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MEMBERS ONLY: Self-editing webinar 30 March

Hi folks, there's a (members only) webinar coming up on 30 March, where I'm going to pick out a few chunks of your work and edit them live on screen, talking about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it as I work.

If you are a member and intend to attend this webinar, then feel free to give me a maximum 250 word extract of your work in the comments below. Do note that I'm going to have time to handle only about 4 submissions during the hour we have, so do understand that most submissions won't get chosen.

And any case - it's not really about whether your submission is or isn't chosen. It's really about understanding how sentence-by-sentence editing works in the raw, so you can apply some of the same insights to your work.

This is a webinar we've run before and it's always been fun, so I hope you come along and get a lot from it. Till soon!

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  • Hi Harry,

    You have loads to choose from here. Yet I'm going to drop mine into the mix as well.

    Genre: Paranormal. Climate fiction. Near future.

    Setting: While trying to escape the bad guys, our protagonists (Mateo and Pen and their magical newborn baby) are discovered in an awkward situation that is misread by the police.  They are brought to the police station and are separated. The bad guys are closing in.


    Mateo had never used his powers to enter her mind. Could he risk it now? Pen looked in his direction. Their eyes locked. Now or never. He nodded toward the door, furrowed his brow. Danger is coming, he warned through a prickle of energy that caressed the base of her skull. She raised her eyebrows in concern, started to turn, but the female officer tugged on her arm, leading her into a separate room, out of sight.

    Mateo sat, bound helplessly by metal cuffs his magic could not penetrate. The front doors of the police station swung open, and darkness—the deep and impenetrable kind that reminded him of child soldiers and lost souls—slithered inside. There were four of them. All short haired, gym goers, under thirty with sleek suits and briefcases belying a civility they did not possess. Was he the only one seeing the black and curling shimmer surrounding them as they scanned the police station? They hadn’t noticed him. Not yet. But it’s not me they’re after, he thought. Fresh sweat pearled down his spine.

    “May I help you?” the receptionist asked. 

    The tallest of the four leaned in and started speaking, his voice low. The receptionist’s face grew slack. She nodded. 

    What lies was that sinister man whispering in her ear? What dark spells was he casting? When Mateo saw the infant-sized car seat at their feet, his fear shifted to anger. No way in hell you’re getting our daughter. 

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    • Hi Harry

      Here is my offering, and my first attempt at speculative fiction.

      From the Prologue of a Fantasy 'olgy' (not quite sure how long yet!). Multiple races, religions and (even in the background) multiple worlds. Working title - Union: The Concordance Cycle (though I'm sure that will be thrown out the window if I ever find an agent/publisher).

      Premise - Is Equality a Universal Right?

      Set against a backdrop of a world where certain cultures have access to divine energies The Godstream/The Ordaë (maijic) to help them survive/thrive, where some don't, it explores equality and diversity as intrinsic rights, and how people respond and act when faced with disparity - with the usual cast of human/non human races etc. - dealing with equality & inclusivity across ethnicity/gender & sexuality/ability & disability/mental health & mental functioning.

      This section is a dream/vision sequence forewarning a key protagonist of what is coming. 

      Would love to get feedback on how far off-the-mark/derivative/wonky (technical term) this is :)

      Thanks loads


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      They screamed!

      One voice made many, or myriad made one. It was unknowable.

      She was in blackness. The inky void alive with emotion and pain. Each new moment bringing waves of agony lancing her like shards. Pain, not hers, referred, but no less piecing and excruciating for the fact. Wave upon wave, upon wave it drowned her in its torment. Her mind accepting each onslaught without volition. She could do nothing else.

      Of why she was here and whose suffering she lived she had no understanding, but, without question, she knew that her ordeal was true. She was living that which had been experienced, or would be.

      The pitch of the scream rose, yet more voices joining, the crescendo beyond bearing. When she felt she could take no more, the darkness shrank and into the grey came depictions of horror. She prayed for blindness, to no effect. Battlefield strewn with hacked and torn bodies. Dismembered beings of many races and forms. The dead and dying innumerable. Past? Or a vision of the yet to come?

      And unbidden and unspoken came to her the words “The Godstream Wars”.

      The vista stretched panoramic, immersive. Around her the visceral smells and sights of wanton carnage. Rich metallic blood cut through the sweet smell of cooked flesh. The sharp stink of weapons fired jousted with the scent of putrefaction, the energy signature of killing maijics. Bouquets of death. The land, many tens of miles of low flat land, had become the definition of slaughter.

