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Everything posted by Valerie

  1. Perhaps the solution is rope? Tie a rope around the duke and the two can heave ho him out?
  2. Okay, I am making notes as I read this time (since this is my second peek at this prologue). Page one comments: First thoughts are that the opening line is better. I picture Tr as someone a bit portly, getting out of breath going up stairs and having to cling to the banister. There is a bit of alliteration in the opening line (this doesn’t bother me, personally but I thought to point it out in case it is something that bothers you “stopped short… stairs). I also think “stopped short” reads a bit clunky. What stopped him short? Being out of breath? Exhaustion? Usually one doesn’t stop short from exhaustion but kinda slows down or stumbles. But this is an Uber nit pick for sure. Grammar time: Past perfect simple tense is used a bit here. Not sure how much of a grammar person you are (I use to be able to expertly diagram a sentence but am more than 15 years out from my last college grammar and syntax class and thus incredibly rusty- but I dug out my books because I’m not sure the tense is being used correctly here in multiple instances. First an explanation: past perfect simple tense- the past part is easy “had” is the past tense of “to have” perfect means the action was completed in the past- meaning it is not continuing to happen simple means the type of verb you use (I think… this part is hazy, but go with me here.) In more simple terms it is “had” + past participle (verb with “ed” ending). It is used to show an action that was completed before some other action. IE: “By the time I was 12, I had read all the books in the library.” So now that I brushed up on my grammar, anyways, I’m going to delve into your usage of the past perfect simple tense (because on this reading it really stood out to me as possibly misused.) “The midwife had warned them that morning to prepare for the worst.” - “had warned” but warned them before what? I think this sentence can be quickly fixed by changing the tense to get rid of the “perfect” bit and go with “The midwife warned them…” “An ominous tingling had wrapped itself around his forearm there just as the wall came down.” Here we have “had wrapped” but “just as the wall came down” which I took to mean at the same time, not before. And “had wrapped” by its tense signifies something that happens before something else. Again, quickest fix would be to get rid of the perfect tense and just go with “wrapped”. Also in this sentence is some odd wording with “his forearm there just”. I feel like instead of “there” you need a comma (but since the bit after just is an dependent clause, I’m not sure if you even need a comma- commas and the rules around them are a weakness of mine for sure.) Perhaps try” An ominous tingling wrapped around his forearm as the wall came down.” Cut out some words that were not necessary to understanding. All this is an uber nit pick and I feel like my nerd is showing… Third and final examples (there are more but I feel like if this bothers you, you can go on a past perfect simple tense hunt and irradiate any grammatically wrong usage- as with many tense things, it really depends on what you were trying to say as far as what happens in relation to something else.) “But the walls had stopped shaking, and the thunder of falling stone had stopped echoing off of the mountains that surrounded the castle.” Had stopped” is used twice and in neither case is there another verb for them to have happened before. Again, quick fix: get rid of “had” in both cases or just one to signify that “had X” happened before the other verb. Now, to backtrack a bit: in the second paragraph “He took a breath and hurried down the hall…” Nothing wrong with this but I feel that “hurried” could be replaced with something a bit less ambiguous. Is he walking quickly? Stumbling? Dashing? Also, his breathing is talked about in the first sentence so it feels repetitive here- if you are really looking at ways to cut the wording down. “sunlight pouring down” This still suggests ceiling for me, so when wall is stated later it is a bit unsettling. Perhaps change “poured down” to “pierced through” or some such. “Tr found” also feels a bit clunky in this sentence. It could be removed if it bothers you or others and the verb in the second half of the sentence changed up a bit to make it stand on it’s own without the “Tr found” part. “He squinted against reflected sunlight, trying to understand, and searching for some sign of what had happened to his master.” How does he know something happened to his master and not his mistress- I’m assuming he is referring to the tingling here. At this point he doesn’t know where his master is- he could be in the ball of ice, right? I also feel like this could be a good place to slip in that the sphere is made of ice, ie: He squinted against the sunlight reflected off of the icy sphere…. or some such. Another big nit pick as there is nothing grammatically wrong with this sentence: “One of the joists overhead had given way and caught where the sphere met the plane of the far wall, a little below the ceiling. Part of the floor above had come down after it, and the joist was supporting a mound of rubble and broken furniture. “ I would change “was supporting” to “now supported”. The reason? Because on first reading I wasn’t sure if this was the same joist as before or another joist and adding “now” would clear this up for me. Page two! “where there had been two an hour before” an hour before or minutes before? I thought there were still two when he was on the stairs. Oh, no! Ignore my last bit about the ice. You do a masterful explanation on this page. “Tr had hated the man then. Still hated him, sometimes, for the trouble he’d caused the family he’d spent his whole life serving.” Tenses apparently are my big nit pick today. “had hated” “Still hated” Okay, I read it again and realized that “had hated” is actually correct as the “then” refers to when the Duke married the Dutchess. I think this would be more apparent if you moved it up to the paragraph before it. Page three: “He couldn’t help wishing that it was the other one. “ I love this line. “Was that ragged breathing? Or the settling of rubble? “ Love this too. In fact All of page 3 is really good. Page 4 “Where was everyone?” I love that you have Tr ask this because, I as a reader was wondering it as well. ““Most were downstairs when the wall came down. They