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Is my story ready to be copy edited?

In a nutshell
  1. Developmental editing is for authors who have an incomplete manuscript, and need help making it complete.
  2. Copy editing is for authors who have a complete manuscript, and need help making the writing ready to publish by making sure it is correct, consistent, logical, and suitable for intended readers.
  3. Typesetting/formatting is for authors who have a complete manuscript, and need help preparing it for publication in a specific format.
  4. Proofreading is for authors who have a complete manuscript ready to publish, and need a ‘final check’ for accuracy, inconsistency, error, and presentation of all necessary elements.
Before I hire a professional copy editor

Before you consider hiring a professional, it is helpful for you to read resources about how you can self-edit your story, to improve it to the best of your ability in terms of writing, characterisation, plot, overall narrative, and structure. A self-edit is not a substitute for hiring a professional editor, but it can help make sure your story is in the best shape possible; which will make the process easier for you and the editor, and is more likely to help improve the quality. Ultimately, time spent on self-editing your story will mean less money is spent on your editing, and it’ll be less likely that you’ll need the help of different professionals before publishing.

It’s also recommended before considering hiring an editor to get honest feedback on what trusted friends think of your writing. Join writing groups, online writer communities and forums, or find beta-readers to get an objective view of your story. These book lovers will help you see your story from the point of view of readers and it’s wise to take on board their advice, build on your strengths, and compensate for any weaknesses. It’s not always appealing for writers, at least in my experience as a writer, to listen to what other readers think, but the value of reader’s feedback and an outside perspective should not be underestimated or dismissed if you want to move your writing and your story forward.

When do I hire a professional copy editor?

Once the story is complete, in terms of the structure, plot, and overall concept, then it is time for the author to consider working with a copy editor. Some copy editors prefer the author to have had their story developmentally edited, self-edited, or beta-read before they accept to work on it. However, these are guidelines for new authors rather than strict rules. In practice, most copy editors will request to edit a sample of the story to get a feel for the writing, see how much editing is involved, and assess if it is ready to be edited; as well as such things as how suitable the story is for them to work on and how much the editing will cost.

Do I need copy editing?

There is no obligation for the independent author to hire a copy editor but it is recommended for ‘professional’ authors who are serious about working as a writer for a living, getting positive reviews, and writing for their readership. Many authors decide to work with copy editors based on the advice or feedback they receive from beta-readers or other writing professionals. Publishers use copy editors because they know that their expertise can help ensure that the quality of the story is in line with reader expectations. In this way copy editing acts like a bridge between the author and the reader.

If you only intend to publish for family and friends and you are not concerned what your potential readership thinks of your writing, then it might not be worth investing in a copy editor. Even though many independent authors begin by not writing for a readership, only writing and publishing to prove that they can and to hone their skills, later these same independent authors may easily want to appeal to a particular group of readers or are confident enough to publish professionally.

What is copy editing?

Copy editing involves making sure that the writing style is appropriate for the intended readership, the structure of the publication is logical and complete, and the writer’s message is clear. Some copy editors will offer suggestions on the structure and style of sentences where there is inconsistency, ambiguity, disrupted flow, or where there are issues to be raised.

Copy editors, as with proofreaders, correct and mark-up errors of spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and use a style sheet and checklist to verify that all writing elements are consistent and make sense. However, copy editors are permitted to intervene more than proofreaders because they typically work on an unedited and unrefined version of the author’s manuscript, and there is therefore more scope for changes to be made. In situations where the manuscript requires more intervention, the copy editor will raise queries with the author to verify facts and better understand the author’s intention.

It’s the copy editor’s responsibility to make sure that:
  1. The writing is correct, flows well, makes sense, and is suitable for the intended readership
  2. Stylistic decisions are consistent according to standard conventions or preferred style
  3. Use of language is accurate such as word usage, repetitive or superfluous words, tense, and point of view
  4. The presentation is of the highest quality and consistent, setting the standard for readers’ expectations
  5. The writing of the manuscript is fit for publication and ready for designing, formatting, proofing, printing, and publishing

Copy editors traditionally work on a more incomplete version of the manuscript, before it has been designed and typeset/formatted. Proofreading comes in at a later stage, used as a final check that there are no lingering errors. The term ‘copy editing’ comes from when an editor, traditionally working for a publishing house, would glance at a ‘copy’ (unedited original manuscript) and work on a ‘proof’ (to-be-edited copy) side-by-side.

