Book Jacket

 

rank 130
word count 34465
date submitted 22.04.2010
date updated 19.05.2011
genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Crime
classification: moderate
incomplete

Misery's Fire

Kim Jewell

A teenager's account of his time in hell. When the demons couldn't torture him, they sent him to a place more gruesome - high school.

 

When I found myself in hell I learned several things. One, there really is a Devil and he does rule over hell.

Two, an eye for an eye does not extend to the lives of the gang members who did not personally kill your sister.

Three, when you splash gasoline all over a body shop you also splash gasoline on yourself.

The fourth and most important lesson I learned was before you light the match with the intentions of burning down the gas station and killing the man that murdered your sister, you would be wise to leave the building instead of waking him up so he could see you pass your judgment on his life.

In hell, everyone is assigned their own demon caseworker. His job is to make sure you're as unhappy as possible and hell lives up to its reputation. Much to my caseworker’s disappointment, after living through Misery's death, none of the hells they created for me had the desired effect. I told him after living through my years in high school, I thought I could endure all he had to offer. So he promptly beamed me back to the fiery pits of high school.

 
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C W Bigelow wrote 1394 days ago

Kim, once again, tight, flowing prose with pertinent, funny dialogue and the characters are also well drawn - hell on earth, hell in death - crappy thing. We can only hope it gets better - but I love the way you have implemented some of our most ridiculous traits of life in our society into the hierachy of hell. Actually since this is a bit more adult than your others, at least I think so, I'm enjoying a bit more - but only because of this. Know you are a hard working person and deserve much success! I'm only a few chapters into it, but have to back it, now and will read more over the days. Good luck.. CW (To Save the Sun)

lisawb wrote 1388 days ago

This is like the apprentice commenting on the Master so I am not going to write too much.

I enjoyed this, it is original and very cleverly thought out. I like the underlying psychology running through. The characters come across really well and the storyline is fascinating and quite thought provoking. This has depth which makes a book more enjoyable and compelling. This should run hot off the press and I am glad I have backed it for a long time as it deserves a place on the shelf.

Well done Kim another high achievement with your writing.

Ww Lisa

gillyflower wrote 1454 days ago

This is a fascinating book. You have a great plot idea, and you handle it with skill, moving quickly through Grant's different options, and hooking us in each time to know what comes next. The relationship between Grant and Misery is warm and convincing. I loved your first few sentences, where you explained her name. Grant shows intelligence and insight, as he says his mum was convinced her miserable life was due to fate, rather than, 'her ability to consistently make poor decisions.' Grant is in hell because he took revenge for his sister's death. It doesn't seem a sufficient reason, as Big Mike points out. Your imaginative portrayal of the punishments meted out, which allow the 'Hell's Angels' to use Grant and the other inmates to spread evil, by causing potholes, and, more seriously, by, 'Convincing people to make the wrong decisions,' in video games which play out in real 'realtime.' There's a definite touch of The Screwtape Letters here. Grant is horrified to find that the people he killed in video games were killed in real life. This is an engrossing read. You build up the story episode after episode, until we see the pattern, that Grant can't escape being forced to do more and more wrong all the time. Your writing carries us quickly along, your characters, especially Grant and Misery, are vivid and individual. I loved Misery's birthday, which was both funny and touching. Grant is a complex character; damaged from childhood, with many good points, such as his kindness and generosity to Misery; and we feel ourselves liking him, relating to him. I'm intrigued to know how this will end, and would certainly expect to be able to buy the published version of this highly original and well written book before very long. Backed.
Gerry McCullough,
Belfast Girls.

greeneyes1660 wrote 1442 days ago

Bones.... This is Brilliant. There have been many takes on hell and you seem to encompass them and go a step further, mix the preconceived ideas so we can relate, and then use your talent to take us to new heights.

Extremely well written, perfectly paced and the back story, which I feel is the most important, is perfect.
Love of Family or lack of, is the key ingredient in the becoming of, to some degree, a product of our enviroment.

The choices we make or do not make based on the data we choose to process. Using Hell to show us, that even though we made those choices, doesn't mean, that we can't let them stop us from winning, or that, eventually, because of all those previous circumstances, we may perhaps reach a level we never thought possible.

It's been a long time since I have been excited about a fiction book and where it goes, but I think this is really special, and extremely thought provoking in a very subtle but powerful manner.

Thank you for sharing your gift in this wonderfully paced book, with it's complex but likable characters, and for the message that is clearly there for those who wish to see it...Backed 1000% patricia akaColumbia Layers of the Heart

Bocri wrote 1415 days ago

04 June 2010
Misery's Fire is the product of a seasoned hand, a veteran of the written word. I'll subdue my envy for a moment and seriously try to be gracious and complimentary. Obviously, the high standard of prose and pace, that does not miss a beat, allows no leeway for criticism. The creation of the plot, devious as it is devilish, and its proficient development, is sublime. What a gift of comedic insight to be able to devise the 'chain' of why the guardian is called Angelo! And the Boy called Sue homage in the opening ? Respect! BACKED. Robert Davidson. The Tuzla Run

Seringapatam wrote 410 days ago

Kim, I like the funny in your voice and thats why I could read this to the end. I love humour in books but its got to be right or it doesnt work. I would like to say that you have it right on the money spot on. Also when it is right it makes the flow of the book so easy to contend with and makes the reader want to read the book for ever more. I lived this and wish you all the luck in the world. Big score from me. Well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks

Abby Vandiver wrote 573 days ago

I like the premise, the love Bones has for his sister and the idea behind it all. Very good concept. The writing was good as was the pace. I also found that it flowed nicely. I liked very much the opening scene where Grant wakes up dead and in hell. Not a lot of action or tension here, but a good story nonetheless.

Good job.

Abby

Brian Bandell wrote 657 days ago

Misery's Fire has been recognized as one of the favorite Authonomy books of Brian Bandell, author of science fiction thriller Mute from Silver Leaf Books.

Here are my thoughts on Misery's Fire and the other elite level books by emerging authors.

http://brianbandell.blogspot.com/2012/06/my-favorite-books-from-emerging-authors.html

Brian Bandell
Mute

Tom Bye wrote 911 days ago

Hello Kim-

book--Misery's fire--

What an amazing sense of imagination you have to write a story like this, so original, you have me believing in Hell again.
This read so full of grimness, misery, and hopelessness as your narrator describes the scene surrounding him.
Dialogue perfect for the characters, to express themselves; and what a weird lot you have created in ones mind here.

after reading three chapters and scan read some more up to eight , i have to say, that it held my attention well.
it deserves it high ranking for originality and unique style.

tom bye
from hugs to kisses.
in mine, i go to heaven in chapter 16, glance at it please, thanks

61BBboy wrote 913 days ago

Great imagination! Happy to put your work on my shelf. Hope you have a chance to take a look at Dark Side by CC Brown.
61BBboy

Nightdream wrote 951 days ago

Wow! What an idea you got her. A Hell world. It’s been done many ways but not like this. Not so you can actually picture it as a real functioning world. Creating a world is hard. You have to think about it for a while before you get into it. You have to know how serious and real it’s going to be or is it going to be humorous or even both which I think you did. I found myself immersed in the world the second she asked “How long have you been here?” From the newbies response of only five hundred years to the work room to finding out they create human pot holes in the streets above. This is all fantastic. I know how hard it is to create a world, and easy, and you have made a superb unique world that has drawn my interest. You are funny at times, which is a huge plus, and your writing works well for the type of story it seems to be so far. I’m glad you didn’t make it too dark and goth. As is is just perfect. 6 stars. I think you will make it to the desk. Oh, before i forget, I think you should split the chapter in two. I think first chapters should be like a long pitch that gets the reader to want to read more. But if it’s too long, no matter how good it is, it will turn away some readers. It might be a small amount but who knows that small amount my include the person on the Editor’s desk.
Nightdream

a.morrison712 wrote 952 days ago

This is one of the most interesting books I've read on this site so far. I have nothing negative to say, you have a real talent, and I'm sure you will be published soon. This is a great idea for a story and I see it appealing to several different markets. You don't have Christian listed, but I think a certain section of that population would enjoy this. Keep it up! I'll be dusting off a spot on my shelf for you soon!

