Book Jacket

 

rank 951
word count 74420
date submitted 06.12.2010
date updated 15.03.2012
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Romance
classification: moderate
complete

2012: When The Earth Moved

Sandy McKay

In 2012 as America struggles to recover from natural disaster dark forces take advantage of her plight and humanity plunges to the brink of extinction.

 

New Zealand born farmer’s son Callum McDonald wants to see the world and in particular, Scotland, the land of his forefathers. Using his skills he joins a band of sheep shearers making their way from Wales through England and into Scotland, drawn irrevocably towards his destiny on Mull.

Here he encounters the beautiful Joanne who has returned to her roots and after an inauspicious start, they fall in love. Love doesn’t run smoothly but after much personal tragedy they find themselves facing the future together on the beautiful island of Mull which has survived the cataclysmic events that reshaped the world in 2012 and 2013.

Meanwhile, a soulless dictator from across the world and a brutal arms dealer steal an atomic submarine planning to take it across the Atlantic to cripple America, already reeling from recent events.

As events unfold, the forces of good and evil converge on Mull and Callum is called on to play his part.

Will this simple farmer find the courage to fight for survival?

Callum digs deep but can he pull the trigger when the chips are down and a familiar face is at the other end of the gun barrel?

 
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tags

2012, end of the world, personal journey, romance, romantic thriller, scotland

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90 comments

 

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Lenny Banks wrote 528 days ago

Hi Sandy, I took a look at chapter 5, thanks for reading and supporting my book. The pitch looks very exciting, seeing so many locations I was worried the story might jump around too much. The chapter I read seemed to have relevance to the story, so I can see why you wanted to tell the whole story. The writing is easy to follow and I found the story gripping enough to want to come back to it to see what happens next. Good luck, although I guess by the time this is published or made into a film it may be 2013 or 2014 so you may want to rename it before you go to print. ;-) I will try and find space on my shelf, but will w/l and high star it for you.

Kindest Regards and Best Wishes
Lenny Banks - Tide and Time: At The Rock

Sandy Mackay wrote 566 days ago

Hi Di. I have W/L " Leo & Rover The Purple Marble, and will try to read ASAP. Thank you for your kind comments on "2012: WTEM. I hope you will read some more of it and maybe give it some shelf time. All the best. Sandy.

Hi Sandy,

There is no doubt, 2012: When the Earth Moved is an intense, gripping story. I can see that you've polished this in a level worthy of our attention and that is good. It's no joke to write and edit (and edit some more!) your own work and spot all the possible errors. It's really hard work, but in the end, it's worth it. Your pitches are good and the concept of the book is clever. It's definitely something I'd read.

You have a solid opening that makes the readers want to read more. I like that you have short paragraphs rather than crowding your sentences in a long one. For me, it's easier to read. I really like your writing style. All the best with this one. I give you 5 stars.

If you have some free time, I invite you to read and rate my book, I hope you enjoy it too.

D
LEO & ROVER: THE PURPLE MARBLE ADVENTURES

Di Manzara wrote 567 days ago

Hi Sandy,

There is no doubt, 2012: When the Earth Moved is an intense, gripping story. I can see that you've polished this in a level worthy of our attention and that is good. It's no joke to write and edit (and edit some more!) your own work and spot all the possible errors. It's really hard work, but in the end, it's worth it. Your pitches are good and the concept of the book is clever. It's definitely something I'd read.

You have a solid opening that makes the readers want to read more. I like that you have short paragraphs rather than crowding your sentences in a long one. For me, it's easier to read. I really like your writing style. All the best with this one. I give you 5 stars.

If you have some free time, I invite you to read and rate my book, I hope you enjoy it too.

D
LEO & ROVER: THE PURPLE MARBLE ADVENTURES

Sandy Mackay wrote 595 days ago

Thanks for your comments and I am sorry that the book was not to your taste. Like many others your comments are helpful and constructive. However as you point out I have not done the edits that would have improved this sorry first attempt but have tried to incorporate the lessons into my follow up writings. I don't know how successful this has been as my new books are relative new comers to Authonomy and I have not really pushed them out to be criticised yet. "the Journey" is my most recent work and I have tried to use the good advice that has been given to improve the story line and sequence of events. If you could spare the time to take a look at it I would appreciate your views on whether my style has improved or not. Thank you once again for your comments and good luck with your own work. All the best. Sandy .

