Tag Archives: magic

A very bookish winter…

As the year finally begins to wind down, I’m looking forward to lots of things this holiday season – and most of them involve books; both the reading and the writing of. Also, however, the gifting of, as I’m taking part in a little Secret Santa with a few fellow writers from the Women Aloud NI group, and am of course giving some books to a few family members too.

Book gifting…

On the subject of book gifting, forgive me if I just add in here that, if you have a young reader (9-12) who loves magical adventure stories, then my own book, Magical Masquerade, will still arrive with you before Christmas if you order it on Amazon this week or next! The link to purchase is here if you’re interested: http://amzn.to/2AriG3s  🙂

Reading chapter one…MM chapt 1

Also, if you’d like to get a little taster of what MM is like, then I recorded myself reading chapter one last week over on my YouTube channel, which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN3YK_JFl4U&t=170s

Memento gift shop

A few copies of MM are also now available at Memento gift shop in Portrush, which is just lovely, and Maggie who runs the shop has displayed it very nicely in the window and in the kids’ section.

Memento shelf

Arts Council NI Christmas Gift Guide for 2017

I was also delighted to see that Damian Smyth, head of literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, included Magical Masquerade on his bookish gift guide for 2017. There are a wealth of talented authors on this list, so I was very chuffed to see myself alongside them! More ideas for gifting if you’re that way inclined…

You can read the full list/article here: http://artscouncil-ni.org/blog/christmas-gift-guide-books

Writing update

Other than that, there isn’t very much else to update you on this month. I’ve been finishing up some work projects and writing bits and pieces of book two, but I’m really going to get my teeth into that next week, when I take my Christmas holidays at last (I work pretty much throughout the year so my main holiday is at Christmas… when I end up writing anyway, though it is fiction rather than copywriting 🙂 ).

I’m pleased with the way the story is going, although I have to just keep on with it and resist the temptation to refine it as I go along. At this stage, it’s just all about getting that first draft on the page, and then the fun of editing and rewriting can begin. Notebook one is almost filled!Memento window

Review!

I’ve had some great reviews from young and older readers alike about MM throughout the year, but I thought I’d just share the most recent one from Amazon with you below, as it’s a lovely example of how the story can resonate with a child even if they don’t read it themselves. 🙂

‘An exciting, stimulating read’

‘I just finished reading this book to my seven-year-old and I have never seen her so carried away by a story.

‘The novel has a strong and simple structure, where each chapter is a new episode in Felicity’s journey, usually involving meeting a new character. The different settings and characters are richly imagined and provide constant contrast and fresh challenges for Felicity. I liked the little touches of Irish folklore. Felicity also makes friendships along the way, which gets the child reader even more emotionally invested.

‘My daughter was wowed by the revelation at the end of the story. All in all, an exciting, stimulating read for the younger age group.’

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Magical news and reviews…

It’s always a little scary releasing your work into the public domain for people to read – especially with fiction, I think, as it’s much more personal than other writing. So, I’m delighted to begin this week’s blog post with news of a lovely 5* review for Magical Masquerade which is just in this very morning from a very happy reader.

swirl and thread screenshot

You can read Emily Hearne’s take on the book over at her mum Mairead’s blog, Swirl and Thread, here: http://www.swirlandthread.com/magical-masquerade-claire-savage/

Mairead is an Irish book blogger who reviews adult fiction, but as her daughter Emily is the perfect age for Magical Masquerade and loves to read, she agreed to give an honest opinion of the book. Suffice it to say, I’m very glad she enjoyed it – and is now asking for the sequel!

I am working on the next book but in the meantime, there’s been a lot going on over the past couple of weeks which has kept me quite busy otherwise. I missed blogging last week, so we’ll begin with what I would have included in that post…

 

Guest blog postBook blogger logo

First up, London-based bookseller and book-lover, Joanne Frazer, who has a great bookish blog called In Case of Bookishness, invited me to write a guest blog post for the site, so you can read that at the link below.

‘In Case of Bookishness’ guest blog post link: https://incaseofbookishness.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/guest-post-why-writers-need-writers-by-claire-savage/

 

Waterstones reading with Women Aloud NIWA NI group in Waterstones

Last Saturday, I also enjoyed a wee trip to Waterstones Coleraine for an afternoon of readings with the Women Aloud NI crew.

Me reading MM in WaterstonesA group of us read extracts from our work – including poetry, prose, biography and more – and it was great hearing snippets from all sorts of genres on the day.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first reading from Magical Masquerade in bound book form, and it was a lovely event to be a part of.

 

BBC Radio Ulster interview – YPAM

Yesterday, meanwhile, I had the pleasure of meeting BBC Radio Ulster presenter, Anne-Marie McAleese from the Your Place and Mine show, to record an interview about MM. We met at one of my local (and favourite) beaches, Runkerry Beach, in Portballintrae, where Felicity’s adventures start in the book – a landscape which definitely inspired and influenced my writing.

With Anne-Marie McAleese

With Anne-Marie McAleese

 

The interview will be broadcast ahead of the Belfast Book Festival launch of MM, so I’ll share links etc. to that when it’s online and if you want live updates, then I’ll be sharing info on social media as well.

 

Belfast 89FM

This Thursday afternoon (sometime between 2pm – 4pm) I’ll also be appearing on Belfast 89FM with Colin and Heidi McAlpin, so you can listen in live to that, or again, I’ll share links afterwards. I’m not sure of the exact time that I’ll be on air as yet, but will post social media updates during the week.

There’s more in the way of interviews and so on coming up, but as the above events are happening more imminently, I’ll share details about other things as and when they come up!

biz cardsAside from all of that, I also got round at last to designing my author business cards this week. I’ve already got my bookmarks for the BBF launch, but these are just handier to carry around and they turned out really well. Although, I may have to tell people the fairies designed them, as I seem to have made the font just a smidgen too small on the back, lol. But still, they do the job – sure, as long as you can read the details… even if some of the finer print might require a magnifying glass!

Writing-wise, I’m finding it a little hard to settle myself to work on book number two, as there’s so much else going on at the moment with book one and with work in general. But I think this is a period to enjoy – I like the promo side of things and chatting about books and writing, and it’s exciting to see people find out about MM and to show an interest in it. Even better when they read it and like it!

Fellow NI author and friend, Jo Zebedee, whose latest book, a fantasy novel called Waters and the Wild, will be published in July, also got her hands on MM this week, so I’m awaiting feedback from her and her daughter Holly too. 🙂Jo and Holly

The first few months after a book release will always be busier as you try to spread the word and it certainly won’t last forever, so my mantra is to embrace all opportunities and just have fun with it.

Anyway, speaking of writing, it’s a bank holiday weekend, which means a bit of breathing space to get those words on pages. More as I have it… 🙂

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From proofs to publication…

If you follow my author Facebook page (Claire Savage – Author) then you’ll know that my proof copies of Magical Masquerade finally arrived on Good Friday! I watched the delivery van pull up with an immense sigh of relief, as the proofs were more than two weeks overdue, which has set me back those two weeks in terms of my publication date.

IMG_1277Although I was trying to be patient and play it cool with the original order, once it got to 12 days beyond the agreed delivery date (which was March 30), I contacted CreateSpace to see what was what. As I’m based in the UK, this meant having to wait 24 hours for a reply, what with the time difference, but they got back to me quickly and sent me the tracking details of the original order… which seemed to show that they were delivered on the evening of March 29! Yes, I was a little confused as well, given that I work from home and was readily available to spy couriers approaching the house…

Thankfully, despite this ‘evidence’ of proofs delivered, CreateSpace believed me when I said they hadn’t arrived and sent me another batch, which arrived three days later, on April 14. I still don’t know what happened with the first batch, but credit is due to CreateSpace for their speedy resolution of the problem. On Good Friday I had my proofs, and I was very happy…

So – what of the books themselves? Well, after all of the drama surrounding their delivery, I was delighted to see that they didn’t disappoint with their appearance in any way. Simply put – I think they look brilliant and I’m very pleased with the quality of the paperback in every way.IMG_1276

I chose a matt cover and it looks and feels fantastic. The cardboard is a little thinner than the cover of a traditionally published paperback, but I knew that beforehand and I still think it works very well. As it’s a children’s book, the font is a bit bigger than it would be for an adult novel but I checked it against recently published children’s books for the same age-group that I have at home and it seems to match up well so, thankfully, I don’t need to make any changes to this, which is music to my ears.