Best,

Ashley
Maddy Hatfield and the Magic Locket

Jake Barton wrote 957 days ago

I've read all your books and Misery's Fire certainly maintains the high standards you've set. It's more 'adult' in tone and vocabulary, yet still with strong appeal to the YA readership whose specific demands are so well catered for in your writing. The premise is certainly enticing and the sheer professionalism of your sharp editing and vibrant plot is an object lesson to writers of YA fiction.
A couple of lines in Chapter five encapsulate the storyline, ‘I found myself homeless and helpless, not to mention in a brand new set of skin. I wasn’t even comfortable in my old skin…’ Brilliant! Every nuance of teenage angst in two sentences.
The pitches are strong and effective and the title/cover combination is a perfect match. There's a rare depth to this story. A distinct message, and a very moral one, wrapped up inside a story which will resonate with a teenage audience in particular. I've read all the chapters you've posted and would like to read more. That's a real recommendation from a reader far removed from your target audience. I wish you well with this one, Kim. You're a writer who has ability, works hard and has the needs of your readership always to the fore. It's been on my shelf for a while now and deservedly so.
Jake.

1x80 wrote 960 days ago

I'll be coming back for more of this! It's fantastic!

Colin Price wrote 975 days ago

One of my favourites, I think this has wider appeal than young adults.

Linda Lou wrote 1010 days ago

hullo Kim. I have just finished all eight chapters of your book. your perspective concerning what and where hell is interesting. I like the pothole idea, always wondered just where they came from and why they always seem to come back, guess now I know. I am not sure is yours is intended to be a comedy but I thought a good part of it was funny. I just wonder about your story's transition from the dankness of hell to a somewhat normal life on the upside. There seems to be a gap of sorts but maybe that is just me. You did bring the 'Angelo' character back in the last ch. 8 but only his presence and voice. Perhaps in further chapters you will better define the transition between earth and hell and how the two of them work together or against themselves. Regardless, you kept me reading and that is what is important in this business. Very good. LLL

silvachilla wrote 1028 days ago

Kim

I'm not even going to pretend to be able to do a similar in depth, line by line crit like you did for mine, I think you could tell my punctuation etc needed help.

But boy, is this a great book! The idea of it is very original, Hell as a corporation. Your writing is extremely tight, and the dialogue spot on. I love Grant. He seems like a really nice guy, even if he has ended up in hell. Your writing is cinematic, in that I can see what's happening in front of my eyes.

The only thing that stood out to me in the chapters I read was 'gang banger boyfriend'. May just be something lost in translation, but gang banger makes me think 'orgy'.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this, it will do well at the ED desk for certain. Full smattering of stars.

Silva

Amy Craig Beasley wrote 1064 days ago

With so many talking about the end of the world, Kim Jewell's Misery's Fire may be the next hottest topic among teen readers today. If the topic is not enough, the langauge and the immediate referral to body oder of various degress will certainly get the YA crowd reading. Love the satirical edge and the details. The vegetables on the menu is funny - I liked that - Well written prose - nearly flawless -

sunrize604 wrote 1068 days ago

Misery's Fire

Kim,

Your book has some nice life lessons for your YA audience. I like how your MC is learning that giving, trusting and a positive outlook no matter your situation, is far superior than a more negative immediate gratification. Likable interesting characters and a relatable MC that gets the much sought after "do-over".

Gefordson wrote 1089 days ago

Kim,
I read this a while ago but haven’t had time to comment.
This is a great idea, well executed. You have real characters that come alive and compelling moments of drama to hold the reader’s attention. The book’s well paced and well plotted.
My one comment is that on occasions you could do with tightening some of the dialogue – on rare occasions people are needlessly wordy. That aside this is a really strong piece of writing.
Best of luck with this project. Happily backed.
Gefordson
Nothing you can do.

Jaen Glimmers wrote 1090 days ago

Kim,

You have one of the most original books on Authonomy; the premise is fantastic. Your dialogue and MC’s musings are witty with dark comedic timing which keeps the reader engaged. Grant comes across as an endearing character to me (even if he is in hell) and apparently had a huge amount of empathy for his sister that rings loud and clear. I’m happy to display this on my shelf.

Jaen Wirefly
Glimmers

Diane Lauritzen wrote 1092 days ago

I marvel at your imagination! If only I can get my students to open up their imaginations like this! ;] Backed!
Di Lauritzen

Ivan1971 wrote 1098 days ago

Crisp, easy-reading. Very well-written narrative. It deserves to do well. Good stuff!

klouholmes wrote 1116 days ago

Hi Kim, You've done it again! Hell is so well-imagined that it's convincing and you wonder if anyone can find a way out. I really liked the construction, the alternating of those scenes with Grant's former life. There's such a relief in it and at the same time, they are involving, working through the past. Loved the therapist and the "work" they do. All well-described and tightly. It's gruesome but has the slow-going horror that makes it readable for anytime. Shelved - Katherine (The House in Windward Leaves, The Swan Bonnet)

Dwayne Kavanagh wrote 1132 days ago

Good concept. I like the style and voice of your writing. It reads like any of the books that I rip through! Kim, you do a great job buillding up your charcaters through dialogue (without describing them in narration, like most do) Your opening sentence made me pause for just a second...I would consider revising it. I get what you're trying to do, but the gravelly, bronx, sleepy head, etc seemed a bit cliche. Just my thought...don't hold it against me..I like the story :)

Cheers,
Dwayne

colet wrote 1135 days ago

Hi, I just clicked on this at random and found I liked it so much I read the whole first chapter. Your protagonist has a great 'voice'. I liked the set up and the writing, and the back story was dripped in at just the right pace to make it real. Backed, and wished good luck.

Colet

tartankiwi wrote 1136 days ago

Great concept and a good read so far (up to chapter 3). I loved the idea that video games had life consequences and that potholes came from Hell !

You were asking for feedback about typos, inconsistencies etc. I've listed a few items that caught my attention - they may be fine or they may not but I thought I'd highlight them for you to double-check.


Chapter 1

“Never in a million years did I think there was a Heaven or Hell” - should it be "... a Heaven or a Hell" ?

“Such lip from someone only here on his first day” - this doesn't feel right "... someone only on his first day here" possibly ?

“So Hell was kind of like its own corporation, with a hierarchy of personnel, all of whom have very specific jobs.” Should it be "... had very specific jobs" since it says "Hell was ..." rather than "Hell is ..." ?

“It felt like a dagger just sliced through my heart, seeing her smile again.” - again this doesn't feel right. "... had just sliced" possibly ?

“Happy Birthday, Tommy” - I've never seen a cake with a comma on it. Maybe it's a US thing !


Chapter 3

“Band-aids” - if this is the brand name then it should be Band-Aids.

“yes, and they’ll hurt you too, if they find you here.” - the second comma is confusing in the context of the whole sentence.

“Personality much ?” - is this a US saying ? Not English usage I have come across.

“We were pulling on a wall - nothing moved, even budged.” - is this last part right ? Shouldn't it be "... not even budged" ?

“Each of them carried bull horns and continued to yell obscentities at us” - are they carrying bull horns (as in horns of bulls) or bullhorns (loudhailers) ?

Gideon McLane wrote 1136 days ago

Misery's Fire" - Kim Jewell. Dante's Inferno meets Saturday Night Live. Very funny and enjoyable read. Bookshelf! Well written. One thought - you may be giving too much detail in the long pitch - maybe have the reader guess a little longer why Grant's in hell.

Gideon ("Thrill Writer's Remorse")

rhine wrote 1140 days ago

chapter 1: welcome to hell. Very screwtape/Dante
Only one nit:insured -> ensured

Scott Rhine (Foundation for the Lost)

LAR wrote 1145 days ago

I felt like this was a unique twist on the traditional scary fantasy worlds often created in YA fiction. I like how you balanced Bones' sarcastic wit with a tender side, the love for Misery - this made him seem like a realistic character.

Frank James wrote 1147 days ago

Hi Kim,

You should be proud of this piece of writing. I think it's brilliant. I never looked at your work until today, don't know why, shame really. However, I'm BACKING it now and can I wish you the very best of luck in your future writing.

Frank James (The Contractor)

hmsullivan wrote 1149 days ago

Kim,

I really enjoyed reading this book. You are a very talented writer. When I started reading this book I couldn't stop reading until I learned more about how Grant would get out of his situation.

I only noticed one mistake in the last chapter. In the paragraph starting with Mrs. Kinser you wrote, "I also replaced your music hour with physics I, and.."

I hope you put more of your book up on this site. I am interested to find out how this story will end.

Best of luck to you,
:) Heather

curiousturtle wrote 1151 days ago

Kim,

I started reading your Opus and thought I would give you my cent and half:

The first thing that jumps here is the style. Is a moment by moment perception where every moment is a dangling act promising the next to have the same urgency....

..... and that you deliver.

The ping pong dialogue however is the jewel: punchy, colorful, with lingo to spear....the net effect a nuanced psychological maps begins to appear through the back a forth....one that is shown rather than told.....

.....and when the writer shows...the reader feels....as as he does.....

.......the grace of the writer shows

for ex:

"Okay bubba, is your turn.."

"Right. I'll do my worst"

"What's wrong, bubby?"

"Oh, shut it, Grant"

Some of my favorites phrasing:

"The bell tolled...."
This entire paragraph is your personal best so far
Why?
because here you get concrete, descriptive, colorful, so that the readers sweats it out with you.

"my best heave-ho"
I have never seen this which is why I liked for, If wanted to read about things I have already seen, I would take the subway...lol

"All around me I could hear...."
another personal best....for the same reason

Some Minor/Minorest/Minormost points:

"gravely voice" "wracked my brain" "faintest scene" "tough sonofabitch" "ironically located"
I would cut a bit on the emotional labeling
Why?
Because when the writer labels an emotion, the reader reads ...the label
when he uses body language to describe...the reader feels

for ex: " her face softened, her eyes bright with tears of emotion"
what else would be the tears off?
miscellaneous discomfort?...lol

"I froze in panic"
instead: "I froze"
for, what else would you froze off, in that context?
miscellaneous discomfort?...lol

"very few exceptions" "meaty arms" "gawked at him" "ripped through" "my extreme pleasure"
I would also cut a bit on the modifiers
why?
because as Updike said: "the modern reader can fill in the blanks"

Let me know if that helps,

Overall, wonderful.

david

Ivan Amberlake wrote 1155 days ago

“Misery’s Fire” made me literally tingle with impatience and anticipation. The very idea of such a book is ravishing, but the way you put it in print is fantabulous. It has style of its own that is unique and incomparable. Bloody hell, I can’t help admiring you, Kim!!!

If I were to say what I liked in the first three chapters I’ve read so far, I think I would just paste these three chapters wholly into my comment.

Six stars and I am reading further.

Ivan
The Beholder

cindergirl6 wrote 1160 days ago

What an interesting take on Hell. I was intrigued simply because it was fresh and different. I do mean different in a good way. I must admit this isn't the type of book I would normally read, as you can see from my own book, but I took a leap of Faith because you sold me with a great pitch. I may have nightmares, lol, and I hope this is all just a dream for the lad...I guess he gets thrown back to the "firey pits of High School", lol. I will read on, and comment further when I have done so. But, well done, so far.

Linda Lou wrote 1174 days ago

hullo Kim. you are on my shelf now for a space. please take a look at mine, it has changed considerably . your opinion would be valuable. thanks Linda Lou

billy.mcbride wrote 1177 days ago

Dear Don't,

Hi, this is a hard story but very vivid and in some ways it reminds me of my own book The Trouble with Being a B'nayvoovah. I this it is well written and just to the idea that bullies are to be avoided. I hope that you find success in your endeavors. You asked me to remind you of our swap in this letter. Please read if you like my book Powers. Thank you for giving us much.

Billy McBride

LuvingSolitude wrote 1180 days ago

Hey

Just finished the chapters that are up and am dying to know what happens next! Character portrayal is exceptionally well rounded and in depth, the use of language in both the speech and thought patters are believable and well thought out.
Plot structure is in depth and detailed, with the pacing in the backstory just the right amount to give you an idea of what has happened and why Grant is the way he is, and why he thinks the way he does without giving away any of the major moments in his time before hell. (something I think enhances the readers suspence when thinking of the murder, and what actually happened between the moments it happened and his death). The plot itself is obscure, which I absolutly love, straying from many of the mainstream views on how hell is run and linking it to real worlds natural calamities is ingenious, I couldn't help but ponder, if hell was run as you have portrayed it, the psycological implications behind playing a game only to have caused the deaths of others...gives a whole new meaning to assasins creed, as well as doing seeminly harmless work, only to discover you have created a natural disaster. How on earth did you come up with this?? Its brilliant!
Your grammar throughout was great too, I honestly couldn't find one fault with the writing style or use of language, which is always a pleasure to see.
In terms of originality, I have never read a book that intertwines hell, heaven and the mortal realm so completely,it makes you wonder if what you do in one realm really does influence humans that are alive on earth....so does that make it an act of God? or a man-made disaster because of who REALLY created it? Sorry, now I'm pondering...

This was a thouroughly enjoyable read and I can't wait until more is posted!

B.L.Milner
The Endless Awakening
(School is definitely the perfect type of hell....shudder)

billysunday wrote 1183 days ago

Kim, this is a very fun book to read. I love the corny name Misery and the hierarchy and characters in hell. Terrific imagination-6stars.

StarSeeker wrote 1183 days ago

Such marvelous black humour. You are a brilliant writer, not everyone could pull off a story and make the characters so likeable.

billysunday wrote 1184 days ago

Love the intro! Very imaginative and can't wait to read. You might like my Halo of the Damned. If time, check it out-Dina

Writenow wrote 1185 days ago

Great idea, good choice of characters, the dialogue works well and the story works well. A slight quibble about the language. Might be imroved with tightening up - I detected the faintest scent of gasoline might be better as I could smell gas... feels like too many qualifiers putting the brakes on it, esp in the opening chapter. Short sharp language feels better here, esp with kids. I like this a lot. good luck with it. on my WL

sissysulli wrote 1188 days ago

Nitpicks (feel free to ignore!):
OK, first impressions: Until Angelo said “son,” I thought the MC was a girl. The way “he” talks sounds too much like a witty, dry-humor teenage girl.

