The Black Cat monthly round-up: December 2020

This is the third December for Black Cat Editorial Services and the business continues to grow. That feels like a huge achievement given the horrible year we have all had, plus the bonus terribles that were allotted to me and my family: my mum was diagnosed with cancer, my sister had to cope with and recover from COVID-19 alone, and my dog died. As far as I am concerned, most of 2020 can get in the bin.

It’s not all bad, though. I checked my project-tracking spreadsheet, as is now traditional for these end-of-year blog posts, and it tells me that my 2020 projects have a combined word count of 3,355,011 – about 300,000 more than 2019, despite the COVID-related work slump mid-year. It was a real relief to see my publisher work return, and I am very grateful to my wonderful indie clients who kept me busy during the dark times.

Despite the circumstances, I still managed to get some good things out of this year. I wrote two book reviews for the CIEP (on Dennis Baron’s What’s Your Pronoun and Jacqueline D. Lipton’s Law and Authors: A legal handbook for writers); attended the CIEP’s online conference; completed two courses (Copyright for Editorial Professionals and How to Write the Perfect Editorial Report); and became a tutor for the CIEP’s Proofreading Headway and Progress courses.

I started working as a tutor in August and it has been a steep learning curve – I’m very grateful to have had the brilliant Annie Jackson to hold my hand through it. I can’t tell you how strange it feels to have my name in the CIEP’s tutor list alongside some of the people I have looked up to since I began my training and some of the people who tutored me. I can only hope that my students will get as much from my help and advice as I did from my tutors and my mentor, the wonderful Margaret Aherne.

What I’ve been working on

I scheduled in a Christmas break this year – I needed some downtime – but I still managed to complete three more projects before calling it for the year. I started December with the proofread of a dark and fantastical short-story collection and then moved on to the copy-edit of the second instalment of an epic fantasy series (I worked on the first instalment and I’m getting a bit attached to the characters already). My last project of the year was the copy-edit of a fantasy/horror novel with a unique premise and intriguing conclusion.

What I read for fun

I couldn’t stop myself – I had to read the rest of the available Murderbot books. I read the novella, Exit Strategy, and the full-length novel, Network Effect, in two sittings – and now I must wait until April for the next instalment. Having run out of Murderbot material, I turned to Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw. Like the first book, Strange Practice, it is an enjoyable and monster-filled novel. I wrapped up the month with Genevieve Cogman’s The Masked City, another enjoyable adventure with familiar characters.

Looking ahead

I will be returning to work next week, so I will make the most of the next few days of doing very little. Usually I say something like ‘Here’s to a happy and successful new year for us all’ at this point – it feels like a lot to wish for, but I do hope it comes true.

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