Book Jacket


rank  Editors Pick
word count 15146
date submitted 31.08.2009
date updated 02.07.2013
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance,...
classification: moderate

Course of Mirrors

Ashen Venema

Gran gazed right through me with a solemn air. ‘We must never give up our search for The Real,’ she said.


This is the mystical journey of a woman who realises the creative power of what is reflected in the heart.

Several edits on, I took down the sample chapters, apart from one, since COURSE OF MIRRORS found a publisher and will be released in spring 2014. The title image is provisional. You may want to follow me on my wordpress blog. A link is on my author page.

To make up the word-count of 10 000 words required by authonomy, you'll now find under chapter 1,, 2, 3 and 4, short stories and poetry.


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adventure, betrayal, dreams, fire, identity, imagination, journey, mirroring, multiverses, mystery, myth, parallel world, perception, psychic realms, ...

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HarperCollins Wrote

This story would fit into the young adult (YA) fantasy category, perhaps with some cross over into romance and historical fiction. There is exploration of spirituality and religion as part of the journey of the main character, Ana/Ananda. She is a teenager (albeit an older one at nineteen) who is frustrated and bored with her life and parents and longs to seek adventure and a different future. She appears to have a supernatural ability to communicate with a person who lives in the twentieth century, Cara. She lives in what appears to be a medieval time, living in a stone castle/mansion with horses for transport, but with tools such as compasses and magnifying glasses available.

Some of the descriptive passages are quite lovely, especially the explanation of the arabesques, but often description is lacking where is needed, or is made convoluted and difficult to follow. I felt that the beginning of the story moved very quickly, and glossed over certain events that I did not understand. For example, why is Ana’s father so upset that she is not born a boy? This is not fully explained. Clearly women can rule and inherit, because Ana’s mother is by right the ruler of Nimrich, even if she chooses not to assume the rule. A clearer explanation of Ana’s childhood and the overall workings of the household are needed, as is a more coherent explanation of the exchanges between Cara and Ana, early on, and how these started. I have outlined some examples below that could be worked on (some specific, some more general).

In other places, there was assumed knowledge, or romanticising of dialogue without considering some of its practical uses. When Ana wakes up after the incident of the bridge:

‘Call me Rheine, dear,’ a woman said, her ear pressed to my heart. ‘You were lost to us. I feared the fever would win out.’ She had tended me for two nights.

Why does Rheine say those words to her first? The usual things to say would be: ‘You’re awake’ or ‘hello’ or ‘how are you feeling’ – especially as Ana has slipped in and out of fever in the last two days and continues to be feverish afterwards. Why does Rheine have her ear pressed to Ana’s heart? It would be far easier and more sensible to check her wrist. And the assumed knowledge ‘She had tended me for two nights.’ How does Ana knows this when she’s been out with fever for that time? If Rheine tells her, then write it in, it’s relevant dialogue.

Two villagers came to escort me to a gathering in the prayer hall. I asked, ‘What’s happening?’ They exchanged embarrassed looks, expecting me to know.

This is a similar example to the first. When I read this I wondered: why do the villagers expect her to know? Is it because Rheine should have told her – and if so, why didn’t Rheine do so? Why are the villagers embarrassed? And why don’t they answer her question? I also questioned Ana being escorted to the gathering when she’d literally just got out bed after a debilitating illness. Surely they would have had to carry her?

The character of Ana sometimes comes across as rather spoilt and young instead of adventurous and inspiring. This was clearest when Ana says of her father ‘I had enough. He was not going to intimidate me any longer. The last shred of respect for father’s opinion dissolved when he banned me from climbing with my cousins.’ To me, it seemed logical that her father would ban Ana from going climbing with her cousins. Ana is his sole heir. She deliberately decided not to tell him she was going climbing with her cousins, although it meant she would be away for a night. During the climb, she and her cousins were in danger of losing their lives or having a very big accident. So her father’s decision seems entirely valid. I do think at times the author shows that Ana still lacks maturity, but sometimes it’s hard to see if this is deliberately done or not. And when it is done, it needs to be written in such a way that it’s clear the author and reader are aware of the immaturity of the character due to the writing, and also doesn’t prevent the reader from liking the character. Robin Hobb does this well with the character of Fitz in Assassin’s Apprentice, a boy who makes the wrong decision out of immaturity sometimes, but reflects on the results of his actions and learns from them.

