#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 29

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 29 | Guest post: Get a friend who is familiar with your novel to speak about it

So this week is a little scary and I give the reins to someone else. My good friend and fellow writer S.E. Berrow graciously agreed to do this for me. It’s very kind and this question is very embarrassing. I did the same for her historical fantasy book. If you want to get a feel for her stuff, head this way. Give her some love, she’s great.

Without further ado:


Oran and I have known each other a fair number of years now. We used to follow each another on Tumblr, way back when I was still at University and y’know, actually still had a Tumblr…

Eventually, Oran plucked up enough courage to share with me the first 50,000 words of Umbra, the first book in The War of the Twins duology. Even though it was still very much in the first draft stages — wordy, sprawling and sometimes not entirely clear — I found so much to love within its pages:

  • A vast array of engaging and memorable characters.
  • A morally-conflicted antagonist whom I absolutely LOVE.
  • Giant rideable battle-wolves with telepathic gems in their heads*.
  • A well-thought out, meticulous religious and social structure that quite frankly boggles my mind due to the sheer amount of effort that must have been involved in dreaming it up.
  • An endearing, subversively stereotypical hero with a decidedly non-stereotypical character arc.
  • Stellar world-building, quite unlike anything I’ve personally read in a high fantasy book before (Oran tells me he was heavily inspired by various anime and video games such as Final Fantasy, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll find lots to love here).
  • A colourful blend of swords, sorcery and savagery with a marked futuristic edge.

After providing Oran with some initial feedback on Umbra, he went away and apparently spent the next 4 years honing his craft… because holy hell, the completed draft of Umbra I read last year was not the same book! Gone were the clarity issues and muddy action scenes; here to stay were shocking revelations and plot twists galore. I’m sure Oran revelled in the stream of horrified reaction GIFs I sent him over the course of my reading, for not since George R. R. Martin have I been so equally delighted and appalled by authorial decisions. I think I badger him for LuxUmbra’s sequel — on an irritatingly regular basis. I know I’m not one to talk, but WRITE. FASTER. DAMMIT!

Respen ❤

Oran and I met for the first time “in real life” late last year, along with K.F. Goodacre, the author of this quiz**. It’s always so wonderful to discover you get along with someone in person just as much as you do online. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? I’m so happy to have met Oran and I can’t wait to see what he produces next.

As for the final draft of The War of the Twins… I am positively vibrating with anticipation.

*This is an idea that has since been scrapped for Draft reasons.
**Yes, that’s right, I am lucky to call such gifted writers my friends.


Maaaan. If only there was an easy way to convey these ideas to agents and publishers. Ah well, that’s something to think about when I have something ready to show them. For now I shall be writing the climax of Lux. Thank you very much Sally! Okay, the scary stuff is over. Catch you next time, people.

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