16 Mar 2016

The Long Interlude

Hail readers!

You may have observed that I have not blogged for quite a while. Unfortunately, this has been all but inevitable: for as I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve moved house. And sadly, I won’t have Internet until sometime around the 20th (eek!).

Nevertheless, a number of developments have arose since I last blogged.

The first of these concerns the Ark, and specifically, I’ve been looking to get an editorial assessment for the first two parts of the manuscript (the second part being very nearly finished). My reasons are simple: my beta reader, and my personal suspicions, agree that some work needs to be done on it. In particular, it is in places overwritten; Casey needs a stronger voice; and there are no doubt numerous other small but important flaws.

The initial feedback I received from an editor called Matrice largely agrees with that, and has flagged up problems none of us were able to spot.

I contacted this editor using the help of Reedsy, a website aimed at writers, editors and other publishing professionals. Due to the somewhat unusual nature of the Ark, and the rather busy schedules of some of the editors, I’ve decided to extend the deadline for quotes by a week; and so I am effectively in a kind of limbo, waiting for more editors to reply with quotes.

In truth, such is the nature of the business. You can’t get a book published on your own—and when you have to rely on other people, well; unexpected things can happen.

But it’s not all limbo: I still have a good two chapters to get written. So, to conclude this, I guess I’ll just say: take it up your chest, and keep going.

Concerning Reviews

In other literary matters, I have recently come up across Cassandra Clare’s latest novel—the Lady Midnight. Now, those of you who follow my reviews might know that I’m a fan of the author; her books are wonderfully suffused with a magic, in an original and compelling world, and to add to that there are the multidimensional characters and dark, unexpected plot lines.

Well, Lady Midnight is no exception. In fact, if anything, it might actually be better than the Mortal Instruments series.

Anyway: expect my review soon.

To Finish Off

Due to present circumstances, I am unfortunately unable to blog a great deal: there won’t be any essays or new posts until past the 20th, the only exception being short updates regarding my progress. That said, stick with me. After the 20th we should be mostly moved in—and I will have another school holiday.

Although most of that will be occupied with revision for my A2 exams, I can squeeze in a few musings on political philosophy. I’ve written a great deal on Socialism, and a fair amount about Conservatism and even Social Democracy; but I’ve not written much about Liberalism. So, I shall rectify that.

Until then, wish me luck. The Ark, after all, will not write itself.

2 Mar 2016

Tales from the Ark

Hail readers!

Alas, it has been a while since I last updated the Magical Realm. There are a few reasons for this: chiefly, I am now doing my mock exams. But I have also been busy writing—I have added two chapters to the Ark since my last update.

Also, unfortunately, me and my parents are moving house. We’re hiring a moving company to help, but… I am sick and tired of it. No matter. I’ve a great deal with which to occupy myself; and I’ll be going to university in a couple of months, so the new house’s small size won’t be with me too long. (In fairness the house is also brand new, has lovely fittings, solar panels, and three bathrooms—but still. Were will I put my double bed and dual monitors?)

Anyway: this post is concerned primarily with updating you on my writing progress, and also: you get to see some of my beta-reader feedback!

Of the Ark and its Reception

I have received a substantial amount of feedback—the majority of it positive. Here, take a look:

As to the Ark itself, I like it. You have a good command of English, your descriptions of the architecture and world are imaginative, and [with regards to Casey and Conall] you skilfully travel the line between titillation and what I suppose may be termed pornography.

—from my Secret Beta Reader.

So…your sex scene. Bravo! Beautifully written and it definitely adds to the story and characterization. Each action tells more about the person doing it and how they feel about the other person. That to me is the mark of a good sex scene. Nothing seemed to be in there just for titillation

—from Karen, my writer friend.

The relationship between the boys was sweet but had some conflict which makes it more intriguing.

—from Karen again.

I write this response directly after reading the first chapter. I’m impressed, entertained, and grabbed.

The real strength you have is your creation of the world. I think you’ve done it wonderfully. The concoction of wonderment at the technical and the inexplicable is very much to my taste, and I think it is very much a USP for your world. The narrative voice of Conall is another great strength, both considered and consistent. I very much like the world and the eyes through which you describe it are suitably insightful, yet notably human

—Oli, a friend of mine, who is actually a rather good poet.

Nevertheless, my novel is not quite perfect. As my Secret Beta Reader puts it:

But nevertheless I do find myself getting confused over Casey and Connal and wondering who’s who.

This is understandable, since my SBR has already criticised me for narrating the two characters’ voices in too similar a fashion. (This has likewise been brought up by another person who read it.) I suspect I will have to do some revision to one of the character’s general mode of expression and language.

Aside from that:

You have a good command of English, but its possible that at times it might come across as being a little stilted or contrived.


This has likewise been echoed by one Margaux Espinosa (if you were around a year ago, you may recall that she reviewed my prior book, the Necromancer) who has expressed difficulty reading it at times: ‘So slow because of all the formal language.’ I have actually done some revision since then (as my SBR agrees: ‘You appear to have done quite a bit of work on it. It reads much more fluently and I couldn’t readily detect many grammatical errors.’) Nevertheless I suspect more work will be done both under my own steam and under the direction of the editor.

Concluding Thoughts

I have made respectable progress so far, with nearly 300 pages and quite a few thousand words under the banner. I still suspect I will finish by midsummer, but, hey; at least you can be with me for the ride.

Overall I am very pleased with its incipient reception so far, although I do suspect a bit more work is in order.

My next order of the day vis-a-vis the Magical Realm will include an essay on Social Democracy vs Socialism. That will arrive soon. Hopefully.

Until then—and this has become cliché, I know—may the stars be with you.