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447 Ghostblood

About industrialistDragon

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  1. that's probably me. I slapped a footer on at the last minute and that probably skewed the formatting. Teach me to format anything, lol. plaintxt only next time! DIY punctuation! An early reader told me the queen was plotting against the prince and was evil. I'm glad that's not where the bell curve landed here. Likewise, the question about the wizards was because an early reader told me they were the good guys and they should have won. Once I have two brain cells to rub together again and the energy to do it, that is very doable. Ach, but it makes my judiciary-inclined heart so happy! You and everyone else has told me that and I know it needs to go. It's going to be the verymost last thing I edit, however. Hornbooks are cool! So, the specific item was a sort of paddle with the alphabet painted on or attached to it, often with a thin sheet of horn over top, that was used to help teach young children their letters. They look really super neato and I really like them. "Hornbook," as the generic noun, refers to any primer on a subject, and implies a primer that's contained in a single volume (so, like, technically, those "Idiot's Guide" and "For Dummies" books would count as hornbooks. Hm. Also those "in a nutshell" and "a very short introduction" books). It's not in general use anymore, though I've definitely seen it in fantasy novels, and I think the main place it pops up in modern times is in legal terminology. lol, not that you'd ever want to pick up a legal hornbook one-handed. I'm willing to entertain something with less modern associations, but I was stumped. "Professional smile" is a phrase I've seen to mean a very specific thing, which is what I was looking for. The closest analogue is "poker face" but that comes with "stern" or "blank" associations and this is the look of someone who spends the majority of their time interacting with the public and who has to appear friendly and attentive and nonthreatening even when they want to flip tables and rage quit. This is exactly what I was going for and given the weight of the rest of the responses something I need to address. I think I've figured out where I can make it more apparent on the face of things. Hopefully I remember it when I get back to editing. Basically the same thing the girl is worried about: wizards. Wizards would not react well to the discovery because it would prove the girl was lying to them (and they are Too Important To Be Lied To), it shows the girl has been faking the whole time, it ALSO shows they've been teaching a horse (quelle horreur!), and that they were not smart enough to figure any of it out. Commoners, girls and horses doing magic (at all but also) better than them upends everything they hold important about themselves. Since they pretty much think the horse/girl phenomenon is a WMD and terrorist organization combined (and also something they really, really want to use to fuel their own magical WMDs), the queen sees the deception of the wizards as a very risky move. A lot of that is extra stuff that I didn't think fit in this story, since really all the wizards need to be is willing to dabble in a little bit of wanton animal cruelty to accomplish what they're needed for here. fair catch, thank you. That second thing. My fairytale polycule gets to have a happy equal-partners-playing-to-their-strengths ending, but I couldn't quite figure out how to make an outright statement of it fit beyond the "love at first sight" gag. It needs more thinking. The queen is letting the girls have enough rope to hang themselves with. Also, I thought I needed it for repetition purposes, and to put a lampshade on why she didn't just step in. It's my least favorite repetition of the phrase and one I've debated removing (but then I'd need a third somewhere else and argh.). Pretty much this, exactly. it's not the right framework for emotional gut-punches. Yep. This is me worrying not just that i'm being too obvious, but that I'm being condescendingly obvious. I'm very glad that wasn't the case. Hey all, sorry I got a little prickly there. I subbed when I did because I thought I was on an upswing, but like the fool on the card, didn't notice the cliff at my feet. Real life punched me in the face. I have like 4 different doctor appointments next week, lol. Anyway, thanks for putting up with me. I have a lot of stuff to work on here, thank you!
  2. Real life decided I'm not allowed to have nice things so sorry this is so short. I have eaten a lot of sugar to counteract that so hopefully it's coherent. This reads much better than the old version, definitely. The gunfight still feels a little random to me, because I have a bit of difficulty believing the sheriffs K would draw in a confined area like that on someone they were at least neutral towards (but was it the gun? they saw the gun first and reacted to that then noticed it was Mor?), but the fight is set up much better than last time, and the lead-in is more natural-feeling, and I have a much better sense of where everyone is in relation to each other. The fight still kind of plays into the yakety sax music I have in my head whenever the sheriffs K are on screen, but I think that that will be minimized by some of the changes you've mentioned in earlier chapters, hopefully. Tinfoil hat theory (likely) verified, nice!
