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Mandamon last won the day on February 26 2013

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About Mandamon

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    Complex and Unnecessary
  • Birthday May 26

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    North Carolina
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    Practicing and Teaching Karate, Reading, Writing, Gaming, Tinkering
  1. I think this still has some of the issues I noted when I read the previous draft, mainly involving the political situation. The more I think about it, the more I think you could easily remove the first 6 pages and start with the actual concert. That would give you space to show a lot more of Ir's reaction during the performance, and like @shatteredsmooth said, even have a chance for her to use her powers. It would also give a little more to expand on the BK. His character is very interesting, but I don't think we see enough during the book to really understand his motives. The second chapter has some strange contradictions for me, in that their society is based on hospitality, and people from other countries are presumably able to visit on a regular basis. I don't understand why they are so antagonistic based just on country of origin. I'll also second the comment about protests didn't really land right, especially given the past several months. That might be more dependent on topical news, but also monarchies generally don't get along well with protests or questioning rulers. Notes while reading: Ch 19 pg 1: Yes, I think the first page of this can go, starting with S braiding Ir's hair. The worldbuilding is interesting, but having it scattered around a little, like L eating raindrop cookies during a different scene, would present the information better. pg 2: wait, why would she lose the restaurant if she didn't play well enough? Was that ever a threat? pg 3: Hmmm...okay, you could actually cut that whole scene until the break, and maybe have Ir. think of a few key images like S braiding her hair and her father bringing the pins home while they're walking her to the gate. Really, you could cut that too and start with Ir smoothing her costume. Hey! I found your 1000 words to cut for this sub ;-) pg 6: Some good emotion in here, but still waiting to get to the performance. pg 8: Well, we really only get a page of Ir. dealing with the actual concert before switching to BK's POV. I'd like to see more of her actually dealing with the nerves. pg 8: "Four hundred gallons of water" --what will water do specifically? I appreciate he can manipulate it, but I'm not sure why it's specifically presented here. Aside from getting an assassin wet, what is it going to achieve? pg 10: I appreciate BK's assessment of Ir., but I'd like to see just a bit more of her struggling with playing well and how much effort she put into it. pg 10: "those who had put their careers on the line" --I never really got the threat for their careers. It seemed to be more imagined on their part. I'd like to see more of a direct threat. I think the celebration afterward would have a lot more impact that way. Ch 20 pg 11: Again, there's a lot of celebrating, but we didn't see the struggle pg 12: "not because of his loyalties.” --I feel like we haven't really seen racial or country-based tensions like this before, but suddenly it's a big deal to invite someone from another country to their house. pg 14: "Hospitality was everything in T" --yeah, see this directly conflicts with their suspicion of having a foreigner in their home. pg 17: "massive, shadowy murderers" --Are the Fey also very large? Did we know that before? pg 20: "But that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to criticize my monarch." --This continues to be a sticking point for me. It basically rebuffs any complaints that the Bk is running a bad government in any way. For a monarch to allow subjects to publicly criticize it is one of the hallmarks of modern reform, which immediately makes me turn against the revolutionaries as not knowing what they're getting into. pg 22: “It’s why I didn’t want either of them to know about the project up north. It’s just another thing to worry them.” --Except J warned them off a bad situation. Otherwise, T might have been tempted to take the job. I'd much rather face a few unpleasant facts that barrel headlong into a situation where I don't know the undercurrents.
  2. I really liked this story! The wild weird theme was very cool and despite you saying the characterization was lacking, I think it was well done. The language could probably be tightened up just a little. It gets a western vibe is some parts, but not others. I think you could lean into it more since it fits with the theme and add a bit more dialect. Two nitpicks for me: 1) I'd have liked a little more through-line to the vignettes. I got lost in the middle as to what they were actually doing, so a few more references to "this is a journey" and what the destination was might help. 2) The end was disjointed for me, just because it was hard to understand what happened. I think the progression of events is fine, just need some better blocking in the last couple pages. I think this could definitely end up in a magazine somewhere. Are you planning on submitting it anywhere? Notes while reading: pg 1: traveler people--I'm interested. pg 1: "he would tell her more stories for another night" --delete "for" pg 2: cool magic. pg 4/5: The ghost bit is interesting, but I don't know what it adds yet. Her story is told in a sort of rushed manner like all the information needs to be on the page quickly. (edit after finishing: this is one of the longer vignettes, but I don't think it adds much. It could be shortened in favor of more emphasis at the end, or another brief vignette, if wordcount is an issue.) pgs 6-7: This part seems to be sort of slice of life/traveling. I'm really enjoying it, but I'm also waiting to get to the main plot. (edit after finishing: This is where a couple reminders would be helpful) pg 16: unclear on where the knives came from with the girl at the gate. I think the old man got possessed and then tried to kill the girl? I'm not sure what happened to the creature that was following them either. Did it kill the old man, or did something else happen? pg 17: Nice message of hope for the end. It could be a little more definite, but overall, I really enjoyed this story!
  3. 1) I see this chapter as M pulling away from Mi and gravitating towards A and T, being more positive towards them than him. If you see it differently, can you please let me know and point out specifics to help me understand the way you see it? --I clarified some points below where I still don't think this is the case, but basically it comes down to that M's switch in affections comes at the same time as she's dealing with trauma, so it's doesn't read as genuine, so much so that T&A even recognize it and send her back to Mi. If they had recognized what was happening and offered to leave the party with M and take care of her, or if Mi wasn't so obviously protective, it might read differently. 2) Is it clear that M is Not Okay and not quite thinking clearly a consequence of the psychic fight with the Demon? --I think it might be overkill. M is blurred and not thinking clearly to the point where it's hard to understand parts of the chapter, and other characters tend to arrive as if by magic. I think maybe toning it down, or only showing where it specifically affects talking with people or navigating might make it less intrusive. Notes while reading: pg 2: "The trail titled until water was a wall on her right." --titled -> tilted. Took me a moment to understand the sentence. pg 2: "“It shouldn’t be this hard to heal me.” --I'd say "to heal myself" or just "to heal." pg 2: I don't remember the immediate aftereffects of the fight with the demon being as bad as what M is going through here. I looked back at last week and it sort of ends with her in pain, but not this close to being incapacitated. Might be partially WRS. pg 3: Wait--where did Mi come from? Is M hallucinating? pg 5: Now M's just ignoring Mi? pg 5: “What did you just say?” --is this in reference to Blackout Protocol, or that a demon had a mind fight with her? --edit: I guess both, from the next page? pg 7: Lol. Mi drives a delorean? pg 8: I know M isn't thinking straight, but a lot of this chapter seems disjointed. I'm not sure where Mi came from and we're suddenly finding out a lot more about him that we haven't learned in the first seven chapters. pg 10: I think this is where you say M is pulling away from Mi, but I'm not really seeing it. She is concerned about T&A, but that seems natural based on what just happened. However Mi is still the one who comes to her aid and helps her. They share secrets. They have a lot more chemistry together than M with T&A. pg 11: There's attraction shown between T and M here, and if there was more setup before now, I'd probably believe it. Right now it just reads as weird since M hasn't been doing stuff like this the whole book. pg 12: “What happened to pizza?” --not sure what this is referring to. pg 13: “Are you high?” --yeah, I'd probably be asking that too. M is NOT acting normally at all, which also undermines her wanting to be with T instead of Mi. pg 17: "“Going to a party and getting drunk for the first time ever is not the thing to do after getting mugged at knife-point." --Hard agree. I think this is the problem here. All of M's affections toward T&A feel like a product of her impaired mental ability right now, not like anything genuine. Hmmm...and this end with M back with Mi. T&A recognize that her affections are also not real, and put her back where she should be.
  4. I did catch the implications that the pixies were in the room, but I didn't know they were capable of fully protecting T&A. A couple sentences about that will likely clear things up.
  5. Yes. Definitely too quickly. I made a note below. Speaking from experience at a party school... YES. In fact, that's why Pioneer Days got banned in this city. And why Halloween pulls in at least three to five different towns' police forces. Kids - *hem* young adults - will legit drive from my hometown an hour and twenty minutes south just to come to my city to party on days that aren't Labor Day/Halloween/Saint Patrick's/Caesar Chavez Day. Party central is literally nicknamed "The Zoo." So I found this to be perfectly realistic. I didn't go to a party school--I went to a boring engineering school. But a lot of students would make the 30 minute drive to the nearest party college. So yes, realistic. Overall, this chapter is a lot better. The switch from Mom to T&A works really well and makes a bigger connection between them and M. I also like the new look for the demon. Much scarier. I am left wondering what happens to T&A since M called the demon's bluff. It's not a great decision on her part and we're left without a resolution until at least the next chapter. As I said above, I was frustrated with how M skips out of Mi, especially when he's so vulnerable, but I think can be fixed with a few more sentences. Notes while reading: pg 1: "why she’d just ran away when they started having sex" --I think this may be where some of the awkwardness comes from in the first few paragraphs. It's a tell of feelings rather than a show, such as in the next couple sentences. pg 1: "she’d gone as far as blurting out the truth" --would she really do this? I'm not convinced. pg 3: "He stared at the ground. “Because it’s happened before.” “M, why did—.” “Please don’t ask.” --Still frustrated with these sorts of exchanges. "Here's an important piece of information directly connected to why I'm in danger. I'm telling you that it exists, but I don't want to talk about it." pg 6: "It was nice, but she missed the softness of" --These still feel like afterthoughts. Like T&A are nice to be around, but M is really into Mi. pg 7: "She clutched her phone to her chest. “Mi, I need to go. I’m sorry.” --Why is she incapable of saying "Some friends need my help?" She doesn't even need to explain anything about them, but give some indication of why she's running off. pg 8: "She tore her hands apart" --sounds like she's tearing her hands, not the air. pg 10: "It walked over to a bench and sat down, looking out at the water." --I think T&A being in danger work better than with her mom. I also like the "talking" demon better than the "fighting" one, especially if this will be a mental battle. pg 16: the demon battle is a lot clearer this time in how the two are fighting each other. I'm left wondering what's happening to T&A though. I can imagine the fight might have taken less than thee minutes, but M seems to be out afterward. Is she just letting the demon have them?
  6. No problem with multiple chapters. If you're around 5k words, you don't even need to ask to send out however many chapters fit in that limit. I think the additions here are good, and start to get more tension into the story at this point, but there needs to be more reaction. We quickly go back to the chapters and chapters of learning to play an instrument. I'd like more consequences of the spy escaping, and/or why the king is starting to get noble's names. Also why there's a surprise concert. Is he planning something? There could be a lot more intrigue to these middle chapters to set up what happens at the end of the book. Notes while reading: CH 17 pg 1: Talking about the mines and using revolutionaries for labor definitely brings more gray area to the B.K. Good addition. Need more of this! pg 1: Not sure why he's standing outside in the rain, though. He could have done his thinking inside. Did he want to get wet? pg 2-3: I think there needs to be more tension through here. The performance is in 19 days! She's going to spoil everything! But P. is just like, do what you can...oh well. Even if not a threat, then a "we really need you to do well. We're all counting on you." pg 3: I missed why they were in the library. We suddenly switch from the concert to looking for a spy translating things? pg 4: "She met the owl’s knowing yellow eyes" --Doesn't she only know that the spy's name starts with an "F"? Does it have to be this individual? Couldn't there be more names that start with "F"? --Good tension though, that Ir. lets F. get away. pg 6: I'm not sure why they think the B.K. is setting her up for failure. Doesn't he want to use Ir.'s ability? Why would he make her fail and by extension make her useless to him? CH 18 pg 8: Good that she's still worried about the spy. pg 8: "and indentured servants" --this is a big change from what we've seen so far with the castle. It's been a lot of people working hard at their jobs for what they believe. This completely undermines that. pg 9: "Although I wasn’t able to manipulate emotions until after the explosion." --So did he have a power before that at all, or was he a null? pg 11: This is starting to drag a bit. I know that's the emotion in the story, but it also makes it harder to read. We don't need to be frustrated along with Ir. at the monotony of learning an instrument, we want a summary that shows she is frustrated. pg 12/13: I'm glad her father has some sense that people are going to have to change under this new rule. However I feel like this might be something he'd have said early on when the B.K.'s rule was solidified. pg 14: 'She had spent all of that time believing that she had been hired to find spies. Now, she wasn’t so sure." --except she did find a spy--exactly what she was meant to do. Except she let him escape. pg 16: hmmm...I'm not sure the last section adds anything useful. We already know the king is collecting names and wants to use Ir for that purpose. Collecting an influential merchant or noble's name seems like an obvious extension of that.
  7. Overall, I think this chapter is good, right up until the very end. I don't completely buy M blowing everyone off to run after her grandfather. I think this is a trick by the demon, right? But the reader doesn't know about it until later? At any rate, I think M needs a more compelling reason than "some hikers she doesn't know are probably already dead" to blow off a month of planning, and getting to see three close friends AND not telling them anything about it. If nothing else, she could at least say there was a family emergency with her grandfather. Notes while reading: I like the second epigraph. More targeted at the characters. pg 2: "felt her break their arm" --their -> her pg 2: "damaged Mom’s feet and the lower parts of her legs" --you could probably just say "damaged Mom's legs," unless there's a specific reason why her feet are singled out. pg 3: "Her and A flirt a lot." Her -> she pg 3: "about her identity" sounds a little awkward. Maybe just "about herself?" pg 3: "That’s because you’ll laugh if I tell you.” --Mom instantly guesses this, which is strange. Have there been other times M was infatuated with someone named after her father? Otherwise, his name might just be Snagglepus, or Slartibartfast. pg 4: "made any serious costumes" --"since" missing. pg 4: "and had" -> "and it had" Pg 5: Cool costume. I like the phone sleeve. pg 5: "M braced herself for whatever comment her mom would make next." --I don't think this is necessary with the previous sentence. pg 7: M says she's just starting to feel physical attraction, but the thoughts at the end of pg 7 are pretty detailed for "just starting." pg 8: "“Call him back and tell him no,” “Tell him to find someone else.” --I'm firmly with Mom on this one. I don't really believe M could just drop everything she'd planned for a month with being a lot more hesitant about it. pg 11: "Then they’re probably already dead." --Which means it's not as urgent to meet up with her grandfather, right? pg 11: "She didn’t tell him she wouldn’t be there tomorrow." --also not sure I believe this. How could he not connect her absence to what he directly called to as/tell her about?
