Book Jacket

 

rank 588
word count 88682
date submitted 19.07.2010
date updated 30.03.2011
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young...
classification: universal
incomplete

Blood Sisters.

K A Smith

Mehret wants to be left alone, but it's tough at school if you've never been before. It's even tougher when you accidentally jinx your classmates.

 

Mehret knew there would be dangers in the city; she just didn't expect to be one of them. She appears to have jinxed a classmate and caused a power outage using powers she can hardly believe she posesses. Frightened and confused by these events, she determines to learn to control her gift, with the help of Dr Ambrose. He is trying to teach Mehret the Art before she does any real harm, but Mehret finds it difficult, even without the distractions that life keeps throwing in her path.

If Mehret hadn't just become friends with Sylene then getting suspended from school wouldn't have been so bad. She hopes to have more time with her father, but when he isn't working he is spending his time with a woman that Mehret finds it hard to like. Beset with troubles, she can't even take refuge in her dreams any more. Two girls are visiting her as she sleeps, calling her sister and trying to lure her into their world.

Then Sylene goes missing from Mehret's doorstep. Mehret goes in search of her, to find that family and friendship are not quite what she thought.

 
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amulet, arthur, blood, book, brother, brownie, cats, cauldron, charm, children, chocolate, courage, curse, doorway, dragon, dreams, dwarf, elf, evil, ...

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Swimming was something Mehret had never really thought about, there had never been much need. From living on the margins of the Sahara, they had moved to North of the Arctic Circle, where any open water was ice-cold and accompanied by a cloud of midges. The mountain streams of the last few years had been too shallow to swim in and the rivers had been more like torrents, fine for white water rafting, but nobody swam in them, except by accident.

She took the swimming costume out of her gym bag, hoping it would fit, she had never envisaged using it, perhaps she could just watch?

‘Come on, what are you waiting for?’

‘I’ve never been swimming before, I’m not sure what to do?’

‘Never been... Are you trying to get a rise out of me, young lady?’

‘No ma’am. We never lived anywhere where you could swim.’

‘Everyone lives somewhere they can swim, your parents just never made an effort, that’s all. That’s shameful. Well, it’s never too late.’

Mehret felt shamed, she wanted to stick up for her father, but that would mean arguing with a teacher. She had quickly learnt that teachers were not interested in dialogue and most attempts to engage in discussion were seen as effrontery. A child in the US was clearly a second class citizen, no wonder they had to be bribed all the time. She spent an embarrassing afternoon as the only non-swimmer in a roped off area at the shallow end of the smaller pool, while others swam lengths and used the diving boards. What was it about Wednesday afternoons?

 

 

Sylene was waiting as Mehret got off the bus. ‘How did you get here so quickly?’

Sylene smiled. ‘I have my ways. Are those torcs working?’

‘Talks?’ What is she on about? Wednesday afternoon just carried on and on.

‘Those bracelet things, you know like orcs, goblins whatever, with a t at the start. Torcs Naena say I should ask.’

‘Oh.’ Mehret decided to look up that word, whatever it was, when she got in. ‘I guess, but I think I fixed the amulet, should I give them back?’

‘You fixed the amulet? How?’

‘I don’t know,’ Mehret tried to remember just what had happened. ‘I was half asleep. I was just thinking very hard at it to get better.’

‘Okay.’ Sylene’s eyes were wide.

‘It was weird.’

‘I bet. Is it working now?’

‘I don’t really know, it looks better.’

‘So what happened to it anyway? How’d you break it?’

‘I got really angry and it got really hot, it looked as if it had melted. That’s how I burnt myself.’

‘Oh. Well, keep the arm things until Naena asks for them. You never know. I gotta run, seeya.’

‘Thanks, Sylene, see you tomorrow.’

‘Bye.’

There was a difference in the air as Mehret climbed the stairs, something flowery. It didn’t seem right, lurking under the earthy, fruity, spicy smell from the shop. What could it be? Was it perfume? As her key rattled in the lock, Mehret heard laughter, a female voice. Please let it not be that Charlotte. Even on a Wednesday there was only so much a person could take.

‘Hello Mehret, how was your day?’

‘Hello Poppa.’

‘Charlotte is going to have dinner with us, isn’t that nice?’

‘Oh. Hello.’ Mehret made a dash for her room.

 

 

‘You must be very proud of your father.’ Charlotte passed a dish of potatoes to Mehret.

‘Why?’ And why are you acting as if I want to talk to you?

Charlotte smiled without it getting as far as her eyes. ‘He’s doing an important job, and he’s written a very good book.’

‘Written...’ Mehret tried to give the word a freight of derision it could not hold. She wanted to scream, she clenched her jaw. If it was written he wouldn’t still be spending all this time on it.

Poppa raised his head. ‘What’s that, dear?’

‘Nothing.’ Mehret scowled at her plate then proceeded to shovel in food as fast as she decently could, she hoped that if her mouth was full she could avoid having to say anything.

‘She has such a good appetite, doesn’t she.’

‘She’s a growing girl.’ Poppa gave Mehret a funny look. ‘She must have put on ten centimetres over the summer. Isn’t that right, Mehret?’

‘Um.’

‘So, what did you do at school today?’

‘Not a lot.’ Mehret managed to mumble it without losing any food, by the cunning expedient of not opening her mouth.

‘Please. Manners at the table.’

‘Sorry, Poppa, but you asked me a question when my mouth was full.’

‘Hard to avoid, the way you are eating recently.’

‘Ha! Manners.’ Mehret forked potato into her mouth and cut a piece from her shark steak so that the next mouthful was lined up, she dipped it into the lime and coriander chilli sauce she had made on Saturday.

Charlotte smiled. ‘We learn the importance of manners from the rude.’

She’s talking about me isn’t she? She just called me rude. Mehret looked at the glossy lips, the glossy hair, and had an urge to push Charlotte’s face into her plate. She couldn’t stop herself from grinning at the thought.

‘What’s so amusing?’ There was a slight edge in Charlotte’s voice.

Mehret shook her head and lined up her next fork-full.

‘Answer the question, Princess.’

Mehret looked at Poppa, pointed to her mouth and shook her head, she carried on chewing until nobody was looking, swallowed and started on the next mouthful.

‘I was shy when I was her age too.’ Charlotte fluttered her eyelashes as if she was trying to cool herself down.

‘I’m sure that shyness in you was quite charming.’

‘Most of us are shy at one time or another,’ Charlotte looked straight at Poppa. ‘I’m sure you had your moments.’

‘There’s a difference between shy and surly.’

Mehret felt herself go rigid, Poppa should be standing up for me, instead, that woman was.

Charlotte glanced at Mehret, then turned to Poppa. ‘Come, now, Professor; you kept her on a mountaintop in the frozen wastes of Asia, so I hear, and now you expect her to behave like a perfect little urbanite at the drop of a hat? That’s hardly fair.’

This is so wrong, is that woman making it happen? Is she taking my side so that Poppa can’t? That’s sneaky.

‘Well, perhaps not, but she has always been so well behaved, before.’

Great, talk about me as if I’m not here, why don’t you? Mehret looked from one to the other, she wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. ‘May I be excused?’

‘We haven’t finished.’

‘I want to go to the bathroom.’

‘Oh. Go on then. Are you ready for dessert when you get back?’