Ana’s father often seems rather one-sided. Apart from the above example, this sentence underlined this portrayal: ‘Her refusal to use womanly wiles to attract a husband vexed him. Who could be more desirable than Sandro?’ The use of ‘womanly wiles’ doesn’t seem like the right term here, being rather hackneyed, and I feel that Ana’s father of all people would understand that a marriage based on sharing assets does not always work, he has experienced this himself with Ana’s mother. I would find it more believable if he felt Ana should marry Sandro for the sake of her people/holdings or even for her parents’ sake because he had done similarly in the past. It would be good to work on all the characters and flesh them out, given them valid reasons for their actions and personalities.
I really enjoyed the part where Ana is in the forest and possibly delirious and meets the Wu. I thought the descriptions of them and their dialogue were delightful and added a lighter side to this story. The part in the forest really reminded of Cecilia Dart Thornton’s ‘unseelie wights’ in the Bitterbynde trilogy.

Be careful with modern words interfering with the medieval setting chosen. I found that the name ‘gran’ felt very out of kilter with the formality of the relationships in Ana’s home. It’s quite a light colloquial name for one’s grandmother and not one I’d expect the daughter of a ruling lord to use for her father’s mother. And Ana’s father saying to her ‘You’re grounded’ felt like a definite glimpse of the twenty-first century! There was also ‘with a schmuck grin’ which didn’t make any sense to me.
From here, I would suggest going through and examining characterisation, making sure that characters’ actions and dialogue ring true and are based on a solid backstory of events and interactions. Try to eliminate any dialogue that doesn’t move the plot forward. These actions will in turn strengthen the story.

CarlosRedivivus wrote 1348 days ago

Ashen--I don't know whether people like to hear that their book "reminds me of so and so"--but yours reminds me a little of a popular Portland writer Ursula LeGuin. She is much pblished and acclaimed--and you share her skill at mixing reality and fantasy. I love parallel universes, also grandmothers, so you have punched several of my buttons. I am keeping track and will shelve you in December when (as far as I understand how this works) you will be closer to 'the desk'. Meanwhile, some stars.

kaleb wrote 1660 days ago

Great Scot! That first chapter is an experience to read - like observing a piece of fine art that leads you somewhere or leaves you hungry or creates some response that real if intangible. I wish I had something to critique about this, but it is so far beyond my usual reading genre, I can think of little that would be of much value. Other than that by the end of this chapter I felt thoroughly immersed in a new world. Brilliant

T Mackenzie wrote 1660 days ago

I found that I could choose chapters randomly, entering and reentering the story. . . not knowing what came before, or after, and the entire chapter still 'held' for me. (I read six unrelated chapters.) The writing is exquisite, but there seems also to be a very strong skeleton to the book, which is admirable, considering all the detail being juggled. Backed.

Morven wrote 1738 days ago

Exquisite imagery and beautiful lyrical writing that flows with the sparkle and dance of a mountain stream. I was caught in the mystery by that opening scene of burning books, such a sacriledge to any writer! Something profound must have led to that action...something that had to be discovered by the reader.
The hardest thing to do with any fantasy book is effective world building without info dumping. There are no problems like this in Course of Mirrors , a lovely title by the way. . The narrative weaves the story like a tapestry of jewel rich colours and precious metal threads. Ana's world is a place of enchantment and dark mystery and yet totally believable.
Just gorgeous in every way.

made wrote 653 days ago

This is a brilliant piece of work how ever you thought of it I have no idea how

elf_friend wrote 1193 days ago

Hi Pia,

Thanks for your request – I’m sorry it’s taken months to get to it! Here are my comments, based on all the chapters you have online currently. Please keep in mind that these comments are purely based on my reaction to your story and not intended to offend or discourage. I’ve given some specific points, followed by some general thoughts. I haven’t listed typos and most of the grammatical errors – I guess it doesn’t make much difference now that it’s under review, but it’s worth getting someone to proofread thoroughly if you’re looking for agents/publishers.

