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About Robinski

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    Fighting unnecessary capitalisation since June 2013

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  1. LOL. Once an engineer, always an engineer.
  2. This is what I wish I'd said.
  3. Lol, @Mandamon, welcome to my world
  4. Honestly, I'm not completely sure where I'm going with this plotline, but I really wanted M in this book. This will probably be subject to a lot of 2nd draft editing. Ah, but the two-house aspect was only one dimension of the society, as I remember it. The other, and the one that resulted in them being abjured by the establishment, I thought, was their willingness to take paths for the greater good which the establishment was unwilling to tread. I can see how that might come into play, but surely then it would be Man torturing the prisoner, and not R, who is more of a by-the-book sort of gal, in my head anyway.
  5. Comments. - "R slapped V's cheek" - this sounded kind of weak to me, like a pat. I'm also weirded out that R is (seemingly ineffectually) torturing anyone. I don't feel the slap, I don't hear it. - "treated and bound" sounds odd. I think the word 'bandaged' sounds more like medical attention. - "unworthy to of" - "At least they'd also shaved that ridiculous moustache" - this makes it sound like the shaving of his head was a bad thing in R's mind, because this expresses the shaving of the moustache as contrary to the shaving of the head. - "R straightened, away from him, then mentally berated herself for showing weakness" - this first phrase sounds awkward, and I don't have much sense from it of the speed of the movement, the trajectory of the movement. Also, 'mentally' is redundant, I think we can easily assume it's internal. - "the sensory deprivation of the blank gray walls, and the lack of windows" - phrasing seems a bit jumbled. - Bit confused by the talk of S. Why would she feel the need to explain herself to V? Unless of course because the author wishes it! - I don't remember enough about the first book to understand what R and V are talking about 'in her hand'. - I really don't buy R telling V all that stuff about the Council. It's like she's confiding in him. Why would she do that in an interrogation, to someone she's just been torturing? If she absolutely has to say this, we should see her doubting and loathing herself for talking with this scumbag , for revealing such useful information to him. Unless, she is doing it on the basis that he is powerless to use it, or take any solace from it, and it's almost as if she is taunting him with it, a form of emotional torture: 'You could have been a participant in all that politicking if you had been a genuine Councillor and M-jus.' - "At least that meant he was enjoying himself, if he was running into danger" - clause order here, for me, is less impactful than it could be. - "she remembered his rough hands on her back last night" - Hmm, interesting! There's a slight coldness to the phrasing here, but I can believe that of her, as her feelings towards O seemed conflicted last time. - "It lost you your seat, didn't you it?" - typo, and also how on earth does V know that? I don't remember them being so familiar. - "We're got going to find him soon" - also disagreement between the LC, which she was talking about, and 'him'. - I like the ending to the section; good impact and a nice shove into the next section, building momentum. - Man > yay! - There's a bunch of LBL grammar stuff here, but I'm not going there on this draft. - "I'm starting up the Society again" - Ooh, but, I think you've really thrown away the impact of this statement for anyone who had read SoTH. I think this deserves to be led up to with some guarded conversation with his old friend, perhaps prodding and testing guardedly before coming out with it. I think the revelation deserves to be at the end of the section. - repetition of "a hallway". Also, I think 'the hallway' would have a more personal ring to it, 'a hallway' sounds impersonal to me, and makes the place sound enormous. - "He was normally the one to put others on edge, but this was...different." - I don't understand. - "It's been over twenty cycles, you great oaf" - right, but G is capable of getting touch with him, surely? This sounds like G can't be bothered to make the effort and it's all down to M to make the move to contact. - Ooh, I love the K machine, great idea and with a really poignant note given that their friend it gone. Also, 'trundled' is a real steampunk word. Excellent. - I don't like the word 'shuttered'. That's something you do to this building, sure, but the society itself, I think, deserves a more graphic and dramatic word to describe its dissolution, if you will - "They couldn't even contact each other regularly" - yeah, see this. So why is G giving M such a hard time? Sure, I'm certain he'll be guilty, but seems harsh to put it all on him. He didn't even know K had passed? I find that hard to believe. - "for fear of letting the Society take up a presence in the minds of the other m" - 'letting' too passive for me. Also this sentiment deserves more oomph, I think. (Sorry @shatteredsmooth!) - "A fellowship of m who could access two aspects of the Grand Symphonies had to be completely forgotten. Now it was." - Confused 'symphonies' plural? - "It must have gotten worse." - This is a really obvious statement and rather redundant. Suggest cutting. - "until his face was at standing height" - head height, I think. Summary I was rather disappointed by this section. R's behaviour seems out of character, and I think some of her actions are downright confusing and improbably, especially given how together she is professionally and personally. In relation to M's section, which I am very excited is here, I think it's an opportunity missed. The reformation of SoTH is used as a throwaway line and so there is never really much drama around that, and the focus of that section, I think, becomes the the changes in Gr and Kr. Not that that's wrong, but I'd love the reformation to be the last line of the chapter, this would leave it hanging in the minds of those who have read SoTH. I appreciate some (many?) readers might not have at this point, but I think ending the chapter on 'I'm here to reform the society, are you in?' gives it a real getting-the-team-back-together vibe, which is always so satisfying, I think. So good to be back here, and to be back with Man. Nice work. <R>
  6. p.s. As usual, about 2 minutes after sending my comments, I start to feel guilty about being too harsh, or not saying enough about the positive side of things. I was pulled through the story by the ease of reading, so I had no issue with the style or much of the language (usual polishing things, of course). I sighed in various places (all commented upon), but it's not a long piece overall and I'll be more than happy to read the rest of it to see how it turns out. I had a decent feeling for M as a character, although I might like a bit more convincing on her motivation for intervening, just a through line on that. B certainly feels different from M, and does indeed feel broken. Again, I wonder if that might be underlined here and there, as I'm not convinced yet about her being suicidal. George Bailey is a wreck in the movie, and James Stewart's portrayal of that is exceptional, and carries the film of course. It's vital that the GB character's 'destruction' is completely convincing and I'm not there yet with B.
  7. Sounds interesting. The title is very bleak and poignant. LBLs sent by email. Prologue - Why call it 'Prologue' at all? I would delete that word a name it in the same format as the other sections, like 'M: Ripples' or something like that, a memorable/suitable word from that section? - Is this it with the tense changed? I desperately wanted to change all of that first paragraph to Present Tense. - Why half the tragedy, why not all of it? That's like admitting defeat from the start. - Who's 'they'; we're just talking about E, aren't we? <Head slap> Okay, okay; I've got it. I fell into the old hetero trap here. Did you consider using 'xe', or some other pronoun? The problem I have with 'they' is that I personally (and therefore whatever statistical proportion of readers I represent) tend to need a clearer flag for the initial instance of 'they' as non-binary pronoun to not read it as a typo. While this may be my problem, it does become your problem (sorry!) when--through no fault of yours--I get confused in reading the opening of the story. Seems to me it's not ideal to rely on me and my statistical posse to have pre-knowledge of your or the publisher's oeuvre. Like I said, sorry! - "Half E’s dreams were about themself or people they knew." - This line. This line here is perfect I think, becasue it is absolutely clear and unequivocal. Is there some way you can move it up to be E's first introduction? I think the key is the word 'themselves' replacing 'they' as the key word that flag E's nature. - I felt there was something missing between "...failed to solve." and the following paragraph where the action starts, a bridging paragraph or sentence between in the introductory paragraphs and the move to action. I think it's a blocking thing. Is M still in bed? They were resting. - At the end of this section, I feel like 'save them' would be way more emotionally resonant and evocative than, 'stop it', which is very impersonal, logical and mechanical. Assignment - I don't think the Internet is the best phrase to land the 'I'm not technical' gag to best effect. I don't know how the Internet works, I bet a lot of people don't. - There's inconsistency in the spelling of 'Bail' it seems like the 'non-e' version is most numerous, so I flagged the 'e' ones, of which there were four. - What time of day is it? Can we have a time check / light level check when M arrives, please? - "then channelled energy into one of the runes I’d carved into the Jeep’s side" - Okay, this