That being said, the point of a proof is to allow you to go through the book with a fine toothcomb now that it’s in bound book form, to catch any outstanding errors that might have been missed in the final manuscript proofing stages. What could possibly have been missed after countless edits, you might ask? Well, you’d be surprised. We’ve all seen the odd typo, punctuation error or otherwise in published books which are scoured by multiple editors, proofreaders and publishers, so something is always bound to slip through. However, going through the proof at this stage again seeks to weed out the most obvious of these and yes – something generally always needs fixed.

boojksFor me, the main thing to amend is a bit of my back matter, as the text on one of the final pages starts too far down the page, so that needs to be pulled back to the top. Other than that, I’m midway through reading the book again and have noted a few words which have caps when they shouldn’t, a few words I want to change, and a few small spacing errors between words. Small things, but things which will make the book better once fixed.

So, what does all this mean for my April publication date..? Well, if it wasn’t for the two weeks past waiting for proofs which never came, then I would be firmly on track with my chosen publication date. That being said, this hasn’t put me too far off that, so all is good. The e-book will still be released on April 29 and I hope that by next weekend I will be hitting ‘publish’ on the paperback. However, as I’ve said before, once I approve the book for publication, it can take two weeks or so for it to appear on Amazon, so it could be the first week or two in May before you’ll actually be able to buy it.

And guess what…? I’m not stressing about that.FullSizeRender

I’ve waited a long time to get my book ‘out there’ and there’s no point rushing things at this final stage only for errors to slip through the net. A couple of weeks overdue is fine – I get to decide my publication date and, well, sometimes these things just happen. Proofs get lost in transit and things get delayed, but we get there in the end. In the traditional publishing world, once an author gets their proofs it’s generally still a few months more until the book is published, as that time is used to whip the book into the best shape it can be in. So, my extra few weeks is nothing – and a stage no writer can really afford to skip.

So, my timeline leading up to publication is now as follows:

  • Finish reading Magical Masquerade today and note any further edits required.
  • Make all final changes to the manuscript tomorrow (Easter Monday); convert to PDF and upload final-ever version to CreateSpace once again.
  • Wait 24 hours for CreateSpace to approve the uploaded manuscript (checking it’s formatted correctly for them to print). In the meantime, make the same changes I made to the paperback to the e-book and re-upload the final version of that to KDP.
  • Wednesday: The book should be approved on CreateSpace and ready for me to order another proof if I so wish. I do wish. Why? Because I’m a paranoid sort of a writer and I need to see the final version is what I want it to be! I will choose fastest-ever shipping though, so the book will be with me by next weekend. (Fingers crossed it doesn’t go AWOL like before!!).
  • Next weekend: Receive my shiny new proof copy from the courier (who now knows where I live, so there’s no excuse) and check over it before hitting ‘publish’.
  • Wait one, two or three weeks (who knows?!) until the book appears on Amazon for sale and then let you all know about it. 🙂
  • Celebrate publication day (when the book is live on Amazon to purchase) with a day of social media shenanigans – I will be tweeting and Facebooking all the day long my friends … you have been warned!

So, that’s my schedule ahead of publication. I also have the four proof copies from Friday to deliver to a few people who need to see them for various reasons. It irks me slightly that I’m giving these over with the final changes not yet made, but that’s just the way of it!

Incubator Journal interview

IncubatorIn other news… I was also recently interviewed about my writing and about Magical Masquerade by Kelly Creighton of the Incubator Journal, which was published yesterday, so if you want to have a read of that you can do so here: https://issuu.com/theincubatorjournal/docs/the_incubator._issue_12

I love the cover of this and what’s more, it was designed with a nod to MM, which was a lovely thing to do!

