New Edition on the way ~ Mau Mau Brother

Screenshot 2015-11-05 10.37.32 (2) - Copy

It’s always a thrill, nerve-wracking too, when the book proofs arrive. But then with this new Sharp Shades edition of Mau Mau Brother  there was no need for qualms. Ransom’s Art Director, Stephen Rickard, has done my story proud, both in the final edit, and the inclusion of some moody grey-scale images.

The story that was 6,000 words in the original Shades series has been chopped in half, but spread  over the same 64-page format to become a Sharp Shades edition. And it works. And I’ll repeat that for the benefit of any writers who are reading this, and who are a touch sensitive about heavy editing: three thousand words from my tightly written 6,000-word story (you can see an extract  of the original HERE) have been expunged, and the end result is great.

I’d better explain.

When I am not growing cauliflowers, making leaf mould and generally hanging about on WordPress, one of the very important things I do is write short fiction for teens who are striving to build a reading habit.

Back in the spring, Ransom, who publish these works, suggested that my latest title, Mau Mau Brother,  would make a good Sharp Shades edition if I was prepared to cut it by half. As I wrote in a post back in April HERE, I was doubtful that I could, but I said I would try. In the event, I found myself stuck at around 3,400 words and Ransom asked me to hand it back for some more pruning; they would let me see the finished text for my approval, they said.

A few days ago they did just that, and I am really pleased with the end result. They are great people to work with.

Not only that, Ransom Publishing are specialists in the production of accessible fiction and nonfiction for struggling readers of all ages. Their strap-line is ‘UNLOCKING LITERACY’. For those of us who can read and write fluently, it is hard to imagine not having these skills.  But if you can’t read well, you are effectively disenfranchised as a functioning member of the community. Locked out in every sense.

The Shades series includes some 60 titles written by many well known and seasoned children’s writers. The titles are aimed at young adults with an interest level of  12 years +, but a reading ability of 9-10 years. Many young people are also daunted by the size of a book, while still wanting ‘the excitement of a great story told with pace and style. ‘ At 64 pages, the books are compact, easy to handle. The cover images are striking, edgy, and with all the style of quality mainstream fiction. In other words, they may be small, but they don’t look  ‘less’.

Inside, the story is presented novel-style, in chapters, but with plenty of white space on the page.  To cater for the less able reader, the Sharp Shades editions have half the number of words of a Shades title, far fewer words per page, are set in a larger font and have added illustrations.

Personally, I think the books in both Shades series are appealing to any reader of any ability. They make for handy quick-reads that fit in most pockets. And just because they are aimed at people who struggle with their reading, doesn’t mean the stories are either simple or simplistic. They embrace themes that matter to all of us: love, hate, fear, injustice, belonging, relationships, families, overcoming threats and hardship. So I’m not going to say any more about Mau Mau Brother. The blurb on the back of the book pretty much covers it. Thank you, Steve Rickard.


Screenshot 2015-11-05 10.37.32 (2) - Copy



Killing Words ~ a case of verbal decomposing?

Losing Kui – an extract


@ransombooks  #RansomPublishing

@Literacy_Trust  #NationalLiteracyTrust

35 thoughts on “New Edition on the way ~ Mau Mau Brother

  1. Though I’m tempted to cry about those 3000 lost words……I understand the reasons of Ransom Publishing in order to meet a larger reading target and am glad at the idea that more people will enjoy the story.
    ….congratulations for you and your skill!

  2. Wonderful news and although I am not a writer – I can fully appreciate the benefits of pruning a book by even as much as 3.000 words. An issue I have with quite a few writers is that they go on for far too long…. Can I purchase the book through Amazon? Congratulations….Janet.

    1. Yes you can get the books on Amazon, and in all sorts of e-book formats. Or probably directly from Ransom. The link on my post takes you to a link to their catalogue.

  3. Congrats Tish. Have to say when I’m editing, I have an unstated goal of trying to reduce the words on the grounds there is always superfluous language. But balancing against that, author’s style. I’m editing a couple of short story books around 7000 each, and they are actually a good read. Six to three is quite an achievement. Either way, good luck with it all 🙂

      1. As a writer, I hate having my work edited :D, so I’m actually really careful when I press delete when editing. It’s such a fine balance between improving content, preserving an author’s style, and imposing mine. So if you’re happy with the results, I think that’s impressive.

      2. Fine orchestration is certainly required. Also the writer needs to see the work objectively too – what is best for the story? I find this is quite a helpful question to ask myself when resisting a bit of cutting.

  4. I remember your post last spring…and now it’s done! Congratulations, Tish! The cover looks great, and I’m sure this edition will help children who wouldn’t or couldn’t read the longer version.

      1. Right now I have too much other work, but I’ve made two photobooks for kids about birds…they are so expensive when not bulk printed somewhere far…but I may put them for sale in the next few weeks anyway. My intention is to work the photos to illustrations and then publish on “standard paper” with Amazon. That may take some time…And I’m sill working on my memoirs from Africa. It’s proven to be difficult.

      2. That all sounds very creative and productive, Tiny. As to the memoir, that’s not always easy territory for all sorts of reasons. You’ll find a way out of the stuckage 🙂

  5. Congratulations Tish! Looking at the cover and from reading the blurb, story sounds very interesting for adults too. What an amazing idea, Unlocking Literacy.

  6. How exciting! The proofs! I’ve only reviewed proofs for garbage I’ve written for corporate training materials. This is a lovely accomplishment for you Tish, and for your editing skills, all gardening analogies aside. Congratulations! – Bill

  7. BIG Congrats, Tish! The book cover looks so professional and attention-grabbing.

    Such a brilliant, inclusive concept of catering to young people who don’t read so well. Ace strap-line, too.

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