 

Misery by Stephen King – 5/5 Stars

Misery by Stephen King‘It was the face of a woman who has come momentarily untethered from all of the vital positions and landmarks of her life, a woman who has forgotten not only the memory she was in the process of recounting but memory itself. He had once toured a mental asylum…’

The sheer terror and suspense of Misery left me speechless with shock during the entire reading experience. Bestselling writer Paul Sheldon has a car accident and wakes to find he is crippled. Soon after he realises he has been kidnapped by Annie Wilkes. From their first encounter Paul sees something amiss in Annie Wilkes’ behaviour and believes she is mentally unstable. His legs are broken, being confined to his bed, and he is addicted to the painkillers she feeds him. In his delirious state, she has him in thrall. Indeed Paul soon sees what happens when he contradicts Annie or awakens the ‘Dragon Lady’. What does Annie Wilkes want? Well, she’s the number one fan of his Misery books, and she can’t wait for him to write another one. This new book will be a single-copy special edition, dedicated to her. After all … she did take care of him, rescuing him from his car after the accident, and of course she loves him, right?

Seeing the breadth of the terror Annie embodied and how it affected Paul was one of the most thrilling parts of Misery. Annie’s sadistic nature and sly intellect grow with each part, and you’re left feeling as helpless as poor Paul. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do. Throughout, Paul has to tread carefully if he is to keep his life; she’s threatened to kill him on more than one occasion, and he sees it as dangerous to go against her. All the while he is bringing back to life a character he killed at the end of his Misery series, Misery Chastain, in his new novel Misery’s Return.

In many ways Misery is the story of a writer fighting against fears and paralysing impossible situations to come up with new ideas and find the will to write the story you feel like writing, and want to write.

Stephen King’s website

Publisher Inkitt launches new iOS app

Today Inkitt is introducing an iOS app for iPhone and iPad available to readers globally. The iOS app will give book lovers and publishers greater access to Inkitt’s digital library of over 80,000 stories by up-and-coming authors. Key features include:

  • Access to 80,000 stories in every genre: fantasy, sci-fi, romance, thriller, horror, adventure, action and more
  • Personalized suggestions: hand-picked novels based on reader’s preferences
  • App customization according to user preferences (e.g. font size, colors)
  • Online/Offline: readers can save novels to their offline library to access them without an internet connection

Continue reading “Publisher Inkitt launches new iOS app”

On Writing by Stephen King – 5/5 Stars

On Writing by Stephen King

‘When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.’ Stephen King.

On Writing is Stephen King’s semi-autobiography and writer’s tips book. For the first 120 pages, Stephen King summarises his writing history, from a small publishing enterprise with his brother when he was young to writing for magazines at university. We get a number of fragmented ‘glimpses’ into his family, jobs he has held, and some of his early writing successes and failures prior to first publication. These ‘glimpses’ showed what made him the writer he became. Stephen King has since battled through family death, drug addiction, and alcoholism. At the end of this agonising road he came to the conclusion that ‘art is a support system for life’ and not the other way around. It’s a quote I intend to keep in mind.

The second half of On Writing provided writing tips to the aspiring writer; tips King has learnt to use to edit his writing and keep readers engaged with his stories. There are even a few examples of editing at the end of the book. Whether it’s the use of adverbs or dialogue attribution, King keeps it simple and relatable, without assuming a profound knowledge of English grammar or creative writing. The tone of the writing wasn’t snobbish at all. In fact, it was a surprise to read about his background. Without knowing any different, I wrongfully assumed the situation once-a-bestselling-author-always-has-been-a-bestselling-author. While reading, I felt like King was teaching me straightforward lessons while having a conversation.

Criticism: I didn’t agree with the following statements: ‘it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a good one’, ‘equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one’, ‘if you’re a bad writer, no one can help you become a good one, or even a competent one’, and ‘if you’re good and want to be great fuhgeddaboudit’.

A lesson of note was that although King had been writing since a young age, it was his commitment, perseverance, and his willingness to listen to others that made him a successful person and author. On Writing is candid, evocative, and bursting with writer advice coming from experience and hindsight. King delivers with personality and humour. On Writing is more than a book, it’s an experience!

Stephen King’s website

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – 4/5 Stars

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Marsten House represents a childhood horror for writer Ben Mears, and he returns to Salem’s Lot to put that horror to rest. Ben doesn’t expect to fall in love with Susan or make friends with teacher Matt, but he is still seen as an outsider and not to be trusted. When a few disappearances occur, it’s natural that the village folk see Ben as the one responsible and he is promptly questioned. It doesn’t help that the subject of his latest story ties him in with the infamous Marsten House.

Purportedly a haunted house story based on Dracula and flesh-eating vampires, Salem’s Lot delivers with an eerie setting and a chilling atmosphere in the first few chapters, with creepy dialogue. There was a lot of planning and research in evidence – an apt background to the unexplained mysteries and horrors of the Marsten House. Stephen King delivered with the right pace, slowing down to add character background or speeding up events to the inevitable discovery … a discovery which the reader suspects but the characters can only fear the supernatural. I thought this part of the narrative was artfully done.

From chapter three it became clear to me that Stephen King likes to delve deeply into the lives and histories of numerous characters. (Salem’s Lot is the first Stephen King book read, so this is new to me.) There were sinister plans in action concerning the renovation of Marsten House, but I did struggle to remember the character names and the respective facts about them, and so could not enjoy Salem’s Lot to the maximum.

SPOILER: I did think the focus of the story switched in a way I was less comfortable with; I wanted to learn about Marsten House and uncover secrets that could link it with vampires but it ended up being more about the latter.

When the focus returned to Ben Mears and the story sped up, I read with relish. The writing had suspense and didn’t need to work hard for my attention. I finished Salem’s Lot not with ‘Ah, isn’t that nice’, but with an equally satisfying ‘I’ve been through some ordeal, and I want to go through it again’.

Stephen King’s website

How to find the right copy editor

Speciality

How do you decide who is the right copy editor for you? Sure, you’ve got to look at their reputation, experience, and qualifications, but more often than not it’s about whether the editor specialises in working on the type of project you have to offer. Are they the expert in their field; do they have sufficient knowledge of the subject matter? On many occasions I have been contacted by individuals who offer me projects to edit without having any idea whether I am the right fit as their editor.

Trust

For those seriously considering an editor, trust and being able to identify with the individual behind the services and website are key components. Is the editor a likable person and is the information they present clear and cover the main questions on the client’s mind? And if there isn’t enough information or there are secondary considerations, does the editor reply promptly, in a friendly tone, answering questions directly and trying to help?

Communication

Communication is very important when you consider hiring a freelance editor, or if you are an editor considering taking on freelance work. I’ve worked with people where communication has been such an impediment to understanding the requirements of the job that you spend a lot of time trying to understand intent or sometimes end up doing more work than you intended to, which can be frustrating. And if the editor does more work then the client typically pays more money … which makes it a lose-lose situation.

Judgement

Choosing the right editor requires equal parts research and judgement. Their online CV is half of the story, the other half is identifying with them: their personality, interests, and way of writing. Sometimes the editor might be the perfect fit, but the project itself isn’t, which may be frustrating for the writer/client: maybe the manuscript isn’t yet ready to be edited or the efforts required for the copy editor to macro-edit (like restructuring) some parts as well as copy-edit don’t make the fees acceptable to the client. Sometimes all writers, including myself, need to take one step back before moving two steps forward.

How to find the right copy editor – checklist 

Sometimes, unless you ask a potential editor a few questions or send a request to work on a sample edit, you won’t be able to accurately assess the communication and sample edit sections below.