I'm sorry, Sandy, but this didn't grab me. The 'terrifying events' hinted at in chapter one take an awfully long time to materialise! In the meantime we have a fairly uninvolving travelogue of Hong Kong, with just one hint of menace (the shotgun prediction) to hook us in. Could you perhaps bring a bigger hook to the start of your book - one of those terrifying events maybe? - to stop us counting sheep. I note that you have not incorporated edits from other people in a while, so will not repeat stuff - except to say the first line of your loaded chap 3 could do with an exclamation mark at the end, to stop us thinking Callum in the third person - i.e. "Callum is off to see the world!". Good luck with this.

Joe Kovacs
Ginger the Buddha Cat

p.s. why are there so many black faces supporting your book?

Wussyboy wrote 597 days ago

I'm sorry, Sandy, but this didn't grab me. The 'terrifying events' hinted at in chapter one take an awfully long time to materialise! In the meantime we have a fairly uninvolving travelogue of Hong Kong, with just one hint of menace (the shotgun prediction) to hook us in. Could you perhaps bring a bigger hook to the start of your book - one of those terrifying events maybe? - to stop us counting sheep. I note that you have not incorporated edits from other people in a while, so will not repeat stuff - except to say the first line of your loaded chap 3 could do with an exclamation mark at the end, to stop us thinking Callum in the third person - i.e. "Callum is off to see the world!". Good luck with this.

Joe Kovacs
Ginger the Buddha Cat

p.s. why are there so many black faces supporting your book?

Sandy Mackay wrote 647 days ago

Hi Tod, Thank you for your excellent comments and observations. I appreciate your honesty and will try to put things right in a revision which I never seem to get round to. I have been very busy with other things recently and have neglected Authonomy. Thanks again for your comments. All the best. Sandy.


This is great writing, very cleanly put together. You deliver clear voices, setting and tone.
Critique-wise, I have only a few minor thoughts, which of course you should ignore if you prefer, as follows:
(cut: It was a dull autumn morning as) We bounced down the road in my father's old pickup truck [Because the sentence sounds stronger] (You tell us the Antipodean winter is approaching, so that gives us a clue about the season soon enough)
Clouds (cut: began to) cloaked... ["began to" is a weird phrase that I see a lot where it isn't needed. It usually just introduces what happens next, and so you don't have to say the next thing began to happen, you can just run with it.
Some minor errata: "He grabbed me roughly...and stuck out a calloused hand. I took it and (insert: he) pulled me close (cut: as he squeezed)(insert: ,squeezing)...
The first paragraph of chapter two is mostly telling us what you just told us at the end of chapter two, with the possible exception of the main character's name. I'd cut the paragraph and slip the name in elsewhere.
Other than that, sometimes there are commas where there should be periods, or no punctuation where they should be periods, so you might want to watch for that.
That's all my nitpicking from the first couple chapters. Those things stood out largely because the rest of the writing is stellar and smooth. This is a good piece and I hope you do well with it!
Cheers,
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

Tod Schneider wrote 653 days ago

This is great writing, very cleanly put together. You deliver clear voices, setting and tone.
Critique-wise, I have only a few minor thoughts, which of course you should ignore if you prefer, as follows:
(cut: It was a dull autumn morning as) We bounced down the road in my father's old pickup truck [Because the sentence sounds stronger] (You tell us the Antipodean winter is approaching, so that gives us a clue about the season soon enough)
Clouds (cut: began to) cloaked... ["began to" is a weird phrase that I see a lot where it isn't needed. It usually just introduces what happens next, and so you don't have to say the next thing began to happen, you can just run with it.
Some minor errata: "He grabbed me roughly...and stuck out a calloused hand. I took it and (insert: he) pulled me close (cut: as he squeezed)(insert: ,squeezing)...
The first paragraph of chapter two is mostly telling us what you just told us at the end of chapter two, with the possible exception of the main character's name. I'd cut the paragraph and slip the name in elsewhere.
Other than that, sometimes there are commas where there should be periods, or no punctuation where they should be periods, so you might want to watch for that.
That's all my nitpicking from the first couple chapters. Those things stood out largely because the rest of the writing is stellar and smooth. This is a good piece and I hope you do well with it!
Cheers,
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

Sandy Mackay wrote 772 days ago

Thank you for your kind comments. I hope you will enjoy the rest of the book when you get time to read it. I have written two more books and have started a third which gives an account of the journey the young man Callum's ancestors would have undertaken to get to New Zealand in the 1850's.I plan to put a few chapters of each on Authonomy soon. All the best. Sandy.

