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Monday 22 April 2019

Tuesday Talk: A Series about a Series: Kindred Spirits


A recent review of Kindred Spirits: York on the Historical Novel Review Blog, Discovering Diamonds noted that almost the whole ‘cast’ of the Kindred Spirits series is dead – oddly, this isn’t something I think of when I’m writing in my little world! But that’s where we are with Kindred Spirits; following the ghosts of historical characters, in contemporary settings, as my elevator pitch has become!

This wasn’t planned, given that I’m the biggest coward I know, but as the second, extended part of that elevator pitch goes, they are stories about ghosts, rather than ghost stories, which I see as an important differentiator; I’m out to entertain, potentially inform, never scare.

One of the key things within a series is the recurrence of key characters or themes. Although there are a couple of characters who have appeared more than once in the books (more on him, um, them, later), the key ‘character’ in each Kindred Spirits tale is the location the tale is set, and I like to think that each location does indeed have a character. Anyone who has visited a historical site will know how certain places have a particular ‘feel’ to them, I’m sure?

Let’s start with the Tower of London, the location of the first book in the series. To me, the place has a foreboding atmosphere, a hint of a brooding sadness. Of all Britain’s historical locations, it probably has the most fearsome reputation, with the number of famous (and infamous) prisoners and victims who have lived, and indeed died, within its walls. Even in glorious sunshine, there’s definitely an ‘atmosphere’ to the place, but then, I’ve often wondered how much of that is us projecting onto a location, given how much we know about it, and the suffering that’s taken place? 

Within the Tower, we meet my favourite leading man, Richard III, and his long-standing friend and partner-in-crime, Anne Boleyn. Given the potentially dark topics which could come to light in the tale, we also have some comic light relief, led mainly by the two Georges, Boleyn and Clarence, and plenty of ‘classic’ hauntings, with chain-rattlings, lost heads, and barrels of malmsey… 

The Royal Mile to me has a more playful atmosphere to it, given its long history of ghostly goings-on, and active encouragement for people to go and get scared witless down its dark alleys and underground vaults. Here, I thought, the story of Mary, Queen of Scots fitted in perfectly. She’s an interesting character and throwing her together with the father she had never known, and his two wives, was too tempting a plotline to ignore! Adding in some well-established local ghosts, such as Janet Douglas, Lady Glamis, and the Covenanters in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, not to mention the famous dog who I’m sure would reside there, made it a really interesting mix of eras and characters. Janet was accused of trying to kill Mary’s father, and yet, I thought the two women might have got along, apart from that awkward fact. Let’s face it, after all these years, they would probably have worked out such issues, and now, being women of a similar age and upbringing, becoming good friends made sense. 

For the third in the series, things had to be a little more respectful, with a visit to Westminster Abbey. Given its importance in British history, and significance as a place of remembrance and celebration today, I decided that too many ghostly goings-on wouldn’t have been appropriate in the abbey. Instead, any real hauntings happened beyond the boundaries of the religious environment. Hauntings of the living that was. Having Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I and Mary I under one roof, as it were, was too good an opportunity to miss. As the guidebooks tell us, there are over three thousand burials and memorials within Westminster Abbey, including the final resting places of seventeen monarchs, and plenty of consorts. Having Plantagenets, Tudors and Stuarts in the mix was a great chance to see what would happen if the great and the good all came together, and despite initial fears that the scope was too big, it was actually great fun! Annoyingly, as a Ricardian, when I pulled together my ‘cast list’, it was obvious who the leading man for Westminster had to be: Henry VII. But then, it DID mean there was an equally obvious choice as to who might throw a little bit of conflict his way!

Those two historical troublemakers helped set the scene for the fourth in the series, when we headed north again, to York. For some reason, things got a little darker in York, with trouble brewing between Romans and Vikings, stirred up by a mysterious force behind the scenes. Despite the darkness, there were hints of fun too, with Dick Turpin and Guy Fawkes making appearances, along with the 3rd Duke of York (yes, Richard III’s father), and that wonderful northern hero, Harry Hotspur. 