don’t trust it to hold.” Rasnic fell quiet, taking in the wreckage. He looked a little green.” Let the love fest continue! I love how you did this as well. “Tr had cleared a space a little wider than his shoulders. Br was thinner than he was, so if he could get in, he might be able to-“ I won’t mention the tense here. But I love the bit about Br being thinner. I knew Tr was portly! Page 5 “Rasnic pulled him farther from the pile and dropped his voice. “There won’t be much help.” Tr just stared at him. “You know how many left when they married. The ones who stayed did so for My’s sake.” He fell silent, looking toward the sphere. “If they blame him-” Oh! I am eating this up. I love it, love it, love it! “Then he is still their duke.” Still their or “He is still our duke”? ““See if there’s a gap between this thing and the wall where we can force a way in,” Tr said. He doubted there was one. If there was, the ice wouldn’t have fared so well against the force that had destroyed the walls before the ceiling came down.” This bit is still confusing for me. what is “this thing” the rubble or the sphere? how does he know the wall was destroyed before the ceiling? Pinching pennies here but I’m not sure I’d know. I assumed it all happened at the same time Page 6 “Tr dropped his head to the ground and squeezed his eyes shut, expecting something to crash into the top of the pile and send him and Br both to Judgment.” I love this. It really helps to amp up the tension. it is a great example of Yes, but… Yes, he can move the statue but the wall may be coming down- oh! and the healer is dead… I also laughted out loud at the end of this paragraph. It really made me love the Duke. I didn’t get any of these warm and fuzzies from any character my first read through but I am INVESTED now. Page 7 ““Get anyone who isn’t too much of a damned coward to keep their Oath,” I don’t love Tr but I damn well respect him at this point. This has been a great upgrade in character from the last version. It also feels more YA to me than the last version, I have no idea why, but it does and this is not a bad thing. I LoVe YA as it usually is easier for me to read and focuses more on characters and growth- and I just answered my question: it is because the characters are better developed that it feels more YA. I’m loving it. “There might be little possibility in saving him, but if the duke died without explaining that sphere, leaving the title to his nine-year-old son would be the least of Trambor’s problems.” Ooh, this leaves me with all sorts of interesting questions. I like how you inserted the call back to magic being a big no no here. If left unanswered would the new, young duke be outcast or have to pay for his father’s crimes? Page 11 “he asked quietly, hating the pain it brough to Br’s face.” - Does he, though? This does seem out of character. I thought he was still super pissed at the duke. ““After all the trouble they’ve put you through, I find it hard to believe you’d turn to defying the laws now.” Br was too paranoid about the repercussions it might bring on his family to have done something so foolish. But something had happened.” Okay the first line I quoted still doesn’t make much sense to me. But I wonder if it can just be deleted since the following lines explain, what seems to be the same thing, and betterish. It is a tense thing again. “was too paranoid” to “had been too paranoid.” Otherwise Tr is would have to know what the Duke was thinking at the current moment, which he can’t. “The girl. She’d been sent to fetch “ Again, which girl? a maid, the midwife? Page 13 ““Dw.” The guard’s anger sobered at the exhausted voice from the bed. “Not now.”” this should be three paragraphs, methinks. “head was pillowed on his arms on the bed, the rest of him draped back over the arm of the chair where his legs were curled up under him.” Lots of arms here. Not grammatically wrong but still feels repetitive. Also: time: It was early afternoon when Tr first came into the room. It seems like no more than an hour has passed, if that. So why is the boy falling asleep in the early afternoon? 9 is a bit old for a nap. Okay: Now you have me pumped for the next chapter. Grammar-smamer (cause there is a lot of possibly improper use of the past perfect simple tense, I feel like I spotted it on almost every page…) but grammar is an easy fix. This was most excellent. I smiled, I laughed, I was touched by the last scene and the imagery it gave me (I mean, come on, sleeping kids are the most precious.) My husband asked what I was doing more than once (cause I was ignoring him and the kiddos, never mind it is bedtime) It would probably be worth while to get a fresh set of eyes on it, but my issues with confusion were totally absent here. Anyway. Last time I said I would read on to chapter 1 but put the book down if chapter 1 didn’t improve. Truth is I was being nice. I wouldn’t have even finished the prologue. But this, this is much better. With this I would have bought the damn book and eagerly driven home to devour the rest. Bravo.
  3. Here is my post for the week. It is a draft 1.5 (lightly edited for clarity). Any and all feedback welcome, but I have two areas in particular I’d love to have addressed. 1. Length: I literally wrote this last week. It is a weird length. I had set out to write a flash but it got a bit long winded. Does the length work for you? Should I chop chop chop and make it a flash? Or should I flesh it out? AKA: are you wanting more, less or is it just right? 2. As you read, what do you feel like, if anything, the Peony represents? What is it’s role in the story? (I’ve placed what I’m going for at the end of the manuscript because: spoilers.) Again, thanks everyone!
  4. @Robinski oh, yes! If you have line by lines I’d love them! I’m here to improve. It is a first draft- but still nice to know whete things don’t flow or make sense.
  5. Thank you everyone for such thoughtful feedback! I am going to cut/ paste it all into my document via liner notes. I wasn’t sure what to do with this piece and now feel that I have a good game plan: shorten to flash levels (will probably cut about 1/3-1/2 of it and then modify ending for more punch.) My biggest worry with my writing is that it only makes sense to me and thus is a hot mess. So, I was surprised and pleased to see that there were so few line by lines. Anyway- thanks again. You made me very happy and gave me lots of ideas on moving forward and things to mull on. Now to go work on my latest story about space pirates!
