Tuesday, 1 December 2020

NaNoWriMo Winner! 🎉

I did it! I managed to complete 50K words in 30 days! 😃

National Novel Writing Month happens every November. This is my 3rd time of 'Winning', but this one was extra special, cuz I fell behind and didn't think I could pull it off, but yesterday I managed to pull just over 8,000 words out of myself and by the skin of my teeth managed it in the 11th hour - with only 5 minutes to go! 

This is the first of Tricky's Tales (still need to find a title ... and a genre), and it came out FAR better than I could have imagined, a tad funnier and not quite as dark. Being a panster (meaning I don't plan it all out, I just have a collection of scenes in my head, a rough story idea or thread that pulls through it and that's it), it can be tough going knowing where to go next, as you need time to gestate, and at several points I didn't think there would be enough story to reach 50K, but each time something new came up that I kept it going and to be honest, I still have at least one more chapter to write. I am hoping for a sort of twist that will indicate another book from her, cuz I really feel there is a series in this. 

It is the first draft and does need work and a lot of tweaking and polishing, but it is down, which is the main thing and the point of NaNoWriMo. 

I just wanted to come here and brag about it! 😉😄

Guest Blog - Editing Process Q&A - SJI Holliday

This week's Guest Author is Susi Holliday. 

Susi (S.J.I.) Holliday grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. A life-long fan of crime and horror, her short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize. She lives in London (except when she's in Edinburgh) and she loves to travel the world.

And this is rather a special day, as it is Publication Day for The Last Resort! Whoo Hoo! Congratulations Susi! 🎉

After the Q&A you will find details of her fabulous new Thriller. Grab a copy! I really enjoyed it; it's very intriguing. 

Susi was actually the reason I wrote these questions. I am fascinated by her success at having completed, and had traditionally published, 7 novels since I have known her - which was back before she had an agent, and we were all still entering flash fiction contests on twitter! (those were the days) It was afterwards I decided to open it up to other authors, and I am so glad I did, it's been fascinating to read everyone's experiences and see how much they differ - or not as the case might be.

Anyway, here are Susi's brilliantly detailed responses to my questions:

Do you send a proposal before a book is accepted? Do you send in an outline first and get that okayed or do you go straight to the full draft?

OK, bear with me here as I’m going to answer this from the perspective of getting a publisher, and then agreeing a second (or subsequent) book with the same publisher – and I have published 7 books with 3 publishers so it’s quite detailed but hopefully useful!

So for my first published book (with Black & White Publishing, a medium sized indie), it was a full polished draft – that’s the usual in fiction, especially for debuts – this was a 1-book deal. Then as part of the contract (generally) a publisher will ask to see a proposal for future books (and there is a time limit for them offering a new deal for that book or books). I got my second book deal (for 2 books this time, with the same publisher) based on a couple of half-page synopses. It helped that it was a sort of loose-linked trilogy so some of the characters were the same.

After that, I was out of contract and wanted to write something different. I was approached by Hodder (an imprint of Hachette, one of the Big 5) and asked if I wanted to write something based on an idea of theirs, but that’s a different sort of situation. I wanted to do it, as I was intrigued to see how it would work! So I then expanded on their synopsis, worked out a more detailed outline and chatted to the editor about it, then wrote the draft.

After that, I wanted to write something different again, so I wrote another full draft and went on submission again (I’m a glutton for punishment!) I got a 2-book deal (with Orenda Books, a small/medium indie), with no idea for the second book. When I was ready, I just very briefly mentioned the idea and sketched it out briefly and the editor was happy. I worked on a more detailed outline myself, but didn’t share it – and it actually changed a huge amount twice while I was writing it.

