Thursday 29 October 2020

Guest Blog - Editing Process Q&A - Richard Wall

Kicking off the Guest Blog series, on editing processes in traditional or small press publishing, is author Richard Wall

I chose Richard because today is launch day for his second novel, Near Death published by Burning Chair Publishing. Congratulations! (see details after the interview).

Born in England in 1962, Richard grew up in a small market town in rural Herefordshire before joining the Royal Navy. After 22 years in the submarine service and having travelled extensively, Richard now lives and writes in rural Worcestershire.

His first short story, “Evel Knievel and The Fat Elvis Diner” (available on Kindle), was soon followed by “Five Pairs of Shorts” a collection of ten short stories, another short story called “Hank Williams’ Cadillac” and his latest novel, “Near Death.”

Richard’s stories reflect his life-long fascination with the dark underbelly of American culture, be it tales of the Wild West, or of the simmering menace of the Deep South, or the poetry of Charles Bukowski, or the writing of Langston Hughes, or the music of Charley Patton, Son House, Johnny Cash, or Tom Waits.

So here goes:

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?

I try to keep within the guidelines of the publisher / agent that I’m sending to - some ask for the full MS, some for the first 3 chapters or 20k words.

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

Usually I write the MS, leave it for a while (couple of weeks) then go back and look for typos, inconsistencies etc. I may have a couple more read throughs before sending.

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

My most recent novel, Near Death, went through two major changes after I sent it to the publisher. There was a major developmental edit, followed by another edit after Beta readers had made their comments.

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

Major ones were:

  • inconsistencies/confusion in the timeline of events
  • suggested changes to dialogue to make it more realistic and in keeping with the personality/setting/situation of the character - basically making it sound like how people actually speak
  • I wrote a character with a similar name to the protagonist, and two other characters whose names were similar to each others. It was pointed out this might cause confusion. 

Minor ones included keeping the use of language consistent - the story is set in the US, narrated by an American so the spelling etc had to be ‘Americanised’. Also a particular crime scene detail involving the death of a child was removed, which, on reflection was a good call.

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?

With Burning Chair (my publisher) it was developmental, copy editing, review by beta readers and then final proofing.

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?

Try to keep an open mind, be polite and don’t be precious :) With Burning Chair I accepted most of their suggestions. If I disagreed with a suggestion (which I did a couple times) I gave an explanation why, we had a brief back and forth until the matter was resolved. I think there has to be trust on both sides; you have to trust the publisher that their suggestions come from a good place, and they have to trust that you know what you are writing about :)

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

No, not at all. But then, I’ve been lucky in that Pete and Simon at Burning Chair ‘get’ my writing and can see the bigger picture of the story I’m telling, so the suggestions they make all go to improve that story - which is what it’s all about. That’s very important.

Thanks so much for taking part in this blog series.

One last question, what projects you are currently working on?

My next project will be to complete the final short story in the Beelzebub Jones Trilogy - a collaboration between myself and ace musician Half Deaf Clatch. After that I have plans for a paperback compilation of all my shorts stories and occasional poetry. This will carry the working title: ’Nicotine, Liquor and Blasphemy’.



"See you on the other side, Preacher Man."

 These are the last words of Joseph Hickey, a psychopath executed at Sing Sing prison for the murder of the Howell family in New York State. 

 After giving the last rites and watching Hickey die, troubled prison chaplain John Henry Beauregard quits his job to start a new life in the Appalachian Mountains.

 Hickey's death should have been the end of the nightmare, but then another family is murdered in identical circumstances, and John Henry is called back to New York to give the last rites to the killer.

 As the killings continue, John Henry is drawn into a mystery with devastating consequences. 

 Is it possible to commit murder from beyond the grave?

 Can John Henry stop the endless cycle of torment and solve the mystery before it is too late?  

Available at, Amazon and all good bookstores.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 172

This week's picture prompt is another piece from Jeannie Ann Numos, aka i-am-JENius on Deviant Art.  She called this one Sanctuary. I also used her work on Week 159She has some incredible art so definitely worth checking out. 