This is a great read. Being a Kiwi myself and interested in the 2012 phenomenon I was drawn to this book straight away. The writing is free and easy to read with good dialogue to keep the book moving at a good pace. I kept trying to find faults in your Kiwi references but couln't find anything. All in all a great start to the novel and I hope to read more soon. Have placed on watchlist to read further.

M. E. Harrow wrote 772 days ago

This is a great read. Being a Kiwi myself and interested in the 2012 phenomenon I was drawn to this book straight away. The writing is free and easy to read with good dialogue to keep the book moving at a good pace. I kept trying to find faults in your Kiwi references but couln't find anything. All in all a great start to the novel and I hope to read more soon. Have placed on watchlist to read further.

Sandy Mackay wrote 890 days ago

Hi Joshua, Thank you for your kind comments and well considered advice. it is much appreciated. I relise it takes much time and thought to put such a detailed analysis together. I will try to include your points in my next editing session. All the best. Sandy.


This is a solid opening. I love the premise here and there's a lot to like in this opening chapter. I had a few thoughts along the way that might help make this even stronger.

Is "began" necessary in your second sentence? I think it reads stronger as "Clouds cloaked the mountain tops..."

"Snow-capped" needs to be hyphenated because it is two words serving as a single adjective.

Unnecessary comma at the end of "We sped past fields of lush..."

Wait... They're in the truck, but then "The three of us crammed onto the bench seat..." They're already sitting, right? I think you mean, "The three of us were crammed onto the bench seat" or "The three of us had crammed..." In other words, your verb should either be progressive or past perfect.

No period needed after "That group could do with a move..." Also, would it be an "or?" Shouldn't it be and? Or does your character not remember what was said?

I'd cut "would" from "Mum would burst into an excited"

I'd break up "Then another long pregnant silence." I like the repetition but it's too long to be entirely effective.

Stupid and idiotic are virtually the same. Do you need both? If you want the effect of two adjectives, can you change one for greater impact?

"Clutched the hand that I had put on hers." Simplify when possible: "clutched my hand."

Should be: "Need to get some cigarettes," he mumbled...

"Half-opened" should be hyphenated.

"I took and pulled me close" doesn't work since "I" is the subject. Essentially you're saying, "I pulled me close." That's awkward.

"...waits for no man," he said

The sentence beginning, "Right son, like time, that bloody bus" is quite long. Can you break it up?

Nice hook at the end of the first chapter.

In the end, this is a really good first chapter that could be even better with a bit more work. My main suggestion for this opening is to do a better job of showing the fear and sadness of the family as they say goodbye. This is well written, but I want to feel their emotion. It will also give your reader the opportunity to connect better with your character. Right now, I don't feel that connection. Plus, and I could be wrong, but I don't recall hearing your character's name in the entire first chapter? Ask yourself: what can I do to make sure my readers keep reading beyond chapter one?

Joshua Jacobs wrote 891 days ago

This is a solid opening. I love the premise here and there's a lot to like in this opening chapter. I had a few thoughts along the way that might help make this even stronger.

Is "began" necessary in your second sentence? I think it reads stronger as "Clouds cloaked the mountain tops..."

"Snow-capped" needs to be hyphenated because it is two words serving as a single adjective.

Unnecessary comma at the end of "We sped past fields of lush..."

Wait... They're in the truck, but then "The three of us crammed onto the bench seat..." They're already sitting, right? I think you mean, "The three of us were crammed onto the bench seat" or "The three of us had crammed..." In other words, your verb should either be progressive or past perfect.

No period needed after "That group could do with a move..." Also, would it be an "or?" Shouldn't it be and? Or does your character not remember what was said?

I'd cut "would" from "Mum would burst into an excited"

I'd break up "Then another long pregnant silence." I like the repetition but it's too long to be entirely effective.

Stupid and idiotic are virtually the same. Do you need both? If you want the effect of two adjectives, can you change one for greater impact?

"Clutched the hand that I had put on hers." Simplify when possible: "clutched my hand."

Should be: "Need to get some cigarettes," he mumbled...

"Half-opened" should be hyphenated.