After that book was done, I wanted to write something different (again!) and I actually went back to an idea I had early on, just after I got my 1st book deal when I wasn’t sure what to write next – I had written a few chapters and had a rough plan, but I decide to take the initial hook and start again. I wrote a “partial” - a draft of around 20k plus a detailed outline of the rest, and my agent submitted it. I got 2 offers and had to decide which publisher to go with, which was nerve-wracking! I chose Thomas & Mercer (an imprint of Amazon Publishing). It was a 2-book deal, and they wanted a detailed idea of book 2. I had a very brief idea which they then asked me to expand on, and I had a meeting with my editor to expand it further. As it turned out, they wanted to publish that book as the first in the deal, which meant when it came to book two, I already had the partial and an outline to work from (which makes it sound like it was then easy to write, but it actually wasn’t as it had then been so long since I worked on it, it was harder than having a totally new idea!)

I recently delivered my first draft of that second book, which means I’m now out of contract (again!) so the next step is for me to chat to my current editor about new ideas, then they’ll ask me to expand them a bit, then hopefully – fingers crossed – offer me another deal! If not, it’ll be back to writing a full draft for submission again (I don’t think I would submit on a partial again as it does limit your choices – I had more than one offer with mine, but many said that although they loved the idea, they just couldn’t consider anything other than a full draft).

Do you do several drafts before you send it to the publisher for editing, or do you just send the first draft?

My first draft is usually quite clean as I outline before I start and I do edit lightly as I go, but I leave gaps for things I need to research or work out later by writing ‘xxx’, so then my first edit involves me going through checking for ‘xxx’ and filling in what needs to go there. I then do a full pass, just tidying it all up as much as I can, but I don’t spend too long on editing at this stage. Usually I will have a list of notes that I’ve made as I was writing, for things I need to think about later. I keep hold of this until I get the notes from the editor.

How many times do you go back and forth (on average) - does it vary with the publisher or with the story?

It varies with both the publisher and the story. But on average, it’s one major edit, then it’s a couple of back and forths to tie up loose ends. Then there’s copyediting and proofreading, so a few more back and forths for those.

What kind of changes/suggestions do they make? Are they just minor ones or are they major? (any examples?)

A bit of both. It’s kind of linked to your next question, but major stuff would come under developmental, then minor is usually in copyedits and is more about style (often based on the publisher’s style guide) and (in)consistencies, and sometimes suggestions to make a sentence flow better, if the editor hasn’t found it clear to read. I haven’t had many structural suggestions for any of mine, I think because I do outline, so this part is usually fine. It’s more about expanding on certain things and clarifying things, as I tend to write short drafts and they become longer. I call it ‘colouring in’. Types of things that would be major – if the editor doesn’t believe in a character’s motivation, or doesn’t like the ending, or finds a plot hole or has an issue with a subplot. Minor is more about timelines – what day is it, what time of year is it, how long since this happened etc and then other very minor things like characters with similar names.

Does it go through various stages, like developmental, copy editing and then proofing? Or is it straight into copy and proofing? Or again, does that vary on book and publisher.

For me it has always been developmental/structural, then copyedit, then proofing. But for some there is also a line edit, which comes in between structural and copyedit – the line edit has always come merged with my developmental – so I will get a report of a few pages (this has been between 2-10 pages, depending on the book and the editor), sometimes broken into headings, sometimes just major/minor – and as well as that, I get a marked up version of my manuscript with comments in in the relevant places – the report and the comments are linked, so when they say in the report ‘I’m not sure I believed that Johnny would push Jane off a bridge when there are people watching’ (for example) then it would also say ‘more detail on page xx’ – where the comment there might say ‘Maybe you can change this so the person on the bridge who Johnny talked to left before Jane arrived’ or whatever.

What would you say best practice is in regards to accepting/rejecting edits - is there always a discussion, or do you feel you have to accept all/some of them?

It’s always a discussion. The editor sends the suggestions, lets you have time to think it through, then go back to them to chat if necessary. It’s fine not to agree, but most of the time they are right! I’ve mostly found that things that the editor has picked up on have been things I have written in my notes for addressing later. If there is something I have disagreed with, I have gone back and said why, and we’ve usually compromised somehow. I’ve had good relationships with all of my editors and I’ve really valued their feedback. Sometimes just chatting through an issue helps me to find a way to fix it, often in a way I didn’t expect. In my last edit, the chat with the editor led me to think up a completely new twist that would have to be seeded through from the start. He asked me if I really want to do it as it was a lot of work, but I knew it would make the book better, and ultimately that is what editing is about. When it comes to copyedits, this is done in comments e.g.“suggest rewording, perhaps xxxx” or “I didn’t understand this sentence, can you clarify?” or “you’ve got a lot of smiling, cut?” and then style/typos type things are in tracked changes and I usually agree with most of them, as this is really fine-tuning for clarity/readability.

Do you find it hard to embrace the suggestions/changes given?

Oh, I think I answered that above! For the most part, no. But there have been occasional times when I have disagreed (but it has been resolved fairly easily, sometimes with me coming up with a different solution to fix the problem). I actually quite like the editing process – having fresh eyes on your work and then making you think about the book as a whole is a good thing, because when you are writing it you are far too close. I have heard people say (mainly people who are unpublished or have chosen to self-publish) that traditional publishing editors “make you change the book to how they want it”, and I have to say, that is just not my experience at all.

 Thank you so much for taking part. 



When Amelia is invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat on a private island, the mysterious offer is too good to refuse. Along with six other strangers, she’s told they’re here to test a brand-new product for Timeo Technologies. But the guests’ excitement soon turns to terror when the real reason for their summons becomes clear.

Each guest has a guilty secret. And when they’re all forced to wear a memory-tracking device that reveals their dark and shameful deeds to their fellow guests, there’s no hiding from the past. This is no luxury retreat—it’s a trap they can’t get out of.

As the clock counts down to the lavish end-of-day party they’ve been promised, injuries and in-fighting split the group. But with no escape from the island—or the other guests’ most shocking secrets—Amelia begins to suspect that her only hope for survival is to be the last one standing. Can she confront her own dark past to uncover the truth—before it’s too late to get out?

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Guest Blog - Editing Process Q&A - Alys Earl

This week's guest author is Alys Earl who has given us a detailed inside into their process. 

AW Earl is a writer, storyteller, and performer whose fiction combines literary, genre, and folkloric motifs, and whose non-fiction involves them being quietly angry about transgender issues and the much misunderstood history of marriage. Living in Suffolk with various children and cats, they are currently seeking representation for a series of novels about modern day faeries in Norwich. Their debut novel, Time’s Fool, was published by Unbound in 2018, and their collection of illustrated ghost stories, Scars on Sound, was released in 2017. 

(See their books below)

Do you do several drafts before you send your manuscript to the publisher for editing, or do you just send the first draft? 

I always do several drafts before sending anything on to a publisher, whether I’ve been commissioned or not. I like to have a very clear idea in my head of what I’m doing, and how I want to achieve it before I’m ready to work with someone else on it. This is partly because my intentions tend to change a lot over the second and third draft, and I don’t want to mess my editors about by having something that goes off at a complete tangent to what we’d discussed, or what the first draft implied. Time’s Fool, for example, was originally conceived as a gothic romance - it was only by the third draft that I realised I could not force it in to that shape, and that it really found itself as something of a tragedy. It would have been impossible for an editor to do a fair job on what was pitched (romance) without turning it in to something quite other than the story it needed to be, and I needed the space to find that out for myself without wasting another professional’s time.

I am also, alas, something of a perfectionist and really don’t like people to see my work unless I’m already fairly satisfied with it.

How many times do you go back and forth (on average) - does it vary with the publisher or with the story? 

With Unbound publisher, we had three lots of edits - the structural, the copy, and the line edits. I’m not sure how typical it was, but there was only one exchange at each stage - so, I received comments, worked on the suggestions, and then had my changes approved before the next stage. So, that was three times, and then a final proof read.

What kind of changes/suggestions do they make? are they just minor ones or are they major? (any examples?)

I’ve never been asked to make any seriously major changes to my work. In my experience, editors have been concerned with helping me draw out the story as I wanted to tell it, with an eye to the audience’s ease, enjoyment, and comprehension. This has involved moving some bits about, adding or deleting sections, getting rid of a few ‘darlings’ (I love a terrible pun - editors tend not to), or occasionally rewriting a scene or chapter so that it is more dynamic, or affecting. I’ve never been asked to change a character, or their motivations, only to make them clearer.

