Book Jacket

 

rank 786
word count 124504
date submitted 17.01.2010
date updated 19.03.2014
genres: Thriller, Science Fiction, 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.

 

Dema Culver discovers her Lamia heritage and becomes a modern shaman, a shape-shifter.

Shamanism is not an organized religion. It is the oldest form of human spiritualism, and the most fundamental, inherent in all of us. Dema can be lighthearted and irreverent at times, but that is the attitude of the true shaman.

From such have come philosophers and saints, sages and prophets, since the dawn of time. Such men drink deeply from the well of awe, submerge themselves in spiritual things. Some will proclaim they've seen the face of God. These may draw followers to their beliefs, priesthoods who preach their God to other men and bid them bow to images they make.

Such images are many, none are true, they are but masks of God, aspects at best. Those who would truly know the God of men turn from such idols and know that they see a mask of God in every human face.

Behind that mask is where the spirit dwells, making a world that only it can see. There freedom lies, the Lamia knows her task is the defense of that domain for all.

 
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tags

alegorical, lucid dreaming, magic, mythology, paranormal, quantum physics, shaman, shapeshifting, spiritual

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122 comments

 

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P Clifford Mills wrote 17 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 86 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 89 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 100 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.

Jim Heter wrote 388 days ago

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.

P Clifford Mills wrote 17 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 86 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 89 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 100 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 129 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 236 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 238 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 255 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 388 days ago

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 435 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 435 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 517 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 520 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 561 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 598 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 607 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 613 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 643 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 651 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 727 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 757 days ago

Reads like fine Chandler. Backed.

CGHarris wrote 771 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 779 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 816 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 822 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 845 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 883 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 920 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 934 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 936 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 994 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 996 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 1007 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 1009 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 1010 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

Gareth N wrote 1011 days ago

SF42 - I've read the first 3 chapters. You write very well. I immediately feel comfortable that I'm being guided through the plot by a skilled story teller. My thoughts keep going back to the opening paragraph which hints at something very special to come. I like that device. The dialogue is excellent and I can hear the voices clearly in my head. Looking forward to getting back to this story.
The only thing that's slightly nagging at me are the names Porky & Turk. You didn't write this around Christmas by any chance?

KGleeson wrote 1035 days ago

I've been meaning to get back to your novel for some time and now the visitors are gone and I've caught up a bit and can read on. I've read through to chapter 8 now and will happily read on, hopefully later this week. The story has really taken on its depth now and I find that you've settled into the narrative well and it grips the reader. The premise has always intrigued me and in the last few chapters I really got to the nitty gritty elements that are unique selling points of this novel. The transformative power of snake healing is a great turning point for this novel and the main character.

The main element you might want to focus on to strengthen the novel is the areas where you go into the backstory of Kore and Sedna. Compared to your later narrative they come across more awkward and filled with extraneous and sometimes repetitive information. In Chapter 4 it is mostly devoted to this backstory and I have to say to me it really slows down the narrative. I would combine 4 & 5 and reduce down the flashback into just a brief thought about if it hadn't been for Kore she wouldn't be in this situation. Really you already told us that in the first chapter. Since it is a familiar story of "poor girl fallen into bad ways of drugs" you don't need to keep reinforcing it and, for me at least, the dialogue with Sedna seems unnecessary. You might consider instead just feeding bits of her relationship with Sedna in over the narrative, one sentence here, one sentence there. The scene when she is thinking of her grandmother and the shamanic healing is good, because it's unique. You might want to polish that up a bit.

The transitions into and out of the flashbacks are awkward so in chapter 5 you might consider re wording the sentence and go directly into the car winding up the road: "The car began winding up into the hills, Dema, still bound in the backseat, Porky drowsing besider her and Turk and Vance exchanging banter up the front." Later in the paragraph you might consider rewording a sentence: Dema, tired and drowsy was only vaguely aware of the wooded stretch they entered."

Most of this is just tightening and polishing and doesn't detract from what is proving to be a good tale. Kristin

KGleeson wrote 1052 days ago

I've read the first three chapter so far, but I'll be back to read some more. You have an interesting plot twist and I do want to get to that portion of the story. That you write and edit text books is reflected in the good quality of your writing. This is a good opening, with Dema established well in the opening scene and the issue that arises out of her scan of the mug books. You might consider making the transition to the backstory a little different, or really just threading it into conversation a little later on. Or you can have the fellow point to the picture and say how it looks like her sister and she could just tell him. For me it seemed a little soon for a flashback, but that's just me.