  6. Once again, I read twice. Thoughts after first reading: It just felt off to me. The castle is being attacked and the main character is behaving really irrationally. It is somewhat saved by the fact that she failed. If she had succeeded in her “rescue” it would have been too much for me for sure. I just didn’t buy into the action. Perhaps current events are playing in here. But storming s castle should be really hard. It is fortified by nature. And if the people have had a warning? It should be about impossible. (Current events show that if the higher ups are. Ot taking things seriously storming a fortification is a bit easier.) Nit picks: “Every second felt like an hour.” for an opening line this felt very weak. I go back to my point from last week about the ending of the last chapter being a bit telly rather than showy. Reading from that to this- it just feels like more of the same. I don’t feel any urgency. I should, but I don’t. I like the ret of the paragraph better. Pacing to pass the time. How is that annoying her cell mates? The catty one from before is silent as she is pacing? In general I wonder about those cell mates and what they think of the black king making an appearance. I also wonder how the king is able to hold the keys- in his mouth? How does he talk? Where does he put them after unlocking her cell door? Surely he doesn’t leave it open cause: cell mates. “Ir stood in a large room as servants arrived with equine brigandine armor lined in leather, followed by a hideous golden collar. Dozens of barrels were being rolled into the room, their lids being removed to show water. The Black King’s personal guard flanked the doorways.’” Why is the collar hideous? Why the water? Who is being show the water? I’m confused. Okay on second reading I’m catching onto the secret passage thing as far as how the army gets in. But the black king knew about it- so why isn’t it guarded? Seems strange to know of a back door and to just leave it open. But if it is a passage- how many resistance members can get through it? Wouldn’t it bottle neck something fierce? “This was totally, utterly, ridiculously stupid. That was family for you.” yes it is. But why is the character acting this way. It is not only stupid it is unlikely. There is a fight. Getting someone out of a fight without getting cross fire is near impossible if you are trying to cross sides. And she would have to cross twice. I just don’t by that Ir wouldn’t get that it is completely futile. Surely there is something else that can be done. Okay if the bl king wanted Ir’s naming power why did he send her away? You’d think he’d do more to get the power. Final thoughts: Even on second reading I don’t buy a lot of the action- both that of the characters and the fighting. I didn’t feel any emotion at the final scene with the death. This is likely due yo me jumping in so late. I was a bit surprised the king was a unicorn. The mind control stuff felt a bit out of place. If he could do that why didn’t he get the names out of her? The fighting also seems to end very abruptly and it is hard throughout to really tell who is winning/ losing. Thanks for the read! It will be interesting to see what happens next. I’m thinking the king uses the sister as a hostage to get to Ir. He feels like the big bad, for sure. edit to add (because my kiddos distracted me( the whole bit with her and the cats and the crossbow and asking of names and taking her places was all kinda confusing and, again, seemed strange in the middle of a battle. As I’m making dinner I’m thinking: well what would I have done if I were her? I’d have gone to the healer and asked what I could do to help- surely the infirmary would get injured people. Maybe I’d then go out with a team to do field rescues- something active that would help. But this is me talking from a kitchen and my family is safe, so who knows.
  7. so, I really love how Mary Robinette teaches openings. Since I learned her way I have applied it to all my own stuff and have found that most good books and stories I read also follow it. pretty much in the first 1-3 lines intro the following (taken from my notes from her lecture): who: what is their pov? Their attitude? (Ie: angst filled plumber, sexist boss.) show this with their actions, what they are doing. Where: link to sensory input Genre: quickly set it up using specific and unique details. in your opening, we don’t really get a complete who (we learn his name but not anything else about him.) We don’t really get a sensory where (castle, but no concrete sensory info about it.) And we don’t get a genre. It could be historical fiction or fantasy. But grain of salt- as honestly I think since this is something I actively look for now, I may be hyper focused on it. No idea if others find it important- or that it works fir them to make an effective opening line. edit for example: the opening paragraph to to Hunger Games. A book I was instantly sucked into and has a great opening: ”When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.” who: sibling who’s first thought upon waking is to check on her sister. where: a bed and it is cold and rough genre: speculative of some kind because of “the reaping.”