comes out of nowhere. I know there are mind powers, but this feels like something else. Suddenly, there is rune based magic. You asked about whether it mattered or was noticeable that this was another book in a series: I don't know if I would think that automatically on reading this, but I found this very abrupt. Having said this, I don't think I want this adding another strand to the start of the story. I wonder if you could add one sentence before M uses the runes, just so I know it's coming. - The reason that I wanted the light level check before is that I felt it was night time, for some reason, and I wondered why a puppy was out wondering around in the dark. - I like the short, bite-sized sections; snappy and engaging. I think they are pulling me through the story. Strike One - "the business was already in debt" - I don't feel the stakes here. Partly I think because the situation isn't clear, in terms of what has happened, so you're speculating on an unknown. - "They only wanted $5000" - Ooooh, this is straight out of It's A Wonderful Life, even down to the name Bailey!!! It's pathos out the wazoo, I'm just thinking it's a bit on the nose. - Alz. is a cause of dementia, so these two don't sit together, I think. Also, it's more direct and therefore engaging if you pick one. I'm guilty of doing this two, putting in two words because I can't decide, or want the perceived benefit of both. - I think this descriptive stuff about the paramedic feels way out of place, and needs to be in the next section. It feels wrong to introduce new details at the dramatic end of the section. Weakness - The bit where M thinks how she(?) could have saved C confuses me, and all the contractions together sound really crude to my ear. Ane the rationalisation is bizare; it's so selfish. - "one mistake and the person would be a vegetable" - Now this is a much more legitimate and understandable reason for not even trying. I'd like to see this up front, so I don't lose sympathy for M. - bridges have piers supporting them, the pylon is the bit above the bridge. I am not a bridge engineer, but I am a Civil Engineer. - - "dozens of little pixies" - What? No. Seriously? No. I can't believe it. The tone of this story was serious, dark, there was mental illness, depression, a stroke, and now... pixies. Please tell me you're kidding and I'm missing some obvious joke. I've crossed over into a different story altogether. - "Most humans mistook pixies for fireflies" - No, you've completely lost me. I've been reading the wrong story for the last 2,500 words. - To me, the laptop is irrelevant if it's closed. - Wait, who's M? Where did he come from? Did you mention him before? I don't think you get to use his name with us knowing who he is. - "every time a bell rings..." - Yup, I knew it. - "half-angel" - Huh? I only find this out on Page 10? - "gestured for me to sit on his lap" - Who is this guy in relation to M? - I think you've get real issues for anyone reading this story who has not seen It's A Wonderful Life. So much of this exposition is going to leave them cold and confused. - "trying to test a blaster" - I literally have no idea what I'm reading now. - “What?” I asked in the tone I used when I couldn’t stand not knowing what dangerous thing he was about do[RD1] . [RD1]This made no sense to me in its original form. - Ha, I just remembered that M is the boyfriend. - I don't think taking a person out of the world is a little thing. - "Not unless someone with telepathic abilities works as a relay" - By far my biggest difficulty with the story is that I don't know what exists in this world, what is possible, what the parameters are, and the limits. I feel like there's too much going on, and I can't get a handle on the world's identity, its feel. Take the world of HP. There is magic, and it feels consistent, despite the fact that we don't really know where it comes from. There are machines, but they are infused with magic; they are not science fiction. Here, I don't know there is talk of space opera (blasters); of religion (angels and demons); of pixies and trolls (mythical beasts); of time travel (SF). I feel like I would have had a better idea of that if I'd picked up the book, looked at the cover, read the jacket quotes and summary, of course. So possibly I'm more disoriented now than I would be 'in the real world' Strike Two - "I pushed the shovel in harder and flung the snow further" - This seemed unlikely to me. I know you've shovelled snow, I have some. Enough to agree how badly that saps energy and strength. I'm really not sure that after 20 minutes B will be able to go up a gear. - I've got no sense of blocking or space. T is on one side, and there is some other guy, and then there is J starting her blower within talking distance. How are all these yards so close togther? Where are the woods in the arrangement? - "dogs more than people" - hmm. I like dogs, but this kind of reduces the stakes for me. - Ju's appearance in the story, then departure are very sudden. Summary I'm confused. I feel like I don't really have a solid reference point in the story. See my comments above about not really being sure what kind of story I'm reading. I think the references to It's A Wonderful Life will be completely lost on people who haven't seen the film, which is probably not an inconsiderable proportion of the potential readership. We then get to the dog section. I understand that B loves dogs. Loves dogs more than people? okay, but I can't relate to that. If I had picked this off a shelf I would have put it back by now, knowing that it was not my sort of thing. The writing itself is easy to read, some mechanical crumbles, but it flows well enough, and was easy to read. Blocking issues with snow blowing, I have noted, but otherwise I generally had a picture, although there isn't that much description. My reaction won't stop me reading on to lend assistance of course, but I feel that my understanding of the world is really hampered by not having read your first work in this world, where I trust the set up is introduced and explained. Hope this helps. LBLs in the mail. <R>
  8. I certainly wouldn't want him to 'get better'. I think it would be good if maybe the memory loss 'trauma' felt different from the 'old, familiar' anxiety. I'm not sure it's about toning down, I'd like another dimension to the anxiety, something to mark it as different or more than the first book. Glad to hear he's going to be forced to adapt.
  9. Thanks for reading, and for persisting!! I'll call first draft and admit that I have work to do, probably more on this scene than many of the earlier ones. Your suggestion is very interesting, and gives me a lot to think about, especially since one of my main tasks in Edit #1 is providing more and better set-up and rationale for Ch's story. Much to ponder, which I will do subconsciously while this matures in the next couple of months, then consciously in Jan/Feb when I come back to edit. Your guidance with this story has been so valuable. I am indebted to you for your patient words especially on those subjects that I find most difficult, and am most distant from. J+Ch+P+K will return!
  10. No worries: I do believe you did. Thanks!
  11. I'm compelled and frustrated; I'm comprated. I do like S, I just want to see signs of his progression, which were there during SoD, but I just felt some dismay that it seems he has regressed by the start of this book. It could be ARS (Annual Reader Syndrome), I suppose.
  12. Noted. Do you mean the book title, or the chapter title? The title. SoD asks question like 'What is diss., it doesn't sound nice?', 'Why is diss. happening?', 'Who cast the seeds, and why?' FotN sounds to my like things to watch out for when you're on holiday in the N. I feel like it promises description, not action and intrigue. You might wish to note that I have a notoriously bad memory for details in things I've read. Thinking of SoD, I remember S's arrival, because I read that bit more than any other, I suppose. I remember some of the investigation, some of the council scenes, and En and S being captured. I remember details about the four friends that I could be conflating from other D-verse stories. I don't have a good memory at all for things like this, that aren't big banner events. Just saying that others may remember better. Yeah, first draft, and I'm coming at you with LBL detail. I hate to leave it for later, because there's just no way I'll remember. And you do pull that thought out from him, which is good. Nice character building. That's cool. Knowing that I can just ignore the absence of italics as a simple drafting thing. No need to go fiddling with formatting on my account. Ah, okay; I didn't put those two things together, but they easily could be tied together (of course) with a single line about how he knows remembers ranging over the city, but can't remember how he did it. LOL - that's good. S is a good character, well put together, but it is that frustration that gets in the way of me embracing him. So, if he's going to get a kick in the pants, that's good. I can get on board with that Excellent! Well done. It doesn't seem that long since you started, so that sounds like good progress. I look forward to reading on.
  13. Thanks for reading, Kais, much appreciated. Yup. Top of the list, as it will inform some things earlier on. This is a good point. It does assume a male default. You could keep the line if you mentioned the person had, say, a beard or something else heavily masculinizing as a trait Yargle. Unconscious bias creeping out. I will address this. I was aiming for an allusion to a non-binary or non-hetro character, but it was spur of the moment, and I've fluffed it. I'll rework this one way or another. Yes. Accept that. I will show more of Ch part in the action through J's POV. @kais, can I ask you to remove that use of Ch's name please? In fact there are two instances, another near the beginning. Thanks! Great comments, encouraging and challenging. Thank you!
  14. Yep. I think that's one of my biggest failings with the last one. I've read that people with this sort of mental illness often present as younger, but I think I went a little too far. This book will definitely address that... And I hope it will present him older (i.e. more confident, but not completely confident), and with more agency and some more control of his fears, so we can get on thee with the story, and not always be what sometimes verges on bogged down in S's condition. It has to be there, I just want some character progress in how he relates to it and manages it.
  15. Okay, the dust has settled and I've found a quiet hour to read, absorb and critique this. Because it's not a small matter, to be undertaken 'on the hoof', between meetings or hurriedly over corn flakes (other breakfast brands are available). It feels like the start of another leg of an epic journey that started X years ago, where X=4, I think. Page 1 - The title, to me, sounds like a travel guide book. It doesn't will me with wonder, anticipation and questions. - Wah!!!!! What, where, how? A new house, Mother of Gosh!!! I'm hooked. Bam. That's a sucker punch of a hooks for all your existing readers. Top marks. Plus, straight from the gate, you've allayed any fears that our favourite Kir'n might not be in this one. - "not that he had even ever been particularly good at teaching" - I think? - "expressed into some corner of existence. They were also scattered" - These sound like the same things, since the corners of existence must be far apart, surely. - "buildings vibrating with the resonance of the sound" - surely the resonance belongs to the buildings, and not the sound, which causes the resonance in the buildings? (Sorry, I'm going all LBL, but you know by now with me it tends to be all or nothing. And, as usual, the quality of your prose is high enough that it tends to be little details that stand out). - "His anxiety had been worse lately. He knew it wasn't him, wasn't his fault that the m. wasn't teaching him, but the thoughts still nagged." - This is the first bit of confusion for me. For me, this is too vague. What is the anxiety baseline we're measuring against? Previous readers will remember the height of S's anxiety in the first days, surely we're not still talking about the those levels? I would think a small addition, explain the baseline, like "after many months of calm after conquering his initial panic..." etc. - Lot's of parameters set (1) enticing mystery sound [Promise #1]; (2) two of three main characters present; (3) the mouthwatering prospect of another House [Promise #2]. It's all good so far. Page 2 - "Am I not worthy anymore? What does my new house mean?" - it's not just his new house though, is it? I find his questions rather shallow. Does he not see that there must be repercussions for everyone, not just him? Is he the first? Are there other misfits and outcasts from houses? What are the limits, the characteristics, the facets (ha, yes I'm paying attention) of this new house? - I have to admit, my memory being what it is, I don't remember too clearly what happened at the end of SoD. Clearly that is what this section is covering, and it's the ideal place for a retrospective. I think this bit could do with tidying up for clarity. "was it a defeat?" is a bit vague for me. Defeat of what/who? I just mean the retrospective could be tighter, clearer, I think. Page 3 - "looking for bugs to catch" - redundant, imo. - "washed out the colors" - colours of what? - "What am I doing?" - Should his internal monologue not be italicised, to distinguish it from narrative? - "the new music he heard" - but the music's not new, surely, just the fact of someone being able to hear it for the first time. Page 4 - "my parent's parents' faces" - "a spike went through him Sam" - suggest, since the last name mentioned is M. C. - Good time to have another character, and some dialogue. Internal conjecture can get old fairly quickly. I thought this was enough to get the big questions out there and set the scene. Page 5 - "Then why would she think I would know?" - yeah, the lack of italics mean I set off reading each of these internal thoughts as narrative, and then get a smack in the face when it's S's internal voice. - "Her entire family had died..." - phrasing here, because of course In didn't die then, so the wording is a bit of a trick. I'd prefer it without 'entire', which is dramatic, but inaccurate. - "He was always thinking only of himself." - good character flaw, real or imagined, and good way to call it out. Page 6 - "M. A. visited him on a regular basis" - this is not the first tag that has seemed rather inaccurate. The last name given before this line is the Arid prisoner, so it sounds a bit like that is who M. A. is visiting. - "trying to fish out more" - or 'fish for', I really don't think the expression works as just 'fish'. - "S's feet dug into the rug" (paraphrase) - this