  3. Boy I did not have anything coherent written for anything that was subbed this week. So I am only dropping in here to say this this yes please this definitely this for definitely this.
  4. Well, I have hopped myself up on too much sugar to hopefully have enough energy to get through this, so here's hoping it's also coherent. Having seen them both, I think the "what's going on at home" chapters should be next to each other, then R's "this is going on at home but how do we kill it" should go before Man's "this is going on at home and I killed it dadgum dead" chapter. That way, the questions each chapter brings up get answered by the next chapter, more or less, and it feels like that would be forward progression in terms of what's going on in the chapters, and not doubling back. It also might imply Man has been trapped by the bubble, for what that's worth. I have no idea where each chapter fits in an overall timeline at this point, either. After they escape the city, though, I think I'm with @shatteredsmooth . This is all good information, but I'm not sure how much of it needs to really be on-screen, if that makes sense. I feel like the tension, which was really good up to that point, just flatlines with the discussion at the estate. Could some of the roundtable going on be summarized in another place in the story? The other thing, I think, is that a lot of the characters feel like still just names and floating heads to me, even this set that I've been with for longer in the other books. I'm thinking maybe I need a bit more description of their appearances or species maybe? Worked in to the opening chapters here and there? Some of it already is, for sure, but I think maybe a little more? Like, I'm trying to think, and I'm not sure I recall here yet any mention that Meth==human-in-appearance in this book, so Ri in particular is just a big blank, even though I feel like I know her best from the other books. And I have completely forgotten who the Gmv are, sorry.
  5. They can take mine, too. I am not in fact talking about things I don't know about. I do not feel that a public forum is the place to discuss my private medical history, nor do I owe that to you in order for my statement to be valid. I would appreciate it if you did not quote whole sentences out of my work. I do not agree with your interpretation of what does and does not count as omniscient POV, but the explanation of where and how you became confused is a helpful critique.
  6. @Lightbearer, @Mandamon, @Sarah B thank you for replying! It is both. 'Horse' can mean specifically the male animal, but it can also be used in a gender-neutral sense to mean the animal of either gender. That is the sense it is being used here. The gender-neutral definition is common and well known. Much like "cow," which is both a term for the female animal and the gender-neutral term for the type of animal of either gender, "horse" has a gender-specific and gender-neutral meaning. The girls are consistently referred to as sisters throughout, and "horse" is used in the gender-neutral sense prior to the introduction of the character, so I feel like, even if the gender-neutral usage of the word is not known, the meaning can be gleaned from context. "Mare" also comes with some connotations and implications I did not think fit with the tone I wanted for this story, so I did not use it until the end. A gentle reminder here that one's ability to speak has nothing to do with one's ability to reason, and the conflation of the two is one of those ridiculous ableist ideas that perniciously sneaks into all kinds of places if one is not paying close attention to keeping it out. The horse can speak. The horse chooses not to speak to people who wouldn't listen to her anyway. Also, in writing, on-screen dialogue is not the only way to show characters talking and interacting with each other. The horse is referred to as being a good conversationalist in at least one early paragraph, possibly two, and later is shown interacting with the girl in an intelligent manner that requires conversation. Interacting on-screen with the male lead is not required to prove one's ability to reason. Thinking on it now, I might have deleted a second reference for rhythm in this version I sent. It might be worth putting back, given the confusion, even though it implied the horse was talking while a horse. That might be a better side on which for this to fall. However, this is also a fairy tale. Animals in fairytales, if they are not intended for consumption (and sometimes when they are) almost always talk and behave in ways that are different from the ways animals behave in real life. Foxes and frogs turn into princesses; horses, deer, and birds of all sort advise and aid protagonists in their quests. It is assumed, in a fairy tale, that if the fox or selkie or fish or dragon or hind becomes a woman, she knows how to operate her new body; likewise, when the brothers are turned into a bear or a raven or a swan or a deer that they know how to survive in their new bodies without it appearing specifically on the page. Falada doesn't speak until he is dead and his head nailed to the bridge, yet there is nothing in that story justifying this other than a line in the beginning saying the (then living) horse talks. This is a fairy tale and effortless transformations are a well-established part of this kind of tale. If this was a much longer work written in a much different style, I might put in a scene addressing this issue. However, this is a fairytale, and it is short. This is a fairy tale, using Western European fairy tale stereotypes, which I believe is very clear from they way I have structured the opening. It has castles and princes and wizards. As such, there are the class issues inherent in any highly stratified society such as this. When one is a commoner or a piece of chattel property (which can be a little bit like saying the same thing twice, depending on how dark you want your interpretation of the class system to be), and a noble or high academic or prince says a thing will happen, one's recourse is severely limited. In fairy tales, when the king says to catch and skin one of every animal in the kingdom and to make a dress out of starlight so that he can marry his own daughter, that is what happens. When the father says he must chop off his daughter's hands, she puts them on the chopping block. The weavers and the hunters don't get to say no. He is the king. The miller's daughter doesn't run away. He is her father. If this were a much longer work written in a much different style, I would bring the class differences and issues to the forefront as a subplot, because this is something I am interested in. If you are interested in such things, T Kingfisher's novel The Seventh Bride does deal with the class issue within a fairytale-like scaffold, and I highly recommend it. This is fair. The price is something of a rube, and is here quoting the wizards in an attempt to convince both himself and the girl that this is the way it has to be, despite knowing that it is both a cruel decision and not what his heart desires. That's a lot to get out of one contradictory paragraph, and one I need to rework. Thank you. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then it's obviously not the problem I was worried about it being, and that is very much of a relief. Thank you! The girl should be, as "a fairy tale wedding with white horses and a carriage" is something many girls fantasize about, but that horses (i would imagine) are somewhat indifferent to. The horse is more often at the balls, because she enjoys the artifice and intrigue, and the girl has had to work too many events like them in her prior life to really enjoy attending them from the other side. That is the point, yes. But also, copper, bronze, and brass are all related. Copper is the pure metal, bronze is copper plus tin (and/or zinc, nickel, aluminium, arsenic etc), and brass is copper plus zinc. Realistically, bronze and brass are usually much closer in color tone to each other than copper and bronze. Copper looks like copper looks like certain rosy shades of rose gold (which makes sense because rose gold is just copper and gold). Brass is occasionally called "poor man's gold" because it closely resembles certain formulations of gold and is very yellow. Bronze is usually somewhere between the two, not as warm as copper, but not as harsh as brass. And of course, throw some asphaltum and charcoal and shellac, or black oxides over something and it gets darn hard to tell anything apart! I was fairly worried someone would call me on the unrealistic idea that copper and bronze were that closely related tonally. However, the girl is where the story starts, and the prince is blond because of the tropes I am playing with, so that left bronze for the horse. And again, it is a fairytale. If a pea or a pebble can be detected through fifty or a hundred mattresses, and everyone accepts that is reasonable and a reasonable way to judge the merit of a person, then I don't feel like the differences between red highlights and taupe highlights are that unreasonable to be detected, within the strictures of a fairy tale either. If this was a much longer work written in a much different style, I would go into detail about this and the other differences between the girls to address this issue. However, this is a fairy tale, and it is short. if this were a much longer work written in a much different style, it would be a big deal definitely! However, this is a fairy tale, and short. And much the way in fairy tales no one worries when the king uses feathers to decide his kingdom's fate, I am not going to worry about the things that happen after the wedding. "They ruled justly and well" is a common ending in the tales that end in marriage, even when the kingdom has gone to the son named Simpleton, or entire wedding party has just witnessed incredible acts of brutality and decisions so mercurial as to be disastrous in a ruler. This is a fairy tale, and what happens after "they ruled justly and well" is a different sort of story.