It was a struggle to find an end to this one, it felt like it could turn into an epic fantasy story - and maybe it will one day. It turned out more hopefully than it started. Not my usual style, but some days you just don't argue with how it comes out.

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.


The view was breathtaking - at least it would have been if Brianna had been able to take a breath. It was a bit hard with a gag in her mouth.

They pulled her down the incline to the small decrepit jetty. She found it hard keeping her balance on something so fragile with her hands tied behind her back, but they steadied her when she wobbled and helped her into the little boat.

She glanced at the light-fairy caught in the glass. She could see its sparkling tears in the gleam it gave off. Brianna resolved in that moment to set it free. She knew they were the lackies of Prince Hereford. The man was not capable of wooing a woman, he was too conceited. He wouldn’t do anything for anyone, he was a taker – and that’s exactly what was happening now. She was being taken.

As they sailed off across the lake, she wondered how they were going to handle the waterfall. The sound of it rushed towards them, and the spray glistened in the moonlight. It was beautiful to behold but would be more enjoyable under other circumstances.

Brianna was surprised how deftly they guided the boat; she hadn’t seen that kind of gentleness when they had grabbed her out of her cottage and stuffed her into the cart earlier that day. They took it over to the left side of the lake and an opening appeared in the hillside, just before the fall. It was a tunnel of sorts, leading them down in a spiral. The light from the fairy reflected the damp walls that had been carved out by the water. When they reached the bottom they came out behind the waterfall and glided past it.

The water lulled them in the boat and she could see the eyes on the two either side of her begin to close. Brianna glanced behind and saw the same. The one in the front was still paddling though. The encased fairy on the seat in front of her looked at her with pleading eyes. She winked at it, and it gave her a small smile. She slowly moved one of her feet forward, making sure there was no reaction from either side, and then flipped her foot up, pushing the glass jar, tilting it.

The fairy got its fingers under the edge and helped, squeezing itself out. The shift in light seemed to have no effect on the man paddling. Brianna watched as the fairy flew over the men’s heads and sprinkled something on them. Then she flew behind Brianna and worked on the ropes binding her hands. Once she was free, she removed the gag.

Brianna didn’t know how she was going to get out of the boat. She couldn’t swim, and she also couldn’t imagine tackling four men. The fairy floated in front of her and beckoned. She frowned at the fairy, and it flapped its arms and pointed at Brianna. Brianna couldn’t fly, didn’t the fairy know this? She shook her head. The fairy nodded in response and again acted a flying motion, then held out its hand.

Brianna put her finger out to touch the fairy’s hand, and felt herself lift up off the seat. She stifled a cry as she floated up over the boat. The men didn’t move, whatever the fairy had sprinkled on them had left them immobile.

The fairy took her back up the river and they floated up the waterfall, the view from the top literally made Brianna gasp as the full moon covered everything with its glow. The fairy took them higher, up over the trees, until her home was in sight, and then once there, let her down gently.

Brianna gushed her gratitude and the fairy nodded, giving her another of its small smile before vanishing into the night.

Once gone Brianna felt like she had woken from a dream as the pain in her wrists returned. Rubbing them she realised she needed to pack a bag. Prince Hereford wasn’t one to be shirked. He’d come looking for her and the next time she might not be so lucky. 

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Guest Blog Series Coming soon - Editing Processes in Publishing Houses.

As a freelance editor of self-published authors, I have always been curious about the editing process between Author and Editor of publishing houses, big and small.

It is hard for self-pubbed authors to find good editors and most cost a fortune (I try and be as affordable as I can), so I have always imagined it was quite nice and easy if you are with a publishing house. But maybe that isn't true, so I thought I'd endeavour to find out.

I put out a call on Twitter asking if any authors who are published with large or small publishing houses would be interested in taking part in a blog series, answering questions about their editing process and I was overjoyed to receive some great responses.   

So on Thursday 29th of October, the first of 10 Guest posts will appear. They will appear every Tuesday and Thursday. 

(If you don't wish to miss any, you can sign up to my blog and get them in your inbox - see the top of the right column.) 

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 171

 This week's prompt photo is from Alice Zummerfish. I'm a little confused as this is credited as by her on multiple art sites but on her Deviant Art site there is no sign of these creations. I'm wondering if she just creates them for specific sites. 