The other two chapters I found very well constructed with great pacing and good characterization. You create some nice tension in them as well, especially in the third chapter, which builds nicely. There is just one part of your dialogue where you have one of the cops say "bad guy." That just rings so lame. I've known many Philly cops and they would laugh to read that. Try thugs, if you don't want to use bad language (which most of them would, by the bucketfull). Also as a Philadelphian I would wonder about jogging in Hunting Park (maybe it's changed but it used to be pretty bad there). By Roosevelt, I presume you mean the Boulevard, which is what they would say, otherwise they would assume you mean the high school. There aren't any marinas on the Schuylkill, only Boathouse row for the rowing clubs--it's not a big river. You mean the Delaware which is where mafia and other drug biggies have their boats. These are just really small nits that I know if I don't mention it, some other Philadelphian will. It's a good read and I'll be back for more. Kristin

rhine wrote 1097 days ago

technically very good. nice flow. the chapters are a good kindle length. my comments are about what broke the flow for me.
chapter 1:
reminded me of [someone] I knew
[Someone] I couldn't help
I might even put in a # / * * * at the scene break or soften the transition.
detail: does she have a work board posted with photos of known actors with lines and bios?
opinion: the name Kore threw me. It's just so unusual. Pronunciation, nationality?
chapter 2:
bad guys - not in character. perps?
last paragraph, too many So starts
chapter 4:
flashback seems awkward. doesn't seem to add to the plot. I would take just the last two paragraphs and stick them into the chapter one flashback to ease back to the detective squad room.

Scott Rhine (Jezebel's Ladder)

Intriguing Trails wrote 1117 days ago

The Lamia
Fiction, 3rd Person
The premise for this story is really compelling, interesting and the pitch is well written, promising a fantastic plot.
Chapter 1 has some very good apsects, the setting is neatly presented. For example, I really like "oil stained pavement and chipped granite stairway"... those small features give a really strong visual. Using the missing girl to introduce the missing sister was very clever, also.
I was distracted by the POV shifts in the first few paragraphs. When she walked into the room, it seemed to be 3rd person, but then Jeff's eyes followed her. That led me to think this was now his POV. Then it seemed to shift to Dema's POV.
IMO, the recalled conversation between the sisters was somewhat melodramatic. It didn't read true and the characters seemed very contrived. Maybe that was intentional since it was a recalled scene... But it pulled me out of the story.
There were occasions that I thought the paragraphs would have presented better if broken up. For example; "Dema looked up to see Jeff standing in front of her desk. She knew that her emotions were naked on her face." I think the next sentence should be a new paragraph, because you are now changing subjects. "Jeff said...."
The mechanics, punctuation were good. I didn't notice anything wrong.
IMO, the first Chapter would benefit by ending in a stronger hook; something that would keep the reader engaged.
The pacing is good, easy to read and enough action to pull the reader along. That's good, because this is a large piece. 122K words is on the upper end of Novel length. Some publishers might shy away from a MS this long from an unknown author.
While I didn't read past Ch 1, I wonder if you could streamline it. For example in the recalled dialog between the sisters, there was some repitition. The redundancy might be why it seemed contrived.
These are just observations. I don't mean to sound harsh. Keep in mind that your voice is strong and clear. Your vision is marvelous. I wish you good luck with it.
Raechel
Echo

Brian Douglas wrote 1124 days ago

I am no critic or reviewer so this may be slightly rambling, and I am slowly but surely working my way through the chapters, honest. I am not reading anything else it is just a case of too many other things to do.
There are two stories happening here: the shaman detective; and the myth. Somehow, I can almost see them separated and made into two different books. The myth which is working as the back story to Dema being the way she is, could easily be reworked into its own story, and I believe, could have potential for the origins of vampirism, for I take it you are suggesting with the Carpathian (Transylvania) connection that some early form of shamanism was misconstrued, and interpreted as vampirism, hence Dema’s propensity for drinking blood as a means to remote viewing. This is why I feel the back story myth is possibly a little too heavily weighted in relation to the present day action: Dema’s crusade against drug crime.
When I first read your description, I imagined a cross between Castaneda and V. I. Warshawski, i.e.: a sort of tough detective who just happened to also be a shaman. I understand your original recourse to weaving in ancient myth as an explanation for Dema’s transformation, but there must be a lot you could draw on from ancient cultures on the North American continent. I really like the idea of a drugs enforcement officer who uses mind expanding medicinal concoctions to obtain a greater awareness, in contrast to the people she is busting who use drugs to exploit and lose themselves. Unrelated, but moving in portrayal, have you ever read A Scanner Darkly? A detective who goes so deep one almost doesn’t know whether he has infiltrated the drug scene or the drug scene has infiltrated him.
I particularly liked Dema’s dream state, while lying wounded in the snake cave; and her grandmother’s description of her induction into shamanism. I can imagine Dema’s transformation being more metaphorical, the subtlety of it adding greater depth to the story.
I have a suspicion that you want more, to go deeper and are seeking a way to do this. You mention that we cannot all be James Joyces. Maybe not, but we can be our own true voice. I take it you have a good job and are not in want of money, have the modern stable comforts, regular friends and family etc Well then, you are free to write as you please and what you truly believe, to make it as truly crafted and as beautiful, dark, scary, poetic, as you can. You give me the impression there is something niggling you that dissatisfies you with this work in its present form. Well if that is so but you still believe there is something that can come out of it, go to it. Do not believe you have to compromise. As for the malarkey on this website and the desperate need by so many to get to the editor’s desk, I have the impression Harper Collins are yet to publish a book discovered on Authonomy, so as far as commercial publishers are concerned they are really only looking for money spinners. A friend once said to me chasing money is like chasing shadows but when you follow the sun the shadows follows you.
These are just some ideas; I thought it high time I gave you a little feedback.

