kais

05/04/20 - kais - Rosewood Chapter 5 (L) - 4550 words

22 posts in this topic

No major changes since last week. All comments much appreciated!

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Posted (edited)

Comments.

(page 1)

- Excellent first line, puts me right in the scene.

- Everyone knows what a 'horse trough' is, we don't need to be told it's for drinking.

- "get the saddles ready" - horse tack is way more than just saddles, I believe.

- Love this snappy argument. Great start to the chapter.

- "Sleeping had never been a priority for her" - For some reason, this came over smug to me. She's very fortunate she can operate in that manner. Sounds like a recipe for major health issues, but then...

- LIGHT BULB! - "unless you’re plotting your seduction" - I've hit upon one of the things that bothered me about the last chapter, I think, and I think it's M's behaviour towards the princess. She talks about seducing her, but she doesn't behave like it. Surely, she needs to be laying down work in all they interactions. If she was all over the place (I was hoping to go back and read last week's sub again, but I haven't had time) because she was surprised at N being there, okay, but I think she needs to be trying to seduce her, or putting the groundwork in place, from the start. 

Also, I'm not sure I like M, or am particularly invested in her succeeding. I don't see her pain. Her parents are dead, well, so are every other protagonist's. She looks after her brother, but there's no sign he's a death's door: he has some allergies. And as an extension, stealing to keep her brother alive might be compelling, but it seems more like it's just to keep him comfortable. It feels to me like J is her only real stakes in the story, and it doesn't feel very significant to me.

(page 2)

- "She handed him the reins" - Huh? I thought he was allergic to the leather, I thought that's why he came out in spots.

- "get used to pus" - Yep, I think my issues are starting to fall into focus. I think I need to know much sooner what J's medical issues are, to be demonstrated somehow that he could die(?).

- "That they only had enough money" - I thought N gave her more money and it was enough to cover the five days lodging. That was the point of N giving more coin, surely.

- "a two-day old plant" - Right. Good. That's perfect, and I'm happy to accept it. One query though, why would anyone selling dried nettle at a market know how old the extract was? In fact, why would they separate out the nettles as they were harvesting them? That's a terrible business model, unless it's a known fact country-wide that this disease exists and two-day nettle is the only thing.

(page 3)

- "to infiltrate a queendom" - I think maybe another thing is it's hard to be convinced about the infiltration when N knows who M is, or at least what she is, so the scope for subterfuge over identity, which is a common aspect of infiltration, is not available.

- "good enough to be talked to like a damnation adult" - being 'good' in this context doesn't mean anything, or isn't clear to me anyway. Does he mean well behaved, in relatively good medical condition?

(page 4)

- Like the behaviour of Jav and L when they come in, nicely done.

(page 5)

- "would just be a relief" - I struggle to believe this if they have tolerated each other for over 30 years. Him circling her for three decades seems unbelievable too. I think he would have acted or left in that sort of time frame. Or, if he's always been beaten down as in the previous section (that might have been cut?) he would have given up circling way before now.

- I'm know horseman, but I've read enough books and watched enough westerns. I'm pretty sure if there is any movement in the saddle (from the cinch not being sufficiently tight) you're going to end up on the ground pretty quickly.

- Confused. The princess knows they are common thieves, surely.

- "said under his breath" - To whom? Both M and Jav have known each other for 30+ years, so it doesn't make sense addressed to either of them, seems to me.

- "disinterested and yawning into the afternoon sun" - Who is, her or the guard(s)?

(page 6)

- "a tolerable number of street dogs" - Not clear to me whether there are 200 street dogs, and only a tolerable number are well fed, or they are all well fed, and there are a tolerable number overall.

- "careful to keep her boots out of view" - How and why?

(page 7)

- "What are they doing?" - They are just standing there, also seeking an audience with the queen. This seems a really, really stupid question.

- There's too much eye flicking in this scene with the guards, IMO. It becomes a bit comical, but not in a good way.

- "Palace guards were way above her comfort level, but not above her shirt, which had a V-neck halfway down her chest" - I don't understand this. The first bit is about her. What is the second bit about? It sounds like it means the guards were not above noticing her V-neck, but making the second part of the sentence about them carries no comedic punchline, IMO. It makes it sound like they are quite short.

- "We’re turning ourselves in. Your princess offered us jobs a few days ago" - Part of my difficulty by this point is that I never completely got Chapter 4, BUT, these things sound incompatible to me. Turning yourself in implies submitting to justice (to be punished), but getting a job in the palace is a reward. I think if Chapter 4 made more sense (to me!! ;):P), maybe this would too?

- Super bad form, lack of discipline and security, for the guards to reveal their names. The military here must be terrible. And WAITR... make small talk, and badmouth their princess?!?!?! There's been a massive leak of plausitrons here, and my Eiger meter detects a mountainous degree of implausibility.

- What petition? Confused. Seems to me L's comment is phrased as if one of he guards mentioned the petition to them, like 'Do you have a petition?' and L's saying 'What petition?' And then the guard explains. But, L didn't ask that. Is this something from Chapter 4?

- "The penny" - Wait, wait. (1) Why did M just walk up to the guards and present the penny; (2) M, obviously, is reminding L about the penny, i.e. they had discussed it before. L is not going to forget about that, it's their key to get in. You don't walk up to a door which you have a key to unlock, then ask to be let in, when you have the key, you get it out as you approach the door. That makes this feel rather like author intervention to create a scene where logic suggests there should not be one. L walk up to the door, produces the penny. We're here to see the princess, she gave us this. End of chat. Surely M's group discussed this on the way?