  8. Thanks for letting us know, and hope everything goes well!
  9. Looking back to my notes on draft 2, since this chapter is basically the same, I think this is where I first started to get really confused on what the Fey were. Something I'm not sure was ever answered - what does a null have to do with the Feylands? Is it just that they can touch iron, or is there something else to it? This is also where I started to get confused on the country/city layout. I'm not really sure where Them. and Maith. fit with Pem. Are these all independent kingdoms? Is there a larger empire they belong to with the B.K.? Is there a larger continent? pg 6: was L. particularly cold or pompous? I don't really remember that. The part with J and Ir at the end really feels like a good start for their relationship, but as I can recall, from this point it sort of levels out and doesn't go anywhere. This might be a good place to lean into that a little more. Overall, the arc is still a bit light for these last several chapters. I think it would be pretty easy to pick the tensest moments out of them, but some of the fluff, and make this into one or two chapters about meeting the musicians and Ir starting a relationship with J.
  10. There's also always unarmed combat, or some of farming-based weaponry used to defend against swords by Okinawan peasants (nuchaku, tonfa, staff, sai, etc...). Gives it a nice twist to be fighting with weapons specifically designed to be used against swords.
  11. Very similar to the one I read! I think the back half of the chapter is really good and really gets the musician characters centered in the story. This is where I first saw Ir. and J as a thing, and their relationship could easily develop from here. The first half still has the problems stemming from the government worldbuilding. Two main problems I had are: 1) S. comes across as sort of a whiny privileged person. She regards being a revolutionary as a new hobby, to help out all the people who don't understand that they're oppressed. She reads as someone who hasn't really seen hardship, but just wants to protest change. Again, more setup with how the government works will help this. 2) The whole census thing. We've been doing various forms of censuses for thousands of years, all the way back to Egypt at least. Generally a census is regarded as a good or at least neutral thing, where the government learns where to send money effectively. The only problem here might be cataloging magical abilities, though they don't seem to be secret in this society. I just don't believe at the moment that there would be such a negative reaction to the announcement.
  12. There's an interesting hook in here with the artifact getting stolen, but I'm sort of confused by people's reactions to each other, and the reactions in general. Several times there were weighted descriptions of reactions (like the one on pg 4) that didn't seem to mean much, or were hard to understand. I'm also confused by how At. goes blabbing about his job to everyone who can hear and is then surprised when he gets attacked for it, but then is suddenly suspicious of the people who are helping him. It seems inconsistent. Overall, an enjoyable read. I thing the reactions can be fixed fairly easily. Notes while reading: pg 1: "gawked aristocratically" --not sure I can picture this. pg 1: "revesced mail" --Not sure what this is either. pg 1: "But that had been before." --You already said this was when he was young, so I don't how much this sentence adds. It just makes me ask, "before what?" pg 2: "The admission came with surprising ease. Was it because he trusted H?" --It's pretty obvious he trusts H, because he's an old teacher and he's interjected himself in the conversation. Could probably cut both these sentences or replace with a more visceral reaction. pg 2: "gave me a job. A dangerous one" --he's saying all this stuff in front of the other people at the table? Should it be secret? pg 2: oh, so "revesc-" is a magic term? Ah. explained a few sentences down. pg 4: "The words carried a weight, as if they were significant to the man." --I'm...not really sure what this means. It was a simple question. Also, I guess there are people who overheard. pg 4: "We need to talk but he doesn’t know where to contact me.” --he's really trusting about just handing out all his information and a description of his work to a stranger. pg 5: "Do not go further." --That's pretty clear from the last sentence. pg 7: Ath. is quick to run after At. Might be more believable if they shared more than a few sentences. pg 8: "At. moved to stand between him and E." --Now he tries to block a strange from helping? Who knows medicine? Why? pg 8: “I don’t really have a choice, do I?" --he's trusted everyone he's met so far... pg 9: "Like all aristocrats, it seemed Ath could put on a show" --what show? pg 10: “Okay. I will help.” --he...wasn't asked to help and At. seems to suspect him (now, though not before for some reason...). There are some weird difference in trust in this chapter.
  13. And @shatteredsmooth, right?
  14. Welcome to Reading Excuses @Stevent! Looking forward to reading through the novel!