  8. I read twice. First for fun then second round for nit picks. Comments after first read. Oh, I am so confused! There were so many characters. I can’t remember a single name. Nothing in the prologue turned me off or would make me put the book down. But I was unable to get sucked into the scene. There were a lot of things that felt inconsistent to me. Overall I was confused. Nothing wrong with the writing, just a lot of new people and information in a short span of time. Nit picks: Okay so it has been about 4 days since I first read this. Life got crazy. But I’m thinking it may be good to read it with fresh eyes. “... flexed the fingers of his left hand against the ominous tingling that wrapped around his forearm.” Ooh! I like the world building here and am intrigued. Is this magic? A spell? Is it a physical thing or just a feeling? The opening didn’t really grab me but this bit did. “... dumbfounded by the brightness...” okay this is the first part where I start getting confused. A few lines earlier he noted the brightness of the stairway. It was easy to put 2 together and get that something had collapsed and this sunlight came in. So why would the brightness cause the T to be dumbfounded? Also- if he has reached the top of the stairs why is there still railing to cling to? “The bedroom was usually dim...” So this line has the name pf the kingdom Tr which confused me on first read because the main characters name also starts with Tr. this paragraph has the character again surprised by sunlight. But he could see it way down the stairs. So why still confused? I get the impression that he is suppose to be in a state of shock. I don’t know if you have ever had shock before- but I have. It is not fun. In my case I was driving home after hearing on the radio that my neighborhood had been struck by a tornado. I saw about 15 ambulances go by and was getting zero answers on the phone. I began to shake all over and had to pull the car over. I was able to think but visceral things happened. And it took about 10 hours for the shaking to stop. Now- everyone experiences shock differently. I use to lifeguard and was nick named V- for Val I guess but also for Vomit. Every rescue I was like on autopilot. I’d swim grab the person, get them out of the water. Do first aid/ cpr as needed. Do the paperwork. Then vomit and vomit and vomit. Anyway. In both cases my mind was super clear. I wasn’t confused. So I guess this character’s continued surprise just rings untrue, to me. Anyway- I feel like there are better ways to express shock than continued surprise. His actions what are driving them? Why is a servant the only one to rush to help? What is his motivation? Also in this paragraph: why is a torn down wall more shocking and attention worthy than a giant blue orb? As a reader I find the orb much more interesting. “The tingling in his arm had stopped” on first reading. This bit really confused me. I get it now the second time through. I’m not sure if you wanted to bury the lead as to what the tingle magic was or not. But if you meant to bury it, it worked well. I didn’t get that it was associated with a person at all first go round till later. (Ai’ll note when.) “And what had he done here? “ on first reading I thought “he” was Tr not the duke. “... pulled out the knife he kept at his belt and cut a wide piece of fabric from the green and gold tunic that marked his position as part of Duke Br’s serving staff.” okay that was a lot of details in a short span of time. Also: I had figured he was a body guard, not serving staff. “The debris next to the sphere shifted” this is the paragraph where I finally figured out what the tingly magic was, lol. Had to be spelled out for me, no pun intended. ““Careful. You could pull the rest down.” who says this? “Tr glanced over his shoulder to find Duchess M...” here we meet another person but are given two new people to keep track of. So far at this point in the book we have three named characters and have interacted with 3 characters but those two groups are not the same. This makes things confusing. First group Tr, Duke and Duchess. Second group Tr, Duke and unnamed advisor. Yes, he is named in the next line- but as I said in the first reading. It made it hard to juggle and keep things straight in my head. “Was anyone in the castle capable of managing the fire spell long enough to melt through the wall?” what fire spell? What wall? I’m confused. ““Is there a gap between this thing and the wall?” what is “this thing” again I’m confused. “We need to get in without shifting the weight of the rubble get in? I thought he was trying to get the Duke out of the rubble? “then cleared what he could away from the gap before ducking down to find the duke’s pained, terrified eyes staring back at him from a little over an arm’s length away. “ okay. Confused yet again by this. I thought Tr had found the duke because he could see his hair. Now the duke is down in a hole? Then how did he see the hair before- esp if it is an arms length from the surface? “They were preparing to ride out with the news.” confused again. What news? Who ordered them to take it? I thought the duke was pinned. “He glanced down at his left arm, assuring himself that the duke’s Oathband was still there. “But not this news.” did we just jump heads? I thought everything was from TR’s point of view. “Send someone for a healer from town. And see if any of them can keep him alive until then. “ more confusion here. How is someone who is leaving to get a healer able to stay and help the duke? This is worded strangely and just doesn’t make sense. “If the closest healer won’t be here until tonight at best-.” again confused. How does he know this? “I’ll tell them?” tell who what? I thought all servants and advisors know the duchess is dead because of the oath band? Also: why all this talking when the duke is being crushed to death? “... to brush uselessly at the heavy oak timber that held him down. Tr ground his teeth together and slid forward, reaching toward the crushing beam. His fingers brushed across the top of the splintered joist, and he nearly let loose a giddy laugh when they met nothing more than dust and some splintered shards of wood. Rolling carefully to his back for leverage, Tr pushed against the beam,” okay is it a heavy, hard to move beam or is it just some dust and splinters? It goes from beam to splinters then back to beam here. Again- I was super confused on first reading but now just feel it doesn’t make any sense at all. “A blond guard soon entered and briefly noted the giant ice sphere with alarm before focusing on...” okay! Now I get it the sphere is ice. It took second reading to this point to get that. I thought it was a glowing blue ball of some kind of spell magic. “The Ke all seemed to call each other cousins” another new person, and again, two names to keep track of. I have no idea who these K people are. “Not this room’s, but the one above it. “ again confused- I thought above was the sky- letting bf in light. “Water,” Tr said, pulling the guard out of his daze. “Please.” Dw nodded, gave an odd half-bow, and left at a run.” Why is Dw bowing to a servant? And why does the servant need water? I don’t get the pause here either. The building is unstable. Why not Dw and Tr loft the duke and cary him somewhere safe? “The duke shuddered and lifted his right arm before finally opening his eyes to stare at his wrist. His face contorted with grief and pain, sending Trevan’s hand unconsciously to his own arm. The missing Oathband there was strange enough. What must it be like to have a Judge-Bound