(page 8)

- "You were amusing, but now you’re embarrassing yourself" - still... laughing...

(page 9)

- "trying to bribe two guards" - To be fair, they are not trying to bribe the guards with a penny. Surely it was given by N on the basis that it was a token that the guards would understand, not for its financial value.

- "We’re not letting thieves into the castle" - For me, this is a massive leap for the guards to make with no information and no basis whatever, as far as I can see. I'm also surprised they have not threatened imprisonment yet.

- "The color clash was an obscenity" - ...wrote the My Little Pony collector :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

(page 10)

- "kicking open the unlocked gate" - This seems ridiculous to me. Very theatrical and melodramatic.

(page 11)

- "Because you can’t read or write" - ROFL. Lots of goods laugh lines in this chapter. It sooo much smoother in its personal interactions that the last one, IMO.

- "and the wall paralleled the castle" - The castle is a kilometre away: how can she see they are parallel? The castle's radius would be a kilometre less than that of the wall.

(page 14)

- "Foxfire" - Ha-ha, but why? It doesn't seem to be to serve any purpose unless... this is the same world.

(page 15)

- I think a horse 'belt' is a cinch, without searching out the term.

OVERALL 

Good chapter. Good forward motion, and presentation of an intriguing situation. Nice character interactions too, and some really pithy, snappy dialogue. I had issues, as outlined above, but I must say I enjoyed this one more than the last one, which I still might try and go back to read again.

p.s. LBLs in the electronic mail.

Edited by Robinski
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Another good chapter. Only a few hangups. I was confused at the start about how much time had passed, but that might be WRS. I'm also growing less satisfied by the nettle explanation the more is explained. Then I was confused by how much emphasis was put on Jav. Like @Robinski, I don't know why M would have put up with him for so long, when he seems to be fairly incompetent.

Last, I think the hint about the penny might be too much. By the time it came out at the gate, I was ready for something special to happen, and after the heavy hint for the west side, I was ready for them to go straight there, rather than debating. Made me want to skim those couple pages in between.

 

pg 1: at first I though this was five days later, then talking about being the in the stables, I see M's still at the tavern. I'm also not sure how the first sentence ties into the rest of the first paragraph.

pg 1: "seemed to need half the night"
--so, like 5 hours?

pg 1: I know J is allergic to everything, but what specifically caused the problem this time? The horse? The leather?

pg 2: "after five days at a tavern"
--oh, it is five days later. I was confused.
--Also, didn't the princess give them way more than they needed? I thought M had plenty of money?

pg 2: "and definitely not from ones randomly harvested along a roadside."
--why not? I guess you'd have to check how old it was...

pg 2: "They hadn’t been raised with any kind of agriculture background"
--but it sounds like they've had a lot of chances to learn. I'd think they be pretty good at growing a weed after 40 years.

pg 2: "Buying was faster"
--but is 2-day old nettle tea something commonplace? Do lots of people have his allergies?
I'm thinking this may be one of those things where less explanation is better. Explaining how a weed is rare is making me ask more questions.

pg 3: "I can sleep in a second story room without sobbing like a baby"
--also not completely buying this, for reasons stated last week. being inside a room high up, while afraid of heights, is a lot different than standing in an open area, high up.

pg 3: "the kind made from kid leather"
--wouldn't this just make his hands horribly itchy?

pg 4: “I question your choices,”
--which choices?

End of pg 4: "Jav had been circling her for almost three of them"
--I feel like you're telling us we should pay attention to Jav, but I don't know why. I didn't get that he was a very important character from the last chapter, and this makes it seem like he's on a level with Jac.

pg 6: "toothless smile."
I understand what this means, but it still makes me think she's lost all her teeth.

pg 9: "Because her skin, her invulnerability, wasn’t magic. It was a quirk of nature."
--Still not sure why she thinks this.

pg 15: the ending was cool--I was not expecting them to find an unused door, but I almost skimmed the pages of them debating between the guard's hint and them getting there. It was very obvious that's what the penny was supposed to do, so it sort of took away the tension of wondering how they would get in.

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Posted (edited)

Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "M finished belting the saddle, checked the tightness with her fingers, and picked the reins back up from the ground." Heeeere comes Katie, with her weekly lessons on horses! You don't belt a saddle, although it does involve buckles. I'd switch this over to, "M finished tightening the girth on the saddle." I applaud you for knowing that you check the tightness of a girth with your fingers, though. A girth is like the belt that holds a saddle in place. 

Pg 2, "checked the tightness of the saddle," Again, check the tightness of the girth. If that is too repetitive, she can check the position of the saddle (whether it is too far forward or back) or let down/adjust the stirrup leathers. Whether or not you let down the stirrup leathers depends on whether they are riding in an English-style or Western-style saddle. 

Pg 3, "Felt it deep inside her chest, hitting like a hammer." I'm feeling it myself..

Pg 4, "f raised bump. They could"

Pg 4, "sucking snot back into his head in the most grotesque way possible" I can hear this vividly.

Pg 4, "still naked" I don't think I've ever heard of an untacked horse referred to as naked, but it is oddly fitting in this story. 