Similarly, copy editing is more focused upon honing narrative voice than controlling it - I tend to have quite a lyrical style, and a lot of the feedback was about helping that to ‘sing’. Copyeditors look for clarity, consistency, and - for want of a better word - elegance of voice, rather than any particular style.

Then, of course, there is accuracy. My books have a strong historical aspect, and editors are brilliant at catching, or questioning, historical points - and indeed, stopping authors from getting too carried away with including them. My editor for Time’s Fool caught some absolute howlers, as well as (thankfully) stopped me including an entirely unnecessary paragraph on the history of medieval beds.  

Does it go through various stages, like developmental, copy editing and then proofing? Or is it straight into copy and proofing? Or again, does that vary on book and publisher? 
In my experience, editing starts out with a sort of long-lens, looking at the structure and the narrative or the book, and gradually hones in to the content, then on the word choice, and finally the details like punctuation and spelling convention.

What would you say best practice is in regards to accepting/rejecting edits - is there always a discussion, or do you feel you have to accept all/some of them?

I try to keep in mind Neil Gaiman’s adage about editing: that if someone says there is a problem with a bit of your work, they are almost always right. If they try to tell you how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. Grumble as we might, editors know their jobs, and can see our manuscripts with clearer eyes than we can ourselves. As such, I tend to accept about 80-90% of small changes without question. Larger changes, I would often wish to discuss, or use as a starting point for implementing my own solutions, but in the vast majority of cases some level of editing is necessary or they wouldn’t have spotted it. Often shifting other bits around the contested section solves the problem just as well, or better, than their suggestion.

This approach almost certainly bores my editors rigid and no doubt comes off as very contrary, but as I said above, I’m a perfectionist. I am also, according to one editor I’ve worked with “terrifyingly workmanlike” about my stories. My structural editor for Time’s Fool spent a good few minutes reassuring me that it was a very decent manuscript, and the fact he’d marked it up so much didn’t mean I’d given him some dreadful scrawling that would need to be entirely rewritten. My attitude, though, was very much “Yes, but there are problems, or you wouldn’t have marked it up. So. How do I best go about fixing them?”

The only time this approach fails, I think, is when you and your editor have significant creative differences or outlooks upon life. When I was first starting to submit things, there was a little spate of stories about agents or editors asking (often marginalised) writers to change a character’s gender, race, or sexuality, - and that for me is a huge issue. Before handing your work to someone else to look at, it’s really important to know those things upon which you are not willing to compromise - the changes you will not make, not even if they are make or break changes as regards your contract, and for me questions of identity and morality feature very strongly in that.  In addition to these, it’s worth having a list of things you would rather not alter, but could be persuaded upon. Everything else is up for discussion, for the service of the story, and the service of the reader.

The point I’m trying to make is, a good editor who understands your work would not have flagged something unless they genuinely felt there was a problem there. Do you really want this story to go out there with your name on it, if it has a problem that was pointed out to you, and you have done nothing to fix?

Do you find it hard to embrace the suggestions/changes given? 

Yes of course I do! Writers are delicate, touchy creatures and anyone who pretends that they aren’t is lying. But, ultimately, it comes down to integrity.

The pact I make with my readers is that I’ve done everything in my power to make this story as good as it can be, and that involves listening to my editors unless their advice is about one of the things upon which I will not compromise. So, while I have a couple of friends I can vent to about all the things I’ve been asked to do to my novel in order to make it readable, I also just grit my teeth and do them.

Thank you so much for taking part.

Autumn in the market City of Barchester, and two bright students begin their final year at University, content with old friendships, paying lip-service to old dreams. Until, that is, an ill-conceived prank introduces them to Julian.

For Sophia and Steven, the friendship they form with this worldly stranger marks a coming of age, a possibility to embrace the needs and longings they have never had the language to express. But Julian has his own secrets, and as the nights grow longer, it becomes clear that not all desires are without cost; that some things should never be brought into the light.

