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About shatteredsmooth

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    Recovering Grammar Anarchist
  • Birthday 02/28/1988

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    Lake Attitash
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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. Interesting. Originally, I wrote this with that anthology in mind, but thought there was no way I was going to wrap it up with in the word count, got overwhelmed, and decided to rework the other one to fit it. Good catch! They didn't do that. It looks like I messed up the wording there in one of the twenty hundred times I changed that sentence trying to decide what their BA and MA were in. Yes technically, but some stores in my area label any wine made with a fruit that isn't a grape a "fruit wine." I'll change it, because it does sound kind of silly when you point it out. So if I'm not mistaken, in Massachusetts, you can't technically own land below the high tide line (though there is some ambiguity people some people technically own salt marsh), so the little strip of land between the water and the high tide line is legal for A to walk on. I'll clarify that this is what they are on. Yay! Thank you both!
  2. I think you fixed most of the issues I had with this, but the relationship between L and the mother still isn't entirely clear to me. It's clear L cares about her, but I feel like I'm missing something, though I'm not quite sure what that something is. If the others don't feel this way, then it might just be something about my reading of this and not actually a problem with the story. As I read comments: Page 3 "If he had been there—well, he wasn’t certain what he would have done, but he would have at least tried." ]Early in the story like this, new readers might not quite get what a maji could have done, though it is hinted that they have abilities. Maybe try something along the lines of, "he could have done something with the symphony to try and…" but worded better. Page 19 to 20: I like the description of L's room better. It seems more like that of an adult, sentient being that a child's. The mention of surgical tools was a good breadcrumb for him later tending to the mother. Page 20-22 I like L better here. This version seems more like he could be one of the autistic students I work with in the tutoring center. To me, L's behavior now implies he is too focused on one problem to see the bigger that one he probable doesn't want to think about or can't cope with thinking about. Page 23 "It now covered L’s lower body, gently pressing in." Like one of those strangling weighted blankets? Just the idea of those things makes me feel like suffocating, but that is my own brand of sensory issues. I’ve heard those actually help some people. Or is this something else entirely? More like being suspended under water? Touching on certain pressure points? Not super clear. And where did O get the idea from? The friend that was like L? House of Healing? How did he know it was going to help and not make things worse, because I think it could've backfired as much as helped because not everyone with sensory issues, autistic or not, reacts the same to that stuff. It's not a bad concept if it is explained a little clearer. " seemed unprepared at best. The females must truly have little to do with the male of the hive." Does enough to address her lack of preparedness to deal with L Page 24 "This was being a majus" ]I’m really starting to think of the Maji as Jedi without all the restrictions of the Jedi code and a different method of powers…but a similar role only with the council having more power political clout or at least a sort of UN type thing. Page "I will not be throwing up." The first italic was a little jarring since there hadn't been any, but the rest flowed well and this one made me smirk. This whole reaction, including this line, was a great fit for O's personality. "He had to move" Wasn’t he moving if he was following her? "hulk" All I think of when I see this word is the MCU hulk. Page 34 — Why a dash? Page 35 "...growling..." Kind of an odd images. Growling feels a little awkward in this sentence, and seems to subdued for charging into battle. Growing, while something I occasionally do when frustrated, is more a backed into a corner scared or a very frustrated with something reaction. I think riding into battle atop your mate/lover/partner's (if that is what the mother is to him) shoulder requires a verb that might imply some kind of battle cry. "act of altruism save" Something grammatically wrong or missing? "They held a burial for K and L's unborn sisters" The wording here made me think K was dead. The funeral was for k and it was also for l's unborn siblings, though I think you just meant the siblings? Should it be K's and L's sibling? Overall, I think this is better. The arc is clearer. O's motives are clearer. I sympathize more with him in not liking the council even though part of me still might agree with them about interfering with the pixie stuff. The end does a good job setting up for him to become the type of character he is in Seeds. I am curious to see what the others think of the autism rep. I don't 100% trust my opinion alone.
