20 Feb 2016

The Ark, and Completion

Hail readers!

My news regarding the Ark has been sporadic, I must admit: often I was more pre-occupied writing essays concerning things like the Soviet Union, Corbyn (alas he is not so omnipresent as before) and even my scathing critique of Toryism. But with all this set aside, my focus is still on the Ark.

In the Upcoming page, I mention the ‘estimated date of completion’ to be around the end of February. Alas, with February’s end fast approaching, that deadline proved optimistic.

On the good side—I’ve written 54,000 words and about 270 pages. This is respectable progress: I am now more than halfway through the completion of what was, months ago, little more than a dream. Granted, I did not in fact dream the Ark; but the process by which I experience new stories is not altogether dissimilar. The Ark started off as a fragment—a very vivid, inspiring fragment albeit. I saw the Ark dominating a deep blue sky; I saw Casey’s ocean-blue eyes mirror it below; and I felt their love.

Anyway, that was a bit tangential. The bad news is that I’m not finished; and I have my A2 exams coming up towards May. This means it is unlikely I will finish the Ark before, oh, June or so. Maybe August. Such is the nature of the business, folks; a writer’s greatest virtue, after all, is patience.

There are also a number of other tasks I intend to perform along with completion of the first draft. Firstly, I wish to obtain more feedback—professional feedback. I’ve had the serendipity to find Reedsy; a website devoted to the the professionals behind books. I can find book designers, cartographers, and of course: editors.

I’ll likely solicit an editorial review from one such editor. They will address a number of things, including:

  1. The book’s ability to interest an agent;
  2. What might make an agent more interested;
  3. The book’s ability to interest a publisher;
  4. Editorial feedback about writing, characterisation, and plot.

After that, I’ll also likely get my cover letter looked at by an editor. The cover letter will be sent to agents—it’s important, because it gives first impressions (and first impressions are always important).

This will cost a few pretty pennies, but is still cheaper than a serious self-publishing effort. For the Necromancer, which I released on Halloween the year before last (making it a year and four months and since publication—whew!) I ended up spending:

  1. Approximately £160 on cover design and the creation of marketing materials;
  2. £120 on map design;
  3. About a £100 on various marketing;
  4. Close to £200 for the print copies and the associated shipping.

Grand total: £580

If I were to self-publish the Ark, I could easily surpass that figure. This is not impossible for me to do financially: my grandparents have given me an eighteenth birthday present that could cover that and more. But it’s not something I’d take lightly to doing.

And yet there are more important reasons still for why I’m choosing the traditional route.

Why Alex Won’t Be Self-Publishing, This Time

The first order of concern is time. Unless I am to spend a great deal of money getting reviewers and hiring a professional to market for me, I am going to have to do a fair amount of marketing myself. I simply do not have the time to realistically do this; school, and later university, will be chief concerns. What’s more—even hiring a marketing team would still drain time. Add to that:

  1. Co-ordinating and working with the designers (which requires a lot of input from me!);
  2. Editing—a lot of time is needed to review the edits, talk over the entire minutiae of the book over with the editor, and often times re-write, remove content, or add new content;
  3. Formatting takes time, especially if there are technical hiccups along the way;
  4. It takes time to submit the book to the various retailers, to Lulu, to order and get printed copies, and more;
  5. All of the above would have to be co-ordinated by me, and the marketing team would need to know deadlines, review the cover, perhaps themselves request things from the designer, etc. etc.

I also, to be honest, fancy getting an advance. There will be expenses to recoup, and plenty of money will be needed at university.

Besides that: I’ve never done it before. I’m curious to experience the process.

Keeping You Busy

Let’s face it: this process will take months. And the publisher could take months to perform all the various complex tasks aforementioned. The actual book could be out next year!

So: I’ve decided to release snippets of the Ark. I’ve already done this once—and indeed I have released sample chapters on the Upcoming page—but it’s good to release more. Along with that, you’ll get my thoughts and difficulties. Later on, you’ll get my experience of the editing process. And to top it all off: you’ll get to read what my beta readers think.

On top of all that, I will be releasing more… essays! I’ll be working on one such, entitled ‘Social Democracy versus Socialism’ soon. Others will follow it. (I’ve already done a pretty good job of turning this blog into a library of political philosophy though, haven’t I?)

And, I’ll be working on some poetry. I won’t say too much about this right now—I’ve promised another poem on the topic of love; others will also follow.


The road travelled by a writer is a long one, and fraught with many an unknown difficulty. That said, there is many a beautiful sight along the way; and the destination—that could be heaven!

Besides that, there will be much going on here on the Magical Realm. I’ve already detailed much of it. And, I may find the time to do one more thing: re-theme and expand the blog’s capabilities. Perhaps I’ll have an updating feed dedicated to my political musings. I’ve touched on this before.

Now, I leave you. Bid me good luck.


3 Feb 2016

Workings on the Ark

Hail readers!

Though I have, alas, not written recently here on the Magical Realm—and of what I have written, much has been concerned with politics—I shall now rectify this with a piece on (drum roll please…) the Ark.

In particular, I will release a hitherto unseen chapter of the Ark. It is actually the beginning to part two; nevertheless it requires little context to understand, and a great deal may be said about it. So without further ado…

Chapter Eleven: Words and Analysis

You can read the PDF here. That is perhaps easiest, but you can also read it here on the Magical Realm—along with my commentary:



Wings. Dark against the sky; whispering in a wind that brings the faint odour of death and immolation. Wings, everywhere. A terrible sound they make; a sound beyond words, a sound beyond sound. They make a terrible absence of sound, as if the very ether of being were torn into nothingness.

The world is bleak. The ruins of civilisation lie scattered: a burning
house there, or the faint ruins of a city. He lies there. Him, and his lover. They hold hands; they look around, lost and forlorn. And then, suddenly, a great laugh echoes across the world.

It seems to have no place, and yet it is everywhere. It is in the
corpses that lie strewn across their feet, the final rebellion of humanity. It is in the corpses long buried and forgotten in some timeless struggle. It is in the very dust of the Earth, the very air we breathe; and it is in that terrible emptiness. From there it originates.

Then gold-white light erupts, and the vision is over.

Now! Some context. As the first chapter in part two, chapter eleven introduces us to the raison d’être of the Ark: the cause of the Earth’s demise, and the struggle of our two protagonists to escape.

What we read here is a vision of Kaylin’s. I shan’t say too much of her, except to say that she is a prophet. By this I mean not a charlatan and purveyor of fanciful lies, but a person genuinely capable of seeing into the future. Her visions are remarkably accurate, but ultimately contingent; they can and do change.

Kaylin also knows the two protagonists by acquaintance (though the protagonists themselves know nothing of her true nature) and happens to be on a quest to save the world. I guess I should have mentioned that earlier, eh?

Anyway: the vision details the destruction of the Earth. But there is more to this chapter…

I BLINK. The boy in front—the boy from the vision—looks faintly perplexed. Casey, was his name? He looks at me with dark blue eyes, concerned. I plaster I smile; bright it is, brighter than the sun that streams in through the windows.

I’ve gotten very good at concealing my visions. I had to be: no one trusted a mad woman who saw things. Not unless they knew how my visions always came true. Not unless they knew of how I had won the lottery twice, and then a third pseudonymously. If they did, they would fear me; and rightly so.

We talked of idle things, then. The boy seemed happy enough to help, but he was taciturn, all in all. I didn’t blame him. I’d seen those dinosaurs—I didn’t want to get caught by them without my armour and weaponry. And I’ve been trained.

Eventually, he leaves. I look at him, and my mind is filled with worry.

I did not know when the vision would come true—I’d had a sense of it, but no more. It could be in ten years. It could be in one; but it would be soon, relatively speaking. Silently, I cursed.

I passed through the rest of the day, dealing with the teachers—God, they could be such fools—before walking out of New Aloysius. Being a headteacher could occasionally prove to be some work, but, well: a good cover was necessary. And being an ordinary teacher would have taken up even more of my time.

The sky above is blue and bright. I see the remnants of that darkness, and feel the faintest hint of cold fear.

I needed to plan.

This scene is concerned primarily with introductions into Kaylin and her character. It is also, of course, important in that our dear Kaylin actually meets one of the protagonists for the first time. It is one of those moments which neither consider particularly noteworthy or important, but which fundamentally alters their lives in ways neither can foresee.

MY MERCEDES responds smoothly and silently. It is a modest thing, really. It has leather seats, autopilot, climate control—hardly luxuries, in the general scheme of things. There were Ferraris that could reach a hundred miles an hour faster than an ordinary car might reach thirty. This? This was just a modestly sized, modestly priced, modest car for a modest lady.

I pull into the driveway, the gravel protesting faintly underneath. Located in a small patch of woods, my house appears unremarkable: it is built with a flat zinc roof, cedar cladding, and dark steel windows. Modernistic, yes; but not the playpad of a billionaire.

And I was a billionaire. I’d won the lottery three times, and never made a mistake in the stock market. Seeing the future is a burden I’d want few to bear, but it’s not without its perks.

Inside, the furniture was plush leather; a fireplace lay cold, surrounded by finely cut glass and stone. I’d designed it myself; and I’d been lying if I said I wasn’t proud.

Still, I had more to worry about than my décor.

I walk to my living room, remove the rug—an elegant bear is sewn across the face—and pop open a trapdoor. Down the rabbit hole I go. The stairs are sheer and vertical, the metal hard and cold. When I reach steady ground, white-blue lights spring to life.

I keep a number of things here. Firstly, there’s a suit of armour—they’re worth a small fortune, but they can stop quite a few bullets, shrapnel and ex-plosions—along with a spare. There are weapons. A few rifles, a hand-held rocket launcher, and some grenades. I even keep a few knives around; their use was more aesthetic than practical, but then I’ve always been fond of a good show.

Then there’s the cash. I keep a million here, but no more. I wasn’t stupid.

Finally, the place is home to a computer.

It is unremarkable: three monitors, a keyboard and mouse. I was very traditional. You wouldn’t find me with tablets and holograms; a good 8K monitor did the trick for me. Although, I did have one or two extra tricks.

I had a projector, and of course: my tactical table. It was a substantial table, all covered by an enormous screen. I place my iris above the scanner, and then my finger over the fingerprint scanner. The screen bursts to life.

A world map is shown; my operations are highlighted by green dots. I have quite a number, in most of the world. I was nothing if not thorough.

I make my way to the computer, enter a password (interesting fact: I could usually discern a password just by standing in front the screen) and pull up my contacts. I had access to senior diplomats, generals, programmers, and even a few politicians. I had access to some of the greatest scientific minds the world has seen; I knew engineers, chemists, physicists—you name it.

But right now, I needed some information. I needed to know when the bastards thought the damn ship would set sail.

I needed to know, because those two kids had to be on it. When the Ark left, it would take them; away from Earth, and away from Armageddon.

The thought brought a grim smile to my face.

The rest of the chapter provides fascinating details about Kaylin, and a certain dash of excitement. The world will come to an end—unless she can stop it.

If you care to read more, keep following. I’ll be releasing more posts on a similar vein. But now, I must leave you; the Ark, after all, does not write itself.