So although the four books, to me at least, have quite different characters, there’s the same thread of getting along together, and resolving problems, which run through them all. And it isn’t just the novels – three shorter pieces have also made their way into the world. 

With the Kindred Spirits series, though certain characters have appeared more than once (current record is a certain Plantagenet king, appearing in five out of seven stories!), it’s nice to meet a mostly new cast of characters each time, each connected to the location in question. Of course, there are potentially far more ghosts in each venue than there is space in a book, but they’re the headliners, as it were…

The series has really remotivated me when it comes to visiting historical sites and buildings. I’ve always loved doing it, but now I have the Kindred Spirits world in the back of my head the whole time, constantly thinking through who might be hanging around, as it were, and who they would or wouldn’t get along with from the rest of the place’s history. 

With so many fabulous historical sites in Britain alone, not to mention overseas, there’s potentially no end to the Kindred Spirits scope!

Jennifer C. Wilson – Historical Fiction With Spirit!

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Monday 15 April 2019

Tuesday Talk: Enjoying the Dream

I had an email from Kate the other day, a childhood, well, I guess early teenage really, friend. We were at senior secondary school together and, as it happened, she lived in the street next to mine. We were, what, 12 years old, through to when we left school at 16, although I think we had drifted apart at 15 when we went into different classes to study for our GCSE 'O' levels.

That would be Wellington Avenue Secondary School for Girls in Chingford, and I was Helen Turner back then. Looking back, many of us were regarded as not very bright - after all, we'd failed the 11-plus. We were destined, back in the latter half of the 60s, for secretaries, hairdressers, shop assistants, housewives... in other words, not much was expected of us. I remember the geography mistress was usually asleep during lessons, history was droned from a boring book, maths I was terrified of (I still can't function with figures because of my phobia of numbers caused by poor to dreadful teaching). I hated sports and games because I couldn't catch or hit balls, was gawky and self-conscious - I mean we did P.E. in vest and knickers... at 13 with the boys' school right next door. Embarrassment isn't the word for it! (Do you get the impression that I hated school? Quite right. I did.)

cover photo, No photo description available.
Wellington Avenue
I was always somewhat envious of Kate, but as it turns out, she was envious of me, which I find to be hilarious! Envious? Of me? Whatever for!? We didn't have much in common as I recall, apart from we both wanted a pony. Kate was confident and mature and pretty. I wasn't. Her dad had a huge collection of Beswick china horses - gosh I envied her those horses - utterly appalling that we used to play with them (I mean these were china!) building showjumping courses and jumping them round... it's amazing that only one of mine suffered a broken leg! 
Beswick Brown Gloss Swish Tail Horse
One of my precious Beswicks
In her email, Kate said: "Looking at your photos  [on Facebook] made me think of us as children; the games we played & dreams we had of riding horses (& marrying Paul McCartney). It was at your house that I first heard the Rubber Soul album & it was at your house we played show jumping games with our horses. I used to carry my china Beswick horses in an old leather satchel. My father would have had a fit if he had known. He used to buy them for me in the vain hope that I would grow out of wanting my own horse! All of this made me think of how many of our dreams we have realised, you in particular. I remember Mrs Llewelyn reading the ‘Golden Road to Samarkand’ & your passion for books by Rosemary Sutcliff."

Which in turn made me think of writing this article. As a teenager, I was shy totally lacking in self-esteem and confidence. Had no real friends. My world was that of books, I was always reading, The characters in the stories I read were my friends: they didn't laugh at you, call you names, make you feel awkward and useless. The only thing I enjoyed about school was English with Mrs Llewelyn. She was strict - a real Welsh Dragon, but she showed me how to write. Because of her, I discovered good books to read - and how to write good stories. I read and wrote pony stories back then - I so wanted a pony! We couldn't afford one, so I did what I thought everyone did: made one up and wrote about our adventures together. It came as a bit of a shock to me to discover that no one else in my class did this! 

