The Joy of Being Edited – and a festival in St Andrews

Amongst the many delights of signing with Linen Press has been the unexpected joy of having an editor. I’ve been in more than one writing critique group and learned lots from writing workshops, so I consider myself quite a good self-editor, but having lived with Blink for several years and in multiple versions, I hadn’t realised what a relief and pleasure it would be to have a fresh eye and another ‘ear’ when it comes to making decisions.

westonbirt glade
Editing – seeing the wood  and the trees 

In fact the smallest decisions can be the biggest bugbear.  Here I am with a complete work of fiction encompassing in its particular way, love, death and pretty much the whole damned thing. This doesn’t take away from the need to position every comma and paragraph break in just the right place. Doing this alone and at this juncture is a particular tedium. With publisher-editor Lynn Michell doing the initial line edits, I just have to respond and in 99% of cases, to quote a has-been politician, I agree with Lynn!

Of course it’s not all about nit-picking. Some parts of the Blink I submitted to Linen Press had been worked over ad infinitum, others had been added in a flurry when I saw what the shape of the book needed to be. As a result there are sections even I want to change and it’s invaluable having Lynn as a sounding board, ready to confirm or dispel those insidious doubts – ‘is this better or should I have left it as it was?’

At other times Lynn has pointed out places where there’s too much happening in too short a space for the reader to take in, or where I forget that the reader isn’t quite as au fait with my characters and their predicaments as I am myself. Some of Blink began life as short stories where word-count was at a premium. This is the time to let go and, where necessary, spell things out!

All editors come with the advantage over the writer of a certain detachment, and there are many well qualified editors out there with glowing references from authors. If I had self-published, I would have hired one. But having an editor-publisher comes with a built-in advantage and the crucial factor is trust. Not that I don’t respect every reader’s opinion, but Lynn has, literally, bought into the idea of Blink. She is familiar with the whole narrative and I know she likes the overall approach. Since signing the deal, we’ve emailed and talked via Skype and I sense we share a vision of how the book should turn out. If something doesn’t work for her, I know she is looking at it from a similar perspective.

Feedback from fellow writers, beta readers, and independent editors all have their place, but for the final MS, the publisher’s advice is head and shoulders above anything that I could get from elsewhere. Of course we’re not going to agree on absolutely everything, in which case Lynn is technically the boss. However, up to now she has never insisted on a change, only invited me to consider an alternative. As a result, she cunningly makes me feel it’s my choice rather than hers.

We’re not quite done and with some rewrites still on the cards I could be speaking too soon, but mostly it feels like I have exactly what I need to get the book into its final shape. Writing is a solitary pursuit but with an editor I am no longer alone!

standphotofest-ali-bacon-reading-2_smflipMeanwhile I’m taking off for Scotland and the St Andrews Photography Festival where  I read a programme of stories last year that became  In the Blink of an Eye. This time I have studied the weather forecast and have plenty of indoor activities on my agenda, chiefly an exhibition of Rob Douglas’ twenty first century calotypes and a look at the University Library’s photographic treasures. If I feel brave enough for the SSHoP Pub Quiz I’ll let you know

As for my baby, you can download a preliminary info sheet for In the Blink of an Eye here



Snow is falling – special offer on A Kettle of Fish

Our tree is up and my shopping is (nearly) done!  So to celebrate, I thought I could help you out with yours – 🙂

Signed by the author (that's me)
Signed by the author (that’s me)

So, if you order  A Kettle of Fish (and even if it’s a while since it come out, as far as I know, books do not go off or lose their appeal due to the passing of a few calendar months)  from a well-known online retailer and have to pay postage,  it will cost you £8.99 + £3 – a painful £11.99*.
But hey, it just so happens I have some right here.
If you ask me to post you a copy, I will charge the you the same  – £8.99 – and include the postage. 

Or if you happen to be someone who sees me or can call in, the price is £7.50.

There’s more about the book here and it had lots of nice Amazon reviews.