As Mehret came back to the table Poppa was at the sink, Charlotte was sitting at the table sipping a glass of wine. She stood in the doorway a moment watching them.

Charlotte twirled her glass gently by the stem. ‘I’m not surprised she hasn’t made many friends,’ she took a sip.

‘It’s all very new to her, living in a city, school, all that. She’s always got on well with people before.’ Poppa rinsed the last plate with warm water. ‘But she does seem immune to your charms.’

Charlotte spluttered, she put her glass down and gave Poppa’s back a look that Naena would have called ‘signifying’. Mehret returned to her seat, she didn’t think much about dessert, she couldn’t have said what it was, even as she was eating it. She stayed awake a long time that night, thinking about that look.

Chapters

22

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~Evangeline~ wrote 1138 days ago

I just read ten chapters. I will definitely come back and read more. Much more. Beautifully done. I can offer nothing but praise.

minx2minx wrote 1348 days ago

Fascinating read...started and not going to bed till I've finished. Your backed with pleasure. Lizzie Scott :-)

Jo G wrote 1354 days ago

Easy to read, lovely characters, a great beginning, lovely pitch and a storyline that gets it's hooks into you and wants you to carry on until you get the the end. My teenager would love this.

Jo G

Jim Heter wrote 1362 days ago

KA, like others, I very much enjoyed this story, and have read all you have posted. It's near the top of the list of the ones I've found here. Jim

Lisa Scullard wrote 1364 days ago

This is the second book I've read on here that I unwittingly got to the end of on first read and wanted to know 'what happens next!' :)

It's really well-written for children's/young adult. And the magical theme wasn't the usual sort - lots of secrets, a well-developed back story waiting to be fully revealed (with tantalising hints all along the way), and a proper edge of darkness to it as well. Not for the wishy-washy pastel-covered girl's magical fairyland bookshelf. If I had to pick out what gave it that most gripping point of originality in the opening chapters posted on here, you'll have to read it to find out why Dr. Ambrose isn't all he seems on first encounter...

Best wishes, Lisa (Death And The City)

tricia_d wrote 1049 days ago

I've just finished chapter 10 and I'm impressed by how polished this is. You've set your book apart from the usual fantasy YA/children's stories. I can see this having a wide appeal. I love the way you effortlesy weave backstory and subtle hints into the book without bombarding the reader with info dumps. Each chapter is a good mix of narrative and dialogue, and I haven't caught myself becoming bored or distracted while reading. Each scene flows into the next and you've set a good pace.

Right now, I'm feeling the tension of the gradual buildup of Mehret's awakening powers:the increased appetite, the dreamless nights, the incidents at school, Selene's theories about jinxes. I loved seeing Annabelle-Lee get a little of what she deserved. Selene's irreverent nature is a good balance to Mehret's conscientious, analytical personality. I think you've done a wonderful job with this story, and I will certainly be back for more.

Stephanie L. Prater wrote 1063 days ago

You did a lot of great things with dialogue! Each time a character spoke I appreciated the natural cadence of it. I think dialogue driven pieces make the pace quicker and helps wake the reader up. In my opinion it's a good way to get points across without bogging down the story with exposition. Like the way you slipped in some physical details of Mehret and her dad in the dialogue.

With that said, I did think the beginning was a little sparse on the details. Like when the medical professional was strapping some sort of "device" to her arm, I would have liked to have a better picture of it. When she's in the MRI you kicked up the details, but I think the story would benefit from having more of that throughout. I'd still like to have more of a visual of each character, nothing major, just a better picture of Poppa and Mehret and the people she interacts with like "doctor" and "police".

Okay, that was just thoughts on chapter one. I'll keep reading and keep you updated on any further thoughts! I'm backing this because it deserves it.

Geoff Thorne wrote 1070 days ago

hah. this is just fun. realistic enough to be well grounded for when the whacky begins. I like Mehret a lot; she feels like real kid to me and, as a traveling brat for many years myself, the whole new kid in town thing plays as very real to me as well. I believe I would buy this for my younger self or for my nephews when they're older. You're backed.

KaliedaRik wrote 1086 days ago

Hi, K. Herewith a worldbuilder's alliance crit.

Though to be honest I'm struggling to find stuff to crit (well I could say lots of nice things, and pick out examples of exemplary writing, but that would be boring).

#blurb - could be rewritten to make it catchier, hookier? How about a sentence each for: who Mehret is; the danger she faces; the barriers she needs to overcome; the changes she will need to make to herself, etc.

#3 - maybe the first section could be cut? (It's only 2 paras long and the info could be built into her chat with her dad in the next section).

Nah. I'm at the end of #6 and there's nothing I can call you on. One heck of a detailed crit this is turning into. Is there any particular chapter later in the read that you'd welcome feedback on?

No need to wish you luck with this one; it's gonna go the distance.

Rik.

CarolinaAl wrote 1087 days ago

I read your first three chapters.

General comments: An intriguing start. A well-fleshed out, confused main character. Good descriptions. Some good tension. Good pacing.

Specific comments on the first chapter:
1) 'Only someone stole a book from this old man and I chased him until he dropped it.' Technically, 'him' refers to the old man.
2) 'After a lecture on the perils of confronting street crime ... ' Who did Mehret get the lecture from?

Specific comments on the second chapter:
1) 'Don't you but me girl, you in my neighbourhood.' Comma after 'me.' When you address someone in dialogue, offset their name or title with commas. There are more cases in this and the next chapter where someone is addressed in dialogue, but their name or title is not offset with commas.
2) 'Mehret could feel her ears warm ... ' Try to avoid using the word 'feel.' Just describe the feeling so the reader can experience it along with Mehret. When you do this, the reader will be drawn deeper into your story and 'Mehret could feel' will be implied.

Specific comments on the third chapter:
1) 'I do know,' her father grinned. Period after 'know' and capitalize 'her.' The only time the last sentence of dialogue is punctuated with a comma is when it is followed with a dialogue tag (tells who said something). Because you can't grin dialogue 'Her father grinned' is clearly not a dialogue tag, so the last sentence of dialogue is punctuated with a period and 'her' is capitalized.
2) 'My Father would have too, but I guess he didn't need to, after the police.' When 'Father' is preceded with a pronoun, 'Father' becomes a common noun and should be lowercase.

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

Would you please look at 'Savannah Fire?"

Have a fabulous day.

Al

JennyWren wrote 1101 days ago

Not my usual genre ... but I'm so glad I read your work. Very well done - got the old adrenalin going, so hats off to you. I wish you all the best with your writing.
jennifer

gilbertmartin wrote 1103 days ago

if only we could do tthis to people we don't like :) great story...

Vall wrote 1114 days ago

Hello, I just read Chs 1 and 8 - good writing, I enjoyed reading your work. Just one comment! In Ch 1, consider replacing 'Mehret' by 'she' (or whatever) a little more, I found the repetition of her name a bit distracting. But that's all (except 'Chinese food than her father had the night' doesn't make sense but I think that's just a typo somewhere). Anyway, I have WLd this and will read some more. Good luck! Vall (Midwyf)

Francene Stanley wrote 1120 days ago

I love the way you capture the child's senses. Brilliantly done. The dream intrigues. The reader will want to read on and find out what it's all about.

I'll back your story.

Francene. Still Rock Water.