My dream was to own my own horse, a dream I fulfilled when leaving school to become a library assistant. I was still writing, but had moved on to fantasy and science fiction (this was the age of Star Wars first time around! )

Then I rediscovered Rosemary Sutcliff, Mary Stewart and King Arthur and my dream to one day write a novel turned to a determination to get on and write it and have it published.

So I was still writing. At every chance, I was scribbling (and this was pre-computer!) Even while at work, supposedly doing official work in the library office - if I was on my own I was either writing or researching about MY version of Arthur, set in the post-Roman era of the 4-500s.

I was laughed at at school for being a book worm. No one during my 20's believed that I would write a novel. Actually, I'd given up, but in my early 30s, now married and with a daughter, I started again and went back to my epic Arthur attempt. It took me ten years.

launch day of my first novel 1994
Well, twenty-six years ago this week, a week after my 40th birthday, I discovered that what would become The Kingmaking and the first half of Pendragon's Banner was accepted by William Heinemann for publication. I am now writing my 16th book.

Was it just a dream, or dogged determination that kept me going? The latter two, I suspect.
As for the other dreams of childhood, I now live in an old farmhouse in the heart of the North Devon countryside, a dream I've had since those uncomfortable town-dwelling days at school. We have ponies (Exmoors - another dream, I'd always wanted an Exmor) I'm a relatively successful author, I've a wonderful family ... and actually not that bothered that I didn't marry Paul McCartney after all. What about you Kate? *laugh*

My 18th century farmhouse
The Exmoors
But do you know, one of the nicest things is that I'm still friends with Kate, even though she is now in Australia. A slight regret is that we weren't firmer friends back then in our school days, because I think if we hadn't both been so busy being envious of each other we'd have enjoyed sharing - and achieving - those childhood dreams of ours together.
Here's to achieving dreams!

Tuesday 9 April 2019


by Richard Tearle
(previously published on Discovering Diamonds

Richard Sharpe. There can't be many who don't get an immediate visual image of Sean Bean in torn uniform, dark powder marks on his cheeks and then stopping to look behind him as he rides from one victory and on to another adventure.

Sean Bean may be the man who is most associated with the character, but Bernard Cornwall is the man who created him. Set during the Napoleonic wars, Sharpe is a soldier, a rifleman, a sniper and skirmisher in a time when muskets were the preferred weapons and therefore Sharpe is at the very front of the battle.

It's formula writing at its very best: at some point in every book Cornwall has to give a brief explanation of the relationship between Sharpe and his comrades, how he got promoted or his beginnings in the rookeries of London. But more of that bit later. 

Every book produces a bitter enemy, mostly in the opposing camp, such as Guy Loup or Phillipe Leroux, but he has equally deadly foes much closer to home, most notably in the form of Obadiah Hakeswill and Sir Henry Simmerson. And there is always Ducos, the French Intelligence officer.

Almost by accident, Sharpe comes to the notice of Wellington himself (in fact, Sharpe saves his life) and is promoted 'in the field': “You did me a good turn, Sharpe, and now I'm going to do you a damn bad one.” For rising from the ranks was almost unheard of and Sharpe experiences enmity and jealousy from almost all: the officers despise him because he is not 'a gentleman' and the common soldiers because Sharpe is clearly 'above his station'. He is assigned to command a small company of men of the 95th Rifles – a fictional company which is later attached to the equally fictional South Essex Regiment commanded by Simmerson.

