Tag Archives: readers

The Inner Reader and the Alchemy of Editing

My Inner Reader and Editing have rather taken over my life in the last few months. This is for a range of reasons. The reasons were all pleasant – or , at least, interesting. But her arrival was a surprise. And, as it turns out, a game changer.

Enter the Inner Reader

inner reader, mystery womanI should explain about my Inner Reader. She’s bit of mystery woman. I’d almost forgotten about her, to be honest.

When an agent took on my first book, I had a day job in the City of London. It fascinated me and I  learned a lot in this new-to-me world of finance. I was even solving problems, in a minor way. Don’t think of me as unhappy in any way.

But I wasn’t writing,

without inner reader

Well, I was writing – stuff my employer wanted: analyses, reports, draft letters for someone senior to sign. Letters that had the force of law, too. They came with set forms of words that I could dictate in my sleep.

And my Inner Reader knew that, except to a very few specialists, those words would mean absolutely nothing at all. Zip. Zilch. Nada. They conveyed as much information as chemical formulae would to a non chemist. It was code.

Now, there is a charm to writing in code. It’s the key to a secret society, after all.

I told my Inner Reader she wasn’t a member.

Ignoring the Inner Reader

inner ReaderFor a few months I went on happily writing this stuff and getting my life together – finding a place to live, catching up with friends. I refused to listen to the bit of me that was used to writing stuff  with delight because I knew that I was going to enjoy reading it later.

But then something happened. (I got rheumatic fever. Maybe I hadn’t been as happy as I thought.)

The need to write was back and it was urgent.

Inner Readers and the Urge to Write in the first Place …

My new agent gave me a Talking To and took me to a PEN meeting. In those days it was in Dilke Street, Chelsea. The place was full of writers whose works I knew. Over-awed, I heard Lettice Cooper and Diana Pullein-Thompson agree that they’d started to write because they ran out of books they wanted to read.

My half forgotten Inner Reader gave me a mighty kick in the solar plexus and said, “LISTEN.”

Disraeli's Inner ReaderLong before this, my mother had told me about Disraeli saying, “When I want to read a book, I write one.” We’d both thought it was peacock posturing, not meant to be taken seriously. But here were two eminently readable and distinctly non-posturing ladies, saying the same thing.

And I realised – the carefully crafted, edited and re-edited book that I had given my agent to sell was NOT WHAT I WANTED TO READ.

Toni Morrison satisfying her inner readerThese days, of course, I know exactly how important that is. Toni Morrison has said “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.”  Nora Roberts told The Guardian in 2011 “I started to write the kind of stories that I wanted to read. It was very instinctive. You just wanted the heroines to be a bit feisty.”

…And Editing

My own Inner Reader has fought her way out of the shadows and come back punching her weight this year. Three times.

after the inner editor et alThe first was when I wrote The Prince’s Bride and made a complete horlicks of revising early drafts. Editors and fellow authors shook me awake on that one. Going through their comments, I slowly felt my way back to the book wanted to read.

Second, the woman in the mask started popping up in my dreams, talking about books that are so nearly finished it hurts.

“You know you want this character to do dance,” she said about one. “Cut to the chase NOW.”

Looks as if she’s right.

Inner reader does jigsawAnd third, finalising with Joanna Maitland next weekend’s editing workshop, I realised that there was a piece of the jigsaw I had been ignoring when we talked about making choices.

“You’ll have to handle that,” I told Joanna. “I always keep my characters’ options open far too long.”


mysterious inner editorThat  mysterious woman, my Inner Reader finally lost her temper at that.

“Stop letting the bloody characters bully you. What do you want to READ?”

She was right.

Trust your Inner Reader. Always.


Lessons of a Serendipitous Editing Week

By pure serendipity, this last week has turned out to be all about editing.

It wasn’t supposed to happen. I had finished the substantial edits needed on my new book, The Prince’s Bride. I felt they made the story hugely better. The publisher’s editor accepted them. The book went up on Amazon for pre-order. It should all have been done and dusted.

But … Continue reading

Resolution for Writers?

resolution needed to endI don’t know if I’m a particularly picky reader, but I do like a novel to have some sort of resolution. It doesn’t have to be a traditional happy ending – though, as a writer, I always end up with my characters looking forward hopefully. But that’s my quirk.

I can take bereavement, despair or the end of the world in other people’s books. Even enjoy them in a Having a Good Cry sort of way.

What I can’t be doing with, is to turn the page and find that there’s no more book. And in the last few months I’ve found that happening more and more.

Is a Resolution purely a Matter of Taste?

Continue reading

dedicated to the one I love

Dedicating to the One You Love – or Are You?


Trumpets dedicating

Dedicating a book to someone is powerful. It’s an announcement with trumpets.

We’ve all read the thanks that go on for several pages. They embrace everyone from the author’s family, agent and editor, to anyone who gave them help with research or did the typing.

Justified? Probably. Sincere? Mostly. But a dedication? No. Continue reading

That Unique Moment – Making a Story Special

That unique moment — we all know what it is when we come across it in a book or a movie, an opera. We recognise it the moment we see it.

smell evokes memoryAlthough feel it would probably be a better word. And sometimes we don’t even realise what it was until we’re describing the story to someone else.

