Hello, one and all. The Nine Heroes anthology has been released and we here at the Heroic Fantasy Group couldn’t be happier how it turned out! In celebration of this we came up with an idea that will help readers get to know our authors a little better. So with this in mind we shall be doing a series of blog posts known as ‘That is the moment when’. These blog posts are about a certain experience each author has had in their lives that helped influence the way they write and tell stories.
Today’s blogger is Cas Peace. Despite being a fantasy author in her own right, Cas doesn’t have a short story in the anthology. She is also, however, a freelance editor and was our copy-editor for Nine Heroes. Here she talks about her writing and the moment she decided to offer editing services to fellow writers.
Hi, everyone! Although I’m the author of the triple-trilogy Artesans of Albia fantasy series, it might surprise you to know that I never intended to become an author. Or an editor, come to that. The whole process has come as a bit of a shock. It all began in the 1990s, through having to give up my job of thirteen years when my husband was asked to work in Italy for a while. This was a big thing for me, as I’d always worked to pay my way. Now, I was to be a ‘kept woman’ with no income and no career, and it was a pretty scary thought. Still, the warm skies, beautiful countryside, delicious food, and fascinating history of Italy beckoned and I couldn’t refuse the chance to explore.
We lived in Italy, just outside Rome, for three years. During that time I learned to speak Italian (after a fashion!) and got to accompany my husband on his frequent trips to either Milan, or to the south of the country where his company were exploring for oil. We also traveled on our own behalf, determined to see as much of this lovely place as possible.
Eventually, though, our time in Italy came to an end and we returned to our little cottage in southern England. We acquired two dogs, meaning I could not go back to work full time, and so I had time on my hands. This is when I began exploring my interest in writing.
I have always loved reading, and fantasy was my genre of choice. Among my early favorite authors were Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Goudge, Peter S Beagle, C S Lewis, Lord Dunsany, Peter Morwood, Tolkien, Barbara Hambly, and Joy Chant. Although when I was reading them I had no idea I would be publishing my own books one day, I’m sure they have all influenced my own writing.
I often used to scribble out little stories when I was a kid, and English lessons were always my favorite at school. I won a few poetry and essay competitions, and often contributed little articles to school magazines. But that’s as far as it went until quite a few years later. It took a doomed marriage to bring out my literary talents, as I used the process of trying to write a children’s story as a way of escaping my boredom and mild unhappiness. Like the marriage, that story came to nothing, but I still have it. Maybe I’ll dust it off one day and try again!
Real success, however, came as a result of a very happy second marriage, the one that led me to Italy and back. Having returned to England but not to full time employment, I found that my brain needed something to get its synapses into. At that moment there surfaced a little scene from a 1970s kids TV program that had been persistently knocking about in the recesses of my mind all those years. I decided to try writing it out - and therefore opened floodgates within me I never knew existed.
In a completely unexpected, and often quite scary way, an entire fantasy novel came pouring out of my mind. I simply couldn’t stop writing, and when I was forced to stop - for meals, sleep, and the like - the ideas kept coming, clamoring to be written down before I forgot them. I found I grew desperate if I didn’t have pen and paper beside me, and I even bought myself a small recording device because these great ideas had the hugely annoying habit of presenting themselves when I was in the middle of the woods walking the dogs. Even now, some thirteen years later, different spots in those same woods will evoke the ideas that came to me at that time.
Having acquired feedback that led me to believe my work was worth the effort required to find a publisher, I found myself flung into the world of agents, publishers, authors, and editors. It was a steep learning curve for me, especially as the Internet was at an early stage and I had no idea how to work a computer. I managed to allow myself to be scammed by a rogue “agent” who lured me into parting with a substantial reading fee in return for a full critique, but who then absconded with my - and other hopeful writers’ - money. A valuable lesson learned!
Fortunately, my work also received much praise and encouragement, and my persistence paid off when I eventually secured a publisher. I had also formed an earlier connection with another writer who had a website that showcased other writers’ books. He had accepted King’s Envoy, my first novel, onto his website some time before, but now he decided to become an indie publisher. I offered to help him read and select books to publish from the submissions he received, and because so many of them needed work to make them of a publishable standard, this offer evolved into my first editing job.
Those hopeful submissions opened my eyes as to the wealth of writing talent out there. But it also showed me that the ability to write an exciting, or captivating story doesn’t go hand in hand with the ability to spell, or punctuate, or structure a sentence. I knew, from the experiences I’d gathered and the many blogs, magazines, and web articles I’d read on the subject that far too many good books were being passed over for publication purely because of poor (or no) editing. I thought this was a huge waste, and a crying shame.
When I looked into the fees some editors were charging, however, I began to understand why many writers didn’t employ them. Like me with my wasted “reading fee”, these writers could ill afford the large amounts of money necessary to have their manuscripts professionally edited. When I then came across a motivational piece in a writers’ magazine encouraging writers who had a good general knowledge of the rules and mechanics of writing to become editors, the proverbial lightbulb flashed in my mind. That was the moment I realized I could help other writers, and that’s when I decided to offer my Cas Peace Writers’ Services to a wider audience than the showcase website where I started.
Since then, I have worked with many clients and am building up a nice Testimonials section on my website. Some of my clients have been writers who are friends, some came through Facebook, some through recommendations from satisfied customers. Because I am still working on my own books and writing, I cannot take too many clients per year. I keep my fees as low as I reasonably can, and prefer to tailor my fees toward what a client is happy to pay, rather than having a fixed pricing table. I edit for enjoyment rather than to earn a living. I will work on almost any genre, although I’m not keen on explicit erotica. And I refuse to handle anything racist or abusive. I was thrilled to be asked to edit the Nine Heroes anthology, and can thoroughly recommend all the stories within its cover. I encourage you to go and buy a copy right now, and enjoy them for yourself!
Nine Heroes is available in both kindle and Paperback: