What a year!

I am writing this blog post whilst thinking back to the year we’ve all just gone through… it’s been one crazy year! We’ve had various vaccines, new Covid variants, hybrid schooling/working… but one thing which has been consistent for me has been books.

Some weeks I may not have known whether my children would be being taught at home or at school, I may not have known whether that cough was a cold or Covid… but one thing I did know was that books would provide the perfect escapism for many of us.

Over the last twelve months, I have worked with many incredible authors and illustrators. I have seen first-time authors become best-sellers, and seen well-established authors gain even more amazing 5-star reviews in the nation’s newspapers. I have also worked with authors who are just starting out with their manuscripts and are hoping to publish next year, and this makes me really excited, 2022 will be another year with many wonderful books to enjoy.

I have certainly been kept very busy over the last year with many authors sending me their manuscripts. I’ve loved the diversity that each manuscript brings and how much talent I can see in the authors’ writing. I’ve read books about solving mysteries, fighting Covid, standing up to bullies, appreciating nature, loving yourself, coping with family changes, inspiring others, tackling anxiety, saving the planet, magical islands, birthday surprises, talking animals, unicorns, clumsiness, magic spells…

Several of the authors I work with have won awards, had their stories read by royalty, appeared on national television and had top publishers sign them up. I’ve also enjoyed celebrating the smaller wins too; an author who had their very first 5-star review from a reader they didn’t know, an illustrator who was commissioned to design a follow-up book, an author who found the courage to show me her work despite feeling very anxious. I’m proud of all my authors and their incredible stories. It’s hard to pick out just a few to share with you…

A firm-favourite author of mine whose manuscripts I adore working on is Stacy C. Bauer.

This year has seen Stacy step into a different genre, and it has been a pleasure to work with her and watch her flourish in this genre too. Stacy has created a new series of books, Young Change Makers, all with inspiring children at their hearts. These books include real children who have carried out real acts of kindness and generosity. When editing these manuscripts, I have been blown away by the talent and kindness that the youngsters have shown… from children who have fought blizzards to clear the snow off the vehicles of healthcare workers’ cars whilst they’ve been at work, to children who have raised many hundreds of thousands of dollars to help those in need… these books are bursting with inspiring youths. Stacy’s next manuscript is due to land on my desk at any moment and I can’t wait to see how incredible the children included in it are. 2021 may almost be over, but you can be sure that 2022 will be another successful year for this author who devotes so much of her time to helping other authors too.

This year has also enabled me to continue working with best-selling author Gill Paul who has published another fantastic historical fiction novel this year.

The Collector’s Daughter is an emotional read, taking the reader on a journey of discovery through the memories of Lady Evelyn Herbert who was the first person to step inside Tutankhamun’s tomb. I adored working on this in its early stages when Gill Paul first began writing it, and I have loved reading all the fantastic reviews that have been streaming in from around the world for this book. I’m also very excited to have been working on the next novel from Gill Paul, The Manhattan Girls, which will be published in 2022… didn’t I say 2022 is set to be a fantastic year for books?!

Another book which will be published next year that I have worked on this year is Olly The Lone Red Squirrel.

This story is written by a new author who contacted me in the summer. Larissa Soares reached out to me and when I heard about her story, I couldn’t wait to work with her. This is a very special book, it shows the reader the importance of kindness and of not judging people based on their looks. Teamed with an exceptional illustrator – Olga Volgina – Larissa is set to have a beautiful book which will be treasured next year.

But I shall leave this blog post with a book which is currently available and is very seasonal right now – Abbey Angel The Accidental Fairy.

I worked on this with authors Julia Mcmillan and Shanice Evans this time last year. When working on Abbey, it felt very Christmassy; my tree was up, my children were getting excited and there was magic in the air… and now, when I read this story and see the beautiful illustrations, I can really sense that magic again. This story is about Abbey, a special angel, who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time! It has everything; it’s funny, heart-warming and, best of all, magical. With inclusive characters and beautiful illustrations, this is one of my favourite stories to have worked on this year.

