Hi there,

it’s been a busy couple of months with the end of the financial year, so I haven’t been here much. Work has been hectic as we are putting together the pilot of a new food program for marginalized and disadvantaged youth to kick off in late August which has taken a lot of extra work. Plus there was the whole end of financial year and a visit from the big boss from the US in June.

On a writing front, the value of taking a few months off the manuscript has become apparent. I went back with fresh eyes and did another edit a week ago and, suddenly, the Stairway had another set of steps. Since it was originally “finished” Stairway to Heathen has grown by about 10,000 words and undergone some significant changes.

It is onto its third prologue (the others appearing in different places throughout the novel) and some scenes have been cut to be taken up in book two – Heaven Scent. There are lots of little seeds which are planted for future novels but which hopefully don’t take away from the enjoyment should this be a one off. Most of them are asides mentioned in passing or characters who intersect with the leads who will return in more significant roles down the track.

I actually mapped out a plot line for seven books but am working on a one-three-many arc. In others words, while every book should be able to be picked up and read as a standalone novel, book one is complete with the story coming to a natural conclusion. Book three will bring another conclusion to some dangling plot threads and wider arc. Future books set in the same universe will play with some of the bigger issues as the characters grow and people become more familiar with them.

One of the strange things about editing is the loss of perspective. I now see the words but, because I have lived and tweaked them for so long, it can be difficult to tell if they are any good. Which is where beta readers come in. The trick with good beta readers is to hopefully have a variety with different talents. For example, one person I know is good at going through the novel looking for typos. Another is reading it to see if it makes sense (and hopefully to tell me whether it does the basics of a book – holds the reader’s attention and leaves them wanting more).

You don’t want too many beta readers (and VHS ones, while more numerous, don;t have the same quality). The trick like Goldilocks and porridge is find exactly the right amount.

I let you know when I do.