Vow of marriage severed? Especially for a mage? Trevan looked away as moisture gathered at the edges of his master’s eyes.” i know I have been a negative Nancy so far but I was touched by this bit here. “But if this woman froze to death in the middle of the summer, the magistrates would insist on calling someone before the gods for punishment.” what woman? “Tr let out a relieved breath as De walked in with a waterskin, Ra following. With all three working together, they managed to carry the duke across the hall to settle him onto the bed in My’s maid’s room. The coughing fit that followed brought up blood, and Ra started to look green again.” all this urgency for water and they do nothing with it?!? “After all the trouble they’ve put you through, I find it hard to believe you’d turn to defying the laws now.” none of this made sense to me at all. Who is the “they”? “No,” Tr breathed. “Maybe if King Ir was still alive. But Ve never shared his father’s grudges.” He shook his head. “And Queen Es would never allow it.” more names that mean nothing. Hard to follow. The king, Ve, kings son, and queen. “If they consider it necessary, they’d get rid of Al and make her the new duchess.” who is the she here? The maid or the Queen? Neither makes any sense to me ““Not where he might hear.” who is the “he?” “Someone applying heatstones to the ice sphere.” how would they know this. “And if the Judge did find her guilty, and her life was forfeit...” He trailed off, grimacing. “He will have enough shadows looming over him already.” who is the she. Who is the “he will have enough shadows.” “We can call her to an Accounting ourselves.” okay- again, who is the she? The midwife? She’s dead. The maid? I thought they had dismissed that idea. “... And get the girl out of Gi if she’s willing to accept the blood price.” no idea here. What is Gi? What is a blood price? “We will have the midwife set the events in writing,” okay. Now I am realizing that I was confusing the midwife with the healer. So there is a healer- dead. A midwife in ice and a maid, too? “And if she doesn’t accept the terms?” Tr asked. why is a servant interrupting this conversation? Overall- second reading cleared some things up but not others. It is just one long confusing read with lots of name drops. Tr’s actions don’t make much sense to me and it seems like he is more there just to show what happens than anything else. But what is he doing there? Why are people treating a servant with so much respect or caring what he thinks? Who is he? There also isn’t a lot of action. Rather it is one conversation to another. And the conversations: I would think there would be better things to talk about like: we have sent for a healer! Let’s get you out of this building that is collapsing! Like I mentioned before- very little stuck in my head first reading and not much more on the second. Too many names and formal nouns introduced all in clusters to make heads or tales of them. I could make zero sense of the politics. Similar for the magic system. Is magic against the law or not? I have no idea. Also: the opening. Tr is suppose to be running up stairs to help. The sentences are all very long. So the pacing feels off. It was action but didn’t feel like action. I also had a hard time making a mental picture while I read this. When I read I normally have a vivid picture in my mind to help me keep track of what is what. I had to constantly modify that picture. Ie: the duke. He was buried in a pile of rubble that sat on the floor but his hair poked out. But then he was actually in a hole that went down to the floor below and Tr had to crawl down to him. There was a hole in the ceiling then there wasn’t. But then toward the end the hole in the ceiling was back and helping to melt the ice ball... There were other inconsistencies like this that just boggled my ability to keep track of things. Again, overall, I was just very confused. Not enough to put it down all together. But if the first chapter didn’t make sense I would for sure.
  9. Super short- because I only read the first paragraph and then a few other random bits. (To see if things settled down.) It was just too much violence for my personal taste. In my job, I hear and see all sorts of horrible things and I have to kind of protect myself in my days off from unpleasant things. so this was not something I could read.
  10. I, too, like the LN. I mean, if we can all read and love R2, why not LN?
  11. Thanks, you two.
  12. Question: I send my email to the group address this morning but haven’t gotten it in my email yet- 3 hours later. I haven’t gotten a failure to deliver notice either. Do I get a copy of the email in my inbox or am I just being impatient?
  13. *slaps head* thanks for the clarification. Glad to know Ir is busting herself out. I was like- noooo I love that part. Good to know it was never in jeopardy.
  14. Hmmm... the only problem I have with W (who I assume is her love interest? I don’t have the notes open). Is that it would take away a moment of character empowerment, where Ir manages to free herself. it also seems a bit deus ex machina to me to have a hero swoop in and free her from her sister’s house.
  15. I don’t know... I’m a therapist and sometimes those little old grannies are pretty raunchy- I have stories for daaays.
  16. I read twice. First time just to enjoy and second time for nit picks. Comments after first read: I was intimidated by the chapter number. But I shouldn’t have been. This was amazing! The opening was blah, the worst part for me. I’m normally not a grammar policer, but as I read this right after going over a draft of my own on a comma hunt, I noticed several missing/ not needed commas. There were also several fragment sentences. But the big thing about the opening for me was the slow pace and difficulty in one spot of knowing who was talking when (will point out in nitpicks.) Once the sister starts in on her impassioned speech I was hooked. Overall- excellent after the beginning bit. Since this is a third draft I’ll point out some areas where I thought the wording was weak or passive voice could be improved. These, of course, are super subjective. I’ll put a * before those comments. Nit picks: *but she delayed from knocking. nothing wrong with this phrase, grammar wise, but it felt awkward to me. *she was too busy trying passive voice. Could be described better and passive voice removed. *They had each chosen their paths, in different directions . I really loved the paragraph where this sentence is found. I have felt it myself with relatives and it rang true. But, the part after the comma takes away some of the punch for me. I feel it reads better without the last phrase. A moment later, S... this paragraph is where this opening bit began to drag for me. The descriptions seemed forced- especially as both women are described the same way “Not quite casual, but not quiet fancy...” Once, neither of them cared what the other thought. is this story written in third person with a wide scope or a narrow? Up to this point and afterwards it reads as if it is third limited but this sentence assumes to know what S thinks. “Hi,” I said. “Hi,” said S. * these first two lines read a bit Dick and Jane, beginner reader book for me. They stared at each other. “Come—” “How about I—?” Who is saying what here? I’m confused. Because S was last to speak before but it makes more sense that she is first to speak here. *I feel like this whole exchange could be strengthened with more descriptions of body language. Like I said before, it reads very flat and I feel like you are going for awkward- and it has that- but I feel like I should be squirming from the horrible awkwardness and I’m kinda more like: I think the writer wants this to be awkward. Show me the awkward! “I. asked lightly. Casually...” -*two adverbs in a row. I feel like this makes for weak writing. As before: show me the awkward! Make me as a reader squirm right there with them. I want to feel it. “S said, picking imaginary lint from her sleeve.” better! Give me more of this kinda thing. “Six months ago, she and S would have been chatting up a storm, while I fetched the cutting board and a knife for herself without a thought. Now she felt like all of her joints had turned to rusted iron as she made her way to the kitchen.” -*first sentence, that I struck through, feels repetitive. We already know they had a good relationship before. It also is a break from the awkward tension and I feel like it should be mounting, not a baiting. The second line is marvellous. Take out the first and I feel the passage is stronger. “Oh here...” to this bit: “The world is so big, S.” -* i feel like this settling into a normal routine makes a lot of sense. But! The tension from before is broken. I’m not sure if you wanted to sustain the strain or have it start to melt here. I like the idea of making the characters continue to squirm myself. But I guess I’m kinda evil. The conversation after “...big, S.” is amazing! I loved it. This is where the chapter really shined for me. The tension finally snaps and they argue and it feels good to get it all out and they make up- how sweet. But then the sister locks her in the house- bahaha! Oh my goodness did I LoVe it! And excellent example of a “yes, but...” plot progression. The descriptions showing Ir trying to contain her anger are excellent. Gah! Give me awkward the way you gave me anger! (And the anger and resolution will only be better served here- okay! I’ll stop mentioning it. But this bit proved to me that you have the writing chops to make these characters come alive and really squirm- so I’m wondering why you didn’t?) Big skip here- as getting out of the hut and the gate guard bit were so much fun I just grinned and read through it without noting anything on round 2. “Decay, girl, shut your mouth,” from her neighbors. I fell silent, instead, planning what to say when the guards re-emerged. I love the paragraph this is from. But, again, feel the last sentence takes away. I don’t know if you are familiar with the idea of two types of scenes? Scenes with action and scenes of reflection and regrouping. I like to think of them as upbeats and downbeats in action. This chapter is excellently paced in that way. But the final sentence is a bit of a summary and more telling. I, of course, haven’t read the next chapter- but still my gut tells me it is a better hook without the last line- at least the way it is written. Final comments: there was way less passive voice than I thought at the top so ignore that bit. Not to gush, but why not- let me gush. For jumping into the middle I felt the argument scene was amazing. I loved S. But could feel how Ir thought her naive and vice versa. So so so well played to argue both sides and make both valid. You mentioned it was suppose to be a politics book- well, excellent form here. I look forward to future chapters.
  17. Since only two people have asked for slots so far. May I have a slot? If it all fills up I can back out as there is no rush for me. I’ll do some final edits today but it would be for a 1–2K short piece.
  18. I read it twice. Once for fun and once for nit picks. Thoughts after the first read through: It was a hard read for me. I’ll use the first paragraph as an example of why in the nit picks. Other than my difficulty following the story, the bones are interesting. I like the mix of steampunk and spirituality of machines. The dialogue didn’t feel realistic to me. I’ll leave more detailed notes after my second red through. I was eager to get to dialogue in hopes the story would stick with me a bit better. But it did not. Anyway! On to- Nit picks: The opening line is loooong. The phrase “through the air” is repeated. It does paint a nice visual but I think that same visual could be created with fewer phrases. In general, throughout this prologue I found the exact same phrasing or similar phrasing repeated from one sentence to the next. Also: Is the tugboat steam powered or wind powered? Usually things are one or the other. (Their are motorsailers but I *think* those engines are specially designed to run with the sails. So as I’m writing this I’m realizing my point is moot.) I guess it just made me head scratch to see it written as if both systems were on at the same time. But then again. The only steampunk I’ve read was a book with balloons for flight so... perhaps it is a staple of the genre that I haven’t encountered? Second line: “great” was just used in the opening line and it’s use here stood out. Again, similar wording is repeated. Third sentence: This one was just totally overloaded for my tastes. I’m dyslexic and have a hard time keeping context in my head. So the longer a sentence and the more phrases it has the harder it is for me to comprehend. This third sentence has a lot going on. A “no man’s land” is formed. Then we learn it was formed during a war. A war that happened. hundred years ago. A war where lots of garbage piled up. Garbage piles that were half this and half that. But that were composed of this metal or that metal. All that in one sentence. It was too much for me to keep straight. Fourth sentence: same problem but smaller scale than sentence three. I want to note that at this point I stopped reading on my first go through. I retried reding five times getting only a little farther each time before I decided to just skim and not try to keep track of everything. It took me four days to get through this piece beginning to end. I don’t want this to sound harsh. I don’t mean it to be. I’m saying this because there are just some writers I cannot read in print. It doesn’t make them bad writers, I mean they are published. It just makes me a sucky reader. But! I do know that when I get tripped up a ton, other people usually do too- they just don’t have the same anxiety about reading as I do (think of learning to drive a car and how anxious everyone is and cautious the first few times they drive. For me reading never became second nature. It doesn’t flow or feel natural at the best of times.) If I read something like this that constantly has me changing lanes I get all flustered. A better driver may be able to handle all the frequent and fast lane changes but their pulse rate also goes up a bit. A sentence here or there that I have to read three or four times to figure it out- no problem. But sentence after sentence? It becomes too much for me. And this prologue was that beginning to end. (And I know I have talked about being dyslexic on every review I’ve done. It is just such a big part of reading for me I cannot separate my dyslexia from what my reading experience was like.) “And so the trail continues...” this paragraph of dialogue just doesn’t sound like someone talking to themselves. It sounds more like a way for the writer to tell the reader something. How does the captain know the distress signal came from someone going in just out of curiosity? On my first read through I thought the captain was talking about himself. On second l knew the captain knew exactly why he was going in (to find the person who sent up a distress signal) therefore it could only be a sentence about the young man they found. But