The books cover the years 1793 to 1821, enabling Cornwall to place Sharpe at every major battle or event during that period, including both Trafalgar and Waterloo! I believe there is a precedent here, which makes Sharpe one of possibly only two men to have been present at both battles. The books, however, were not written in chronological order – a deliberate decision by the author – yet each one can be read independently without making the reader wonder about the past. Each novel of the 24 (so far) has a snappy two word title of which one of the two words is always 'Sharpe's …'

With the intent of only writing about eight or nine Sharpe stories, enter Sean Bean. There can be no doubt about Bean's ability to play the part: a man's man, tough, ruthless and single-minded. Yet something was wrong! As previously noted, Richard Sharpe was a Londoner, a cockney Londoner in all probability and Sean Bean a confirmed and proud Yorkshireman. I doubt few of us fans would have cared too much about this anomaly, but not so Mr Cornwall: in view of the success of the TV programmes he relocated Richard Sharpe to Yorkshire at the age of about 15. That, I think, illustrates the esteem in which he holds the actor.

So far I have hardly touched on the regular characters n the books. Always beside Sharpe is Patrick Harper. Despite a bad start, the two soon become inseparable and Sharpe presents Harper with his signature six-barrelled Navy gun. Members of Sharpe's company come and go – Isiah Tongue, a bible sprouting man with no known background; Daniel Hagman, ex-poacher from Cheshire, musician and purveyor of home remedies, “Paraffin oil and Best brown paper...” Former teacher, drunk and debtor Harris is the brains of the company – he can  not only read, but read and speak French as well! Young Ben Perkins was a drummer boy, but became a Chosen Man when he shot the man attempting to shoot Sharpe. But one of my favourites is Francis Cooper whose former occupation was 'dealing in other people's  property'. Cooper  has a dry, cynical wit and an answer for everything, but he also delivers one of the best lines in this or any other series: “It's hard to trust a man who wants to borrow your pick-locks ...”

Of course, being the strong, handsome, no nonsense hero that Sharpe is, there is no shortage of women for him. From the feckless and faithless Jane Gibbons to the love of his life, Teresa Moreno, Sharpe's tally of bedpost notches mounts up, including the beautiful Lucille who was the fancy of his friend, the battle scarred 'Sweet' William Frederickson.

The Sharpe stories are not just random adventure tales: the situations may be contrived, but the action is very real, excellently researched and wonderfully told. We really do get the feel of Badajoz, Salamanca and the horrors of Waterloo. Nor are any of the characters weak. Not one of them. Every man and woman has their place, their role to play whether that be to help and support Sharpe or to hinder him and try to engineer his demise. There are far too many to mention in this short appraisal, but amongst the more memorable are Lennox, the inspiration for Sharpe's Eagle, Ross, Nairn and Hogan (Wellington's spy masters who invariably involve Sharpe in their schemes),   William Lawford and so on. Cornwall follows the expected route of incompetent, foppish officers and low life soldiers: “Our army is composed of the scum of the earth...” Yet not all officers are so drawn by the author, nor all common soldiers either. Many, more often in the former category, are portrayed as brave and loyal men, real men with sympathies and passions, a clear sense of duty despite the orders of those who should know better.

So, at the end of the day, we have a massive series of books which can be read individually or in chronological order. We have heroes and villains, rivalries and friendships, great deeds and cowardly acts, love and hatred. Above all we have history and a wonderful insight into what life in the British army was probably like in the very early part of the 19th Century.

And, if we have seen the TV series or the ensuing DVDs, we have John Tams beautiful rendition of an old folk song with its simple but telling line: 

“King George commands and we obey, Over the hills and far away...” 

Mid-Month Extra Previous : Susan Grossey's Constable Sam Plank series

Thursday 4 April 2019

Novel Conversations with Ian Nathaniel Cohen's Michael McNamara

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted every Friday

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character...

Michael McNamara

The Brotherhood of the Black Flag: A Novel of the Golden Age of Piracy

Q: Hello, I’m Helen the host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself.
A: Thank you kindly! I’ll have a cold ale or sweet wine, if you have some on hand, and I’ll take you up on those chocolates.

Q: Wine it is, I have a particularly nice vintage... I believe you are a character in Ian Nathaniel Cohen’s novel The Brotherhood of the Black Flag. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?
A: My author was kind enough to make me the main character…although that means I’m usually the one being put in harm’s way, so I don’t know how much of a kindness that truly was.

