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About kais

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  1. I'm in for the upcoming Monday.
  2. Overall While I enjoyed the reunion and some plot details, this chapter had a somewhat wandering arc. I think the first eight pages could be cut entirely, and the end trimmed, to make a very powerful reunion scene. The emotional beats don't fall quite where I'd like, especially at the end, but I've flagged the stuff that really bugged me. I think basically what I'd like in this chapter is more forward plot progression, and less standing around talking. I like dialogue, a lot, but I'd like it in conjunction with either emotional growth or plot growth (ideally both). As I go, from IRELAND! - these first three pages I'd like to be in Z's head a bit more. This is her long-lost mother, and while I don't expect a barrage of overt emotion from her necessarily, there should be more thoughts in her head I think, especially if her expression of her autism has changed as she's gotten older, which is fairly common - pg 4: I still have a hard time with the 30 mile walk in a day, from teenagers who don't routinely walk 30 miles in a day - top of page 5 needs some dialogue tags. I had to read it three times to figure out who was talking - pg 7: I feel like there is a great deal of plot convenience happing in this chapter - pg 8: there is a ton of dialogue through these pages and I'm not feeling any real tension. We might need more actions with the talking, more forward momentum of the characters, to keep the dialogue working - pg 8: I think this dialogue and emotional arc, here, is where the chapter really starts. You could probably cut everything before - pg 11: It's weird to me that a place that really really wants women to have children would allow hysterectomies (assuming that is what you mean by 'the surgery') - pg 13: getting antsy. Too much talking and not enough forward movement, even though we are getting plot elements now - pg 14: why doesn't the mom have more questions about the egg? It doesn't seem like she knows more than the kids so wouldn't she be... shocked? Surprised? Curious? Horrified? Especially if her daughter is mixed up in it? - pg 15: it weirds me out that the mother is so surprised that Z has friends. It's a weird beat, and I wonder if it is from an older draft? - pg 16: and then her mother relents just because Z has friends? This doesn't ring quite right
  3. Hey @Silk should we maybe not do sub this upcoming week since half the board will be at OUR VERY FIRST RECon????
  4. Overall I remain confused over the whole Old Man thing, and the connection to Mort. Is that from book one? I think I have heavy WRS right now. I do miss Q's bi-ness, so I don't know if that's something you removed or it just didn't make it in this pass. Some thoughts on it are below. I liked the general premise of this chapter, but it felt a little wobbly, like the chapter was escaping from its jell-o mold in places. I think it needs some tightening and a few logic checks, but otherwise it progressed the narrative nicely and I did enjoy it. M, as always remains a delight. As I go - pg 4: do we know who Old Man is??? I thought it was Q's dad but... the antagonist mentions him too so now I think I've missed something entirely - pg 8: Q wondered if M was a friend or sweetheart; wife or daughter. Is Q still bi? Because if so, I don't think he'd hetero default like this - pg 13: I think something is missing in the scene where they get to the airport and get into the woman's truck. I feel like it happened too quickly, like there was a logic jump I missed, but I can't quite put my finger on it. How did they know their client was in that plane? I think that's what I need to know, and maybe feel a bit more emotion about it too, from Q - pg 14: If Q is still bi, then I think we should get a smidge more detail on the 'strapping sheriff' since we did get he was 'strapping.' A bit of his clothing, perhaps, to balance with our car driving lady - pg 17: so The Old Man is the ex-father-in-law, but is The Old Man referred to by M the same then? Yes?
  5. Overall Some good tension in places, and the emotions are a lot better. The voice age of the characters is also better. I think the biggest sticking points for me continue to be the dog (why is it part of the narrative? It just slows the pacing every time we get to it because it doesn't not appear to be a leg of the story) and the easy access to plot information. I also don't want a change of location at all. I love the antique store, and you spent so much time building the atmosphere of it in the front chapters that it almost feel like you set a reader expectation that the showdown would happen there, and now we get a new local. As I go - pg 1: I'm still wondering what relevance the dog has. It seems like it gets more screen time than almost any other character other than the main one, but doesn't seem to have a purpose - pg 3: so I was moderately on board with the library research exposition, but now on this page it reads just like a giant info dump. I want to see the character really work for the information, not just have it handed to them, then more or less handed to us, the readers - pg 5: every time vampires are brought in, and now gods, the story looses focus. I'd prefer one, maybe two elements. Otherwise it just feels like the story lacks focus and lacks a clear antagonist. Ditto on the aliens - pg 6: I no one creeped out that the doll is moving around!!?? - pg 7: emotions are definitely a lot better here - pg 10: there was some really good tension at the start of this chapter, but the doll offering an explanation so blatantly really shot it down. I wanted them to come out of the shadows or have the two kids wander around the store and find the mannequins weirdly propped in a corner with a tea set or something. The atmosphere is set for the antique store. I'd much prefer we stayed there - pg 11: I was pretty excited when they left the dog at home but now they're bringing it along? Don't they have to go back to the town or whatnot to get it?
