starvation was real. She pushed her grandmothers words out of her mind by grinding the berries perfectly between the two flat rocks.
“Remember Stoney?”
Dancing Cat slumped. Hawk Sight never could let things go.
“She thought she could laze around while we women worked. But when we ran out of food that winter, she was the one left to starve. We don’t need lazy women.”
“Yes, Nohkom.”
And on it went for the afternoon, story after miserable story about women who starved to death. It would have been bad enough for just her grandmother to have told the stories. Instead, the others joined in, telling of captured Red Valley, Cree or Inuit wives who had been left to starve when food stores ran low. All at her grandmothers say. Hawk Sight might have been a great healer, but she was also cold and merciless in Dancing Cats opinion.
They told the stories to make her work harder, but it had the opposite effect. Her work slowed. She could not stand up for herself against an entire band, but she could refuse to obey the people who threatened to kill her. If they wanted her to die, then they could starve, too.

Find out more about Harvest Moon

 Read further excerpts from this thought provoking novella and learn more about the author on the Muse It Up Publishing website

And watch the trailer Harvest Moon on You Tube, the scenery is staggeringly beautiful and a wonderful backdrop for the story.

Harvest Moon, a 10,000 word paranormal fantasy, first published October 2010, is available from MuseItUpPublishing in PDF, epub, prc, price $2.50
ISBN: 978-0-9865875-0-4         

Friday, 8 October 2010

How to Write Better

The Muse Online Writers' Conference
Practice makes perfect only if you know what and how to practice. That's where writing courses and conferences come in.

Writing itself is in the main a solitary occupation so meeting other writers working in similar genres, and often with similar strains and stresses on their time, is both inspiring and liberating.

Very few of us can afford time and cost of going to many if any of the great conferences around so The Muse Online Writers' Conference, now in its fifth year, is a writing lifeline for thousands.

The brainchild of Canadian author and editor extraordinaire--the great Lea Schizas--it hosts presenters for all genres, pitch sessions to publishing houses, week-long courses on all aspects of writing, publishing and marketing.

Attendees from all over the world pack freezers full of family friendly ready meals, shut themselves up with a computer for a week, and study to improve their manuscripts, start the book they always wanted to write and chat non-stop to like-minded cyberfriends.

It is an ideal annual venue for slow and steady writers who make lasting writing friends, rejoice in the successes achieved over the past year and commiserate on the inevitable rejections. Each year hundreds of us say, "It will be me pitching next year."

I am getting nearer--as back up moderator for pitches to Vivian Zabel of 4RV Publishing, Marlene Satter of Double Dragon, Caryn Wiseman of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, White Rose Publishing, the MacGregor Literary Agency, Sara Megibow from the Nelson Literary Agency, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times and Paladin Timeless.

My romantic suspense novel may be creeping through first draft but I am preparing for the day next year when I pitch my own work.

4RV Publishing
Double Dragon
Andrea Brown Agency
White Rose Publishing
MacGregor Literary Agency
Nelson Literary Agency
Twilight Times
Paladin Timeless
and of course

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Why Read Sci-Fi

Why Read Sci-Fi? 

Why would a fan of romance and mystery genres ever read sci-fi? What can we learn from sci-fi authors? After all, their stories are mainly set in the future. They're totally imaginary, made-up, pulled out of the air--a literary conjuring trick. Or are they?

As an editor, I have had to think again. The science fiction authors whose books appear on the Muse It Up Publishing list have totally impressed me through attention to detail in writing and plotting, the accuracy of their knowledge and their determination to be ahead of the game by predicting the lifestyle in their future worlds.

The characters know all about the latest research trends this century. Their authors incorporate a hearty helping of scientific fact into their fictional plots.

Muse It Up Publishing

 World View

When sci-fi authors write that the distance from the earth to the moon is 384000 kilometers or that a new moon dweller is acclimatising to gravity at 1/2 g, they know where to go to have the figures corroborated. Terri Main, author of Dark Side of the Moon, a book that combines sci-fi with the all-time  favourite cozy mystery genre, had me looking up and learning about g-forces on the NASA website.

