Tag Archive | editing

Saying Goodbye and Hello

Well it’s time to say goodbye to author Carlie M A Cullen as the blog tour for her third book, Heart Search: Betrayal, comes to a close. And since she’s finished her trilogy and is facing the prospect of having to start again with whole new characters, I asked her opinion of the change. Here is her response…


Call me a wuss if you like, but I get quite sentimental about my characters. I get attached to them and they become members of my family, even if they do only exist in my head. The longer I’m with certain characters, the harder it is to let them go and this was brought home to me in an almost brutal way when I finished my Heart Search trilogy.

Even though I’d written ‘The End’, I still had all the revisions and edits to go through, so my characters were right alongside me, telling me what changes to make and where to leave well alone. When the final proofread had been completed and the book was ready to be launched like an ICBM on an unsuspecting public, someone turned to me and asked if I would miss my characters. Until that moment, I hadn’t thought about losing them and the idea came as quite a shock.

These wonderful people I’d created: Remy, Joshua, Jakki, Becky, Ashley, Aidan, Samir et al were part of me and had been since 2010 – the thought of ‘losing them’ was anathema to me. How could I lose them? Yet to move on and make room for new characters, I had to say goodbye to these people who had become real in so many ways and it was painful. It felt like a bereavement, but without the pomp and rigidity of a church funeral to go with it. The pain was physical for a few hours, something I wasn’t prepared for, as some outside force ripped them from my head. However, they’re not ripped from my heart. There will always be a very special corner allocated to Remy, Josh, and the others and I will never forget them!

Yet now, even as I say hello to new characters and get to know them, the ghosts of Remy and Joshua are still floating in the background, until I dive into writing my new novel, a standalone fantasy, and then I forget them for a while as the new characters take pole position.

Creating the characters for my new book has been a great distraction. They are so different in every way from the vampire culture created in the Heart Search series. There are no vampires in the worlds I’ve built. There are creatures of my own design and my main character is the lovely lady I use as my avatar. It’s exciting to explore these new worlds and getting to know the people who inhabit it – the good and the bad. It’s fun to write real bad guys and feisty women who can fight back with swords and other weapons. It’s so completely dissimilar and I’m really enjoying the challenge of it.


Competition Results

As you may be aware, I ran a modern poetry competition in December in celebration of my new anthology, Hearts & Minds. The winning entry was made by James Bicheno and is showcased below.


When the Snows Came

Clouds are frozen in the sky
While chimneys hover above the roofs
Tree branches are held down, white clumps replacing old leaves
That once swayed in their deep, green glory, now black and shrivelled on the ground
Decaying under the frosted shroud
Gleaming icicles hang like daggers above the windows and doors
Others hang out on the washing line, blown by the icy breeze
And routes are marked out by the grips of shoes
Crunching their way along roads reclaimed from cars buried tyre-deep
Surrounded by three small lines from the birds’ feet
All watched by the small light sun sitting in the far distance.

This is a good example of modern poetry – it focuses on images, using them to hint at deeper meanings while allowing the reader to determine what they will. Some of you will look at this poem and simply see the images he shows. I look at it and see the wintery state, and the stranded cars, as a symbol of death; and the routes marked out by shoes as a reflection of man’s dogged refusal to accept the inevitable, and his courage in striding out. It also shows the strength of nature, as a fragile person can move around in such conditions when the technology of the trapped cars cannot.

You can tell from reading this, that he did not just write it and submit it. He has taken the time to edit and hone this poem. Poetry doesn’t come out fully formed, it often has to be revised, many times, before it is ready.

Thank you to everyone that entered. All the poems were good and it was difficult to choose the winner. For those that weren’t chosen – do not get discouraged. Keep writing and good luck for the future!

Hearts and Minds

I’m a professional editor. Give me a raw manuscript and I know exactly what to do with it. But when it comes to actually publishing a book, I’m as green as the newest recruit – as I’ve discovered the hard way this past month.

I have been writing a poetry anthology for the past couple of months. When I deemed it ready, I sent it off to be edited by my good friend Shaun Allan. (Yes, even though I’m an editor, I still had to get someone else to edit my work – author’s blindness extends even to us!) I got my work back covered in red pen, and I made the necessary changes. So far everything went to schedule. Being an editor, I could see what he meant, and could take it for what it was – an opinion of how it could be improved, rather than the personal attack some immature and unprofessional writers assume.

This is where it changed though. The only other times I’ve been published was in a poetry anthology during my Uni years, and my writing group’s anthology, The Other Way is Essex, and I wasn’t involved in the publication stage. That was all handled by Carlie M. A .Cullen, who heads the group. It was a novel experience, having to create the copyright page and format the document. I had to find someone to produce the cover design, had to build an Amazon author page. The list of things to do still goes on.

I’ve recently submitted to join a publishing cooperative, Myrddin Publishing Group, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be accepted. I’ve been impressed by the professional manner in which they conduct themselves and how supportive they are of their members’ publishing endeavours.

Keep your eyes peeled as I’m hoping to get it published before Christmas. The paperback will be a handy pocket size, great for slipping into a stocking!


This is a work in progress and may not be the final cover.



The most important human experiences of love and death are beautifully explored in this anthology. With carefully selected and themed sections: Loss; Love; Lyrical; and Life, the emotions invoked by the words as they flow over the page will touch your heart.


The Dreaded Red Pen

Today is the final day of the Heart Search: Lost Blog Tour. I know, I know. How ironic to end a blog tour  for a vampire novel on Halloween? But today is the perfect day to go all out! How many of you trick-or-treaters will dress up as Joshua tonight? Or Samir, or Jasna? Whoever you dress up as, have a great time! And to those that celebrate a more traditional Samhain or All Hallow’s Eve, blessed be. Also, make sure you get your entries in for the Heart Search giveaway before it closes today at midnight EST!

Now a final parting shot from Ms Carlie M. A. Cullen, to say goodbye to the Blog Tour for her first novel Heart Search: Lost.


You write your novel, the first draft is finished and you experience a sense of euphoria which lasts for several days, during which time you’ve sent it off to your editor.

A few years ago, you would have printed it out and sent it by mail or courier and all the corrections would have come back written in red pen. These days it’s obviously much easier to do everything electronically. The Comments boxes on the Review pane in Word have replaced the dreaded red pen.

None of us are naïve enough to think we’ve produced the perfect manuscript first time – or are we?

When I finished the first draft on Heart Search, my first full length novel, I thought maybe I’d made a few grammatical errors along the way, but that was about it. To me it was close to perfect. I’d done spell check so knew there were no spelling errors. But spell check can’t tell you ‘form’ should have been ‘from’. As far as spell check is concerned there is a correct spelling in that position. These were things I didn’t think about.

I found an experienced professional editor, Maria V A Johnson, who understood my nervousness, went out of her way to explain the process and didn’t overcharge. I was so impressed by her attitude I engaged her services and sent her my manuscript that very day.

When I got the edited manuscript back from my wonderful editor, I was gobsmacked and totally unprepared for how many corrections would be needed. It turned out my ‘close to perfect’ story needed a lot of work. I must admit I felt a bit deflated at first and I began to doubt whether I had any talent for writing at all. But I picked myself up and with a heavy heart began to look through the comments Maria had made.

As I went through them, I realised most of her comments were just because of silly mistakes I’d made where I’d been so caught up in the writing, I’d switched tenses or put commas where I should have used semi colons and things of that ilk. She also pointed out over-used and superfluous words which, when removed, made the sentences much stronger.

She looked at sentence structure and suggested ways to improve them. She pointed out areas where I was telling instead of showing. There were comments about sentences which didn’t flow very well and again suggested ways to fix the problem. Maria also looked at duplications of the same word(s) used close together and suggested alternatives. As well as looking at each line, she looked at the story as a whole and made structural and developmental suggestions. Each comment was written in an encouraging tone which made suggestions. I never felt I was forced to do anything. She used words like consider and suggest, leaving me in a position where I knew she recognised everything was ultimately my decision. I think she knew I needed her to acknowledge that.

We didn’t always agree on changes she suggested, which of course is the author’s privilege, but we’d forged a good working relationship where we could discuss the issues and often reached a good compromise.

By the time I’d finished going through all the comments and alterations, I realised the polished work on my screen had worth. There was a good story with strong relatable characters and I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, I did have some talent after all.

Of course the process didn’t stop there. I had an alpha reader and two beta readers, all of whom made comments and gave valuable feedback. This resulted in me making a few more changes to the story and Maria once more edited my revisions.

The final result is the book which has now been released for sale and I have to say it’s a heady feeling.

My attitude towards editing has completely changed. I can now see why it’s so important to have a professional editor go through my work. I was too close to my words to see the errors – I saw what I wanted it to be and not what was actually written on the page. Maria opened my eyes and made me see and for that I’m incredibly grateful. She has supported me through the whole process and continues to do so as I launch Heart Search: Lost by joining my Blog Tour and helping to publicise it for me, all of which she’s doing out of the goodness of her heart. Editors like her are a rare find and I’ve already engaged her to edit books two and three of the Heart Search Trilogy!

Editing is a positive process, not a negative one. If you approach it in a professional manner, with an open mind and understand the editor’s position is to help and guide you, you will emerge with a polished work to be proud of.


Thank you so much for that Carlie! I wish you all the luck and success in the world for your new novel – and I can’t wait for book two to land in my inbox!

Other posts today are as follows:

Review: http://bit.ly/VDlZYx

Interview: http://wp.me/27ipo

Excerpt: http://bit.ly/Tu7OY7


You can buy the book from the link in the sidebar.

Visit Ms Cullen at her website: http://carliemacullen.com

Brilliant post Sean!

How many editors there are out there nodding along – I know I am!

From a personal perspective, I find that sometimes it is easier to edit a novel that is overly embellished than it is to edit one on the other end of the scale with no real detail at all. At least the authors know they need to set the scene, even if they don’t quite understand how to get the balance right. It is easier to rein something in, then to try to pull it out; but it’s a learning curve for every author. Once their first novel has been professionally edited and they see where they have gone wrong, their next novel is better from the start. If some of the fledgling authors out there see this post, it might start them out right – as long as they don’t go to the other end of the scale.

Words I Stole from Other Countries

Commenting on bad writing is easy and safe for me as a blogger.  It allows me to make flippant remarks about the prose and style of others without throwing myself on the sword or putting any of my own work up for the same criticism.  So before I get into the meat of this article, I want to make clear that I do not see myself as a flawless writer.  I am constantly in search of ways to improve.  I am constantly in search of ways to remedy my own flaws.  So the observations I’m about to make are based largely on the comments of others, with hope that my readers might find them useful.  I’m making no accusations here; I’m only looking to stir the pot a bit by pointing out some interesting flaws you may not have considered.

A Wall Street Journal article was actually the catalyst that…

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Critique Vs Edit

I really meant to post this a few weeks ago, but work comes first and I have been snowed under. The writing group I belong to is putting together an Anthology, and I have been editing some of the pieces the past couple of weeks. Keep your eyes open – I will post when it’s done, and when it’s available to purchase. So here it is: better late than never.

Critiquing and editing what’s the difference? How many of you are asking that question right now? I asked it, when I first started at University. Now I know the answer, I want to share it with you.

There are some things they have in common. They both require you to hand over your work for someone else to look at, both return with suggestions of ways to improve, and they both leave it to your judgement whether to implement the changes in your own words – after all, an editor or a beta reader is not a ghost writer! But that is where the similarities end.

A critique is a lot shallower, compared to the in-depth analysis at the heart of editing. A critique is like an overview of the manuscript, pointing out what works, what doesn’t and where it could be improved as well as an overall impression of the story i.e. why do they like it, or not, as the case may be.

An edit does the same thing but on a much smaller scale, looking at the minutiae where a critique would focus on the big picture. It pulls a manuscript apart, line by line, and paragraph by paragraph to fix and improve the story. An edit will look at grammatical and spelling errors, poorly put together sentences, and highlight specific places where more could be said. It shows you where you need more description, where you need to clarify a confusing point, where the dialogue is in the wrong voice; for example, a cockney speaking the Queen’s English.

It also shows where you can remove sections of the manuscript which are unnecessary, as well as extraneous words and sentences, to tighten the story. It examines the paragraphs to find any repetitive words or phrases, studiously finding ways of correcting this to improve the flow of the piece. It analyses dramatic scenes, looking to see if there is enough emotion for the reader to connect, or if it is overdone and in need of pruning back. It evaluates the imagery, ensuring there’s enough for the reader to inhabit the places and associate with the people; including the characters themselves, identifying whether they are realistic and three-dimensional. It scrutinises the story to make sure the author is showing the reader what is happening rather than telling, and to be certain that no errors in continuity have been made.

With both of these I use a guideline sheet, since I always accompany an edit with a summary feedback form.

Here is the generic critiquing sheet I received while at University; please feel free to copy this:

General Comments/Overview

Language – appropriate, original use of language

Subject matter – deployment of themes; settings; variation in subject matter

Narration –narrative movement, momentum and control

Characterisation & Realisation – how effectively people, places and situations are brought to life


Structural Effects – rhythm and progression; how well the whole is built and the parts achieved