‘Lydia’ by Cathryn Petit: the Start of a Saga

It was great working as copy editor with Cathryn Petit on ‘Lydia’, the prequel to her developing saga, ‘Sisters of the Silk Veil’. I helped Cathryn sharpen her writing and ensure the diverse parts of the story fit together cohesively.

I highly recommend this short story. It’s empathetic, claustrophobic and gives stark insight into how easy it is to fall into a negative spiral. We follow Lydia as she struggles to look after her young family and the institutional and bureaucratic nets close evermore tightly around her.

This was my second collaboration on the wonderful publishing platform Reedsy. You can find out more about Cathryn and her work at https://www.cathrynlynnpetit.com/ .

A Shard of Amber Light by S.M. Baker

It was an absolute pleasure working as proofreader for S.M. Baker on her epic YA novel, A Shard of Amber Light.

The setting is well-developed, a future America under Eastern rule. Expect warlords, concubines and political intrigue mixed with plenty of other great elements for you to discover along the way. The characters are diverse and engaging, and the story moves expertly from dramatic battles to quiet moments of emotional reflection. Cienna is a wonderful heroine, strong and capable but with a vulnerability which makes her very relatable, and the novel builds expertly to an ending which will make you long for the sequel to be here already.

I recommend this book especially for fans of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Moira Young’s Blood Red Road. You can find out more about S.M. Baker and her work at https://www.smbaker.org/ .

S.M. Baker and I found each other on the wonderful indie-platform Reedsy. Check Reedsy out now and see who you can collaborate with.

Some thoughts on ‘race’ in the Renaissance, and a final reflection on my project

Just found this little gem. Great background information and a useful guide for me to change how POC are treated in the novel I am working on.

Project Alex: all about Alessandro de' Medici

By Emma Newman

As I approach the end of my SURE project, I thought it would be a good idea to write an update on the research I’ve done over the last couple of weeks, with a focus on one of the most significant themes of Project Alex: race. I mentioned in my first post that I would be trying to understand the concepts of race and ethnicity as they existed in sixteenth century Europe, and the articles and books I’ve been studying have yielded some fascinating answers, as well as posing many more questions. Here I will try to give a brief overview of the important historical and sociological findings.

One historian working on this field of research, Miranda Kaufmann, has said that when most people hear about black Africans living in Renaissance Europe, they instantly think of slavery, so it is here that we should begin, if only…

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Comic Stories for Disney

Finally, FINALLY the moment has come when I can talk about this. As a lifelong Disney nerd I am delighted to have been part of the writing team for Storied Places, an expansive and ambitious collection of comic book stories exploring the worlds of pretty much every Disney movie ever made, published by Dark Horse and hitting shops this September.

It was a lot of fun getting to work with the amazing team that created and oversaw the project. I learnt so much about how writing for comics differs to the other forms I have used so far, lessons which I’m sure will serve me well in the future. It was also a satisfying creative challenge having to find ways to be original while working within an understandably strict brief. Great to see that all those hours watching Disney movies paid off.

You can find out more at

Fab Review Alert!

Thank you so much to my very talented fellow writer, Ailsa Wood, for her glowing review of my editorial work during my time as English Editor at Book on a Tree. It was an absolute pleasure nurturing Ailsa through the process of developing her novel from first draft to what I consider to be a highly desirable manuscript. Ailsa’s world-building is highly inventive, her characters are likeable and engaging, and the themes very topical. I wish I could say more, but hopefully you will all be seeing her books gracing a bookshop near you and you can find out for yourselves 🙂

“I worked with Antonia Reed for about a year on my YA novel. She helped me shape, develop and vastly improve the story and structure but was also prepared to spend time discussing any and all aspects of the characters and plot, offering support and advice as well as insightful suggestions and honest criticism.

She is well-informed, extremely professional and thorough, with faultless attention to detail and an excellent understanding of the genre we worked on. I enjoyed our discussions and valued her input greatly, and would warmly recommend her as an editor. I would certainly look forward to working with her again if the opportunity arose.”