jaydee wrote 1142 days ago

What a fascinating story - I wish I had this one on Kindle.
The relationship of the sisters is touching and sets a nice background, and then we are straight into the action. The intrigue carried me along, the insight into the seedier side of life seeming realistic, and the anti-drugs message so appropriate for our times. Who won't be rooting for the good guys (or gals) to win!?
The growing sense of mystery carried me along, and I was not disappointed. I'm up to 10 and I can't put it down.
Lovely writing, easy to read - you deserve to get ahead with this one. Full stars and backed. Good luck!
JayDee
The Chronicles of Eva

bluegirl09 wrote 1245 days ago

A fascinating mix of modern and magic, this has a great plot and a great MC. It is well written, realistic, with gritty undertones and a fast pace that sucks the reader along. One nitpick is that Dema's flashback doesn't quite fit into the pace at that time.

Best of luck!

Selena Hallahan - 'With Teeth'

Cat091971 wrote 1247 days ago

Definitely something I could become engrossed in very quickly. Backed and rated.

Cat
"Lies & Love"

Bill Carrigan wrote 1258 days ago

Greetings Jim, I'm reading "The Lamia" now and will gladly back it with stars. Many thanks for backing "The Doctor of Summitville." Best of luck, Bill

Pia wrote 1269 days ago

Jim -

The Lamia - A riveting story. I came to ch 6 with Dema running for her life and ending up wounded in the cave with a crowd of black snakes. Huh. I saw you like Joseph Campbell whose knowledge and understanding of myths was phenomenal, and inspiring. You do an interesting weaving of shamanic traditions with the modern world. Maybe take out the occasional pesky 'had' and 'that' where not needed.

Backed, Pia (Cours of Mirrors)

child wrote 1271 days ago

The Lamia - Adult Dema Culver is an engaging character who is haunted by the sudden and unexplained disappearance of her sister years ago.
The author writes realistically, the dialogue is crisp and though the characters are briefly drawn their personality and appearance is apparent and to my mind, this is a skill not easily achieved. I particularly liked Dema's use of her gender to extract information from an unwilling source. Descriptions of cityscape and countryside are well observed and Dema's background, interlaced with her back story in bite sized pieces, added to the tension and mystery of the work. Dema's hiding place upon being shot and pursued was the hook that kept me reading into the sixth chapter and on into the seventh. A book set in modern times with an age old legend at its heart makes this more than an enjoyable read.
Nitpicks: Dema and Kore - how old are they when Kore tells her to keep away from drugs? It might be an idea to work their age at this time into the story. From the dialogue between them they sounded young but the question was how young as Kore went out at night alone. There are a few typing errors I have no doubt you know of already but thought I'd mention them just in case.

Child - Atramentus Speaks

Eunice Attwood wrote 1279 days ago

A fascinating read, with an unusual plot. I welcomed the fact that she was drawn into the spiritual realms, as that is my favourite place to be. This is an original piece, and I am happy to back it. Eunice - The TempleDancer.

S.C. Thompson wrote 1293 days ago

Fascinating premise. Combining hot-topic current events, cops and robbers, ancient mysteries, the mean streets of Chicago and the timeless landscapes of the Southwest, this book has it all, written in a clean, clear style that doesn't scream "Look at me!", but allows the reader to slip comfortably in a strange world the pits ageless intuitive wisdom against the cagey wiles of amoral, exploitive greed. A cautionary tale for our times that offers an alternative world view to boot. Backed.

JD Revene wrote 1295 days ago

Jim,

What a fascinating premise. The combination of shamanism and drug thriller is not one I've come across before, that's for sure.

I read three chapters and this is a good and fast moving read.

A few minor observations:

--early in chapter one hair brushes against a cheek, it wasn't entirely obvious that this was Dema's hair brushing against her cheek; and

--in chapter three I was surprised she didn't take her gun with her when she went out, I would've expected an agent to do so.

Otherwise, though, I found nothing to comment on. I enjoyed this and would happily read more.

Backed

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