Book Jacket

 

rank 609
word count 124648
date submitted 17.01.2010
date updated 19.07.2014
genres: Fantasy
classification: moderate
complete

The Lamia

Jim Heter

We are what we believe ourselves to be. For Dema Culver, her very survival depends on the power of that belief.

 

The loss of her sister Kore to the drug culture drives Dema Culver to become a DEA agent. When her own life is threatened her Lamia heritage awakens, and turns her into a shape-shifter. She finds herself bound by an ancient oath.

The gods of one tribe become the devils of their enemies. There is truth at the heart of every legend, but often it has become twisted and is hard to find. The original Lamia was a merely a tribal shaman, guardian of a cavern that her tribe believed to be the womb of the earth mother. She took on the half-snake form in defense of her tribe, swearing an oath to avenge the blood of the innocent, an oath binding on her descendants.

Dema's shaman heritage saves her life, but alters it irrevocably, leading her ever deeper into the spirit world. She wants to believe that her new abilities and heightened perceptions can be explained in terms of modern ideas. But are these ideas really modern, or merely reflections of an ancient wisdom? Does the ancient realm of the spirit permeate modern life?

 
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tags

, fantasy, magic, mythology, paranormal, romance, shaman, shapeshifting

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Fontaine wrote 56 days ago

I read ten chapters of this and enjoyed them very much. Your style is simple and easy to read, but that doesn't mean that this is a story without depth. You take us from the ordinary world of a workaday cop and suddenly we are in a world of shaman and shapeshifters. But you handle this beautifuy and I found it wholly believeable. Thanks for a good read. Highly starred.
Fontaine.

P Clifford Mills wrote 114 days ago

The Lamia
Jim Heter

This is beautifully written, with a straightforward unencumbered style. I loved the dialogue and its ability to convey information without seeming laboured. Descriptions are also excellent.

There's a nice balance between the everyday aspects of a DEA officer's life and the need to drive the narrative forward. We get action when the story feels ready for it, then a back story to break up the action and create suspense.

The long pitch promises a story about shamanism, so how is the plot going to get from "here" (social realism) to "there" (the supernatural)? I feel confident that author Jim Heter can deliver. In expectation of a successful resolution, I'm backing this book and awarding high stars.

Cliff Mills
"Working Men"

Ornithograph wrote 183 days ago

I have read 'The Lamia' in its entirety. I could now simply make a thumbs up and shout 'Great book, worth the read!' and walk away. Why not? What else do you need?

If it would help, I could give you a book report. Here: "The Lamia" is a 52 chapter episodic narrative of a young woman using the supernatural powers of her ancient family line to fight evil while coming to understand the levels of reality that a shaman must walk. There is strong tension between those who seek to understand their own natures, and those who only use the weakness in the natures of others."

That do?

It might be better to report on the meaning of the book. The stories are perfectly traditional 'hero discovering the inner power within' during episodes of bad guys wondering about this mysterious woman, bad guys crowing 'got her now!' and bad guys flailing in surprise as she gets them. But the real payload comes when the good guys later recap what it all meant; complete with a twinkling-eyed all-wise grandmother. All that emotion and action and gun-fire and kidnappings and chases and desperate magic gambles, were but clever Mr. Heter's delivery system to introduce the reader to ideas about the natural and the supernatural, the paths the spirit can walk in imagination, in dreams, in the daily expectations of reality.

Yes, that is worth saying. It is a excellent tradeoff.
YOU get to enjoy the sneering villain and the clueless guards and the moment of seeming defeat for the the good guys; and JIM gets to tell you that reality is complex, is personal, is magic.

And that trade is absolutely traditional. The best stories have always slipped in a bit of didactic philosophy in the telling, whether in linear B greek, in ancient welsh, in cowboy and indian novels of the 1900s or our 21st century mega-movies based on comic books based on myths from peoples entirely vanished.

That sounded complex. But 'The Lamia' is not a complex novel. Open up at any of its chapters and sample. You will find dialogue that dismisses any point of dialogue except when it says something for the story or the meaning of the story. It's a style, and it works.

Sample and Ye shall find, repeated, the first love of anyone who ever read a comic book under a blanket with a flashlight. Here you will find superpowers, supernatural vengeance, snarling over-confident villains, the obfuscated and terrified minions, and the moment of confrontation with those who reject goodness with those whose natures are empowered by affirming it.

Ha! That was worth saying. Ought to be on the exam.
Good book, Mr. Heter.

rikasworld wrote 187 days ago

Hi Jim, I read through to Ch. 7 to see the shape-change begin. Obviously I'm a bit biased towards shape-changing but I think the chapters where you deal with it are excellent. The descriptions of the change and the snake dreams, the injury in the present and the past are all beautifully done and you keep the tension going throughout as well, first with her escape, then her injuries and the strange things that are happening to her body. She's lucky that Grandma Sedna is there to explain. I think Ch. 9 works well too. We are really ready for an explanation by then. It's so true that myths like the Lamia have been twisted away from their original meaning over the centuries and described as evil by religions that have come after them
I agree, excellent story telling!

Ornithograph wrote 197 days ago

I'm at chapter 8.
I do not stop to deliver one of those cheap 'I'll do more sometime' lines.
I am going on to chapter 9, and beyond.

But I thought I'd stop and say, that Mr. Heter knows the secret to our daydreams of glory:
Vengeance, courage, and the proper intersection of destiny and magic to grant us the Secret Origin of our Power.

There are implied themes here, that go beyond dreams of comic-book glory.
But comic-book glory remains some of the best writing done in the last century.

There are other themes, and I expect them.
But in the meantime I grin, waiting for the bad guys to find out our heroine not only isn't dead; she is suddenly way more deadly.

Ha! Good storytelling, Mr. Heter.

CHarrington wrote 6 days ago

R2G/Full Manuscript Swap Thread

Chapter 1

SPaG:

No hyphen in "good morning"

"Once there(,) she..." - comma

Italics on Drug Enforcement Administration

In the paragraph - "She was early..." you have an abundance of "as she" uses. Consider rewording to remove redundancy.

Ditto on the following paragraph. - Don't feel bad. I am SO guilty of abusing the "as"

hyphen on "mid-teens"

makeup - one word

Watch out for uses of exclamation marks. Agents/Publishers tend to hate them. Only use them when absolutely necessary, even in dialogue.

"Kore looked sadly at her sister." - This feels...amateurish. Perhaps, "Kore looked at her sister, sadness seeping from her eyes." This is a great opportunity to show instead of tell.

"Please," she said, "(please), Kore, come see..." - When you have an interruption in dialogue and use a comma after the tag, the rest of the line needs to continue on as normal. So, "please" should be lowercase. If you use a period - ie - "Please," she said. "Please, Kora, come see..." then the "Please" should be capitalized.

Again, watch those uses of !

hyphen on "half-followed"

"Culver," he said, "(y)ou're out on the streets..." or change the , to a .

This is just me, but watch the repeated use of the dialogue tag - "said" There are hundreds of other ways to say "said" so let the creativity flow.

Chapter 2

"...to Jeff(,) and cruised..."

"...quipped to Dema(.) "But we've..."

Watch out for those .." said Dema, said Jeff, said Mick tags. They become redundant and very static.

"...Miss Dema(,) it will make..."

Ok - Chicago outskirts can mean different things. People typically think of the suburbs. The south and west outskirts tend to be sketchy and gang-infested. Otherwise, you can get into some nice neighborhoods that are like most cities. If you ride the rails in/out of the city you get a different view of things.

"So, Jeff took..." - Remove the "So" Nothing says green-writer like using "so"

Finally(,) Jeff looked at Dema

I'd suggest cutting the fat out of sentences overall. It would drastically tighten your prose and sound crisp and punchy.

Plot

Love the pace. It moves and the reader gets a wealth of details with the beginning of the skeleton of a story. Character development is strong and a hook is clear and present. Dema and her lost sister, Kore, are what sparks intrigue. My only quibble is that the pitch doesn't even mention Kore once. It's totally focused on the Lamia aspect. I, admittedly, think pitches are evil torture exercises, but I'd take another look at your pitch here. To me, the story is Dema and Kore, even with the shape-shifter element. The pitch is all about the back-story, while interesting, doesn't feel like this is what your manuscript is really about.

Hope that is of some help. My comments are always meant to improve, never hurt.

Cheers,

Cara - Drinks at The Devil's Well



MaxOut wrote 6 days ago

Jim,
Your cover scares me, and your pitches intrigue me. This is just a note to assure you I will read on but won't be able to afford you a full read, time just does not permit it here.
Regards
Max

Sebnem wrote 10 days ago

Jim Heter
R2G Review

Chapters 5-9

Ah, I knew something would happen as soon as she jumped out of the car. Very good chase scene after she jumps off, over the railings, into the ditch and begins to run for her life. They follow her, shoot at her and she is wounded, bleeding. They follow her trail and she now knows she must hide...

The cave and the snake; again, something told me she subconsciously knew not to be afraid of the snake. In she crawls, like a snake and sits with the snakes around her.

The mobsters split, following the blood trail, they approach the cave, but seeing the snake, they think she's probably not there. They are mistaken.

In her half-conscious state, Dema has visions, in the present tens; great imagery there, her grandmother and mother lying dead, why? The priest has killed them and also her sister.

When the mobsters finally give up and leave, the snakes talk to her. That's another nice scene. They tell her she needs help, they allow her to pull the blade on her side and wrapping themselves around her waist and her wrist, they heal her wound...

She falls asleep until daylight returns and leaves the cave. In her weak state, having lost too much blood, she feels coldness on her skin, like cold blooded snakes...An old man gives her a lift, the warmth of the car eases her fatigue and she drowses off...again seeing images and being thirsty.

One the way to the motel, after the man drops her off, people are staring at her. Her hair has gone white, her skin cold and pale...She enters her room, drinks water and falls asleep. She is in no shape to look in the mirror. She has many dreams, the snakes feeding her with the bodies on the floor.

The morning after when she looks in the mirror and observes her transformation, great imagery here of how she has become like a snake. She knows what she must do, go to Sedna, and she does that while devouring hamburgers, only the meat, along the way.

Sedna knows she is the Lamia returned, a true transformation of her own will. She can undo that, but how, she does not know. I guess she will discover that soon...

Great story-telling, Jim, very interesting and mystical. Now the detective story has taken a different dimension into the world of the shamans and magical powers to fight with the bad influences.

Best wishes,

Sebnem
The Child of Heaven


Some notes:

Ch5
Then several shots..."she" repetition, needs variety...
Ch8
Every detail (around her) - I think you can omit that
intensity- repetition

Jeanette Taylor Ford wrote 12 days ago

Jim, I've made a start at last! Admittedly only the first chapter so far, but already I'm well drawn in. Normally, I wouldn't choose to read something like this so it shows how good your writing is, that you can seduce me into reading on - and wanting more! And indeed I intend to have more; it's going on my tablet so I can read in bed.

Jeanette x

Sebnem wrote 18 days ago

The Lamia
Jim Heter

R2G Review
Chapters 2-4

Jeff and Dema find the informant at the Park, who tells them about Tonio and Miguel, Drug traffickers. The drugs are carried by boat, to land and up the mountains and distributed through a complex network.

Not having found the location of Tonio's boat, they return to the Department. Dema goes out on her own in the evening and she is taken captive and pushed into a limo by Miguel's men. On the way, she contemplates escaping, as she presumes the car will slow down, going up on the mountains.

Meanwhile, flashback to Kore and to the night she did not come back. Sedna, Kore, Dema, and Naga, interesting, two syllable names. They must have a purpose. Also Dema says, all women ancestors. Sedna implies some family heritage and she tries to find Kore, but the quest, and the police search do not bring back Kore. Dema, in her grief decides to be a detective to stop the drug traffickers and to prevent young lives going to waste.

The writing is sparse, undecorated and objective. The story flows, effortlessly.

Best wishes,

Sebnem
The Child of Heaven


Some notes:
Ch2
Dema repetition, most can be replaced by "she" or "her"
joggers out(,) putting...
Dema(,) Stewy's...
next sentence, (Seeing she was looking back at him, he averted his eyes,...) to avoid "when" repetition.
"timid but predatory.." "but" repetition, the second one you can omit or use "yet"
"stood" up-omit
So(,)
station(,)
Ch3
motel(,)
ch4
rolled by(,)

Sebnem wrote 19 days ago

The Lamia
Jim Heter

R2G/FCCG2 Review

Short Pitch: Interesting and intriguing

Pitch: para's 2 and 3 are a bit wordy. If you could make them more concise and intriguing, they would be more engaging. Something in the order of last sentence 3rd para is the right idea for a pitch. It needs to intrigue the reader to open the book rather than give a synopsis.

Cover: Interesting

Title: Intriguing

First Para:
Very interesting and gripping. We are into The Lamia, the legend immediately, hence the title, and this is the second book I came across this week with the title in the first paragraph. I like that. It creates the atmosphere of a mystery, something from the past we don't know about, and I would definitely read on.

Premise:
Philadelphia Police Department, Dema Culver arrives at work, early in the morning. Among the files she examines, she sees someone who looks like her lost sister, Kore, a couple of years older, when they were both teenagers.

Flashback to the time when she saw her last. Drugs, Kore is into them, she admits. Dema wants to help her and take her to granny Sedna. But Kore says later and she never shows up after this. Kore warns he sister about drugs and asks her not to get involved. She is now addicted and cannot control the urge.

I know what this is like, the daughter of very good friend of mine is in the same condition, totally immersed and cannot be helped. So sad and depressing, as well as financially depleting.

Dema doesn't want to share her past with her colleague Jeff who thinks the photo in the file looks like Dema. But Kore has been gone for ten years now, it cannot possibly be her.

The captain asks Dema about the case she's working on and he wants results after she sees the informants.

Good chapter ending, page turner and I'm also curious about the powers of Granma Sedna, that somehow I think might relate to the myth in the first para...Also, the resemblance to Kore is a mysterious detail, maybe there's a connection to that.

I would definitely read on, back to you shortly.

Best wishes and highly starred,

Sebnem
The Child of Heaven



Some notes;
(an, the) oil-stained pavement
2nd para has "she" repetition, a few times, maybe reword to give some variety.
"Jeff says you're as good as we were told you'd be..." this is not very clear..

Jonathan Rowe wrote 29 days ago

The Lamia - Chapter 7

Dema escapes from the cave and tries to rationalise her experience with the snakes and the healing of her wound. Back at the motel, she sleeps.

Only a quick comment here. This chapter contains a lot of the internal narrative of Derma's thoughts and beliefs that I felt were needed at points in the earlier chapters, such as when she met Jeff, mulled over the case and when she was in the car or hiding in the cave. They work really well here.

The details about shamanism feel a little shoe-horned here. However, this is exactly the sort of place where the meditative flashback to Sedna and Naga would fit in - the flashback that was obtrusive back when Derma was a prisoner in the car. The advantage to that would be you could present the material on shamanic healing in a concrete situation that Derma remembers, rather than as a narrator's synopsis.

Jonathan Rowe wrote 29 days ago

The Lamia - Chapters 5-6

Agent Dema is being driven away by mobsters but leaps from the car. She crawls into a cave to shelter that is inhabited by snakes. The goons fail to find her but the wounded Dema slips into unconsciousness. She experiences a vision where the snakes heal her.

Chapter 5 shows off your lean and energetic writing at its best - you're really good at action. You describe motion and physical drama with great clarity and urgency. The fall from the car and the chase through the woods work really well.

You mention the "banter" between the goons while driving, and it might be a nice idea to present an excerpt as direct speech: it can be cut short by Dema's escape for added drama.

The cave needs, I think, more description. See the opening chapter of The Hobbit for an outline of the options available for holes in the ground. Seriously, this is a key place, a nemeton if you like, and the snakes are its genii loci. It needs some description to draw out its symbolism (womb, grave, cauldron of rebirth). The snakes similarly need description. The way you describe it, Dema has no reaction to the sight of snakes. You might want to emphasise Dema's fear/disgust, followed by her surprise when she discovers they're not cold and slimy and are not dangerous to her. Alternatively, Dema might feel no fear and find her own reaction surprising but not have time to analyse it.

Chapter 5 ends with the disembodied voices of the goons looking for Dema. Now here, you might think about reordering. Right at the beginning of the exchange, one of them announces that she isn't here. This immediately kills the tension. We now know the goons won't find Dema but we have to listen to their conversation anyway. Better to have them discuss Miguel's wrath then, only at the very end, have them give up on the search and announce that she isn't here.

Meanwhile, what are Dema's reactions to hearing the goons pass so close by? Fainting terror? Gloating contempt for their blindness? This is another opportunity to characterise Dema - is she timid or cocky?

Chapter 6 introduces Dema's vision/hallucination and you rather cleverly switch to the present tense for this. Again, I think the cave description needs amplifying (though I like the stalactites with their "flaring tops"). If the earlier cave had been described, it would be clearer whether this is the same cave or a grander place that exists in Dema's mind and/or the spirit world. Similarly, if you describe the snakes again, you can establish whether they appear differently to her now. Use the five senses - reptiles have a distinctive smell, their scales a distinctive sensation against the skin.


You probably know, but....

Online discussion of the smell of snakes: http://discussions.texasbowhunter.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-307137.html
Snakes to touch : http://www.chacha.com/question/what-does-a-snakes-skin-feel-like


Tips: in something that might be a dream, never describe actions as "dreamy"; similarly, if you're trying to suggest that somewhere is a sacred space, don't call it "this sacred space" - make the reader feel that it is sacred for themselves by your description of it.

Jonathan Rowe wrote 31 days ago

The Lamia - Chapters 3-4

Dema Culver goes to her motel to think about the case. Restless, she takes herself for a walk but is abducted by Miguel the Drug Lord's goons. In the back of the car, she reflects on the family crisis of her youth.

You begin with an account of Dema's confused state over the case and the troubling memories of her vanished sister. Now there's a phrase that is frequently misused on Authonomy about showing vs telling. I'm not going to use it, but there is an issue here about how you present Dema's confusion. You remain "outside" her cognitions. You tell us she's haunted, resolved, etc but you don't let us into her thoughts. For example, you might consider using first person narration:

"I know that I've got the pieces of information I need, Dema reflected; they're trying to fall into place, she told herself, to form a pattern, but what pattern? What am I missing?"

You could italicize Dema's inner voice and, if used sparingly, this is a nice convention for drawing the reader into the heroine's predicament.

Something similar is needed when Dema dresses to go out. The detached, physical depiction of her clothing and movements has two effects, one perhaps intended, the other perhaps not. The first effect is to build tension. In movies, this is the "prowling camera eye" that follows a protagonist about a location. The perhaps unintended effect is to objectify Dema: any depiction of a woman's body or clothing without comment or cognition has an erotic dimension to it. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on whether you're Germaine Greer. However, you can use it to good effect if you explore Dema's inner state a bit further. Jeff asked her out and she just firmly friendzoned him. How does she feel about that? Does she regret her decision? Does she find him attractive? Was she aware of the effect she was having on him? If so, did she enjoy it? How long's it been since she was with a guy? Lonely much?

The advantage of addressing these issues here is that they link the reader sympathetically to Jeff as well as to Dema - otherwise we're inclined to read Jeff as a bit of a loser for being brushed off and/or Dema as a bit of a bitch for brushing him off - or both. Plus, characterising your heroine is never bad, especially if you're about to put her in peril next.

Then the peril arrives in the form of Porky, Vance and Turk. Now these guys are named and indeed behave like pastiche mobster mooks, but you hang a red flag on the whole thing by referencing Cagney which disarms any wince the reader might want to make.

What's odd is the way these guys all name one another within 4 sentences. I can see the narrative advantage here: you can now refer to them by name instead of "the driver" or "the mobster who was holding her arm". Nonetheless, it's a bit too pat. You could dribble their names out rather than rat-a-tat-tat.

Another issue with the names is more like to occur to Dema. Gangsters don't use their names in front of witnesses. They're using their names in front of Dema. This means they intend to kill Dema. Dema draws this conclusion but the emotional impact is lost. Why? Well, the last three paragraphs of chapter 3 have a problem similar to the opening paragraph: you position the reader outside Dema's cognitions, telling the reader a bunch of plot stuff about what's going on, which feels heavy-handed. Better far to have Dema reflect on these things in the 1st person:

"Someone, she told herself, must have tipped off Miguel, probably Tonio at the marina. If they hadn't come for me, she reflected, I'd never had picked up enough clues to pin anything on Miguel."

We definitely need to hear Dema's voice here - her inner voice anyway - because that establishes her as cool and in control even though, physically, she's vulnerable and trapped.

For that matter, her outer voice wouldn't go amiss either. Why not a bit of banter with the goons? "Where are you taking me?" This also characterises her as rational and collected. You can characterise her further by her response. Is she flippant, asking them to drop her off at the motel? Flirtatious, suggesting they picked her up because they admired her figure? Aggressive, telling them she knows who they work for and they'll be treated well if they give it up now? Her silence makes her passive and weak which is, I think, not what you want.

In Chapter 4, frightened Dema goes into a lengthy flashback about Kore's disappearance, the wisdom of Sedna and Naga and how this experience shaped her vocation in policing. Now, aside from the psychological implausibility of this (it's a peculiar thing to start thinking about, under the circumstances) it's another momentum-blocker. You'd built up tension, danger and motion - then it all goes on hold for a gentle reminiscence. You've lost your reader.

Now don't get me wrong: flashback can interrupt tense scenes creating a "cliffhanger". But to do this, the flashback needs to be to something just as intense as the cliffhanger scene, but in a different way. For example, from a physical peril cliffhanger you can flash back to a time of emotional pain. The problem here is that Dema isn't flashing back to a particular moment at all, but to a general narrative about how Sedna and Naga responded to Kore's disappearance (there's nothing much about Dema's reactions) and Dema's later career choices. As such, you go from high drama to flat narrative.

One option would be to take the earlier flashback from chapter 1, the one I suggested confused your opening, and insert that here instead. That flashback was a single event, quite a tense one, with a lot of fear and mystery. In other words, it is very analogous to the kidnapping Dema is experiencing, but emotionally rather than physically stressful. Ideal flashback material. The longer flashback involving Sedna, Naga and Dema's career belongs at a later point in your story, interrupting something less critical. Perhaps if, later, Dema is left locked in a room or something, that might be an appropriate time for her to review her life choices that brought her to this state - but not squeezed between mobsters in a car hurtling down hairpin bends.

Jonathan / MALEFICIVM

Jonathan Rowe wrote 31 days ago

The Lamia - chapters 1-2

DEA Agent Dema Culver arrives from Chicago to assist local police in a series of drug crimes. One of the victims triggers memories of her lost sister Kore. Dema works the streets with cop Jeff Strauss, who is attracted to her. A contacts tips them off to a drug lord named Miguel.

You're blending genres here, a sort of hard-boiled cop meets supernatural thriller. The opening chapter is hard boiled. It heads towards, but avoids crossing into, cliche with the big city agent arriving in the parochial police station, going through files, being "damn good at what she does" etc. It avoids becoming pastiche because you have a fairly lean delivery and quickly move the plot along.

You then offer us a flashback to Dema and Kore's childhood. Now, there's no problem with the way this is written, but I think it's positioning is problematic. Effectively, you're giving us two beginnings. One is about adult Dema, a tough lady investigator. The other is about teen Dema, a frightened girl with a troubled sister. The two could not be more different and we do not yet know adult Dema well enough to detect a continuity with teen Dema. Moreover, the momentum established with adult Dema is interrupted: the clock is reset, the emotional drama board is wiped clean and we begin again with what is effectively a new character.

I think, as an opening chapter, the losses for this strategy outweigh the gains. The gains are reader intrigue and character complexity. However, I think that Dema's shock at seeing the picture, her referencing the mysterious name "Kore" and Jeff saying the girl looks like her sister establishes all the intrigue without needing the flashback. As I said before, I think the flashback fails to develop character complexity because we barely know adult Dema and cannot recognise her in her teen incarnation, nor do we yet know any of adult Dema's tics or issues which can be explained by the experiences of teen Dema.

The losses are, of course, that the riproaring opening stalls, reader attention is split and the novel's genre becomes confused. Is it a cop story or a childhood relationship drama? You're asking readers to begin the novel twice, and it's a tough enough job getting most readers to begin a novel once!

I'm not saying ditch the flashbacks, but wouldn't this particular one make sense a bit later on, once adult Dema is firmly in play? Moreover, you want to be milking the references to "Kore" before revealing her to readers: there's enough information in this chapter as it is for reader's to figure out that Kore is Dema's sister who vanished: actually "showing" us Kore isn't needed at this point and might have a bigger emotional whallop later. Plus, it's nice to leave mysteries.

Writing in this chapter is lean, but you do share a vice of my own: too many predicates. Adjectives and adverbs suffer from the law of diminishing returns. "Her wavy chestnut hair brushed against her dusky cheek" gives us three adjectives but the impression of Dema's appearance is weakened, not strengthened. They do say (whoever "they" are) that if you find yourself using two adjectives, you should choose the one that's doing the work, because the other is usually inessential. I personally think "chestnut" is doing more work than "wavy". Since the duskiness of the Culver complexion is referenced elsewhere, you might just go with "her chestnut hair brushed against her cheek" - the impression now is "Wow! This chick has awesome hair!" which is, I think, what you want.

(Interestingly, Jeff's quite a metro-gent for checking out Dema's hair. Most cops would be studiously rating her thighs, butt and breasts. Or maybe that's just me.)

The POV could be tightened on Dema. I think you need this in the opening chapter. Once Jeff appears we have two protagonists and Dema rather fades. But since she's an observant DEA Agent, she's invaluable to you as a describing tool. If Dema checks Jeff out and notices all sorts of tell-tale details (bitten nails, scar, no wedding wing, whatever) then it (i) establishes details about Jeff artfully, and (ii) establishes Dema as an excellent investigator. It also (iii) gives you an opportunity to hint at whether Dema finds Jeff attractive in any way, shape or form.

A similar point arises with the questioning of Mick, where Dema has nothing to do. If she's noticing details, then she keeps getting cooler in the reader's eyes and you can inhabit her POV while Jeff does the talking.

Only two descriptions clanged, both in Chapter 1 Dema's attention causes Jeff to "brighten visibly". Visibly here is redundant (how can you have invisible brightness?) but also does that predicate weakening thing. If Jeff just "brightens" we get an immediate impression of Dema's effect on him: adverbs only clutter the impression.

Similarly Dema's tone of "steely determination" is a bit cliche. Moreover, you once again have an adjective that doesn't add anything special but blunts the impression. It's enough to say that Dema's tone became determined and the less you qualify that with adjectives, the more determined she seems.

Two chapters in and the other strand to your mash-up - the supernatural - has not been hinted at beyond the tantalising prelude quote. I don't know whether that's good or bad. The novel is reading like police procedural, which is what you want, but readers who pick up the book thinking "The Lamia? Wasn't that a monster from 2nd Ed Dungeons & Dragons?" are having a monster-free experience. They might think "Bah! It's just a cop story!". I'm not saying a scaly horror should jump out of the newspaper vendor, but you might consider dropping in a hint of strangeness among the cop-talk to keep the other half of your readership on-board and reassured they haven't been hoodwinked. Of course, flashback-Kore talks about Sedna knowing "magical things" but I think chapter 2 is where the allusion to oddness is needed more.

I hope this sort of stuff was useful. If it wasn't let me know and I'll stop burdening you with it :D

Jonathan / MALEFICIVM

Richard Gradner wrote 35 days ago

Hi Jeff, some feedback on your novel...

On your pitch - very well written but I think you can reveal a bit more in the short pitch? just a suggestion to maybe say something like: In order for Dema Culver to survive, she needs to believe in herself as a modern day shaman. For don't we become what we believe ourselves to be?

Your writing style is very similar to mine. Lots of nice descriptive prose so I take to it easily. Good job.
Chapter 2 first paragraph: you start by saying "they" took the unmarked car but then "he" pulled up. Either say they pulled up or Jeff pulled up.
You can also convert some telling to showing: rather get Jeff and Dema to actually ask about Tonio and his boat in dialogue.
In Chapter 3 you say that Dema was searched for weapons. I would rather 'show' the experience from Dema's point of view. ie: you could say in italics: what the hell are these thugs looking for? It cant be obvious to Dema what they are looking for exactly.
Don't think there's any need to mention all three names of the thugs in this short dialogue. The three guys are all in the same car and have just kidnapped a girl. In this situation, they wouldn't choose to reveal their names if they didn't have to.
In Chapter 4, I would use the word haphazardly (or something similar) instead of willy-nilly. Somehow for me, it doesn't sound right..
Nice action in chapter 5. I believe that you need to start the novel with an action sequence to pull the reader in instead of slowly building up to it. You need to hook the reader quickly from the start - just my opinion.

Really enjoying the story so far. Will be back to read more...

5 Stars

Rich (The Lemurian)

Lauren Grey wrote 36 days ago

Hi Jim, finally my return read.

Well, I’m impressed, not only with your style of writing and voice but with the premise as I love anything to do with shamans and shape-shifters. I can easily immerse myself and become lost in this fantastic tale you have written. You have some wonderfully descriptive passages that engage the reader allowing them to become part of this world and visualize and sense all that she does. The first paragraph where you write, ‘She thought she detected a faint odor of coal dust…,’ makes for a great opening. I have said this before on here to the few writers who do this, but often writers tend to forget to appeal to all the reader's senses, and smell is one of the most important links we have with the past, and it allows the readers imaginations to take them back to similar scents in their memories and really make a connection with the story. Well done.

I did, however, have a couple of little nitpicks I came across. In chapter one, there is a paragraph where Grandma Sedna is mentioned twice within two consecutive sentences, the second one could easily be changed to ‘she’. Also would Dema and Kore call her by name or would they call her grandma or Grandmother?

Chapter two, in the line, “I don’t know, Jeff,’ he said. “You know I don’t do that any more (anymore?)

Chapter six, ‘She can see the snakes again…’ to ‘She sees the snakes again…’ might read better as the way I first read it appeared as a sudden pov switch?

Chapter eight, I think you should re-look at the opening line again, with your talent, I think you could come up with something better to show she is dreaming???

Other than those minor nits and they could well just be me. I think this is great and will be placing it on my shelf. Very well done and just my type of reading. High stars

Fontaine wrote 56 days ago

I read ten chapters of this and enjoyed them very much. Your style is simple and easy to read, but that doesn't mean that this is a story without depth. You take us from the ordinary world of a workaday cop and suddenly we are in a world of shaman and shapeshifters. But you handle this beautifuy and I found it wholly believeable. Thanks for a good read. Highly starred.
Fontaine.

Cas Meadowfield wrote 60 days ago

The Lamia

A detective story with a supernatural element....
By half way through ch1 I'm hooked... The flashback works well
Ch3 kidnap! Brave lass... Ch4 DEA means nothing to me...
Ch6 shamanistic magic
CH9 we meet the Lamia
Ch 27 this is a natural break here the book could be split into two
Ch30 scary
Ch35 I like the way that the Lamia appearance causes problems as this adds tension ...
Ch 45 interesting to me about quantum theory but would most readers want to know? Shifts in reality ... Deep ... Also a very long chapter!
Ch46 ' slowed to almost geologic pace' nice... A story in a chapter.
ch47 you could also add the Bhagavad Gita
as a holy book but you go on too long... try to get the talk on memes to be shorter
Ch48
Loved 'Hope you don't mind a little rain.'
-2- deep
-3- the plane was landed ... 'had'
-12- loving this
Read to -14- some of the chapters are short but some are very long!
Ch 49
Now this discussion on Cartesian entities works...(maybe as its it plot related? While the one on memes not so well...
-3-
Like so many of the chapters this is a whole story

Ch50
There finger tips ...needs to be 'their'
-3- end... everything is 'was'
-5- you've got one paragraph about Ryan and Rosita then the next about 'Karger ' confusing.
-6-
Ch51 you could write a whole book on how Dema gets in to the drug lords trust.

lots of stars
Cas

D.N. Ette wrote 81 days ago

This is excellent storytelling. You have a wonderfully expressive style of writing that I find most appealing.

P Clifford Mills wrote 114 days ago

The Lamia
Jim Heter

This is beautifully written, with a straightforward unencumbered style. I loved the dialogue and its ability to convey information without seeming laboured. Descriptions are also excellent.

There's a nice balance between the everyday aspects of a DEA officer's life and the need to drive the narrative forward. We get action when the story feels ready for it, then a back story to break up the action and create suspense.

The long pitch promises a story about shamanism, so how is the plot going to get from "here" (social realism) to "there" (the supernatural)? I feel confident that author Jim Heter can deliver. In expectation of a successful resolution, I'm backing this book and awarding high stars.

Cliff Mills
"Working Men"

Ornithograph wrote 183 days ago

I have read 'The Lamia' in its entirety. I could now simply make a thumbs up and shout 'Great book, worth the read!' and walk away. Why not? What else do you need?

If it would help, I could give you a book report. Here: "The Lamia" is a 52 chapter episodic narrative of a young woman using the supernatural powers of her ancient family line to fight evil while coming to understand the levels of reality that a shaman must walk. There is strong tension between those who seek to understand their own natures, and those who only use the weakness in the natures of others."

That do?

It might be better to report on the meaning of the book. The stories are perfectly traditional 'hero discovering the inner power within' during episodes of bad guys wondering about this mysterious woman, bad guys crowing 'got her now!' and bad guys flailing in surprise as she gets them. But the real payload comes when the good guys later recap what it all meant; complete with a twinkling-eyed all-wise grandmother. All that emotion and action and gun-fire and kidnappings and chases and desperate magic gambles, were but clever Mr. Heter's delivery system to introduce the reader to ideas about the natural and the supernatural, the paths the spirit can walk in imagination, in dreams, in the daily expectations of reality.

Yes, that is worth saying. It is a excellent tradeoff.
YOU get to enjoy the sneering villain and the clueless guards and the moment of seeming defeat for the the good guys; and JIM gets to tell you that reality is complex, is personal, is magic.

And that trade is absolutely traditional. The best stories have always slipped in a bit of didactic philosophy in the telling, whether in linear B greek, in ancient welsh, in cowboy and indian novels of the 1900s or our 21st century mega-movies based on comic books based on myths from peoples entirely vanished.

That sounded complex. But 'The Lamia' is not a complex novel. Open up at any of its chapters and sample. You will find dialogue that dismisses any point of dialogue except when it says something for the story or the meaning of the story. It's a style, and it works.

Sample and Ye shall find, repeated, the first love of anyone who ever read a comic book under a blanket with a flashlight. Here you will find superpowers, supernatural vengeance, snarling over-confident villains, the obfuscated and terrified minions, and the moment of confrontation with those who reject goodness with those whose natures are empowered by affirming it.

Ha! That was worth saying. Ought to be on the exam.
Good book, Mr. Heter.

rikasworld wrote 187 days ago

Hi Jim, I read through to Ch. 7 to see the shape-change begin. Obviously I'm a bit biased towards shape-changing but I think the chapters where you deal with it are excellent. The descriptions of the change and the snake dreams, the injury in the present and the past are all beautifully done and you keep the tension going throughout as well, first with her escape, then her injuries and the strange things that are happening to her body. She's lucky that Grandma Sedna is there to explain. I think Ch. 9 works well too. We are really ready for an explanation by then. It's so true that myths like the Lamia have been twisted away from their original meaning over the centuries and described as evil by religions that have come after them
I agree, excellent story telling!

Ornithograph wrote 197 days ago

I'm at chapter 8.
I do not stop to deliver one of those cheap 'I'll do more sometime' lines.
I am going on to chapter 9, and beyond.

But I thought I'd stop and say, that Mr. Heter knows the secret to our daydreams of glory:
Vengeance, courage, and the proper intersection of destiny and magic to grant us the Secret Origin of our Power.

There are implied themes here, that go beyond dreams of comic-book glory.
But comic-book glory remains some of the best writing done in the last century.

There are other themes, and I expect them.
But in the meantime I grin, waiting for the bad guys to find out our heroine not only isn't dead; she is suddenly way more deadly.

Ha! Good storytelling, Mr. Heter.

Lew's Shadow wrote 226 days ago

Hi Jim.
In ch1, Dema's envisioning of her last words with Kore feels (to me) too detailed for the office setting. I think there would be a bigger fight to keep Kore from leaving and/or Kore would not give out so much information. I would think the way Kore was haphazardly made-up and maybe a cryptic goodbye might be clues Dema would recognize later when it was too late to do anything -- something she would forever kick herself about for not noticing right away.

ch3. Sudden turn of events. Maybe add in something re thinking about Kore distracting her as reason for leaving id and weapon behind? Very first sentence of chapter feels repetitive.

ch4. Again, her recollections feel out of place and too detailed for the situation. Is there another way to weave her backstory into the present?

ch5. Conversation of pursuers seems too light. Think it needs anger and perhaps more fear of Miguel?

I have read through ch26 (so far). Most of it is the story of Dema's awakening, but it started as sort of an ordinary detective story. Much of the awakening felt like a telling about what happened rather than an experiencing. I wonder if the first chapters could become recollections woven into the fabric of her awakening and lead to the dismantling of Miguel's operation? And that wrap up was sort of 'ho hum we're done' and sort of unsatisfying (although obviously, I don't know what comes next, but I intend to read more).

Also, (perhaps not as obvious) something kept me reading and that is the topic of shamanism is fascinating. My first effort at a novel involved shamans (an embarrassing effort whenever I look back at it). The only line I remember is "next time I'll be the bear and you run naked through the woods."

Lot of potential here and I look forward to reading more in the near future.
Best of luck with this.
g.

Hello again.
I've read through (I think ch45) Naga-fish, druglords gaga.
I really like the idea of shaman hero, BUT ...
You've got so much here that is your vision ... and you need to take it and make it into (mostly) Dema's vision to make it more 'immediate' umm ... less certain ... that is, it almost always comes too easy. You get there with the handcuffs and changing form to escape is great, but it needs to go farther. Rankine, especially ... with the voodoo ... could be such a challenging foe. Good vanquishes evil everytime ... maybe throw in some draws and come back to fight another day.

Often you tell too much, but in many places if you were to put it in Dema's experience ... there are paragraphs that could become entire chapters. I think you have at least two, if not three books here.

Kore's struggle is maybe the toughest in the story, but it feels certain from the beginning. Yeah, there's a little bit of 'this is tough', but some uncertainty ... some life-and-death struggle could really emphasize how tough.

Just throwing out ideas, and just one person's opinion (and not a very knowledgeable person at that.)
Anyway, best of luck with this.
g.

CJBowness wrote 334 days ago

I've just read a few more chapters and loved them. The story really comes alive from Chapter 5. You write so well that your fantastical story seems perfectly normal and rational.
CJ Bowness

CJBowness wrote 336 days ago

R2G review:

I have read a little of this but do not feel that I am in a position to make any comment about the plot or the premise of this book as I have not got far enough to see the connection between Lamia and Dema.

I am not drawn to science fiction as a genre but found the opening few chapters easy to read and the character of Dema is appealing. Her job sounds interesting and I assume she will find her missing sister again in time. The book takes a sudden dramatic turn in Chapter 4, which is where I left it because I didn't have time to read any more.

I like the short chapters, which give the book a snappy, decisive style. I also like the way you feed in short descriptions (for example of Dema's and Kore's appearance) which slot neatly into the whole.

I noticed a few missing letters: 'a age-darkened wooden staircase' in Chapter 1 and 'averted his yes' in Chapter 2.

I have awarded you high stars for your seamless style of writing.

CJ Bowness

R2G wrote 353 days ago

Quoting Simon Cairnes - Lamia

The premise is great, both intriguing and original and I think your intro comment on heroes often being demons to their enemies is inspired. This is, potentially, a very good book in the making and I particularly enjoyed the snake connections, which I found fascinating. I have left some more detailed comments in your inbox and will give you a good run on my bookshelf.

Unquote

Jim Heter wrote 486 days ago

Long pitch replaced 6 May 2014
More chapter updates 16 Nov 2013
Long pitch replaced 1 Nov 2013
Several early chapters refined 25 Oct 2013
Short pitch revised 31 May 2013.
Chapters 4 through 8 updated 31 March 2013.
Short pitch revised 30 March 2013.
Chapters 1 through 3 updated 23 March 2013.

Seringapatam wrote 533 days ago

Jim, A brilliant story. Way off my genre, but kept me hooked. Its dead easy for me as if a book can do this to me then is a good book. Loved it You have a fantastic narrative voice for this story and a flow that i am jealous of.....The pace matches what you have done with your characters so well and this book is going to do so well for you as a result of this and the previous points. Well done. Big score.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

Maevesleibhin wrote 533 days ago

The Lamia
Jim,
I have read to 21, a bit less than half.
This is a very original twist of the paranormal police story genre. I did not know about the lamia myth, but having read about it I am intrigued by your allusion to this Greek myth (cum old wives tale) combined with the native American twist. It is very refreshing and original.
That having been said, I felt that the book definitely needed some polish.  At times, the almost tentative narrative style seemed purposeful, as though it were alluding to the halting speech of the native American wise men we sometimes see in movies (sorry, I lack personal experience in this field). But sometimes the hesitation seemed just that. Very short chapters and minimalistic descriptions did not help. I think that this was made worse by the relatively sketchy beginning, where the Hispanic drug pusher angle was such a passing allusion that it was almost transparent as a plot mechanism, as though it was something you just wanted to get out of the way. I think the line about Miguel bring a Latino, which boarded on racist, did not help. In essence, this beginning did not seem to have much probable connection with her metamorphosis and journey into her past lives. You may develop these later, but the relationship is tenuous at the moment.
Hook and plot- as I already mentioned, the first few chapters seemed rather hasty to me and did not really hook me. The exception to  this is that I was intrigued by the younger sister connection and felt that it was the aspect that was going to drive the story. I am frankly surprised you have not brought it back by now, and that you decided to focus quite so much attention to the metamorphosis, the "memories" and the mob. From the plot perspective, I think that this relationship could help bring the two storylines together earlier and drive the narrative a bit more. I am sure that you intend to bring it back later on, but, again, at the place I am at, the story is stating to drag a bit.
A lot of the bulk of the plot up to the place I have read is based on descriptions of her struggle with her metamorphosis and the reincarnation memories. I think that if you brought her sister back I might be a bit more drawn into the story, which leaves me wanting from a plot standpoint.
The subplot of the false prophet is captivating, but it is really comes across as a minor story in the context of the book. I think that part of my issue is that I was not that captivated with the process of her controlling her body, with her shaman grandmother or her agnostic mother.  I somehow did not find that the emotional importance of these relationships was conveyed forcefully and, again, I kept waiting for the sister to come back.
Character development- And probably this is because although we spend a lot of time with Dema and watch her deal with becoming a snake and turn back into a human, we are not let inside her personality very much. Again, the sister was a marked exception. I felt through all the descriptions of the monster Dema could become, through the interactions with the snakes and the strange dreams, and even amidst the conversations with her grandmother, we were rarely let into her character. There may be a deep, intricate character in there, and I suspect there is, but you tell it with a bit of aloofness, which in the end kept me from becoming invested in it. And because the book is so focused on her, I did not feel that the secondary characters were that well developed either, although the grandmother is relatively clear.
Mechanics- As I said earlier, the style of this  book may be deliberate, in which case the halting tone is really very appropriate and almost mesmerising. However, I think it would work better for me if it were combined with  stronger plot and CD. As it is, this minimalist style gets in the way of my developing a raport with the characters.
Although I think this comment may come across as rather negative, I was intreagued with the concept and read quite a bit of the book in search of development. I think you have a good framework, but you could really benefit from a bit of tweaking with the plot and CD.
Just my opinion, of course.
Best of luck with it,
Maeve

spc wrote 615 days ago

The premise is great, both intriguing and original and I think your intro comment on heroes often being demons to their enemies is inspired. This is, potentially, a very good book in the making and I particularly enjoyed the snake connections, which I found fascinating. I have left some more detailed comments in your inbox and will give you a good run on my bookshelf.

D.J.Milne wrote 617 days ago

Hi Jim
This is a long overdue comment
I loved your powerful flash back opening. It sets up the mystery from the start with what had happened to Kore and the anti drugs message hints at a tragic life. The relationship between Jeff and Dema at work then kicks in. You have a great knack with dialogue and the scenes are crisp and sharp in their delivery.
As your book progresses you've done a wonderful job of intertwining legend and modernity a feat that can feel overly complicated or too simplistic, but here I feel you have the balance just right.
You also set great pace and tension like in chapter five when Dema jumps from the car and ends up in the cave with the snakes. Great vibrant scenes that are well described and beautifully paced.
A great read and just sorry it has taken me so long to get to it.
Five stars and good luck with it.
D.J
The Ghost Shirt

Mushiegirl wrote 659 days ago

I have only read the first 2 chapters but count on it for me to read more, much more. The beginning has pulled me in and the writing is superb in its flow, description and detail without making it an information dump. I don't see any obvious grammar or punctuation errors.. High stars for this book.

This book no doubt will be quite a ride and I will read more and comment as I go along.

Mushie

M. E. Harrow wrote 696 days ago

The strength of The Lamia is in the writing. Jim Heter knows exactly when to use dialogue and the effortless flow of words makes this a very good read.
Switching between current action and flash-backs usually annoy me, however the snippets of information from the past really invigorate the novel without giving too much away.
I love the originality of the main idea driving the book, although much-maligned, the snake takes centre-stage here without becoming overly staged.
ME Harrow.
As Portents Rise.

Abby Vandiver wrote 704 days ago

I really enjoyed this book. Your writing is very good. It's easy to read, a really nice flow. The only problem I had was the exclamation mark when the sisters were talking. I just don't think there should be so many in writing a book.

The description in your first paragraph was awesome. I wish I could do that. You said a lot without a lot of words and just the right amount of description.

I also really like th premise of your book. The chapters were a good length, too.

Good job. Many stars and there is definitely a place for this book on my bookshelf

Abby

Lucy Middlemass wrote 710 days ago

The Lamia

That’s a stand-out front cover. I really like it. Your pitches set out an unusual premise - I especially like the idea that one person’s hero is another’s demon.

Ch 1

The way you slip into the flashback to Dema’s teenage years is very effective. Kore becomes more than just a girl similar to one in a photograph - you bring her to life and show us their relationship. It helps us feel Dema’s loss.

Ch 2

In this chapter, it’s apparent that you have a good, simple style with no hint of any distracting over-written passages or descriptions. It keeps the pace up and reminds me of any modern cop drama I’ve seen. There’s a POV switch in this chapter, although it’s subtle, which adds depth. We’re with Jeff here, but we were with Dema in the previous chapter.

I’ve read chapters three and four too, and continued to enjoy your very well-edited manuscript. I’d usually have a list of typos or at least a misplaced semi-colon but there’s nothing of the sort here. I think its appeal is in its apparent simplicity - a real boon on a site like this and refreshing. The plot moves along at a sharp pace and there’s loads of dialogue in your short, snappy chapters. By the end of chapter four, there have been a few tantalising mentions about how strong the women in the Culver family are and having read the pitch, I understand where this is going.
You have a fascinating mix of legend and modern-world action and I really enjoyed what I read.

Lucy

JMF wrote 741 days ago

I'm here to return your read of Shadow Jumper. I have read the first three chapters. You have an unique and interesting idea for a story, mixing the supernatural with crime. Although this would not be my normal type of book, I did find it easy to read and quite gripping. It flows well and the problem that needs to be sorted is stated early on. I always think that it is good to let the reader know what the book is about straight away, so well done for that. I think you could make the story even more gripping by describing events in a more active way and show the reader a little more of the feelings and emotions that the mc is experiencing, first when she sees the photo that reminds her of her sister, and secondly when she is grabbed off the street. You do dialogue well and I thought it was believable.
All in all a good read.
Best of luck with it.
Julia
Shadow Jumper

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 748 days ago

Jim,
Dema is a driven cop with ghosts in her past, trying to live with the knowledge that of her missing sister might never be found. Then of course comes her mental and physical transformation into a shaman. with special powers. Your narrative expounds on scenes and situations effortlessly, your dialogue conveys informatioin and backstory adding to the cohesion of the book as a whole.Thank you so much for the intriguing read.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

Adeel wrote 825 days ago

A Nice, descriptive and well written book. Your writing style is very impressive, dialogue are realistic with vivid charachters and narrative is at great pace. Highly rated.

Big Daddy wrote 855 days ago

Reads like fine Chandler. Backed.

CGHarris wrote 869 days ago

I read through the first two chapters and I think you have the beginnings of a great book. The premise for the story is fresh and different from anything I have seen here before. Both your short pitch and your long pitch are solid, drawing me in to make me want more. Your dialogue felt natural but there were a few times when I thought it needed to be broken up a bit with a character action or something. This is not a big deal and only my opinion. You have a smooth rhythm that makes your story an enjoyable read. All in all I think it’s a great story. Thanks so much for the read and I wish you luck. High stars to you!

Philthy wrote 877 days ago

Hi Jim,
I’m here for our read swap. Sorry it’s taken this long to get here. Below are my findings/comments. They are of course my humblest opinions, so please take them for whatever they’re worth.
The word order of your short pitch doesn’t work, or at least it doesn’t say what you mean to say. Should be “Driven by the loss of her sister to become a DEA agent” Otherwise you’re splitting the sentence in an odd way.
Might behoove you to quickly explain what Lamia means for us morons who don’t know :D.
I love the premise here, but the pitch kind of reads more like a synopsis. Whittle out some of the backstory. Remember, your goal is simply to lure the reader into opening your book.
Part 1
Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a strong opening-line hook. You might consider reworking this one. I don’t think they always have to be, but sometimes it makes for a smoother read.
Effective flashback. Really helped enhance the story and pull the reader in.
I think the imagery could be amped up a bit. Where you use it, it’s very good.
A great start. Love the MC and your narrative voice. I can see this doing well here. Did you create the cover? Love it.
Best of luck.
Phil
(Deshay of the Woods)

orma wrote 914 days ago

You do flashbacks effortlessly. Smoothly guiding the reader into the next scene.
This is not always easy to do, so well done on that.
The story is interesting, especially as it's supernatural, my own genre.
It's origional too. I've never heard of a Lamia!
Writing is intelligent and flows well. Not stilted, very smooth.
Only thing i can find to critique is your choice of cover!
The woman looks really evil in it. I know they say 'You can't judge a book by its cover,' but it is the first thing people see and I find myself put off by the cover of a book when comparing what to buy.
i hope that's ok, the story is really good, though.
best of luck with it.

Sharon.v.o. wrote 920 days ago

The Lamia

Jim,

This is a very interesting premise for a story. Dema is a great MC. Strong, intelligent, but with a softer sensitive side as well. A wonderful female lead. I read the first three chapters and then skipped ahead to chapter 14. I love the part about the Lamia herself. That fascinates me.

All the makings of a wonderful story. Nicely done,

Sharon
“Lykaia”



Chapter 1:
Good first chapter. We get a good insight into Dema. The flashback worked well to show us her last conversation with her sister and her heartbreak over loosing her.

Chapter 2
I like then interview of the guy at the park. Good job. You have a paragraph that begins with “And so Jeff took Dema…” You are narrating there. If you re-word that a bit it will flow better.
You have “totally preoccupied” Totally is one of those words that is supposed to bring the level of your writing down. Don’t feel bad, I totally use it too much also.

Chapter 3
Abduction..interesting.

Chapter 14
Love this chapter.

ShadowOfOsiris wrote 943 days ago

SF42

Hi Jim

I've read 17 chapters - by far the most I've ever read on here. It is well written with a very good premise. My notes:

Head turned as she went by - what are you saying? Are you meaning that she's attractive and so drawing everyone's eye? Or just that simply being the only person moving naturally draws looks as she goes by? If it's the former then it would be worth stating that a little more clearly; if it's the latter, again it could be more clear, if it's necessary. As is, it doesn't really add anything except questions. Unimportant questions which have made me waste nearly a minute typing instead of reading!

'trying to help track down' - doesn't read right to me. Is she TRYING to help, or helping? She'd be trying to track them down, yes, but trying to help? That one word makes me imagine that she's really only getting in the way.

'she thought(.) I've found Kore!

You say that sudden emotion engulfed her, but why not show us. It's a little weak at the moment - it just reads as though she feels sorry for the victims; I certainly didn't expect to read about her sister. Show us her heart nearly break a rib, her hands shaking, perhaps dropping the file, the sick feeling she'd have... Again in the next paragraph, you say it turned into another emotion entirely, but don't make any mention of what it might be. We assume it's sadness and disappointment, but for all we know it could be relief that she doesn't have to see her evil twin again.

Wouldn't her hands have stopped turning pages already?

He went back to his desk? Why did he go over in the first place?

The sentence starting 'Jeff drove up on Broad...' has 3 ands in it - I don't think you can get away with more than 2.

The last part of chapter 2 - where he asks her to dinner - isn't written as well as the rest. It's like you just rushed to get to the end. Just those two sentences.

Tonia?

'depth and strength (than even) she knows.' I think that would read better

The door lock just happens to be broken? Very convenient. I'm guessing that maybe these powers of hers told her it would be, without her realising, but perhaps you should do something to gently and subtly allude to this.

'raises her hand and beckon(s) to it'

For the most part the dialogue is good and natural, but now and then it...isnt. I find this mostly with her and Sedna.