Also, I don’t understand why the MC is the only one who figures out the trick with the ropes. Shouldn’t anyone be able to do that? Why do they all just stand there and get rained on? I have a feeling there would be more people like the MC who took this version of “Hell” as a complete joke.

Also, if there’s no chairs and no magazines in the reception room to keep people from being comfortable, why is there an elevator? Shouldn’t the hellmates have the walk up flight after flight of stairs (who cares about the time; they’ve got eternity right?). Also, if they don’t want Grant to be comfortable, why does he wake up in a BED? Shouldn’t he be on the floor or something?

All in all, though, I REALLY like it. Really. I think the writing’s great, the main character funny and relatable, and the pitch is really, really excellent! I’ll keep reading :) -EZ

sissysulli wrote 1188 days ago

Just read your pitch. Hilarious! Can't wait to read :) - EZ

Cardennightelf wrote 1192 days ago

This is SUCH an interesting take on hell! I love the pothole effect. How did you come up with that? It's brilliant!!
I love the wording, and the imagery. It's like i could be in his shoes, doing what he does. I think i love Angelo, lol, though i'm not sure about him being bald. I also love the sarcasm thrown every which way, and the emotions that course through Grant's (or can i call him Bones'?) body as he goes through all these trial. It was very interesting! I actually want to read more... unfortunately, i wish i had the time. Maybe later i will! =D

Anyways, this is for the read swap!

Will back your book with pleasure. =)

-Rachelle
Secrets- Book One: To Save Ella

Jaye Hill wrote 1194 days ago

This is both hilarious and thought-provoking and a very good read. Loved the idea of pot holes being created by sweated labour in hell and the therapy sessions with electro-therapy as standard, but only if you lie. The characters are well drawn, Angelo comes over very strongly as does our hero's love for his sister, which involves the reader. The setting is neat - hell as a series of executive suites, or perhaps factory workshops thinking of the potholes, and the dialogue is witty, natura and believable (under the circumstance). I enjoyed this very much, have watchlisted and await a slot Jaye

Winston Chad Emerson wrote 1199 days ago

Misery's Fire

You've taken a premise I would normally pass on - funny guy narrating his experience in Hell - and told the story in a way that is fresh and surprising. Information is revealed at a brilliantly appropriate pace, especially with the two hours of pulling chains followed by the therapist explaining that this is how potholes are created. The character thinks back and has an "Oh, right" moment, and so does the reader. Well done.

There is a bit of dialogue that I think should be the title of the book: "We Were All We Had"

That line stuck with me. Not sure why, but I love it. Your character has poetic moments and he seems not to even realize it.

As I read, I began to want for more description of his life before death. The sister, Misery, is the focal point of this guy's world, but I think it can be approached a little more subtly. Be careful about saying things like, "I would do anything for my sister." This is something that needs to be shown instead of stated. Maybe describe a scene in which he defends Misery (probably without her presence).

I often read first-person narratives and wish the author had written it in third person. I wished that with this story. First-person narratives have a tendency to focus too much on the narrating character. Too many I's. Try making your character more of an observer of things. Memories of his sister, memories of his life, but without mentioning himself at all. Readers can be turned off by a character who talks too much about himself. We need to learn about him through his method of conveying events and information.

I'm really enjoying this story. It's not often that I even finish a first chapter on Authonomy, much less leave the first chapter with the desire to read more, but I think there's some good stuff here and you've already displayed an ability to surprise me. Good job. I'm going to put this on my shelf for a while. =)

Winston

P.S. - I'll have more comments as I read more of the book.

R.A. Battles wrote 1207 days ago

Kim,

First and foremost, let me say that your pitches completely sold me on your story. You’ve provided a hook and you’ve summarized the key plot points of the story with precision and skill.

Second, this novel is targeted for the YA market and for readers of crime fiction. This is a powerful combination, kind of like a left/right combination in boxing. Well done!

Third, as your plot unfolds and readers connect with your characters, the writing is engaging, well-done, and I found it hard to stop reading. The fact that this novel is written in the first-person voice of a character about her sister’s death is gripping and promises to keep readers on the edge of their seats. After reading the first four chapters and skimming through the rest, I am happy to back you. Here are some comments on the all-important first chapter that I hope you find useful.

“Grant! I said wake up, damn it!” Technically, this should read “Grant,” I said. “Wake up, damn it!” Exclamation marks are not necessary in a piece of dialogue if the piece of dialogue is followed by a dialogue tag. If there is no tag following a piece of dialogue, an exclamation mark can be used for emphasis.

Looking back at me with sickly yellow eyes was the greasiest, nastiest dude I’ve ever seen. And he smelled of piss. (A brilliant piece of writing. I think the next sentence should be a part of this same paragraph.)

I wracked my brain, trying to make sense of this, but I was so disoriented, nothing came to mind. (The last comma is not required.)

Charred holes pocked my shirt. (Excellent use of a creative verb that “shows” versus “tells.”

A red gas can. Shouting. Windows breaking. Gun fire. A lit match. Flames engulfing me. Explosion. Blistering skin. Pain. Black out. (Love the images you’ve created and manner in which you’ve spit them out like a machine gun. Should gun fire be gunfire? Should black out be blackout?)

My mother’s name was Joy, and aside from a very few exceptions, she lived a life full of truly miserable days. (I don’t think the last comma is required.)

“You made it through something,” Angelo grinned. His dingy, gray teeth looked slightly pointed. “Let’s call it a downward spiraling vortex, shall we?” (“Angelo grinned” is written as a dialogue tag when it’s actually something he does. How about:

Angelo grinned. “You made it through something.” His dingy, gray teeth looked slightly pointed. “Let’s call it a downward spiraling vortex, shall we?”

“Oh, a little a this, little a that.” (Great! This how real people talk.)

GENERAL COMMENT

According to dictionary.com, hell is a place, but it is not a proper name. Are you sure you want capitalized the first letter? Just a thought for you to consider.

Rodney B.

