The Black Cat monthly round-up: April 2021

I looked back on the April 2020 round-up before I wrote this and, gosh, that one was bleak, wasn’t it? A year ago things were not looking brilliant, so I’m glad that I find myself in a much-improved situation now. In a bit of symmetry, however, I have had another book review published. I had the pleasure of reviewing Kia Thomas’s A Very Sweary Dictionary and you can read what I thought here.

What I’ve been working on

My run of critiques continues – I completed the critique I started in March and I have just finished another critique (both were psychological thriller novellas). It’s always an honour to be asked to give feedback on something an author has poured so much of themselves into. I have another critique due to start in May. I finished the fantasy fiction proofread I started in March and moved on to the proofread of a family history.

What I read for fun

The latest instalment of the Murderbot Diaries was released in April and it didn’t disappoint. Fugitive Telemetry (I’ve linked to the hardback but the ebook is out already) has a slightly different vibe to the other books – this is basically a whodunnit, but it still contains all the elements that make a Murderbot story. Murderbot became one of my most cherished fictional characters some time ago, so I am looking forward to whatever Martha Wells gives us next.

Looking ahead

The West Surrey & North Hampshire CIEP local group is due a Zoom meeting in May, so I intend to get one organised for the end of the month.

The Black Cat monthly round-up: April 2020

Black Cat Editorial Services_ April round-upApril seems to have been, in many ways, a lost month. I don’t know where much of it went, and I have achieved very little. I think Easter happened at some point. I can only hope this does not turn out to be the new normal.

COVID-19 has hit rather too close: my sister, who is a key worker, tested positive after experiencing fairly minor symptoms. Fortunately, her health is steadily improving, but I am finding it particularly hard that I can’t see or help her, apart from providing grocery and medicine drops.

In a bit of good news, my review of Dennis Baron’s What’s Your Pronoun? has been published by the Chartered Institute of Proofreading and Editing (CIEP). It was featured in the first-ever edition of The Edit, the e-newsletter for CIEP members, which was a lovely surprise.

What I’ve been working on

The COVID-19 crisis has significantly reduced my workload, and I am not going to pretend it is not of deep concern. All of my publisher work ceased in late March and will not resume for the foreseeable future. But, fortunately, I haven’t been completely without projects: I proofread the third instalment of an indie thriller series, and I am currently working on a critique of a young adult epic fantasy novel.

What I’ve been reading

I have the privilege of access to a garden, and I was able to spend much of the sunny weather reading outside. I had been saving Natasha Pulley’s The Lost Future of Pepperharrow for some time off; The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is one of my favourite books and I wanted to savour the sequel. The storyline doesn’t quite have the same magic as in the first book, but I still enjoyed Natasha Pulley’s writing style and being reunited with Thaniel and Mori. For me, though, Six is the standout character of this book.

I haven’t quite finished it, but The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr has been a fascinating read so far. It is focused on psychology and neuroscience – how stories and our brains affect each other and how we can use this knowledge to craft more engaging tales. Some of the concepts will be familiar if you studied philosophy at any point in your life (I did three years as part of my degree) but they are explored in an engaging and straightforward way (unlike anything I read at university). I can see Will Storr’s insights having a beneficial impact on my editing practice.

Looking ahead

Well, your guess is as good as mine, probably. I am tentatively thinking about organising a Zoom meeting for the West Surrey and North Hampshire local CIEP group – we will miss our in-person May meeting and I’d like to make up for that in some way.