"I took and pulled me close" doesn't work since "I" is the subject. Essentially you're saying, "I pulled me close." That's awkward.

"...waits for no man," he said

The sentence beginning, "Right son, like time, that bloody bus" is quite long. Can you break it up?

Nice hook at the end of the first chapter.

In the end, this is a really good first chapter that could be even better with a bit more work. My main suggestion for this opening is to do a better job of showing the fear and sadness of the family as they say goodbye. This is well written, but I want to feel their emotion. It will also give your reader the opportunity to connect better with your character. Right now, I don't feel that connection. Plus, and I could be wrong, but I don't recall hearing your character's name in the entire first chapter? Ask yourself: what can I do to make sure my readers keep reading beyond chapter one?

Sandy Mackay wrote 946 days ago

Hi Jane, Thank you very much for your well considered comments. I appreciate the amount of time it takes to do this. I hope you can find the time to come back to 2012: When the Earth Moved sometime soon. All the best. Sandy.


When the Earth Moved. Sandy, I see I lastread your book about 5 months ago! I will take up where I left off. I take notes as I write, but dont pretend to be an expert.

Ch.5. The opening makes me hungry. dI love bacon and egg.
But you dont need words like usually, even, very, also, beginning to.
It would be clearer if you said O'Sullivan was alot more comfortable... and perhaps you could say because the others were not twenty feet away, he leaned forward in his chair - I presume he didnt want them to hear him?
Perhaps you could just say 'he gave Carlos a detailed history...'
You now switch POV to Carlos.
That's a striking picture of the enormous artery standing out like a piece of pulsating rope.
It is sometimes not clear who is saying what.
Might you find a way to avoid that brief switch back to O'Sullivan's POV before they shake hands?

Ch.6. Into the future now - that's interesting.
And you suddenly drift into the first person. (But perhaps my surprise is because I read the first chapters so long ago). Maybe Jake should say Callum's name when he refers to 'this stupid bloody laddie'.
This chapter flows better than the first.
I'm not sure anybody can be oblivious to events which are about to take place, but for the moment cant think of a suitable alternative way of saying they didnt know what was going to happen in the future.

Ch.7. I'm glad we're still in Scotland. You're more comfortable here.
Another word to avoid: still.
Instead of the narrator's viewpoint, perhaps you could have the new partner saying his uncle had a farm a few miles away - if that's important. Oh - I see you have done just that later on. So perhaps just delete the sentence here.
You show the narator's antagonism well, and I remember how I enjoyed your earlier chapters, too.

Hope my comments help, and again many thanks for supporting me.
Jane (Breath of Africa).

jlbwye wrote 949 days ago

When the Earth Moved. Sandy, I see I lastread your book about 5 months ago! I will take up where I left off. I take notes as I write, but dont pretend to be an expert.

Ch.5. The opening makes me hungry. dI love bacon and egg.
But you dont need words like usually, even, very, also, beginning to.
It would be clearer if you said O'Sullivan was alot more comfortable... and perhaps you could say because the others were not twenty feet away, he leaned forward in his chair - I presume he didnt want them to hear him?
Perhaps you could just say 'he gave Carlos a detailed history...'
You now switch POV to Carlos.
That's a striking picture of the enormous artery standing out like a piece of pulsating rope.
It is sometimes not clear who is saying what.
Might you find a way to avoid that brief switch back to O'Sullivan's POV before they shake hands?

Ch.6. Into the future now - that's interesting.
And you suddenly drift into the first person. (But perhaps my surprise is because I read the first chapters so long ago). Maybe Jake should say Callum's name when he refers to 'this stupid bloody laddie'.
This chapter flows better than the first.
I'm not sure anybody can be oblivious to events which are about to take place, but for the moment cant think of a suitable alternative way of saying they didnt know what was going to happen in the future.

Ch.7. I'm glad we're still in Scotland. You're more comfortable here.
Another word to avoid: still.
Instead of the narrator's viewpoint, perhaps you could have the new partner saying his uncle had a farm a few miles away - if that's important. Oh - I see you have done just that later on. So perhaps just delete the sentence here.
You show the narator's antagonism well, and I remember how I enjoyed your earlier chapters, too.

Hope my comments help, and again many thanks for supporting me.
Jane (Breath of Africa).

