Editors – In for a Penny in for a Pound

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Aren’t we lucky I still own a pound! I’ve only been to the U.K once in my lifetime.

So what about my progress with editors? Well I scoured the internet far and wide for editors in Sydney. I couldn’t really find an editor specialised in science fiction, I don’t know why (Did I look far and wide enough?). Maybe Australia just doesn’t do science fiction as much as abroad. It would be a shame if that were the case, but us Aussies do seem to also read science fiction and speculative fiction. Anyway so no specialised editor, what am I to do. Well I chose a bunch of editors I liked the sound of and got in touch. I mean I hadn’t engaged an editor before, so its a whole new experience. It meant picking brains and getting sample edits.

I quickly realised that expenses could skyrocket from a set price per manuscript, to an hourly rate of $70-80 upwards. If I recall one estimate for my copy edit, of a 9000ish word manuscript was quoted at about $590 and that wasn’t including another $350-$400ish for a structural edit. It was an amazing shock. I mean if it could cost that much for editing and magazines might end up paying you less, how does an author keep food on the table? How can you at least cut even and get your work published? Good grief, think of how much editing a novel would cost. I’m probably lucky this is a labour of love, or I might turn away from this career choice.

Well I think the easiest way to overcome editing fees, would be to learn to edit yourself. This is what I am inclined to do, as it’s perfecting the craft of writing, but it doesn’t hurt to say sometimes you can’t see the trees from the forest at times. So I persisted.  With this persistence, I managed to get a total quote of $350 for my short story ‘The Observer’. It was quoted to me by a two man editor team. Great guys. They took me through the process, explaining how it all works. After I got a sample edit, I decided right let’s give this a go.

A couple of weeks later, they sent back my work, in track changes in Microsoft word. There was a long list of suggested polishes. A bunch of comments with advice of what works, what doesn’t, as well as t why and effect that was having. There was well thought out summarised comments at the end. It was also reassuring, having two different people looking at my manuscript. Two minds are better than one, as they say.

Ok editing box ticked. It’s been an adventure. The next few weeks, it was taking ‘The Observer’ manuscript to points of publication. Basically constituted sending the manuscript by email or through online submission portals. Then came the waiting weeks or months to send it to the next one (Places don’t like taking simultaneous submissions, which makes it very hard on the author). I got a few rejections so far, but this is an ongoing process. I’m not particularly stressed.

So here we go, in for a penny in for a pound. I sent my next manuscript, ‘The Solar Wind of Dreams’ to the same editors again. This time the fee was cheaper, because the manuscript was in better form. What do I take away from that? If you have the extra time, go over your manuscript again. Even a few more passes before sending it to the editor, can help with the editing cost. Otherwise maybe keep running it by an editor, as your final part of the process (Yes I know how tempting it is to get back in and start changing things after you have finished your painstakingly long editing process).

I have really enjoyed having my work edited, because I feel it really did help. It also gave me the opportunity to bounce ideas and thoughts off people who have industry experience. I can’t say that means my manuscripts will be instantly, a published done deal, but it sure has made them shine that much more.

Hopefully some of my experiences can help the next person, starting out on the journey to being published.

The Unboxing

The unboxing begins! Zenbook UX390UA. For months, I have been exhausted carrying my 15″ Zenbook U500VZ. Back and forth from uni. Day in day out. Otherwise lugging it, when I’m out and about writing. No more!

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Dadadadadadadadada.

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Snazzy little pouch to carry the Zenbook around. That’s a nifty little bonus. Lifting that up, here it is tucked away. The Zenbook!

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Lovely set out. It’s an absolute maze of compartments in this box.

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Got that swanky little sleeve to carry the laptop in. The charger, ooo an adaptor for USB C (HMDI, USB C and standard USB port) nice and handy. Oh sweet, a little microfiber cloth to clean the screen. A real box of goodies.

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Here we have it, the Zenbook UX390UA. Can just hear a choir making that ahhhh sound (I could add in me in making that noise, but I’d sound like I was strangling a cat).

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I think this is great. With only Intel HD 620 graphics I think there is no way to play games, so no writing distractions (Well it probably can do it… But I’m going to pretend it can’t, because this is just for writing/work). There is an Intel I7 U, with 8GB of DDR3 in it, so no computer lag! Haha I think it was a prerequisite, because I have known people with little netbooks, that really struggled with lag doing basic things.

