Friday 31 July 2020

Republishing with Kindle Direct Publishing

The rights to my second romance novel, The Rescued Heart, reverted to me in 2018. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to revisit the manuscript and republish the book on Kindle.

The text is a little shorter and – hurrah! – certain American expressions have vanished. My first publisher was American, and their editor changed words and phrases here and there, on the grounds that ‘our readers won’t understand that’. Fair enough, she was doing her job and I couldn’t argue.

Her work was followed by that of an American copyeditor who raked over my punctuation and spat it out again. American publishers have a particular horror of what they call a comma splice. Back then, I had to look up the definition of this sin against grammar, and found that my natural writing style was peppered with them. I’m in good company, as many well-known British authors adopt a more informal style, and comma splices have wormed their way back into my rewrite. 


The original cover art belonged to my American publisher, so a striking new cover had to be designed, the expanse of blue sky above the city of Basel reflecting the uplifting feel of a second chance romance.

The Rescued Heart is available from Amazon: UK and USA.

Madeleine McDonald is also the author of contemporary romance Enchantment in Morocco and historical romance A Shackled Inheritance, as well as contributions in numerous anthologies around the world.

Friday 24 July 2020

Diversions from writing: the humble cucumber

There’s never a shortage of diversions for a writer in the process of writing a book, and so avidly will the writer grasp at the diversion, you’d be forgiven for thinking that writing was their most hated pastime ever. It’s not … and yet … anything but getting words on the page is so often the order of the day.
For example, cucumbers:

What’s to be done when the garden produces a dozen large cucumbers? There’s a limit to how many tons of salad one family can eat, but there's always a writer on hand with the answer. Delia to the rescue. Her cucumber soup was not only delicious, it hoovered up the surplus spring onions too. 
Few words written but no cucumbers wasted.

Friday 17 July 2020

Hitting the Target

Translators are often asked to change a single sentence or paragraph in a finished document. No problem in the digital age. However, when I started work, documents were typed on stencils, and reproduced on a hand-turned duplicator. Corrections were inserted by painting a layer of red correcting fluid onto the stencil, waiting for it to dry, then retyping over the red varnish. I sometimes performed mental gymnastics fitting a new translation into the available space. As well as being accurate, it had to be neither too long, nor too short.

In a way, this was good training for entering flash fiction competitions with a given word count. Nowadays I relish the challenge of producing 53 words exactly, 81 words exactly, 100 including the title, or some other target.

My way of working is to write long, then cut back, checking the word count each time I delete or rephrase. My reward is to save the document with a smirk of triumph. Done it again.

Madeleine McDonald.

Friday 10 July 2020

If you can't say something nice ... become an editor

You will have heard the old adage: if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all. 

It can create a real conflict for an editor, because what use is a critique if it doesn't point out the shortcomings in a piece? Not that critiques can't go to the nice side - it's good to point out what works as well as what doesn't. However, the real value of a good critique is in pointing out the errors, the rough edges and the bits that don't work, so an editor will concentrate on the not-so-nice side.

It's hard to over-estimate the value of a good constructive critique, which is why Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb, a judge in the recent Write2Ride creative writing competition, put together a short article pointing out some of the things that entrants might have done better.

'People don't always appreciate constructive criticism,' she says. 'Especially when they are just starting out, but this is the route to becoming a better writer. Doing a generalised feedback piece like this one allowed us to highlight errors without singling anyone out.'

CLICK HERE for the full article on why some people won and others didn't. 

Friday 3 July 2020

Free LitFests from the comfort of your armchair

Covid-19 may have curtailed travelling and cancelled face-to-face events, but it has opened a plethora of online talks, lectures, and instructive how-to demonstrations, most available on YouTube.

For the writer and the reader the Society of Authors has run a series of Afternoon Tea With… as well as useful talks on marketing for writers. Lockdown Litfest is currently showcasing talks with authors, and York Festival of Ideas took its annual festival online with talks on a wide range of subjects. All of these and many more are free to view. Others, Jericho Writers, being one, are paid events.

It was while trawling the site of York Festival of Ideas, that Linda Acaster came across a talk by writer Edoardo Albert and York archaeologist Paul Gething: Warrior: A Life of War in Anglo-Saxon Britain centreing on a cemetery dig just outside the walls of  Bamburgh Castle. It turned out to be so entertaining that she is currently devouring the book.