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About shatteredsmooth

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    The Meowditor's Human (They/Them)
  • Birthday 02/28/1988

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    I love speculative fiction, dogs, and cats. Aside from writing, swimming, hiking, biking, and kayaking are my favorite activities. Sometimes, I get ideas about triathlons and never follow through with them. I like growing my own food, but fertilizer feeds the toxic algae I want to keep out of the lake, so my garden doesn't always do that well.

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  1. This I strongly agree with this. Though I have a completely opposite reaction to W. I find W extremely relatable and likeable. I think her getting tangled in the drama and complaining about is a very teenage thing. Or at least it is based on what I remember from middle school and high school. To me it seems to fit the character. I also like N. I also like W unintentionally creating problems for herself. Maybe this is the one I was thinking of when I said something felt off about the dialogue but couldn't remember where. Agree I also liked this. A is getting toxic and it seems healthy to step away from that.
  2. This week is finals week, which means I am super busy (was still grading stuff at 11 p.m. last night), so I read this, but I didn't make any line by line comments. I have mixed feelings in terms of the overall structure and pacing. Personally, I was engaged and am enjoying the gradual reveals and loved some of the little details that made it relatable, like W really not liking phone calls. At times, some of the dialogue felt a little off, but at that point I was reading on my phone while waiting for my dog at the vet, so I did not actually mark which parts. I love W, E, and N and still find W to be extremely relatable. I like her more and more each chapter. Her thought process and decisions seem realistic to me and work well with the plot, sometimes moving forward, sometimes overcomplicating things (which I do all the time, lol). Potential pacing issues aside, I like W enough to just keep reading anyway. The other girls all seem very annoying and a little cliche. However, when I stop thinking subjectively about what I like and start thinking more objectively, I feel like at his point, there is a major plot thread missing. The A plot is the romance and that seems to moving along at an okay pace. But where is the B plot? The romance can be the main thing, but I feel like there should be something else happening. Something the W is actively working towards that will push her and N together. I thought investigating the flowers was going to be it, but that seems to have fallen away. I also feel like by this point in the story, most readers would be wanting more than just little hints about the paranormal side to it, unless this is more fabulism and there are only going to be tiny bits of magic scattered throughout, but then it would need to be labeled as that, not paranormal romance. You don't have to go and reveal everything, but I also feel like there needs to be more. I think so? There seemed to be the same kind of teenage pining that I see in most of the YA I read.
  3. I don't read a ton of non-fiction. The last non-fiction thing that I actually enjoyed was Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity
  4. I do wish you had mentioned the animal that died was a because I would've skipped the chapter. Seeing animal death followed up by chickens becoming dinner was no sufficient warning for what happens in this chapter. I just assumed the animal death was the chickens. is the one thing I really needed a content warning for. My anxiety is through the roof right now. Anyway, I'm going to skip the rest of this chapter, but I will probably pick up in the next one assuming However, if I were reading this as something I bought, I would be done. I think a lot of kids would really find this disturbing. The part about chickens being dinner? Fine. Chickens are food. . Does this happen in books? Sure. Will I read those books? No. Did they turn me off to reading when I was a kid? Yes. I recommend taking it out unless you truely believe it is 100% necessary. Maybe C sneaks the dog with her or something and saves it. p.s. C's mom has become an irredeemable villain in my head.
  5. I didn't really think anything about why she picked that day, but it looks like a lot of other people did. And now that they've pointed it out, I think they're right. However, maybe instead of adding a whole paragraph or two explaining it, you can work it in in pieces. You already have a good chunk of exposition before the action starts, which is okay, but if you add more, it would be too much. It does sound like essential information, so see if you can keep it concise and sprinkle it through.
  6. I liked this version much better. I didn't loose interest the same way I did before and feel like I have a better grasp on the setting. The voice also feels stronger. I do feel better connected to C, though I think there is still room to work in a little more emotion, as hard as it may be. Honestly, I think this is something a lot of us struggle with. I think the scene with the tree was strong. I felt emotionally grounded in the character. I felt like I was in the moment with C. The narrative voice gets a little more distant in the other scenes. I'm wondering if you could work in more almost physical reactions to show her emotion in the school scene. When she is looking at her paper, is she tense, sitting still with her hands folded while she reads it? Does she fidget? Does she trace the red marks and messy handwriting with her finger? When she raises her hand, does she do so with confidence? Does she hesitate? Throughout the story, sprinkling these kinds of details can ground the readers, help them make connections, and prevent them from getting too lost in C's thoughts and reflections. One random edit note that jumped to mind. There was one place you wrote "She hears G snicker..." I don't you need the "she hears" part. It's extra words and it add distance. Even as the scene continues, having some scattered references to her physical actions will ground some of the longer sections of internal thought and add a layer of emotion. My answer is yes. You've introduced a character toying with a curse, and now curse like things are happening to her in this strange town. I am hooked. I have mixed feelings about the place this ends. I love the last few lines. There is something poetic about them and they're layered with meaning. However, it's not the hookiest ending point. I love the feeling it conveys, but at that same time, something about doesn't push me into the next chapter and compel me to read more. If I had picked this up in a store, I would 100% read on anyway because I like so much about this chapter. However, if I were a literary agent reading dozens of first chapters that had showed up in my slush, this isn't necessarily the kind of ending that would make me think, okay, out of the dozens of things I've read today, this is the one I have to read more of. But then, that is a very subjective thing. But overall, I think you've done a fantastic job revising this. Yes, it needs a few more adjustments, but it is getting there.
  7. It totally makes sense for it not to get torn down. I think if it did, the whole book would be about it. I was just giving my spur of the moment reaction. Also a very subjective one. I thin just showing them navigating that world will be interesting and have plenty of tension. I don't have any answer about what should be done. I think waiting until you get more feedback on the story and get a better grasp on where you want to go with your revision is a good idea. I think I was 28 or 29 when I figured out I was nonbinary. But I also had never even heard the term before then. I didn't know I could be non-binary because I the concept didn't exist in my head. I remember reading about it and being like, "wow, this explains a lot." I was always extremely uncomfortable when I was in a group divided by gender, but it was years and years later before I understood why. Glad to hear it. :-)
  8. Ok after walked away from the computer I was thinking more about this. I think my comment could come off an insensitive to real cultures that do separate men and women in certain scenarios, so I want to apologize for that. I just tend to have strong reactions to people being sorted by gender because it is something that made me very, very uncomfortable when I was in situations (mostly in Catholic school and other churchy things) when I was forced to go with the girls. And re my comment about drawing from cultures you don't belong to, I think it can be done if you are willing to do the work. You just really need to commit to the research and maybe get sensitivity readers. I don't think it would make the book unpublishable as long as you really do the work to make sure you portrayal doesn't cause harm.
  9. So I have to admit, I had a hard time engaging with and focusing on this one. There was a lot of information crammed into a scene where the physical action just seemed to be walking into a building and meeting up with a few people (until the part about the duel). There was so much backstory delivered all at once through internal thinking that I didn't really engage and kept forgetting things a few minutes after I read them. Bear in mind I have ADHD and if I am not super interested in something or don't find something to immediately latch onto, my attention lags. I am also guilty of starting books like this, so... I felt like it really started at the end. Or could be a lot shorter. I'm not sure I really needed to all that was conveyed in this epilogue right away. Not really sure. I do not like things that are divided along binary gender, so I was getting pretty annoyed with a few things, but that is perfectly okay if the narrative is challenging those things. Like if your mc is ready to start some kind of social revolution in this world, then I'm on board. However, looking at it through the lens of representing actual cultures or things based off of them? I think I live in too much of a white american bubble to really comment on this specific. Lately, I tend to steer clear of borrowing from other cultures because I don't trust myself to really do the research and do it right, but that is a personal choice of mine. My instinct is no because I was fairly bored through it. I am wondering if this is more something that is an important part of the writing process but more for the author than the reader. However, I have no context, so I can't say for sure. I didn't have a whole lot of feelings about them either way. I was having trouble focusing. I was caught up in all the information and world-building and as a result didn't really get a good sense of the characters. Probably too much. I think in general there was too much. I hope someone smashes the gender binary in this story. I want the mc to win the fight against all odds and wind up in a position of power when he expected to die, and that to be part of the main story, but if this is a prologue, something tells me that won't happen and he won't even actually be one of the main characters, though I could be wrong. However, as a reader, if he did die after just the prologue, I would be grumpy. Even though my critique is kind of bleak, I was engaged by the very end and want to know how the fight plays out.
  10. I haven't and probably am not going to go read what everyone else said because I'm getting close to a deadline for something, but here are my thoughts. As far as plot and what actually happens, this seems mostly okay. C is a little passive in this one, but that might be okay as long as she becomes more proactive soon. T was more active though. I liked that she didn't wait and just went to check out the plane. In my opinion, the thing that needs the most work now is character reaction and emotion. This is very distant. The characters do things. We're told about some reactions, but even being told about those reactions is very on the surface. This probably applies to some of the previous sections too but I might not have commented on it because I was focused on other things. Really think about what each character things of everything that happens and how they feel. Try to work more of that into the narrative. I'm not quite sure how to read V. Part of it is because no one really reacts to him. He talks in a sort of cheesy way, which would work really well if that is what you are going for and you want readers to laugh at him. However, if you are going for funny, then I think the characters need to react more to him. If you are going for something more serious, I'm not sure he is working. Funny is good with middle grade, even if it is mostly a spooky book. A little humor can be a good way to off-set some of the scarier elements. I think you did pick a great point to end the scene at though. I'm looking forward to finding out what is in that plane.
  11. I know I read this, and I thought I commented on it, but I don't see my comments anywhere? I am assuming that means I either put them in the wrong story, never typed them, or typed them but never hit submit. And I cannot find it on my kindle, which is where I usually read and annotate. I think I actually read it on my phone while my cat was sitting on me. I do remember being very engaged while reading it. I remember liking W just as much here as in the other chapters. I was really surprised at the end when N asked her out, but not surprised she turned him down. I loved that moment. This whole story reminds me of my high school years, but not in a bad way, surprisingly. I read a lot of YA, but it doesn't usually bring me back to my own memories / feelings about being a teenager nearly as much this does. Am I the only one that likes her? I had none of these issues. I liked her very much in every chapter. Her being uninterested is what made this chapter really work for me. :-/ It sets it apart a little from some other YAs, in a good way. I think it makes more tension, too. I haven't been reading other people's comments because I've been so swamped. Now I really wish I didn't space on actually typing up my comments. I don't recall her doing anything I found illogical. I love her. I have been rooting for her from page 1. I would've like a little more about the supernatural too. I would not. Nope. Her indifference to him sort of makes this fresh to me compared to a lot of other YA paranormal romance. It's not a full blown enemies to lovers. It's not a thing we're the female mc is totally falling for the mysterious boy off the bat. It's something different. Something that actually feels realistic. Her aloofness, disinterest, and declining him works for me on so many levels. So I seem to having a rather different reaction to this story than everyone else...
  12. Am I the first one for once?!? Yay! I liked this chapter. I really connect W and her introversion. Because I really connect with her, even if the plot was going in all the wrong directions, I'd still be reading at this point because I really like W so much. If anything gets trimmed in this chapter, I'd say the opening. While I loved the line about leaving the group chat if it continued after the trip, I think this actually could've started with W getting in the car or even with her already in the car and getting to he beach. While I was reading, I remember thinking that it feels a little too much like contemporary for paranormal romance, and where is the magic? What happened to the flowers? Then E dropped the line about his grandfather looking for magic. It was just in time. And if you trimmed the begining a little and got there just a tad bit sooner, I might not have slipped out of the story wondering where the magic was. I might have stayed more immersed. Something did feel off about the dialogue with E and I can't tell if it is intentional or not. Like he is coming on very heavy with the support talk and being very elusive when W tried to ask him questions. It makes me suspicious of him. IF that is what you want, then it's working. Though I do think it might have gone on a moment too long. Backing tracking a bit, I was also suspicious of B. I was as confused by her as W and was thinking WTF was that all about when she finally left. This isn't necessarily a criticism so much as I wasn't 100% if I was reacting how I was supposed to. If you want me to be suspicious of B, then don't change much. If you don't want me to be suspicious, then maybe re-work the interaction. Now E & B...E's comments about B and his reason for dating her definitely have to stay. Whatever gets trimmed can come from a different part of the conversation. That really had me curious. I am wondering if she is magic like N and E's grandfather is making him date her to get information or something. Or if it is something she has over him. I really have no clue why it isn't his choice, but I really, really want to find out. A few random things: I loved the tide pool line: "There’s always disruption with waves bringing new creatures in and drawing old ones out, and it’s because of that chaos and uncertainty that vibrant life blooms and flourishes here." My favorite in this chapter. The way you introduced N being bi bugged me. There has been a lot of bi-phobia and related discourse on twitter lately, so I might just be overly sensitive to it right now. Unless I missed something in an earlier chapter, when E says "A pause. “Now that I think about it, that last part would have gotten us into trouble if Brittany knew that he’s bi, since she was dating him at that time. And you’ve seen that she can be a bit… paranoid." is the first we hear of N being bi. The idea of bi people being promiscuous or more likely to cheat, or their het partners having to worry about them with people of the same gender is a stereotype I grew up hearing and still hear a lot. I can completely see B being one of the people who holds that stereotype. However, I don't like a negative thing like being used to introduce that N is bi, especially where the narrative doesn't really react to it. However, if it was already clear he was bi and I just forget because WRS, then you can probably ignore this comment. Anyway, for the most part, I was very engaged throughout the whole thing, and I think with some trims and tweaks, and maybe another hint or two of magic, this will be a fantastic chapter! I am looking forward to more.
  13. I'm late to the game and you already have a lot of feedback! I was very engaged the whole time hardly made any notes. There was a strong voice, a lot of emotion on the main characters part, and clear goals, motivations and stakes. I loved watching the V grapple with his actions and choices. I don't think I really have much to add. Like the others, I felt there was a disconnect between the two parts. However, I think others already went into detail about this. The one thing that I was on the fence about saying because it might be the opposite of what you want to do is I wanted to see what happens between V deciding not to shoot that Z boy and then going to confront his bother-in-law. But that probably isn't necessary and would probably move this into novelette territory. Overall though, I really just enjoyed reading.
  14. I like reading battles, but am not great at writing or critiquing them. I was very engaged thought the whole chapter, but while I thought the fighting was well written, it almost felt like it was there just for he sake of having a battle. The conversation between the captains escalated really quickly to the point where it was almost not believable. I guess they both just wanted to fight for the sake of fighting each other? Are the salvagers more like pirates? Was finding a ship to attack part of why they were out there? I feel like I am missing something in terms of the purpose of the battle and how it is moving the plot forward. Part of it might be WRS. It did end on a good cliff hanger though, which leaves me wanting to read more. On another random note, are all of of the crew men aside from the medic/mechanic and ship spirit? If so, any chance of changing that? Unless you are writing historical non-fiction or historical fiction very closely based off a real event, I don't get why they are all men. Looking forward to finding out what happens next!
  15. You're welcome! I'm not sure what you typically read, but I find that a good way to get a feel for the difference to read an mg and YA book really close together. I find that way more helpful than reading articles or websites about what books for each group or genre are supposed to be like. These are a different genre than yours, but Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale is YA, and Sofiya Pasternack's Anya and the Dragon is MG. I find these two books have some overlap in setting, the folklore they draw from, and have some overlap in themes, however one is YA and the other MG. Reading them close together is a good way to really get a feel for the difference between mg and YA. OR find an author who writes both and read one of their mg and one of their YA books. Like Holly Black. If you read Doll Bones or Spiderwick Chronicles, then went and read The Darkest Part of the Forest or The Cruel Prince right after it, again, I think it would really highlight the difference. If you have any mg specific questions or want any recommendations for mg books to read, let me know!