A few things which tripped me up:
- When Ananda meets the Wus, does she lose the stone to them or not?
- When they strip the furs and skins from the mare (Ch. 6) – if they could have used some, why not take them? From their prayers, we learn that Ananda and Rheine have a lot of respect for life – so, greed or otherwise, if the animals have already been killed then wouldn’t it be worse to kill again if they require furs/skins?
- It surprised me that we still hadn’t heard anything about Ananda’s Gran by this stage.
- Ch8 ‘most disturbing were the reactions of adults’ most disturbing of what??
- ‘Balancing on Lazlo’s desk, I recognised something – my diary.’ She’s not balancing on Lazlo’s desk, the diary is. There are a number of sentences where the clauses seem to be mixed up. In Ch. 10: ‘tragic news of Oleg’s death, the brother he fell out with…’ – Oleg is the brother, not Oleg’s death or the tragic news of it – and ‘a woman captured by mercenaries, which could be Inti’ implies that Inti is the mercenaries. In this case, a simple change such as ‘a woman, captured by mercenaries, who could be Inti’ could make the sentence clearer.
- Ch. 15 - a voice dropping several octaves while still speaking – how many octaves is the range of his speaking voice, and is he really saying anything that merits using the entirety of it?
- Ch. 20 – ‘Dion’s only brother, and Vita’s lover’ gives the impression that the two are not the same person.
- I’m interested as to why you’ve chosen the name Ananda, and why the meaning isn’t given until later in the story.

More generally…

You’re covering some big ideas in one relatively short piece of writing. A lot of people have already commented on this, I get the impression your main purpose is to communicate those ideas through a story rather than to tell a story for entertainment, but feel that you’ve tried to do both. I think in order to communicate efficiently, it might be useful to simplify both the ideas and the vehicle.

Initially, I felt like the story was an adventure for younger readers – a princess trying to escape discord between her parents and the responsibilities placed upon her by her lineage, and the strange creatures she encounters on the way. However, as the focus turned to her self-discovery, the adventure became a distraction. More and more characters were introduced – they weren’t too difficult to keep track of but, unlike Ananda, who we discover through her narrative, these characters and how they transform are described in such a way that we’re not really left to form our own opinions. (e.g. Slink, who we first see, both through Ananda’s eyes and the third person narrative, as an unpleasant character - and then as having a sudden change of heart).

Characters are never where we expect them to be, but at some point we give up being surprised by their sudden appearance (e.g. Morgan and Dion, who we’ve only met previously through Ananda’s recollections) or newly discovered relationships – long-lost siblings, parents and children. We’re not introduced to many of the characters until later on in the narrative, which makes it harder to connect to them – they’re taking time away from those we do care about.

On top of this, we have two or three(?) kingdoms, various bandits, and an insurgency to figure out – what appears to be a workers’ uprising initiated by the king’s brother, which (apparently) is to come to an end because the new queen is in favour of class equality. Your writing style for much of the story is quite poetic – a lot of words like ‘a’ and ‘the’ are left out. For me, this made reading a little more difficult, but I assume you’ve chosen this style because of the effect it has on our perception of the story as being more spiritual and that seemed to contrast with the intricacies of the plot.

Most of the more philosophical books I’ve read avoid a complex plot, or limit the explanations behind events in the story. We might not understand a lot of what happens, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t think it’s impossible to write a novel that’s a good adventure as well as a philosophical exploration. In fact, I’m impressed that you’ve undertaken to do so (if I’ve interpreted this correctly) - but it seems a difficult task, and the question is whether you are doing this as effectively as possible. The complexity of the setting – especially the politics – and the number of characters were a lot to take in when I was trying to focus on the more spiritual aspects of the story.

I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to go into greater depth, but please let me know if you’d like clarification or more detail on any of these points. As I mentioned at the start, these are just my reactions. What you’ve written has not only made it to the top 5, but it’s clever, and unique.

All the best for your HC review, and your search for an agent :)

Nicole Ellis wrote 1226 days ago

I have begun reading Course of Mirror this morning. PIa, what an enchanteing tale this has started out to be. Its eerily beautiful, this strange and magical world. This is not my usual genre, and yet, i'm completely taken it. Drawing in Cara's life during World War II only served to pique my interest even further. I've always had a hard time reading books or watching movies about "things that could never be real," but the way you weave this tale from kingdoms to WWII reminds me that there is always some magic in the real everyday world. I think that is what the appeal of this is for me. Just when I think this is a world I'll never know, you throw in references to a very real existance that I know all too well. Your luminous writing makes me feel as though I've just floated through the first chapter. Truly Magical. I know I'm in for a ride... i'm excited to read on

Freya Pickard wrote 1229 days ago

This is incredible stuff. By the far the best I've read so far on Authonomy. If you don't get published, then publishers are looking in the wrong direction. I've only had time to read chapter one today but I will come back and read more as and when my schedule allows. I'm definitely backing this one! If you have time to read Dragonscale Leggings I'd be very interested in your feedback.

