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As you know, I was bitterly disappointed when Satalyte shut up shop as it might have meant the end of my admittedly short career as a publi...

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've Lived - Sydney

Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
Blue Lake

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
From Kings Park

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
From Kings Park

Inner Peace Blog

Inner Peace Blog
Awarded by Joanna Fay. Click on the image to visit her lovely website!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award
Awarded by Kim Falconer. Click on the pic to check out her Quantum Astrology blog!

Fabulous Blog Award

Fabulous Blog Award
Awarded by Kathryn Warner. Click on the pic to check out her Edward II blog!

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Monday, 3 October 2011

An editor's role


Recently, a friend sent me a link to an article in The Guardian by restaurant reviewer Giles Coren. My friend said that was exactly how he felt about his writing.
As fiction writers, we do feel very protective of our work. Our stories are like babies we have birthed and parented. We like to think they are perfect, and that not one word should be changed.
A few weeks in a good critiquing group, however, is usually enough to show writers that their work is not perfect and can be improved, but even so, there is always that flash of resentment when someone wants to alter one of their darlings. It can take a long time to wean that baby, and the process is painful for the parent!
But we're talking here not about fiction but about writing for journals, and in that light I think Coren’s tirade is sheer wankery. As an editor, I feel I should put the other side of the story forward.
For a start, Coren is not writing the Great British Novel. He is writing ephemera. Writing that goes into a newspaper, journal or online zine is always edited without consultation – it's just the way it's done, because of tight deadlines. And for any writer to be so precious as to be highly offended at the removal of an indefinite article is just laughable.
Nobody likes having their work altered, and I agree that sometimes sub-editing is done less than skilfully, simply because there is a deadline to meet. The worst instance of this in my experience happened when I faxed off a review to the Australian and the next morning received the phone-message equivalent of a poison-pen letter from the artist concerned, complaining bitterly about the "mean-spirited review". I found out why when I opened the paper – my review had been cut in half, and only the negative criticisms made it into print. (I only got paid for the part that was published, too, but that’s the way the system works.)
This episode was largely my fault. The golden rule of criticism is "put the good stuff first", and for some reason, on this occasion, I did not. All the good stuff was at the bottom of the article – the part that got sliced “on the stone” as they used to say in those pre-electronic days, probably to make room for a last minute ad or "stop press" paragraph. Mea culpa, mea culpa – but it taught me never to break that rule again.
As I understand it, when a sub removes a small word, it's usually because leaving it in would result in a "widow" on the next line. Apart from wasting valuable space in a print journal, orphans and widows are anathema to layout people. One sorry little word sitting on its own, looking lost, can spoil the whole look of a page. Because, you see, a layout person is, in his or her own way, also an artist, one with different sensibilities. The rhythm of reading the work out loud means little to the layout person, I fear. And in any case, who reads the bloody newspaper out loud, for heaven's sake?
(A “widow” BTW, is a word or phrase that hangs out on its own at the top of a page or column, while an “orphan” is a word or phrase – usually a heading of some kind – that is left alone on the bottom of a page of column. It does depend, though on whose definition you read!)
But all that I've just said only applies to writing for ephemera. Fiction writing, of course, is a different matter. There, ongoing consultation is the norm, to-ing and fro-ing until the work is satisfactory to both writer and editor – within a given deadline, of course. And in fiction, the writer has the last say – but the editor has right of veto, if not on that work, then the next. A writer who stets every tiny word and every comma will pretty soon find herself without anyone to publish her work. Word of such things gets around.
One only has to look at the morass of badly-written, unedited, self-published works on the market to see that the editor, whether of journals or books, performs an essential task in bringing the reader a product that delivers value for money. And that, friends, is the bottom line in any industry, even an arts-based one. Perhaps especially in an arts-based one, because all performers, all visual artists, all writers, are competing for that same tiny slice of people's purses, and if we produce a sub-standard product it will not sell. The fact that we editors hurt people's feelings now and then must be balanced against the fact that we help many, many others to create a better product. For, make no mistake, a writer's work is a product. It may also be a work of art, but only history can judge that.
An editor is to a writer what a choreographer is to a dancer, or a conductor is to an orchestra. If you're a fiction writer, try to be grateful to your editor for helping you to produce something that really shines, something more people will want to read!
And if you're a reviewer or a feature writer, for God’s sake just smile and take the money.


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