So, now that I’ve left you with this wonderful festive story and a little hint at some of the books you can enjoy in 2022, I would like to take this time to thank you all for keeping me so busy this year and for sharing so many wonderful and special manuscripts with me. I am incredibly proud of each and every author and illustrator who I have the honour of working with.

From my family to yours, I wish you all a very merry and peaceful Christmas.

May be an image of 2 people, child, people standing, tree and snow

Stages of Editing

The different stages of editing don’t have to be daunting. At Calico Editing Services, we are here to help you navigate your way through each step and enable your manuscript to flourish in the process.

When you hear about editing it can sound quite daunting if you don’t know what it consists of. There are several different kinds of editing and each one is very important. At Calico Editing, we offer you the full package. Throughout the editing process, you will be assigned to the same editor to ensure consistency within your project.  

This article is here to show you what to expect from our editing team.  

Developmental edit.
Sometimes referred to as: a critique or a structural edit.
Our aim: To help get the very best from the manuscript and provide you with feedback which will inspire you to make it shine.
Useful when: You have completed the first draft of your manuscript and you need an unbiased, professional opinion. Or, during the writing of your first draft and you are uncertain about direction and would like a professional opinion.
What we do: We look at the story as a whole – the plot, structure, story arc, characters, themes, etc. All whilst keeping in mind your own personal goals and vision for the story enabling us to give you a personalised service. We also consider your target audience and the current market trends.
What happens then: We return your manuscript to you along with a report. The report has feedback on your story. It will tell you areas which are working well, areas which require more work, and gives suggestions and examples about how to best make these changes.

After the developmental edit, you take in the changes and amend your manuscript. You can follow our guidance as closely or as loosely as you like – some authors stick very closely to our suggestions whilst others use them as inspiration. You are welcome to show our editors your changes so you can feel confident about the direction you have taken the story.

Once the content of your manuscript is sound, you are ready for the next stage of editing.

The line edit.

Sometimes referred to as: Copyediting or a ‘line-by-line’.
Our aim:
To ensure your manuscript is error-free and shines.
Useful when:
You have made corrections to your story as a whole and have been advised that the overall story is sound.
What we do:
We go through your manuscript line-by-line, word-by-word. We correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. We also check for any inconsistencies within the story and flag up any queries that may arise. To help polish the manuscript, we advise about the word choices and make suggestions if certain words are too complex for your audience or if you are overusing a specific word throughout. We polish sentences and make sure they’re a suitable length for your audience. This step of editing won’t impact on your story, but it will help it to shine and be error-free.
What happens then: We return the edited manuscript to you with ‘tracked changes’ so you are able to see each change we have made. This can help you to see where you have made errors and it also gives you the chance to ask the editor why a specific change was made. You then make any additional changes, which the editor has flagged and then accept the changes.

After this stage you are ready to get your illustrations underway. It is important that illustrations don’t begin until these two steps of editing are completed.

The proofread.
Sometimes referred to as:
Final draft review.
Our aim:
To catch any errors prior to printing.
Useful when:
Your book is fully illustrated and formatted, you have all back-matter in place and the book is completed – ready to print!
What we do: We go through the final copy from cover-to-cover and ensure that it is error-free. Sometimes, during the formatting process errors can be caused due to how text is positioned or how it has been pasted across. We will check for any inconsistencies with the illustrations and the text. At this stage we also check the cover, back-matter and blurb to ensure that these are consistent with the story and also error-free.
What happens then: You are ready to print!

Feedback from authors to our editors:

“Even when even when you think the story is great she can still tease out even more extra magical details.”

“The feedback I received was invaluable! The suggestions made will improve my book enormously.”

“She is always super helpful, super quick, super accurate and when I ask for her edits I am always looking forward to see what she had done with my work. She can transform a tiny seed into a beautiful plant!”