Anyway, that’s my updates for now. More as I have it!

Pre-order the Magical Masquerade e-book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XQ2GF27

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Author visit…

So, this week’s blog post is coming to you a little later on a rather blustery Sunday evening as I’ve just finished going over the final copy-edited manuscript of Magical Masquerade! (I say final, but we’ll not speak too soon…)

Anyway, it feels good to have that done as it’s getting closer to the time when I discover the joys of formatting and get to send off for my proof copies!

img_2281

With Principal Anne Crossett and the P5-P7 pupils of Kilross Primary

 

In the meantime, book proof or no book proof, I’ve already enjoyed my very first school visit as an author and I do say enjoy, because I found it really fun. On Friday I visited Kilross Primary School just outside the village of Tobermore, where I spent the afternoon with pupils in the P5 – P7 classes. They had prepared lots of questions for me and also came up with a good few on-the-spot ones as well, which was great.

img_0954I explained about the writing process and even got to act as teacher for a while, using the whiteboard to explain basic story structure and character profiles.

The kids then had a go at creating their own character and the beginning of a story, and I gave out a couple of notebooks and pens to the top two. Hopefully it will inspire them to keep writing! My attempts at homemade bookmarks for Magical Masquerade also seemed to go down well and each pupil got one of those to take away. The blow-up cover I’d printed off for them to see also seemed to go down well… Oh, and I read a couple of extracts from MM as well.

Next time, they’ll get a copy of the book for their school library. 🙂img_0964

This week I’ve also been working on another promo element for the book, which I’ll be sharing with you soon, so that’s something else to look forward too…

Meanwhile, aside from working on my own book, I’ve also acquired a fair few new books for my TBR, thanks to getting some vouchers for birthday and discovering a great book-tuber called Piera Forde, whose recommended reads are now (mostly) piled up in my living room.

I’ve also ordered my very first FairyLoot YA fantasy-fiction-themed subscription box, which will arrive in March and will contain a new release HB book along with a lot of bookish goodies. It also happens to be their one-year anniversary box, so is going to be that little bit extra-special. Can’t wait for this to arrive!img_0925

Going back to MM, I’m really very happy about all the lovely comments I’ve had since last week, when I shared the cover for Magical Masquerade, so thank you everyone for that. Although the countdown to actually getting my hands on a physical book is now closer than ever, I still won’t actually believe it until I see it. On that, however, I’ll definitely keep you posted. 🙂

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BOOK COVER REVEAL!

Today’s post is all about one thing really – revealing the book cover for Magical Masquerade!

Having been quite organised in this regard, the cover was actually completed before Christmas, but I was keen to get a couple of quotes for it, so decided it was best to (a) see if my chosen reviewers would agree to read the book and (b) see if they would say anything nice about it….

Why was this so important? Well, to me, it’s very important, as cover quotes often entice me to pick up a book by a new author, if I know of the writer who has reviewed the book, and like his or her work. I trust their judgement and take a chance on an unknown.

As a writer who is going down the self-publishing route and isn’t exactly a household name, I find that having cover quotes on my own books also gives me added confidence in my work. Authors I admire have read the book and agreed to associate their own names with it, which, let’s face it, they wouldn’t do if it was sub-standard.

Anyway, I was delighted that the two authors I asked to contribute a cover quote both agreed to do so and were both incredibly kind in what they said. I’ve just lifted an excerpt from their reviews for the front, but you’ll be able to read what they said in full when Magical Masquerade is published, as I’ll be including these within the book.

Cover contributors

Carlo Gébler is a multi-talented writer whose bio (like my other reviewer), you’ll just have to read online (if you click on his name, I’ve linked to one), as he’s done rather a lot when it comes to writing…. He was actually one of the first authors I ever interviewed, when I started my job as a reporter at the Coleraine Chronicle, and from the very start, I liked his forthrightness when it came to talking about writing as a career. He tells it like it is and doesn’t sugar-coat the realities of being a working writer. I liked that honesty.

I also really enjoy his writing, which varies from journalism and plays, to adult fiction and yes – children’s fiction (he’s a former Bisto Children’s Book Award-winner no less). I wasn’t sure if he’d agree to review MM or indeed, like it, but amazingly, he did and he did.

Felicity McCall is another writer who has an extensive portfolio, including journalism, YA (young adult) fiction and plays. Coincidentally, she also shares the same first name as my protagonist, which is in itself quite random, as Felicity isn’t a name I would say is very common! Felicity read the first chapter of Magical Masquerade a few years ago, when I attended one of her writing workshops at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry. She gave very positive feedback then as well, and I was very happy when she agreed to contribute a few words for the cover.

So, my thanks to both Carlo and Felicity – and also to Andrew Brown from Design for Writers, who probably didn’t realise what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to do the design work! (I am nothing if not a perfectionist…)

Anyway, here it is – the cover. I hope you like it. 🙂

dfw-cs-mm-cover-mid

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Readings and launches…

With Magical Masquerade having flown the nest once again and returned to the editor for copy-editing, this week has been peppered with all sorts of other book-related things, including making plans for its official launch.

While I can’t release details of this just yet, I’m very happy to say that I’ve had a meeting to discuss it and the particulars are being ironed out as we speak! I find it quite surreal to actually be talking about my book launch at all, but am thrilled to be getting the opportunity to (a) have one and (b) to have support in hosting it. Stay tuned and … consider yourselves all invited. 🙂women-aloud-2017

In other news, International Women’s Day looms on the horizon and March 8 looks set to be another great day for women writers in Northern Ireland, as Women Aloud NI is organising a whole host of events again this year. These will include readings up north on the 8th, as well as something else very special in Dublin – both of which I’m looking forward to taking part in. Full details will be released about these in February, so look out for those!

What else?

Well, I’ve confirmed my first school visit to chat about Magical Masquerade – in February – so that will be my first public reading of it (!), followed by the Women Aloud events, by which time I hope to have my proofs ready, so I can read from a physical book (as opposed to a manuscript). AND … I have also received two very wonderful reviews from a couple of authors that I greatly admire, which I’m going to be putting on my book cover. I’m over the moon that they agreed to read Magical Masquerade and then gave me such lovely comments about it. I’m itching to share these with you, but … all in good time. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m going through my to-do list of other bits and bobs that need to be done with regards marketing etc., as time slips by rather quickly while great plans are being laid and all that. I.e. I need to be on the ball.

So, that’s what’s been happening in my writing world this week. I also enjoyed a catch-up with two fellow writing friends (I hope I didn’t go on TOO much about MM!), so it was great to hear what they’ve been up to as well.

More as I have it …

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Magical Masquerade

ink-316909_1280So … it’s the start of a new year and I’m happy to report that, aside from taking a few days off over Christmas to celebrate the season, I spent most of my time editing The Book. What’s more, my winter whittling shaved off a further 16,000 or so words from that, which I consider a definite result.

My book is aimed at what would be termed middle-grade readers, and is a fantasy story which, my research shows, provides more scope for length. Fantasy novels for any age just tend to be that bit longer, what with all the world-building and so on, so I think I’m on track, though there’s still time for more snipping before publication if needs be. My beta readers also said that when reading a fantasy book, they preferred something chunkier, which signified a story they could really get stuck into. So, we’ll see.

Introductions, please…. 

Before I go any further however, I thought I’d share something which probably should have been shared a little while ago now. Yes, that’s right – it’s maybe time now for a title??

In truth, my title has been in place more or less since I started hand-writing The Book quite a few years ago. It did undergo a complete revision at one stage, but I ended up reverting back to the original because I just felt it fitted what the story is all about and well, because I’m also an alliteration addict….

