Guest Post: Merry Christmas from Q Island


Whether you self-publish or go the traditional route, you absolutely must have a copy editor. I am in awe of their specific skill, the detail-oriented personality to read through a text, catch every typo, flag every incorrect reference, and erase any continuity errors. You don’t think you need one, until you hire one, and their notes show you just how wrong you were.

A copy editor comes with having a traditional publisher. The editor is out to get those niggling errors, but also to keep the publisher from being legally entangled in some mess, especially a copyright issue. Q Island raised my copy editor’s  red flag repeatedly about the same thing.

The lead character, Melanie Bailey, has an autistic son, Aiden. His autism brings on terrible panic attacks, and Melanie calm him with singing a specific song.

When he was still just two years old, before his diagnosis, Melanie didn’t know what to do to calm this poor, sleepless child who seemed in constant distress. One December, a Christmas carol came on the radio and panicked Aiden relaxed and drifted off to sleep. Since then, Melanie used that song to calm Aiden in the most stressful circumstances. So in the book, Melanie sometimes sings a Christmas carol to calm her son.

Well, every time she sings the song, copy editor comments stain the margins like crime scene blood spatter, extolling all the dire consequences possible when this copyright violation comes to light after publication.

I wasn’t worried. I already had permission to use the song. I wrote it. At least the lyrics for it. They are:

Angels in heaven, look down on the child,

Perfect and lovely, tender and mild.

Shepherds that evening, tending their flocks,

Kneel without pain on nettles and rocks.


The rams and the ewes, surround him in awe.

First to acknowledge our Savior and Lord.

Wise men who travel, came from afar,

Guided by faith and the light of a star.


Okay, “awe” and “Lord” aren’t much of a rhyme.


I’m thrilled when someone reads a book I’ve written and says the characters ring true, or the locations are vivid and real. But I was stunned that I might have written something that could pass as real song lyrics.


I don’t want this golden opportunity to pass. Anyone want to volunteer the melody? I’m willing to bang out a chorus and two more verses. Then we’re one garage band away from the newest seasonal classic. Get in gear, December is just around the corner.


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Biography-Russell James


Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker and Q Island. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, The Portal, releases in 2016.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”

Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.

Follow on Twitter @RRJames14, or drop a line complaining about his writing to rrj@russellrjames.com.

Q Island Amazon link: