No Safety Net

As a novelist-do you use an editor? Writing without one is like home schooling your children. It can work, if you treat it seriously.A professional editor is an expense many self published authors try to do without. Personally, I had n assessment for my first three manuscripts then, going on what I had seen them do, continued on my own. However, I always use beta readers and have outside help with proof reading.

Recent discussions on editing have alerted me to the detail required for the job. A good editor considers characterisation, structure, plot, continuity and style, giving an assessment of whether the story captures and holds the imagination of a reader and suggests cutting unnecessary waffle to keep the action tight. People who add nothing to the story have to be eliminated or merged. Points of View should be adhered to whether they be first person, third person or omniscient narrator as a multitude of voices clamouring to be heard can spoil a good story. The balance of internal thought, dialogue and description should be kept and characters should act consistently. Can the reader differentiate between them or will they get Millie and Maisie confused?

A professional editor will also ask who the book is intended for and, while for most of us it is just something we want to write, if we want to be commercial we should listen to advice. I intend to learn more about editing as I believe it could be even more important than marketing!bookwormclipart


Food for Thought

The Sea Scribes, our local writing group, were giving a talk combined with tea at the Ardington hotelĀ  Worthing, yesterday. We each had a table to display our books and took in turns to speak about our writing. This was all the more interesting because we cover such a variety of genres, historical, fantasy, flash fiction, poetry, romance and general fiction with my specialism being stories based in the local area.

The hotel put on a fine tea with sandwiches ( salmon was my favourite) scones and cream, cakes and little desserts. Afterwards people came up to talk to us about our work and buy copies of the group’s two anthologies and well as some of our novels. All in all it was an enjoyable and satisfying event.

I did take a couple of pictures before it all started but it doesn’t show the audience. The manager said he was very pleased with the number who for thought

Inspiration ( or lack of it)

I feel I ought to be posting more creatively but seem to be marking time at present. The poetry anthology is with the printer, my new marketing leaflets are ready to be picked up tomorrow, I have entered two competitions and started another story. I don’t think it will be a novel, especially as it is rather controversial but I have wanted to set a tale in the local landmark, an old tower, for some time. It is in a private garden so I don’t have a photograph. I have been asked to do another reading in June and, hopefully my leaflets will bring in more invitations for talks. I didn’t get a new portrait done so the image is about six years old. I tried taking a selfie but it looked like a passport photo so I left the old one. Hubby was very sweet and said ” It’s still YOU”

I used a different image for the Sea scribes trifold which details all our books. That should be ready for our “Food for Thought” afternoon tea at the Ardington Hotel in Worthing on 27th March. I do wear spectacles but I usually take them off for a picture. I didn’t for that one and although it is old it looks more like me. I used to have it on my book marks but put cover images on more recently instead.

If I don’t get any good ideas soon I may even try to find old unfinished works. Not having a book on the go makes me depressed.

Goodbye Wendy

We had a service for Wendy Hughes at Worthing Crematorium today. It really is a beautiful setting and the occasion was a lovely mix of memories, poems, admiration and love.

Wendy is known for her books on Worthing, haunted and otherwise, and the guidance she gave to the various writing workshops she led over the years but most of all for the tireless efforts to start and operate the Stickler Syndrome Support Group. In spite, or because of her own difficulties she made the Health Professionals take the issue seriously and was always available to organise conferences and answer questions about the problem.

Here she is in the centre of one of our book sales. She will be sorely missed.


It used to be fun

So, it’s valentine’s week, is it? It must be, as hubby has bought two great big bunches of daffodils. He knows they are my favourite flowers. It must be because they look like golden trumpets and jazz always makes me happy.

Goodreads had suggestions for romantic reads but I didn’t suggest my novel. ” A Lesson for the Teacher” as, although I intended it to be a romance, it turned out to be more a ‘coming of age/adult tale.’ Naturally it included loves and losses but they were only part of the story and the man who was the main romantic interest wasn’t at all like the ’50 shades’ type of man. Setting it in the 1960’s helped me to include that odd mixture of innocence and daring that marked out the ‘ Swinging sixties.’ It seems so long ago.

I doubt if I’ll write an eighth novel, especially after reading “The Light Years” by Elizabeth Jane Howard. What an eye opener, and only the first of a collection! I say I don’t like historical novels but this was such a fine book I felt overwhelmed. Of course it has been dramatised and I would probably never see it but it isn’t only the story, it is also the quality of the writing that made me feel like a real amateur.


A lesson for the Teacher cover

Never mind, I’ve ordered a book on editing so should be learning more of my craft soon!

Oh, self publishing!

I used to get very angry when self published novels were dismissed as rubbish. I knew a number of authors who wrote books that were better than some traditionally published works but recently I have come across the kind of book that makes me rethink my attitude.

It is too easy to pay for your work to be printed and feel that wonderful sense of achievement when you hold it in your hands, but then it goes out into the world and the spelling errors that you missed and the gaps in the plot and the overwriting and the poor grammar are pointed out by readers and reviewers and you realise there is more to producing a book that just getting your ideas down on paper.

How many edits are enough? How many eyes saw your manuscript before it was published? How much experience have you had? Did you read it out loud? Did you show it to anyone skilled in assessing your work?

Time and again we self publishers are told to use an editor and still we think checking and proof reading it ourselves is good enough. Yet we know our characters – the reader doesn’t. We are not writing for ourselves, we are writing for an audience. It is important that they have a firm idea of the participants in the story and if we use too many they can get confused. Multiple viewpoints are irritating but so many writers use them.

After seven novels I am still learning my craft and encourage all authors to treat writing as a skill that is not naturally picked up at school but, like all skills, needs a period of apprenticeship before being confident that what you have produced is good enough to offer to the world.


Writing Crime

Wow – how difficult is that! I’ve been reading a lot of crime stories recently and am amazed at the plots. I love watching Vera on TV and find police shows interesting but I’m not so keen on police procedural novels. I think I need to identify with the detective and when it’s a grumpy old man I’m not always on his side. It’s different if it is a maverick rebel. Robert Goddard is good at writing those.

I am really trying to watch which posts get the most views as I would like to connect with a few more people. I think giving the posts a good title is probably key. I’ll see if this one works. meanwhile, I’ve done the short story for the competition. That’s two this month.

I use the bookworm picture when I’m posting about books or writing. Is this a good idea?bookwormclipart