A book like Dark Side of the Moon appeals to any reader who enjoys painless learning through reading fiction. Its world is a totally credible extension of the world as we know it today. The science is accurate and the mystery as intriguing as an Agatha Christie best seller.

Yes, readers are suspending disbelief to "live" in this imaginary world but it is a world view they cannot fault.

Lessons from sci-fi writers

Lesson One:
All too often, a factual error or an improbable location can stop readers enjoying a story. No use having a big game hunter hero killing elephants in London to save the heroine if the writer hasn’t given a credible basis for the animals’ appearance and stampede through town.

Knowing the size of the beasts in comparison to the Houses of Parliament could add to the realism of the reader experience. I’m not advocating bogging your story down with boring detail. But an odd and unusual fact can work wonders to improve the credibility of your fictional world.

Lesson Two:
Know your readers.

Let’s face it—it is probably not a good idea to have a hero who kills wild animals at all unless he repents and founds a sanctuary for endangered species as a result of the heroine’s persuasive skills.Today’s romance readers are more likely to support conservation causes.

Sci-fi authors have a committed following. They know exactly what their readers like and don’t like to read. They don’t follow convention slavishly but they do keep ahead of the game in their own reading and research to avoid being caught out in inaccuracies.

Keep up-to-date with your reading and make sure to keep your characters in tune with their world.

 Lesson Three:
Be adventurous when it comes to developing your genre. Anyone can be a sleuth in your cozy mystery—even a werewolf. Your heroine can be any age, any shape, any nationality. Your hero can have flaws—please add a little reality to the fiction LOL

Sci-fi authors like Krista D. Ball delight in standing stereotypes on their heads. It’s great fun and worth trying especially when you come to one of those dreaded sticky patches mid-novel.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Haibun anybody?

Looking for something new to kick off your creativity? As a cure for procrastination or writer’s block try Haibun. Haibun  is the mixture of prose and haiku first featured in Japan through the travel writing and meditations of a 17th century monk.

Since then, writers have found the haibun ideal for sharing thoughts and meditation, and for travel writing, autobiography and biography, descriptive and historical narrative.

Haiku is the Japanese poetry form now familiar to most poets and school children. It consists of three lines: one of five syllables, the second of seven syllables, and the third and last of five syllables. It is popular because it is fun to write in such well-defined disciplined way.

Haiku can start, end or indeed appear anywhere in the midst of a prose passage to intensify or give added depth to its meaning.

MuseItUp Publishing
Winter's Soul 
Patricia Harrington, an award-winning mystery writer, has taken the haibun one step further in her Gothic romance/suspense novella Winter’s Soul. Each section is prefaced by a haiku to entice the reader deeper into the story—a simple but most effective stylistic pattern.

Winter’s Soul is the  tale of an unusual ménage à trios, set in 1930s England. A mood piece, it proves the haibun ideal for building suspense and dramatic tension.

Haibun explained

In a hurry to find out more about the haibun and glean ideas before the book , published by Muse It Up Publishing, comes out later this year? Try the useful links provided by Ray  Rasmussen, the poet who has both led and followed the evolution of the form in contemporary English writing.

Using the haibun

I like the idea of using it for journaling or in my Morning Pages which I write at any time during the day to clear my head and to start covering the blank whiteness of that terrifyingly empty page.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Internet Time Check

Lost my internet connection this morning—the worst thing that could have happened.

One of my authors is missing. At the point of returning edits, waiting for other deadline edits to arrive for checking and expecting a vital email from the publisher, I am cut off from the outside world.

Ahead of me--a blank screen and aeons of time, time to add up the number of hours I spend on line using the grand old excuse of “working.” It beats counting sheep. The number of times I have woken up with my head banging on the keyboard proves that.

Emails and social networking are part of the job. But perhaps two hours a day is excessive.

 I’ve just spent five minutes oohing and aahing over a powerpoint on old age sent by a friend with a never-ending library of brilliantly photographed, philosophical presentations. And then, of course, I had to visit paramotor pilot and photographer George Steinmetz in Arabia's Empty Quarter and muse over the photographs there – all work, all inspiration, all going to the well to recharge energy. So let’s say another hour a day “researching.”