Q: What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: My author thinks of it as a historical adventure novel, although “historical thriller” is the more official – or marketable - genre. Anyway, my story takes place in 1721, the twilight of the Golden Age of Piracy. I was wrongly dishonourably discharged from the British Royal Navy after thirteen years of service, and when you first meet me, I’ve lost my position as an assistant fencing instructor. With no prospects keeping me in the newly-United Kingdom, and uncertain of what I want to do with what’s left of my life, I set sail for Kingston, Jamaica, looking for new opportunities.

But I never expected that opportunity to present itself in the form of Captain Stephen Reynard, a notorious pirate turned pirate hunter in order to earn a pardon. Pirate hunting seems as good a calling as anything else, and an honourable use for my fencing skills, so I join Reynard’s crew and his quest for redemption.

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: I suppose that depends on your attitude toward the British Empire and her navy – although now that the navy and I are…on the outs, I don’t know if that applies anymore. Anyhow, I try to be a good person. You know, fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves, keeping others safe, and doing my best to treat people with respect and courtesy.

Q:  Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: I’ve never known anyone else like Captain Reynard. After all his past evils, I suppose I ought to hate the man, even if he truly has changed his ways. And yet I can’t deny being grateful to him for giving me a sense of purpose or envy him for his own. And he’s certainly a charmer, with a gift for persuasion. I can see how he built up the reputation he has.

It’s hard not to talk about the captain without his fiancĂ©e, Dona Catalina Moore. She’s been through some hardships in her life that would have broken many others, but she’s never lost her compassion, empathy, or her belief that storms pass and all wounds heal. If only she wasn’t betrothed to the captain…

Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: So far, this is the only one. I know my author is toying with ideas for a single sequel, and it may happen someday – it depends on how well history can cooperate, and how different he can make it from something else he’s working on.

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: I’m at a rather low point when you first meet me – no employment, no true friends, seemingly disdained by my family, and only desperate hope for opportunity in our colonies. I also spend some time in a brig at some point, which I obviously did not enjoy.

Q: And your favourite scene?
A: Oh, that’s easy – my duel with Captain Reynard when we first meet. It’s been a long time since I met a swordsman who could give me as good a fight as he does, and we share a fondness for verbal sparring.

Ian Nathaniel Cohen
Q:Tell me a little about your author. Has he written any other books?
A: Not fiction – at least not finished ones - but he’s gotten all sorts of things published here and there – an academic essay on something called “martial arts movies,” whatever those are, and he wrote for his university’s paper for a time. During a student internship, he wrote on-the-air promos for a radio show he was working for, and his day job involves writing process documents and training materials. He’s also done a great deal of blogging, reviewing mostly the kinds of classic swashbuckler movies that inspired my own tale, and he has two featured columns on a website called The Comics Bolt.

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: Oh dear Lord, yes – he’s got his hands in so many in-progress literary pies, it’s a wonder he can keep them all straight. The one he aims to complete next is The Sherwood Caper, a Robin Hood adventure which will have a similar flavour to my own story. He describes it as a medieval heist thriller, and I would expect a sizable number of sword fights in that one as well.

Other than that, he’s working on a murder mystery set in 1930s New York, another one set in Hong Kong’s film industry in the 1970s, and even a fantasy series he’s collaborating on with a long-time friend. Ideas for other works come and go, and the Almighty Himself only knows what will come of them.

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for him/her personally?
A: My author may be an experienced and versatile writer, but he is very much a neophyte when it comes to marketing his books and finding an audience for them, and he welcomes guidance or advice from more experienced authors. Also, groups have given him access to numerous readers and reviewers, as well as other books he can learn from in crafting his own stories. He also can be found on all sorts of historical appreciation sites looking for the most minor of details for his other works, and he appreciates the time the experts take to assist him.