Pg 4, "hauled off a saddle blanket that wasn’t his, and tossed it on L's gelding." Good, yes, saddle blanket before saddle.

Pg 4, "its pen" Pens are outside, stalls are inside. We are in a stable, so, ergo, stalls. 

 Pg 4, " as she breezed out of the stables on her horse." If I was rushing, it still takes me about five minutes to pick hooves, give a quick brush, and tack up. Tacking up is not instantaneous. Now, if she decided to tack up in the aisle or outside, away from J, I would buy that.

Pg 5, "though his saddle shifted with his weight" If your saddle is shifting, either you didn't tighten the girth enough, your saddle doesn't fit properly, or your horse is a jerk and held his breath while you were tightening the girth. However, I can say from experience, saddles definitely can creak depending on the saddle's age and the rider's weight. I once rode in a terrible, ancient English saddle that creaked like an door in desperate need of oil. That thing was not comfortable. 

Pg 5, "she kicked her horse into a trot" I think I've given this speech before, but thank you for not flicking the reins. 

Pg 7, " M's mouth and"

I'll finish this tomorrow! 

I'm back!

Pg 9, " was clearly not magic at all" This comes with the same sad feeling I get when I think about the fact that I'll never, ever get a Hogwarts letter...

Pg 9, " It was a quirk of nature." I have a hard time believing this, but I think M just happens to be an unreliable narrator to her own ability, in this case. 

Pg 10, "Silver-haired horses drew the carriage" Ooooh, this gets my horse brain going. Just ambiguous to be so many different horse colors. Grey? Palomino? Silver bay? Silver black? Cremello? Perlino? I'm going to go with palomino, because that makes me happy. Silver manes and golden coats. 

Pg 14, "Horses can’t do stairs" Technically false, but practicality wise, true. Horses can go up wide, non-slippery stairs, but they have a hard time going down. Keep this sentence in, it passes Katie inspection, but I like to be thorough. Maybe one day you'll need a scene where a horse has to go up stairs, or fall down them. 

Pg 14, "The walls were solid stone and glowed an eerie green." In a story full of tropes, I'm waiting for the wise, crazy hag lady.

Pg 15, "I’ve had that horse for three years." I agree with J completely and utterly. I can't help but wonder what J named that horse.

Pg 15, " to go pull it back out of a herd" If he's had the horse for three years, he probably doesn't use the pronoun "it." Give the poor beastie a name. 

Pg 15, "cut the reins of J's horse" This would be easiest, but rather cruel to the horse. Already bad enough you're sending a horse off with his saddle on. Poor baby. If you want to go for less cruel, have her take the bridle in one hand and cut the headstall. 

Pg 15, "She loosened the belt" ---> "She unbuckled the girth." 

Pg 15, "removing the halter bridle." Halter is for leading, bridle is for riding. They've been riding, so bridle.

Overall:

I'm expecting a crone. 

Obviously I tore through this as Horse Friend. I enjoyed the chapter outside of the glaring equine issues.

If I was J, I would be...this is a clean forum...I would be incredibly, massively, murderously, upset, to say the least. If you take out the emotional side, that's three years of training a horse to be the kind of mount you want! Wasted! 

I have opinions about horses. 

Strong ones. 

Edited by Snakenaps
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13 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Heeeere comes Katie, with her weekly lessons on horses!

Yay! Girth, of course. Does cinch also apply? I feel I've seen that word used in this context.

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I finished my comments, they are a part of my previous ones.

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

Yay! Girth, of course. Does cinch also apply? I feel I've seen that word used in this context.

Yes! You actually bring up a very good point.

Girth = English riding. This is what discipline I ride in, although I used to ride Western. A girth has two buckles on either end that connect to an English saddle.

Cinch = Western riding. This is like a girth that has one very large buckle on either end, which is typically tied onto a Western saddle using a long piece of leather called the latigo (using a latigo knot). 

English saddle and bridle :

How To Tack Up A Horse: English Riding– Breeches.com

English girth:

Professional's Choice SMx Brown English Girth | Schneiders Saddlery

Western saddle and bridle:

Hank in his Western Tack Outfit | SpecTACKular

Western cinch, which is tied to the saddle using a latigo knot through one large ring, normally:

How To Tie A Latigo Knot With A Western Saddle, Mike Hughes ...The Correct Position of a Cinch - YouTube

 

Saddlebags can be used with either discipline, and there are many other styles of saddles and bridles than just English and Western. My great aunt owned a Peruvian bull ring saddle at one point, which looked a lot like this:

Black Saddle for Peruvian Paso Horse Available in other colors ...

Not to mention, there is traditional Arabian horse tack:

Arabian horse costume class- these colors are awesome!!! | Horses ...

Or Marwari horse tack from India:

The Indian horses bred to fight elephants | CNN Travel

 

...I am such a horse nerd. This was my very long way of saying that @Robinski is right and that @kais may want to consider if their horses are wearing English or Western or another style of tack, so that the right vocabulary is used. I really love talking about horses, if you haven't figured it out by now. 

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4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

really love talking about horses, if you haven't figured it out by now.

:lol:  And we love hearing people talking about things they love talking about. It's great to have a horse knowledge person on the site. I expect I will be back with many queries in the future! :) 

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On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

For some reason, this came over smug to me. She's very fortunate she can operate in that manner. Sounds like a recipe for major health issues, but then...

Probably just the wording. I was trying to say she basically doesn't sleep, whereas J sleeps a ton. More foils. Will edit

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

I think, and I think it's M's behaviour towards the princess. She talks about seducing her, but she doesn't behave like it. Surely, she needs to be laying down work in all they interactions. If she was all over the place (I was hoping to go back and read last week's sub again, but I haven't had time) because she was surprised at N being there, okay, but I think she needs to be trying to seduce her, or putting the groundwork in place, from the start. 

I'd like to get your opinion on this after another few chapters. I've been doing a lot of unreliable narrator, and I'm hoping it's clear once the princess and M start interacting that M is in fact, not particularly good at seducing women, and is very thrown off balance by N. But as the chapters progress she does gain a lot of confidence so I'll be curious to see in maybe three chapters or so if this is still an issue.

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

Also, I'm not sure I like M, or am particularly invested in her succeeding. I don't see her pain. Her parents are dead, well, so are every other protagonist's. She looks after her brother, but there's no sign he's a death's door: he has some allergies. And as an extension, stealing to keep her brother alive might be compelling, but it seems more like it's just to keep him comfortable. It feels to me like J is her only real stakes in the story, and it doesn't feel very significant to me.

Yup! Have edited an earlier chapter to include how bad Ja-ks allergies are. Will post that bit in the wrap-up changes post in a bit. Thank you! I think this will solve a lot of issues.

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

Huh? I thought he was allergic to the leather, I thought that's why he came out in spots.

have clarified this

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

I thought N gave her more money and it was enough to cover the five days lodging. That was the point of N giving more coin, surely.

I think the sentence was just confusing. I've restructured it. It was trying to point out that they did have overage from the lodging bill, but only enough for maybe another week of tea

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

That's a terrible business model, unless it's a known fact country-wide that this disease exists and two-day nettle is the only thing.

Hmmm. I might actually wave this in more. It'd be a neat plot element. Will ponder

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

eing 'good' in this context doesn't mean anything

Quite right. It should be 'healthy'

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

I struggle to believe this if

I have changed an earlier chapter to clarify WHY she puts up with Jav. Will include some in the 'here are the changes' post.

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

The princess knows they are common thieves, surely.

Yes but M wants to look nicer because she's falling for a girl...

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

"What are they doing?" - They are just standing there, also seeking an audience with the queen. This seems a really, really stupid question.

Based upon other comments, this scene with the guards is likely going to be completely cut

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

wrote the My Little Pony collector :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

I'm willing to admit that the color matches are not...the best...in the MLP world

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

It doesn't seem to be to serve any purpose unless... this is the same world.

They're trying to figure out what is causing that ghostly green, and historically I think people just lumped it all under foxfire. Those bioluminescent fungi are such fun! Now bioluminescent jellyfish...

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

but I must say I enjoyed this one more than the last one, which I still might try and go back to read again.

Thanks! I'm glad part of it worked. I think I will delete the whole guard scene and just have them route around the castle to the door.

Also, @Robinski, I have not yet received LBLs. Looking forward to them!

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On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

I'm also growing less satisfied by the nettle explanation the more is explained.

LOL. I've got very conflicting feedback on this!

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

Then I was confused by how much emphasis was put on Jav. Like @Robinski, I don't know why M would have put up with him for so long, when he seems to be fairly incompetent.

I have addressed this in an earlier chapter. Scene addition to follow in another post!

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

Last, I think the hint about the penny might be too much. By the time it came out at the gate, I was ready for something special to happen, and after the heavy hint for the west side, I was ready for them to go straight there, rather than debating. Made me want to skim those couple pages in between.

Check! I've streamlined this quite a bit. Now L presents the penny straight away, the one guard doesn't care, the other sends them to the west wall where they find the door.

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

I know J is allergic to everything, but what specifically caused the problem this time? The horse? The leather?

Clarified!

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

Also, didn't the princess give them way more than they needed? I thought M had plenty of money?

also clarified

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

I'd think they be pretty good at growing a weed after 40 years.

M is a deeply unreliable narrator

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

but is 2-day old nettle tea something commonplace? Do lots of people have his allergies?
I'm thinking this may be one of those things where less explanation is better. Explaining how a weed is rare is making me ask more questions.

Hmm. Per @Robinski's comments as well, I'm guessing that it is not common knowledge that stinging nettle is an old (and still used) method to relieve allergy symptoms. I may have to do some tweaking here.

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

also not completely buying this, for reasons stated last week. being inside a room high up, while afraid of heights, is a lot different than standing in an open area, high up.

Ahhh right. Editing

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

I feel like you're telling us we should pay attention to Jav, but I don't know why. I didn't get that he was a very important character from the last chapter, and this makes it seem like he's on a level with Jac.

Jav, now with backstory!

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

It was very obvious that's what the penny was supposed to do, so it sort of took away the tension of wondering how they would get in.

Check, and I'm hoping the cuts and changes I've made address this. Thank you @Mandamon, as always!

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On 5/4/2020 at 6:47 PM, Snakenaps said:

Heeeere comes Katie, with her weekly lessons on horses!

I figured you would be ALL OVER this sub. Changing all horse things now, as instructed

On 5/4/2020 at 6:47 PM, Snakenaps said:

I don't think I've ever heard of an untacked horse referred to as naked, but it is oddly fitting in this story. 