In comparison to my bigger laptop which weighs in at 2.2kg, this tiny 12.5″ is a mere 910grams and thin as thin. I think something ridiculous like 11.9mm thin. I mean look at the Zenbook UX390UA against its older 15″ relative the Zenbook U500VZ.

DSC_0117DSC_0120 The lighting just doesn’t do justice to the snazzy gold trim.

Let’s start it up. There isn’t that much bloatware I can complain about. It’s lightning fast and I got everything setup in about an hour. Everything I wanted uninstalled vanished, got everything I wanted on it like MS Office and setup my email. Change all the settings to what I like. Usual setup joy of buying a piece of tech.

A few days usage and I can say, the keyboard is really comfortable, but I keep whacking the equals button for backspace, the limited tactile response to key presses is also a little strange. I think that is just a case of retraining the brain. Touch pad mouse works really well. You kind of need that, cause this laptop doesn’t have a touch screen like its older relative and to plug in a mouse you need the adaptor on you. I would however, highly recommend this laptop for any writer on the go. If colour is your thing, it also comes in quartz grey and rose gold, sporting that golden edge.

Now did it pass the it doesn’t weigh a tonne test! Yes yes it did. When you add all my other belongings to my bag, it feels like I have forgotten my laptop.

After a month of agonising over the HP Spectre 13.3″ and this 12.5″ Asus Zenbook UX390UA, followed by a fortnight of agonising and finding the cheapest quote. I’m one very happy writer.

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An Afternoon of Reds

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I think it is time for some reds. Apart from my current exploration of scotches, I love red wine and at present would say, it is my current drink of choice. Once upon a time, I preferred sweet wines, especially dessert wines, but my tastes have changed. Now I tend to go for drier reds. I must admit, I haven’t convinced my fiancée on reds yet (Haha I will win her over to reds one day).

For something a little bit different, I decided to tackle South Australian wines and do a bit of a review on them. Why did I decide this?  Well I have never really been fond of South Australian wines. It just hasn’t been wine for my palate, so I thought why not give it another go. I think it may have been the tannins, that don’t quite agree with my tongue.

I’ve really loved more of the cool climate wines, such as out of Pemberton or otherwise wine out of the Hunter Valley, has also been my go to. Well all in all, I have to say the South Australian wines I chose, made me pleasantly surprised. I was glad to have decided to explore them.

My philosophy on wine is, that a bottle of wine could have more medals than a field marshal and you could still not like it. When ever you drink an alcoholic drink, especially with wine you can taste completely different things to me or the next person. My thorough opinion is, you personally should try the wine you want to know more about and make up your own mind. It’s the most subjective experience there is. Anyway down to tasting.

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Penfolds – Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2016
Nose: Quite aromatic, bit of spice.
Tongue: Blackberries, currants. Quite strong tannins (Tannins are a bit like black tea flavour).
Price $13.30

I think I find the tannins rather sharp on this one and very present, but overall there are some nice blackberries and currant flavours. I’d say if it were up to me, I think I would prefer an older bottle of this wine.

 

 

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Stoney Fell – The Cellars Shiraz Cabernet  2013
Nose: Smells fruity with a hint of eucalyptus, a little spice.
Tongue: Cherry, plum, eucalyptus and a hint of pickle.  Acids and tannins have a little bite. Smooths and softens on the tongue over time.
Price: $15.99, but I found for a 2 bottle for 1 price special.

Overall quite nice, but I think I want to experiment by leaving the second bottle for a few years. The presence of eucalypt amidst the flavours and on the nose is a delight.

 

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Wolf Blass – Reserve Release Shiraz 2016
Nose: Spice, pepper, slight oakiness and eucalypt. A bit of blueberries?
Tongue: Very lavish in flavour, fruit and spice. Warmth and extremely smooth tannins. So soft.
Price: $13.90 I was extremely surprised at the price for the amazing taste.

I think of the three, I love this one the most. It is very easy to drink, I think too easy in many ways. The eucalyptus flavour and smell, is much more present than the other wine bottle.

 

 

 

 

Overall I was pleasantly surprised. All drops of red were quite nice in their own ways. What did I learn most? I have a love for Langhorne Creek grapes and I think, I really need to explore the wine from that area in South Australia. Why? Well Langhorne creek is a flood plain and it really seems to capture the eucalypt flavour in the grapes and subsequently the wine. I can only surmise when it floods, maybe the eucalyptus oil is washed through the vineyards of the area and the grapes then absorb it, giving the distinct flavour. Haha don’t quote me, that is a guess. I’d say most of them could easily be paired with beef or meaty dishes, some spaghetti bolognaise, dark chocolate or maybe a cheese board.