I think her transition and thought process and whatnot once she is back at Sedna's house goes on ever so slightly too long - perhaps just one chapter too long. I found myself skipping chapter 16 altogether in order to find out whether Dema ever leaves the house again.

Lastly, can you point to where we can see that this is sci fi?

I think it needs an edit for things like unnecessarily long sentences, words that can be removed to make it read smoother and more snappily, and so on. But otherwise it is good and should do well, I think. I will back it. Good luck with it :)

A G Chaudhuri wrote 981 days ago

Dear Jim,

I like stories that deal with mythological concepts in a realistic manner and try to offer rational explanations for them. That said, I enjoyed your story immensely. Your writing is flawless and the pace is just perfect. I’ve read till the end of chapter 7 and will be compelled to read on. It reminds me so much of the Darkness / Witchblade storylines.

I have a small suggestion which you may find useful.

This is how I would’ve liked the events to have played out: When Dema wakes up in the cave and finds that her wound has healed she is unable to fully recall the past night’s events. She can only remember bits and pieces. The black car. Hands searching her. Violating her. Sudden rush of panic. Pain. Blood. A black snake. Did it speak to her? What did it say? And then she slowly works her way out of the woods. (Let her not reminisce and think of Shamanic lore just yet. There’ll be time for that later) As the day progresses, she notices the subtle changes taking place in her and becomes more and more confused, yet somehow also able to take comfort in her slow transition. (Its better not to explain her change in terms of lower metabolism and things like that. It’s sufficient to say how she’s feeling. The reader should be able to draw his / her own inference) She manages to reach her motel room and fall asleep. And then, she’s back in the strange dream again. (This way, the reader will be able to identify with Dema and become a part of her mystery and confusion)

So, that’s that. I’ll get back to you if I have anything more to add. Meanwhile, Lamia has slithered her way onto my bookshelf and coiled up comfortably.

Regards,
AGC

JF Williams wrote 1017 days ago

I'm on chapter 10 but I feel I shouldn't keep the author waiting to hear how much I'm enjoying this story. What starts out as a hard-boiled DEA procedural with a wispy supernatural undercurrent really catches fire when the MC, Dema, gets into trouble with the bad guys and her hidden potentialities rise to the surface. While the drug trafficking investigation is good, workmanlike writing on its own, the supernormal elements are so carefully delivered that the realization of what's happening is entirely believable to me. I'm worried about Dema, confident with the narrative's direction and reading it with uncommon delight.

M. Iqbal wrote 1032 days ago

Hey Jim,

Finally got round to The Lamia and was very impressed. Nice opening, efficient sentence structures that match the pace and tone of the story and a nice, interesting female lead character – I found myself wanting to know more about her relationship with her sister.

A couple of suggestions:

“She was early, because she wanted more time to review the case files.” – In novels I think it is much more effective to use commas sparingly and only when necessary. With short sentences like this in which the information after the comma is a continuation of the part before (and not additional info/clarification) I think it is preferable for the reader if the comma is omitted.

“Jeff said you’re as good at that as we were told you’d be.” – slightly awkward/unnatural speech.

“Culver,” he said, “You’re going out...” - It is my understanding that this requires either a full stop after “he said” or a lower case y for “You’re”.

A small formatting thing:

The paragraph beginning “Dema took a deep breath” begins two lines down from the one above it and two lines above the one below it so it looks like a section brake instead of a line between two paragraphs. This tripped me up slightly and may need fixing.

Hope that was useful!

M

(P.S. If you are at all interested, Jim, I will be putting up part two of “The Forever Dark” today...)

Pete A wrote 1034 days ago

The Lamia
Title: the only problem with a strange name like ‘Lamia’ in the title and elsewhere is that you have to explain it. I guess it’s OK in the title, where you can’t really explain, but in the pitch it continues to raise questions.

Short pitch: this is basically grippy, as it should be, but again the ‘Lamia’ name holds it up. Maybe all it needs is something like a precedent clause: ‘destined to become an incarnation of the ancient shaman, the Lamia.’ What do you think?

Long pitch: It’s too long. Those first two paragraphs are unnecessary, at the most the business of the ‘oath’ might be important but, without the story context, it is just another odd thing for a reader to be confused by. Remembering that the pitch is there to sell the story to a reader I would cut P1 and P2. And your tag line ‘The gods… doesn’t add anything either in a pitch blurb.

C1: I felt the bit about the Carpathian mountains was odd – given what follows immediately. Maybe I’d get this if I read really well into the story but coming up front like that kinda makes the reader expect some immediate connection.

It is clear form the off that you write very well. However, my feeling straight away was that there were just a few too many descriptives: ‘oil-stained…chipped…century-old…big wooden… age-darkened.’ It just overloads the text of that all-important first para. This tendency fades as one reads on but then there is a new similar overwrought tendency –that of too much information too close together. The paragraph about the sisters simply contains too much physical descriptive dump. How much of this is actually necessary to the plot?

I got a little of the same feeling as I read into C2. Here your description of the car seems unnecessarily detailed. I mean if it’s a police car surely the reader expects it to have a radio? The more I read into this the clearer your style became. I think you are happier with the somewhat quicker paced cop stuff. It seems to work fine.

Generally, at 122k words, this work is in need of that dreaded heavy edit. I think you need to examine the usefulness of each element in a scene and determine if it is valuable enough to survive your editor’s knife.

Gareth N wrote 1092 days ago

Jim - Read chapters 33 to 44 (inclusive)

You've managed to maintain the high standard of writing you set in the early chapters. The story of the development of Dema's shaman powers is very absorbing.

In the middle of the book there are a number of chapters that tend to follow a repetitive format. Dema drives to the drug dealers lair - she overcomes the bad guys - retrieves information about their drug operation - tells Sedna - calls in at the office. I know this is an over simplification. I was wondering if you'd consider mixing things up a bit and injecting the format with something a bit left-field?

I was pleased that the plot starts to change around chapter 38 as Kore rejoins the story. I sensed your enjoyment writing about Dema & Kore's reunion. I've left it at chapter 42 but will return to finish reading. Aside from the point I've made above I have nothing negative to say.

Gareth

MJMCK wrote 1093 days ago

I do not read other peoples work when I am writing and currently I am writing. However, speed reading some of this has shown that this is a strong story. I'll not comment on any other apspects except to say that it seems well written and constructed. One day I will read it all and I'm sure I will not be dissapointed.

Michael J McKeown

Gareth N wrote 1105 days ago

SF42
Jim
Read through Chapters 20 to the end of 32. That blank piece of paper next to me now has some notes scribbled on it. My general feeling as the reader is that you really love writing about Dema's feelings and her skills. Those elements of the story really flow and are very engaging. However, I don't get the same feeling about the overall detective plot at this stage in the book. Both the Philadelphia and Chicago missions follow a very similar format and once Dema has used her ability to thwart their evil, the storyline is too quickly concluded.
The conversations between Dema and Sedna work well but I didn't think you needed to recount the whole mission at the beginning of Part 2; I'd just read what happened at the end of Part 1. I don't want to come across too negatively because it is a very interesting story and I'm hoping the plot now starts to move in different directions.
Just one more thing. Please cut down on Dema's make-up applications. It might be because I'm a bloke and the aggravation of being kept waiting has left a mark.
Gareth

Gareth N wrote 1107 days ago

SF42
Jim,
Read to the end of Chapter 20 and enjoying an absorbing plot and some great ideas. Pleased at the scientific theories put forward in Chapter 20. Just one minor thing. Because the characters in her dream state are not named I got a bit confused between the different girls. That might be because I'm a bit thick.
Will continue.
Gareth

Gareth N wrote 1107 days ago

SF42
Jim,
Read to the end of chapter 10. I have a blank piece of paper next to me to note down anything that strikes me as a problem. The paper's blank!! No problems at all and the story is totally absorbing and very well written. I shall continue tomorrow.
Gareth

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