Partha wrote 1245 days ago

I am inspired by your success in authonomy and consider you to be one of the role models.
Can I request you to share your experience please?
I am keen to know what HarperCollins have offering you on your success in here.
I want to learn whether the efforts you put in are well rewarded and how?
Would appreciate your response.
Congratulations once more.

rosemariemeleady wrote 1249 days ago

Congrats on getting in for review! I'm going to do a rush read before you get published as it sound wonderful!
Best of Luck, Rosemarie (Heroscope)

Brian Douglas wrote 1251 days ago

Hi Pia, I have backed your book for the quality of writing shamefully I have only so far glimpsed. Is that a good reason to back something? Perhaps, perhaps not. What really motivated me was my unerring prejudice when ever I see the names Lessing, Shah and Rumi.

jlbwye wrote 1252 days ago

You're just about there - here's another burst to keep you on that desk!
Best wishes, Jane.

Jim Heter wrote 1252 days ago

Pia, 185 is an impressive number of bookshelves. At some point you must lose track of all your supporters!
I finally finished reading the story yesterday. All in all very nicely done and I wish you success with the Editors. Today I read your final chapter, the article on the philosophy behind the story. It resonates. My own message in The Lamia is similar, though far less subtly garbed. Here is something I wrote just recently that I hope you won't mind me sharing. I think it touches on a little of the kind of understanding you write about.
The Mathematics of Existence: Cogito ergo sum. I am thought. This thought encompasses a worldview, an image I induce from information gathered over lifetimes through an inexplicable native ability to perceive otherness. Thus there is me, and there is everything else. When one contemplates this duality, the significance of the me dwindles in the face of the apparent extent of the everything else, especially in the face of the clear existence of innumerable other “me”s of presumably similar nature. This however is not a natural viewpoint. The sense of duality implies a kind of equality of the inner and outer worlds. We at times refer to the “other half” as if the inner and outer worlds, the familiar and unfamiliar, are in some sense equal. But, the other half being composed of myriad existences with similar viewpoints, the mathematics implies a universe of countless equal halves, an infinity of infinities, each encompassing all the rest, yet itself encompassed by each of them. This, perhaps, is the definition of God. Jim

skaterwriter wrote 1252 days ago

Wow - you certainly have a brilliant imagination and the talent for putting it into words! I am shelving this one until March 1st - hope it helps keep you in the top 5! This deserves recognition and a publisher.


tomewriter wrote 1253 days ago

Hi Ashen,
Lovely. Reads as smooth as glass, every words counts. Have finished the first chapter and will read on. Will also star and place on book shelf. Please take a look at my book, Speed Trap, when you get a chance and if possible I would really appreciate a critique. Talk to you later.
Janell (tomewriter)

Silentnovelist wrote 1254 days ago

Article in Ch. 24

Ashen, you are one of those people that have me almost holding my breath with admiration - your spirit shines through everything you do (and write) and so it’s no surprise to read the opening quote from The Mind World.
‘Whatever is reflected in the heart does not only remain a reflection but becomes a creative power, productive of a phenomenon of a similar nature.’

That is you, personified. I’m sorry, I don’t have your intellect or your naturally poetic spirit, but I hope you know what I’m trying to say in my down-to-earth way. My spirit recognises something here, and for that I feel a deep sense of gratitude.

I have read widely about metaphysics in the past, and for a while went a bit mad with the conflicts of the spirit vs earthly life. I put all that behind me. But reading your wisdom here I get that tingly feeling all over again, that my spirit can’t be squashed down, that it wasn’t an illusion or delusion, but that my imaginings were as real and solid as anything I have ever experienced. Not madness, then? You have made me reconsider.

I need to read this again, and take time to understand the source of your inspiration for A Course in Mirrors. It’s a wondrous book and an amazing achievement. My warm good wishes, Diana

Intriguing Trails wrote 1254 days ago

This is exquisitly declicious. I will place it on my shelf again tomorrow and it will stay to the end of the month.
Fantasy is not my favorite genre, but a great book, no matter the genre, still is worth the read. You've woven a masterful tale, rich in description, full, indeed bulging with personality. Very likely the best book on the site and right up there with the best I've ever read. Bravo!

RJU74 wrote 1254 days ago


Thank you for posting part of your book on the site. It's good to see who is out there, colouring paper with pen.

If I could offer a few words about your first few pages.

I found the use of language evocative and colourful. You have a rich, creative mind.

May I suggest reviewing your use of grammar and sentence structure. In parts there was an over abundant use of adjectives, which clogged up the narrative.
It needs to breathe more; needs more space.
Look forward to more.