Brooklyn Writer wrote 1131 days ago

The writing is extremely good. It's compelling and I love the way your characters and their relationships are developed. I am wondering about pacing and when we'll get back to the initial incident that opened the story. There was some real suspense and mystery in the opening 2 chapters, but other than Sylene's cut, no indication of Mehret's powers. I hope you get back to that soon. (I read through chapter 6)
The things that I found distracting had mostly to do with balancing my knowledge of real world urban schools in the US against the school and social system within it set up in this story. Also some of the dialogue and word choice seem off. I sometimes lurk in Amazon UK forums and I know there are many in England who gripe about books by Americans (published ones) that get British dialogue wrong, so I don't know how much that would prevent you from getting this agented or even published. I don't even know if your "target audience" would have the same problem with it as I did, but I'd recommend, if you want to do this right, find a beta-reader who is US native, maybe even one familiar with schools. (Maybe, you and RC Lewis could do an edit/swap with her specifically looking at school details and dialogue?) In any case, I wrote some specific notes, too long and detailed for under your book, but I'd be happy to email them if you want to send me a message with an e-mail address. (If not, then it was an interesting mental exercise for me.)

~Evangeline~ wrote 1138 days ago

I just read ten chapters. I will definitely come back and read more. Much more. Beautifully done. I can offer nothing but praise.

~Evangeline~ wrote 1138 days ago

I just read ten chapters. I will definitely come back and read more. Much more. Beautifully done. I can offer nothing but praise.

Steve Hawgood wrote 1142 days ago

KA - I saw your thread seeking comments, so here's mine. I've never published nor have any literary training so feel free to do with these as you wish. I'm not a great lover of fantasy, and drift away from sci-fi but loved Harry Potter reads for my kids. With that and a look at my bio you'll understand what sort of reader I am.

Chapter 1 and very, very pleasantly surprised. Easy read, quick pull into the story and strong early development of Mehret as your MC. Her relationship with her father, her slightly innocent view of the word comes across very strongly, and you confirm that when we find she was chasing someone who had stolen an old man's book.

You've added a touch of intrigue also, just a touch; why did she mention sisters and did something else happen? This is not an obvious genre for me but I'm into this. I note you've uploaded 52 Chapters so will take on Chapter 2and then go for later ones.

Chapter 2 works as well as the first. You're building up her innocence and lowering the world around her at the same time. This is a tough neighbourhood; kids are looking for fights and even the Police don't warm to her guardian angel act. Little touches like her desire for the fruit at home add a nice depth to her. I've seen nothing serious in the form of typos and grammatically enjoy it's simplicity, pitched as it is for a younger audience.

I moved on to Chapter 13 - despite being targeted at a younger audience this is a strong opening, the sense of black foreboding comes across very clearly. I've missed the earlier story jumping as I have, but the word 'magic' jumped out at me and the use of the phrase 'rubber necking' kept it in line with your target audience. That pitch at your target audience continues when she is speaking with Sylene; you've really painted this well - magic in downtown.

Standing out though is Mehret as an MC. Her innocence remains as she seeks to learn about witches, and you use the backdrop of the Salem type witch trials as part of her learning. The balance between dialogue and descriptive sections is excellent, and by the end of the Chapter I3 also want to meet Sylene's Grandmother.

Chapter 14 and I'm convinced. There's intrigue with the electricity mysteriously going off, the offer to learn to fly and that's supported with very strong characters. KA I'm looking to offer criticism and often do - please read my other comments. But this IS a good read. My only suggestion would be to look very carefully at the story itself and the overall flow. A book must work from beginning through middle and to the end and only you know how you want that to run.

Best. Steve.

Kathleen Lee wrote 1148 days ago

I've read the first chapter and feel compelled to comment already. This is some book. Unique characters clearly established, a young vulnerable protaginist to route for, great handling of dialogue, and enigma codes galore. I will be reading this every day, but have already rated it highly. Like the policeman says, " a unique and irreplaceable book".
Kathleen ('Losing Janice')

Pat Black wrote 1152 days ago

Interesting paranormal themes, you're examining; the idea of jinxes is something that most children can relate to, so I think that's one big positive. And starting with a near-death experience is another spooky hook for readers, as we go through Mehret's traumatic episode - and the feeling, from her conversations with her dad, that something's not quite right... Excellent stuff

P

Ravager wrote 1160 days ago

You know, I had intended to do just a couple of chapters as something of a (very belated) return read, and here I am all the way up to chapter 9 without really noticing it. The story flows fast and easy, and the characters are relateable, all good qualities in a piece of fiction for children and young adults.

Shelved with pleasure.
–Phil

lizjrnm wrote 1161 days ago

I am sure I backed this imaginative read way back but Im backing this again because it appears you have editing the sh** out of this. This is a book Id have easily bought for my kids and I myself would enjoy reading it with them! I am glad to see this is finally getting the attention it desereves here - a real keeper!

Shelved with pleasure!

Liz
The Cheech Room

lucy.leid wrote 1164 days ago

I like how you jump into your story. Gets me interested right off the bat. Just like your pitch. I found your cover slightly confusing but I blame Authonomy's size restrictions for that. I'm afraid I am nowhere near qualified to give you as detailed a review as you gave me, and I have only read the first chapter. So, here's what I noticed. I would insert some words in places, for example, "...took the card THAT the officer held out to her..." but that's just me. I would also break up some paragraphs, like a break after "Thank you" and before "Poppa smiled." But again, just me.
I like your MC, I feel like she has a back story I would be interested to know. I like how the story starts right away, and feel like this could almost be some kind of tv show. Had I the time, I would continue reading and I do think there's a good chance I would buy this in store. You spin an interesting tale, Sir!

Tom B wrote 1166 days ago

The first thing that struck me were the sentences that weren’t. You first three should all be one, i.e. The smell… clean, sharp chemical, but safe. Or something like that.

When Mehret got angry with Sylene, I had to go back and read that bit, it might be worth having another read at it.

Chapter 9 and you’ve got a duplicated a paragraph.

Apart from those wee points I’ll get onto some positives. From reading the book, you get the feel of a twelve year old quite well. With an usual name and an unusual background, which is getting filled in as we read.

I’m also wondering what happened to Mehret’s mother.

The opening in the hospital and the running, has me wondering was Mehret running was she running magically as she was running faster than the bus but then Dr. Ambrose never mentioned it.

I suppose the story this most reminds me is the beginning of Harry Potter, someone finding out that they’re a wizard / witch. But this is different enough that you needn’t worry.

Lot’s of mysteries needing solved. Who put the spell on Mehret. There’s a good story unfolding here.

Anyway that’s enough of my rambling, best of luck with this.

Tom Bye wrote 1169 days ago

Hi k a smith.' blood sisters'
read two chapters of your book, unable to read more, ' locked for editing.,it said
you captured my attention right from the first chapter as Mehret , had a nice story to tell.
Liked her description if hospital and in particular the line where she is put into the big white metal box. ( i could relate with that experience, been there) heard no cats and bricks thought,! lovely writing style here and would have read more , i was enjoying it so much'
good luck with it
tom bye ' from hugs to kisses;
will you back mine please, points needed badly thanks

J.S.Watts wrote 1171 days ago

A nice combination of urban reality and developing mystery. The text flows smoothly and entertainingly and is accessible. I liked the relationship between Mehret and her father and found the character of Sylene nicely complex. The jinxed ring-pull incident was gently amusing. I was comfortable with Sylene’s use of slang, which felt natural, but was not convinced by the attempted replication of her accent in the text, which to me felt both forced and false.