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      • Hi Harry,

         This is the first page of my book.  It opens in New York in 1890.  

        Genre. Historical nonfiction. 

        Documents discovered in a battered suitcase reveals the journey of James Harley’s quest to achieve his childhood vocation.

        The Adventures of a Black Edwardian intellectual

        The sight of the Statue of Liberty represented the start of James Arthur Harley's new life to pursue his long-held childhood ambition. Harley disembarked the ship and entered the Great Hall at Ellis Island into the confusion of passengers, porters, and pickpockets.  

                    Harley was processed with all the other hope seekers. Eventually, he exited the Great Hall and made his way to a series of stairs split into three sections. Two sections led to the new land of opportunities, the exits for New Jersey or New York. The third section, which no immigrant wanted to go to, led to disappointment and detainment for further tests and examinations. 

                    New York assaulted Harley’s senses on his first day. The buzz of the trolley cars from the overhead electrical wires running along their rails.  The sight of large black boxes on wheels pulled by horses  - the Hanson Cabs.  Carriages with three of four people transported on wheels.  The city’s aroma mingling with food smells from the street vendors hawking their wares with encouraging calls to buy. Buildings that seem to erupt out of the ground and touch the sky. New sights and sounds far removed from the familiar soundscape of his island home. Harley would no longer hear the rustle of palm tree leaves, interrupted by whistling frogs.  Witness the openness and colour palate of the lush green vegetation or hear the tall tawny stems of the sugar cane rustled by the trade winds blowing across the island of his birth - Antigua.

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        • Hello. 

          This is the first page of a historical novel set in Lancashire about two families, beginning in 1889. The narrator is Jessie, 8 years old.

          Henry’s sprawled on the floor near the hearth rolling his marbles. There’s one with a twist of blue and yellow in the glass, like a sweet wrapper, but he won’t do a swap with me. James flings himself across Pa’s knee and sticks a thumb in his mouth which is pulled straight out. Pa tells him it’s babyish now he’s five. 

          ‘Pa,’ James mumbles, ‘What’s Lent for? Is it when you have to give something away?’ 

          We had a lesson on it in Catholic Sunday School last week but he’s forgotten. Henry sniggers and Pa wags his finger. ‘There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, Henry. It’s a time in the calendar, James. For fasting and prayer, ending when we get to Easter and that’s a day we look forward to.’ He answers in his sing-song voice and James sits up at that. His mouth is as round as a plug hole. He thinks he’s going to be told a story. 


          ‘Because the mines and mills slumber for three days and the streets come alive. People can leave their stinking hovels for a few hours and enjoy themselves.’

          ‘Patrick!’ Ma buts in. ‘We don’t do as bad as some. At least we have a privy to ourselves.’ 

          Her voice sounds like she’s climbing a ladder. Pa laughs and tips James off his lap. ‘The only reason we are so fortunate, my love, is that the houses on either side of us aren’t fit to be occupied.’

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          • Hi Harry, 

            Thank you Harry for all your work and help!

            Please find attached a section taken from the prologue of my book, working title 'Beyond Dreams', about a young woman finding the courage to leave the life she has always known for the one that calls her from the heart. 

            Jane stood in the sodden field, transfixed by the figure lecturing from a rickety stage. Dressed as a jester, the man made an imposing sight. Small bells on his three-pronged hat tinkled with every movement and he carried a stout wooden stick, which he brandished occasionally in a menacing way. 

            “Thumf irr og mulik, de voll mijk lug,” bellowed the man, thrusting the stick towards Jane as if demanding a response.

            “I’m sorry! I can’t understand what you’re saying,” she called back.

            As the sole member of the audience, the intense diatribe was directed entirely at her, but the language was one Jane had never heard before. It sounded like utter gibberish. 

            Regretfully she regarded the neighbouring field, where a crowd of people eagerly listened to the words of a wise man. This seemed like a much better option to Jane, but if she even lifted a foot out of the sticky mud, the jester became extremely agitated. Frustratedly jumping up and down and screaming at the top of his voice.  

            The lack of shelter and a darkening sky threatened a deteriorating situation. Jane cast around for the possibility of retreat. She was cold and the demented antics of the fool were starting to scare her. Determined to quietly edge away, a disgruntled shout pulled her attention back to the ramshackle platform. Jane shrieked in fright. The jester had leapt off the stage and was approaching rapidly.

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