Saturday 25 February 2017

Editing and Blogging

Oh dear. I was doing so well too. But it looks like I’ve broken my new year’s resolution and missed a couple of weeks of blogging. It’s a good thing I promised not to beat myself up too much about it, isn’t it? I’ll just try and get back on track again!

I’ve had a new experience this month which has been very exciting and very scary at the same time. I’ve had my first ever set of notes sent from a professional editor! I think I mentioned in a previous blog post that I’ve had a short story accepted for publication, well the editor (who is lovely!) got back to me with her comments… and some changes she wanted me to make.

I’ve got to admit that I was totally terrified about opening the document up when it came into my inbox. I’d managed to convince myself that the editor hated the whole story, and that she was going to tell me to change EVERYTHING! You do hear some horror stories about editors telling writers to cut all their favourite bits of a story or novel, but I think I was imagining it would be worse than that. I was picturing it more like getting a bit of homework back, with all my mistakes circled in red pen. See me after class, Valentine.

But… hooray!… it was nothing like that. I should’ve remembered that if the editor (Hannah) hadn’t liked my story, she wouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. Sure, she’d made quite a few comments (and pointed out a few mistakes), and it was really difficult to read those at first. I had to resist taking things personally, which was made a lot easier by the fact that the comments were all very kind and helpful. Once I got over my initial fear and read through them properly, I found myself agreeing with them all and making the changes happily.

So not so scary after all. And another new step taken! Now I’m just excited about the story being published later this year.

Gold star, Valentine.

Thursday 2 February 2017

Book Review – The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (2014)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a review of the first Cormoran Strike book by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling), so I thought I’d follow it up by reviewing the second book in the series. I said in my first review that I enjoyed The Silkworm even more than The Cuckoo’s Calling, so I thought I should do this review sooner rather than later.

The Cuckoo’s Calling introduced the characters of Cormoran Strike and his long-suffering secretary/assistant Robin Ellacott, and The Silkworm picks up their story a few months later. Strike is now quite famous after cracking the Lula Landry case and so he has a string of divorce cases to work on. But this changes when Leonora Quine approaches him and asks Strike to find her missing husband, Owen.

Owen Quine is a writer who is known for being a bit of a literary rebel. He had a huge hit with his first book, but he’s never really been able to live up to that since. Quine has been working on another, secret novel (called Bombyx Mori – which is the name of a kind of silkworm), but the manuscript was leaked and has been causing a bit of a scandal in publishing circles. Quine disappeared at the same time as the leak.

As with The Cuckoo’s Calling, this book is filled with larger-than-life characters. If anything, it’s even more larger-than-life than the first book. There’s Kathryn Kent (Quine's lover), Pippa Midgley (his protégée), Elizabeth Tassel (his agent), Jerry Waldegrave (his agent), publisher Daniel Chard, and writer Michael Fancourt. All these people had reason to do away with Quine, because they all appear (in a fictional and not very flattering way) in his secret manuscript.

Even though it’s all a little bit larger-than-life, this was an absolute page-turner. I genuinely couldn’t put it down. Like I said in my previous review, Rowling (or Galbraith) is just so good at telling a story. She’s also shaping up to be a really good mystery writer. I did spot a few of the clues as I was reading The Silkworm, but it didn’t completely fall into place until the end when I realised how all the pieces fitted together. Sometimes, you spot something but don’t realise what it is you’re really seeing – that’s one of my favourite things about mystery novels!

One thing I didn't like about The Silkworm was seeing more of Robin's fiancé Matthew. I'm not sure if we're supposed to like him or not, but I really don't. And I don't like the way he reacts to Robin's job with Strike. (I'm saying nothing about Career of Evil, the third book, here. I'll save that for another time!)

The Silkworm is a massive recommendation for me. I love The Cuckoo’s Calling, but this one was even better. I’m planning to read it again very soon because it was such an enjoyable read!