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One year on

Our first year of civilisation is almost complete. Cold, damp, mould and rivers of water running down the insides of the windows are a distant memory. Neighbours we have discovered are in fact lovely people. They are keen to chat, help and be helped and have enriched our lives in many ways. Again this has been a revelation. Rural life as described in glossy magazines and high-end estate agents verbiage is a myth. The realities are much colder, damper, more isolating and lonely than it is possible to imagine. Rural folk are not, in general, neighbourly people keen for a chat and to while away half an hour drinking coffee and admiring your vegetable garden. They are busy farmers driving huge tractors at death-defying speeds down country lanes, they work away five days a week in the city and come home to collapse and recover at the weekends or cantankerous pensioners who take pleasure in your discomfort, while telling you that what you have is indeed luxurious compared to the draughty barn they were brought up in. I look back now from the safety of a centrally heated office and wonder how we lasted eleven years.
Our first year has had a number of ups and downs. My eldest daughter came to stay for a couple of weeks to escape relationship that was in tatters. Six months later she moved back to the tattered relationship with hopes of re-building it and a quiet peace and normality has descended. On the upside, my beautiful wife has discovered she is extremely bright and is completing an access course so she can begin nurse training next year. So far all distinctions and merits.

My round-up is almost at an end. All is now well in our lives and looks like it might stay that way for a while. We’ll see.

From the beginning to ‘The End’ (working title)

This is the first true post as I begin to write this non-fiction book relating the creation of a novel. Every non-fiction book I have read from historical biographies to Butcher’s Copy-Editing has an introduction. It gives the author their first chance to say hello and to give a flavour of what their book will be about, what it will cover and how they plan to go about it.

I wanted to give my prospective readers a chance to get an idea of what they could expect and to learn a little about the bloke who thought he had something to offer.

If anyone has any ideas on what else they think should be covered in the Introduction please leave me a comment and if I like it, I will include it and give you credit in the acknowledgements. Thank you.

Introduction and Biography

What prompted you to buy this book? What do you want to get out of it? Do you think it will help? It will. Help that is.

This book isn’t about the formula of writing a novel and the mistakes that you will make if you don’t follow a prescribed method. There are a thousand books available covering that approach; some free, others reasonably priced and many ridiculously expensive. There also some excellent books that adopt different approaches; whether it is free form writing where a looser ‘empty your soul on to the page’ approach or instructions on how to write and research non-fiction. If that is what you are looking for then scan your local bookshop or the Amazon website and convert your cash into advice.

This book is about a journey taken by a writer describing how he creates a work of fiction from an initial idea through to publication. I am the writer and I wanted to describe the process that I am going  through when I write my novel. For me this is a very personal approach as it lays open my own ideas and philosophies on writing and creating fiction. I want this book to be read as a way to write a novel, not as the only way to write a novel, it’s a way that works for me and I hope that my approach helps by giving you a blueprint to write the story inside you as well as offering ideas and practical advice.

When I write I need the comfort of structure and planning to ensure that I am not faced by a blank page with no idea what to put on it. The plan changes, they always do, but those changes will add depth and texture to the story and improve the finished novel. By having a plan, a detailed plan, I know the direction in which the story is heading, what will happen at a given point and how each scene will affect the story as a whole.  My plan is only the initial view of how I expect the story to progress, the changes are what will allow the story to develop within the original framework.

This very structured approach to writing I know won’t suit everyone. Stephen King believes that plot is best forgotten but situation is important. He also says, ’I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all of our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.’  Conversely John Irving says, ‘know the story—as much of the story as you can possibly know, if not the whole story—before you commit yourself to the first paragraph….If you don’t know the story before you begin the story, what kind of a storyteller are you?’

This book will lead you from your initial first glimmer of an idea, testing the idea, planning in detail, first draft, rewriting and more rewriting, from there to editing, cover design and on to publication, both traditional and indie. It is a blueprint that you can use time and time again. Using it as a guide when writing your early works to a reference as your experience grows.

I hope you enjoy the journey.


Simon is a novelist, proofreader, copy-editor and blogger. This will be his first non-fiction work which he is writing alongside his second novel: The Impact of History. His first novel is available through Amazon as an ebook, Bacchus and Sanderson (Deceased). Click here, to buy it.

A book on the process of writing a book, using a book I’m writing …

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Sorry about the title but I couldn’t think of a more descriptive way of describing what I want to do.
I am in the very early stages of planning a novel I have called ‘The Impact of History’ which is part historical, part thriller and part …well you’ll have to wait and see.
The non-fiction book that I will be blogging as I write will run concurrently with the novel and will use the novel for its examples and screenshots to illustrate the various sections of the book. I’m a little stuck on what to call it as I feel it is a different approach to the normal ‘how to write a novel’ books. For the moment I’ll call it ‘From the beginning to The End’.
I want to go through the entire process that I use, from the idea to the finished product and beyond to the marketing and promotion of the book. Each part of the process will be chapter length and offer idea’s, screenshots of my work in progress and a look at the resources on offer to make the writing process as streamlined and uncluttered as possible.
The first section is on the origin of your work of fiction and how you can develope a simple idea into a strong multi-faceted novel. This project will begin next Monday and I will post each week on my progress on both books and share where I’m up to and how the process is going. I look forward to sharing this experiment with you.

Why businesses need editors and proofreaders

The number of times you see missed-spelt words, typo’s or poor grammar in brochures, on websites or even advertisements means businesses need to sit up and take notice

Fiction Editing for Independent authors

Publishers value what we do.