Jacoba wrote 1255 days ago

I enjoyed your opening chapter and reiterate many of the positive comments you have already received. I'm happy to back this for the last few days, to make sure you get the HC critique. Your polished writing and intriguing story certainly deserves it.
Cheers Jacoba

Phyllis Burton wrote 1255 days ago

Hello Ashen, Your story is beautifully written and I really enjoyed reading some of it. Your descriptive prose almost forces the reader onwards. I wish you every success as you approach the ed's desk. SHELVED with pleasure.
Perhaps you would have the time to look at either of my two stories, please?


Inkfinger wrote 1257 days ago

Hi Pia, I've just finished your first chapter. It's so professionally written I can't find anything wrong with it! I love the mood and the characters, especially Ananda's Gran. The first chapter promises an intriguing read with interwoven plots that you have put a lot of thought and care into. I'll shelve this on the quality of your writing alone but I'll read on anyway to find out more about the story. Well done.
Becky x

Philip Churchman wrote 1257 days ago

Hi Ashen,
This is intriguing writing - it may be because I'm reading it on a Sunday afternoon but it has almost induced a dream state; it has a beguilingly non-linear quality to it. I'm going to come back to it when I've got a clearer head to make sure it's the book and not me. Really like it, despite the drug like effect! On my WL and starred.
One tiny typo spotted: third sentence after the heading "the cave" in chapter 2 - missing "to" before "tell".
If you have time to take a look at Ambassador 12 would be great to hear what you think.
Best wishes

Rosemary Peel wrote 1259 days ago

I began reading this with reluctance as the fantasy genre really isn't my thing, although I have to admit to being a big fan of the Harry Potter books. I couldn't have been more mistaken in my reaction to this story - I found it enchanting, delightful and something I found I could could back to time and time again - and I have done so, as and when time allowed. I have nearly finished all you have uploaded and long for yet more. Your writing is bell like in its lucidity; of the kind that sets the classics apart. I have to find a place on my shelf, although I had determined not to change it until the end of the month. I also feel a six star rating justly deserved .

B A Morton wrote 1259 days ago

You have a beautiful and gentle way with words. Ana's tale is captivating and the link with Cara intriguing. You have great imagination and the subtle skill which allows the reader to experience your mythical world as you wish them to see it. I read to the end of ch4, and see an epic unfolding, and the need to read on...
Continued good luck.


Ivan Amberlake wrote 1259 days ago

The ethereal beauty and genuine sadness of “Course of Mirrors” lures me from the very first line. So subtle and exquisite, the narrative creates vivid imagery that I find impossible to forget.

You take the reader by the hand and lead into a realm of the beautiful. This is so inspirational.

The tale about a cormorant is entrancing.
The account of the dream Cara shares with Ana is so engrossing.
This mystifying book, so talentedly and professionally written, will end up on many people’s Favourite Books List.

One sentence in the opening chapter in paragraph “Stars emerged as I lay …” made me frown. “Tonight was to be my last visit …” – I’m aware of the modal verb ‘be to’ and its meanings but I’d change that sentence into “Tonight would be my last visit …”. It’d sound more tragic and read easier. My point of view.

Good luck with it, Ashen.

The Beholder

Sheloveswords wrote 1262 days ago

Second sentence has a typo. Relief the tension should be relieve the tension. Relief is a noun. Relieve is the infinitive of the verb that means to lessen or ease.

Winterflood wrote 1262 days ago

Hi Pia

As I have backed it for a while now and hopefully with its journey to the top nearly completed I thought it was time I had better give some comments. :)

The cover starts by giving us the dreamlike quality that we expect to find inside, with the figure and horse symbolising the journey we are about to embark on, and the use of light and dark in their form reflects what you set up in the pitch.

The pitch is intriguing and gives us the promise of an unusual world, which at first suggests fantasy kingdoms but uses a language that makes us believe it is going to be something very different. The only negative I have to say on the pitch is it comes across as a synopsis when I read it, and seems to tell us a lot of the story. And you then give us the swerve in the last paragraph, which might have been better revealed in the story. I never really like reading the backs of books as it normally gives too much away but it is a tricky thing pitching a book to make it sound intriguing while not giving away any of the surprises.

Anyway, that is my first thoughts on the cover and the pitch and I will return to read the story soon with hopefully some more comments on the unfolding adventure. Hope the comments were useful.

