Welcome to this week’s blog hop. Today the topic is:

If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

I can’t imagine the likes of Stephen King would be interested in my scribblings, even if I did have his email address. However, I’ve had lots of honest feedback and help with editing my latest and as yet unpublished novel, ‘His Ladyship‘, from a fellow Open Book Blog Hopper who so far is still alive and rather more accessible … Phil Huston.

With only my secondary school education to fall back on, I do sometimes struggle to keep up with just exactly what he’s going on about, but still, I’m aware that Phil knows quite a lot about writing and editing. After I asked for ARC readers he kindly offered to do some edits for me (in fact he was the only one who offered, so thanks Phil). However, I knew I’d need to grow a bit of a thick skin in preparation for when the manuscript was returned, but I’m aware his comments are there to try and make me ‘up my game’ (as he says) and be a better writer.

Okay, yes I was disappointed to see page after page of red marks, but his comments did teach me a better way to write dialogue and set out my chapters. He pulls no punches, and that’s exactly what is needed to knock a novel into shape (for example: the !’s are killing me!!!!). For a novel to receive some good reviews it’s better to have honest feedback in the editing process instead of nods, smiles and sugar coating (actually, I’m not sure if Phil is capable of sugar coating, lol).

Stephen King could be afraid I’d have a meltdown if he’d pointed out my errors, and so I might not learn anything from him. However, I have learned things from Phil (no, I’m not going to add an exclamation mark). I chose him because I’ve received actual help with my writing, which I might not have done from somebody famous, unapproachable, and, as we say here in the UK, ‘up their own arse‘.

Readers will have to wait a little longer to check His Ladyship out, as it will be out for pre-order (at a reduced price) either in August or September whenever I’ve heard back from one particular writing competition which only accepts unpublished work. I’ve started another novel in the meantime, but here’s a little taster of ‘His Ladyship‘ for you – a sample below from part of Chapter One. After this I’ll be mainly signing off until after July 5th, as the whole of Sam’s family are gathering en masse on the Isle of Wight from Wednesday onwards, and there’ll be no time for me to write until I return home – well… maybe I might scribble a few blogs if it pisses down with rain for the entire holiday and I’m stuck in the van…

Excerpt from His Ladyship

Copyright Stevie Turner 2021

Norman

October 1960

He knew he was different in some way to his brother Steven and sisters June and Ruth, but he did not know why or how.  Norman Wicks, close to tears, sat at the breakfast table and turned the toy car over in his hands with great disappointment.  His fourth birthday had not got off to a good start. 

“I don’t want it.”

Steven, two years older, snatched it back with venom.

“That’s the last time I give you anything for your birthday.”

Their father, Hugh, reached across the table, took the car from Steven, and held it at arm’s length in front of Norman.

“Don’t be so ungrateful. Steven’s bought you that out of his pocket money.  He saved up for a long time. Take it and say thank you, like you should do when somebody buys you a present.

Norman’s stomach gave a lurch of fright at the sight of his father’s stern expression.  He grabbed the hated toy Mini from his father’s grasp.

“S-sorry Steven.  Thank you.”

He fervently hoped he might receive something he actually liked.  So far there had been a regiment of toy soldiers from his mother, a train set from his father, and a football from his sisters.  Norman didn’t want any of them.  Instead, he secretly coveted June’s Tiny Tears dolly, who cried and wet its nappy. There was even a bottle of pretend milk that he had stuck in the dolly’s mouth while June had not noticed, and when he’d upended the bottle the milk had disappeared just like magic.  Ruth had a Tressy doll whose hair grew when he’d pressed its navel, amidst much shouting from his sister who had pushed him away as soon as he had touched it.  Norman wanted his own Tiny Tears and doll’s pram that he could wheel along the street just like June did.  He hated football, and what use was a toy truck and tin soldiers? 

Ruth, a haughty ten year old, gave him a hard stare.

“Perhaps he shouldn’t have a birthday party then, if he’s so rude.” 

“I want a party.”  Norman wiped away a stray tear with the back of his hand and kicked his legs under the table. “It’s my birthday.”

His mother finished a mouthful of food then put down her knife and fork.

“Of course you can have your party after school.  Which friends did you invite?”

Norman knew his mother would always be on his side, and he basked in her warmth, safe from the wrath of his family. He sidled up to his mother and stuck out his tongue at Ruth.

“Amy and Gillian.”

“Why no boys?”  Steven crammed Weetabix into his mouth. “I wouldn’t want girls at my party.”

June, eight years old, laughed.

“He’s a sissy.  I’ve seen him in the infants’ playground.  He plays Mummies and Daddies with girls. He put some high heels on the other day.”

Norman could not understand why it was wrong to play Mummies and Daddies with Amy and Gillian, or wear anything from the dressing up box.  He disliked the boys at his nursery school, who were all too noisy and rushed about here and there and shouted for no real reason. 

“If you’ve finished eating, Norman, then go and brush your teeth.  Walk to nursery nicely with Ruth and June, and don’t dawdle.”

“Yes, Mum.”


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