The Writing Life: It Takes a Team

I tried for years to transform my writing from manuscript to novel on my own, and for years it did not work. Eventually, I recognized that I needed a team. Only through accepting this, that I was not equipped to do it alone, did I finally flourish…and I intend to do a whole lot more flourishing with my team going forward!

So I’d like to thank my team, here and now, for their help in making my dream real, and getting The Thief and The Demon published.

First: my dear old mum, the original cheerleader, the most resiliently unrealistic fan who still maintains my manuscripts written at 14 are works of art. Without her, I would never have had the confidence to get here. She is the wellspring from which my writing life originally flowed, and remains my biggest fan.

Second: my wife, who not only believes in my writing, but as an avid reader of fantasy also has the ability to point out flaws, and as a professional writer to suggest improvements. That I do not always follow her advice is on me. (Sometimes it’s justified, honest!) There was an incident in Rome where she told me a lot of truth I did not want to hear at the time, but I am much better for it now. Her contributions are immense and almost innumerable. I am a very lucky man.

My long-time friends, Dave, Andy, Matt, and newer friend Shelly, for supporting my ideas and my dreams, some after hearing me whitter on for years about this book or that with almost infinite patience, and then for being my beta readers, and giving me the feedback I needed. I knew you guys couldn’t be objective, but I love that you tried!

The folks at Critters who helped me learn how to critique strangers’ work, and critique it with kindness. That was an invaluable lesson. And for being the first truly objective voices of outside reason when contemplating my book. Those insights stuck with me and helped shape a lot of what came after.

My editor in book form, Don McNair, whose book Editor-Proof Your Writing was an invaluable first step for me in really getting to grips with the mechanics of my writing, and learning how to tighten it up. I’d owned other guides to writing earlier in my life, but either I’d been unreceptive to their lessons, or had barely cracked them open. Don’s book, with its 21 steps, took me down a new road, because finally I was ready to learn, and it improved me as a writer immeasurably.

My real-life editor, Jeff Seymour, who worked with me on the developmental and line edit passes of my book, and helped to transform it yet again. Together we sanded smooth the rough edges, modified  sections, and changed emphasis to strengthen the overall story and its presentation. He also provided me with guidance to help maintain a uniformity of style when I had been switching between choices and uncertain which way to finally fall. Hiring him was the best decision I’ve made in my writing career. I needed outside professional help, and he provided it, along with cheerful email conversations, in spades. Thank you, Jeff.

My cover designer, James T. Egan at Bookfly design. (We middle T.’s have to stick together!) I had searched for cover designers for a long time, but found nothing to match my taste until I saw his portfolio. I gave him a rough idea of what I’d like, including the idea of using a clan belt to honor my Scottish roots; he did the rest, and did it amazingly well. The Celtic knotwork, the keyhole, the flame, were all his ideas and matched perfectly with the content and themes of the book. Moreover, he was very responsive to design discussion, and allowed me to go into any amount of detail with good grace and patience. I could not ask to work with a better partner in creating the imagery to represent my world.

My formatter, Rob Siders of 52Novels. Like James, he displayed great patience with a newcomer to the field, helping to answer my questions while producing flawlessly formatted ebook and print editions of my novel, that are not only functional, but attractive (especially the print edition, which I think looks amazing), to make the act of reading a pleasure, in every format. And he, like James, was great to work with on last-minute corrections and revisions, and handled everything with efficiency and good humour. A professional who was so easy to work with, it made the last difficult round of proofing and corrections, if not a joy, then at least a task taken on with relish, because the end was in sight, and help was at hand. His work made the stress of uploading the books to Amazon non-existent, because everything went off without a hitch.

And finally, you – my readers, my friends and family and first buyers and reviewers – you are all part of my team too, and without each and every one of you, I would be greatly diminished.

Thank you all.

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