Time's Fool is a novel about monstrosity, about desire and communication. It's about the self we present to the world and the needs we whisper to ourselves in the darkness. It is about honesty and the fear of honesty. It is about the things we refuse - refuse to say, refuse to seek, refuse to believe - because sometimes, ignoring those things is all that keeps us sane. 

Click on the book cover for the Amazon UK link. The Amazon US Link is HERE

If UK based, you can buy the epub version on Hive UK HERE 

The past will hurt you if you turn your back on it. A village under the shadow of old magics. A book of poems that twists the minds of those who read it. A woman imprisoned by a poisonous love. Grown from the dark soil of the British Folk Tradition, these stories ring with a half-remembered music of loss, haunting and revenge. From the nurse recalling her monstrous charges, to the woman with scarred hands who is warped by a power from the past, these are tales of civilisation falling away, of something older and more dangerous coming through. With illustrations by Ruth Tucker, these lyrical, Gothic stories capture the horror that lies in the English landscape and the darkness of the human heart.

Click on the book cover for links to purchase from Lulu. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 176

This week's picture prompt was created by Russian artist Ruslan Svobodin, and calls this Trigger the Cat. I rather love it. 

I had used it in my new Tricky book, although I realised now I didn't encompass the gun, but still, the idea is to use the prompt in whatever way works for you. And it's also opened up a whole other sub plot! So very useful. Here's a snippet. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there

Black Cat

Tricky’s new body meant that she wasn’t too puffed out by all the stairs that wound up to the top room in the tower. There were a couple of landings along the way leading off along corridors, but they contained nothing of interest to her. When she reached the top landing she faced the door which was open, and looked in. Lucien was at his desk, head down writing something. His birds were all there too, in all the alcoves and on all the window ledges, but none of them registered her presence.

She carefully stepped into the room. She didn’t plan to try and retrieve her Obsidian stone with him sitting there - didn’t think she actually could, as there wasn’t enough space between chair and cabinet. Plus she was confident he would sense the change in energy if she got that close to him, and she wasn’t going to risk it. She stepped inside the doorway, and stood to the left of it, in a corner where the circular outer wall met the inner wall, and waited.

Lucien was scribbling furiously, intent on whatever he had to tell. Then he laid his pen down and rolled the piece of paper up and made a strange squeaking noise with his lips, no doubt calling his birds to him. But it wasn’t a bird that came, it was a cat, and this one wore a strange device.

Now Tricky didn’t go in for all this ‘all witches must have cats’ malarkey. She wasn’t into them at all; they prowled about thinking they were something special, demanding attention and food when it suited them. Moody bloody things too, they were, and she didn’t care for that kind of attitude. She wasn’t going to chase after an animal that didn’t serve a purpose, although many would argue they did. Yes, they caught mice and other such small creatures, many that didn’t need catching, and they might spot the existence of ghosts and other energies, although it could just as easily be a fly, but she didn’t want cat hair getting into all her clothing and her food, she didn’t want it in her garden shitting up the place, and she didn’t want half rotting ‘presents’ turning up on her doorstep. Oh no, they weren’t for Tricky. But it didn’t surprise her Lucien had one. He was that sort. He didn’t just go in for the magic or the power; he went in for the image too. And though birds might be his forte, cats gave him the look he was after. And this was a black cat of course. No other would do.

She found it interesting the cat paid no mind to the birds - although they were big birds and would stab that cat soon as look at it. And she was surprised it tolerated wearing a contraption. He clearly had a hold over it. It seemed birds weren’t just his thing.

The cat jumped up onto his desk and sat in front of him, offering its back. The contraption, affixed round the front legs and underbelly, was a tube which Dufray popped the letter into. He then made some other strange noises and the cat hopped down and went out of the door, off to deliver Lucien’s missive. Tricky wondered where it was going.

Then Lucien stood up and took his thigh-length black jacket off the back of the chair and put it on. Buttoning it up, he moved over to the wall and preened himself in a mirror. One of the birds screeched, startling Tricky. Lucien said aloud, ‘Don’t worry, I won’t be long, and you can join me if you like, eh?’ He turned and looked at the Jay that had made the noise and offered an arm. It glided down and perched on his forearm and together they left the room.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Guest Blog - Editing Process Q&A - Akshita Nanda

The next Guest Author is Akshita Nanda, a Singapore based author, with some interesting experience to share. 