Good luck


Margaret Woodward wrote 1263 days ago

Course of Mirrors is a book sizzling with original ideas and stunning descriptions. You have a high cast list but you have made the characters individual - on a full reading of the first three chapters, the last two and dips in between - with shifting, developing, realistic relationships and endless excitement. It deserves its place on the shelf this month.

One glitch I noticed several times was misplaced clauses - and the most obvious in the second sentence of the book! You need to attend to it fast before an editor or agent sees it. The first clause has to relate to the first noun following it - which is books, not Ana or I, but it was not the books which carried them down from the tree house, was it? Following the advice that the simplest is the best, why no just say after that first clause, 'I wiped my brow'. Hope this helps to give you that extra edge with what is an excellent story, exceptionally well written.

Good luck, Margaret Woodward : The Devil's Bairn

jlbwye wrote 1263 days ago

This website is full of treasures, and yours is one of the best.
Ch.1 is a quiet and steady start, revealing step by step the kind of person Ana is. Then destruction, and cutting away the past. A brave action not many of us would take. Her love for her grandmother shines through. "I saw spirited life written in the broad strokes of her face." Your turn of phrase is remarkable, and your play with time as Cara is introduced is skilful.
Ch.2 does not flow quite as well, until the vivid description of the mountain scenes, and the eagle. I, too, love the sky, and birds, and your story speaks well to me. You deserve a place on the ED. Hope my humble backing will help to get you there.
Jane. (Breath of Africa)

The Ark And The Aroma Of Peril wrote 1263 days ago


I am really very less compared to your experience and knowledge. I guess, I had to comment on your work. It is really an awesome piece of work.
All the best.
S.Vinay kumar,
10 roses for love

Ariom Dahl wrote 1268 days ago

This is intriguing writing. Well done!

Red2u wrote 1268 days ago

i am leaving yours selved hoping to catch other readers interest...good luck you're so close...

minx2minx wrote 1269 days ago

Nicely written. Backed and rated with pleasure.
Lizzie Scott :-)

Steve Hawgood wrote 1272 days ago

Pia the read as promised. I'll say from the start I'm not a lover of pure fantasy; romance yes but not all, so it was with some doubts I started into Chapter 1. With you close to the ED review I was also looking for a book that has been fine tuned.

I was pleasantly surprised. You've neatly avoided what I see as the biggest error of fantasy, and have not overloaded us with a plethora of new names and places we then struggle to remember.This is more subtle; as with the constant theme, you weave reality of the world as we know it into this new place. The emotions are equally subtle; starting with the burning of the books I wanted to know more about 'why' and the by the time we met the grandmother your MC had become real herself; a strong sense of her femininity gradually built, this woman about to embark on a journey.

Forget typos and grammar - the read kept me from looking for those if there were any.

Couple of other positives. I love your use of short sentences, especially with the Grandmother. She guessed. her eyes were moist. That said a lot and really hooked me. Only one negative at the very start - do birds scale cliffs? jarred a little I felt and could be improved on.

With the intriguing reference to world war II and the quality of the writing read itself I was looking forward to Chapter 2.

Chapter 2 didn't work for me as well as Chapter 1 - one simple reason I had missed the fact it was a prologue and had to jump back to check. The writing throughout Chapter 2 is still good, very powerful scenes that the reader can visualise. I do feel however the flow I enjoyed early on has stuttered a little. You are building the MC's character and the cave and the bridge are important but I felt this background didn't flow as naturally as I would have liked.

Chapter 3 - Meeting Sat? I paused thinking Saturday or a person. Do you need all the headings? - I'm not sure so kept reading. More dialogue now, something I enjoy; listening to the character, rather than sitting alongside their thoughts. There is a flow again and yes we meet Sat - now I'm certain I don't want that the heading - but just my thought. The flow continues through to the prologue and I'm wanting to know where she goes next.

Chapter 4 and the pace is much faster, and her story is developing. The stones power has revived her skin, she may be sacrificed, and alongside we are learning more about the history of this strange land - as I said earlier, the pace at which you've introduced this new world works for me. More action and story here than the first 3 Chapters combined.

After reading 4 Chapters here's my thoughts - I've no literary training and have never published so feel free to bin this if you wish.

Like so many people in Authonomy you can certainly write. I could visualise every scene, and was sat alongside as that fire started to burn in Chapter 1 - loved it. Your characters have depth and I wish to know more, particularly about her grandmother. I do feel that Chapter 2 could be improved upon and took something away of the flow between the prologue and then Chapters 3&4; I personally like pace in my reads. Perhaps a little more dialogue would also help that - when you did it worked well. Final suggestion would be to lose those headings and let the reader discover for themselves the magic that lays ahead.