I’m still holding back on sharing the cover, as I need to get a further wee thing added onto that and would rather it was in its final form before I make it public (maybe I’m being precious about this but that’s just how I want to do it! Also, if any of you good people subsequently feel inclined to share it when I do put it’ out there’ [here’s hoping!], then at least the right version will be floating about the internet.)

Anyway, I hope I haven’t built this up too much, and if you’re an eagle-eyed sort of a person, then you’ll know the title already, as it’s also the title of this week’s blog post. Yep, you’ve guessed it. My book is called:

Magical Masquerade

I hope you like it.

If you don’t, then apologies, but that’s what it is. 🙂

fullsizerender-13

CreateSpace

Back to the business of book-making…. I’ve been re-reading my self-publishing manual over the holidays and New Year (which is Self-Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard, for those of you who are interested), and it’s been great. Again. Although there’s A LOT of work to be done in formatting the e-book and POD (print on demand) paperback once the manuscript is good to go, knowing what the things are that need to be done is better than not knowing (or forgetting), which just makes the process seem scary and impossible all over again.

So, thank you again Catherine for (A) blogging about all this stuff in the first place and (B) self-publishing a pretty cool book about it.

One thing I did forget though, was that Self-Printed isn’t written in the order that you’ll necessarily be doing things (which Catherine does make clear at the start). So, there’s some stuff in the final section for example, which is all about selling SP books, which you need to be aware of early on, as you’ve got to get certain things in place re promo etc., rather than waiting until the book is live on Amazon. This is why I read the book last year, but I forget things, hence the re-reads…

That said, I think I’m pretty much on track with most of the prep work, though much still needs to be done. I’m someone who likes to have lists and lists and yet more lists when doing pretty much anything in life – it’s just ordering them into a chronology that will ensure everything happens in a timely fashion which sometimes complicates things!

For example, while I’m going to wait until the finished book is uploaded to CreateSpace and I can order proof copies for myself and hopefully, some reviewers, if I want to get a quote for the cover, then an ARC (advanced reader copy) would be ideal. The book still needs to be in a near-final form to do this, however, so one has to think ahead for that. Have I got someone who’s actually agreed to do this…? Stay tuned my friends, and I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

The copy-edit

clockAs we speak, Magical Masquerade is back in the inbox of my editor, who will be working on the final copy-edit throughout January. After that I will take a couple of weeks to work through her feedback again and make the required changes. Then, once I’m happy the book is worthy of publication (!) I will format and upload the e-book and paperback interiors (and order my proof paperbacks), wait up to a week for these to be approved and then wait a further week or two for my proofs to arrive in the post.

After that, I’ll be happily spending a few more weeks poring over the paperback and once that’s finally cleared for publication, I’ll hopefully get, at last, to hit that ‘approve proof’ button on CreateSpace and release it into the world. (Though it’ll then still take a week or two to actually appear on the Amazon site).

This is the timeline, and I’m aiming for an April release of Magical Masquerade, BUT, I know plans are all very well, but things don’t often go to plan. The holidays are over and I’ve still got a copywriting business to run, while there’s bound to be some sort of hiccup when it comes to formatting the different book versions. (I just know there will be – I’m not a technical whizz!)

However, I do now actually have a CreateSpace account and have filled out my tax details and completed the required tax questionnaire for that. I’ve also got my trim size confirmed (i.e. the size of the paperback) and have downloaded my interior files template (which I’ll copy my manuscript text onto for formatting later), so it’s all getting more real by the second.

Oh – and I now have an ISBN, so it’s official. The Book is really real. 😉

What’s next?Q

Good question. A lot of stuff, but I’ll need to consult my ever-lengthening list and get back to you on that one. More details are definitely coming soon about my self-publishing journey though and … perhaps also a little snippet about the official launch? Well, maybe, maybe not. Suffice it to say, there will definitely be a launch, but details are under wraps for the moment, though discussions are ongoing, so I’ll share about that when I can!

In short story news, The Ghastling journal should be out this month, so I’ll post a pic of that when I have it. (I’ve got a story in it, in case you didn’t read my last post).

That’s all for now!