Graduates with theses know how we can help.

Independent authors sell more books because of our attention to detail.

Does the commercial world understand the value we can add?

Commerce produces a veritable blizzard of content— reports, mailshots, brochure, leaflets, advertising copy and web content. It has to be as perfect as possible.

Products and services beautifully photographed or illustrated, engaging content to lure us in and stimulate our acquisitive natures; we are bombarded with it every hour of every day. It has to be as perfect as possible.

The millions of words that are created, written and used by the corporate world, every minute of every day often miss a vital step in their journey from conception to publication — editing and proofreading.

Celebrity movie stars have to do retakes, the files of outtakes at the end of DVD’s are a testament to the…

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The cost of not using a copy editor and proofreader

All writers need to read this. Writing great material isn’t enough, it has to be superb. Invest in a professional

Fiction Editing for Independent authors

"Typewriters". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - “Typewriters”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a novelist. I write obsessively with a view to achieving a publishing contract,  six figure advance and lots of international travel. Who doesn’t? I am also a realist. I consider myself to be a competent writer with good ideas and an ability to put them on to the page in something resembling the correct order. My grammar is good and my spelling is excellent, why would I possibly need a proofreader or copy-editor? The good ones cost a fortune, money spent before you have a penny back from sales of your book. And that’s assuming you sell any.

This was my view, until I realised that unless I wanted to starve while my book found a publisher, I was going to need a second income. Then I began training as a…

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Happy New Year 2015

Marilyn R. Gardner

In 2011 I had just begun to blog. The quote I used on January 1st, 2011 was from the opening lines of True Grit — a movie directed, written, and produced by the Coen Brothers in 2010. The quote is as true today as it was four years ago. Happy New Year – may we all walk forward in the freedom and responsibility of God’s grace.

sunrise- in spring with quote

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Four children, and I still don’t have a clue how it happened.

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I often wonder how I’ve fathered four children when my default position on children is; not particularly interested. Before I go one letter further, please hear me when I say, I love all of my children dearly and in the main they quite like me. My life has been enriched by them, I am frequently frustrated to the point of apoplexy by them, I wouldn’t for one moment change any aspect of any of them, my next heart attack will be named after one or other of them, of that i am sure.

I first became involved in the procreation business twenty four years ago and found I was enthusiastic and satisfyingly fertile. I know this sounds smug, but a man’s ego is a fragile thing and anything that gives it a boost rather than shooting it down, has to be welcomed with open arms.

As a new father I quickly discovered that every single aspect of fatherhood had an enormous learning curve attached. I was a modern man who was keen to be involved in everything; nappies, feeding, dressing bathing. Tell me when and I’ll be there, just let me look up what to do first in the manual.
Excuse me; there isn’t a manual?

Remarkably this ineptitude was replaced by something approaching confidence, at least by the time my fourth child had arrived fourteen years later. Now the two older children have flown the metaphorical nest, living with partners and living there own lives and will I’m sure have there own families.

Our two younger children left at home are dramatically different from each other. One is creative, thoughtful, enthusiastic and slightly kooky, the other is technologically advanced beyond his years, fiery, passionate and loyal. I can only assume that this diversity of personalty is as a result of mine and my wife’s differing temperaments.

As I watch them grow and experience the same problems, revelations and delights that were present with the older children, I struggle to remember how any particular situation was handled. Does it matter? Probably not as long as when they become adults they are well rounded and happy people.

If I had one wish for all of my children it would be; happiness and a large family. It seems to work; even if you didn’t think you were interested in the idea to start with.

Journal – In the beginning…

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I have discovered a need to get stuff off my chest. To rant at the stupidity of the world, the fecklessness of people in general and to cherish that which strikes me as funny, noble, endearing or just fucking weird. Isn’t there a lot of that out there?

So let me encapsulate everything up to now so that i can begin afresh. We lived in an enormous old farmhouse which was cold in summer and freezing in winter. We regularly had ice on the inside of the house in the morning.
Then we came to our senses and said goodbye to the 18th Century and welcomed the 21st century with open arms. We can now walk to a shop. Have our services connected – sewage is no longer a huge tank at the bottom of the garden and marvel at the beauty of double glazing. The children sit spellbound while I regale them with the wonders of central heating and insulation.
Now we are here I wonder why we didn’t move years ago. We’ve spent eleven years enduring cold, mould and damp. We’d begun to think this was how everyone lived in Dorset.

We’ve run our own businesses since we moved to Dorset. Sold pasta and ice cream at Farmers Markets, run a veg box scheme, delivered sandwiches to offices and corporate lunches to offices, which we still do. Latterly, Beloved has been running a children’s cookery school. It was trialled in the summer and opened to a small number of rave reviews. This was built on during half term with Christmas cooking starting soon. Beloved has also had a remarkable number of people asking if she would offer adult cookery classes so these will be starting in the near future. All details at

So that I can’t be accused of loafing at home all day I call myself a writer, though judging by my sales, a crap writer. I have been scribbling for many, many years but have only recently finished my first novel. Bowled over by the indifference I have immediately started a another. In an attempt to avoid penury I am training as a proofreader, which is interesting and more challenging than i’d imagined and will, I hope, keep the bills paid so I can spend the rest of my time telling stories.

If you’d like to reassure me, like this blog, leave a comment or buy a book. Please buy a book. Please. Please. Please buy a book. Link to buy a book under the Book tab next to the Journal tab. Thank you