I'm guessing you'll get a decent review here with some suggestions for a rewrite but focused on flow more than anything. The individual scenes are excellent and the characters work. Best. Steve.

Burbage wrote 1272 days ago

Love your prose.

I'm not sure about the prologue. Is it really necessary? It looks more like a chunk of chapter three has been cut out and pasted onto the front and called a prologue. There is no law that says you have to have a prologue, and no law that says what it has to be, but having this prologue entirely explained by chapter three seems odd to me. I am also unsure of the word 'pandemic' in this setting. It seems a bit too 'modern medicine' to me, and rather spoils the setting. You also seem to avoid repetition like the pestilence. Sometimes, if the best word for the job is a repetition, so be it.

Aside from these points (I've read to the middle of chapter 3 so far) the book is excellent so far. I would like to know, very soon, just what the protagonist is hoping to achieve by her journey. The mystery is fine up to a point, but at some point we need to know what she is trying to achieve.

The journey is about to start. I look forward to it, but I must take a break now.

My bookshelf is empty because I have decided that only the very best writing is going there. Your voice is excellent, and your prose is excellent (no idea whether your story is any good yet, but I will read on). In my limited foray into the books here, I have seen nothing better. I now have to see five books that are better before it comes off my shelf. Starred and shelved.

JohnDoe wrote 1272 days ago

As I was looking through first chapters of various books here, quickly moving from one to the next, the Prologue of 'A course in Mirrors' gently took me in and held my attention so quietly and peacefully that I found myself reading and forgetting that I was on authonomy. I backed it without a second thought.

It's been a long time since I have been able to settle into any new fiction. So it's a rare feat that Ashen's novel has been able to perform on me.

alagroue wrote 1274 days ago

Hi, congrads on making it to the top 5. I have read your story up to the 6th chapter and after the first few chapters have enjoyed it. The first two or three chapters kept my interest enough to keep reading, but I was a little confused when you switch back and forth between Ana’s present and past. It’s my understanding that this is one of the more difficult things to accomplish in writing. I don’t get the whole burning of books and stuff until several chapters later when Ana’s explaining her actions. Getting your first chapter to read smoothly is very important, I’m sure you know. It is where you hook your audience (or agent or publisher). Your story doesn’t have much dialogue which usually bores me, but you have enough emotion and description to draw me into the story. The story mentions that Cara is from the future and I keep wondering if this is a made up world or if it is our real world with made up elements. If it is real, I would be interested in what the time period would be. Over all, I really liked your story.

alagroue wrote 1274 days ago

Hi, congrads on making it to the top 5. I have read your story up to the 6th chapter and after the first few chapters have enjoyed it. The first two or three chapters kept my interest enough to keep reading, but I was a little confused when you switch back and forth between Ana's present and past. It's my understanding that this is one of the more difficult things to accomplish in writing. I don't get the whole burning of books and stuff until several chapters later when Ana's explaining her actions. Getting your first chapter to read smoothly is very important, I'm sure you know. It is where you hook your audience (or agent or publisher). Your story doesn't have much dialogue which usually bores me, but you have enough emotion and description to draw me into the story. The story mentions that Cara is from the future and I keep wondering if this is a made up world or if it is our real world with made up elements. If it is real, I would be intrested in what the time period would be. Over all, I really like your story. Hope this helps.

Intriguing Trails wrote 1276 days ago

Elegant! I've read chapter 1 and find it compelling and beautifully written. Kudos!

Mountaineer wrote 1277 days ago

Course of Mirrors
Dear Ashen,
This is exquisitely written. Your words flow - cascade even just like your descriptions. I just love this and I must congratulate you on your efforts - well done. I'm sure this must make it to the editor's desk - and not a vampire in sight!

JackieB wrote 1277 days ago

Very interesting. The imagery is spot-on, but I find the "soul-sister" premise very intriguing. I'll definitely be sure to read more of this when I find the time, but great use of description, for sure.

Primrose Hill wrote 1278 days ago

The prologue has Oneiric richness and a dreamlike quality. It calls to mind the jewelled paintings of Gustave Moreau.
I recognise some of the first and second chapter, but not the prologue. Is it new? If so, it works very well.
One of the best prologues I've come across. I'll rate and back with pleasure.

Chris Jonnymo wrote 1279 days ago

This book has a strange pull over the reader. It is gentle yet exerts a powerful hold as one reads on.some beautiful paragraphs. backed with a handful of stars.
Good luck!