This tree is bigger than it looks

And yes, it is still available on Kindle – this week at a paltry £1.15!
You can also order the paperback from booksellers, I just thought I might save you the trouble of going anywhere or doing anything other than contacting me here or via social media (Facebook or Twitter @AliBacon) to set things in motion.

Offer ends Friday 16th by the way.


Snow courtesy of!


* Of course if you are on an Amazon package or have a bigger order postage won’t apply. I’m just helping out anybody like me who only ever seems to order books one at a time, or who would like a signed copy!


The Immortal Memory or Virtual Haggis

Burns signatureIt’s that time of year when Scots the world over get together for a shindig to pay tribute to our Bard so today Canadian writer Melanie Robertson-King whose blog you may remember I visited on St. Andrews night has come to mark the occasion.

Of course we’d rather not be on our own, so do join in the celebrations and where you feel moved by the bard, chip in with your own songs, poetry or reminiscences. The programme and menu are in accordance with tradition, so let’s get on with the show!

1. The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,  And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,  Sae let the Lord be thankit.

 2. First course: Scotch Broth
While we’re blowing on our soup, Melanie’s going to tell us about her Scottish roots and how much Rabbie figured in her upbringing.

scotch broth
awesome scotch broth by daves cupboard on Flickr

As a wee girl, I was a member of the Wee McGregors (Highland Dancing group) and every year at Burns night, there was a huge celebration in Brockville at a gorgeous, Victorian hotel in the Wedgewood dining room (sadly the hotel is no longer there). After the meal, we danced… Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Shepherd’s Crook and more.


Melanie and her cousin with dancing medals

I had a Robertson tartan kilt and plaid made. I still remember my mum taking me to Craig’s to be measured and a few months later, my regalia arrived from CapeBreton where it was handmade. I danced until the summer of 1969. The last event I competed in was the 1000 Islands Highland Games where I won a silver medal in the sword dance.
(Fantastic photo – thanks for sharing!)My Dad had died in the spring of that year and the spark was gone. It wasn’t until a number of years later that I embraced my Scottish roots again.  I still have my medal although I’m not sure where I have it squirreled away for safekeeping. My father had a collection of vinyl records by Scottish artists and they were played regularly and on Sunday mornings we listened to Breath of Heather on the radio so I grew up with the music and later on discovered the Corries, Old Blind Dogs, Runrig, and others and their music brought back number of happy memories. I also have a set of bagpipes languishing in the basement of my house and the bag cover is in the Robertson tartan!

man who played burns
The Man Who Played Burns

Melanie – I’m impressed by the bagpipes. I think we need a picture! Of course as a Scot living at home we took a lot of our culture for granted. At school we had an annual competition to recite a poem in Scots (by heart of course) and in January there were always things on TV.
In the sixties there was an actor called John Cairney who played Burns on the stage and on TV and became a real heart-throb (and I’ve just discovered he’s still around).  
Music-wise in the sixties the folk scene was really taking off, and my sister’s boyfriend (now husband) had a folk-group of his own. But on TV there was only Andy Stewart or Robin Hall and Jimmie McGregor (check out this nice arrangement) – and I was really only interested in pop! But I did (I might not have admitted it!) enjoy when family  sang songs around the piano – a throwback to a former age. ‘Rowan Tree’ and ‘Bonnie Glenshee’ were family favourites. TBut te only  Burns suppers I ever went to were organised by the school Debating Society – too serious!

Here comes the main event:

3. Address to the Haggis – yes, we have the full experience!

4. No vegetarian option tonight so here we go with the main course

haggis etc
with thanks to smudie on Flickr

 While we’re eating – you’re choice of music, Melanie, Bay City Rollers, Proclaimers, or shall we go traditional with the Corries?

Let’s do Bay City Rollers and Proclaimers for dinner music and the Corries for after?

