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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. 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...
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. Why? This seems perfect for middle grade. The voice sounds like mg and the character sounds way to young for YA. If you want to make this YA (which I think would be a bad idea) then you would need to really change the voice and make the narration much closer. In terms of market, if you are going to traditionally publish, heard YA fantasy very overcrowded right now. A lot of mg writers are know are finding agents much quicker than the YA fantasy ones I know. Agents seem to have more room on their list for mg, and the spooky stuff is still in demand. As I read comments: The earnings in the fire place caught my attention. Cucumber boy is interesting. The line about time moving funny seems to explain a lot about the town and my confusion as to when the story was set. This would've been worth knowing sooner. Constance bringing V into house to meet her parents is a good example of why this feels like mg, aside from the voice, tone, and age. In YA, when a strange boy shows up, the mc doesn't usually bring him to meet her parents. Usually it's more like hiding him from the parents, and in a lot (but not all) YA, this would be the "meet" for the romance subplot. I did enjoy the parents reaction and C's confusion about it. The interaction between C and V works well if this is MG because they both seem so young and naive. I think a YA protag would be more suspicious and less open to his help so quickly. "father looks like a man sized bowing ball and mother looks lie a skeleton" okay, so I am now thinking I should be taking this literally. Which works much better for mg than it would for YA, in my opinion, anyway. "...can't be fully qualified to teach all those subjects..." Why ? It's not like it's a super adcvanced grad level class or anything and there is a lot overlap between math and science. I think it's common in elementary or middle school to have people teach math and science. I am 90% sure my sister-in-law teaches both to her 5th graders. I think in her school, there are "STEM" teachers. "I'm sure she wouldn't lie about something that cost so much" I am sure she would, lol But C is young and naive, so this works. This section was much better than the last! I was engaged the whole time. And if you are going to call this mg, I really don't have many suggestions for changes. But if it's YA, it would need a major overhaul. I liked the pacing. I did not get bored at all. It was easy to follow and a lot of the things that confused me about last time were cleared up. I know to take certain descriptions more literally and know not to try to pin pint this to a specific time period. Granted, I would've been more engaged in the first part if I hadn't been so confused about those things. I am guessing they are going to save the town and also figure out why it is the way it is? It's a little vague, but I am fine with that. Overall, this is fantastic middle grade. The tone, the descriptions, the character, the reactions, and even the concept all work fantastic for middle grade. I say this as someone who wrote YA for years and then did a ton of research when switching to mg. I know both genres very well. It is hard sometimes to specifically explain the difference, but this just feels like middle grade. If you want to make it YA you would need to do a major re-write and then you would be forcing it to be something it is not. I strongly recommend you call this middle grade, not YA.
  7. This 100% sounds like middle grade to me, not YA. And if you're on the fence about whether or not you want it to be mg, keep it mg, especially if you are going to eventually try to get an agent. YA fantasy is a very tricky market to break into right now, and there is a much bigger demand for mg, especially if it's spooky. Yes, I'm not the target audience form middle grade, but lately, it is what I read the most of. For a while during the pandemic middle grade was the only thing I could focus on reading. Spooky MG is my favorite, so I am very excited to see a fellow mg writer in RE now! Up until now, I've been the only one writing middle grade. Last year, I put whole mg book through this group and am querying it to agents now. Alright, onto my critique. The voice is distant, but that is okay to an extend because of the nature of the story. However, it would be good to move it a little closer, at least when you are focused on the character and not the description and back story. Sometimes I like the distant voice for this type of story, but feedback I got from agents the first time I queried my mg book was that the voice was too distant, and mine was less distant than this. I like your mc and found her very relatable. I think she is a great middle protagonist! I like the idea of town surrounded by the dead land, however, I was very confused about when it was set. Some things hinted at contemporary, but the school seemed kind of old and the only heat people had were woodstoves. One of my favorite details wee the potholes on the street. I live in an area where the streets are eternally riddled with potholes. I would read on, though with a little bit of hesitation because there were a couple places where I felt like narrative got too slow. There was a little too much exposition in school before getting the paper back, and then I was getting bored with all the stuff about Wood Stove and the family dinner. Do we really need all that? As I read: "C like exploration the best when it's some old abandoned..." Love this! And I agree with C "...down and stop fidgeting..." So relatable! "The homework that Mrs. F is now..." Losing interest now. School stuff is kind of boring me. " to find something to write about..." So I swear at one point you said only 4 of them went to school, but this is sounding like something for a bigger class? I felt the same way when the books were getting passed out. I felt like I was in a school with more than 4 kids. When C got the paper back and saw something was wrong, you recaptured my attention. I'm guessing this is the curse coming into play! :-) "...roads are made of potholes" sounds like my town I started to get a little bored with all the details about making the fire. "since indoor plumbing...." so when is this set? I really can't figure out the when. I was confused the first time I saw Wood Stove in caps. I think you took too long to get to why, and in general, have way to much back story about this stove all at once. I was getting bored with it. I was also a little surprised this was their only heat source, though if this is set in the past, I would be less surprised. I loved how the house got too hot. Sometimes in the fall when I'm using my wood stove more than my regular heat, the house ends up almost 80F. "He is a sphere..." I was confused by this description and unsure how literally to take it. I was more or less skimming after this. I got bored and the narrative wasn't holding my attention. I'd probably keeping reading for a little though because I like the mc and want to know more about the curse.
  8. I write both middle grade and YA, but I am very behind and haven't read any of these yet. When I do start getting caught up, I'm sure I'll have some insight.