“She is not only patient and answers all the questions, she also is very passionate about the stories she edits. I love working with her! She also encourages me to be more creative and challenging myself in a positive way.”

Book Reviews

We have been very busy lately editing children’s picture books and chapter books. One of the joys of being an editor, is getting to see lots of incredible stories and also sharing them with my children. There is no better feeling than seeing my own children enjoying the books I have worked on and know how hard the authors and illustrators have worked.

When I had a rare day off this week, I filled it with wonderful books (I know, I know, I can’t get enough!). My two-year-old daughter June and I were lucky enough to read lots of books together from self-published authors and illustrators who I have worked with.

The Perfect Potion

Written by Cheryl Davies and illustrated by Jenny Yevheniia Lisovaya

When I received the first draft of this story I thought how wonderful it was. Cheryl Davies, author of The Fairy who Sings, has a very unique voice. She writes in a way which takes children on a journey and lets them into the lives of characters who are trying to be something they’re not. The stories enable children to feel for the character, to really care and to learn with them. The take-away message is always a positive one which helps to inspire children to find the ‘Magic Within’ themselves.

This story, tells the story of two witch sisters. Luna, absolutely adores her older sister Astrid. She watches her creating incredible potions and being very successful. Desperate to be like her sister and to get her attention, Luna tries creating potions herself. She dreams of impressing her and reminding Astrid of the fun they used to have together… will she be able to create the Perfect Potion?

When you look at the cover, you can tell straight away that this is going to be a colourful read! The illustrations are bright, they make this story feel very magical and special. The story is written in rhyme, the potions Luna tries are amusing… so even though this story has an important message – to be yourself, that perfect people aren’t actually perfect and they need to try very hard – it has a lovely light-hearted feel to it.

I read this with my son who is 9 to help him understand that you don’t need to try to impress people and just being yourself is what matters. He couldn’t believe that the boys in his class who are better at football than him have to put in a lot of hours and dedication to it. This story has helped him to see that.

When reading it with my two-year-old she loved looking at the pictures and recognising the emotion on the characters’ faces, she seemed to really empathise with them and said ‘oh no, sad!’ when she saw little Luna wiping away a tear.

I love reading this with my children and feel very proud to have worked on it. I’m looking forward to seeing what other special stories Cheryl will create next.

Available here

Spike

Written by sisters Sarah and Carmen and illustrated by Zuzana Svobodova.

I have worked with this illustrator before on various editing projects and I always adore her work – whether it’s a story she has written, a blog she’s created or a book she has illustrated, it’s always a joy. When I received this book to read with my daughter, I couldn’t wait to share it with her.

I was drawn to this book because the cover stands out and also because I love penguins – who doesn’t? As a teen, I used to collect everything penguin-related and, whilst my friends’ walls were covered in Spice Girl posters, my walls were plastered with penguins!

I showed this to my little girl who wanted to read it right away and was eager to see what pictures were inside. Well… inside is a delight – a beautiful story, incredible illustrations and a very important, but subtly-told, message.

Spike is a very cute, very fluffy baby penguin. He was born different – with colourful hair. Whilst everyone else thinks his hair is incredible, Spike doesn’t like that it makes him stand out. He tries various different ways to ‘blend in’, but it’s not as easy as he thinks. As Spike’s story concludes, there’s an important message for the reader to take away with them.

This is such a sweet story. I love the gentle humour in this book. The illustrations bring out the emotion too – we get to see Spike looking hopeful, fed up, miserable… it really tugs on the heartstrings!

At the end is a quiz which is a great added-extra too.

I think this book is perfect for the age group. It has everything a young child needs; an engaging story, emotion, subtle humour, a positive message and beautiful illustrations which bring the story to life. But, best of all it has a very cute, lovable baby penguin as the main character! I’m really looking forward to sharing more books from these authors again.

You can buy it here.