Briefcentury wrote 979 days ago

Sandy,

2012: When The Earth Moved is a good read. The way world happenings are interleaved with the very down-to-earth on-farm narrative is great--if you enjoy farming enough to care to read it all. The text needs a bit more proofreading, but it's generally very well written. Nice that there's a happy ending, or it could have become depressing.

Best of luck,

GG

stephen racket wrote 1030 days ago

I read the first 3 chapters and thought this was an interesting, entertaining piece of work. I like the contrast between the first 2 chapters and the 3rd. The descriptions of farming life in New Zealand and Wales, of ordinary peoples lives, then the dangerous, powerful, idealistic characters of c3. The Hong Kong stopover was interesting, O'Sullivan is clearly going to play a big part as the story develops. I thought the writing and characterization was good, Callum makes for an engaging mc. Only nitpick, I agree with the previous reviewer and thought the beginning a little sluggish. On my WL for further reading and generously starred. Good luck with this.

Sandy Mackay wrote 1065 days ago

Hi Silva, Thank you for your kind comments on "2012: When the Earth Moved", they are much appreciated. I must confess the stopover in Hong Kong was something I put in in order to introduce O'Sullivan to the reader. He plays such a big part later that I felt he needed to pop up near the beginning. All the best. Sandy.

Hi Sandy

I liked the first chapter, although I thought it was a bit slow in parts. You conveyed the emotion of the parting well. I particularly liked the description of making it look as though he was busy fiddling with his rucksack to avoid his mum's gaze - very realistic.

I would have liked a bit more info on his time in Hong Kong, just to bring it to life. It's his first time in such a place and I'd have liked to have been drawn in a bit. Particularly over the dinner with O'Sullivan.

You have a good premise and your writing is good.

Starred, and good luck with this!

Silva

silvachilla wrote 1074 days ago

Hi Sandy

I liked the first chapter, although I thought it was a bit slow in parts. You conveyed the emotion of the parting well. I particularly liked the description of making it look as though he was busy fiddling with his rucksack to avoid his mum's gaze - very realistic.

I would have liked a bit more info on his time in Hong Kong, just to bring it to life. It's his first time in such a place and I'd have liked to have been drawn in a bit. Particularly over the dinner with O'Sullivan.

You have a good premise and your writing is good.

Starred, and good luck with this!

Silva

Sandy Mackay wrote 1083 days ago


Hi Neville. Thanks for your kind comments, they are much appreciated. Glad you liked the story. All the best. Sandy.

When the Earth Moved.
By Sandy McKay.

Chapter one conjures up a lot of emotion as callum is about to board the bus.
I felt for his parents…who wouldn’t, they’ve had it with one son… now another.
Such a striking beginning to your book, a sad start that makes the reader want to turn the next page.
Interesting meeting when Callum and Barry bump into O’sullivan in the hotel bar.
Seems a nice guy at the time…too good.
Something about him though that’s not quite right and we’re about to find out later.
Will get back to your book again Sandy, that’s for sure.
Pleased to rate it and wish you the best with it…nice writing and storyline.

Kind regards,

Neville. THE SECRETS OF THE FOREST – THE TIME ZONE.

Sandy Mackay wrote 1084 days ago

Hi David, Thank you for your comments they are much appreciated. Pompey Chimes is still on my watchlist and I will get to it asap. All the best. Sandy

Sandy. your book begins with a clear and simple narrative flow with expressive glimpses of scenery, and Callum has an engaging character as an innocent abroad. As the plot develops, from the meeting with O'Sullivan to the S. American scene, where he reappears in a different guise, yet already predicted to threaten
Callum, we look forward to the refreshing Scottish background of mountain and romance.
There are some problems with punctuation, on which you've received good advice, so I'm reserving a place on my shelf asap, and for now am happy to high-star "2012 When the Earth Moved"
Looking forward also to your take on my book,
Best to you,
David Grant"
"Pompey Chimes

Sandy Mackay wrote 1084 days ago

Hi Mooderino, Thank you very much for your excellent comments on "2012: When the Earth Moved". They are much appreciated and I will try to use your advice in the next revision. All the best. Sandy

The pitch gave me a pretty good idea what the story’s about, but it was a lot of info to take in and could perhaps do with a little more focus.