It was such a funny image I couldn't help but keep it in.

On 5/4/2020 at 6:47 PM, Snakenaps said:

but I think M just happens to be an unreliable narrator to her own ability, in this case. 

Unreliable narrator in deep denial

On 5/4/2020 at 6:47 PM, Snakenaps said:

I'm waiting for the wise, crazy hag lady.

Shoot! This does not yet exist!

On 5/4/2020 at 6:47 PM, Snakenaps said:

I would be incredibly, massively, murderously, upset, to say the least.

J and M are...not friends. So yes, he is very upset

On 5/4/2020 at 6:47 PM, Snakenaps said:

have opinions about horses. 

Strong ones. 

And I adore them. Thank you so much for the fixes @Snakenaps!

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Edit list carrying forward!

The biggest complaint (ignoring the horses, which I would never ignore!) is about Jav and his relevance. This section has been edited in an earlier chapter:

~~

Except Ja didn’t miss. It was ninety-three percent of the reason he was still alive, and not floating belly down in a river. She’d met him in the Kingdom of xx, during a routine spring fair. She’d been selling the linseed oil she and Js occasionally made from the wild flax on their family’s plot of forest. Ja had tried to rob her at knifepoint. She’d walked away. Far, far away. A knife had sailed through the air, around the corner of a building, and lodged between her ribs. 

It would have punctured a regular person’s heart. 

M had turned right back around and broken his left leg. 

A month later J came after Js down in the Duchy of xx. He’d been spooked, Js had said. Demanded answers. His knife throwing skills as creepy as M’s skin. They’d gotten into an argument and M stepped in. J had rammed a sword into her collarbone—a sword that had cut up her favorite shirt and cloak but just skated across her skin. She’d broken his favorite throwing knife. Watched him throw a cheaper version at an eagle so far above them up she’d gotten dizzy. They’d gotten drunk after, the eagle lying dead at her feet across the folded knife… and fallen into an uneasy truce. 

He was the most irritating, and dangerous, of her highwaymen. And he was the only person she’d ever met who carried the same aftertaste of magic.

 

Second issue, Js's allergies. New section, in with the 'waking up with boobs in the face' section:

~~

“You needed someone to look after you. A horse tossed Js into a strawberry patch and he swelled so badly-”

“Is he alright?” M demanded. The rushing sound of blood came to her ears again, hot, fast, and insistent. She looked at Su. Stared at her breasts. Told herself to calm down. That if Js was dead, Su would have told her immediately. Or left a note and run far, far away. Told herself she couldn’t afford another flush, because two days unconscious had already threatened Js’ life, from strawberries. “He almost died the first time he ate one. I thought I would have to cut out his tongue. Just touching the plant gives him a rash that swells and swells until he can barely see. Where is the patch? I’ll dig it up myself.”

“He’s fine, G. I promise he is fine. He is getting you some food. He just couldn’t walk for a while. H had to give him a straw for his tea for two meals, but the swelling went away. It was Js that sent for me. 
 

~~
Horse stuff has been edited per awesome horse advice. The penny scene has been edited so they now show it right when they approach the castle, then get sent around the side. 

 

FORWARD!

 

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I had problems with the characters backgrounds. Mainly due to their reaction to the city the castle/royalty is located in. So my this M and J are grifters that never left their own city? So M subjected J to a life of struggling because she couldnt bring herself to leave the city her parents are from? That seems unrealistic to me. Why would you try and steal from poor/ middle class people when you could be stealing from upper middle class and rich people?

Then on page 8 M has that inner monologue of the evils of royal family. HOW does she KNOW these things about them? If she and J keep saying that they grew up in caves and they struggle to find Js medicine, I dont know where she would KNOW that they would betray her? I get being resentful of them (because they are the haves and she is the have nots). But thats a lot of hate with no background info (like not even a causal comment on an ex lover being royalty that spurned her). Not to mention, that since this is her first time visiting a wealthier city, where would she even have that encounter?

Then Idoubt GUARDS are gonna give her the location of where the princess is gonna be. Protected or not. Just have them be turned away and discover the door themselves. I LOVED the hidden door and matching coin though. Felt magical.

Page 14 also irratated me because they are low on money and supplies and M is just gonna their horses loose (when they could sell them) and she sends Javs horse away with all his STUFF? Like thats a bad move. I get your trying to make M a badass but after worrying about her brother, its irrational to waste supplies.

@Snakenaps I LOVED your quick history/tutorial about the horses. I never knew any of this. It was fun to learn.

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14 hours ago, kais said:

Edit list carrying forward!

I really like Ja's backstory! Much more interesting.

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19 hours ago, kais said:

not particularly good at seducing women

Not sure I got much sense of that, to date.

19 hours ago, kais said:

I'm willing to admit that the color matches are not...the best...in the MLP world

Oh, I wasn't having a pop at MLP: I believe those combos are so beautifully 'in context'. I just could not resist that line :D 

I have sent the LBLs again. I sent them at 10pm on 4th May. Possibly in the Junk? :ph34r: <narrows eyes, awaiting smart comments> 

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1 hour ago, Robinski said:

Possibly in the Junk?

Nope! It sticks it in a folder I can't see for some reason, that isn't trash or junk or my inbox. I have to search for your name, and not PART of it, but the WHOLE email, or it doesn't come up. Frustrating, but I got the LBLs so thank you!!