Akshita Nanda's first novel, Nimita's Place was shortlisted for the 2017 Epigram Books Fiction Prize for unpublished manuscripts, and the 2019 Singapore Book Awards for best literary work. It was adapted into a staged reading for TheatreWorks in 2019. Her second novel, Beauty Queens Of Bishan is published by Penguin Randomhouse SEA. She has worked as a lab researcher, as an educator and for 12 years as a journalist and critic for The Straits Times. She is currently studying at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

Books reerenced in this Q&A:

I've had 2 novels published: Nimita's Place (Epigram Books, 2018) co-won the Singapore Literature Prize for English fiction in 2020 and was shortlisted for the Singapore Book Awards 2019. It has also been adapted into a theatrical reading.

The second is Beauty Queens of Bishan (Penguin Randomhouse SEA, 2019)

I've also created an interactive online story for readers aged 9-14, commissioned by the National Arts Council of Singapore, with publisher Tusitala Books. It's online here till Nov 29.

All three works went through some form of editing.

Do you send a proposal before a book is accepted? Do you send in an outline first and get that okayed or do you go straight to the full draft?

Both my novels were written before publishers were found for them. I'm currently working on a third, without a publishing contract. 

I'm represented by the Jacaranda Literary AgencyI do speak with my agent, Jayapriya Vasudevan, while developing the elevator pitch, but she has the difficult task of representing books that I want to write, rather than getting me to write what a publisher wants.

The interactive online story was the first one where I sent a pitch in for approval but I was given carte blanche with the narrative and plot. The publisher Tusitala Books did explain what media sources and tools they were using, which helped me shape my story outline and not ask for features they couldn't include with the story.

Do you do several drafts before you send it to the publisher for editing, or do you just send the first draft?

Several drafts. I hand-write all my first drafts. Typing them into the computer is the second draft.

I edit several times and then give the edited version to at least 3 friends I trust deeply. I've also paid for professional editing, via someone my agent recommended.

Once all the feedback is in, I collate it and decide what needs to be changed. Only then does my agent receive a submission copy to show to publishers.

How many times do you go back and forth (on average) - does it vary with the publisher or with the story? Does it go through various stages, like developmental, copy editing and then proofing? Or is it straight into copy and proofing? Or again, does that vary on book and publisher? 

There's usually a structural edit, where an editor goes through the course of the story and suggests what should or should not be changed.

With the second novel, this involved me writing an extra chapter for earlier development of a minor character.

After the structural edit comes the line edit, where one or more editors go through the novel line by line and suggest changes or ask questions.

There’s usually at least two rounds of editing - including with the online story - before the text is sent to layout. After layout, I proofread the galleys before they are sent to print.

What kind of changes/suggestions do they make? Are they just minor ones or are they major? (any examples?)

Examples of changes include the extra chapter for book 2. With the first novel, I wrote it to alternate between past and present. The editorial team thought it would be better to have several chapters from one timeline put together, rather than alternating timelines between every other chapter. At first I was resistant but it did work better for readers and didn’t involve me rewriting anything, which was great.

Both my books have been edited by at least one person unfamiliar with the culture being represented in the story. That’s led to some interesting dialogue about differing cultural assumptions. No editor has forced me to make changes I didn’t eventually want to make. All were respectful of what I was trying to achieve.

What would you say best practice is in regards to accepting/rejecting edits - is there always a discussion, or do you feel you have to accept all/some of them? Do you find it hard to embrace the suggestions/changes given? 

There is always a discussion. Both editor and writer will need to make clear to the other why changes are considered necessary. If a writer can defend their rationale, editors tend to accept it.

If an editor can defend their rationale, writers tend to accept it.

I have had 17 years in the publishing industry, including 6 as an editor of books and 12 as a correspondent for a newspaper, so I am aware that writing IS a team effort and that there are many hands and eyes shepherding copy to print. I know that often I am too close to the text to be objective - and also that in the end, my name is on the book. I know what hills to die on and what changes to accept gracefully.