As an adult I enjoyed the slowing unfurling story and the gradually growing sense of mystery, but I wonder if a younger audience will find it too slow. You may want to try it out on some younger readers, if you haven’t already done so.

All in all this was a good read and I wish you luck with it.

J.S.Watts
A Darker Moon

TRM wrote 1189 days ago

Hi K A, sorry to make you wait so long for my crit. Here we go. You know how I read and how I crit from The Alliance of Worldbuilders thread, so take all I say with the right dose of salt. These are my initial impressions of the first 6 chapters uploaded.

I have little of value to add, actually. You have a very easy, very engaging style that would, I think, appeal to all ages. Blood Sisters is a pleasure to read and I have no nitpicks in terms of grammar or style. In my opinion, this is ready for publication in that respect.

I’m a little bit like an observer from the outside looking in, in that I rarely appreciate contemporary school-based narrative and the antics of school cliques. I can’t do justice to what is a very popular setting, which after all reflects the day to day experience of much of the readership and allows their immersion in the story. I have a couple of suggestions however, but no real idea how to put them forward.

1. The near-death opening was wonderfully suggestive, and gave a shiver down the spine. Would Mehret not be wondering a little more in the days thereafter what had happened in that incident? Perhaps I have not read enough to appreciate. There’s a lot of emphasis on the book she saved – but Mehret does not seem to want to follow up for a while.

2. The interplay between father and daughter is very endearing. This really engages the reader’s attention and sympathy for these characters. Perhaps a touch more information as to what their life was like before arriving in the Big Apple? I don’t know. I think you might have hit it on the head.

3. I like Sylene very much. She comes across as a wonderfully complex character. I’m no specialist in the accent of Noo Yoik, but at times Sylene’s words surprised me. “gentrified” and “received wisdom” seemed out of place, but intriguing. Despite being a rebel against school, she is cultured though her Nana’s love of opera. She risks being better drawn than Mehret.

4. The encounter on the way to the library is just superb, with so many subtle hints as to what’s to come. I loved that. The image of all the broken ring pulls really intrigued me, and I felt could just have a tad more attention brought to it, as a symbol of the jinx being lifted.

5. Annabel-Lee’s plotting just felt too obvious, a little forced. It jarred, I’m sorry to say. I would have though her clique would have plotted a little more subtly. As a say, I’m no expert in the school setting.

6. Despite getting to know about Mehret’s past movements, the reader still knows very little about her. I’m guessing she’s English of background and culture if not of upbringing, and yet she has an evocative African name – which no-one’s picked on yet, although it might not sound out of place in contemporary America. Dunno again. More please?

I’m kinda thinking the above really does not add much, for which I’m sorry. I’ll be reading more and will come back in due course. Good luck in the mean time. This is a very polished piece of work and it deserves a lot of attention.

Cheers, TRM.

TRM wrote 1189 days ago

Hi K A. Been trying to comment, but Autho won't let me. I've posted the comment on the Worldbuilder's thread in the meantime. Cheers, TRM

Nanty wrote 1213 days ago

Blood Sisters - Chapter 1 - Mehret wakes up in a hospital with little recollection of what has happened - nicely done.
Mentioning 'sisters', her father knows nothing about, gave the impression she has had a near death experience.
Sent you back, from where?" might read a little better and endorsed the above.
'Still they hadn't said anything about a hospital." Who are they? Her 'sisters'? Clarification on this point would help avoid confusion for young readers.
"Strange syllables" gives no indication of why they are strange to Mehret and opens the gateway to a number of possibilities.
Later in the book it is hinted Mehret comes from another country and that English is probably not her first language. Perhaps it would be an idea for the author to make this clear sooner say where she has come from and why it is so difficult for her to fit into city life, which would help a reader to understand and empathize with her situation.
Chapter 2 - The as yet un-named girl's voice 'po-lease' very good. Later the reader learns this is Sylene.
Mehret seems to be introspective, hearing her thoughts is a good thing but there is a lot about how she would like to be able to paint, her opinion on modern art and preference for Picasso's earlier works. This implies Mehret is very well educated for a girl of eleven but would these observations push the story along for older/younger children? Or would they think of her as a bit of a brain-box and lose interest because of this? Of course, it may very well be, the passages about painting will be pertinent later on in the story.
Chapter 3 - Mehret's read Dante's Inferno! Previously accompanied her father to academic conferences. A young reader would now know for sure Mehret is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill child. She appears to be very privileged and again, for a young reader this might be a bit of a turn off.
Lovely dialogue between Mehret and Sylene about mysterious Nana's advice and the hopeful outcome of a jinx being lifted. For me, the dialogue with just a little bit of tell, not only showed the characters, it made them real and believable. And there was a hint, powers that have unknowingly been latent in Mehret, are about to enter stage right.
Overall, too much tell and not enough show but in chapter three it looks like things are about to kick off.
Perhaps the author could consider aiming this at the young adult market, rather than focusing on children/younger children, as I feel the story line would appeal to this audience far more.

mikegilli wrote 1216 days ago

hi there.. I liked Mehret's story, all catchy and fascinating
Since it's all focused on her adventures you have the option
of letting her tell the story, at least in some chapters,
her diary for instance, just a thought...
best luck.... mikegilli The Free

afesmith wrote 1218 days ago

KA, I enjoyed reading this. I read some of it last night, and I woke up this morning thinking about it, so that's a good sign. But you wanted to know what I thought didn't work and why, so that's what I've focused on. There are also some more detailed points below.

First of all, I worry that what I enjoy about Mehret's character would be not be what your target audience would enjoy. She's obviously very clever and has had a very unusual upbringing that has left her with knowledge far beyond that of the ordinary 11 year old. But demonstrating this too much does run the risk that your young reader begins to feel the same way about her that Annabel-Lee does. If Mehret makes your reader feel stupid, because they don't get what she's talking about, then they'll stop liking her. Now, I certainly wouldn't advocate taking out these references – done in the right way, they could encourage your reader to find out about all sorts of interesting things. But I do feel that at the moment you're relying too much on an adult level of knowledge. It's a tricky balance, but I think you need to explain a bit more without dumbing down.

Second, and related to the first, Mehret's relationship with her father felt a little off to me in places. The caring side of their relationship comes through very well, but again I wonder whether you're making Mehret just too different from other 11 year olds to be sympathetic to your target audience. She's an unusual 11, but she's still 11. When she backed down over the conversation about running in ch 3, saying she wasn't being fair, and when she was 'mortified' in ch 4 in case she'd hurt her father's feelings, I thought she felt more like an adult than a child. Having more of a standard parent/child dynamic – a little bit of teasing and banter, a little bit of sulking – would (IMO) make her feel more real. And again, you'd be giving your reader something to relate to.

The gradual reveal of the backstory (Mehret never having had an address or gone to school before, etc) works well, but I did feel that ch 2 was too long. By the end of it I was starting to feel a bit frustrated with not understanding what was going on, whereas the subsequent three chapters seemed to zip along pretty quickly and revealed information at about the right pace. Maybe the scene in the art room could be moved later in the book? It was ch 2 where I lost most of my momentum as a reader, but after that I picked up again.

Finally, the teachers felt way too old-fashioned to me. I find it hard to believe that there are still teachers around who call their pupils 'child' or 'girl'. I know Mehret's got an unusual name, but I think they'd at least make the effort to get it right (the bit where the Spanish teacher called her by her surname instead of her first name worked well). And the Spanish teacher in particular spoke so formally that it felt like she'd stepped out of a classroom from a century ago ('You have been sitting there as if you are in a daze; are you unwell?'). I would advise making the teachers a little more modern.

Picky details follow ...

Chapter One.

I liked the opening line. Unusual, and it works.

The order of Mehret’s initial exchange with her father felt a little off to me, though. She opens her eyes, he speaks, then we find out who it is speaking. If she saw him as soon as she opened her eyes then I’d expect her to have some reaction to his presence – relief that he’s there with her, after this unusual awakening – before he speaks. Or does he speak before he comes into view – she opens her eyes and sees the ceiling, then hears his voice, then he leans over her and she sees him? (This is sort of a niggly point but I hope you see what I’m getting at.)

That vague floaty feeling after waking up from being unconscious is captured well. Everything feels a little disjointed and unreal, which fits with the context.

‘Mehret couldn’t for the life of her think why rain should be right’ – there she is questioning a cliché, and using another one at the same time! I’d get rid of ‘for the life of her’ if I were you, unless this is a sort of deliberate joke.

When the doctor explains the ‘special machine’ she needs to say it’s called an MRI so that Mehret can justifiably know what it is later.

Ha, she does a good thing, she expects to be thanked for it, and instead the police give her a lecture. This rang true.

Last line – ‘only not pizza’. Maybe I missed something, but why not pizza? Seems a funny line to end on.

Chapter Two.

Good opening paragraph. Starting to become intrigued by this girl’s upbringing.

Salads as penance for pancakes – isn’t 11 going on 12 a little young to be worrying about that kind of thing?

‘Distantly connected to the trodden foot’ – like it.

Sylene is very ‘street’ – I found her quite brash and annoying, which is good, because that’s also how Mehret found her – though if she’s going to become a more sympathetic character then be careful not to alienate your reader from her too much. To me she felt almost like a caricature; this may be unfair, but I do think she's the sort of character where you'll be treading a fine line between realism and exaggeration.

Spanish teacher: this is the second time in two chapters that someone's referred to something as not fashionable – thinking and fainting – I’d probably change/remove one of those.

Chapter Three.

Bit of an abrupt switch from Mehret being totally mad at Sylene in chapter two to accepting of her here. What changed? I know she got over her initial anger, but I’d still expect her to feel antagonistic towards Sylene after their last encounter.

You say twice that there’s a different look in Sylene’s eyes that makes her less intimidating – maybe don’t need both?

I like Sylene a lot better in this chapter :-)

Ah, the first hint of witchiness coming in now. Mehret’s anger and her sudden calm in Ch 2 begin to make more sense. I liked the cans of root beer with all their detached ring pulls.

Chapter Four.

‘Mehret toyed desultorily with Huckleberry Finn’ – ha, now I really don’t believe she’s eleven ;-) Seriously, though, although stretching young readers' vocabulary is a good thing, ‘desultorily’ is perhaps a step too far.

Chapter Five.

I’m liking Sylene more and more.

‘She felt the ants of embarrassment starting to crawl’ – love it.

Up until now Mehret’s been pretty consistent in calling her father ‘Poppa’, but at the beginning of this chapter he’s ‘my father’ – better to stick to Poppa throughout? Not necessarily when she’s talking about him, but certainly in her own thoughts.

That’s all I’ve got time for, for now.

A side note: I’m never sure whether people want to know about grammatical points and so on – I won’t go into them here in case they bore you, but I did notice the odd place where you used a comma to join what were essentially two separate sentences. Like in your pitch – ‘Mehret has a problem, she thinks she’s becoming a witch’. I’d put a colon there. Other places a semicolon or even a full stop/cap would have been better. Maybe just keep an eye out for those.

S. Smith wrote 1222 days ago

Okay, okay... I made it to chapter 10 and was going to keep going, but the madness of the holidays has descended and I don't have any time to spare! I'll pick up where I left off in the new year. For now, here are my raw thoughts / opinions of those first 10 chapters (keep in mind that I really liked the overall read!):

- Felt a little detached from the story at the beginning. Didn't draw me in right away. Maybe the point of view?

- Things seem a bit discordant from the point of view. The doctor explains to her about 'a machine with magnets', but then we see it referenced as an MRI, as though Mehret doesn't know what it is but the narrator does. However, soon after that you refer to 'There was a special room where the nurses prepared her for the machine.' If the narrator has enough knowledge / vocabulary to call the procedure an MRI then they probably won't call the prep room a 'special room'. Seems too childish.

- Too many repetitions of the word 'just' in the doctor's speech that begins 'No sign of any injury to the head, no trauma,...'

- Mehret sat for a while, unaware of the hubbub in the hall around her,...' Just after that bit you move into Mehret's thoughts for two lines, and it's a bit jarring. Earlier you used italics for her thoughts, which seems to work better with the point of view in clarifying when we're in Mehret's head.

- Again, near the wasp part, some of Mehret's thoughts show up not in italics. A bit confusing since most of her other thoughts are.

- End of chapter two, 'a firm enemy of Annabel-Lee. If she wasn't already.' An em dash or semi-colon might work better between those two sentences.

- Chapter 3, 'I do know,' her father grinned. Should that just be 'I know' ?

- Beginning of Chapter 4, 'Her father was still sat in front of his computer,...' doesn't read right - maybe 'was still sitting' or just 'was still in front' ?

- Chapter 4, 'it seemed she'd arrived in the wrong millennium.' I think should maybe be century?

- I get a general feeling of whininess / unhappiness / depression from Mehret for most of the first four chapters, and it kind of puts me off a bit. I'd like to see a bit of character strength from her, just to counteract her weaknesses. It's a bit too much of the 'poor teenager' syndrome - hard to sympathize with.

- Near the end of Chapter 5 Mehret seems to already accept some idea of being magical, based on Sylene's earlier observations. It seems to be a bit of quick acceptance for something supernatural.

- The storyline really started to catch me, keep me interested, around Chapter 7 or so. Mehret's strange hunger, the itch between her shoulders, the cold bones, the missing dreams - everything starts to get interesting as the story's complication begins to build. I wonder if the first six chapters could be tightened up so there is less 'setting the scene' and move more quickly into the story? A lot of Mehret's early problems can relate to anyone who moves into a new country / school, but the witch issues are specific to her, to this story, making those scenes more engaging.

- I love Sylene. Her accent, her humour and her conviction. A well developed character. She has a good balance of strength and weakness.

- Some of the dialogue, especially between Mehret and other adults (teachers, her father) seems a bit forced, unnatural.

- By Chapter 10 I'm still not certain of Mehret's age. I feel like her surroundings put her in high school - around 14 or 15 - but her thoughts and actions make her seem much younger than that, more like 10 or 11. Also, I think the writing needs to mature more, even if she is younger. Some parts are hard for me to read, too juvenile, and I definitely still fall into the Young Adult reading genre.