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1 hour ago, Robinski said:

Possibly in the Junk?

Nope! It sticks it in a folder I can't see for some reason, that isn't trash or junk or my inbox. I have to search for your name, and not PART of it, but the WHOLE email, or it doesn't come up. Frustrating, but I got the LBLs so thank you!!

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12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

Mainly due to their reaction to the city the castle/royalty is located in.

Ah, so I think you may have missed last week's sub, which would have explained a lot of this. They don't live in the city, but they've traveled around a lot. They grew up in poverty though so seeing people not desperate is jarring. There was a lot around this last chapter.

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

So M subjected J to a life of struggling because she couldnt bring herself to leave the city her parents are from

They have definitely left their forest a lot. J's allergies are something they both work to manage

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

Why would you try and steal from poor/ middle class people when you could be stealing from upper middle class and rich people?

This was established...a few chapters ago. They definitely only steal from middle and upper classes. 

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

HOW does she KNOW these things about them?

She had a big discussion with the princess last chapter, which is where this is coming from.

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

Then Idoubt GUARDS are gonna give her the location of where the princess is gonna be.

More setup from the previous chapter here as well. The princess gave her a penny that's basically a 'get into the castle free' card

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

also irratated me because they are low on money and supplies and M is just gonna their horses loose (when they could sell them) and she sends Javs horse away with all his STUFF? Like thats a bad move. I get your trying to make M a badass but after worrying about her brother, its irrational to waste supplies.

LOL yes, this is M just being a jerk for sure!

Thank you for the feedback, @CherishLarain! Let me know if you'd like me to send you the last chapter so you can fill in some of those holes.

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12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

Mainly due to their reaction to the city the castle/royalty is located in.

Ah, so I think you may have missed last week's sub, which would have explained a lot of this. They don't live in the city, but they've traveled around a lot. They grew up in poverty though so seeing people not desperate is jarring. There was a lot around this last chapter.

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

So M subjected J to a life of struggling because she couldnt bring herself to leave the city her parents are from

They have definitely left their forest a lot. J's allergies are something they both work to manage

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

Why would you try and steal from poor/ middle class people when you could be stealing from upper middle class and rich people?

This was established...a few chapters ago. They definitely only steal from middle and upper classes. 

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

HOW does she KNOW these things about them?

She had a big discussion with the princess last chapter, which is where this is coming from.

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

Then Idoubt GUARDS are gonna give her the location of where the princess is gonna be.

More setup from the previous chapter here as well. The princess gave her a penny that's basically a 'get into the castle free' card

12 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

also irratated me because they are low on money and supplies and M is just gonna their horses loose (when they could sell them) and she sends Javs horse away with all his STUFF? Like thats a bad move. I get your trying to make M a badass but after worrying about her brother, its irrational to waste supplies.

LOL yes, this is M just being a jerk for sure!

Thank you for the feedback, @CherishLarain! Let me know if you'd like me to send you the last chapter so you can fill in some of those holes.

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This chapter wasn't bad, but it also didn't pull me in nearly as much as the last one did. I felt frustrated with it. Jv, and his interaction with M, was really getting on my nerves and I am wondering why M keeps him around at all. Even though they accomplished getting into the castle, I didn't feel much pay off as a reader. There was the one sort of irritating exchange with the guards that didn't amount to much, tree ogling, and oh look, a strange door that happens to be unlocked. 

I assume the door is unlocked because Princess N got an update from the soothsayer. But I feel like somehow they didn't work hard enough for it even though the process of getting to it felt frustrating. I'm not sure if that makes sense. 

I was also a little confused by J. It sounded like he wasn't out of nettle tea, but his allergies seemed to be acting up pretty bad. Was he skipping a day to preserve it? Or is this what he allergies look like controlled by the tea?

As I read:

I liked the opening of the chapter. It oriented me time-wise and gave a just the right amount of backstory. 

"...J...would just be a relief..." Then why keep him around? Why bring him in this very important mission?

"...only gets better with time," J said... But M just said Jv has been around almost 30 years. M just said she'd been a live more than four decades, so she's in her 40s. That means she met Jv when she was a teen, and J was a kid. Jv has been around almost as long as J. So this comment from J doesn't quite makes sense to me.

"This was L's show." I kind of get M did this to avoid unleashing her temper, but N gave her the penny and was pretty specific about it, so it struck me as odd that she would give it L.

I was confused about why they didn't just lead with the penny. 

I was also confused as to why they mentioned the tavern at all when N had clearly been there incognito. 

"Walnut, maybe,..." So M first brings up Walnut here, but its quite a few lines later before bring up that it's extinct. Shouldn't the "but Walnut is extinct" come up much sooner? 

I did enjoy the description of the grove, and all the details about the trees. However, I would've enjoyed it more had I either been less frustrated by Jv and the guards and/or if it felt a little more earned. 

I was a little uncertain how to react to the horses. One the one hand, I felt like they were stranding themselves or throwing away a resource. On the other hand, you did set up that there is an overpopulation of feral horses that aren't really feral in the part of the woods M came from, so horses have very low value. However, it is unclear if that is also the case in the city. 

I'm curious about M's reaction  to the stair case. At first I was thinking the air was drugged, but then she seemed to pull her senses together. Curiosity is a good reason to keep reading. :-)

I'm looking forward to the next chapter. 