Back to the editing—but I look up every reference, check every grammar point, study all the ins and outs of copyright and trademarks on the Internet. Another four-hour Internet stretch at least. No, I’m not finished. Another two hours late into the night when the family have gone to bed—has anyone written to me? Are there any group messages? Which of the 500 unread emails should I catch up with?

Lost my internet connection this morning—and it’s still lost, thank goodness. I shall finish my edits on time, may even manage week three (correction--month three) of edits on my own poor little WIP.

Green trees frame patches of brilliant blue sky, birds are singing, the swallow babies' flying practice is going well. What am I doing inside, fretting over a lost virtual world when my own world awaits?

No Internet has proved a blessing in disguise to reconnect me to today's reality , real needs--is that really the state of the kitchen floor?

It has also made me realize yet again how lucky I am with this lovely editing job with MuseItUp Publishing where I work with a far-seeing publisher and multiple realities created by so many gifted minds.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

First Edits

Sending off First Edits to an author is always a nerve-racking experience. First Edits by their very nature are a tricky balancing act between suggesting possible changes which might improve a book and  insisting on certain changes which are vital to the credibility and coherence of the work as a whole.

These changes can be straightforward: continuity problems when characters forget what they have done in the past, change their eye colour mid-novel, or even change their names half way through.

They can be dialogue-based. Every character speaks with the same voice, uses the same favourite slang word or expression, or the same grammatical constructions.

Often they are to do with the pace of the novel--no hooks at the end of chapters so no tension, too much action and no dialogue so no reader identification with the protagonists.

Sometimes, a writer has a penchant for overusing adjectives or adverbs. I have just been reading Janie Franz's Edits with LY words which  makes a lot of sense.

MuseItUp at Literary Gala

MuseItUp Publishing made its U.K. debut last month at the Literary Gala held on the Isle of Wight in aid of SSAFA Forces Help.

The Soldiers,Sailors, Airmen and Families Association this year celebrates the 125th anniversary of its founding and the Gala was held at Woodlands Vale, former home of Admiral Lord Calthorpe, a senior admiral at the time of the First World War.

Renowned for its literary connections as well as the famous pop festival of 1970, the Isle of Wight was home to famous writers from Dickens to Darwin, poets like Keats, Swinburne and Tennyson as well as Karl Marx and Queen Victoria.

But the most popular poet to spend time on the Island was perhaps Henry Wadsworth Longfellow whose poem Hiawatha (1855) celebrated the native American lifestyle.  So MuseItUp's invitation to the Gala was particularly appropriate as one of our first books to come off the metaphorical presses will be Harvest Moon,the native American inspired paranormal fantasy by Krista D. Ball.

Paul Armfield at Woodlands Vale

MuseItUp editor Anne Duguid brought the audience up to date with the growing market for ebooks and epublishing while Paul Armfield, songwriter, nusician and manager of Waterstone's bookstore on the Isle of Wight demonstrated the benefits and advantages of the latest e-readers.

The Gala raised £1000 for SSAFA.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Nettle Experiments (1)

The garden is full of nettles, all shapes and sizes. One consolation is that they signify a fertile soil. The other is that nettles are good for you.

My first nettle experiment was making nettle tea. Instructions are easy to find all over the web from You Tube to environmental blogs.

Best time for picking is in early spring April to June at the very latest because then the shoots toughen up.

I learned:
  • to wear gloves
  • to avoid the leaf edges because they're the bits that sting
  • to choose new top shoots only.
  • to wash my nettle tips in a basin of water as soon as I got them home. That stops them stinging
  • not to collect too many at a time. (Partners are surprisingly fractious when they come home to a fridge full of nettles when they're looking for a simple snack)
  • to fill a family teapot with washed nettle tips and fill the pot with boiling water.
  • the longer the brew stands, the stronger it is.
My first attempts were slightly weak but better if you don't like the stronger vegetably taste.
Any spare nettle tea, I strain into a jar with a lid. I can then supply myself with tea all day long by filling a mug and heating it for a minute in the microwave.