I tried to keep a Steam Punk feel, but it's not my genre really, and I dipped into sci-fi of sorts. 

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.


‘What do you see?’

‘A sphere spinning in my hand.’

‘Is there anything inside it?’

‘Yes, I think it’s our galaxy.’

Peter’s face lit up in delight. ‘Marvellous.’

‘But ...’  Annabelle felt the skin of her forehead crease against the helmet covering the upper part of her face as she frowned. ‘There’s something else ... a cloud, or shadow, it’s moving closer.’

Peter spun dials on the display board, the steam driven generator letting out a high pitched squeal. Annabelle gasped.

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I just thought maybe with some magnification ...’

‘You didn’t. It’s the view, it altered. I can see what it is now.’

Peter waited. Annabelle didn’t speak, just moved her hand closer to her face, her perfect red lips opening slightly in awe. He’d developed the helmet to help her see her visions more clearly. She’d been plagued with them for months now and he knew there had to be some kind of meaning in them, although people in this era were close minded to such things – in fact all things. The industrial age had heralded too much change for them, they didn’t like it. But the new age beckoned to people like Peter and Annabelle.

‘A cloud of stars, or ... hold on, they’re something else. They’re moving. I can see some kind of fire ejecting out of the back of them.’

‘Like the power pack I made the other week?’

‘Yes, a bit. But these are huge. Like ships, but driven by these fires at the back of them.’

‘Where are they going?’

‘They are coming here, to us.’

‘To us?’

‘Yes. I think so. There’s a lot of them, at least fifty.’

‘Are you sure? To our planet? Our galaxy is full of other planets; maybe they live on one of them.’

‘No, no, it’s quite clear to me, they are coming to us.’

‘And how soon will they get here?’

‘A long time yet, Peter, a long time yet. I’m not sure we’ll see their arrival in our lifetime. But when they do ... oh Peter when they do ... it will be the end of life as we know it.’

Peter looked startled. ‘What do you mean, Annabelle, would they do us harm?’

‘They want our planet and they want our resources.’ Annabelle’s voice went strange, deeper than usual. ‘We are one of a chain of planets spanning many galaxies. This is their next stop. They will retrieve minerals and deposits it holds, items we have yet to discover and understand, but which give great power. To do so will mean splitting the core. We will not survive this undertaking.’ Annabelle jolted sharply in her seat. ‘Oh Peter! That’s awful!’

‘It is, Annabelle. We need to find out exactly when they will arrive.’

‘But how?’

Mathematically of course. But first I need you to tell me, have they breached the edge of our galaxy yet?

‘They have it in their sights; it will be another week before they do.’

‘Okay, sweetheart, off with the helmet.’

It took much undoing and a bit of pulling but eventually Annabelle was free of the iron contraption. Then the two of them sat in Peter’s study and began the calculation.

They burned through two nights of lamp oil before they had a result.

‘Shouldn’t you run those by Francis to be sure? He can be discreet.

‘No, not this time. I want to take them up to Greenwich and ask them up there. Pose it as a theoretical. No one will believe this, Annabelle, but we can record it for those in the future. Now, it’s time for sleep, my dear, to rest our weary heads.’

They climbed the stairs to bed, snuffing out lights as they went, but forgetting to turn off the steam generator in the basement, which if left unattended would overheat. That night the sound of the blast as it exploded could be heard for more than a mile. Little was left of the Edwardian house, only a pile of rubble.

People came to help recover the bodies and any remains worth keeping. There were books and some journals left untouched, even papers dated from the night before, but they were scorched and illegible, only some numbers. One of them was circled many times at the bottom. It read 2022. A few pondered it, but no one knew its meaning.   

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 170

This week's photo is from Leszek Paradowski, a polish photographer I have actually had an image from before on Week 162.  He calls it The Beech with Human Face

Gone a bit dark this week, apocalyptical. Although a whole other sort of apocalypse. 

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.


I crawled across the bed of decaying leaves, the stench of their transformation in my nostrils. As life turned to feed, I didn’t want to risk upsetting them in case I should become their feed too. They grew from what rotted in the ground; some believed those around the graveyards were the strongest.