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Comments! Sort of semi-on-time, for once.

I really enjoyed the tension between the crew this chapter, particular M, J-s and Ja. (J-squared?) L doesn’t seem to assert herself as much. But the tension between the characters is well done.

That said, and I’m sort of torn on making this comment because I’m not sure how far it would really advance things, it feels almost like we’re missing a conflict in which M convinces everyone else that actually, staying at the tavern for 5 days unplanned is a good idea, especially since their destination is apparently only a day away.

The other issue I had is that M feels entirely too passive in this chapter. By which I mean: She seems entirely too willing to just go along with what N said. Which, yes, unexamined attraction and all, but it doesn’t seem to even occur to her to do otherwise, and M is surely stubborn enough that it would. Does she not want to know what N’s plan is? Does she not want to make a million plans to counteract whatever N is planning, maybe find a course of action that can somehow satisfy both N and her crew? Does she not want to at least case the place first to know what they are literally walking into?

As I read:

“...was exactly long enough for her crew to start dissolving.” On the one hand: yes good I am extremely excited to see this. On the other hand, I’m somewhat surprised that M seems to have done exactly as N said. I get that she did not have the upper hand during that conversation, but N’s gone now. Couldn’t she have moved on? Or found a tavern that didn’t hate her to stay at for five days? Etc?

“Just stop. I’ll do it.” Not actually clear on the “it” that’s being done here.

“That they only had enough money…” Makes me wonder again why M is just doing what N says. Also wondering why J-s didn’t raise they “hey, you do realize we’re almost out of this really important thing, right?” flag before.

I do like that it’s J-s we have sniping at M here, and not L or Ja. Makes the anger feel much more serious.

Right, so the fear of heights. As someone who actually is afraid of heights, though admittedly not to the extent M is, I did not at all twig to the fact that that was what was going on with the stairs in the last chapter. Going up stairs* or being on a second floor isn’t something that would even occur to me as a thing that might trigger that fear, because generally speaking, the floor, the walls, etc. are all in places I expect them to be. So, I’m having a little difficulty buying into this quite yet.

* Unless they’re, say, Blarney castle-type stairs, which I feel compelled to point out in case any folks with whom I might have traveled once want to make a liar out of me. ;) But also, more importantly, if the tavern has medieval castle-like stairs please, please describe this, because it makes the geriatric-hour tavern even more hilarious.

“… in the most grotesque way possible.” Can confirm, any sentence which contains the phrase “sucking snot” is grotesque. Mission accomplished, here.

Honestly when J-s said he knocked on Ja’s and L’s doors, I thought M was gonna go in there to find them both gone, or attempting to murder each other again.

P6 “….above her comfort level, but not above her shirt…” hah.

So, it would have made perfect sense to me if they had tried to connive their way into the palace on their own. But if their plan was just to present the penny all along, why didn’t they do that first?

More fungus!

So when M started falling asleep on the stairs, my instant assumption that this was magical. I’m guessing the characters did not interpret it that way, otherwise I imagine most of them would be even more reluctant to set foot in this place than they already are.

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

Her parents are dead, well, so are every other protagonist's. She looks after her brother, but there's no sign he's a death's door: he has some allergies

Small counterpoint here: It's been my working assumption from early on that J-s' allergies are pretty serious.

That said, I do think the "dead parents" motivation is a little more challenging for an older protagonist than a younger one. It might be one of the reasons that my experience of  M's voice sometimes feels more appropriate for a younger character, which was a thing I didn't realize was happening until I started thinking about  it just now, but I think there's a definite difference between M here and M in the first chapter, say. Yes, M no longer has her parents and that's awful, but their death is, what, 30 years in the past or so?

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

- "We’re turning ourselves in. Your princess offered us jobs a few days ago" - Part of my difficulty by this point is that I never completely got Chapter 4, BUT, these things sound incompatible to me. Turning yourself in implies submitting to justice (to be punished), but getting a job in the palace is a reward.

I kind of wondered about this too. Unless the princess has a habit of offering jobs to every highwayman she comes across?

On 5/4/2020 at 11:14 AM, Robinski said:

Lots of goods laugh lines in this chapter. It sooo much smoother in its personal interactions that the last one, IMO.

Yes!

On 5/4/2020 at 11:24 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 9: "Because her skin, her invulnerability, wasn’t magic. It was a quirk of nature."
--Still not sure why she thinks this.

Yeah, I'm not quite buying the "not magic, just invulnerable" either. Maybe it works if the world has other magic that is a lot flashier.

On 5/4/2020 at 6:47 PM, Snakenaps said:

Maybe one day you'll need a scene where a horse has to go up stairs, or fall down them. 

Oh no D:

On 5/4/2020 at 6:47 PM, Snakenaps said:

glaring equine issues

The name of my next album tbh

On 5/6/2020 at 0:09 PM, kais said:

I've been doing a lot of unreliable narrator, and I'm hoping it's clear once the princess and M start interacting that M is in fact, not particularly good at seducing women

I was starting to wonder if this was the case. Once we get far enough along I could certainly see myself buying into this. Still,  I do agree that it's a bit of a problem in the short term. (After editing, I suppose the scene with S might help this.) I wonder if the solution is to see her be an unreliable narrator in other areas of her life, something that could be done in the space of a few chapters to help set this up. Or, maybe we just need to see more of the areas where she really IS strong - she could still be an excellent conniving highwaywoman who happens to be really bad at seducing women and doesn't know it - but I don't quite believe that she is yet.

