Ten Years on. Re-vamping your first novel.

And after re-reading the original you think…

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Okay, it’s a little rough around the edges, but I actually like it for this, and I’m pretty pleased with the story.

By the time of its release in 2014, I’d finished 4 drafts, and hired a professional proof-reader. (Great guy, Niall Carr. Would call up, giving me progress updates, while mimicking the voices of antagonists.)

Nearly ten years later, and I believe I’m a better writer now. I hope I am. Unquestionably, I’m full of gratitude for plying my trade as an A-Level teacher for nearly a decade. This definitely gives you a broader understanding of literacy; without question. More importantly, you have to disseminate the ‘A’ in ‘A’ Level – which stands for ‘advanced’ – constantly breaking down complex themes into forms that can be accessed, understood, and above all, enjoyed.


Quite a lot like a story-line.

I have completely revamped MMMSC for 2023/24. (In fact, I gave it two whole run throughs.) Same story. Smoother. It blends nicely into volume 2 (and even if I didn’t opt for a revamp, it still would).

So, what I have learned from the re-read, and subsequent revamp, 2014 – 2024?

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  1. Take care not to read an AMERICAN ARTICLE IN 2013 on how to use colons, when you’re publishing a novel using British English.
  2. Sort the occasional ‘clunky’ dialogue. Real life, please!
  3. What’s with the occasional random, errant capital letter? Bizarre!
  4. If you have a market plan – do not forget – your first book in a series can make a break whether or not anybody wants to read your second… so take a pro-longed break away from it if need be, and check and update, accordingly.
  5. That cover has to be spot on. I spent hours choosing mine, and I’m so glad the artwork is purposefully fine-tuned to highlight events/characters/themes in the whole book series (literally, down to the centimetre). Tony Midi did an absolutely wonderful job here.
  1. Hey, that’s… quite a good thing you just did there! (So, don’t be going beating yourself up too much.)
  2. Enjoy what you made. That real-life book in your hand; you made it! You dreamt of one day writing a novel, and you did.
  3. Be grateful to anyone who bothered to buy and review it. Whoever you are, Debbie – and I think you live in America – thank-you! You made me feel a million pounds.
  4. Love what you do. If you can’t help but write to ‘somehow’ express those deep, irrepressible layers within you… and birth, and consequently build those blurry blocks into a novel; that is wholly what you need to do. It’s soul-food for you. Honestly it is.
  5. Read and re-read your first in the series for clues to subsequent books. I wasn’t surprised to see that I had thought quite far ahead on this front already… and there are subtle (oh, so subtle 😊) clues to things happening further down the line.
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The weather’s naff out there today, so I hope your insides are smiling instead.

James Steven Clark

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