I'm a uni student from England, with a tendency to the extreme for procrastination, and a habit of going off on odd tangents, which means this monologue really is doomed to failure if you think about it.
With that in mind, I think I'll quit while I'm ahead. That's a good ten seconds of your life you're not getting back. Sorry about that.
Well damn! I've been hopping about your stories and blog just reading everything for the last couple of weeks. The Alexandra Quick series was read in one long, incredibly unproductive weekend. :)
I admit to liking fanfictions like AQ which only includes the world/universe of the series it is inspired by, but uses original characters and plots - creating a fresh storyline in a familiar world, so to speak. Yours is the first really decent one I've read so far though, and I agree with other reviews that your writing and plot/character management, especially the AQ series, is easily publishing standard (if that's the correct phrase). Perhaps more so than a lot of well known books on the shelves today. However I agree with your view that publishing AQ would cause it to lose too much of it's character as a story. The HP fandom needs some quality stories that aren't just romance and little else.
Anyway, I dislike leaving a completely useless review, so I'll just sum up some points that make AQ better than other stories in my eyes, and some points to improve on:
-The attention to detail. Especially on the plot and sub-plots. This is what makes AQ one of those stories which I can re-read multiple times and find something new each time, including subtle jokes which only a few authors bother to put in.
-Character development and detail. I didn't quite realize how much effort you put into this until reading your blog, but I admire the complex natures of the characters, and how they shift almost unnoticed over time. Another aspect of this is the skill of the characters, especially Alexandra herself. Almost all HPFF authors give their protagonists sudden bursts of previously untapped power and wisdom near the beginning of their story, but Alexandra's abilities, asides from her raw magical prowess, are actually well earned through arduous lengths of training and perseverance, spread fairly well throughout the books so far. I'm a little skeptical of how she almost managed to get the better of the auror Henry Tsotsie, but hey.
-Dead end subplots. This is something authors rarely have the courage to do - the amount of effort and "storytime" that went into the time turner red herring was remarkable. It might have irritated some readers, but it gave the story an additional level of realism, and bought it sharply back down to earth again with a much needed jolt.
-Binomial nomenclature. Yeah I know, it's not much of a con, but I'm currently doing a biology degree and have a habit for nitpicking. In the chapter "Without A Wand", Alexandra refers to Nigel as a storeria dekayi - using the Latin name of the species of grass snake Nigel belongs to. While you correctly wrote it in italics, binomial nomenclature dictates the genus name is always capitalized, so in this case it would be Storeria dekayi instead, even if written in the middle of a sentence. Just a little mistake, but thought you should know.
-Portkeys. I'm sure inconsistencies with magic have been pointed out in every other review, I haven't checked. I admit it must be difficult creating an entirely new culture while trying to stick to a pre-determined structure of magic, which would affect said culture. With this in mind I'll glaze over smaller inconsistencies and ones that can easily be explained, and go straight to the one that bugs me the most. Dumbledore could create a portkey with a single spell, in the space of a few seconds. His specialty is transfiguration, not artificing, and while he may have spent ages learning how to make a portkey that quickly it is highly unlikely. Portkeys in HP are considered fairly common and easy to manufacture, even if their use is regulated by the Ministry. Therefore I find it a little difficult to believe that they would be so expensive in America, and artificers spend ages sweating over their creation, if they were used so readily and easily (such as the quidditch world cup in book 4, for example).
I'm sure given more time I could come up with some more constructive(ish) criticism, but this review is long enough. Good luck writing book 5! Are you ever going to release the name, or just cruelly tease us until the book is finally complete? :P
Author's Response: Thank you very much for the thoughtful review! I will keep the binomial nomenclature in mind for the future - I didn't think to check a style guide on that item. The issue with Portkeys is actually not something anyone else has brought up. You make a fair point. My reason for making Portkeys somewhat difficult to create is that otherwise, it would be fairly easy to cross vast distances (the U.S./Confederation being considerably larger than the UK) which would have a major impact both on American wizarding culture and on my plots. The problem of introducing quick and easy teleportation into a society has been covered by such authors as Larry Niven. That said, yeah, it's kind of hand-wavey. And to answer your last question: I will announce it eventually, but I'll probably tease folks a bit more. ;)