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Making each word count

I’m often late to the party and this weekend I finally joined the abundance of writers who have enjoyed the wisdom and wit of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. To be honest, through my own experience and reading to date, I can’t say it was a revelation as such, but it’s always good to hear these things again and I particularly enjoyed his opinion that ‘plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.’ A man after my own heart is all I will say on that one!

I also whizzed through a certain Archie Greene book (see last week’s post) by DD Everest and the two together made for useful reading. Having had the opportunity to speak in person with Mr Everest last week at the On Home Ground Festival in Magherafelt, we chatted about book length (yes, I’m still pondering word counts!), and of course, Archie Greene was cut quite dramatically before it made it to print.

Archie Greene and the Magician's SecretReading Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret this week, I have to confess I was absorbing more than the story (which, by the way, is exceptionally good), as I was taking careful note of how DD Everest described everything. Black and white illustrations are scattered throughout the book, which gives the reader some assistance on that front, but when it comes to describing the book’s main character, i.e. Archie, it’s brief and to the point: ‘He was small and wiry with mousey-brown hair. What Horace noticed about him, though, was the colour of his eyes. One was emerald green, like the deepest lake, and the other was a silvered grey, the colour of weathered oak.’ 

It may seem obvious, but I like describing things in prose and let’s just say, my main character got more than this when I committed her to paper. Quite a bit more, but not, I thought, too much. In hindsight, I think perhaps it was too much. With my character, we get what she’s wearing, her hair colour, features and build and, well, it may be a bit OTT. Personally, I wanted to describe her clothes, because I wanted to show her quirkiness, but I’m theoretically writing for a mixed sex audience and… well, boys probably wouldn’t be overly bothered if she was wearing a blue skirt or jeans. To the action!

In ‘On Writing’, King says: ‘The key to good description begins with clear writing and ends with clear writing, the kind of writing that employs fresh images and simple vocabulary.’

I think my descriptions are clear, but some may still be destined for the cutting room floor… The old adage of ‘never tell us a thing if you can show us’ (also King here) is sometimes easy to forget when you get caught up in the throes of creativity. Perhaps my character’s quirkiness has already been made obvious through her actions (which I think it probably has) and so, all this extra description is just dead wood (however nice I might consider it to be!). ‘Kill your darlings…’

It’s just one of many things which popped out at me as I read both books, one after other. I’ve finally picked up my own manuscript again, having left it for many months, so I’m approaching it now without the baggage of before and my red pen is ready for action.

Anyway, I digress. My intent was to post a review of old Archie’s adventures and suffice it to say… if you like the sound of terrible tomes, motion potions, talking books and magical beasts, then this is the book for you. There’s a heck of a lot more than that besides, but I don’t like spoilers…

DD Everest

DD Everest

There are always going to be comparisons made with children’s fantasy writers that they’re ‘the next JK Rowling’, which is unfair, but wholly unavoidable, although I don’t believe this is Everest’s intent at all. Like myself, he’s just always wanted to write a book about magic and adventure and to create a wonderful world where anything is possible, which I believe he has done incredibly well. No matter what we write, our inspiration will always be flavoured by the books we’ve read and Archie stands up by himself as far as I’m concerned. He’s worth a read for sure.

With short, punchy chapters, Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret is one of those page-turners, which is perhaps even more important with children’s books. It has you hooked from the outset and things just keep happening – which sounds pretty obvious, but what I mean is – there are no stale moments when you feel like skipping over something – every word counts here and the writer’s craft, I feel, is exceptionally good. The book also achieves what I believe to be a key element – it side-steps gadgets to maintain a timeless feel. You could have read this 50 years ago or be reading it 50 years from now – the appeal is universal.

As I said, I don’t like spoilers, so I don’t want to spill too much about the content. I simply recommend that if you like fantasy fiction (kids or adults!), write for children or, to be honest – just enjoy a good read – then Archie is worth a look. Believe me, it won’t take up much of your time – you’ll whizz through it as quickly as if you’d downed one of those motion potions.

Now – fruit shot, or choc-tail…?

 

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