as I read on and found this out it then didn’t make sense anymore “Like clockwork” is cliche. Could be described in a way that doesn’t feel stale. Paragraph that begins “a glowing vine.” This snapped me out of my skim for sure. Not what I was expecting, in a good way. Def peeked my interest. But note that in the last 2 sentences the flower blooms twice. Paragraph beginning “But just because...” sudden change to second person was jarring but not in a good way. Is this missing quotes? The last few lines: if the captain is kneeling over the young man. Why can Iris hear what he is saying but the captain cannot? This seemed odd to me. I also didn’t catch when Ir turned back into a flower and I thought the captain told everyone else to stay on the tug? Overall, like I belabored before: it was hard to read, the dialogue didn’t feel natural. But it has a lot of really neat ideas. Comments to address your comments: my reaction to the world and story building- top notch! Very interesting. The characters: not doing much for me. they feel flat, like chess pieces rather than living breathing characters I want to invest in. I also wouldn’t have gotten that this was a fantasy novel from this intro. Yeah, machine spirits should have done it. But I kinda thought it was like an AI thing.
  19. I normally write shorter stuff. But the one novella I wrote and then did a second draft of- well I found prepping for draft 2 on the computer too hard. so I printed that bad boy out. Read it and converted it into a scene by scene outline. As I read I made notes about what I liked/ disliked about each scene and a brief 1-2 sentence summary of what happened in the scene as well as what characters were present. Then I typed up the outline of brief scene descriptions. From there it was easy to cut scenes, move scenes or add in brief descriptions of new scenes to be fleshed out later. Then I printed that out and made sure it flowed well before I started in on the meat of draft two. For my shorter work I find I still do my best editing on paper- and actually take the time to print it out double spaced and attack it with highlighters and colored pencils- what can I say. I grew up without a computer and using a typewriter for editing was the pits so I had to learn the “old fashion way” and I just think better on paper. I usually just retype from the edited hard copy because it is quicker than editing on a screen for me. Plus, I often make further edits as I retype. But we are talking 1,000 to 5,000 words so retyping takes an afternoon or two, not weeks.
  20. Campfire is what my brother uses. I keep forgetting to check it out.
  21. @Lecky Twig wrll I love scrivener but it is not everyone’s cup of tea. They have a free trial (or use to) try before you buy! my brother uses something different. I’ve texted him asking what. It is something that he says works great with world building (I write more shorts and novella length max, so tons of world building isn’t really needed for me.)
  22. @Snakenaps I am a scrivener fan as well. It is what got me off my alphasmart as my main writing place. I just love being able to save and track multiple versions and such. I do miss in line notes... but to be honest I haven’t upgraded to version 3 yet so maybe that has it? @ginger_reckoning I did soo much writing in college. I was sure when I graduated I’d be much more prolific because: more free time! But, for me at least that wasn’t the case. I did give up caffeine after college (heart issue-) so maybe thats the problem. Lol- perhaps I should look into B vitamins for energy?
  23. What do you use to write with? Whenever I meet a writer I’m always curious to know their process, especially the nitty gritty of how they record their words and if they are morning, night or whenever writers. I mainly write on my macbook but as it is about to be sent in for repairs I have to come up with an alternative. I may go fancy and get a nice notebook and pen. Or I may dust off my old alphasmart word processor... ooh! Choices. I’m trying to think positive and hope that the change in writing medium may help me write something fabulous!
  24. So I read it twice, once for the for enjoyment and then again for nit picks. My thoughts after the first read through: I love space opera! I love female protagonists! I love humor! quirky side kick with a dry sense of humor!!! Honestly, it checks some of my most sought after boxes when reading fiction. The idea is most excellent. What happens after the big bad is defeated? My only wonder is why the figure head at all? If they are going to be radio silent as much as possible while they gather world leaders to set up a democracy- why do they need a figurehead? I feel that the key to that answer is that not all the worlds were part of the resistance and the resistance just killed their god. But that was not really said in the chapters, I’m just guessing. As to whether it makes sense, yes. There was only one point that I was pulled out of the story and had a wait-what? moment. Otherwise the writing was smooth and easy to read. And fun, very fun. Nit picks: I ask questions but am not looking for answers. I am only indicating a spot where I, as a reader, had questions. The first sentence bothers me a bit because the rest of the chapter kinda proves that didn’t happen. But, I totally get this may be intentional. I get the feeling that this is the point: let’s begin where most stories end. The intro of Ell was the one point that pulled me out of the story. I was like- wait? Now someone is floating? But that was quickly cleared up. That said- a smoother intro might be in order especially since the rest of the writing is so clear and wonderful. The two characters with E names is also a bit hard for me, but that is my dyslexia speaking. It is also strange to me that an alien creature like Ell has such an English name. “Merely a floating head” really though? Cause she is kinda my fav character after reading the first two chapters and I take objection to Ell being called “merely” anything. There are several nouns, throughout both chapters, that I wonder about. They seem to be the names of species or cultures but they are not capitalized. “A flash of light to her left.” Fragment sentence “... would the next tyrant would wrong to take it back by violence?” Typo here, I suspect. The whole discussion about violence and not liking it making Ek a good person- I found it very patronizing. But, perhaps that is what G is suppose to be like? In either case I major eye rolled and put G on my characters I don’t like list. I found the board meeting scene properly boring. But not so much that I’d want to put the book down or anything. It was very realistic with just one nitpick- it wasn’t very organized as far as what they were suppose to be talking about when. But I could see that happening if everyone is dead tired and trying to rally. But I’d think they’d talk about what still needs doing before patting themselves on the back about how great xyz did. I have been in way too many meetings in my day and have had scattered brained bosses and very organized ones. So I guess the questions I’m left with is: who called the meeting? Who is running/ leading the meeting? And is that character suppose to be uber organized or scatter brained? It seems like G is leading the meeting- so is he more of a soldier than a middle management? Or is he suppose to be a natural leader and uber with it? Cause right now that meeting scene was a hot mess of running around with heads cut off wondering what to do now. Overall- most excellent chapters. I love the premise.
  25. So this is my first review. I like to read things twice, once for the fun of it and then once for nit picks and such. Overall, I’m torn. There were most excellent moments. I loved the world building with all the different kinds of species (and why Russian shuttles, I wonder- in a good way.) But I was also so, so confused through most of it. If you are looking for a book that anyone can pick up without having read the other books in the series, this does not appear to be it- at least not as written right now, and not for me personally By the end of my second read through much of the confusion was gone- but it took way too long to get simple answers such as is N. a person, place, religion or language or a combo of some or all of those things. I have to admit I like a good prologue- and to me that is one that sets the tone for the series I’m going to read. Kind of a prologue palate cleanser to help ease me from whatever book I just finished into the new book. The tone of this prologue, for me, was mainly space opera and humor. Both of which I love, marred by too much proper pronoun dropping that bogged down my ability to immerse myself fully in the story. Anyway- below I ask some “questions” no need to answer them- they are just questions I had during first or second pass. Nit picks: “stacked one deep” can one of something be considered a stack? Horribly confused by the first paragraph. I’m very dyslexic and thus have a reading comprehension level of about a 5th grader. So perhaps blame that but I had to read it about three times and still was confused. Is this N person a person or a place? Was the main question I was trying to figure out. In all honesty, from the first page read through- if I had picked this up from a bookstore I’d have put it back on the shelf. I don’t like feeling stupid. To take any sting out of that comment- I did the same thing with Sanderson’s Way of kings because it was just too much. (Still haven’t been able to read Guy G. Kay’s book Tiagana for the same reason.) I guess I’m prattling to say you may be in very good company? There is a reason I listen to a lot of audiobooks- my listening comprehension is a bazillion times better than my reading. But... if you want this story to be enjoyed by 11 year olds- this adult with an 11 year olds reading level is saying you may want to make the first pages less confusing. Okay- so N is talking about no need to cover the plant things. But then says they’ve never covered the plant things before, why start now? This is repetitive and confusing to me. Which is it? Were they planning on covering them or have they never covered anything before? Or is it both, that they never covered anything before but had planned to this time? As written I’m not sure if it is the latter or an editing mistake. Further, after the paragraph discussed above Y talks in the past tense about covering the plants and I’m confused all over again. In the paragraph that begins “In another life...” there is a sentence where the the pronoun Xe is used. It took me a few re-reads to realize this pronoun referenced K, as there was quiet a bit of proper nouns/ name dropping before the pronoun was introduced. At first I wasn’t sure who the pronoun referred to. But I def picked up that is was a pronoun! (Also still wondering at this point if N is a person, place, religion, or group of people at this point...) The first two paragraphs after the break with the opening words “can we please...” Gah! Now this is more my cup of tea. If this was the opening of the prologue I’d giggle and sit back in my comfy chair. It flows, it has humor. It isn’t confusing. It sets up that the characters are on a spaceship without name dropping a bunch of fancy proper nouns that mean nothing to someone picking up a book for the first time. Perf- is suppose to be capitalized or not? Both versions are present. Later there is an M word that sometimes is capitalized and sometimes not that is used to refer to the K person’s species I think. Paragraph that starts “N. Waved at her with...” is confusing to me. Once more are they now transporting dead trees? I thought they were alive but wilted trees? Were they dead? The last three lines in the paragraph I can’t make heads or tales of at all. “We have this one back on earth where...” that line got a chuckle out of me. “N. Reached under... wrapped her hand around.” How big are her hands? Before the balls were described as being twice as big as her head- seems a lot to wrap a hand around- or does she have a really small head? Okay- how did the strange texting person know she wanted seeds? I thought they were there to do a direct transfer and get the plants + atmospheric conditions? The seed thing just seems to be an idea from a conversation she’d just had with her uncle. also: no idea even after two reads if the A people are real, some sort of gods, or make believe. Overall thoughts: No- it does not give me a solid grounding and I would not read on to chapter 1 It was mega frustrating. It was a hard read. The bones feel solid but the fleshing out a bit patchy to me. My frustration is that those bones, the core of the prologue is marvelous- excellent idea and fascinating world for sure sure. But I just don’t like reading something that doesn’t make sense and then continues to not make sense for pages and pages. Too many times I was like- wait- what? And not in a good way.