Consider it done! (Hope you like Killiecrankie – my favourite)

5. The Immortal Memory
This is where a celebrity makes a speech about Rabbie Burns and his legacy. I think this could be a good time to choose a man.

Who do you fancy as our esteemed speaker?
a) Sean Connery b) Billie Connolly  c) Ewan McGregor
Billie Connolly. As much as I love Sean and Ewan, Billie is the man.

Your wish is my command – Billy Connolly – If it wisnae fur yer wellies

Well that leaves us with a recitation of Tam O’Shanter, but that could take a while, so let’s close with a something we have not had so far – a piper! And Melanie has completed my education  byt introducing me to the Red Hot chilli Pipers –piping as I had never heard it before.

Rock on!

And of course a reminder to everyone who fancies a bit of Scottish romance to take a look at Melanie’s novel.

shadow in the pastA Shadow in the Past

When a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

 Where to buy:
4RV Publishing:
Barnes & Noble:
Author Website:
Author Blog: Celtic Connexions
Facebook Author Page:
Twitter Account: @RobertsoKing!/RobertsoKing

Phew – what a night!

Worth celebrating

Since the lovely people at Leaf Books have seen fit to commend me for my ‘short travel writing’ piece submitted in August, it seems only fair to celebrate Kilcreggan , the obscure but enchanting place where it began.

To go next to the article when it’s published in Issue 3 of their magazine, Leaf would also like me to submit a further 200 words (max) on how it came to be written. Which is a tiny bit ironic, as after reading isue 2, I concluded I could do with  less of these ‘author commentaries’ as they call them, and a bit more actual writing.

Of course I am the last person to complain about being given a platform – far from it! But I’m not convinced that short (300 max) pieces require this kind of writerly reflection, or that navel-gazing  on my part will be of much benefit to the readers. Or maybe I’m just painfully aware that my own article won’t really live up to  detailed exegesis? (Oooh, a word I had almost forgotten!)  The fact is  I went there, I loved it, but the atmosphere was a little strange. Which is what I hope I conveyed in the writing. And so it looks like my follow-up submnission could be brief. Let’s hope that’s what the readers  would prefer.

Meanwhile three cheers for Kilcreggan, which will soon have featured in three blog posts, a scene in my latest novel, and now a  writing magazine.  Small place, big impact!

Thanks again to bicameral for the photo, much better than any of mine.

High roads and low roads

In a summer that is coming to be known for frequent journeys – planned and otherwise – I was diverted in a rare quiet moment to pick up a Google alert that took me to Douglas Galbi’s blog and this entry in particular. DG treats us to a tour of ‘long-winded’ writers beginning with M. de Scudery herself  – and ending with Harry Potter! The blog has an impressive range of topics covering media and communications in all contexts. These odd connection are what keeps us bloggers blogging (or this one anyway!)

Until I get back to some ‘real’ writing, here are some pics of our trip to Loch Lomond and the Clyde, as promised.

(This is the new WordPress Gallery feature. Click for a full size image – but it may take some time to load).



Points north

My excuse (if I needed one) for this fab view is that some time ago WordPress changed the image tool to a Flash uploader, which is very flash (with a small ‘f’) when it works but on some computers simply doesn’t play the game.

Luckily for you, it’s okay on the Vista laptop I’m testing right now. Luckily for me, I should be waking up to this very view on Friday morning – weather permitting. Arran is in the background, but we’re staying in another corner of  Undiscovered Scotland. I must say I like the sound of that:- Undiscovered (and Scotland).

Meanwhile I still think WordPress have been a bit naughty to give us something which doesn’t always work, unlike the rest of the kit which is pretty good. There is a workaround, but it makes life very hard for beginners. Have also recently discovered via DD that WordPress doesn’t support Safari.

You’ll guess from this technobabble that I have nothing much to talk about on the writing front and am hoping our journey up the High Road will restore my creative energy.

Thanks to bicameral for the photo.

P.S. WordPress now claims to have fixed the uploader bug. Here’s hoping.