Nick Poole2 wrote 1226 days ago

 
THOUGHTS IN CAPITALS
 
    “Wake up, sleepy head.” The gravelly voice, thick with an accent straight out of the Bronx, sounded much harsher in tone than the greeting warranted. THAT SENTENCE SEEMS ELONGATED. "THE GRAVELLY BRONX ACCENT WAS HARSHER THAN THE WORDS" WOULD DO, WOULDN'T IT?
    I couldn’t open my eyes. My head ached. Well, shit. My whole body hurt. I smacked my mouth open a couple of times. SMACKED MY MOUTH OPEN? AS IN I SMAKED MY BITCH UPSIDE HER HEAD? My tongue felt swollen and [it seemed likeCUT?} all of the moisture had been sucked out of my head.
    The bed shook as something jarred it. I opened one [pasty, gritty] eye, just a tiny bit. I GOT TOLD OFF ONCE FOR THESE DOUBLE-UP ADJECTIVES AND I CAME TO AGREE. CHOOSE ONE GOOD ONE OR LEAVE THEM BOTH OUT. . Boots. [I saw CUT?] a pair of scarred, black Harley Davidson boots. Whoever sat there must have kicked the foot of my bed. [OR...SOMEBODY WAS KICKING MY BED.]
    “Grant! I said wake up, damn it!”
    I sat straight up [when I realized I didn’t recognize where I was THIS IS DISTANCNG. "I SAT UP. WHERE AM I? OR SOMETHING IMMEDIATE AND IN THE MOMENT. EVEN "WHERE THE HELL WAS I?". [Looking back at me with sickly yellow eyes REWORD? ]was the greasiest, nastiest dude I’ve ever seen. And he smelled of piss. At least I think it was him.
    I was in some kind of cell. The walls looked like they were carved out of black rock, and the air felt thick and stifling hot. My clothes were drenched in sweat. I reeked of filth and body odor.
    “Where the hell am I?”
    The stranger threw his head back and bellowed a throaty laugh. “Funny you should put it that way.”
    “Who are you?” I demanded.
    “My name is Angelo, and I’m your new caseworker.”
    “Caseworker? Am I in jail?”   
    “Not exactly. You don’t remember what happened last night?”
    I wracked my brain, I'M PRETTY SURE THAT SHOULD BE "RACK" AS IN STRETCH trying to make sense of this, but I was so disoriented, nothing came to mind. THIS IS "TELL". WHAT DOES DISORIENTATION FEEL LIKE, SOUND LIKE? IT DOESN'T WORK TO JUST SAY "I FELT DISORIENTATED "Looking down at my hands, I noticed my blackened sleeves. Charred holes pocked my shirt. My jeans were speckled with burn marks too, and I detected the faintest scent of gasoline.
    It all came rushing back. Misery’s gone. I put my head in my hands, gasping for air as the night’s details raced through my brain. A red gas can. Shouting. Windows breaking. Gun fire. A lit match. Flames engulfing me. Explosion. Blistering skin. Pain. Black out.
    Misery was my younger sister by a year. She was given her name by my delusional mother who thought it would provide her with a charmed life. My mother’s name was Joy, and aside from a very few exceptions, she lived a life full of truly miserable days. [Convinced the fortunes of the world hinged on mostly luck, she believed giving my sister the name Misery insured she would live the life Mom always dreamed of for herself. I THINK WE UNDERSTAND WITHOUT THAT LAST EXPLANATION]
    “I made it through? I’m okay?” I asked, snapping back to reality.
    “You made it through something,” Angelo grinned. His dingy, gray teeth looked slightly pointed. “Let’s call it a downward spiraling vortex, shall we?”
    “Where am I?”
    “Dude. You’re in Hell. Welcome to our humble abode.” He cackled enthusiastically, [as if this was the first time he’d delivered this joyous bit of news. HOW DO YOU KNOW IT ISN'T?]
    “Hell?” Oh. Oh… A glimmer of hope piqued my interest, now understanding there actually is an afterlife. HE SWALLOWED THAT A BIT WHOLE. “Is Misery here?” That would be the only thing I could want. The only thing I’d ever wanted since her death – to see my sister again.
    “Naw, man. She didn’t do anything wrong. We didn’t get her down here.”
    My heart sank. All that work, trying to right a terrible wrong, and I ended up dead. Better yet, in Hell. Suddenly the heat made sense. THIS IS A BIT CARTOONISH. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO GIVE IT SOME REAL HELL-ISH EDGE?
    {I looked back at my new acquaintance. He CUT?} ANGELO looked like one tough sonofabitch. Ripped jeans with chains hanging from the pockets. A leather vest with nothing underneath. Studs in both ears and over his left eyebrow. Bald head, full black mustache and frown lines creasing between his eyes. He reminded me of the gang leaders [I had the misfortune of hanging with in my earlier days. USED TO HANG WITH (?)
WHAT VOICE SHOULD YOUR NARRATOR HAVE? IT SOUNDS A BIT CULTURED AND OVER ELABORATE FOR AN EX-GANGBANGER.
    “So…”
    “Angelo.” He leaned back in his chair, crossed his meaty arms.
    “So, Angelo. You’re my caseworker?”
    “Yep. You can call me your guardian angel, only in Hell.”
    His wit grated on my nerves. TELL “Oh, I get it. Angelo. Angel. Hell’s angel. That’s precious.” Yeah, he probably didn’t appreciate my sarcasm, but considering my newfound circumstances, I thought I was entitled. DO WE NEED THE COMMENTARY ON HIS EVERY ACTION?
    Just then,IT WAS THEN THAT (?) a gorgeous woman walked by my cell door. I mean, this woman could have been a goddess, except for the Hell factor, of course. Long legs, stiletto heels, short red leather skirt and a matching bustier. Blonde hair flowing to her waist, a snake tattoo at the small of her exposed back.
ANOTHER WAY TO DO IT IS...
SOMETHING MOVED PAST THE CELL DOOOR AND THAT SOMETHING TOOK MY BREATH AWAY. A GODDESS, OR THE HELLISH EQUIVALENT THEROF... LONG LEGS JOINING STILETTO HEELS TO A MINISCULE LEATHER SKIRT...ETC ETC
    Angelo let out a low whistle. “C’mon back here, hot stuff. I got somethin’ for ya.”
    The clomp of her heels kept echoing in the stone hallway, never pausing. “In your dreams, pal.”
    “Yeah,” he grunted, looking back towards me. “At least a guy can dream.”
    “Who was that?”
    “Angelina. Another caseworker. I’ve been trying to get me some of that for, well, a couple hundred years.”
    “How long have you been here?”
    My expression must have shown my shock, because he laughed at me in a wheezing, chain-smoking-old-man sort of way. “Forever. I dunno. Five hundred years, give or take. I’m one of the newbies.”
    I just gawked at him, [speechless.CUT]
    “Son... You don’t get outta here. This is Hell. There ain’t no going back.”
    This was all too much to wrap my head around. Hell? Never in a million years did I ever think there was a Heaven or Hell. Mom wasn’t exactly the religious type, so we weren’t raised going to Sunday school or doing shit like that. We were lucky if she was even sober on Sundays, to be honest. IT'S A BIT LATE FOR THIS REACTION.

I MUST ASK...IS THIS MEANT TO BE TONGUE IN CHEEK? THERE DOESN'T SEEM TO BE A SERIOUS ATTEMPT TO CREATE TENSION OR WORRY.