So what has this to do with writing?

Obviously it is another string for a character's bow. Environmental characters will be in vogue for some time to come. Even if you hate the tea, you will be able to give a convincing description of the pain a stinging nettle can inflict or the taste that drives another character to use his tea to water his great-aunt's aspidistra.

And that, of course, will, in the end, endear him to the old lady who leaves him her fortune because it is an excellent fertiliser which grows an aspidistra as flourishing as Jack's beanstalk.

The other benefit could be to give more zip to you and your writing. The nettle is full of health-giving properties. Drinking three cups of nettle tea a day for the past five days has certainly boosted my energy and enthusiasm for life.

Try it and let me know.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon by Krista D Ball is out in October, 2010 and available from Muse It Up Publishing. The cover design by DK Renders is, for me, as magical as the story.

My love of native American culture started as a child reading about Hiawatha, Pocahontas and John Smith, and continued through Tony Hillerman's wonderful detective series.

Jim Thunder, who inspired Krista to write this, was himself renowned for his story telling. He made headlines twenty-one years ago when, as the result of a dream, he ran 4400 kilometres through ice and snow to New York in a bid to retrieve the Cree tribe's sacred bundle.

Krista's novella is based on traditions of the Canadian First Nations.

It's not yet time for the Harvest Moon but I have been doing a bit of spring harvesting of my own.

At this time of year, my garden is frantically growing nettles so I decided to try my hand at making nettle tea and graduated into experimenting with nettle soup.

I like to think that in this way I am, like the original members of the Canadian First Nations, returning to the land the respect which it is due.

On her blog, learn more about  Jim Thunder and read Krista's moving tribute to the man to whom this book is dedicated.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Content Editor -- The Ideal Job for a Writer?

Language learners need to listen before they can talk well. Writers need to read. My new job as content editor for Muse It Up Publishing--and I can hardly believe my luck in being chosen for it -- means not only can I read for days on end, I can even call it work :-)

As a subeditor on various British newspapers, I am an experienced copy editor, checking for punctuation, spelling and grammar mistakes. It's a bit like teaching -- if I see too many repetitive mistakes, I start to doubt my own accuracy. And if you're thinking of editing, remember that nowadays we have to move confidently between US English, Canadian English and the standard UK spelling and grammar.

For more information on the various forms of editing, try Hadley Raydeen's excellent article on the editing jobs in publishing,

A content editor wields a broader brush.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

How to Revise Your Novel --new review

My Christmas present to me was Holly Lisle's latest course : How to Revise Your Novel.

Learn how to revise your novel.
Get the novel you WANT
From the novel you HAVE.
Find out more

It was too tempting to resist.

If I could get even half way towards the novel I wanted from the novel I had, I would be delighted. The book I want to save, working title Dangerous Decisions, has been languishing in limbo for two years.

I decided to make a dangerous decision of my own to see if I could salvage something from the hours and hours invested in this and previous flawed nanowrimo novels and because Holly promised no pressure. She also seemed to know and understand how mind-numbingly dreadful revision is for someone like me.

Another reason I chose this course is that I can take it at my own pace -- I won't be dropping out because I can't keep up.

I hate revision with a passion --I tie myself and my story into Gordian knots you'd need a steel scimitar to slice through and end up with the whole thing in scrappy little knotted strings of plot that can never be woven together again.

I spent a few weeks worrying about whether I had the nerve to start on week one while my fellow students were racing through their worksheets and baying for more.

But so far --and remember I am still on week one working through a chapter a day --the Holly Lisle system is a revelation.

My first drafts -- and I have five languishing -- are all chaotic. I repeat myself, I have plot holes a jumbo jet could disappear into, and at some point -- usually around chapter ten -- I lose the plot completely. All efforts at revision in the past have left me hating the book and burying it under the desk.

Now I can homestly say I rather like this book again, I can see order emerging from the chaos, some people I enjoy and some that need a bit more backbone. All may not be wasted.

Thanks to Holly Lisle and the enthusiastic companionship of my fellow students.