  7. Thank you for reading. Sorry it is so rough.
  8. Fair enough!
  9. That does make me feel a little better, lol (though the last book had a bunch of POVs as well and I think I remember grumping about it... ). Out of curiosity, since these two books are so closely linked, why split them at all? I know the era of the Big Fat Fantasy Novel is passed, but they do still appear from time to time out of traditional publishers, and this is your self-pub series, so you're the only one who has control over it, so. I'm not trying to be accusatory or anything, I'm just generally curious -- how do you decide where to break a book, when the story is very large like this, and it's in a digital-first format where physical-page count considerations have become largely irrelevant? What's to stop you from telling the story straight through, and not giving yourself the hassle of these recap chapters? I wish I had a good suggestion, or any suggestion really, of how to deal with the name overload. I think the POV jumps contribute to exacerbating the feeling though. But I got nothing else, sorry.
  10. I think that would help, especially with some reminders then in this book. Right now, it all seems to be popping up out of nowhere and that sets off my continuity bells.
  11. Like the others, I think this is a good piece, but suffers from a lack of narrative focus. This leads to a lack of tension and the feeling like there is a lot of excess information here. It reminds me more of a character study than a piece with any kind of directed narrative thrust or plot. This reads less to me as a coherent story than an exploratory exercise for some longer work. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, and I would certainly read a longer work in this setting, but if the intent is to have a story here, I feel like a lot of extraneous pieces will need to removed for it fit together better. As I go: This is a well-written piece and the world is interesting, but I feel like it wanders around a lot in the beginning. I have some reservations about casting a war criminal of this nature in a sympathetic light, but that might be bleed-over from my watching most of the New Year's Twilight Zone marathon. Rod Serling had some opinions, there. I also agree about the story really starting around the page 10 or 12 mark. The rest is good for the author to know, but a fair bit of it doesn't seem to me to really go towards the point of the story. A is quite the strong personality. I like her a lot. There's just a lot of extraneous bits in this and I think once those get sorted out or streamlined, it'll be really great. One that stuck out particularly oddly to me is the theme of the war, and people having war memories that affect their actions. It pops up a couple times but never seems to g anywhere or have much bearing on what happens in the story. There are some bits that feel like they're out of a slice-of-life piece or a character study, there are other parts that remind me of a coming-into-one's-own story, but neither of those takes the forefront or shapes the rest of the piece. Everything is just sort of arranged next to each other, but they aren't really interacting to form a complete whole.
  12. Hurray for a M POV! Pretty much just toss me in with the rest for the feeling frustrated part. I really want this to get moving, and everytime it seems to finally tell me "Yes, we're gonna go now," the action then turns around and stops. As I go: I feel like Q's trust/I-will-never-be-like-you speech is a little awkward and could use a pass to make it more ... mmm Q-ish-ly erudite? I am a bit confused what Mor is asking them about, honestly. How does he, with all of the resources he can call on, lose a 3/4-dead, indoor housecat of a researcher, and what I have gathered from the text is a completely average housewife (or at least, not a super-secret secret super-spy of the caliber and paranoia necessary to elude someone with Mor's skills and resources on the fly pretending to be a housewife). At this point, I'd be more willing to believe he just came in to gloat and yank Q's chain a bit, maybe tease/torment Q about the proximity/sanity of Q's wife/son. Wait, why are the sheriffs double-K drawing on Mor? Also why are they doing so in a crowded jail area? Isn't he just wanted for questioning? I can't remember if they had anything other than Q&M's word that Mor was responsible for things... So, why was Mor there at all? He wasn't gloating, and he had to know Q&M wouldn't tell him anything, out of general principle if nothing else, so all he ends up doing is aggravating the sheriffs K and using up a flash grenade. I'm confused. I love M and M's POV, and I love the increased use of vernacular and idioms that comes with her sections (even if I don't always catch their meaning without google-san), but I"m left wondering at the point of this chapter. What moved forward, story-wise? Q&M are still stuck reacting, not acting. They escaped confinement and traveled the pub/diner (number four? five? So many pub/diners... ), had some character moments, and MC broke the rules of the world to whine about not-very-much. I enjoyed the character moments, they are good and I don't want to see them go! But I feel like I've seen this chapter before. A couple times at this point. I'm not sure the intimation that MC helped shelter the distressed-damsels and a town name is enough of a revelation to make up the meat of a whole chapter.
  13. Color me cautiously on board with an Mand chapter at the moment. Like @kais, I am suspicious of so many POVs so early in the novel; it makes it very hard for me to get invested in any one part. Plus, I still harbor a lot of suspicion about M's usefulness as a major player in the story in particular from last book (wasn't he going to be peeled off into his own novella?), and this chapter doesn't do a whole lot to convince me I really need to be here with him, unfortunately. The action was good, and I really liked the end bits where M is figuring out how to kill the aetheric acid-caterpillars. His solution was novel but made a lot of sense in-world, so that was very well done. As I go: I like that this excerpt from a treatise is longwinded and dry... but it is also longwinded and dry. If it has stuff in it that is important to the story, I think those bits should maybe shine out a bit more... Ohh, Mand chapter. I thought he was moving off into his own novella? I am cautiously interested. I am definitely with @kais on the too many povs too early in the novel feeling. I am also still sort of wondering what purpose Mand chapters serve, since they only seem to touch on the main story at oblique angles. Wouldn't we be getting this introduction to this side of the N after-the-caterpillars-of-doom-invade from S when he comes back home (which I assume will be next chapter)? Wouldn't it have a bit more resonance from S, who seems to me to feel things more intensely, than Mand, who appears to always be at more of a remove? Sorry to admit, I am skimming right over a lot of these names and political affiliations. I know they matter from prior books, but I'm not invested in the political side of the story yet and so they're not registering as important to me. Same for some of the bit players in Mand's band of mages. It's too jittery. The last part, with Mand figuring out how to kill the caterpillars, was very thrilling, and not something S would really figure out on his own, I don't think. I sort-of wish I'd gotten more like that, instead of what was the beginning of this chapter. I also hope he and S meet up soon. I think that would make the Mand chapters more palatable to me.
  14. Hello and welcome! This was a very well done story! To get right to your questions: 1. Is it interesting to anyone beside me? Yes i was interested 2. Did you guess what was going to happen too soon/too late? Is it too obvious or too non-obvious? I pegged it from the beginning. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as I remained interested throughout, for the most part. Cozy slice-of-life stories aren't really my thing (I feel like they wander too much), but this was tightly plotted and kept me interested throughout. I certainly don't think the twist needs to be more obvious! I think it's at just the right amount of non-obvious. Tropes aren't necessarily bad, and knowing how one will end isn't bad, either. It's a winter ghost story and it plays out like a winter ghost story. That's very satisfying. 3. General thoughts on character and description - do they fit the scope of the story? There are some nitpicks I have with a couple word choices and other things for flow and rhythm reasons, but those are things that can be fixed easily and are usually evident in all drafts. Others up thread have covered a lot of them already so I won't belabor the point. Over all, nothing jumped out at me as unusual or odd, and all the comparisons seemed like they fit with the scope and theme of the story. This is a very well done draft! 5. I am notoriously terrible at naming anything, to the point where a lot of my early drafts just use wingdings or symbols in place of character names, so I'm going to bow out on this one. ^^; As I go: Why are winter birds wounded? I think maybe my confusion over the line isn't so much the name, as the way the phrases interact with each other. Right now, it sort of seems to me that the mother thinks of the daughter as a wounded (winter) bird like sort of as a neutral pet name/image, which seems odd to me. I think it is more that the daughter's pet name/image is a bird, and her unhappiness is what the mother is calling the bird's wounds? If so, then to me it wouldn't so much need changing as just some rejiggering for clarity. Absolutely know what you're talking about with granular snow. That's a good image. I usually associate that texture with very dry snow... I've never been to Seattle, does it get dry snow? That question is purely my own curiosity. The description is fine as-is. "girded on my oven mitt" -- Grammar nitpick, sorry. You don't really "gird on" a thing. To gird is to encircle or to fasten (like with a belt) or surround/encompass, so you could gird your hands with oven mitts though. Gird also has the meaning of "to prepare oneself for a difficult task," so you could gird yourself with oven mitts. There are some places that could be reworded for clarity and to reduce repetition, but overall this is very good. Some of the phrasing got a little awkward trying to work around never giving the daughter a proper name, but all that stuff can be fixed in an a round of editing. I did not find it particularly spooky, more cozy than anything, and maybe a little melancholy. I think I'm getting the "cozy" feeling from what @Silk was talking about regarding the obfuscated action - it's all just a little insulated from us, a little blurry. I feel like that works for the piece, though, since fog is such a central motif. Granular snow is totes a thing, though. I usually associate it with a very dry, lightweight, powdery snow, but the dictionary calls it a precipitation consisting of small ice crystals or pellets that resembles snow. Wiki's got a little blurb on it under "types of snow" and the phrase has its own meaning for skiers. Totes a thing!
