Over the years I’ve read quite a range of manuscripts (from both published and unpublished writers) across genres from comedy farce to crime, from historical to literary, and so on… most aimed at the adult market – hopefully my in-depth reports are helpful to the authors in taking their work to the next stage. There are certainly terrific ideas out there, and common problems too, although every single manuscript has its own strengths and weaknesses – and that’s what makes it so interesting. My approach to each is generally the same, however, beginning with a quick read through, jotting down notes, then a slower, methodical read through adding comments to the manuscript, and researching any aspect I feel is necessary (esp. e.g. historical fiction). Then I draft my report, anything up to 16 pages, covering the key aspects (strengths and weaknesses) with examples and suggestions for possible edits or revisions. If the author has raised a specific question e.g. why initial agent/publisher interest didn’t lead to success, I do my best to point to reasons why this may have been. I also then do a ‘check through read’ to review all my comments – so, usually, I read a manuscript at least three times! If you’re looking an independent expert view on your writing – then get in touch. You can reach me via Cornerstones Literacy Consultancy (see my Home Page for details)
I’ve just realised that the ‘buy now’ link to CPI Book Delivery was switched off, so apologies to anyone who tried to click through to purchase copies of Daniel. The link should now be working properly!
In Alex Kershaw’s latest book, ‘Avenue of Spies’ (Random House), he recounts the true WWII story of Paris during the occupation and the lives of Dr Sumner Jackson and his family. Jackson worked at the American Hospital, hid wounded allied airmen there and helped them escape, and worked for the resistance. Drawn from many resources, including a passing reference to materials about the Special Operations Executive I wrote a few years back, it’s a good read. Much of the story about the Jackson’s can also be found in Charles Glass’s excellent book, Americans in Paris. Still, these are stories of great courage and heroism that deserve to be told and retold. Alex Kershaw’s books include The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, and The Liberator.
Incidentally, The American Hospital and a character inspired by Sumner Jackson appear in my book, Dead or Alive (Special Ops Book 4).
Here’s a round-up of my latest reads….
‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel (Penguin edition, translated from the French by Elie’s wife)
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, this book by the Auschwitz survivor is on many reading lists in schools in the US – I’m not sure if that is the case in the UK, but in my view it ought to be right up there with Anne Frank’s diary. Written just after the war (and thereafter edited down to a shorter book) it is a powerful account and serves as exactly that.
‘The Grass is Singing’ by Doris Lessing
Rhodesia in the late 40s, a failing white farmer, colonial rule and attitudes. This was Lessing’s first novel and at one level – the portrayal of colonial attitudes – it still works today, reminding us of what it was like just a couple of generations ago. In other respects it didn’t quite work for me – the drawing of Mary (protagonist) was just too odd, though well observed.
‘The Wayward Bus’ by John Steinbeck
Chap in the bookshop told me that several local book groups were currently reading this. Well, I wonder what they thought? A disparate group of passengers arriving at a remote crossroads and gas station cum diner cum bus stop in California back when, serves as an ensemble for Steinbeck to explore lives, hopes, longings, and crises. Brilliantly observed, I enjoyed the book, although nowhere near as much as ‘Of Mice and Men’. I was left with the feeling that there was more to be told.