Keep up the great work!

briantodd wrote 1225 days ago

Intriguing structure to this multilayered story. The author keeps our attention by revealing the plot little by little. We follow the MC so closely that it could almost be done with a first person narration. The action starts with this MC, Mehret in hospital after collapsing (without injury) while running after someone who had nicked a book from an old man. We learn the nearly twelve year old is fast on her feet, has long legs and a close relationship with her busy, professorial father, but there doesnt seem to be any mum about. She is an introspective bookish kid with no friends at her new school. In fact she has been home educated all her globetrotting life so far. She has been following her fathers academic career so american high school life is a very disorientating experience. Big, streetwise jive talking, fellow social outcast Sylene stretches out a hand of friendship and Mehret initially misunderstands the approach ( this scene is very subtly handled by the author) and we soon learn that when mehret is angry or distressed odd things happen. Stylene cuts her hand and blames it on being 'jinxed' by Mehret. Later ,Annabel Lee (glossy but somehow also lacking warmth like a goldfish according to Mehret - great line) , leader of her high school tormentors has a very bad experience again brought on, it is suggested, by Mehrets anger . This ability of the mind to lead to paranormal phenomena (psionic) was most graphically depicted by Stephen King in 'Carrie'. Mehret's realisation that her emotions are a bit out of control and her ensuing struggle over her therefore poorly controlled powers are beginning to create a large part of the tension developing in the narrative. Every character is three dimensional here and there are no unnecessary plot digressions. I read up to ch 15 and Mehret's dreams of flying to the moon to meet with the mysterious sisters, mentioned in the first paragraph of the book, is symbollic presumably of her approaching menarche and again possibly a link with 'Carrie' when her first menstrual bleed led to some catastrophic turn of events for her humiliators. However this is not such a dark or horrifying tale. We want to know more about Mehret. Her physical appearance apart from those long legs is being hidden from us. Who was her mother for example? She has just told Stylenes 'Naena' everything she knows about herself but the author is teasing her readers and keeps tight control over what she allows us to know. 'Be careful what you wish for this wordly and wizard wise 'Naena' tells her. She, Dr Ambrose ( the aforementioned old man )and Stylene are not all they seem and it is clear there is a lot to be revealed yet..I will certainly read on to find where the author takes us. The only qiuibble I had was with some of Mehret's and other characters thoughts . References to Modern Art, Dante, Mata Hari and obscure languages and lines from Hamlet etc. sound more like an omnistic authorial voice than the thoughts of a eleven year old, however precocious.

Tim Andrewartha wrote 1242 days ago

I have read up to the end of chapter 16 now. It has continued to be a very enjoyable read. I think a big element of this is the POV is just right as we follow Mehret so closely and understand her feelings and thoughts. As the story develops the fantasy comes in more which is really interesting especially when we find out about Dr Ambrose. When he is teaching Mehret how to use magic I was reminded of Star Wars when Luke is being taught how to use the force. “So, just try to empty your mind. Remove your thoughts and feelings one by one.” Although I do like the way the story starts off more like a drama than fantasy as this gives the reader time to get to know the characters, I did wonder if having more magic early on in the story would pull the reader in even more. In chapter 9 it says: "Mehret looked around, to see who might hear." I don't think you need that comma. In chapter 16 I noticed a typo: "Usually it happens when someone asks me a question about my what is your favourite reality TV show …" Overall I think this is a very good children's fantasy book. I think it will be very popular. Backed.
Tim
VITALITY

Stephanie225 wrote 1243 days ago

I read chapters 10 and 11.
I like the Character Names, and you do have a couple really nice desriptions (the yearning for the earth and the constellations)
You also did a good job ending your chapters.
Some nitpicks:
Grammer wise, some of your sentences might need to be broken down into two or more sentences. For example: She couldn’t make out more than one or two stars…. (Chapter 10) and As far as she could tell the electricity….(chapter 11).
Chapter 10
Mehret realised (spelling) she had heard someone at the front door…..consider Mehret was on her last problem when….
Wasn’t enough left to put in the freezer…. Maybe, wasn’t enough to share any more (personal opinion- chocolate ice cream with mangos does not sound appealing to me.)
Chapter 11
‘Both? Mehret grinned… ‘Both?’ Mehret grinned
Mad for liberty (Since the father is looking at it, you can just say Madd IV liberty, if you want to.)
“What gets him what way”…since he was responding to her thoughts/impressions, she would have understood what he was talking about. She just might have been confused as to how he knew what she was thinking.

Andrew B wrote 1243 days ago



First thing first your average chapter is 1700 words.
Math = 83k words posted in 48 chapters = average chapter 1700

Way to short. Maybe it's due to authonomy not sizing your text correctly. Check to see if you have 1” margins and 12font size.

Make the chapter size reflect a real book. If I was a purchasing reader I'd be miffed with 4-8 novel page chapters. Common reference 250 word = 1 standard novel page.

Your body of work is high quality nothing jumps out expect the formatting issues. The default look at the book Authonomy makes it max text size. Something in the rtf or the way you formatted it.

I see a few spots were you could use a contraction. IE she is try / she's can't don't wouldn't i'd she'd and so on. Unless that character is meant not to use contractions. I've one in my book who rarely uses a contraction in his dialog. It's OK to use she/he/him instead of the characters name in a connecting sentence.

My opinion is you need a nice pot of good Colombian coffee or strong spice Chai tea and a few hours to sit down and read your own work. – Read it for pleasure not for editing. I'd bet you'll see the spots that need work are due to starting and stopping editing due to real life functions. IE you where disrupted during a marathon edit or short term sit down.

Imo it's quality work, just the chapters are to small. Immediately seeing 48 chapters is too much for authonomites to handle.

good luck

Andrew
i look forward to reading it when the formatting issues are fixed.

Tim Andrewartha wrote 1245 days ago

Blood Sisters is a very enjoyable read so far. You show Mehret & her feelings well causing the reader to have sympathy for her as she struggles to adjust. Her relationships with her father and Sylene are also shown well. I have so far read 8 chapters & it is quite addictive. I'll put it on my watchlist and return to read more in the next few days.
Tim
VITALITY

hkraak wrote 1250 days ago

BLOOD SISTERS: Very good. Really very good. I like the slow, dreamy way Mehret reveals things. The pace is good and just enough hints are dropped to keep me intrigued and turning the virtual page. I've read through chapter 5 and will come back to read more. Well done.

Heidi
Pearl Edda

S.C. Thompson wrote 1250 days ago

Ch. 12
This chapter of the book is very entertaining and contains fascinating concepts, including two different places in the same space, and the magical book downloading it's contents to who knows where when it is threatened. Dr. Ambrose reveals himself to be much more than a bookseller, or a little old man with a white goatee, and Mehret begins to find out about herself, find out things she never even imagined could be. Very enjoyable reading.

SubtleKnife wrote 1253 days ago

Hmmm - good, and worth at least a few days on my shelf. Cheers! -Liz (Meggie Blackthorn)

Sharon.v.o. wrote 1255 days ago

Very interesting story. I genuinely enjoyed it.
Sharon Van Orman

S.C. Thompson wrote 1256 days ago

a very few nits as i read . . . ch.'s 13 thru 23:

Ch. 14
"Oh, Dr. Ambrose." Mehret reached for the chain around her neck. You know Dr Ambrose?" Dr. and Dr in use here

Ch. 16
Dr Ambrose waved his hand and the table scuttled to one side . . . use of Dr
Mehret shook herself, where was she? Oh yes, Dr Ambrose' room, what did he call it? use of Dr

Ch. 17
The librarian lowered her voice, "(H)ow about now(.)"

