But aside from posting new chapters, I haven't actually discussed Alexandra much lately, so now I will. This is a long rambling author's post, so either you will find this post very interesting or very self-indulgent. No spoilers (well, maybe some tiny ones), but since I don't want to give too much away, keep in mind I may, in the nature of evil authors, seed this post with misdirection. (Which is not the same as lies. ;) )
Feel free to comment, speculate, and criticize. And pardon me for any "Bwahahaha"s. ;)
Reactions to chapter eleven have been about evenly divided between "Aww, I wanted Alex to win!" and "I'm glad she lost, because it would have been Mary Sue-ish if she'd won." Also, apparently Alexandra doesn't win enough. And she's whiny.
All of the above is true. So, let me just summarize some of what people have said in several different forums.
(And I hope you all understand that I am not complaining or trying to defend anything, here! On the contrary, I love that Alexandra is being discussed, and I love feedback, even critical feedback. So consider this a little out-take from the author's head in response.)
"Alexandra needs to be slapped"
I did tell y'all that Alexandra was going to act like a thirteen-year-old in this book. She's also going to grow up a lot. But not right away. So, a few of you have noticed that Alexandra's POV is not, in fact, entirely reliable or unbiased. She thinks she's being relentlessly persecuted and harassed, and not entirely without basis. But, as she is just starting to discover, she's actually not the Most Hated Mudblood Ever In the History of Charmbridge Academy.
The prejudice and the harassment is very real, yes, but in the nature of thirteen-year-olds, Alexandra sees the world from an Alexandra-centric point of view. She doesn't take much notice of the fact that other people might be having as rough a time as her. She's aware that Anna is in a tough spot, William is being bullied, and Ozarkers aren't exactly highly regarded either, but mostly what she notices is what gets directed at her. She's getting better about this, slowly, but she still has a few hard lessons to learn.
She also has a tendency to think she's too smart for her classes and her teachers don't have much to teach her. This is also something she is slowly rethinking, but again, she's got a few learning experiences ahead.
"Alexandra wins too much"
One of my betas, Miles2go, thinks I consistently underestimate the significance of age gaps in preteens and teens. In the first book, I did let Alexandra get away with physically pummeling boys older than her. In fairness, girls usually are physically stronger than boys their age until shortly after puberty, when testosterone really kicks in. But Alexandra did learn the hard way that even Billy Boggleston isn't quite as easy to push around any more.
Testosterone doesn't help in magical dueling, but age and experience does. Now, speaking as someone who practices martial arts (and not infrequently gets whupped by kids half my age), I know that there are people with so much natural talent that within a few years, they are beating people who've been practicing much longer than they have. Alexandra is one of those people.
On the other hand, as should be evident from the dueling competition, Larry isn't bad himself.
Alexandra is the heroine of my story, so she tends to shine. I try to keep it within the realm of plausibility, to avoid the dreaded Mary-Sue label, but Alexandra will, quite often (but by no means always) kick ass. She most often gets her own butt kicked when she underestimates her opponents.
"Alexandra never wins"
On the other hand, it's been pointed out that Alexandra is getting her butt kicked a lot lately, figuratively and literally.
Alexandra Quick is a darker series than Harry Potter. Sometimes Alexandra is going to lose.
I have seven books planned for the Alexandra Quick series. Some of what will happen is mapped out in detail, some is still pretty sketchy and subject to radical revision, but in broad outline, I know what's going to happen. I know who's going to live and who's going to die. I even have the epilogue written in my head.
Deathly Hallows was pretty dark, right up until the end where Voldemort was defeated with minimal casualties. As Alexandra continues to grow, her life is only going to get more complicated.
Hopefully, there will be some fun along the way, and the light bits will make up for the not-so-light parts. There will even be romance! But... if you're expecting my epilogue to be a treacly, twee, soft-lens vision of happily-domesticated Alexandra leading her children off to school, then you will probably be disappointed.