Calling All Writers!

Hi everyone! 

Nen here. 

This is mainly a post for any writers interested in a free structural edit (also known as a developmental or comprehensive edit)—but please read on if you know anyone who might benefit!

I’m currently a postgraduate student in the final year of my Masters of Professional Writing and Publishing course, and I’m looking to complete a research project this year. This project will include the complete structural edit of a novel-length manuscript, and I wanted to ask if any writers would be interested in helping me out by offering their manuscript for this edit.

In return, I will be providing a complete structural edit of their work for free.

Obviously this will benefit writers who haven’t yet sent their work off for publishing, but if there are any self-published writers out there who haven’t had their work structurally edited before (even if it’s already out for the world to see), I’d honestly appreciate your generosity as well.

Ultimately, my goal is to help a writer get their manuscript one step closer to publishing, and I’ll be doing my absolute best to provide as much feedback on their work as possible.

What is structural editing?

For those who are unfamiliar with editing practices, structural editing is the first step of the editing process (before copyediting and proofreading) and focuses on the bigger picture—issues with the plot, characterisation, dialogue, and so on.

Essentially, the goal of the structural edit is to identify potential problems that could affect the reading experience of your target audience and figure out the best way to fix these issues so that the reader is satisfied with what they’re reading. 

We’ve all read books that started off great only to crash and burn in the end, or books whose main character does a complete 180 and ruins their whole arc—this edit will hopefully help avoid those situations by offering another perspective.

It’s important to note that the advice given by the structural editor is just that—advice. No author can be forced to make alterations but, having said that, this advice is usually given for a reason. The editor and the writer both want the story to succeed.

So, please feel free to let any of your writer friends know if this is something they’d be interested in. If not, sorry for talking your ear off, folks!  

If you would like any more information about either the project or editing practices in general, drop a comment or (if you feel more comfortable) email me at nensedits@gmail.com.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and I hope you’re all doing well! 

A Conventicle of Magpies by L.M.R Clarke – ARC Book Review

Title: A Conventicle of Magpies (Bloodskill duology #1)
Author: L.M.R Clarke
Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Publication Date: 6 January 2021

What would you do to save your loved ones from slavery and a blood-draining serial killer?

Rook is an unapologetic thief determined to do anything to ensure her mother and siblings survive the squalid and dangerous streets of Stamchester.

Rook slips, like a shadow, in and out of the homes of the ruling elite, the Avanish, and steals what she needs. She feels no regret, afterall, the Avanish have enslaved her people, the Saosuíasei, and worse, have now determined the Saosuíasei to be disposable and worthy of nothing other than death. 

However, Rook is not the only shadowy figure in Stamchester, and a far more deadly one haunts the filthy streets, striking fear into Avanish and Saosuíasei alike. A serial killer who drains every ounce of blood from his victims and satisfies the elite’s demand for blood to burn in the magical art of Bloodskill and enhance their own natural, and sometimes unnatural, abilities. 

How can Rook outfox the serial killer and raise her people from the ashes left by the Avanish oppression? 

Well, it’s been a long while since I’ve had the chance to post a review. I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe! With that said, let’s get to it… 

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this one, as I’ve never read Clarke’s previous novels, so I won’t deny that it was this amazing cover that caught my eye! And I’m glad it did. A Conventicle of Magpies had a little bit of everything: a dynamic plot, diverse characters, and a solid chunk of social commentary to touch on topics of oppression and discrimination—a combination you don’t always find in a YA book. 

Stamchester itself was an interesting setting and was described as a kind of fictional Victorian city made up of Avanish suburbs and Saosuíasei slums—a divide that fuels the main conflict throughout the text. But this certainly isn’t the only conflict. Much of the appeal for this story lies in its fast-paced plot. Each chapter feels like a new challenge that keeps you curious and flipping through those pages. For those who prefer a single central conflict, that’s not what you’re going to get in this book. Between Billy Drainer, the Avanish, and the main character’s own personal struggles, you’re in for a ride!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: characters always make or break a story for me, and Rook was pretty solid. She was a strong and well-rounded female protagonist—a realistic mix of fantasy hero and flawed human—with a talent for using the magic known as Bloodskill. As part of a criminal organisation (The Conventical) known for protecting the Saosuíasei women of Stamchester, Rook managed to be both fierce and compassionate. I really enjoyed reading things from her perspective and seeing how she interacted with those around her.  

Speaking of those around her, there were quite a few side characters in this story as well. While they didn’t always move the plot forward, they were diverse and easy to differentiate and didn’t take away from the story at all, so this wasn’t a problem for me. I also felt that the side characters had a bigger part to play, so hopefully we’ll learn more about them in the second instalment.  

Overall, this was an entertaining read with plenty of mystery to keep you going. The story raises a lot of questions—about Billy Drainer, Bloodskill, Rook’s past and even her future. Some questions are answered, and the rest I look forward to discovering in the sequel. 

4 stars. 

Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV – GN eARC Book Review

Title: Something is Killing the Children Vol. 1
Author: James Tynion IV
Genre: Graphic Novel / Horror
Publication Date: 26 May 2020

When children begin to go missing in the town of Archer’s Peak, all hope seems lost until a mysterious woman arrives to reveal that terrifying creatures are behind the chaos – and that she alone will destroy them, no matter the cost.

IT’S THE MONSTERS WHO SHOULD BE AFRAID.

When the children of Archer’s Peak—a sleepy town in the heart of America—begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories—impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only one who sees what they can see. 

Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done.

Something is Killing the Children, with its gruesome title and captivating cover, has all of the initial hallmarks of a gripping graphic novel read. From the cover’s depiction of monster-infested woods, unexplained events and a woman ready to fight back I was expecting this story to keep me on the edge of my seat and awake at night.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

Instead, Something is Killing the Children moved at a slumber-inducing pace that seemed to detract from the story’s attempt to build an intense atmosphere. The images were sufficiently gruesome (in a light horror kind of way) and the gore was present early on in the story. As you’d expect from a GN of this genre. The images’ dark tones and vivid splash of red were eye-catching however they failed to truly gain my attention. Once I’d read a section of the story I wasn’t inclined to go back to stare at any particular spread (as I’d usually do, if in awe of the artwork).

While the story attempted to weave multiple facets of the mystery surrounding the monsters’ appearance in the town – the lost children, James’ near miss while his friends were murdered, the police investigation – this wasn’t very effective in keeping my interest. The characters were hard to connect to and with the exception of Erica Slaughter I wasn’t overly invested in their story.

The mystery around Erica and her appearance in the town was the most interesting part of the story and kept me reading until the end. That said, I wouldn’t say I’m interested enough to read Vol. 2. It was a decent horror read but not one I’d read again therefore I’m rating it 2.5 stars.

2.5 Stars

*Arc kindly provided to me by BOOM! Studios via Netgalley*

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors on Social Media

Hey all,

It’s Tuesday again and with it comes our addiction to the Top Ten Tuesday meme created by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is: Authors Who Have a Fun Social Media Presence.

This was a bit of a hard topic for me. I was stumped in the beginning and then slowly realised there were a few authors I enjoyed for multiple reasons. While most considerate and good authors will show all of these traits, some authors show them more than others.

For instance, a few authors that I was supportive of disappointed me recently with their dislike of reviewers tagging them. I can understand about bad reviews but in general the pettiness associated with famous authors being unappreciative of being tagged in positive reviews by the fans who keep them famous really bugged me.

Are any of these authors on your list of faves?

Authors that support other authors

Authors that reply to your reviews / comments

Authors that are so supportive of their fans

I know there are only 7 authors on this list, as opposed to 10, but they’re the only ones I truly follow and tune into on a frequent basis.

Jen

Goodreads Monday

Hi all!

Thought I’d try my hand at Goodreads Monday this week. This meme was originally started by Lauren’s Page Turners, and involves picking a book from your Goodreads TBR list and explaining why you want to read it. This week’s book is: Reverie by Ryan La Sala.

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.

While I enjoy reading a fantasy and mystery based novel I can be quite picky about the tropes in the genres. That said, this one ticks all the boxes for me and was a must-add on to my TBR as soon as I read the premise. I’m interested in finding out more about Kane’s ‘friend group’ dynamic and whether they truly are his friends and loyal, or perhaps something more sinister is going on? Also… the change in setting hinted at in the premise has me intrigued! What the heck is happening in this story???

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday – One Word Titles on my TBR


Hello lovelies,

Welcome to another Tuesday and the Top Ten Tuesday meme created by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic was submitted by Kitty Marie from Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner and is: Books With Single-Word Titles.

I’ve decided to create a list of my most anticipated single-word titles on my TBR. They’re either on my TBR from my love of the series/author and wish to continue with them or due to reading great reviews on the book.

Let’s hope the hype is real with these!

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – I’m a bit apprehensive of retellings as they often let me down but this one has so much hype. I’m curious!

2. Caraval by Stephanie Garber has such an epic cover. I mean.. it’s no wonder I added it to my list. The hype for this was quite extensive as well. Fingers crossed it doesn’t disappoint!

3. Vicious by V.E. Schwab has so much hype. I’m not even entirely sure what all the fuss is about but hopefully I’ll find out soon!

4. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning is a book that’s been on my physical shelf for YEARS but I haven’t actually read it yet (lol, I really should have tried it at least once by now!).

5. Legend by Marie Lu is a book that I’ve read so many positive reviews on. I can’t wait to try Lu’s writing for myself!

6. Reed by Sawyer Bennett is a sports romance. More specifically an ICE HOCKEY SPORTS ROMANCE. Be still my beating heart!

7. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the follow up to Scythe (AKA one of my fav books of last year).

8. Overruled by Emma Chase is a legal romance. The second instalment was amazing (may have forgotten to read the first book before launching myself in to the second… whoops!) so I’m hoping the first is too!