  6. Overall I thought this was well done. Z's characterization is still quite solid, and the autism points are landing really well. The and she lied part almost made me cry. Total gut punch there. A few minor comments below but otherwise, I think for the age group you're going for, this hit all the right places. As I go - pg 2: and she lied <-- oh wow that line is powerful - pg 9: I'm in disbelief that they walked 35 miles in one day and aren't completely destroyed. That is a lot of walking, especially if you don't walk that far normally, and I don't think it has been established that these kids do like, 15 mile hikes routinely - pg 12: the innocence of these children is fantastically portrayed in their thoughts on the god king here - pg 16: It might have been a killing blow had she held the blade horizontally. Instead, her blade cut a decent gash in the demon’s chest but did not go in. Pain unlike anything she had ever felt before shot up Z's right arm, but she held onto the knife. <-- blocking is confusing here. She cut the demon and then she felt pain? Or did it slash her while they were fighting? - pg 17: If the first kid made the mistake of a battle cry and Z knew that, why would she then make one as well? This time it feels plot convenient - love the end!
  7. A quick demo. (straight) Male gaze: Her hair was long and lovely, piled on her head with wisps that curled around her heart-shaped face and helped hide the start of the crows feet near her eyes. <--- objectification. Reviewing characters as sex objects, objects to be desired, youth > experience (straight) Female gaze: She had long brown hair that was falling out of her ponytail. <--- hair coming out of a ponytail is irritating. Character empathizes. Character is not attracted to other women, so would not notice the same things a straight male would Lesbian gaze: She had thick brown hair that curled at the tips. Gathered on her head, the falling strands framed her face. My eyes lingered. <--- although this can vary wildly depending on the character, generally lesbian gaze in SFF shows attraction without a deep objectification. Character being gazed at is a person, simply also an attractive person. Lesbian gaze may show objectification, but it is generally very easy to pull from male gaze. Male gaze brings standard baggage, flavors of the patriarchy, disdain for personhood. Lesbian gaze usually brings objectification through connection with the humanness of the character.
  8. Overall Assuming you are purposefully coding L as a lesbian, I am pretty engaged with this story. The undercurrent of sexual tension keeps it moving when the world is somewhat slow and there does not seem to be an inciting incident yet. With that said, there are some definitive male gaze issues that need addressed, and whether you want to delete them or turn them into lesbian gaze will depend entirely on your story objectives. I'm on board for another chapter, for sure. This also pinged for me. I don't understand the society at all. Women led but still all the same problems as a patriarchy? Historically I don't think that's how that works. If your lead is straight, then yes, this is very objectifying. I read it inherently as showing interest (there's lesbian bias there) in the squire, because it's very 'I am interest in your physical attributes.' If our MC IS a lesbian, it just needs some tweaking. If she isn't... you'll need to do a pass for authorial voice and male gaze Looks like @Mandamon and @industrialistDragon have a lot of the same concerns I do, so I'll not belabor them. As I go - pg 2: men slumped while women shopped.... this raises a yellow flag to me - bottom of page 3: It kind of reads like L is crushing on A a bit. Here for it - pg 4: smothering a slight pang of jealousy beneath <-- no longer subtext. You have my attention - A woman’s legs aren’t supposed to be seen outside of the <--- men get hauled around shopping but there's weird skin restrictions on women? The world doesn't make sense right now - You’re not some Order priestess!” <-- confused. Is this a patriarchal society with prostitutes? Or a matriarchal one with women in chosen professions?? I'm so confused - I do like that the little boys wear skirts, too - and just another reason in a long list of reasons why L liked having the girl around. *coughs* - her middle-aged beauty <-- red flag for male gaze while in a female POV - She was ordinarily a lovely woman, with warm chestnut skin and shimmering golden hair that she kept tied in a bun on her head, her utilitarian blouse and skirt only serving to heighten the appearance of a diligent and studious worker. <-- second male gaze red flag. Unless you want to really out your MC as a lesbian. If so, these could work, but they'll need to be coded differently. Lesbian gaze and male gaze are very similar, but code differently in writing and have different roots (and different ideas on consent and such). If you do want to show lesbian gaze, let me know and I can help you with the rewrite - pg 19: mention of goddess. Matriarchal society then??