The writing is pretty good, although occasionally overwritten. There’s a tendency to give too much info to make sure the reader gets it which is usually the sign of an insecure writer worried they aren’t being clear enough when they are. Phrases like ‘stupid, idiotic...’ or giving umpteen reasons why dad was familiar with the road they were travelling on when one would have done, are unnecessary and end up diluting the point rather than reinforcing them. This made the opening chapter feel quite slow, although you did a good job of understating the emotional aspect of the parents letting him go which worked quite well, imo.

On a technical note you consistently get dialogue tags incorrect, which might seem a minor thing you can fix later, but most agents won’t take your writing very seriously if you screw up at such a basic level. You usually do it like this:
“Hello.” He said.
When it should be like this:
“Hello,” he said.
I strongly suggest you have a look in any novel you have lying about to see how to write dialogue which is clearly a big part of your story.

You end Chapter One nicely, but then waste the opening of Chapter Two by recapping what we had just seen, which felt unnecessary.

Not sure about having a Welshman say ‘boyo’. None I’ve met have ever said it and even though there are probably some (you may know many) it is seen as stereotypical, like having an Australian say bonza and Shiela (although I’m sure many speak like that). Just something to be aware of.

The great time they had in HK was a bit too reported rather than experienced. You indicate to the reader it was eye-opening for the boys, but you don’t say how or try to bring the reader into the story, which felt like a missed opportunity. If it was amazing show us in what way, don’t just make claims and leave it to the reader’s imagination. It’s your job to bring it alive on the page.

Be careful not to overdo the ‘What I didn’t know was...’ it takes us out of the moment and reminds us you’re writing this already knowing what happens next, so if you try to create tension by having a cliffhanger or mystery, we know you already know.

The sheep shearing stuff in England got a bit too info dumpy without any narrative thread mixed in. You sort of stopped the story to give a text-bookish idea of the shearer’s life. It was very authentic and clearly told, it just didn’t have much to do with the story. I would suggest you need to work it into the story structure more, maybe by creating competition between them, have them make a mistake they need to rectify before someone finds out, an argument about how to shear properly, a bet, a dare, whatever. Conveying info in a direct manner: this is how you do it, is not very interesting for a reader. Posing it as a problem, a question, a dilemma, makes it more engaging.

The stuff with Carlos and Alfonso got bogged down in a lot of back story. I don’t need to know their life story before they do anything. Have them do interesting stuff first, then I’ll be curious about who they are.

I think you have a lot of story here, but it feels unstructured and slow to get going. I think you’re over-explaining and giving too much back story and exposition which is slowing the pace.

grantdavid wrote 1085 days ago

Sandy. your book begins with a clear and simple narrative flow with expressive glimpses of scenery, and Callum has an engaging character as an innocent abroad. As the plot develops, from the meeting with O'Sullivan to the S. American scene, where he reappears in a different guise, yet already predicted to threaten
Callum, we look forward to the refreshing Scottish background of mountain and romance.
There are some problems with punctuation, on which you've received good advice, so I'm reserving a place on my shelf asap, and for now am happy to high-star "2012 When the Earth Moved"
Looking forward also to your take on my book,
Best to you,
David Grant"
"Pompey Chimes

Mooderino wrote 1086 days ago

The pitch gave me a pretty good idea what the story’s about, but it was a lot of info to take in and could perhaps do with a little more focus.

The writing is pretty good, although occasionally overwritten. There’s a tendency to give too much info to make sure the reader gets it which is usually the sign of an insecure writer worried they aren’t being clear enough when they are. Phrases like ‘stupid, idiotic...’ or giving umpteen reasons why dad was familiar with the road they were travelling on when one would have done, are unnecessary and end up diluting the point rather than reinforcing them. This made the opening chapter feel quite slow, although you did a good job of understating the emotional aspect of the parents letting him go which worked quite well, imo.

On a technical note you consistently get dialogue tags incorrect, which might seem a minor thing you can fix later, but most agents won’t take your writing very seriously if you screw up at such a basic level. You usually do it like this:
“Hello.” He said.
When it should be like this:
“Hello,” he said.
I strongly suggest you have a look in any novel you have lying about to see how to write dialogue which is clearly a big part of your story.

You end Chapter One nicely, but then waste the opening of Chapter Two by recapping what we had just seen, which felt unnecessary.

Not sure about having a Welshman say ‘boyo’. None I’ve met have ever said it and even though there are probably some (you may know many) it is seen as stereotypical, like having an Australian say bonza and Shiela (although I’m sure many speak like that). Just something to be aware of.

The great time they had in HK was a bit too reported rather than experienced. You indicate to the reader it was eye-opening for the boys, but you don’t say how or try to bring the reader into the story, which felt like a missed opportunity. If it was amazing show us in what way, don’t just make claims and leave it to the reader’s imagination. It’s your job to bring it alive on the page.

Be careful not to overdo the ‘What I didn’t know was...’ it takes us out of the moment and reminds us you’re writing this already knowing what happens next, so if you try to create tension by having a cliffhanger or mystery, we know you already know.

The sheep shearing stuff in England got a bit too info dumpy without any narrative thread mixed in. You sort of stopped the story to give a text-bookish idea of the shearer’s life. It was very authentic and clearly told, it just didn’t have much to do with the story. I would suggest you need to work it into the story structure more, maybe by creating competition between them, have them make a mistake they need to rectify before someone finds out, an argument about how to shear properly, a bet, a dare, whatever. Conveying info in a direct manner: this is how you do it, is not very interesting for a reader. Posing it as a problem, a question, a dilemma, makes it more engaging.

The stuff with Carlos and Alfonso got bogged down in a lot of back story. I don’t need to know their life story before they do anything. Have them do interesting stuff first, then I’ll be curious about who they are.

I think you have a lot of story here, but it feels unstructured and slow to get going. I think you’re over-explaining and giving too much back story and exposition which is slowing the pace.

Sandy Mackay wrote 1091 days ago

Hi Dan, Thank you for backing "2012: When the Earth Moved" and for the comments below. I have had a few people telling me about the shortcomings of the pitch and I will have to do something about it. To be fair others have said they like it. I'll be doing an update next month and hope to use the comments I have recieved to improve the writing as well as the pitch. America does feature quite strongly in the book and events there affect the lives of all the characters in the book. Thank's once more for your help. All the best. Sandy

Hi, Sandy. Only read the pitch and first two chapters.
Okay, what has America (in your short pitch) got to do with the rest of the story?
First person dictates a strong POV from the MC. You (the narrator loses both voice and POV—transferred to character. The writing’s smooth but for a thriller there’s not enough tension. A bestseller friend of mine told me that a thriller must have some sort of tension on every page. While the flow of your story makes for an easy, relaxed, read agents/publishers who handle thrillers would complain about tension/action—especially in the opener.
I will get back for more (time permitting) but, till then, I’m backing your work on bases of character and story telling. Good luck.
Dan

Sandy Mackay wrote 1091 days ago

Hi, Thank you very much for your comments on "2012: When the Earth Moved" I realise you are busy and the comments you wrote have taken considerable time. I am due to do some editing next month and will incorporate your opinions into that update. Meantime thank you once again. Sandy

Sandy, I’m terribly sorry to have taken so long to get to this – real life caught up with me, I’m afraid, and this is the first time I’ve logged in to authonomy for nearly two weeks. I hope what follows is of use to you.

Chapter 1. I like the dynamics of the family group. A short chapter but a good introduction to the main character.

Chapter 2. You’ve already made it clear what Neil did at the end of chapter 1, so the first para isn’t necessary here.

‘Little did I know that I was fated to see …’ – I wasn’t keen on this foreshadowing. You did it once at the end of chapter 1 and that worked fine, but a second prediction of terrible events coming so quickly after the first felt like overkill. And you do it again at the end of the chapter. I think three ‘little did I know’s in two chapters is too many. Personally I think the later events would actually have more impact if you didn’t keep revealing them.

‘It was now March 2011’ – it felt strange being told the date this way when I didn’t know what the date was before. I’d suggest working a date in near the beginning of the book (since dates are obviously going to be important, based on the title of the book!).

Chapter 3. Yes, this chapter reveals O’Sullivan’s true nature plenty soon enough, so I really don’t feel you need the foreshadowing of the previous chapter. Interesting dynamics going on here, though I didn’t really feel interested enough in Carlos until O’Sullivan came in and I saw the link to the previous chapter.

Chapter 4. I felt myself drifting off a bit here. The details of Callum’s life feel authentic, as though I’m hearing about a real person, but it also doesn’t feel like much is actually happening in terms of driving the plot forward. It’s hard to judge without reading the entire book, but I feel that maybe you’re overloading on the details here.

Chapter 5. This is the first chapter to be given a place and date at the beginning. I suggest doing this at least with all the third-person chapters.