  9. I don't have a whole lot to add that others haven't already said. The world building is fascinating. While I like S being kind of perky and awkward, I do think it headed too far in the direction of making her seem childlike. I like her, but I don't like how C sees and treats her. The arthurian lore caught me off guard. It's a neat idea to combine that with airships, but the way it came in surprised me enough that it pulled me out of the story for a moment. I suppose that wouldn't happen though if this was something I picked up off of a shelf having already read the blurb. Walking through the town was interesting, but I also felt like there wasn't a lot of tension. Though I suppose you make up for it at the end. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more!
  10. Like the others, I was very engaged throughout the whole chapter. I didn't quite understand all the cellulose stuff, but I wasn't trying to hard to. Knowing exactly what it all meant wasn't critical to my engagement. What was getting a little frustrating was S seeming so powerless, and S comparing herself to E. I started to loose engagement near the end and just give up on the characters. Before they got pulled in, I as already assuming there was no hope of them escaping it, and that decreased tension. If S had been able to make more of an attempt at doing something, if you had left me with a little more hope, then there would've been more tension. The one point at which I was confused in a bad way was S took cellulose from the one laser cannon at the end. Did that accomplish anything? Was it supposed to? Was it just supposed to be one feeble effort that was too little too late? I didn't quite understand what was going on there and I wanted to. And that's it. You left me with quite a cliff hanger now that you're going to be gone for a few weeks.
  11. He's probably already asleep because it's a lot later in in his time zone, so he probably won't see this until the morning.
  12. I was pretty engaged throughout the chapter. I loved G4's reaction at the end when she realized she could just call Ard and I think it would be hilarious if when she called, she ended up talking to A. I am sort of questioning B's motives. Saving G4 is one thing. Offering her a ship is another. I saw you already made some edits. I think that will make that scene through the spaceport better.
  13. I'm a bit late, and I see lots of comments, so I'll try to be concise. I felt like this chapter took a while to get going. There was a lot of telling and internal thoughts without much really happening until art class was underway, and while there was some backstory I assume will be important, I don't know if it is really necessary to have that much of it at this point. I think I would've rather seen the dream as it was happening than be told about it. I loved the glitter glue flowers! Wavered in the begining with all the summarizing of conversation Points where I was most engaged -W thinking about how An's attempt to get into the other girl's friend group sounded too complicated -W in art class or thinking about their lack of art talent -The conversation about science and the flowers with Am No. They all seemed pretty consistent with the time. I think enough did happen, but there was other stuff distracting from it. If you could trim the excess and focus a little more on the things that do advance he plot, I don't think more needs to happened. I still find the mc very relatable and am looking forward to reading more!
  14. I love the concept and you have a great cast of characters (S and her awkwardness and jokes is my favorite), though I admit, I did like the captain better when I was seeing from his point of view than when I was seeing him through someone else's point of view. There were times when the dialogue seemed stilted or people said a little too much, but otherwise, this story is off to a good start and I am looking forward to reading more. p. 2 "A nurse’s bag was slung over one shoulder and there was an elaborate leather belt with a holster for what seemed to be a spot-welder" Is she doubling as a nurse and mechanic? "“Vitals are weak, but there. You seem to be in good health,” Sherry said. “Which is good.” It seems like she contradicts herself here. P. 3 "You’re the one who found me, then?” Nice clear connection to the prologue. "Alright. If you want to keep to yourself, I guess that’s fine." He did give part of an answer. "I remember now. Her red hair " I wonder if you really need to switch to first / italicized internal thoughts. Why can't this information just be part of the narrative? sometimes italic thoughts can work, but here, they seemed unnecessary, distracting, and slowed the pacing down. P. 4 Sa sounds like a jerk. p.7 This is one of the areas where the dialogue felt sort of stilted and clunky, especially when the captain is introducing himself. p. 8 I was getting a little confused in the dialogue about where they are p. 13 I was getting a little confused when they were talking about charts. This area is another place where the dialogue could use some work. P. 15 "I was joking," S sighed and placed..." I love S. I would be so confused if I were one of her patients, but that is what makes her funny and a great character. P. 17 A machine spirit? That explains a lot … and yet, also quite so little. I'm not sure I get it.
  15. The bird people were scary and I have this weird twisted image in my head of a combination of a turkey vulture and an evil K...n from @Mandamon's Dissolution 'verse. And I was getting really annoyed at them when they kept talking about O being sold or a pet and assuming she was from P, which was probably the point, but I didn't necessarily feel like O was quite as frustrated with them as I was. When I think about the situation O was in, I feel like the chapter has all the makings of something tense, but I wasn't really feeling the tension. I don't know if it was just what you were going for, but O seemed more annoyed than in danger. Very in denial of the situation. Maybe choosing to pretend she isn't in danger? Something about the emotions and the arc felt a little off. I'm not 100% sure what the arc actually is. As I read: Epigram (graph?) was nice and seemed to connect back to the reaction the person on the phone that S talked to had in the previous chapter. "making...wet squekching souns" ick. Bird stuck? "Huckkk" So is the gun in it's mouth some kind of cybernetic modification? Why wasn't it firing? Was that bird person in on the rescue and letting her go? Or did he realize it didn't fire? Did she randomly manifest some Ard level talents and control it? "swirls of pink" I know what this is "no way to keep nail polish from chipping in space, not even G G." The easter egg! So nail polish lady to the rescue is the one O talked to via ship comm? The one tried to tow her through hyperspace? I'm guessing she is also a love interest for O? That also didn't quite land how I hoped it would. Close, but some of the reaction seemed lacking. It was almost there though. I have questions about her arrival and motives, but I suppose i'll get my answers I read on. And I am looking forward to reading more.