  15. Well, break is over, so now I'm getting caught up. Overall, I feel like this chapter is still a little scattered. It's jumping around a lot. Mostly though, I feel like the characters aren't really behaving in ways that are true to themselves or to what I've read about the world in the previous book. This whole chapter feels to me a bit like it's being drawn out to pad something. Like this chapter plus the prior one has characters being purposefully oblivious to the obvious solutions in order to manufacture more drama. I am left feeling slightly cranky that it took this long to get here. As I go. So, I understand why E is thinking of Ri at the beginning here, but I'm a little confused why there's no mention of the what to me seems to be very tempting offer of psychological help from actual Ari that they'd just been presented in the previous chapter. Surely that would have stirred up SOME emotions in E? She went from thinking she and her brother were the end of a species, to thinking she was a part of a horrific group of bloodthirsty monsters genetically primed to destroy all she held dear, to finding out she's part of a rich non-violent culture that still exists and welcomes her and she is the same species as the universally-beloved emperor-- and all that in the span of what, a month or two? Then she gets offered medical treatment by a group that is intimately familiar with what she's going through, people who won't harbor unconscious biases or stereotypes (which Ri would and does, from what I remember from prior book) about her and her inhuman nature, and she's just like "Nah, dawg, my boo wants to go home. S'cool, there's a lady on the other side who doesn't hate me all the time who won't know what she's doing. I'll get her to mess around in my head." And it's only when she physically attacks S that she clues in on the possibility of not doing what S wants. It's S's decision to stay that makes E accept staying. Did she lose all her sense of identity? I feel like she's being very plotful at the moment. "They were here voluntarily" -- Um. I would be careful with fantasy ghettos and making assumptions like this... "It even smelled a bit like her parents caravan" -- Emotions, please. There must be some here, given everything that such a smell association would bring up, and how closely smell is associated with memory... "strange not to know the body language" -- wouldn't the N tell her? Does it assume "you know your own kind" and ignore untranslated communication from species the same as the self? "She lifted one of her three arms" // "she gestured with all three arms" -- they? I really like the two of them working together, though it makes me wonder about E's other personalities watching and then taking over her mage powers at a later date... "the way to use the diadem" -- Why do they need to use it? Did they know previously that it HAD uses, other than being the symbol of the emperor? I feel like E just picked it up almost as an afterthought at the end of the last book. Do they feel anything about being assumed to be the only ones capable of using it, despite being variously barely stabilized from extreme traumatizing experiences and literally at war with the internalized personalities of a bunch of terrorist zealot assassins whose philosophy was so corrosive even the "good" dimension has eradicated it like an infectious disease? Do they feel like they should turn it over to the authorities now that they know its srs bzns? Like, the other Ari assuming E and I are going to wear and use it, sure, I can go along with that, but E and I (and S for that matter) being okay with what's tantamount to declaring themselves emperor? That feels a little weird to me. "There wasn’t anyone else suitable" -- Why are they assuming only Ari can wear it? Just because a pair of Ari siblings are/were wearing it now doesn't mean they're the only ones who can. Is this stuff the "natural to the species" superior attitude of the Ari that was tossed around last book coming through in E? It feels weird for the people from the other, non-Ari facet to be just assuming that yes, Ari *are* the only people capable of wearing the magic crown and thus ruling the N, and yes, of course anything an Ari was using has properties that only another Ari can access or manipulate. This current Ari-ruled facet, sure, why not. The zealot terrorists, definitely. But S, E, and I? I am skeptical. Am I forgetting something in-text that makes these foregone assumptions?