Bill Scott wrote 1279 days ago

Nicely written. Good luck you're so close.


tomewriter wrote 1282 days ago

You have such a beautiful voice. Your pace is perfect, your piece reads as sooth as glass. How wonderful to be able to write like that. I finished the first chapter and will read more as soon as I can. Will star rate your piece, though I'm not sure you really need it, being in the position that you are. Please take a look at my book:
Speed Trap, if you have time. I would appreciate it and if you can include a critique, I'd be delighted to hear what you have to say. Best whishes.
Janell (tomewriter)

Mr. Nom de Plume wrote 1283 days ago

Gran was a familiar name for me in my life. This work is powerful yet written in a gentle manner. The storyline weaves enough to exert a gentle pull on readers. Extremely well done. I backed this work previously and will put it on my shelf again. Chuck (RUINED BY RUBY & SLUSH PILE)

curiousturtle wrote 1284 days ago

Dear Ashen,

I started reading your Opus and thought I would give you my cent and half:


This weaving and waving in ebbs and flows, this carrying on with an otherworldly voice held but by a succession of whispers, each made of a wonder that stirs until the ear begins to tremble;

..........this words acting like the strings of a guitar.

You are not an Anglo Saxon writer, that's for sure. This kind of ear for music has been all but forgotten through the flattening of the tone and the ruthless efficiency of Anglo Saxon modernity. This is the kind of candy we Latin Americans are used to. Breed on daily portions of Garcia Marques, Neruda and Borges, this whistling of phrases whose aim is to act like a trapeze's act, so that the reader goes from one dangling to the next......


.......this is beluga in one mouth

Some of my favorites:

"cascading waters broke...."

"flowers on frosted glass....."

"Wisps of smoke...."

"Like a floating geometry".....that one frame it and place it in a museum

"nothing left to gaze....."

"of dream weed"

"Swayed under my weight"

"fever came and went in waves...."

"beads running like silk....."

There are so many of this wonders, they pour through like a wonderful gangrene.
If these were stamps my apt would be by now the post office.

what can I say, dear,

anything else than a bow....would be short changing you



Rosemary Hanson-Smythe wrote 1285 days ago

Dear Ashen, You have a beautiful way with words and here you have used them to create some striking visual images. I enjoyed the first 3 chapters I read of your book. It is as well written as anything I've read on the site.
The rhythm is good and the language elegant. There's a good balance between action and reflection and I like the hint of mysteries to come.
Happily backed this.

Johann Fergus wrote 1285 days ago

Course of mirrors
I enjoyed your book, Ashen. It is very different from most novels on here. some lovely writing, good descriptions and a nice mixture of fiction fantasy and the realworld.Enchanted with a touch of intrigue thron in.

Colonel Lestoq wrote 1285 days ago

Very beautiful prose, tightly written and engaging all round. Well done Ashen. Glad I was recommended this by Faith - the author of The Crossing. Backed and starred highly.
Colonel L

KFC wrote 1285 days ago

Dear Ashen, I have finally got round to your novel. I have only read four chapters but already I know I like this one. Your narrative is as good as any author of this genre I've read.
Tightly written and read well - good luck

Frank James wrote 1292 days ago

Hi Pia,

Indeed I do remember us backing each others work some months ago. Ihave great pleasure in backing your book again and as I mean what I say, you're BACKED and on my shelf now. I trust you can find a spot on your shelf for me. Good luck with your writing in the future.

Frank James (The Contractor)

Hudson wrote 1295 days ago

Hi Pia, I have read my previous comments and, unless my memory is playing tricks, you have expanded the Prologue. I am again taken by the 'dreamlike' quality of the mysticism which, in no way seems to detract from the reality of your fantasy world, if that is not a contradiction in terms..
Again, I loved the story about the cormorant. How easily can a perceived reality turn us away from the actual reality and, all too often, the corruption of our own perceptions emanates from the intervention of well meaning friends and colleagues.
I hardly need to add that I think the book will be a success as its progress towards the ED is irrefutable evidence of that. Nevertheless, best wishes and I hope to see you in the top five very soon.
Hudson, (The Power of the Pegalore).

Bradley Haynes wrote 1296 days ago

A cathartic beginning that draws in the reader by asking the question, why burn the book? Artistically written, it evokes a transient quality which holds the attention by being pulled along with the mood and tempo of the story.
Well done.
Bradley Haynes