Lots of people try to analyse it. But essentially, it’s visceral. More like a fleeting scent or a snatch of music than anything we can explain. Continue reading

Wanna Wallow, Dear Reader?

Georgette Heyer’s endings

Re-reading some of my favourite Georgette Heyer novels recently — Dame Isadora snagged me as the minion to do the research for her blogs because she, being a Very Important Personage, had Better Things To Do — I was struck by how often Heyer brings her lovers together at the very end of her novels, sometimes on the very last page.

bride and groom pre wallow
Heyer might give us a chaste embrace. She might even give us a fierce kiss or two. And she often adds a shared joke.
But that’s about it.

What we don’t get in Heyer is a lovers’ wallow.

What’s a wallow?

I’d describe the wallow as a shortish section at the end of a love story where the reader sees the lovers together and passionately in love — both of them trusting and relaxed and happy. Sometimes the lovers are married, sometimes they have had children, sometimes they are simply enjoying each other.

wallow on tropical beach



It’s the Happy Ever After ending shown right there on the page for the reader to savour.



Some readers love a wallow. Some readers even feel shortchanged if a novel doesn’t have one at the end. But readers still love all those Heyer novels that don’t have the merest hint of a wallow. So…

Does a love story need a wallow?

Continue reading

Dear Editor Please Note

hand writing a letter to editor with a goose feather

Dear Editor . . .

Whoever you are, wherever you are, Dear Editor, this blog is for you. You’ll find it’s somewhere between a  human resources case study and a love letter.

I’ve been writing most of my life. I’ve moved from “Not a semi colon goes” (end of conversation, book never published) to “Whatever you say” (utter misery, nearly stopped writing) and am now definitely at “Looking forward to discussion”.  I hope the following may help other authors and their Dear Editor avoid some of my pratfalls — or at any rate, get up afterwards a damn sight faster.

Relationship in the mist

Whether you’re a difficult author or a pussycat, the author-editor relationship is always edgy, groping its way through the mist. You can’t get away from it. There are just too many dark alleys and water’s edges. You think you’re striding along a good straight path of mutual understanding and — KERPLOP!

Both of you have to live with this.
And pull each other out of the water when necessary.

Editor-author relations like fog in Venice

Editor Fears Author

Continue reading

Serendipity: a New Love Letter to a Favourite Novel


serendipity the key to a magic realm of readingHow many of us owe a lifelong love of a particular author to serendipity?

The kind of happy accident — in a bookshop, or a book sale, or perhaps even a hotel bedroom — when we pick up an author we haven’t heard of and start to read.

And ten minutes, or ten pages, later, we have the key to a whole new world and we are well and truly hooked.


New Love Letter to a Favourite Novel

Serendipity Love Letter to a Favourite NovelToday’s new Love Letter is from a male reader (small fanfare of trumpet here for sex equality in reading!). David describes the effect of just such an unexpected discovery — a hitherto unknown writer who has since become a must-buy for him and an essential part of his reading landscape.

Just the thing to warm the cockles of every writer’s heart.


Magician First edition cover

cover of first edition


The writer in question is Raymond E Feist and David’s happy discovery was Magician, an engrossing fantasy first published back in 1982. You can read David’s Love Letter here. Continue reading

The Reader Writer Connection: Guest Blog by Sue Moorcroft

reader writer connection with Sue Moorcroft

Today, our guest blogger is Sue Moorcroft, an award-winning author and writing tutor who sets the gold standard for the rest of us in the art of making the reader writer connection.

At Liberta’s request — we imagine we’re not the only ones who are looking for hints to improve our links with readers — Sue’s blogging about how she interacts with her readers.

Over to Sue…

Sue Moorcroft Connects with Readers

It’s always a good day when I receive a message from a reader.

Partly because I’m lucky enough to receive a lot of nice messages, which gives me a warm glow (you may prefer to call this ego-feeding!), but mostly because it proves my work’s being read and enjoyed.

reader writer connection


Continue reading

First Reader Love Letter to a Favourite Novel

First Love Letter to a Favourite Novel

Libertà’s First Reader Love Letter to a Favourite Novel

Our Love Letter to a Favourite Novel feature is still a work in progress. We’ve now refined it in the light of comments we’ve received from (we hope) intending contributors. We’re really grateful for all the supportive and encouraging suggestions and we hope you will keep them coming.

At this stage, we’ve got a couple of watchwords for ourselves and our contributors as they write their Love Letters: sharing and authenticity.

  • chatting about authors we loveSharing — we want everyone who reads these posts to feel at home here, whether they’re a fellow author or not.
  • Authentic — the piece doesn’t have to be unalloyed praise. Love isn’t always blind, after all. If readers think a character was short changed or there’s something they wish had or hadn’t been in the book, but nevertheless they still love it, they should go ahead and say so in their Love Letter.

You can read more about the latest news on the Love Letter to a Favourite Novel feature on the main page.

Today with a fanfare of trumpet — we could only manage one, sadly — we’re publishing our first reader contribution. Beth Elliott shares her love for R D Blackmore’s Lorna Doone. Continue reading