is passive wording. S. dug his feet in, surely. - I was going to mention this earlier, but here seems like the best place. The prospect of a new house is, comfortably and by some distance, the most exciting thing mentioned so far, and it's mentioned in the freakin' epigraph. Since then, I've been feeling increasingly put out at the scant mention of it since. S think about it, but he doesn't give much information at all. So, firstly, I'm probably being harsh, because you have told us roughly what it feels like, and what it affects, and that he has shared the knowledge (sparse as it seems to be) with Or. BUT, what we don't know is (a) who else knows? (b) does R. know? (c) do the Council know? (d) is research being undertaken? I'm guessing (d) is 'No', otherwise there would be more of a furore. I appreciate that S has been living with this for several weeks(?), but I'd like to know just a little more about the context so that I know how to react in certain situations. Does En. know, for example? If I don't know, I'm not sure quite how to take this scene. Also, how does Or. know it's a new house, and not some other kind of phenomenon? I feel like the epigraph promises that the understanding of this 'thing' that S. can perceive is more advanced that it actually is. - "Then he took in her messy hair again" - missing word? - "felt her chewed nails, in their" - delete comma, I think. - "her dark hair washing over her shoulders" - not sure about 'washing' if her hair is unkempt and unwashed. 'washing', to me implies all silky smooth, like in this shampoo ads. - "What's wrong?" - capital. - "He checked her pulse, but it was still strong" - full stop, but more importantly, I don't think 'but' fits. The pulse being strong is not contrary to checking the pulse. I know there's an implication that he thinks her pulse might be weak, but I don't think that's entirely clear and makes the working sound awkward, to me at least. Page 7 - "He told himself he had to learn everything about them. Then I'll know if something is wrong between us." - I've mentioned this italics issue before, but this example is particularly jarring, one sentence in one mode, immediately followed by another in a different mode. - "There was no question who she was talking about. "We don't know where he is—that's the whole problem," he said." - there are two different 'he's in this sentence. - The whole paragraph about being three instead of two, I find it rather vague and 'underwritten'. There's potential for real impact there, but it's not landed; it's vague. 'bigger' is a vague word, and 'spill out' doesn't really mean anything. I think I like the idea behind it, but I'm not quite sure what that idea is. More emotional punch required. - "He leaned down and rested his forehead on hers." - This is weird. Can he not help her up? Touching forehead with someone sitting on the ground while standing up: either I'm not getting the blocking or it's rather peculiar. - "E gently pushed him up and away, then brushed a hand down his cheek" - again, physically awkward. she's pushed him away, but can still reach him. - "It was cold" - that's her POV surely, unless it's her fingers that are cold? - "Up. Come on." - Okay, did not get that S was (still) on the ground. Page 8 - "S pushed to his feet and looked down at E" - confusing because of all the falling over and standing up they've been doing. I know this is because she's shorter than him, but do your new readers? - "He just had to look for landmarks, build up his knowledge of the grounds" - I don't buy this. This is all the stuff he was doing before, all the coping strategies that he was using to become more confident. I would like S to have moved on a bit. I know it's only a month, but I think what he's been through, and I'm sure I can remember him being more confident by the end of the last book. I also remember it getting tiresome, all the hair pulling over going outside. I don't mean to belittle the very serious plight real people, but we read to see characters progress, and I would rather see him being better at coping, but still see the cost of that, and the techniques and the effort, but him managed to get some control. If e're going to be going through this in every chapter (again) just to get S to go from A to B, I think it's going to feel like we're back in Book 1, plus it's going to start deflecting attention from external conflict, which I'd rather be focusing on. Summary I've happy to be back, but S was never my favourite character. In all honesty, I think readers (maybe it's just me) like to identify with strong characters, even if they are flawed. In other words, I hope to see Or. featuring. My fear is that S, with his lack of agency, an d his nail-pulling reluctance to even go out of the door, has not moved on since the last story, will be the main focus of this novel (to be expected), but has not shown any progress from Book 1. <R>