It’s the way that we say it

Good and bad ways to communicate e.g. Accuracy, Negative, Brevity, Harsh, Clarity, Demeanour, Unhelpful, Frank, Uncritical, Emotion.

Writing is a perilous thing. Thoughts flit to and fro, speech vanishes in a half-remembered haze, but written words are here to stay. Fixed. Scrutinised long after the fact. If we choose them poorly, we can destroy our relationships, our sales and our reputations.

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Christmas Fare – a performed reading

Christmas Fare ident

This month’s performed reading is Christmas Fare, a short story by Pippa Bailey. It may seem an odd time of year to put out this kind of tale, but for our main character, it’s Christmas every day. Originally written with a ‘Hallmark Cinematic Universe’ kind of thing in mind, Pippa takes some familiar tropes and has some good gory fun with it.

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Thinking about Purpose – Parsing Judgement #1

Judgement

Parsing’ (v.) The act of analysing a sentence into its constituent parts.

Judgement’ (n.) An opinion held or conclusion reached.

I came very close to dumping the title of this blog series, but I’ve come back around to it. Forgive me getting a little meta, but I’m going to use my internal debate on the subject to help illustrate the concept and the value of Purpose for your own writing.

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Swimming Out To Sea – a performed reading

Lone figure on beach

Welcome back, one and all. I’ve had a fair few people stick up their hands to get a story recorded for this, my monthly foray into audio narration. This half-hour horror comes from the mind of the wonderful Penny Jones. It’s a quietly disturbing tale of disorientation, set at the seaside on a roasting-hot day. Swimming Out To Sea was originally featured in The Black Room Manuscripts vol. 4 from The Sinister Horror Company, but it can also be found in Suffer Little Children, Penny’s micro-collection for Black Shuck Books.

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The heart of it all

The editor's desk, organised, with reference materials to hand.

What do people look for in a copy-editor? It seems nuts to say it, but the full importance of this question didn’t really sink in until recently. Not to any kind of depth. The basic needs are obvious: (i.) to catch your mistakes before publication, and (ii.) to help improve your writing. But what makes an editor shine? We’re going to dig into that a bit today.

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Taking stock

Out in the ocean

The freelance life can feel pretty perilous, bobbing about on the waves of economy. I’ve just about kept my head above water so far, but I recognise the dangers below. It wouldn’t take too much to sink me. Rather than powering on blindly, I thought it wise to take a moment to pause, tread water, and take stock of my situation. See how I’m doing—really. In short, I’ve just given myself a Quarterly Review.

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The Shape Off The Bow – a performed reading

Sailing ship amongst daunting rocks

Well, I enjoyed performing my own story so much, I decided to try another one. Fellow Burdizzo Books author, Lex H. Jones put out a call recently, asking if anyone would be prepared to record a story from his new collection, Whistling Past the Graveyard as a favour. I’ve not read Lex before, but I wanted the opportunity to get some more audio practice in, so I stuck my hand up. The story I present today is The Shape Off The Bow – a half-hour maritime tale of an ill-fated treasure hunt, isolation, madness, and something unnatural floating up there, just off the bow. Turn off the lights, settle back, and let the (sound)waves wash over you…

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Game Talk – interview excerpts

Hi folks, it’s blog time again. This one is a pared-down version of an interview conducted by the author C.C. Adams for his recent blog series, probing the thought processes, values, and strategies of people he feels have ‘got game’ when it comes to the business of writing – or in my case, editing. You’ll find links to the full interview and the rest of his blog series at the end. Cheers.

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The Bewilder-boy (Cracking Isolation, part 1)

In the stocks

In these times of Covid, more and more people are coming forward to report mental health issues. Some people see this as a weakness, a crisis in and of itself, just as pernicious as the pandemic. Others see it as a process of destigmatisation: an open sharing of vulnerability and pain that unites and enables us to heal through support, empathy, and encouragement.

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From Tappet Woods – a performed reading

Cat guarding its precious book

Hello, my lovelies. Feb 20th is my birthday, so I thought I’d give you all a gift: an hour of audio entertainment, written and performed by yours truly. ‘From Tappet Woods’ was my attempt at creating a story in the vein of M.R. James—classical in tone, cosy yet unnerving, ambiguous and hopefully atmospheric. I’ll let …

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Getting serious

Vale of Rheidol Steam Railway

I’ve been running my Fine-toothed Comb through your manuscripts for a few years now, building a client base and a reputation to be proud of. Gotta say, it’s been pretty sweet. And if there were a few stretches without a gig? Well, the day-job covered my bills. I could afford to treat this as pocket money. A paying hobby. A Saturday Job. Fffff. That seems like a world away now.

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Presence of mind

A bench in bright sunshine, next to a forestry track.

…and learning to cope

I saw any number of retrospectives in January, summing up the shared tragedy and meagre glints of joy amid the long months of 2020, yet I have found myself…reluctant to join in. Certainly I’ve been changed by my experiences, deeply, and in ways I’ve yet to fully plumb. I can feel it. Yet I spent so much of that year absent, it might almost have happened to somebody else.

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Writing hard

Evocative image. Scuplture of miners, hard at work. Cramped. Struggling.

How do you earn trust?

The blog’s not been happening as regularly as I’d have liked. It stems from a number of issues but the root of it all is that writing is hard. Coming up with new things to say, or even forming fresh takes on old topics takes a lot of time and effort, and all the while there are voices in the back of your head saying things like ‘Who’s going to read this?’ or ‘Who’s going to care what I think?’

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In the market

Evocative image: Strategic boardgame featuring a market. Complex. Full of people.

What was Sledge-Lit like?

There was an air of relaxed conviviality about the Derby Quad last weekend, but drive and purpose hummed beneath the surface. It seems there’s something about seeing people in the flesh, reconnecting with old acquaintances, and chewing the industry fat that inspires activity.

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Channelling the flow

Evocative image: multiple trickles of water, regimented, carefully controlled, emerging from a dam.

…and spreading the cost

Professional editing is vital but, taken in a single chunk, it represents a financial cost that many independent authors (and indeed some independent presses) balk at. This is a problem because – even if the core work is good – it can be undermined by plot inconsistencies, lacklustre characterisation, or simple technical errors. You may save money on the project but the cost of cutting corners can be huge.

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Hanging together 3/3

Bar talk. Andrew Freudenberg and Dion Winton-Polak.

What was it like at FantasyCon?

As a novice to the convention circuit, you study the schedule, make careful plans as to what panels and events you most want to attend, and then you spend all your time dashing around, assiduously writing notes, sweating, and occasionally weeping in the corner. It’s damned hard work. You wonder why people do this to themselves year on year and (looking around in despair and frustration) why everyone else seems to be just…hanging around in the bar.

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In the groove 2/3

Evocative image: the editor's feet stretched out, big windowed doors, a fresh, bright garden outside.

What was it like at FantasyCon?

If Friday was my busy day, Saturday was all about the mooching. I woke around 6.30. Not my plan, but the body gets used to certain routines; as far as it was concerned, this was just another day at the office. Had I been more organised and less ragged, I might have

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In the headlights 1/3

Statue of a lion.

What was it like at FantasyCon?

I’d had a late night playing darts for the local team. We didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory, so I was a little tired and a little blue come Friday morning. I ended up missing my train by a single minute

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New horizons

Facing fears.

Last time I was here I talked about how I need to leave my comfort zone. Well, that’ll be happening sooner than you might have expected. Those who really know me are aware that I’m anything but comfortable in a room full of people, and I have a damned hard time pushing myself forward at the best of times. Well that’s got to change

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