  3. Hi All, A little back ground: I got impulsive and pitched a WIP during Carina Pitch and an editor requested a proposal (due March 4) including a minimum of 7500 words of the manuscript. Attached are the first three chapters. This was the pitch: Enby/M friends to lovers: Homeless & unemployed, Ainslie’s life has hit rock bottom. When they meet up with an old friend, a tarot card obsessed drag-queen named Pete, they follow the cards and series of hunches on a quest for a fresh start & new home. Does the story I have sound like the one I pitched? As far as sub genre, do you think this feels more like magical realism or light contemporary fantasy? The mc's pronoun is they/them/theirs. The editor who requested the ms uses those pronouns, so I'm guessing they won't be a problem. However, if you notice places where it isn't clear who the pronoun is referring to, please let me know. Other than that, I'm open to any type feedback. Thank you! P.S. There are a few swears, but otherwise, I don't think there is anything that needs a content warning.
  4. Thanks for reading! Maybe this will motivate me to go back and work on this one again. It's been on my to-do list for a while.
  5. I'm going to have something new for Monday.
  6. Adding this to my TBR pile as something to read and maybe share with co workers.
  7. -Is it enjoyable? Somewhat. I kept cringing at how L was portrayed and treated. Curiosity about how bad O was going to fail kept my attention, except he didn't fail in the way I expected. He got his act together and actually helped. I liked learning about pixie culture and the symphony and thought the description was clear. On a sentence level, the writing was enjoyable.-Is the magic system and worldbuilding clear? Very.-Are the characters engaging? O was when he treated L like person, but then not so much was he was thinking cringy things about L. Pixies were a little flat.-Does the story make sense? Yes if the whole point was setting up how O ends up sort of deciding go off and live a life getting involved in everything and perpetually ignoring the council? I think it built to that okay, but the end felt a little too soft and rushed. Because O didn't really change or learn much. I agree with @kais about the end. -Anything else you think of (even down to grammar and line edits, if you want. I'm not picky.) As a writing tutor at a community college, I spend a lot of time working one on one with students on the spectrum. They are all very very different from each other. Without using the word autism, you labeled L as autistic on p. 21 with the rocking that is commonly associated with autism even though it only represents part of the spectrum and with "...who was similar in some respects to Lauka. The symptoms presented differently in..." But it was kind of what I think of as the cliche autism portrayal, though I guess @industrialistDragon's use of the term "Hollywood Autism" is probably better. I was really confused when you mentioned toys on page 23. In the previous section, I was under the impression that this was an adult make who was making baby pixies with the Mother. The efficiency work that it is implied he does seems like adult work, but the physical description, mention of toys, and way the other pixie treat him imply child, and it is disturbing to think of a child or child-like being also functioning as a reproductive instrument. This whole paragraph @industrialistDragon wrote really sums up my thoughts in a much more articulate way than my monosyllabic notes of "yuck, ick, and cringe" in response to the infantile and animal like portrayal in certain lines. And this: The male pixie has a lot of potential, but it just was not handled well at all. The MC in Seeds was still treated like a person even though his anxiety, at times, was just as crippling if not more crippling than this pixies autism is in parts of this story. I have Sensory Processing Disorder without Autism though at times it seems kind of muddled with my anxiety, or causes half my anxiety or is just the cycle of doom in my brain that makes me wish I could live underwater. Anyway, before I go off on a not quite coherent tangent, I think @kais suggestion might actually be harder to write and not fix much. Readers would probably still assume autism. O wouldn't necessarily know what sensory input L was reacting to, and there would need to be more emphasis on the sounds, smells, --sensory details the narrative might not pay as much attention to. And still, all the childlike and animal like descriptions still need to go away. To me, it would make sense to just take out the demeaning stuff. L is clearly intelligent and very logical -- the other characters need to acknowledge that throughout. Changing from autism to just SPD really doesn't do anything except redirect a stigma. Do whatever research you have time for and let it inform L, but more importantly, change how L is treated by the characters and the narrative voice. Non autism related comments: Page 26-27 Starting at "The warrior exploded in a burst of freezing blue flesh." through "He knew this scene would haunt his dreams after he returned to the Nether." This reaction was flat and threw me out of the story. OK, it really wasn't much of a reaction. The fact that O killed someone was really an afterthoughts, any emotion about it magically fixed by one deep breath. It was so no reactive that I didn't believe it would haunt him at all. I'm sure I've written scenes like this myself, but still...there is a lot of potential for character development here if you work on it more. Page 29 "like one of the other species butting into a Kirian philosophical debate. Fortunately..." I'm confused by these sentences. Page 32 ". It wouldn't be...dignified."Cringeworthy but awesome because I think this screams O as I am getting to know him. Page 35 "his change. even with" capitalize E Page 38 "...hands trembled when he’s given it to..." typo I think there is a ton of potential in this story, but L and the way he was treated consumed my attention and made it hard to see the rest of the story.
  8. I have something very similar to this in the notes I made this morning. The magic could just be really subtly hinted at earlier. Maybe when B comes into it in the first section. I didn't understand anything about the glass blowing, but the lack of previous magic wasn't the main reason. More about that to come. Over all, I think the plot is progressing nicely, but with a few hiccups. You've got a nice but of humor, but a few things pulled me too much out of the story. The characters are very fun, so I think you are mostly achieving your goal. As I read: Page 1: "You could have just sent a ticket you know" This is O talking, right? "been to, to meet" Grumping about the two tos together even if technically it is correct. "How long have you known...think this will work." I got a bit confused. Why does he think M knows exactly where he lives? The people who may or may not work for her showed up at the market, not his house.…maybe I am being to literal. Page 2 "Xie had had the control for too long"] But before this O was implying M had the control. "leaned over the side of the bed, and vomited" Because of all the description and internal thought, this felt longer than thirty seconds, and while the nausea is clear at the end, I didn’t get a sense of any discomfort during the vision itself. "pushcart fruit vendor whose booth space Orin shared when the market ran, and debated." Confusing wording. Page 3: "because my illusions are slight..." Initial reaction: What illusions? I forget if this had been mentioned earlier or not. Maybe it was and I missed it. I suppose I should check. After, I did check, and it was mentioned, but very subtly and with no elaboration. I think going back to that scene and working in some of what B does could actually allow you to introduce the magic system and/or hint at it when they think about their past as errand boys. “Promise me.” promise what? Page 4: Tense shifts once or twice in first paragraph. Page 5: "Orin lobbed first one, then two handfuls at the things, smacking two directly in the face" While I think this whole poop throwing thing is hilarious, it makes no sense to me. Why are they lobbing it if the driver finally got the dragons under control. I’m confused. This is just going to get the dragons going again and cause more chaos. I don't believe mr lion fern is that stupid. If you want to keep the dung flinging, maybe make it so the dragons don't stop? Page 6 More confusion "the unmuddied dragons lunged at their compatriot’s faces, smelling only the pig and opportunity" So dragons eat poop? A pig and pig poop smell different. I mean, my dog will eat rabbit droppings but he acts very differently when he smells a rabbit than when he smells its droppings. Dogs are obviously smarter than these dragons, but I feel like some piece of information is missing. Maybe I just don't know something about reptiles that I probably should know. "...the other almost gleefully chasing behind" Yup – it's making things worse. Page 8 But I need your help. I’m going to get us separated but to do it, we need to crash a coronation.” Interesting, but it makes me wonder why in the next chapter, they are still thinking M is a princess. Page 9 "out the window before he’d feel compelled to speak." I’m surprised he has been quiet this long. Page 15 “In if you are" Something missing here? "I promise you won’t be disappointed" What about cashing the note? Getting a change of clothing? Page 16 “You want to use the ceremonial flame as a glory hole?”This does get attention as a opening line… "there was no bank on the boat to cash in Orin’s note" Ok addresses one of the questions I had earlier. Will they be able to cash this across the water in the other kingdom? I guess I don't actually need to know this answer to this yet. "A sleeve. A parchment [SC1] sleeve, if we’re being particular" I’m a little lost. Why need the flame and glass material if it needs to be parchment? OR is this not parchment as in paper but something else? Page 18 "Highly portable, hardy, a good source of vitamin C if you’re in a bind, and… Why are you staring at me?” I love how he keeps slipping into pitching things. Page 20 “I’ve got an idea,” xie said, groaning. “But it’s really sticky and I don’t think either of you are going to like it.” Nice ending I didn't point out too many of the things I like, I realize. I need to get better at that. However, I am enjoying this and think you've got some great personalities in the piece.
  9. Good idea! Thank you!
  10. Market cliche. Anything sales related cliche.
  11. It makes sense to include them for that reason. Fiction or real life, I just grump about this stuff. I need to get out of my bubble and be more open minded to people's culture. LOL It would be an endless debate that might never reach a resolution. Language will settle on something sooner or later. But it does it make it hard for us writers trying to help that process along.
  12. After reading Seeds this weekend and @Mandamon's sub yesterday, when I ever I saw your O character's name, my brain kept replacing it with the other O character. If I had read this first, it probably would've been the other way around. This isn't actually an issue that warrants any change. Just an observation. I have some general comments here. I'm also going to email you LBL's. I the story it once on my kindle and was having a hard time pin pointing what was bugging me, so I started reading again on the computer...deleting things with track changes on since you said you are pushing the word limit. I like deleting things. My deletions are mere suggestions. Please don't be offended by them and feel free to ignore them if you disagree or find them too prescriptive. Overall, I think this is off to a good start. The characters are interesting, there is an established through line, and the end definitely left me wanting to read the next part. I love how much detail you put into the dandelions , though on my first read, I thought that section in the market felt repetitive. And while there was a lot that seemed excess, I also didn't quite feel like I had a strong enough grasp on the world. I think the first section needs the most trimmed and the end needs the least trimming. You asked about pronouns. The first time I read the opening scene, I thought there were three people in the room: O, M, and an unamed person with a neo pronoun. In the LBL's I'm emailing you, I made suggestions for how to fix it. From the middle of page two and on, the pronouns worked fine for me. Personally, I like they/them better, but have no problem with the one's you chose. Neo pronouns do make it easier when editing for clarity. A couple as I read notes from the first scene: "who could eat any food they wanted to because they still had enamel on their teeth" For some reason this made me think contemporary fantasy, though in hindsight, it doesn't really imply that. However, in this section, the only thing that hinted at a secondary world was the name of a kingdom and mention of city guards. At this point, the world could go in many different directions. That's okay for now, though if you do cut some of the things I suggest on the first couple pages, maybe drop a couple more hints. Page 3 ...whispered loudly. “Endless.” This paragraph I see its purpose but it screams cliche "I don’t drink, you see, because these amazing plants take my full attention. Come" This doesn't really make sense to me. "and a cloudier version of the blood dripped from the ends." This caught me off guard. I am having trouble getting my mind around bleeding dandelions. I keep going to picking dandelions and the stuff coming out the stem looking like milk. Page 4 "HPLC " what is this? Page 5 “Pass. At that price by weight it’d be cheaper to import plastics from Earth.” So far, most the description has been on the product, and the man with the barrel's face. This earth reference is the most concrete world building bit I've had. I get there is some technology because O making latex from dandelions and there is the purity sheet, but otherwise, a lot of it undefined still. I was okay with that in the opening scene, but by now I want a better grasp. With all the focus on dandelions and little details like people’s skin, I’m only getting fragments of the world, and I didn’t notice them all on my first read through. I can’t picture this market at all. I’m only seeing O’s product and this barrel dudes face. "Fantasies" seemed like an odd word to describe the visits. Page 6: "the women waved her off" This should be xir, right? "Xie reached out a hand to the woman’s pants, and the woman sidestepped with a glare." I'd glare too. "Orin had made no sales today and the crowds stubbornly remained slow and thin." I sympathize with this from my days selling jewelry at craft fairs. From here on out, I was more engaged, maybe because I finally had a way to connect with O. Page 7 ". It made really really good rubber..." This makes me wonder if he had a way to sell this other than the market. I’m having a hard time grasping the significance of this because I still don’t know much about the world. "...people bartering for a fat piglet. " This and the manure did give me a farmers market feel, but that could be present in a number of different worlds. "a mutation the original planetary colonists hadn’t had" Much needed detail about the world, grounding it a little more in the future? You haven't described anyone's clothing yet, other than M's night gown. I want to know what people wear in this world. I know they were pants and sequins get stuck to them, but so far, I don't recall much detail about what kind of pants. Page 8 “I hate you.” The dialogue with B is good. I was reading without stopping and getting a better sense of O as a character. "Knew he paid in notes and not credit, even for big orders." Good world building detail! It's coming together more, but I am still missing too much for this point in the story...unless you are trying to just make the reader fill in the gaps. Page 11 “Oh. F......" Great dialogue. World building is filling in more quickly now and doing so organically. "The brick lane" I would've like to have known this at the begining of the market scene since I wasn't trying to figure out what street and space between stalls was like for most of the scene. I was picturing all dust and mud. Page 12 "...Left for women, right for men. Forehead for everyone else..." Well done confirmation of gender identity and culture surrounding it... though part of me is annoyed that each gender has a different greeting, even if it does acknowledge a non-binary one. The last three pages read smooth and I was too engaged both times to make comments. The end definitely left me wanting to read on. I think I'll have better overall feedback to offer once I've read the whole piece.
  13. I was thinking about this more while I was driving to and from class. I don't think it seemed contrived for a specific political message. It did seem to hint at something political, but more exploring an issue than straight out saying one thing or the other. I think that, on top of me not fully believing the decision sort of led me to a false conclusion. OK, so I guess I'm not too far off then for age. Now that I'm back from teaching, here are the rest of my comments: "but portals were opened one" I read this sentence a couple times. Didn't pin point any grammar errors, but something seemed off. "...Greens given to a turtle..." Wouldn't the greens just be gone if a turtle got them? I'd picture kind of bug leaving holes in greens. "O tugged the sleeves" This is one of the places where I felt like I didn't understand him being there. If it is set up a little better, this could be a great "oh <word for poop that starts with s> moment. Though maybe its too soon for that. hmmm "If only the council had listened..." At this point I was starting to side with the council. "applied for help. None came..." It wasn't clear to me in the begining that the Pixies had asked for help. I thought O had just seen something about the war and thought it was the maji / counsel's job to provide unsolicited aid. Knowing they asked makes a big difference. If this were clearer earlier, I would be more understanding of O's decision. "..winced as she was cut down...interested in help" I think he needs more reaction here. I did like the details about how he constructed his shield, loved the description of the dome, especially the part where he said the newspaper misrepresented it. "pull from the ground" Gravity? I cringed when he led pursuers to the gate and came inside running for his life while saying he was there to help. From here out, I was fascinated by all the world building. The pixie characters were fantastic! The dialogue between O and the pixie was just the right amount of awkward. "The Council is refusing to send anyone..." I think this was O talking but I had to reread to be sure. "Yet still barged in..." I love this character. Almost getting some Yoda-ish vibes. ""...propagate." she said." either change the first period to a comma or just get rid of the tag. "They were hunched..." So if the pixie just called this new one a he, then why is O using they here? I am looking forward to see where this goes! It was off to a slow start but got much better near the end! Coming back to your question about whether or not it would get me into the series -- yes if I read through to the end. And if you clarify and spice up the begining a little more, then I think it would hook me. I just went back and re read that part. I had completely forgotten about the feathery mustache, but the description in Seeds is very clear.
  14. I don't think it really came across. He seemed more naive than arrogant, and for some reason, the naivety was making it hard for me to believe he could be arrogant enough to think he should get involved. He really seemed young-- apprentice age young. -Is it enjoyable? One it gets going, mostly. -Is the magic system and worldbuilding clear? Very, though it is still fresh in my mind from Seeds 1, and I think it was better in Seeds 1. -Are the characters engaging? O is hard to pin down in this. His actions are arrogance but everything else shows young naivety and he almost seems sweet, but his decisions annoy me which makes his sweetness annoy me. I'm not sure I'm making sense. -Does the story make sense? Well, I'm not buying O's decisions -- they don't seem to make sense to me and almost seemed contrived to be allegorical to modern politic issues about getting involved in wars. However, the council and the pixies themselves made sense. <crossed out 10 p.m.> -Would this make you want to read more of this series? Opening with the council scene did set up for this story, but it didn't exactly get my attention, either. If I had downloaded to see if I wanted to read the series, I don't know if I would've gotten past that part or not. I've read a couple snippets from the Dis universe on here, and I don't remember liking any scenes with the council that were in the begining of a scene. From a technical standpoint, I see why you started here, but I got bored and struggled to pay attention. Here are some notes I made going through that scene. Maybe making more of a scene of O barging past the guards might help develop him a little more so I might care more while he argues with the council? "breaking into our meeting..." This line did engage me more than anything before it. "The council. we do attend..." There was something off about this sentence. While I kept having to stop myself from skimming the dialogue, I did engage when O started describing the carvings of the different species. Onto the next scene: The description of the grounds outside the council were clear and had some nice world building. "How unlike the war-torn homeworld..." made me think that he had already been to see the Pixies, but then when he gets there, its clear he hasn't been there. In the portal scene, you did a good job introducing the neo pronoun. I liked how O didn't lie but didn't give a truthful answer to the portal attendant. If you want to show a little more arrogance, make me him seem a little more confident and less uncertain here? "It was a good thing he had decided not to grow a mustache" I am having a hard time picturing this -- it would be a mustache of feathers? I have more comments to type from my kindle, but I have to leave so I am going to post these for now.