The Rainbow Blots
Written by Carlie Wright, illustrated by Victoria Mikki

I was editor for this story and was on board from the very beginning when it was in draft stage right through to the proofreading stage at the end. When I began editing it, my little girl was a tiny baby. I kept thinking how much she would enjoy the story once she was older… now she is two and this book has just been published, I couldn’t wait to share it with her.

The Rainbow Blots is a very different way of helping children to learn the colours of the rainbow. We are introduced to Mummy Rainbow and her seven baby Blots. These Blots are all representative of each colour of the rainbow and we are taken on an adventure as we see the various items that the Blots interact with. Indigo Blot loves indigo jeans! Red Blot loves red cherries…

When reading this, my little girl was not only learning her colours, but also learning new words – fire engine, whale, sunflowers…

The book also goes back through the colours at the end, prompting the reader to remember what they were.

The illustrations for this story are so colourful that it’s impossible not to be drawn towards this book. My little girl loves it, since we received it a few weeks ago, this has been her favourite go-to book before bed each evening. When we read it this afternoon she tried sounding out some words and attempting her colours. It’s brilliant how it’s really helping her to read.

It is an incredible feeling to have worked on a book from its infancy and then seeing my daughter devouring it every evening!

Find out more about Carlie and her Rainbow Blots here

Rambee Boo’s Lake Vacation

Written by Reena Korde Pagnoni and illustrated by Frances Rose Espanol.

Do you like dogs with character? Do you like fun, engaging stories? Then the Rambee Boo books are just for you! When Reena first contacted me to ask me to be onboard as her editor for her book series, I was instantly excited because I could see so much potential within this cheeky dog. Sometimes when you read a manuscript, it talks to you, you just know that it will be loved… and now, well, seeing my daughter choose Rambee from her bookshelf regularly, I can see that feeling was right.

Rambee Boo is a dog who has adventures with a little boy called Rock and his favourite sock who he takes everywhere with him. In Rambee Boo’s Lake Vacation, the family go on holiday to the lake. Rambee is excited and gets involved in everything they do – fishing, hiking, toasting marshmallows… but as each day passes, he keeps leaving Sock behind! Will he remember to pack him when it’s time to leave??

What is fantastic about Rambee books is that they have a similar structure so children know what to expect from them – there will be a theme (like the holiday in this book, preparing for Christmas in another…) and then a countdown with each spread leading to the event – the end of the holiday, Christmas Day etc and each day brings an adventure where they are on a mission.

The story is written in a bouncy rhyme which my children love. We laugh together at the silly things that Rambee does and we enjoy finding out what will happen next. The illustrations are great and have little details which we like to look at – spotting where Sock has been left, finding a bone in the suitcase. I really like that the text to this story is on a white background and doesn’t have any of the illustrations behind it so that it is easy to read and very clear.

I highly recommend this story, it’s engaging, fun and well-structured with clever rhyme and great humour.

Available here

New Year, New Post

We have been working incredibly hard over the last few months on some fabulous books, which has meant that we haven’t had chance to update our blog for a while.

We have carried out developmental edits, copyedits and proofreads for lots of authors, which has resulted in a lot of exciting publications and book post!

Below are just a few of the published books which we have worked on over the last few months.

February is another busy month for us. So far we have carried out a critique of author Kate Thompson’s next novel which will be published by Hodder. This had us gripped right from the beginning and it was a joy to be able to get inside the characters’ worlds and also provide some valuable feedback to Kate. This novel is set within the London Underground during WWII and the incredible library which was created there.

As well as working on Kate Thompson’s novel, we have also been working with children’s author Gina Gallois who has written several books. We completed a developmental edit on another manuscript by her which is something a little different to her previous books… it still has animals at the heart of the story, but this time it’s got mystery, teamwork and a lot of tension too – we will reveal more later.

