Saturday, June 18, 2011

Submitting a Manuscript for Review?

This is a question many authors have asked themselves. Is it a good idea to submit a manuscript as opposed to a finished and published book for review? I think the answer is yes. I recently reviewed a manuscript (see my book review below) and because I knew the author had not yet published, I was more tolerant of the few errors that a good editor would pick up anyway; and I was also more keen to be of assistance. I spotted things in the otherwise excellent story that I pointed out and suggested the author fix before actually publishing. Had this been a published book, I would have been a harsher critic. Surely, I would have thought, the author had an editor to fix these glitches. Alas, glitches are part and parcel of being a writer. I have recently prepared my children's book for e-publishing and OMG, would you believe it, I found something (actually there were two somethings) that almost made me curl up and die. OK, so they weren't too bad as mini glitches, but the awful part is I had my manuscript rigorously edited before publishing to hard copy. I also have an eagle eye when it comes to errors. So, yes, if you are considering getting your work reviewed at manuscript stage, go ahead. Critics will be more helpful when they know it's not completed. You may also pick up some very good pointers instead of the reviewer thinking, idiot, why didn't he/she get an editor?

Book Review: Cry of Eagles by Stefan Vucak

When the Valero refinery complex in Texas City is bombed, forensic evidence seems to point glaringly to one culprit—Iran, which had recently expanded its nuclear program. Instead of bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities like they did in Iraq, the vacillating Israeli government has done nothing to crush this potential threat to their national security. In fact, Matan Irian, a former Israeli Army Colonel whose family was killed years ago in a PLO terrorist attack, created this strategy to protect Israel: sabotage a refinery complex in Texas City, plant evidence that incriminates Iran, and sit back while an enraged United States strikes back in retaliation. However, the president of the United States hesitates to act without complete forensic investigation. There seems to be no logical reason why Iran would willingly antagonize the United States, calling down upon itself the wrath of a much mightier nation, and one that instantly mobilized its two carrier battle groups off Iran’s coast in readiness to strike back. The perpetrators of the covert black ops have made one tiny but revealing error: they left behind a minute piece of forensic evidence that traces the operation back to Israel. When the real culprits are revealed, the USA turns on its former ally and demands that Israel makes reparations and finally recognizes Palestine’s right to exist. Israel rejects this demand as naïve. When the USA immediately withdraws all economic and military aid, Israel must either seek peace with the Palestinians or go to war on their own.

This is a great read, a real page-turner. The author lays bare the deep-rooted hatreds, as well as the tribal rivalries that dog the composition of the Middle East and preclude a possible resolution. From the start the author draws the reader into a world where modern and historical animosities are twisted together in a knot that seems impossible to untangle. Or is this indeed so? The actions of two men, Namir Bethan (Director of Metsada) and Matan Irian, the man who proposes a drastic solution to the nuclear terrors that threaten his county, cut this Gordian Knot.

The author draws on current events such as international fears of a nuclear-powered Iran ready to hit the red button at any time, to the natural anxieties of the USA bigwigs, to the defiant and entrenched recalcitrant attitudes of the Israelis towards any attempt at removing what they perceive to be their God-given rights. The author also eases the unversed reader into the technical and forensic aspects of explosives and armaments, as well as laying bare the complexities, the chaos and the internecine rivalry that dominates government departments in the delicate interplay of politics and war. I enjoyed the development of the characters and the dialogue. Each character came with his or her history and motives, created in a believable and natural way. The author also has an excellent eye for visual detail to paint the picture of different environments for the reader. This is a must for lovers of political thrillers.

The only hollow note for me was the author’s opinion of the television station Al Jazeera, which has one of the finest teams of international reporters, and reports fairly on Middle Eastern and international matters, given the hard-line attitudes of Middle Eastern governments towards the unbiased dissemination of information.

First reviewed for Readers' Favorite by Fiona Ingram

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