    I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself, gather my courage. The hot air filled my lungs with a burning wetness that smelled like charcoal. “So, what now?”
    A long, rolling chuckle rumbled from Angelo’s belly. “Now? Now you start your therapy.”
    “Therapy? For what?”
    “For all the bad things you’ve done. You gotta pay, and most important, you need to suffer for your wrongs.”
    I shoulda seen this coming. “And what exactly does therapy consist of?”
    “Oh, a little a this, little a that.”
    “That’s helpful, thanks.”
    “Such lip from someone only here on his first day. You’re not scared about what’s gonna happen to you?”
    I couldn’t imagine anything worse than what I’ve already been through in life. Having to steal to survive, dealing with Mom’s nasty boyfriends, gang fights… The hardest blow – losing Misery. Not getting there in time to save my sister. The agony ripped through my chest again as I thought about it, what she must have gone through, how scared she must have been. I only saw the aftermath, but it was more than I could handle.
    “Scared?” I laughed. “Not really. This place can’t be worse than the hell I lived through on Earth.”
    Angelo rubbed his grimy hands together. “Oh, son… This is going to be fun!” [He seemed to relish the challenge. THERE YOU GO AGAIN EXPLAINING THE ACTION...I DON'T THINK YOU NEED TO}
 
 
    So Hell is kind of like its own corporation, with a hierarchy of personnel, all of whom have very specific jobs. Their collective mission statement: to make all of the guests feel as tormented as possible. THAT'S NOT TERRIBLY NEW OR EXCITING...CAN YOU THINK OF A BETTER LESS OBVIOUS PURPOSE FOR HELL. IS IT RUN BY CIIL SERVANTS OR IS THERE A PROFIT MOTIVE?
    I hadn’t asked Angelo how he got his job here. My guess was those who lasted the longest without cracking made the grade for a promotion.
    Our first stop in my official “Welcome to Hell” tour was one of the work rooms. According to the orientation information, my days would consist of basically three activities: work, therapy and recreation. Recreation? This I can’t wait to see. I THINK YOU SHOULD PLAY UP THE "COULDN'T GIVE A DAMN...AIN'T NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO ME TO MAKE ME BEG, KIND OF ATTITUDE. IF YOU ARE GOING TO BEAT HELL, YOU NEED TO BE RORSCHACH OR WOLVERINE...OR MAYBE CAPTAIN KIRK OR EVEN LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
    The work room was a dark dungeon, ironically located on the top floor of Hell. The only reason I knew it was on the top floor was because Angelo hit the 116th button on the elevator we used to get there. We stepped out into a smoldering hot room that looked as if it went on forever.
    “So what now?” I asked [in Angelo’s direction.CUT]
    “It’s not your turn yet. Wait until the shift bell rings.”
    I watched, [just taking in the sights.] Hundreds of people, both men and women, were peppered throughout the expansive room. Hanging from the ceiling were ropes and chains, just dangling there. Each person in the room was reaching up, pulling at a free rope, trying to disentangle it from the black lava ceiling. Every once in a while you’d see someone who managed to make some headway; the rope wouldn’t be completely free, but it would be lowered by a foot or so. When it did, a shower of asphalt, rocks and soot pelted whoever stood directly below. Once the pull loosened from its bondage, it disappeared and a new one popped up somewhere else. It was a never-ending cycle.
    The bell tolled. Those who were on duty mechanically pivoted towards the door and headed to the exit. Their shoulders down, hunched over like they were broken, shattered. Single file, they walked by me, heads bowed, none of them making eye contact. Finally, one guy looked up and I caught a glimpse of his face. It was covered in sweat, mixed with a layer of black grime. He wore safety goggles, but his exposed skin was battered with bloody gashes and swollen bruises from where the rocks rained from above. None of that seemed quite as moving as the clear, tear-stained streaks trailing from his eyes down to his chest. I could tell he suffered in silent pain, both physically and emotionally. Suddenly this job didn’t seem like it was merely work. There was definitely a calculated agony built into the exercise.
    “Okay, bubba. It’s your turn.” Angelo grinned in my direction. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours for you.”
    “Right.” I tried to sound confident. “I’ll do my worst.”
    “You do that. See you soon.” He didn’t sound convinced I’d make it through my first test, which only solidified my determination. I’d show him, I thought as I gritted my teeth. HMMM OVER STATING AGAIN
    The first rope I reached for, I figured must have been rigged. It came loose right away and sprayed me with a bucket full of debris. Anticipating the result, I bent my head down and took the brunt of it on my neck and shoulders. I could feel the biggest chunk hit the back of my head, sending shooting pain and a trickle of blood running down the middle of my back.
    I straightened up. Screw it. I’m not letting anyone have the better of me, no matter what. I approached the next chain with a resolved fury. Reaching up, I gave it my best heave-ho, with as much muscle as I could muster. When it started to give way, I stepped to the side and watched the shower of grit smash down on the floor beside me. I grinned. Sonofabitch. I can win at this game… Bring on the next task.
    Okay, so the work environment wasn’t ideal… It was hot, well – sweltering, if you want to be completely truthful. But with each drop of sweat that left my body, I felt a little lighter, a little more cleansed.
    I watched the others in my group, trying to see if any of them figured out the timing. None of them did. They all looked like they had given up, lost their spirit.
    Eventually I sidled up to a young guy, about my age. “Hey man. Wanna know the trick here?”
    He looked at me like I was a pariah. “Don’t talk to me. You know we’re not supposed to talk in here.” [The fear in his eyes made me back away immediately. Not because he scared me, but because I didn’t want him to have a nervous breakdown. WHY NOT JUST LET HIM REPLY "SUIT YOURSELF"? OR SOMETHING. LET HIM BE THE ATTUTUDE AND DO THE ACTION INSTEAD OF EXPLAINING
    So I continued to work, pulling the ropes and chains, freeing as much debris from above as I could. There seemed to be no purpose in the exercise other than to torment those involved in the process. When I left, I sported the huge gash in the back of my head, and a smaller cut in my forehead – from a stray pellet that flew away from one of the hundreds of packs I pulled. All things considered, I finished in pretty good shape when Angelo picked me up at the end of my two-hour work shift. My shoulder muscles ached from the reaching and pulling, but no serious damage at least.
    I’d normally consider myself lucky, but, let’s be honest… I outsmarted this one. I hoped I could keep this trend up with the rest of my “work therapy.” I was sure they’d find something else to punish me, especially if they knew I figured out the key to this one.
 