Mehret didn't notice the rain as she walked to the bus at the end of the day, she was trying to remember what it was they had done in class that afternoon, but it only gave her a headache. (The) bus ride seemed unending, how could a day . . . .

Ch. 18
"Oh!" Mehret shuddered. They risked the life of that beautiful animal? No wonder it h(a)d given them such a look.

Ch. 19
Naena nodded at the stone jar of salve. "The city's just like this pot, you get out what you put in. Sometimes it comes out a long time later, but it always comes out. You go 'round putting (in') in anger and worry and all that, that's what's going to be coming back when the lid's off."
I really enjoy your example of the way our thoughts and actions affect the world as it comes to us when you wrote of Naena explaining how life in the city works, and how, really, all our lives always work. Very good homespun style wisdom, easy to understand, easy to see the sense of.

Dr. Ambrose scares me. Why was he shut up in his 'parlour' by a spell a thousand years ago. Careful, Mehret!

Looking forward to reading further . . .

broke33poke wrote 1257 days ago

I like the light texture of your word choices. And that there's some very good, distinctive details in here too. From how it's like to get an MRI, to her fuzzy recolection of what happened when the theif threw the book at her. It's just this side of confusing, yet it's done so tightly that it peaks the interest instead of making me want to put it down.

Lady Midnight wrote 1257 days ago

Hi there. Just took a look at your opening chapter and really liked it. The narrative, dialogue and characterisation are crisp and engaging. I only had the one nitpick, outlined below. Backed.
Descriptions: …peered through the veil of her lashes… great description, very evocative, puts the reader instantly inside the MC’s head.
Nitpicks:
Repetition: After a lecture on the perils of confronting street crime… Mehret had completely lost her appetite. (Mehret) and her father… you’ve used the MC’S name in close proximity here, suggest replacing the 2nd with: She and her father…

Katriel1985 wrote 1259 days ago

Hi KA,

You have written a wonderful novel and I really enjoyed reading it. You have a wonderful way with words and have woven together a solid plot and great descriptions that kept me wanting to read more. I love your characters and felt they were believable. I’m looking forward to reading more if/when you put more up. :-)

Joyanna (The Prince and The Sorcerer)

S.C. Thompson wrote 1264 days ago

Some notes on Ch.'s 1 thru 12:

Ch. 2
should it be "Don't you 'but me' girl.
might it be gettin' theyself kilt, instead of killed (the use of 'theyself' might then call for the colloquial 'kilt', instead of proper 'killed'
they wants ten times as much money for an apartment as they used (to).
It's only the prices been gentrified.- I'm not entirely convinced, considering Sylene's vocabulary up to this point in the story, that she would have that word available to describe the situation

Ch. 4
Does the sentence " . . . mostly joking, she felt as if she had failed him, somehow.", really need the comma after 'failed him'?

Ch.5
"You sitting in my seat" might be "You sittin' in my seat."
"Don't you know when a body's joking?" might be "jokin'?"
". . . you gone have to learn." might be " . . . you gone have t'learn."

Ch.6
"Where are they?" Mehret looked in her bag to make sure that she had taken them out. "I'm certain they were there" - Period missing at end of dialogue
No, not likey, that was far too much to hope for. This was just more teasing, BAIT the new girl. not 'bate'

Ch. 7
In the beginning was the word,once upon a time, Great Spirit, a galaxy far far away . . . these references seem to be unusual for a girl of Sylene's background, as they imply Bible study, European fairy tales, Native American theology, and a 30 year old sci-fi movie mostly enjoyed by adolescent middle class Caucasian teen-agers. She might be more likely to say, " Do it start, "I'm an uptight privileged princess that don't know nothin' 'bout nothin' 'bout the real world." Do it start like that?" This might be a bit sharp, but there is a lot of class mistrust and disdain flowing just below the surface, even among cross-class friendships, especially those in the formative stages, as individual's test each other for clues to their real emotions.
As they were eating, Mehret noticed the 'phone was still on the table . . ." I don't think you need the apostrophe or whatever it is, before PHONE, I'm pretty sure it's just - phone - in the U.S. No need to imply tele - phone

Ch. 5
"I ain't. I been paying attention . . ." to me, if you are going to abbreviate some words, you should abbreviate all the words Sylene most naturally would. So to me it would read better as , "I ain't. I been payin' attention . . ." and so forth, whenever I encountered a word ending in "ing".
"You started like a spooked fawn." I would be amazed if Sylene had ever seen a live deer, or knows that a baby deer is a fawn, or would ever use that example in a million years. "You started like I caught you stealin' somethin'." might be a more likely example. or "like you was expectin' to be mugged." something much more CITY than "fawn", at any rate.

Ch. 9
"I thought I saw a wolf from the bus window just now, it was running along the sidewalk." I just can't believe that Mehret would offer that observation so matter of factly. A WOLF? In the CITY? Running down the STREET? If it happened to me, and I'm a big, worldly dude guy, I'd be on the bus, pointing, and yelling to everyone, "Holy bejeezus! Do you see that! A freakin' WOLF, M.F'er! You don't see that everyday . . . call the freakin' National Guard!" What I mean to say is, I'd think Mehret would be shaking all over, stammering, asking Sylene, "You get a lot of timber wolves running around in New York these days? 'Cause I just saw a BIG one running down the street alongside the bus I was on. Tell me that doesn't happen every day, 'cause if it does, I'm gonna start carrying some pepper spray on me when I go outside!"
"it's surely something, or you wouldn'a' had said what you did. I ain't gonna take offence, I hardly can in all honour, seeing as I asked" First, there is a period missing at the end of 'seeing as I asked" Second, if you are going to abbreviate 'would not have', then I would think you would have abbreviated 'something' to somethin' . Also, I think Sylene would have just said ' . . ., or you wouldn'a' said what you did' - leave out the 'had'

Ch. 10
Mehret's eyes widened, she came closer until she could smell the THE fruit . . . two the's

Ch. 12
"Aren't we all?" A cake tin moved through the air at a leisurely pace folowed by two plates two forks and a cake knife, they settled on the table. "Time for cake, I think"
"Why do you think there was a charm on me?"
Now I don't know about you . . . but this is similar to the WOLF in the city . . . if a cake, two plates, two forks and a cake knife floated through the air at a 'leisurely pace', I an tell you right now I'd be headed for the door with my pants full of a fresh load, I can tell you that! Even if I had just been told I had special attributes, it just wouldn't become matter-of-fact to me instantaneously as it seems to have for Mehret. I would think she would at least cast her eyes towards the door looking for a possible escape route, and have Mr. Ambrose have to quell her unease with a few kind words . . . SOMETHING to acknowledge that a mighty strange thing just occured, instead of Mehret seeing this transpire and then merely query, "Why do you think there was a charm on me?' like that sort of thing happens every day, y'know?

Overall, this is a very clever story with heart and lot's of fun, magical happenings. Just the thing to take young minds on a great fantasy excursion . . . I'm looking forward to how this story will unfold.

S.C. Thompson wrote 1266 days ago

This is a charming book. Mehret and her father are worldly outsiders trying to adjust to to the self-centered closed-mindedness of big city life in the USA, where awareness of the rest of the world is in short supply and to be distrusted. Mehret finds school cruel and impersonal. Never having had to defend herself against school bullies makes her an easy target for the in crowd of self-centered and shallow girls who secretly envy her beauty and skills. If it weren't for her new inner-city friend Sylene, and the intriguing mystery surrounding the man whose rare book she retrieved from a would be thief, life in her new home would totally suck. Somehow, after touching the odd book, her life slowly begins to reveal itself to be far more than she had ever imagined, or imagined that anyone's life could be. It seems she has powers beyond those of ordinary mortals. It will prove to be both a blessing . . . an a curse. Luckily, the new friends in her life all seem to know more about her than she herself does, and they do their best to help her. She is soon off on a journey of discovery that pulls the reader right long with her.
YA fiction, except for rare examples, is not what I am drawn to, being caught up as I am in lofty rhetoric and weighty issues (most likely to my detriment); and yet I am enjoying the travails of young Mehret in her quest for happiness and friendship. That she is discovering herself the possessor of magical powers and knows not how to control them makes for high adventure. A satisfying and engaging read, one sure to mesmerize inquisitive young readers.
I would only suggest that the author read "Havasu Means Blue Water" by Ivory Simone here on Authonomy (especially Ch. 1) to get a feel for the way an inner-city girl of color might really speak; the rhythm and pacing of her words. Also, abbreviations and contractions should be consistent, whereas at times Sylene speaks in complete words, with proper grammer, and at other times reverts to slang and abbreviations. It seems to me she would have a limited, colloquial vocabulary indicative of her geographic location. Colloquial expression has unique aspects depending on if it is east Coast, West Coast, Southern, or Heartland, and so on. It also seems to my ear that there are words she uses that I doubt might be in her vocabulary . . . That said, Sylene is a believable character with depth and verve. With the introduction of Mr. Ambrose and his bookstore, this story begins to find it's legs.

PirateWriter wrote 1272 days ago

Backed. Good luck.
P
The Healer's Stone

Ceeds wrote 1283 days ago

Nicely written, easily read. Good luck with it. Ceeds

Su Dan wrote 1284 days ago

a brilliant idea, relayed well, and written with carefull pace and skill- on my watchlist for now...
read SEASONS....

Strayer wrote 1291 days ago

Mehret is easy to understand. I liked her and followed the plot line without trouble. I read all that you uploaded and could have kept reading. This is very well written.

DMR wrote 1295 days ago

Enjoyable - Mehret is a likeable character and there is a good sense of pace in the first few chapters - I am sure many fans of magic will flock to this - well done, Backed !
Diane
Good Blood

Thetinman wrote 1298 days ago

Hi KA,

I don’t usually read anything that has a witch in it as I avoid the occult, but it’s obvious this is a children’s fairy tale. I was very entertained with this read and feel that this is a perfect book for those bedtime stories with kids. I found that it entertained me, likely as much or more than it would entertain a child, which is the perfect mix for a book of this type.

As I’ve said in my bio, I leave honest comments, and if I’ve left one it’s because I feel that a book has a huge potential. This is the case with yours. I must also add that I have absolutely no qualifications as an author, so my comments mean nothing.

Some things I’m looking for when I read – originality (even a vampire book can have some original elements), entertainment, great dialogue, and of course, quality. I’m spotting for repetitiveness, pleonasms, excessive or inappropriate adverbs, odd things and so on, but I usually ignore the minor spelling or punctuation mistakes (figure the author will spot them on word).

It’s for children. Thankfully, you didn’t dumb this down. I also noticed you don’t start with the subject all the time – a refreshing change from the many other reads here. You do a nice balance with this, while avoiding passive writing.

A few nits then. Watch out for repetitiveness – the word ‘she is mentioned 3 times in the first paragraph.
In the paragraph, “Does he mean me...” You have the MC using her inner voice without any indication to the reader, by shifting from second person to first. Because this is not in ‘...’ or italics, it took me a second to differentiate. This means I’m taken out of the story and back to the real world, kind of like shaky camera work on a film... Same thing happens in the “I feel great...” par.

Nurses seemed unconcerned and (?) friendly...” Perhaps ‘but’. ‘More than usually healthy’? Perhaps surprisingly, or healthier than the average, or in excellent health.

If this sounds like I’m being overly picky, it’s true, but simply because the opening chapter is critical, especially on here.

In all though, I thought this a great opening and definitely entertaining, a delightful read so far.

Ch 2.
Enjoyed the intro very much – real info was giving without the info dump. Very realistic, and your descriptions were well suited for the age group.
“Mehret turned...she tried to trip me...” Second person to first person. I feel this will be an issue throughout your MS. Won’t mention it again.
“Mehret looked up, a girl in her year...” A UK phrase? It doesn’t exist in North America that I know of. Not an issue if you plan to have this out only in the UK.
Funny dialogue. I like it...
“...prices been gentrified...” hehe, love it. “You a billygoat...” was even better.
Nice touch with Mehret’s dyslexia, something many can relate to.
Chapter 3... your mention of Mehret’s comment on sisters brings nice bit of mystery here, which I like.
In all, I think this has huge potential. The story builds well, the dialogue is excellent, and the interaction believable. In short, this is a winner. Of course, there are some very minor things – the biggest among these being the second to first person thing, but otherwise top stuff.

I will happily read more.

Already backed.

Paul

www.pauldaytonscifi.com

Pandora’s Sister

Perryn Blood wrote 1298 days ago

I've just read the first three chapters. You have something here, I think. There's an ease to your writing, you are definitely in Mehret's head and that is a ginormous success right there. Few authors achieve that oneness with their MC. But when the author is so at one, it allows the reader also to be in that head and to see the world and sense it as does the MC. So well done.

The rhetorical questions which are mainly in chapter one - I wouldn't say lose them altogether - but do think them through. They weaken the narrative, I think. (Since I'm a huge fan of them myself - a bad habit gained from reading Shakespeare's sonnets too much - that's saying something.) Her confusion is so evident and you've woven that sense of discombobulation so well through her perceptions of where she is and losing the dream...well, it's all just very well done.

Also the dreaminess of her experience in school. That's good too. It's all just well done. I think you could afford to feed in a little more of what she sees of her school, what it looks like, whether or not she finds it a place to just zone out of or whether she finds it a friendly looking building. I do think a greater sense of atmosphere could really strengthen this. Because what she sees, the weather, her environment, these are all elements of what Mehret sees and if you want us truly to live inside her head, we have to see more of what she sees, feel more of what she feels. Cold, hot? So show us more. The embarrassment prickling over her like crawling ants - that simile was particularly fine.

And also, in chapter two, you'll want to decide whether it's Miss or Ms Simony for the art teacher and keep it consistent. Also, it should be: "No, miss." Or "Yes, miss." You need the comma after the yes or no.

But this is intriguing, you're building the tension very well, very effectively, the sense that something's going on, she's not scared exactly, but not sure...all very good. All the best - Perryn

cat5149 wrote 1299 days ago

I enjoyed reading this. Shelved, with pleasure.

Carol