  9. overall These chapters suffered from the lack of emotions of some of your previous characters, and I had a hard time connecting even though I liked our MC originally. I also thought there was a lot of lag in the start, once we meet the psychic things are better. The doll ghost's voice seems very discordant with the narrative, and every time A spoke I was yanked from it. Might be something to look into there. Generally, I thought tension was lacking in these chapters, as well as emotional buy-in. The plot is interesting though! I agree with this! As I go - is that recap in the first sentence of chapter three needed, since we're coming in right off of chapter 2? It seems redundant - pg 2: the MC is taking this mannequin thing VERY well I feel like - It was pink, my least favorite color, and had ponies all over it, <--- AHEM - pg 5: I wasn't particularly hooked at the beginning, and at this point things are dragging. We got a ton of info about what is being packed but there's no tension from any of it. It seems very matter of fact, with the MC not really super concerned or afraid and so it makes it seem more like this happens every day, or they were expecting it - a lot of time is spent on the dog. It makes me think the dog will be plot relevant as a familiar or something - pg 8: the bit in the library was good, but now we are back to moving around and describing things without any real tension. MC needs more emotions, I think. This is all so matter-of-fact - pg 9: oh, the end of this chapter is excellent! - pg 12: Ma is mannequin that turned my mom and Mx. R to mannequins. <-- was this confirmed? I thought it was just implied? When was the decision made?? - pg 12: wouldn't our MC have asked A to confirm they were the same A? I'm so confused - “No one’s asked me that before. No one ever gave me to the option to not be she or he. I didn’t know there were other choices, but in my bones, back when I had bones, I knew I was neither boy nor girl.” Al’s purple lips pulled back into a grim smile filled with crooked green teeth. “I’ll try they.” <-- this does ping me as out of place. This kid died a while ago, right? This would be a harder concept, at least in terms of neopronouns. It also doesn't sound like a kid talking. This section threw me hard from the narrative. It's too on the nose, and too in the now, for the tone of the story and for the kid in question, I feel - And D is... perfectly fine with the ghost of a murdered child? Emotions? Anywhere? - pg 14: A's voice is in such deep contrast to their age and the other kids. It's really jarring - again, strong ending
  10. It was there, I remember it. I didn't comment on this because I didn't think I needed to. But noting some other comments, coming from another enby, I thought the whole thing read fine on that front. Blatant where it needed to be, unassuming in others. Zero issues.
  11. Overall Although I like the general narrative, I felt like both characters were over the top in this installation. M is a giant mustachio villain and T has a lot of panic and I don't know why, not really. I thought you did the homophobic slurs line beautifully, and there was some great dialogue in here! As I go - pg 3: woah. I had to read the 'five minutes later' paragraph three times. Because she's in that giant sweater and nothing else, and his reactions, there is some implied violence there and yet there isn't actually any and that's some pretty damnation fine writing even if it does make me squirm - pg 3: the 'inhumane coercion' line is a bit over the top and melodramatic - pg 4: oh wow there M. Pull out all the slurs. My favorite part though is that it is narrative refuted right there in the sentence with the addition of 'every other color of the rainbow.' That's excellent villainy writing, that is - pg 5: 'face-sucking cold' is a perfect line - pg 10: So.... is it that M is just threatening to expose her relationship E? Is that all this is about? Because it seems like a LOT of self hate and depreciation for a little infidelity. Not that I'm a proponent of infidelity, but I don't think I'd release monsters or whatnot over it, either. So if that IS what's happening, I might need more why. - pg 11: I feel like I'm getting lost. I'm still not clear what she is doing, and I'm getting antsy - I think the start of M's POV is a little too tell. It sucked the tension away.
  12. I was being goofy. You've set up a quintessential power dynamic, which is like the backbone of lesbian romance fiction. I was just calling it out in the narrative because A) hot and B.) HOT
  13. Psssst.... 'wasting' paper keeps me employed! Overall Good tension with the adults turning into mannequins, and good sense of wonder overall. My only real issue is that it felt like the wonder/tension was all over the place. I'd rather see more generalized fear of the paranormal than the specific call outs, because it felt like I was being led all over the place and then wham the mannequin transformation. And not wham in a good way, but more a 'wtf is happening' way. It'd be a relatively minor fix to streamline the tension/horror scenes, I think. Generally though this was a strong entry and I am very interested in our MC and her goals! As I go - pg 1: how does the outhouse line fit with the rest of the first paragraph? - pg 2: My t-shirt and cargo were Cargo pants maybe? - pg 5: I love the realization that the mannequin thing is probably bunk, but the kid is going to keep playing anyway. So cute. Much buy-in. 12 is such a great age for stuff like this - Antiquing was like a treasure hunt. Most of the stuff in the shop was actually junk, but there might be something on a shelf for twenty dollars that mom could sell for two hundred, or if we were really lucky, two thousand. We already know all this so this whole paragraph could easily be cut - pg 8:I think the chapter would end stronger if it ended on mom maybe trailing off with something like, "Do you think those things are real?" Mom just smirked and walked away. Right now, the end seems like.... no tension. No arc. If you backed it up just a bit and left Mom's reaction ambiguous, that would lead some tension into the story and the mannequin thing - pg 12: I feel like at this stage we're being teased with too many potential supernatural elements, and that promises to the reader are already being discarded. If the idea is to have the kid believe in generalized magic, then I think some of the specifics of vampires and mannequin stuff should be left out. If the doll is going to be possessed, then maybe a generalized fear of being watched or something? Right now I feel pulled in three different paranormal directions and it's distracting me from our MC - pg 14: wait, the mannequin game is mom's and not the MC's? Did I know this already?
  14. Overall This chapter is fairly solid, and the MC has decent voice in it. The parts I'm still really struggling with are buy-in (I don't have any yet) and the Random Proper Nouns that keep being presented without description. I need more concrete worldbuilding before chapter four, I think, and some deeper tension, to really be engaged with where the narrative is headed. I'm not even sure what threat the town really has ATM. As I go - pg 2: I just read the previous chapter yesterday but I'm still not clear on what is going on. The villain here seems to be from a comic book, and the way said villain talks is more like comedy than anything meant to build tension - pg 5: J's internal rambling here about wanting some revenge continues to fall flat because I do not yet care about J or her struggles. A temple exploded, but I don't care about the world yet, either. I'm reading and searching for an anchor, right now - pg 7: 'manhunter registry' would have more impact if I knew what it was. I feel like this is a fairly common element here in the story. We get given a Proper Noun without context and are expected to use it as a hook without getting any information - pg 10: I still wish I knew what a Blacknight was in relation to why it should be driving fear and tension. The narrative keeps saying be afraid but I don't know why or of what
  15. Overall Well I am pretty much blown away by the changes in tone and voice in this chapter. You've cleaned like 75% of the issues I had with the piece, and the addition of really solid autistic narrative brought up the tension and buy-in for me. Like, if just reading this chapter in a bookstore I would hands down buy the book on spec. So yeah, nice work on this! As I go - pg 3: That tone was worse than Expression #37 <-- I adore this - pg4: Papa used that gesture sometimes when Zu felt overwhelmed or her sensory issues kicked in and she couldn’t calm down. I'd rather be shown this first, then get the gesture explanation. Right now it's just telling, I think, more than anything else - pg 5: I can't remember, was lying to the priest hard for her? It makes sense that lying to her father is, and that's another one of those fairly common autism sets that I'm not sure if you're trying to edge to the autism side, or just keep as a neurotypical response. It's sort of half and half right now - pg 6: "This is insane!" While the words 'crazy,' 'insane,' etc., are just starting to really come under fire in the writing community for being ableist (and quite frankly I'm not even sure where I fall on that line), in a book with a neurodiverse character, they might be too on the nose. - pg 9: oh wow that whole 'you told me to be normal so I did' section is excellent - pg 10: Ahhh, hanging a lantern on ableism! YAY! - pg 11: there are no other autistic people in the whole town? I kind of side eye this since it's so prevalent historically, but this is a fantasy so hey, maybe things are different - pg 11: Let’s not get crazy now <-- since you called out ableism directly, I'm thinking these words should definitely not be in there unless you explain why they'd persist in the vocabulary of a man who just realized he was being ableist - pg 13: Someone like you, she noted.. WOW that's a gut punch - pg 15: I think M is my favorite - pg 18: the ceremony section is fantastic