Thanks you so much for taking part.

A light-hearted story, Beauty Queens of Bishan centers around stereotypical rich Indian families in Singapore, yet it does not leave out other parts of the community and how they all come together in the beauty parlours of the average-class heartland of Bishan. In Bishan, the busiest suburb of Singapore, thirteen small beauty parlours co-exist quietly, offering haircuts, bikini waxes and facials at no-nonsense prices. All that changes when a swanky new salon opens. D’Asthetique (Beauty is Skin Deep) is run by April Chua, the stylist to the stars. April’s plan for Bishan includes controlling her competitors through a new society, NAILSO (Neighbourhood Alliance of Independent Lifestyle Service Operators). The only person who dares to protest is the chubby Gurpreet Kaur, owner of Monty Beauty Spa. Both have clients in the upcoming Grand Glam Singapore Beauty contest. Will April’s shoe-in Candy Kang prove yet again why she is Singapore’s sweetheart? Or will Gurpreet’s client, Tara Chopra, prove a star on stage as well as in court? 

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Guest Blog - Editing Process Q&A - Dale S Rogers

Our next Guest author is Dale S Rogers, author of Christian Romantic Suspense and Children's book. She's had an interesting journey on with her editing experience with publishers. 

 South Carolina native, Dale currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and three cats. With several family members involved in writing, Dale soon found herself drifting in that direction, eventually joining her high school newspaper staff. Continuing her interest in writing after graduating from Anderson College and the University of South Carolina, she penned articles and stories, as well as poetry, eventually starting a novel. Since then, she has written two novels for teens and adults. She also loves music and dance, and has participated in several musicals and even one movie.

Do you send a proposal before a book is accepted? Do you send in an outline first and get that okayed or do you go straight to the full draft?  

The guidelines for publishers who don’t require agents vary. Some want the entire manuscript, while others might want the first three chapters or just a query. The important thing is to follow their instructions properly. (This applies to agents as well.)

Do you do several drafts before you send it to the publisher for editing, or do you just send the first draft?

It takes several drafts before a manuscript is ready to send to a publisher. It’s a good idea to have someone else read it first, so you can get an idea of how others view your work. Even then, the editor will find things to change.

How many times do you go back and forth (on average). Does it vary with the publisher or with the story?

When my novel, Lighthouse on Tortola, was edited by someone at the publishing house, I added my comments and suggestions, then they took it from there. But when my publisher worked on Orange Snow, my picture book, they wanted it to be from a certain perspective, so we went back and forth two or three times.  

What kind of changes/suggestions do they make? are they just minor ones or are they major? (any examples?)

There was nothing major with my novel, but they didn’t understand a couple of situations, so I made them more clear. My editor also made some suggestions concerning punctuation, which I didn’t always agree with. My picture book editor wanted the book to have “a treasure,” which I had to work toward, then she added some children’s activities relating to the story.

Does it go through various stages, like developmental, copy editing and then proofing? Or is it straight into copy and proofing? Or again, does that vary on book and publisher?

In both cases, after I sent my final draft, the publisher sent me the galleys, which are pretty close to the final version. Even then, I found some errors, and that was the last time I had any real input before the books came out.

What would you say best practice is in regard to accepting/rejecting edits. Is there always a discussion, or do you feel you have to accept all/some of them? 

It’s important to respect the editing the publisher does, but I sometimes find changes I disagree with. I try to be polite and explain my reason for not liking their suggestion.

Do you find it hard to embrace the suggestions/changes given? 

Sometimes I do. I didn’t feel all of the suggestions made for my picture book were necessary, but I knew the publishers had a particular vision for the line of books they were putting mine in.

Thanks so much for joining.

Dale recently released Lighthouse on Tortola, a romantic adventure which concerns  a photojournalist on assignment in the Caribbean, and Orange Snow, a picture book about a young girl’s imagination and a blustery fall day. They’re both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

A debut novel filled with suspense as Photojournalist Andra seeks to clear an innocent person’s name and find evidence against a wealthy adversary. But she isn't isn’t expecting the biggest twist of all... falling in love.