Q:  Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else he would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?
A: It was certainly an esteem booster for him, and it most likely made his book more likely to be selected for consideration by a potential reviewer. IndieBRAG has also been gracious enough to include my story in some of their promotions involving pirate-themed stories, which was very much appreciated. It’s hard to say what else they could do or assist with that wouldn’t come over as an imposition on their time or ingratitude on my author’s part.

Q: Thank you, Michael, it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt?
A: I think he would. This scene takes place at a celebration hosted by Sir Nicholas Lawes, the governor of Jamaica, for whom I did a small service upon my arrival in Kingston. The festivities are in honor of Captain Reynard, and the governor has recommended I join Reynard’s crew. Not having any other prospects, I’m game, but the captain decides to give me a little test first.

Helen: Well, while your author sorts that scene out for us, would you like a refill of that  wine?
Michael:  No, thank you – I dislike to overindulge these days. But perhaps some more chocolate, if you would be so kind?
Helen: Actually I do have some more - I think I'll join you! Here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree!

“Allow me to give the fencing instructor a lesson of his own,” Reynard said. “You know what kind of sword this is?”
    “A schiavona.”
    “Very good. You know your weapons. Ever fight anyone who used one before?”
    McNamara shook his head.
   “You’re about to,” Reynard said. “The men I hunt are dangerous, battle-hardened killers. Those who sail under my command have to be men I can count on to know how to fight. You don’t mind if I take your measure in front of these assembled peacocks, do you, Mr McNamara?”
   “Not at all,” McNamara said. He rose and removed his own coat and waistcoat and drew his colichemarde, eager to show Reynard just what exactly he could do with a sword.
    The music came to a sudden stop and the guests became alarmed at the sight of two drawn swords, but Reynard calmed them down. “No need to be concerned. At His Excellency’s request, this gentleman and I are going to provide you with a fencing exhibition, as a test of his skills and to audition him for a place on my crew. Please stand back and enjoy the entertainment.”
    “Captain, are you sure about this?” Sabatini asked, glaring at McNamara as he stepped between them.
    “Easy, Nick,” Reynard said dismissively, stepping around his quartermaster. “I have every faith in Mr McNamara’s abilities with a blade. Faith, of course, that those abilities are inferior to my own.”
    “I wouldn’t put too much stock in that if I were you,” McNamara retorted. “Believing yourself to be a greater swordsman than you really are is a common mistake among beginners and amateurs.”
    “Ah, but it’s not a mistake if one actually is the greater swordsman one believes he is,” Reynard said with a chuckle.
    McNamara couldn’t help smiling at the banter. He’d often scolded his students for wasting their energy on verbal sparring, and he could only imagine how they’d react to him engaging in it now.      “I’ve heard boasts like that from too many of my students to take them seriously. So to join your crew, I have to outfence you?”
    “No, I just want to see how long you’ll last,” Reynard replied. “You’re not going to beat me. If you’re ready, Mr McNamara?”
    “Whenever you are, Captain Reynard. I’m looking forward to proving you wrong.”

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Ian’s articles on The Comics Bolt:
Twitter: @INCspotlight

Twitter: @IndieBrag

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Twitter: @HelenHollick

Monday 1 April 2019

Tuesday Talk... Editing (or is that 'ead 'itting?)

As most of my regular readers are aware, (if you're not... where have you been?) my Sea Witch Voyages have been picked up by an American publisher, Penmore Press. I am, of course, enormously excited by this, as I feel that I have reached my limitation of 'getting the books out there' on my own. I need someone else to navigate to new waters with my Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his wife, white witch Tiola Oldstagh. 

As with most indie writes, we can write the books, edit the books, prepare the books, publish the books but reach the doldrums when it comes to effectively marketing the books. Which is where mainstream traditional publishers often have an advantage.