 
    Angelo met me at the door, ready to take me to my next appointment. He took one look at me and frowned. I think he expected me to look a bit more defeated. So it was my extreme pleasure to greet him with a smile and a “Hiya pal. Great to see you again. What’s next on the docket?”
    His jaw muscle flexed as he clenched his teeth. He took a deep breath and shook his head to clear it. TOO MANY LITTLE ACTIONS. “Next you get to meet Hell’s finest shrink.” He jabbed at the elevator button, which opened moments later into a blinding chartreuse lobby area.
    We walked to the receptionist window and Angelo leaned in to announce my arrival. “Grant Williams here to see Zap.”
    She nodded her head and pulled out a medical-looking chart, set it on the half counter between her desk and the back offices.
    I hadn’t heard my full name in years. I didn’t go by Grant in my normal life. Everyone I ran with just called me Bones. Growing up, I never got enough food in me, so always looked like a pile of bones. The nickname just stuck. I always thought it sounded tougher than Grant. The only one who could really get away with calling me Grant was Misery. Well, and Gram, when she was alive. Mom just always yelled “Boy!” when she addressed me. What a class act she turned out to be.
    We stood in the waiting room. There were no chairs, no magazines to pass the time. I mean, why would they go out of their way to make anyone comfortable here? It’s funny, the things you take for granted when they’re suddenly missing. Chairs. Air conditioning. Showers.
    I leaned my nose down to my shirt. Yep. I smelled totally ripe after the hot house work festivities. Angelo stepped away as if he smelled it too.
    The reception door opened and a tall, thin man with round glasses stuck his pointy beak out the door. “Grant?”
    I couldn’t tell from that one word where his thick dialect came from, but I guessed Russia. His stringy brown hair hung to his shoulders and his face was covered in grease and pimples, almost as if his skin was allergic to the sweltering heat.
    I stepped forward, smiled my best smile, extended my hand. “Yes sir. I’m Grant.”
    “Da… I don’t shake hands. Too many germs, you see?” He looked down his long nose as he sized me up. I smiled bigger, just to throw him off balance.
    A germophobe, huh? Sounds like he’s the one needing therapy. Has he seen this filthy place?
    “And where did you just come from?” he asked, his “W” words using the “V” sound. ENSIGN CHEKOV?
    Angelo stepped forward. “He just finished his shift at The Pothole.”
    “Vich explains the filth,” he grimaced, wrinkling his nose. “Vell, never mind. Come on then.” He motioned for me to follow him.
    “Zap, just ring me when you’re done with him,” Angelo barked, already on his way out the door.
    “Very vell.” WERY VELL?
    We stepped into his office which shocked me with deer-hunter orange walls and a zillion fluorescent bulbs. [It blinded my eyes. EPLACE ORIGINAL "SHOCKED" WITH "BLINDED" AND CUT THE EXTRA EXPLANATION]
    “Nice place you got here, Dr. Zap. You must like your colors bright.” It was more of a question than a statement, delivered with a small punch of sarcasm.STOP IT!!! JUST DELIVER THE ACTIONS AND REAL TIME THOUGHTS AND CUT THE COMMENTARY.
    “I don’t vant my patients to be lulled into comfort vith soothing colors,” he said as he narrowed his beady eyes on me. “Angelo varned me about you. Said you vere already adjusting too vell, to be your first day ‘ere.”
    “Adjusting?” I laughed. “I just got here. I’m not sure anything has sunk in enough for me to adjust to. Let’s chalk it up to shock value.”
    “You seemed to get out of The Pothole quite unscathed.”
    “That’s just timing. I probably shouldn’t admit that to you… Hey, how come they call it that, anyway?”
    “Because, quite simply, you are making potholes in the streets above you.”
    “What?” And then I realized. Top floor. Must be right under the surface. Pulling chains, loosening asphalt. “You mean… Potholes are created in Hell?” SO THIS IS A COMEDY? SHOULDN'T IT BE FUNNIER? MORE OFF THE WALL?
    “Vere else vould they come from?” he smiled wickedly. “You’ll find in time that quite a bit of the nasty stuff on Earth is actually created down here, passed along from our workers to spread evil among the living.”
    “Evil? How do you figure? How are potholes spreading evil?”
    “Did you ever hit one with a car?”
    “Well, yes.”
    “And vhat happened?”
    “It blew my tire and I cussed like a sailor trying to change the flat.”
    “Da… Beautiful language – vhat you call – cussing. Ve love that ‘ere. Tis music to our ears.”
    “Sadist.” IS THAT SADISM? LIKING STRONG LANGUAGE?
    “Yes, I suppose. And how did you treat the tire sales man who sold you the new tire?”
    Something told me he already knew. His expression showed he understood a lot more about me than I felt comfortable with. “I haggled with him over the price.”
    “Haggled? That is vhat you vould call it?”
    “Okay, so I pitched a fit about the money. I mean, I’d call it highway robbery! He knew he had me over the barrel. I needed the new tire.”
    “So you fought.”
    “Argued,” I clarified. No fists were exchanged. MAKE THAT LAST SENTENCE INTO SPEECH?
    “Loudly.”
    “Yes, loudly,” I sighed. THEATRICALLY? “I screamed. He shouted. He called his manager, who threatened to call the cops.”
    “Da… More joy being spread among the living, by just a simple little pothole.”
    “And now you’re saying that after my work shift… I just spent two hours, spreading – what you call it,” I mocked his accent, “joy to the rest of the world?”
    “Da.” His pimpled face spread into a smile.
    “So that’s what I’m here for now? For you to explain how I’m spreading evil?”
    “No. Your time ‘ere vill be spent sorting through your life.” He turned and hit a button on the wall. An enormous flat screen television emerged from the ceiling. “Have a seat.”
    “Nice TV, dude. You get NFL games?”
    “Da. But I’m more of a soccer fan.”
    “Hmpf. Not a sport,” I grumbled.
    “Vhatever. You von’t be vatching any sports on this,” he smirked. “Instead we’ll vatch a little about you.” GRUMBLED. SMIRKED.
    And with a click of a button, the television came to life and the screen filled with our old apartment and Misery’s sweet face. It felt like a dagger just sliced through my heart, seeing her smile again. Tears sprang to my eyes, a reflexive emotional response, and I winced at my instant and very unexpected reaction. I'D CONSIDER CROSSING OUT ALL THESE LAST SENTENCE EXPLANATIONS.
    Until I was six we all lived with our grandmother who was in every way to us what a mother should be. When Gram passed away we continued to live in her apartment, but since Mom’s bartending job kept her away all night and asleep all day, we were left to fend for ourselves.
    As I watched, I recognized the clip he showed me from my past. It was Misery’s eighth birthday, and I tried to put together a surprise party for her. Mom was off doing who-knows-what, of course. Gram had died a few years ago, and we had no other family. So I did the best I could to decorate the bare apartment with M’s stuffed animals and any random decorations I could find. I strung the house with Christmas lights – only half of which worked, as I found out only after I put them in place.
    I skipped school that day to pull it off. We rode the bus in together, so Misery didn’t suspect anything. Once she went off to her second grade classroom, I snuck out the back door and walked the mile and a half home. Along the way, I tiptoed into a grocery store and managed to smuggle a set of birthday candles into the back pocket of my worn jeans. How I got the cake out the door without anyone noticing was anyone’s best guess. I didn’t even realize until I got home it said “Happy Birthday, Tommy” on it.
    I scraped the Tommy off with a butter knife and managed to write Misery in as nicely as possible – in toothpaste. It didn’t matter. We just wouldn’t eat that part of the cake. There were only two of us, so we didn’t need the whole thing anyway.
    When I finished, I walked back to school, just in time for the last bell to ring. Misery came to meet me where the busses lined up. We climbed on together and rode home like any other day.
NOW HERE'S WHERE I HAVE A PROBLEM AS A LAPSED CATHOLIC...WHAT'S HE DOING IN HELL?
    No one really paid much attention to us. We were the poor kids, the hoodlums without any parental supervision – at least I was sure that’s what the other parents told their kids. “Stay away from the Williams kids. They’re bad news. You don’t want to get messed up with them.”
    It was okay though. At least we had each other.
    When Misery hit the door that afternoon and saw the party waiting for her, her eyes lit up. The biggest, sweetest smile spread across her face when she turned around. I whispered “Surprise, M… Happy birthday!”
    She danced around the room saying hi to all her friends as I went to get matches for the candles. She’d never had a birthday cake before, and in my opinion, that was just a crying shame. Her first real party, her first cake. No one there but she and I. And her animals, which she didn’t mind. They actually were much better company than anyone else in our life.
    She made me sing happy birthday to her. I hated singing, but would do anything to make my sister happy. When I finished, she clapped loudly and blew out her candles.
    “This is my favorite day ever, Grant. Thank you for my party. I love you, bubby.” And she hugged me long and hard.
    That was the best damn cake. Ever.
OKAY...HARD EDGE ENTIRELY MISSING. MOTHER NOT DONE ANYTHING TERRIBLE. ALIENATION NOT FULLY EXPLAINED.  
    “You loved her very much, yes?” Zap eyed me as I watched this scene unfold, tears running down my face.
    “She’s my sister. Of course I loved her.”
    “How MUCH did you love her?” His eyes turned sinister, and I instantly knew what he meant. It made my stomach churn, understanding the implications of his tone.
    “We weren’t like that. She was my sister, you sick bastard.”
    He leaned back, chuckling. He knew he got under my skin, and he loved it. “Yet you spent every minute of every day together.”
WOULDN'T THEY KNOW IF HE WAS GETTING INVOLVED INCESTUOUSLY?
    “We were all we had.”
    “Do you know vhy they call me Zap?”
    I hadn’t really thought about it, to be honest. “No. No one’s told me. Why?”
    “Because I know vhen you lie to me. And vhen you lie to me in therapy, I zap you vith electricity.”
    “That’s your therapy? Shock therapy?”
    “I prefer the more barbaric term – electrocution.”
    “What’s the dif? Shock therapy is for the brain, right? You die from electrocution…”
    “You can’t die. You’re already dead.”
    Then I understood. He could zap me with whatever torture he wanted to and never harm me enough to kill me. I was already in Hell…
    “So,” he continued. “Did you ever touch her, like a lover?”
    “No.”
    “Ah, see… I know this is the truth. I have seen your life from start to finish,” he confirmed. “Did you ever vant to touch her like that?”
    I wanted to vomit at the thought. The perv disgusted me. “No.”
    “Vere you ever jealous of her lovers?”
    “No.”
    Then it hit me. The crackling vibration of hundreds of watts of electricity charging through my muscles, searing hot pain, throbbing agony. I screamed from the torture. After five seconds of excruciating torment, he let up. My body slumped onto the floor, still cramping and smoldering with the static venom. I looked up and noticed he held a remote in his hand, delivering the “therapy.”
    “Care to change your answer?”
    “I only ever resented one guy because I was afraid he’d hurt her. Not because I wanted her like that.”
    He waggled the remote at me. “Are you certain?”
    “Yes,” I said through gritted teeth. “I’m certain. The guy was bad news and I hated her being with him. I didn’t like the thought of him using her like I’d seen him use other girls. But I wasn’t jealous of him, just protective of her.”
    I must have looked sufficiently damaged, because Zap put the remote down. “I think ve’ve made enough progress for today, vouldn’t you agree?”
    I didn’t know how he defined progress, but I was in no place to argue with him. “Sure,” I uttered.
    He punched the button on his speaker phone and announced to his receptionist: “Let Angelo know Grant is ready to be picked up.”
    “Right away, sir.”
    Zap then looked back at me, still crumpled on the cold tile. “Grant? Do you prefer your other name? Vhat do you say – Bones?”
    I clenched my jaw, trying to figure out the right answer. “I prefer Bones, but you may call me whatever you like.”
    He grinned, understanding my conflicted emotions, knowing I wanted to word my answers correctly. “I vish to call you Bones. It suits you, especially since I can hear your bones chatter vhen I hit you vith the electrocution.” His head rolled back, and although I could hear no sound, his body shook with silent laughter.
    “Fine,” I muttered, and gathered myself up to limp toward the waiting room. Angelo stood there, waiting for me. One look at me and his expression lightened, clearly amused by this sudden breakthrough in my therapy, happy to finally see suffering in the depths of my gray eyes.