You may have to do a bit of research online to build up an idea of their reputation, from their website and the business or social media networks where they have profiles or communicate with writers. It’s also highly useful to assess whether you can trust the editor from their testimonials, to read past clients’ experiences. Taking a peek at the work in their online portfolio can give you an idea of the quality of the editing, and may provide a measure of confidence. However, the best way to see exactly what an editor can do for your writing is to request a sample edit. Asking pertinent questions can help you decide whether the editor is right for you, and if they can provide the reassurance and service you’re looking for.

Communication

  1. Are there too many misunderstandings between editor and client?
  2. If problems arise, can they be solved in a way that is pleasant and fair to both parties?
  3. Does the editor reply reliably, and in a timely manner?
  4. Does the editor address issues directly, or are they evasive or not forthcoming about offering answers to your questions?
  5. Is the editor overly critical? Does the editor deliberately respond in a negative, arrogant, or patronising manner?

Sample edit

  1. Are the editor’s edits too intrusive?
  2. Does the editor understand the intended meaning, and if he/she doesn’t, do they query it? They should!
  3. Has the editor provided the sample edit as requested/expected?
  4. Are the queries polite or are they deliberately rude or critical?
  5. Has the editor made many changes that have not improved the text?
  6. Does the edit look rushed?
  7. Do you have confidence in the editor’s ability?

Proposal

  1. Is the editor interested in working on your project? How interested? Why would he/she be interested? What would they gain from working with you?

Rates

  1. Has the editor charged a reasonable rate based on the work involved, and their experience/training?

Reputation

  1. Do you trust the editor from their online and real reputation? What is he/she like on social media, engaging or unresponsive?
  2. Have you assessed how they deal with past clients?
  3. Are they friendly to writers?

Ryonna’s Wrath by Christian Kallias – 4/5 Stars

Ryonna's Wrath (Trials) by Christian Kallias
‘Ryonna’s Wrath’ (not ‘trials’) is the new name of this novella, as far as I know.

Fundamentally, Ryonna’s Wrath is about Droxian female alien Ryonna’s attempt to break into the maximum security prison Hellstar to save her son Jax, who we can assume has been wrongly imprisoned. However, the story also has a few parallel plots running, where Ryonna will learn about the circumstances that led to the ruination of her family. Along the way, she meets a friend called Alix, a friendly, helpful, and indispensable part of her team. Ryonna’s friendship with Alix is troubled by a vision she had of his death at her hands – visions she sees that are due to her unique ability of foresight that activates when she becomes acquainted with somebody.

It was engrossing reading about the pickles Ryonna got herself in and seeing how she would be able to get out of them. The theme of torture repeated a few times, but was written about in different ways so it didn’t bore. The technologies were colourful and simple to understand, and for this reason it made the action scenes flow seamlessly. More than one action scene reminded me of the video game Metal Gear Solid, which was well adapted.

The dialogue was always engaging, and sometimes a bit of personality leaked through: ‘Now we’re square puke wise.’

Criticism: the ‘voice’ of the story, while a signature style of the author’s, did not vary much between characters leaving the reader with people that sounded the same when they spoke, lending confusion as if the story was a narration; though an enjoyable one.

There could have been more depth to the story. Some of the prose was a bit simplistic and one-dimensional, perhaps because it was from Ryonna’s point of view and because all she wanted was revenge or justice. And crucially, you didn’t get to know how Ryonna breaks her son out of Hellstar, arguably the main point of the story. I don’t think the author left it to the reader’s imagination. Likely, this will be covered later on in his novel series, but throughout I thought I was going to get some follow-up in this novella as to all the plans Ryonna made. As a result of the lack of depth, I didn’t feel justified giving it the full 5 stars, but it was a fine point to make.

Some of the scenes were too similar to Metal Gear Solid, in that I could make a direct connection between characters of the video game moving, fighting, or manipulating others; drop to one knee, shattered glass, battling a mech with a lot of jumping around, and a main character’s fate. Nonetheless, it was engaging and some ideas were new, or new enough, like the light-blades.