This month we are eagerly awaiting the cover of Gill Paul’s next novel The Collector’s Daughter which will be published by Harper Collins in September. We read this at first draft and second draft stage and it is such a beautifully told and moving book. Telling the story of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, this novel will require you having a tissue at the ready as there are some very emotional scenes which are just perfectly crafted. We know that Gill Paul fans are going to adore this book.

Coming up this month we are working with Bear With Us Productions on some more fabulous children’s books. It is always amazing to see the scope of authors who Bear With Us work with. Some of the topics we are working on for them this month include diverse families, atypical development, magical fairies and superheroes! We love that there is a huge range in books that children can enjoy and it is always a great feeling to be a part of helping authors and illustrators to get those books out there and into the hands of children.

So what has been a busy few months seems like it’s going to continue to be just as busy, which is fantastic.

We are almost fully booked now and only taking on a small selection of authors for the next few months. If you are hoping to work with us, please do contact us with any questions.

… And just like that, they’re back at school!

Apologies for the lack of updates over the last few months – with the children at home over the summer, the husband working from home and lots of things going on, it has been impossible to find the time to update you all on news from here.

Jackie and Maria: A Novel of Jackie Kennedy & Maria Callas by Gill Paul

It has been a very busy summer. I have celebrated the publication of Gill Paul’s latest novel Jackie and Maria, which was published in August in the US and Canada and is going to be published this week in the UK, NZ and Australia! So far, it has received some incredible feedback, including praise from Dinah Jeffries and Hazel Gaynor. It was a pleasure working with Gill on this novel and it is wonderful to see people devouring it. As well as working on this book with Gill, I’ve also been helping her on her NEXT book, which will be published next year. This one has a very magical feel to it as it tells the story of Lady Evelyn as she goes with Howard Carter to be the first person to step into Tutankhamen’s tomb, but overall, this book – even at early manuscript stage – totally moved me; it’s packed full of emotion and will be a real tear-jerker.

Let's Be the Best of Friends

I have also been busy working with award-winning illustrator Lucy Smith on several publications – one being a debut children’s story by Emma Alexander, and another being the follow-up book in the Autism with Lola series by Jodie Isitt. Emma’s book, Let’s Be the Best of Friends, helps to teach children the importance of respecting dogs, not being overly friendly or overly cautious, how to approach them, what to do, what not to do… all told in rhyme and beautifully illustrated by Lucy. Jodie’s second book – Lola’s Wobbly Lunchtime – shows the reader how Lola struggles with sensory overload at lunchtime and how her teacher and friends help her to cope with it. This book isn’t published yet, but it will be very soon and I’m looking forward to getting to share it with you.

The Adventures of Captain Lantus by Gary Rapson — Kickstarter

Bear with us Productions have several manuscripts with me at the moment and it is a pleasure to work on them – they work with a wide variety of authors and help them through their publishing journey. They provide illustrations, formatting, advice and… I take care of the editing. I have worked on a manuscript by Gary Rapson and his little boy Max who has diabetes and wanted to write a story about a superhero with diabetes. This story is super-cute and exciting and I really enjoyed working on it. The book will be available later this year, but here is a sneak-peak at the illustrations.

I was overjoyed to give a developmental critique of Kath McGurl’s latest novel, which will be published later in the year. I love working on historical fiction and this manuscript was a joy to read – lots of research, atmosphere and emotions – and, because part of the story has a health-related issue, I was able to provide insight and advice to help strengthen that part of the plot. I am really excited about this book and think it will fly up the charts once it has been published.

There are lots of other books which we have been working on and sharing on our Facebook and Instagram pages, including Stacy Bauer’s festive novel, Amanda Wilson’s young adult book, Miro Tartan’s outdoor activity book and much more…

Here are some books we have been working on and enjoying over the summer:

Green With Envy
Children's Books: Pigs Can Fly! By Joshua McManus: A humorous children's picture book (giggletastic stories 6) by [Joshua McManus]
Best in Me
Save the Bees (Save the Earth Book 3) by [Bethany Stahl]