When Andra goes to the British Virgin Island of Tortola on a magazine assignment, she never expects to become involved with a tour guide bent on revenge. Pulled into his world of intrigue, she must learn who she can and cannot trust while striving to prove the truth concerning the Ahoskie Diamond Necklace.

Lucy likes to imagine things. That's what she was doing one windy autumn day, waiting for Mom to pick her up from school. She was thinking how wonderful it would be if snow were... orange! And how fun it would be to play in. Just for pretend. But do you ever wish pretend could be real?





Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 175

This week's picture prompt is by Igor Zenin a Moldovian photographer. He calls it Sunset Run We've actually had another of his way back on Week 10! That one was called Dancing Trees - clearly he likes doing these (and I like using them).

Another snippet for you from my currently WIP - Tricky's first book. It's coming on nicely. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.


Tricky rose early the next morning wanting to catch the dawn light. It also meant she didn’t have to shield herself when coming off the jetty to cabin as the world was still sleeping and despite the risks of the trees, she slipped off between them as the sky turned from ink black to grainy grey, still an hour off dawn. She headed towards the hillside out west of the village and climbed to the top where only the low lying shrubby pines could hold on, and she looked down over the rest of Clancy, spotting the fresh water lake off to her left. She made her way towards it, using spurts of energy to get there before the crack of dawn appeared on the horizon. It was the county’s water reserve, and fed the towns within. It was also an ancient site, having survived the shift unharmed. The forest nibbling at its edge had much to talk about, should it ever choose to speak, with much of the landmass having been turned over around it, yet it remaining intact. It was considered sacred and contained elements lost to all the other counties. It was patrolled, and few people were allowed into its realms, though Tricky knew at this time in the morning there would be no one to stop her.

Tricky wasn’t going there to raid it for elements, not this morning at least. Today she was here to see the sprites, which would be coming out soon for their morning cleanse. People had stopped believing in such fairy tales, which was all the better for them - and her. It meant they could exist in private and keep their purity, and meant she could visit them. Their energy was particularly valuable and she hoped to soak some up, if she could get close enough. They were shy and suspicious, and didn’t take well to any observer, particularly not human.

Humans didn’t believe trees were sentient. They saw them as solid and stationary, and unfeeling. They cut them down and used them for their own means - and Tricky had to be honest and admit she used them too, but she tried to be respectful when she did. Like populations of all living things, they needed culling from time to time. Trees had benefited from the recent cull of the human population. It had given them back land and air and returned many precious elements they had lost. Tricky was particularly interested in how they used them. She noticed species of trees unseen before, leaf shape and colour something new and seemingly unnatural. Green was no longer the standard in trees, dark purples and deep blues had been growing up amongst them. They brought with them their own types of energy, ones that Tricky found far more useful due to their intensity.

When she was within a metre of the water’s edge but still obscured by trees, Tricky sat down, making herself comfortable as she looked over the water. It was turning from a dark mirror, to one that had light rising from within it. The light along the horizon line turned royal blue and tricky watched as shrubs and bushes along the shoreline began to move.

They were like dancing ladies as they stepped out into the shallows. The edge of golden light growing across the water silhouetted them in her view. They splashed and cavorted, and twirled round. There were no faces, but legs and arms, and bushes at the tops that looked like heads. She wasn’t yet familiar with the reason for this ritual, she only knew they were the essence of trees that broke free and came to embrace the water. Was it their way of bringing water to the trees? She didn’t know. She only knew that once the tip of the sun crested the water’s far edge, they would rush back into the trees and not be seen again until the next morning. She had to be fast if she wanted to reap any nourishment from this visit.

Tricky took in a deep breath and stilled her thoughts, opening her mind’s eye and pushing her own energy up and through it, sending it out towards the water, feeling out where theirs was. When she touched the edge of theirs it sparked and flashed, but yet they remained oblivious. Each spark and flash sent a shot of electric energy back to her, which she absorbed until she reached a point where she thought her hair must be standing on end. Then she carefully pulled back her own energy, and sealed it up, mentally binding it back with her own body energy. Tricky felt full.