Ryonna’s Wrath is like a Star Wars novel, but without the political and techno babble, and fused with fantasy instead. Aside from any preconceptions I might have had about the novella, I found the writing to be exciting, fast-paced, and intriguing. It brings forward the visual technology and the movement of action scenes with clarity. I liked seeing Ryonna in action, and some of her battle scenes and struggles were borderline epic. I did prefer his novel Earth: Last Sanctuary, but I would read from this author again. Ryonna’s Wrath is a quick nugget of thrills and excitement, so if you’re looking for a short space opera read then this should quite easily satisfy your need.

Christian Kallias’ website

Ice by Briana Herlihy – 3.5/5 Stars

Ice by Briana Herlihy

Ice is a sequel in the science fiction series Clarity, and is set primarily on the alien ice planet Seoorus populated by humanoids in a not-too-distant future; a future prepared by main protagonist Ren’s time-travelling mother Sanna Grant and her complement Alma Laine. Ice is a big departure from the first book The Watch’s setting: the post-apocalyptic ruins of Earth, rife with Doctors, Filavirus, and the ‘Union’. Instead of learning more about the fascinating world in The Watch, the author opted to expand the setting to include the Cryuuia Galaxy, controlled by the Lamsam-Eothern (Prime Minister) and therefore introduced a new problem for Ren and the crew aboard the ship Clarity: ‘acceptance’ into the galaxy by undertaking a ‘worth’ test.
As was the case in The Watch, Ren is an insecure, compassionate, and somewhat vulnerable character who is constantly assailed by fears. She has to struggle against forced technological synchronisation with the hated Captain Cecelia Laine, which assimilates her will with Cecelia’s and confuses her into trying to do what is best for her new ‘complement’. The synchronisation pairs the inquisitive and cautious side of Ren with the cold, determined, and commanding personality of Cecelia, which hinted to me that in order to grow Ren has to take measures that are averse to her instincts. As a result, her Moon-soul religion of compassion and her adventures with her ragtag friends on Earth may have to be abandoned by Ren, which is not a comfortable prospect for her.

When Cecelia’s infuriatingly accurate predictions go wrong, I read with anticipation an encounter with the superior aliens of the Cryuuia Galaxy. Here, I liked the sinister description of the aliens in the Cry’uuia assembly, and the commanding tone of the Lamsam-Eothern. It made me see the peril Ren and the crew faced if they failed to pass the ‘worth assessment’. They are given a chance to do this when they are exiled to the primitive humanoid planet of Seoorus under the care of the Soolt Tribe.

If I lost interest for a few pages, the author was consistently able to bring forward new ideas or subplots to fuel Ren’s experience on Seoorus. Ren was strongly in touch her with emotions, which gave her an insight into how her friends felt, connecting the lives of a number of distinct and not-so-distinct characters, and prompting her to act to help them all. This is where it becomes apparent that Ren finds it difficult to prioritise what is most important; she can’t save or manage everybody. Ren’s changing priorities and conflicts were fascinating throughout, and formed the backbone of Ice. There was a thread of continuity running through the series in the character Jasmine – who is a tempestuous fighter – and Ren’s growing realisation of her feelings for Rian Sloan, the leader of the group of her fellow vigilantes on Earth.

Criticism: some passages reminded me strongly of Dune by Frank Herbert, especially when Ren and the crew meet the Lamsam-Eothern, who calls them ‘witches’ and demands a test to determine worth; a concept that reminded me of the ‘gom jabbar’; and then exiles them to a barren planet. There were even some giant serpents in these scenes. Thankfully, the author didn’t dwell too long on these similarities and moved on to the story.

When the focus switched from Ren to the point of view of Tove Dunyenya and Oliver Booth, ch.21-22, my interest in the plot waned for those chapters. At 54% through, the pace needed to be turned up a notch. The nature and the presentation of the worth test was cryptic, and I couldn’t become interested in it. Beyond the tribal hunt and Ren’s concern for Jasmine’s sanity little else was happening. Ren’s amazing ability to know how the other main characters felt lessened the impact of events, making them reported rather than allowing me to witness what events were happening. The author can write action and plot scenes, as proven in The Watch, but there were far too few in Ice. Those I remember vividly because they are written excellently were the crew meeting the Lamsam Eothern, an altercation between Cecelia and Jasmine, a brief exciting encounter with another tribe, and the final chapter.

It was difficult to remember the individual attributes of the characters in the humanoid Soolt Tribe, whose names sounded similar and all began with ‘H’: ‘Holnom’, ‘Hsama’, ‘Hmyal’, ‘Hoonomlat’; to name a few. Personally, I found more excitement when the characters were preparing for the worth test, which I waited with bated breath for, and when they weren’t on Seoorus.

Overall, Ice had writing that flowed smoothly, meaningful emotions that are well described, and a main character that evoked feelings of vulnerability and insecurity. Ren grows, gathering an aptitude for learning, feeling anger, mustering confidence, and taking a massive decision to fight for her feelings. There are background histories that add depth to Soolt culture and reassure the reader that the author has taken the time to construct the culture and setting – Halmyiyo’s Cove to name just one. What do I want from another story by this author? A group of characters on an adventure as in The Watch, more close encounters between allies and allies–enemies, more ‘mystery’ and intrigue surrounding humanity’s technological development and its relation to Earth, the Union, the Doctors, manips, Jasmine, Cecelia, and Lamsam-Eothern. It looks like I want more continuity… Nonetheless, Ice was a great fulfilling story and is in many ways the ‘complement’ of The Watch. It would not be wise to underestimate author Briana Herlihy’s incredible writing ability, which I am sure will continue to sharpen as it already has.

Author Briana Herlihy’s website

Dawn of the Vie by Laura Diamond – Launch and Giveaway

Dawn of the Vie by Laura DiamondSince their Arrival less than 30 years ago, immortal Vie rule the planet like the super-predators they are. Enslaved humans are their servants…their entertainment…and their food. Anemies—humans with various types of anemia—are simply exterminated. Their nutritionally deficient blood is useless to the Vie.

Or so it’s thought…

Alex, an Elite Vie, is a bit of a Renaissance Alien. Part scientist, part Raid Specialist, part drug addict, he knows Anemie blood is valuable. Rather than blindly carrying out his boss’s kill order, he convinces some colleagues to spare a few Anemies, not only for study, but also to reserve a secret stock.

The more Anemie blood Alex drinks, the more he slips into delusion, and the more his double life threatens to crumble. But quitting Anemie blood is not an option. Every Anemie has their own personal flavor. Each gives a unique high.

When Alex takes a hit of Justin’s blood, his hallucinations bleed into reality…

_________

Anemie Justin knows his little sister, Sammie, and he are living past their expiration dates. It becomes a guarantee when they’re bitten by a Vie named Alex during a raid. (The bite is fatal, thanks to a toxin carried in Vie saliva.) Alex adds insult to injury by promising Justin a second chance—an antidote in exchange for agreeing to be a lab rat.

And a mule…of his own blood.

When Justin says no, Alex takes off with Sammie.

All Justin has to do is find them, beat Alex, and cure himself and Sammie. All he has is a stake and serious lack of self-preservation.

No problem.

_________

Alex wants Justin’s blood.

Justin wants his sister back.

GAME ON.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d04251231442/

Purchase:

Will be found here come release day: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=+Dawn+of+the+Vie+Laura+Diamond+

Laura Diamond - author
AUTHOR BIO:
Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist currently specializing in emergency psychiatry. She is also an author of all things young adult—both contemporary and paranormal. An avid fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and anything magical, she thrives on quirk, her lucid dreams, and coffee. When she’s not working or writing, she can be found sniffing books and drinking a latte at the bookstore or at home pondering renovations on her 225 year old fixer upper, all while obeying her feline overlords, of course.
Author Links:

Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L Garcia – 1/5 Stars

catalyst-moon-incursion-by-lauren-l-garciaIn a world where supposedly dangerous mages are held prisoner in bastions by trained sentinels, Kali a crippled mage has to be escorted to a healer in Whitewater City. Unfortunately, on the way the sentinels guarding the mage carriage Kali was being transported in are viciously attacked by a wild group of Canderi who fight like no Canderi they have ever seen, and no Canderi the reader has ever seen either…

I’ll start with the positive. Despite my criticism below, the dynamics between Kali and Stonewall, sentinel who is left alive after the attack, are introduced well in chapter three, sketching Kali as curious and contrasting it with Stonewall’s resolve and sense of duty. These characteristics were certainly not original, but were interesting to read. There were several clean well-written passages that proved the author could write well when she wanted (Page 73 and 74 come to mind). The progression of some story arcs and how the character’s relationships changed, as with Milo and Flint, meant Catalyst Moon wasn’t completely nonsensical.