If I had to choose, but one wine. I admit I really loved the Wolf Blass drop the most. I mean, if every bottle is like that, it is a very fine red. The only thing finer is the price. Next time, I think I might cover the South Australian wine areas in more detail. Maybe I’ll find bottles from McLaren vale, Eden Valley and Coonawarra drop.

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* All experience and opinions are my own, in no affiliation to any work or occupation. The wine drank I personally bought and paid for. Your experiences may also be completely different to mine, as drinks are all personal taste.

To the Editor Post-haste.

I’ve never used an editor before, but a growing certainty is that an editor is necessary. Even for the greatest wordsmiths. You only get one chance with a point of publication, be it a magazine, publishing house or were ever. With the certainty that I’m not perfect and I still don’t know all the ropes, I decided I better find an editor to help me as a guide.

There have been plenty of knock backs, on my journey as a writer. Each knock back, whilst generally giving good advice or feedback, takes away a point of submission for a manuscript. So I thought, why not maximise my chances. Besides, if I ever, ever were to E-Publish, I would want the story I release, to be of the quality that is coming out of any publishing house. The kind, that is run meticulously under an eagle eyed, editor’s microscope.

What kind of editing would I look at? Well there is a couple I’ve been advised on. Since I am using my sci fi short story, ‘The Observer’ for this editing adventure, I decided to keep it simple. Go with a structural edit and a copy edit, it’s only a nine thousand, something word short story.

Structural Edit: This focuses on matters such, as plot/sub plots, characters, dialogue, narrative voice and overall structure.

I am starting here, as  I think it is probably best to get all the ideas and the narrative hammered down perfectly. No point in jumping into the a copy edit and the nuts and bolts of punctuation and grammar, if I only come back and rewrite things again.

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Copy Edit: Getting down to the physical nuts and bolts. Punctuation, grammar, expression and sentence structure. Tackling consistency of style.

This kind of edit is a necessity, once everything is in place. I can’t imagine even the greatest of writers, not making a few typos sometimes. The other day, I found a few little things had slipped an author and editor’s gaze, funnily enough. It was a discrepancy, that was in the E-Book version, of a physical book I owned. When I checked the physical copy,  it wasn’t there. This was very reassuring, for a writer starting out. Even the greats, sometimes have typos.

In honesty, if I had to say there was a weakness in my writing. I’d say it would be here on the copy edit. Sometimes I can’t see the trees from the woods, so I put a manuscript aside for a while. I come back and see the mistakes and I wonder, how the hell did that get written like that? I think the only way to improve here, is by writing. Writing and to revise and refresh, punctuation and grammar from time to time. There is nothing wrong with covering old ground.  So much happens in our lives, we are bound to overlook and forget things from time to time.

There is probably the proof edit needed eventually, but from what I can tell that isn’t needed until after a submission has been accepted. It deals more with typesetting and page matters for print.

Overall that is the plan. Go through the stages of a structural edit and a copy edit and see if we can make my short story,  ‘The Observer’ shine. Polish and polish some more. It is, if nothing else, an interesting experiment and I will know, what I am in for when my novel is finished.

I’ll have to tell you guys how it all goes. In theory it should all be done by the end of March.

 

The Port Ruighe – A Review Of a Talisker Scotch

The great long adventure of tracking down, the Talisker Port Ruighe came to an end. I could not find it in a bar to try. So for the adventure, I dived in and bought myself a bottle. I didn’t know what I was in for. My experience for a port cask finish, has been only in the Highland variety.

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On the nose:  Strong fruit, entangled delicately in wood smoke. It brings me back to smells of standing by the seaside in the U.K. There is a hint of the smells of full bodied merlot, isn’t that a surprise, but that must be the double maturation in port casks. Haha definitely a steam trains smoke, over the smells of a diesel engine. Then again, maybe it is more the smoke from a fireplace, on a winters night.

On the tongue: Dark cherries, fruity and merlot. Quite a fruity sweetness. A little bit of fire, but it is quickly overtaken by a gentle smoothness. The peat tastes more of an after thought, behind the fruit. There is such complexities of flavour. Many flavours come together in the end, to finish on a note of red berries and gentle wood smoke.

I am glad to have bought this drop. Can highly recommend, to someone wanting something more complex or if you are perhaps a beginner to peated scotches, this one might be for you.

* All experience and opinions are my own, in no affiliation to any work or occupation.
Your experiences may also be completely different to mine, as drinks are all personal
taste.

Into The Peat

I’ve never really tried peated scotches, having started a foray into this fascinating world. The world of scotches and whiskies has always been an adventure. Trying a variety of single malt scotches, I was quick to take a dive into Japanese and then Swedish whiskies. Even now I’m trying to source a drop from Switzerland. Just for something a bit original (I love the fresh water off the mountains, that poured into street fountains. So there is bound to be a delicious dram from the alps). Of late I have really tried to bring it back to Scotland. So I decided after I had finished my writing for the day, what better time than a Friday afternoon to give the peat a go.

I must say, I had an eight year old, peated single malt scotch, in Tullamarine airport. This left me with mixed feelings about peat. The scotch felt like you had been hit in the face by a diesel train, traveling at 100 kilometres per hour. It was a super contrast to an 18 year old Talisker, I had had courtesy of a friend.

So anyway, off I go to Grain. A bar in the rocks I had never been to before in my life. It’s a rather swish place. All nice woods inside. A little bit of a view looking over towards the direction of circular quay. The reason I chose this bar, is for its phenomenal scotch and whisky list. My quest I had set myself was for a dram of the Talisker Port Ruighe. My all time favourite scotch thus far has been the Glen Morangie Quinta Ruban. A 12 year old scotch, matured in bourbon casks, but finished in port casks. I decided that the port finish was the key! This also would hopefully mellow down the peat for a peat novice. It would also avert round two of the airport adventure.

Sadly though, when I got there they had run out of the Port Ruighe. It was a popular dram. The bar tender was a nice chap and very knowledgeable. So he was already looking for other port finishes scotches and offering ideas of sherry cask finishes. If I hadn’t had my short list ready in my had and not set out with the intention of adding something to my collection. I probably would have happily been directed about their extensive drinks list and been up for a suggestion. But I was a man with a mission, so on target I stayed.

Next on my list to try, was Lagavulin 16 year old. It’s a staple. The age in theory, should make the peat gentle. So boots in I go!

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I take a smell of the scotch. Gazing, out to the trees and the street outside, there are a few people walking around. A deep, rich, smell of smoke reaches my nose. Wood smoke? Perhaps some maritime smells. I’d say it is more akin to standing next to a steam locomotive, rather than a diesel engine. It draws me back to memories of the Hotham Valley’s steam train.

On the tongue, there is some woody character. There is a smoothness though, the peat is much more gentle. Perhaps age is the key with peated scotches for me. Dark cholate, some burnt toffee.

A dash of water and the smells of a rocky cave reach my nose. Maybe the taste changes, a little spice or cured meats?

The finish is very long. In fact the longest I have ever experienced, thus far. Flavours lingers. After sipping this over about half an hour, there was a hint of this lingering flavour and smell, maybe for half an hour or so after.

I’d have to say for the start of my sojourn into peated scotch, this was the place to begin in my personal experience. Aged peat for beginners. Definitely give this one a go. I am certain I will again.

* All experience and opinions are my own, in no affiliation to any work or occupation.
Your experiences may also be completely different to mine, as drinks are all personal
taste.

Going Green…. Tea.

There is one great perk about the suburbs of Rhodes and West Ryde. What perk you ask? Isn’t it just another Sydney suburban area you’ve stumbled upon? No. No it is not.

The greatest joy of exploring and traveling around the area is the café gems they hold. Naturally yes there are other restaurants there too, (Actually they are exceptional) but its the trendy little cafes which offer quite interesting food, that I love. Probably also cause I’m a lover of great coffee. I mean nothing really excuses a bad cup and a good cup is worth travelling miles for.

Today I went green! I love green tea. I mean back in Perth were I grew up, I would hunt green tea ice cream down. It really was a sparse treat that you couldn’t buy to take home, when I was living there. I’d drag my dad through countless little Asian super markets and grocers. Down random alley ways. There was never much of a great success. The main satisfaction for this craving, was usually at Senoji in Vic Park. Which to this day, is still my favourite Japanese restaurant.

When I went to Auvers café, it was a done deal. Green tea pancakes! Why not. This was my second time having them and the café didn’t disappoint, as I ordered the pancakes and a green tea latte.

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The pancakes were very light and packed of green tea flavour, layered with red bean paste and green tea sauce. I have to say the berries and sorbet are delicious, but I could quite easily eat a stack with just the green tea pancakes and the sauce. It wasn’t bitter at all, like one might expect of green tea. I’d definitely have again.

What a treat, Auvers did a great job.