THE GRAY EYES HINTS AT A POINT OF VIEW VIOLATION.

I THINK YOU NEED TO UP THE SURREAL QUOTIENT, YOU NEED TO GIVE US SOME SURPRISES WITH YOUR DEMONS. IF YOU ARE GOING DOWN A COMEDY, SATIRE ROUTE YOU NEED TO DECIDE WHAT YOUR POINT OF VIEW IS, MORALLY.

IT'S VERY HARD TO DO AN "IN HELL" THING THAT ISN'T A CARTOON OR A RELIGIOUS THING. YOU DID ONE BEFORE, DIDN'T YOU, THAT DIDN'T QUITE WORK. WE HAVEN'T SEEN MUCH EVIDENCE OF HELL BEING TERRIBLY BAD.

FAR BETTER TO GET A DEMON ON EARTH WHERE YOU CAN HAVE REAL LIFE SITUATIONS AND SOME CULTURE SHOCK. DOES HE GO BACK TO EARTH SOON?

AND YOU NEED TO STOP "TELLING" AND GIVE US REAL TIME SCENES.

Simplez wrote 1226 days ago

I'm not up on current Young Adult stuff - I assume you are - so I assume you've sussed out if the content (woman in short leather skirt, etc) is appropriate for the age group?

Bradley Wind wrote 1228 days ago

Misery's Fire:
Cover: I think is a good match for the text.
Pitches: Well done. Has a somewhat darker appeal to your last work but that same great graphic novel quality.
Text: Yes...its the way you capture the voice that puts me into "I'm there" mode. Can't help but wonder as I read, if you've ever submitted to any of the big comic book houses.
Or looked to hire an artist to adapt your stories to graphic novels?
Dialog feels authentic as well...gah, probably won't be much help to you I fear...this is tight.
All the foods people nornally hate, served in the cafeteria...nice. heh. I'm actually looking forward to my wife's spiced Brussels sprouts for Xmas dinner.
The inclusion of the video game is good, got me interested in how you'll use it later on...feels like some kind of device...ah yes...I see. I like it...thought it might be that.
"Mr. D" felt a bit too...cute or something.
Damn fine work here Kim. Go get em.

Kaimaparamban wrote 1233 days ago

It is a fascinating story. We did not see hell, but made a trip to that gruesome place through this novel. You showed a brilliant balance in arranging psychic responses of characters. Very very good novel and I will back it soon.

Joy J Kaimaparamban
The Wildfire

CarolinaAl wrote 1236 days ago

I read you first chapter.

General comments: A clever start to what is probably an intriguing story. A complex, well-developed main character. Good attention to detail. Believable dialogue. Hilarious wit. Good drama. Good pacing.

Specific comments on chapter one:
1) ' ... the greasiest, nastiest dude I've ever seen' hooked me. However, I've should be I'd to keep the writing in past tense. Same thing with ' ... now understanding there actually is an afterlife.' 'Is' should be 'was.' There are more cases of present tense writing.
2) 'Charred holes pocked my shirt.' Good description. Fresh. Effective.
3) "Hey man." Comma after 'hey.' Same thing with "Hiya pal." When you address someone in dialogue, offset their name or title with a comma. There are more cases of this type of problem.
4) "You mean ... potholes are created in Hell?" Hilarious.
5) " ... treat the tire sales man who ..." 'Sales man' should be 'salesman.'
6) "You von't be vatching any sports on this," he smirked. Period after 'this' and capitalize 'he.' 'He smirked' is not a dialogue tag (tells who said something). It is narrative that tells who did something. Therefore, the last sentence of dialogue is punctuated with a period and the first word in the narrative is capitalized.
7) I whispered "Surprise ..." Comma after 'whispered.'
8) "How MUCH did you love her?" No need to write in all caps. Writing in all caps is unusual and pulls the reader out of your story while they try to decide what you mean with all caps. You don't want that.

I hope this critique will help you polish your all important first chapter. These are just my opinions. Use what works for you and discard the rest.

I hope you'll look at "Savannah Passion" and, if it meets your criteria, shelve it.

Happy writing.

Al

Beval wrote 1238 days ago

I didn't think this was my genre, but that just goes to show I'm not as bright as I thought I was:-)) This is for anyone with a sense of humour.
Funny, full of delicously caustic wit, a real joy to read.

AVaughn wrote 1258 days ago

Added to my bookshelf, very funny. AVaughn