On 5/6/2020 at 2:23 PM, kais said:

J and M are...not friends. So yes, he is very upset

Looking forward to seeing this. Because yeah, I'd be pretty murderously upset too. @CherishLarain has a good point here too about the expense. Because I know you've mentioned that feral horses are basically everywhere, but that makes me assume that trained horses are not.

All  of the edits you've described are/sound like really solid edits. Hooray!

 

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On 5/8/2020 at 6:55 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I felt frustrated with it. Jv, and his interaction with M, was really getting on my nerves and I am wondering why M keeps him around at all.

I've done quite a bit of editing now to indicate that J-D is kept around because he also has some bits of magic, like M. So he's a piece to her puzzle she can't let go of.

On 5/8/2020 at 6:55 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

There was the one sort of irritating exchange with the guards that didn't amount to muc

This has also been heavily edited

On 5/8/2020 at 6:55 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

tree ogling

It's not a book by me if there isn't tree ogling.

On 5/8/2020 at 6:55 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

But I feel like somehow they didn't work hard enough for it even though the process of getting to it felt frustrating.

I think the edits I did address this...I hope.

On 5/8/2020 at 6:55 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I was confused about why they didn't just lead with the penny. 

They do now!

On 5/8/2020 at 6:55 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

ut Walnut is extinct" come up much sooner? 

It's been mentioned a few times in previous chapters so here it's just a reminder

On 5/8/2020 at 6:55 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

At first I was thinking the air was drugged, but then she seemed to pull her senses together. Curiosity is a good reason to keep reading. :-)

Ah yes, this is good!

Thank you so much! Some good tweaks in here and I think a lot of overlap with other comments so some easy edits. Thanks @shatteredsmooth!

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On 5/10/2020 at 5:43 PM, Silk said:

like we’re missing a conflict in which M convinces everyone else that actually, staying at the tavern for 5 days unplanned is a good idea, especially since their destination is apparently only a day away.

Hmm. this one I'd have to think on. It might be an agent edit later perhaps.

On 5/10/2020 at 5:43 PM, Silk said:

The other issue I had is that M feels entirely too passive in this chapter.

Since I think the beat here is decent enough to stay for now, I decided to just call this out:

Spoiler

“You stop it.” He pulled his arms out of the water, the redness calmed to pink. “It sounds like you already gave her a statement. She dismissed you. Nothing much to think about there, unless you’re plotting your seduction. Right now all we’re doing is following her orders. What is there to plan?”

            “There’s no reason not to. It gets us where we want to go with no more effort than spending five extra nights in soft beds, with much better food than we get in the forest. We need to case the castle interior before we can plan much more than that. I don’t know what her plans are, or what her visions are about, but it doesn’t really matter. We need in the castle, she invited us on a timeline. We follow it. And don’t scratch, it’ll just spread. Here.” She handed him the reins and began saddling her own horse. Under her breath she added, “I wasn’t dismissed.”

 

And a bit later, this,

“Right. We both have our unreasonable conditions to deal with. But if I’m healthy enough to ride with you into an unknown queendom that we could have spent the last five days casing but haven’t because you trust anyone in a skirt, I’m healthy enough to be talked to like a damnation adult. Agreed?”

 

On 5/10/2020 at 5:43 PM, Silk said:

Right, so the fear of heights. As someone who actually is afraid of heights, though admittedly not to the extent M is, I did not at all twig to the fact that that was what was going on with the stairs in the last chapter. Going up stairs* or being on a second floor isn’t something that would even occur to me as a thing that might trigger that fear, because generally speaking, the floor, the walls, etc. are all in places I expect them to be. So, I’m having a little difficulty buying into this quite yet.

I'm hoping the edits mentioned in the previous chapter help with this

On 5/10/2020 at 5:43 PM, Silk said:

why didn’t they do that first?

They do now, by popular demand

On 5/10/2020 at 5:43 PM, Silk said:

motivation is a little more challenging for an older protagonist than a younger one. It might be one of the reasons that my experience of  M's voice sometimes feels more appropriate for a younger character, which was a thing I didn't realize was happening until I started thinking about  it just now, but I think there's a definite difference between M here and M in the first chapter, say. Yes, M no longer has her parents and that's awful, but their death is, what, 30 years in the past or so?

Yes, but it was super traumatic. I'm hoping we can skate on just the bit above for a while, as she doesn't get into her having caused her parents' deaths until a bit farther in the book

On 5/10/2020 at 5:43 PM, Silk said:

Yeah, I'm not quite buying the "not magic, just invulnerable" either. Maybe it works if the world has other magic that is a lot flashier.

This section has been edited as follows:

Spoiler

She didn’t know what she’d expected. She didn’t know why she felt like a deflating balloon, the open end held shut while someone poked the side with a needle. The world was filled with minor magic—soothsayers, healers, dragons, when they’d been alive. Her, maybe, and J-D, and the princess. Maybe. It’d been silly, thinking a bit of magic might have touched her life purposefully, even through an old penny. Magic was, if anything, a complicated burden or unpredictability and dumb luck.

Thank you again for the edits, @Silk! Good changes here!

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