Thank you so much Ailsa! I hope we get to work with other again soon!

Play Your Way to Knowledge

One of the most rewarding tasks during my time on the ThinkNature Project has been the creation of ‘Greentown’.

Greentown is an interactive, multiple-choice game which anyone can play. Designed to be appropriate for both school students and adults, the game takes place in an imaginary town faced with five commonly-occurring environmental challenges such as rising sea levels and air pollution. Players are given short, easy to comprehend summaries of the issues being faced, and the choice of three actions, each with their own potential challenges to consider. At the end of each round, a pop-up leads players to a case study relevant to the particular challenge they have tackled, ideal for those who wish to understand the real-life situation in more detail.

At the end of the game, players are given one of three scores, depending on how closely their choices aligned with the actions recommended by the consulting researchers.

Gameplay in total should last around 10 minutes.

My role in the creation of Greentown began with helping to create the concept and rules of the game with partners in both Book on a Tree and ThinkNature. Once the framework was agreed, with the help of expert advisors I researched common environmental challenges, solutions being used until recently and the NBS (Nature-based solutions) being currently trialled or already yielding positive results.

I then turned this information into the script – both for text and animation – which would guide our design team in rendering the game. It was important not just to make the language of the gage accessible and engaging, but also to ensure the scenarios depicted were as accurate as possible, and to make it clear that NBS are not being presented as a one-size-fits-all salvation to all problems. So a lot of fact-checking and careful editing had to take place before we were able to finalise.

I am delighted with the results, the animation is striking and I believe this could be a simple and fun way for both adults and children to introduce themselves to Nature-based solutions in our rapidly changing environment.

So, why not play the game and see how you score? Will you be a Green Machine ready to change the world, or are you a Sapling with lots to learn?

ThinkNature is one of many projects that form the EU Commission’s 3-year initiative Horizon 2020. You can find out more, and even get involved, here.

Mastering the Press Release

I recently had the great pleasure of being guest lecturer for the Ecology PhD course at the University of Tallinn, Estonia, with a couple of guests from the University of Tartu. This presented two significant but fun departures from my previous lecture format: to tailor the material for writers who were using English as a second language, and to find ways to help them ensure their writing would stand up to scientific scrutiny without becoming dry. The brief was also slightly different, not just to cover copywriting from an advertising perspective but to help students master the format of the all-important press release, which would be crucial when submitting papers as their careers progressed.

The fundamentals of copywriting, however – SIMPLIFICATION and PURSAUSION – remain the same, regardless of field, audience or purpose.

My presentation began with laying out the basics of copywriting, taking students through the key points of telling an engaging story. The students were highly receptive, and easily picked out the key points in the exercise I gave them. After that, I introduced those elements specific to writing press releases, including teasing out potential differences between the expectations of scientific journals and standard news sources.

The second half of the day was a workshop. First, we analysed releases the students had prepared on their current research, using the tools I had given the class that morning to determine what was working and how the drafts could be improved. To finish, the students took part in a fun exercise in which they had to present imaginary policies, projects or products to their classmates. We had some thoughtful, and some amusingly provocative presentations, including why we should abolish universities altogether!

Finally, I left them with a collection of further resources which they could use as the basis for continuing to develop their promotional skills.

It was an absolute pleasure teaching these future Ecology pioneers, and, considering what incredible communication skills they already have in English, I have every confidence that, with this final toolkit, they will excel in whatever direction they choose to take their work. My heartfelt thanks to Professor Tiiu Koff, who invited me to teach and who also gave us a very amusing presentation at the end!

Thanks also to the editors of The Journal of Great Lakes Research, who gave me permission to use some of their excellent resources in my lesson. You can find out more about the International Association of Great Lakes Research, and their journal, here.

A very happy new year to you all. May 2019 bring you much success and happiness.