9. Intercepted by Alexa Martin is a sports romance. That’s kinda all I have to say with my weakness for them.

10. Illusion by Sherrilyn Kenyon is a YA fantasy and a series that I’ve really enjoyed so far. Chronicles of Nick is quite underrated and I’m glad I found it!

// what Single-Word titled books are on your TBR? //

Jen

Goodreads Monday

Hi all!

Thought I’d try my hand at Goodreads Monday this week. This meme was originally started by Lauren’s Page Turners, and involves picking a book from your Goodreads TBR list and explaining why you want to read it. This week’s book is: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen.

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?

I’ve read so many positive reviews on this book that it initially had me intrigued! I love the inclusion of Chinese culture, especially with a character that has to battle between her ethnicity and upbringing in a different land. Challenging cultural expectations in this manner has always been interesting to me. I love that this book highlights the tumultuous period a teen goes through in the search for their ‘self’ amidst so many expectations and differing values. This one has been on my TBR for a while and I’m hoping to get to it soon!

Jen

Top 5 Sat: Books Inspired by Myths

Hi all!

Welcome to another Sat and with it the Top 5 Saturday meme created by the wonderful and supportive Mandy over at Devouring Books. This week’s topic is: Books Inspired by Myth. I have to admit, mythology is usually Nen’s domain as opposed to mine but as a result of her recommendations there are a few I’m keen to give a try!

Here are they are:

Madeline Miller’s writing has been on my radar since Nen fell in love with Circe and raved over it. From the inclusion of myth to adding a unique spin on plot and characters, hearing about Miller’s writing had me adding these two books to my TBR in the hope that I’ll eventually get to them. Seriously… my TBR is a bit insane right now!

I’ve been a Lords of the Underworld fan for a LONG TIME now. I mean… this is the 15th book in the series and it’s still going strong! William of the Dark has been one of my fav characters all along and its ABOUT TIME Showalter got to bringing his book out. I’m apprehensive and incredibly excited about reading it as I already know from some minor spoilers that it’s going to be different than what I had been hoping for. Fingers crossed it’s worth all of the wait!

First off… I’m gonna be THAT PERSON and just admit that these books (mostly) made it on to my TBR because of their stunningly pretty covers and the authors’ cred. I mean… does it get much better in mythology than Fry and Gaiman? For those reasons alone I’ve added them! Plus, Nen owns the books so that’s always a convenient way to give them a try!

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday – Fictional Character Insta’s I’d follow ( *stalk* )

Ahh, I’m so excited for this week’s topic of Fictional Characters I Would Follow on Social Media I can hardly wait to start! As always, credit goes out to Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl for creating this meme but due to the awesomeness of this week’s topic I think Tilly at The Biblio Shelf also deserves some credit!

It was actually incredibly hard to narrow down to only ten characters. I LOVE THEM ALL!

1.Magnus Bane from The Bane Chronicles

2. Fin from Aurora Rising

3. Dorian Havilliard from Throne of Glass

4. AIDAN from The Illuminae Files

5. Mercy Thompson from the Mercy Thompson series

6. Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses

7. Manon Blackbeak from Throne of Glass

8. Klaus from The Vampire Diaries

9. Clary Fairchild from The Mortal Instruments

10. Rosalie Cullen from Twilight

// who are the fictional characters you’d follow on social media? //

Jen

Goodreads Monday

Hi all!

Thought I’d try my hand at Goodreads Monday this week. This meme was originally started by Lauren’s Page Turners, and involves picking a book from your Goodreads TBR list and explaining why you want to read it. This week’s book is: Wicked Bite by Jeaniene Frost.

Some promises are meant to be broken…

Veritas spent most of her life as a vampire Law Guardian. Now, she’s about to break every rule by secretly hunting down the dark souls that were freed in order to save Ian. But the risks are high. For if she gets caught, she could lose her job. And catching the sinister creatures might cost Veritas her own life.

Some vows are forever…

Ian’s memories might be fragmented, but this master vampire isn’t about to be left behind by the woman who entranced him, bound herself to him, and then disappeared. So what if demons, other Law Guardians, and dangerous, otherworldly forces stand against them? Come hell or high water, Ian intends to remind Veritas of the burning passion between them, because she is the only person seared on his mind–and his soul…

Why do I want to read all about Ian and Veritas you ask?

  • I ADORE IAN ❤ He is impudent, fun and deeply loyal. Ever since his appearance in the Night Huntress series I’ve wanted to learn more about his story!
  • Veritas is such a kick-ass female. She definitely holds her own and the dynamic between Ian and Veritas in the first book was of warring equals. You’ve gotta love an author that represents strength in characters regardless of gender.
  • Jeaniene Frost’s writing always has a great pace, tonnes of drama and the perfect level of steaminess to change up the pace every now and then. She’s been a go-to author of mine for so many years now!
  • + a million other reasons…

Jen