I wanted to ingratiate myself to the leader. It had to be the leader; it was the tallest in this ancient beech forest, one of the few we hadn’t killed off. Although now they had taken over there would be a comeback.

I reach my hand out and felt something soft and gentle. I dared to glance up at the moss covered root. Was it a foot? Or a hand? I didn’t know, but as soon as I came in contact with it, I was laid rigid by the energy that poured from it and consumed my body, leaving me paralysed.

‘You come to beg for your life?’

The deep rasping voice seemed to emanate from deep within my brain. Each word felt like a migraine as though they were being pulled from me, but weren’t mine.

‘Please,’ I whispered, unsure whether I had said it out loud or only thought it. It was all I could do from my prone position.

‘Why? You took our lives in their millions. Why should I spare yours?’

The energy rose to an excruciating pitch. Every inch of my body twanged with nerve rendering sensitivity like I was on the tip of a dentist’s drill. Then rage swept through me; a blinding fog of red spreading through my mind, and I could feel tears running down my face. I was feeling what they felt.

It might have taken them millennia to find a way to take over, but they had, en masse. We’d thought we’d known so much, but we’d known nothing about how they lived; their symbiosis with other plant life and other species; their ability to poison the air and the earth; the refined methods of using transferral between all these things to bring a stop to human life and their way of living.

Then they had started to “communicate” with those remaining. It was painful but at least it gave us a chance to understand and maybe atone.

That was why I was here. It was my turn to offer myself to them, to appease them, to be of service. I had no idea what that might mean. No one who had offered themselves so far had returned. I could only hope I’d be the first. 

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 169

This week's photo prompt is in the public domain for use and not attributed to anyone, so untraceable, which I always find a shame.

Another Tricky tale - the last one was Week 167. As I get closer to National November Writing Month and having a bash at putting down the first in what I believe will be a series of Tricky books, she seems to be appearing more and more MidWeekFlash prompts. At least it gives me something to work with. 

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. 

Feathered Fatality

She saw the bird fall out of the tree and ran to it, but by the time she reached it, its life was gone. Tricky picked it up gently in her hands and examined it. There were no visible wounds, or signs of sickness or old age. She fanned out its wings looking for any breakages. Nothing. But she took a moment to admire the stunning blue feathers that glinted with luminescence in the morning light. It also reminded her of her mother.

Her mother had used feathers liberally: in her clothing, in her rooms for decoration, and in her magic. Well, people called it magic but Tricky knew better. The energy feathers contained was high, and watching her mother easily manipulate people while covered in them, she knew it was powerful.

People thought finding one feather was lucky, but one feather alone could do little unless added to a potion of some kind. Her mother never needed to use them in potions though; she had mastered their use without having to combine it with other elements, and blue had been her favourite. She’d said it carried the most power being a unique colour in nature, so rare and unusual.

Tricky remembered a particular frock her mother used at special occasions, at a public gatherings where she could show it off. It had layers of coloured feathers adorning it, and the blue especially had stood out, highlighting her mother’s eyes that reflected the same piercing shade of blue.

Tricky’s smile faltered as she recalled the end of the frock; wrapped around her mother the day of her execution. They’d gone with the tradition of burning at the stake. Tricky had been proud her mother hadn’t screamed.

This thought brought her back to the bird in her hands, which hadn’t cried out when it died; it had fallen silently from the tree. There was something unnatural about it. And even though she knew such deaths of wildlife were common, particularly since much of the world had died off, a feeling in her gut told her otherwise.

This wasn’t just any bird, it was a Jay, one of the Corvid family and in her circles they had a deeper meaning. For one to fall dead in front of her portended something dark had being wished against her.

Carter. It had to be him and his cronies. Had they tapped into feather energy or had they just used an old witch ritual? Did they know what they were playing with? Tricky couldn’t be sure. Carter was wily and slippery, you could never be sure what he knew or what he could find out. He had his fingers in many rotten pies.

Tricky shuddered. She wrapped the bird in her scarf. She would take it home and perform a parting ritual. She would then remove the feathers. They might contain information about what had passed. Maybe she could glean something from them about what he was up to.