Let’s tackle the first chapter. It didn’t pull me into the story at all. How the reader was introduced to who was who was an issue: ‘Male Sentinel’ is ‘Stonewall’, and ‘Kali’ is ‘Mage Halcyon’ from another character’s perspective. It might make sense after you’ve read the first chapter. ‘Mage Halcyon’ sounded like a reverential name, and throughout the remainder it’s clear sentinels do not revere mages whatsoever – they fear them and look down upon them like dirt. The main scene of monstrous bandits attacking the mage carriage that should have really grabbed my attention and shown what the author could really deliver utterly fell on its arse. In other words, it did not deliver with the import it needed to be, and set a rather disappointing tone for the remainder, which did fail to pick up in meaning and pace. I mean, how did the characters feel when they were being attacked by the bandits? How were they going to get out of the struggle? If it wasn’t an important part of the plot, and it is according to the book description, then why include it in the first chapter?

  • Problem two is the sheer number of character or place names, which only confused the writing and made it nonsensical.
  • Chapter one – chapter five characters: Gray, Kali, Stonewall, Ganister, Pinion, Milo, Beacon, Flint, Rook, Gideon Echina, Sadira, Hornfel, Cobalt, Eris Echina.
  • Place names: Whitewater City, Starwatch, Ea’s realm, Aredia, Silverwood Province.
  • There was apparently a magic power that could send two people and a horse leagues and leagues across the countryside, three days’ journey (really?).
  • Cliches: ‘A chill crept across his skin, one that had little to do with the cold and damp’, and ‘the one has entrusted you with great power, so you must always use it wisely’.
  • Inconsistent vertical spacing between the text was painfully apparent in the interior of the paperback.
  • The spine was the wrong way round so the title and author name was upside down, though this could have been a printing error.
  • Difficult to find and remember the dialogue as it was embedded in the narrative text, as to make it invisible. To make matters worse, sometimes the answer to a question would be several paragraphs down, which stole away the dialogue’s impact.
  • Subplots crowded themselves in between scenes, and insignificant characters cropped up and distracted from the tale.
  • Inconsequential character would spend a chapter discussing scenes that had already occurred or that more important characters had experienced. Which do you think is more important?

Half way through reading it, I was struggling to relate to the circumstances the characters found themselves in. Events repeated those that had already occurred: Kali healing somebody or a Canderi attack on characters I couldn’t empathise with. There were rumours repeated about the Canderi, all the time, which didn’t show me anything new. Kali kept asking Stonewall to take off her cuffs on their journey, but why would she have expected him to agree and free her when she was a prisoner mage?

Conclusion? Meshed between irrelevant writing and subplots, there is a story of a romance between a sentinel and a mage in Catalyst Moon: Incursion and examples of writing that can engage. Unfortunately, it’s not in a structure and format that makes it pleasurable for readers, at this time of writing. It was impenetrable for the discerning reader, and I believe all writing should be there for a reason. I know the author has had both many positive and negative reviews, and I don’t mean to be patronising in the following comments but I feel I should offer my advice anyway for the sake of my own reading experience. Lauren L Garcia needs to either further develop Stonewall and Kali’s plotline or create one or two dynamic characters that can hold the reader’s interest and whose experiences better complement Stonewall and Kali’s plotline. The author shouldn’t be too hard on herself. Her writing isn’t the problem, it’s her story! I understand this may be her first published book, so you can expect some weaknesses, but I hope this critical review can help her identify and improve on them. Catalyst Moon: Incursion was the worst reading experience I’ve had in living memory, in terms of the structure, plot, and delivery.

Lauren L Garcia’s website