The other advantage is the editing process. As Indies, we are responsible for the initial technical edit, the copy edit and the proofread - all at our own expense. (And, believe me, to do it properly is expensive!)
I have my 'final' files for the five full-length Voyages so far published, but aware that they do have a few missed typos, and I would like to update a few minor inconsistencies, a full readthrough is needed before I forward each book to Penmore for republication. Editing, re-editing (and re-editing! is as much a part of the job writing and producing a novel that is not only good to read, but is value for money for the reader to buy. You would not buy shoddily-made clothes, would you? So why expect readers to buy badly produced novels? Never mind the width - feel the quality!

Re-editing is not easy, however, especially with five books to be done as soon as possible. Not helped when Life or daughter/husband/horses/dogs/cats/donkey/various others suddenly decide that my urgent and immediate attention is required. Or because of the gale-force winds blustering outside a tree comes down and 'ping' we have a power cut. Then I'm at head, bang, wall point...

In theory, no mainstream book would be published without several edits, but as I discovered when the hardback edition of Pirates: Truth and Tales appeared, it had been printed from the wrong, uncorrected file. Which apart from being highly embarrassing was extremely annoying. Not MY fault, but there was nothing I could do about it until a year later when the paperback was due to appear - and another, better, edit was undertaken. All of which went to show that being Indie has a huge advantage over mainstream in that a reprint can be done in hours!
Professional editing is essential, despite the cost. (But don't use those who advertise online as 'professional proofreaders' some are highly unreliable and even suspect!)
Would you build a house without an architect? Without one, you might be happy with wonky walls and a sagging roof, but will you be able to sell such a house? In the same way, your wonderful story will be marred by typos littering every page, things such as you’re/your or hear/here; obviously incorrect punctuation and grammar,  (missing ", for instance) and, oh, those continuity errors! I have even read books where the main character's name suddenly changes halfway through! Then there are point-of-view changes, author’s voice and anachronisms to be wary of.

A point worth considering: ar ewe awr tht pple cn mnage to rd sntncs wtht vwls? And the humn ey can mys obvius mstks? [sic].
I have worked with many editors during my twenty-six years as a published author. Most have been fabulous, a few have been – how shall I say this tactfully? Frustrating?
A good editor will:

·        work with you as a team player
·        suggest corrections in a constructive manner
·        point out errors, but not insist on changing them

Twice now I have had an editor who decided to alter my personal style. Strictly speaking, yes, the grammar was incorrect – but I deliberately write that way.
As an example: “Jesamiah took the bottle of rum from the shelf, drank.” Is how I wrote that sentence, short and sharp, indicating his need for a drink. The editor changed it to “Jesamiah took the bottle of rum from the shelf and drank.” Which gives an entirely different emotional feeling to the situation. I must add, this was not my usual editor. Jo had been unwell, so I hastily found a replacement. Big mistake. What I should have done was put the book on hold and stick with my trusted editor. Lesson learned the hard way!
Another editor (many years ago!) altered a particular word throughout my historical fiction novel, The Kingmaking. I used “Sa” instead of “Yes” to give a feel of the past. The editor changed every “sa” to “yes”. I changed them all back.

The huge advantage about being an Indie author, unlike a traditionally published one, is that we get to choose our own editors. We can have the pick of the pack, so use this advantage to full advantage! The best way to select an editor is by word of mouth. Ask on Facebook or Twitter, or the Alli Forum, for recommendations. Then ask to see some of a possible editor’s work. Explain what you want: keep in mind a copyeditor or proofreader may not check for continuity errors or “head-hopping” in dialogue, for instance.
Find yourself a good editor – and treasure him or her, because a good editor transforms a good book into a great book.

For now, for me, it is back to a re-read of the entire Sea Witch Voyages series, slightly tweaking little bits here and there, and I do, (not at all humbly!) admit, that I am thoroughly enjoying sailing with my rogue of a pirate again through his past adventures!

The Sea Witch Voyages will be out of print for a while from the end of April - if you want to read them, buy them now. (They will be back in print by the autumn, I hope.)

e-book novella