Overall the writing seems fine, but I was a little put off by the very short paragraphs (many of them only a sentence long) – maybe consider combining some of them?

eurodan49 wrote 1093 days ago

Hi, Sandy. Only read the pitch and first two chapters.
Okay, what has America (in your short pitch) got to do with the rest of the story?
First person dictates a strong POV from the MC. You (the narrator loses both voice and POV—transferred to character. The writing’s smooth but for a thriller there’s not enough tension. A bestseller friend of mine told me that a thriller must have some sort of tension on every page. While the flow of your story makes for an easy, relaxed, read agents/publishers who handle thrillers would complain about tension/action—especially in the opener.
I will get back for more (time permitting) but, till then, I’m backing your work on bases of character and story telling. Good luck.
Dan

afesmith wrote 1093 days ago

Sandy, I’m terribly sorry to have taken so long to get to this – real life caught up with me, I’m afraid, and this is the first time I’ve logged in to authonomy for nearly two weeks. I hope what follows is of use to you.

Chapter 1. I like the dynamics of the family group. A short chapter but a good introduction to the main character.

Chapter 2. You’ve already made it clear what Neil did at the end of chapter 1, so the first para isn’t necessary here.

‘Little did I know that I was fated to see …’ – I wasn’t keen on this foreshadowing. You did it once at the end of chapter 1 and that worked fine, but a second prediction of terrible events coming so quickly after the first felt like overkill. And you do it again at the end of the chapter. I think three ‘little did I know’s in two chapters is too many. Personally I think the later events would actually have more impact if you didn’t keep revealing them.

‘It was now March 2011’ – it felt strange being told the date this way when I didn’t know what the date was before. I’d suggest working a date in near the beginning of the book (since dates are obviously going to be important, based on the title of the book!).

Chapter 3. Yes, this chapter reveals O’Sullivan’s true nature plenty soon enough, so I really don’t feel you need the foreshadowing of the previous chapter. Interesting dynamics going on here, though I didn’t really feel interested enough in Carlos until O’Sullivan came in and I saw the link to the previous chapter.

Chapter 4. I felt myself drifting off a bit here. The details of Callum’s life feel authentic, as though I’m hearing about a real person, but it also doesn’t feel like much is actually happening in terms of driving the plot forward. It’s hard to judge without reading the entire book, but I feel that maybe you’re overloading on the details here.

Chapter 5. This is the first chapter to be given a place and date at the beginning. I suggest doing this at least with all the third-person chapters.

Overall the writing seems fine, but I was a little put off by the very short paragraphs (many of them only a sentence long) – maybe consider combining some of them?

Ariena Ariff wrote 1099 days ago

its interesting how its written as it kind of reminds me what will happen at the end of the movie 2012. Will read it even further later. Read the synopsis I am already drawn to it.

Clive Eaton wrote 1104 days ago

I've placed this book on my watchlist as the title grabbed my attention . . . or more specifically 2012 did. I look forward to reading it as it falls into the genre I enjoy.

Clive
The Pyramid Legacy (which also has a reference to 2012 in chapter one)

Sandy Mackay wrote 1106 days ago

Hi Mary, Thank you for taking the time to dip into "2012 When the Eart Moved. I appreciate your comments and the time you have spent on them. Unfortunately you did miss chapter 18 where the earthquakes and volcanoes destroy most of California and a large chunk of the Mid West of America. These events lead to American withdrawal from its role as the worlds policeman, followed by chaos and war around the world.
The other strand of the story tries to show how the consequences of these events would be dealt with by the ordinary people who survived. All the best. Sandy

2012: WHEN THE EARTH MOVED
Sandy McKay

Thank you for the invitation to read your book. I will give you an honest observation of how it came across to me as a reader. I believe you do have a talent as a writer when it comes to getting the words in the proper order and writing descriptive narrative. Therein lies the problem I had with reading it. There is a great deal of narrative and the bones of a story didn't seem to come together for me. I feel it is important to have some kind of action right from the first paragraph. Something that will promise development and carry the reader into the meat of the story.

The title offers a possibility of the end of the world as per the Mayan calendar ending in 2012, where people must deal with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers. There are a few references in the content that also suggest there will be some kind of upheaval in contrast with the orderly way of farm life. That would make this quite interesting and why I was eager to read it to begin with.

I read through chapter 14 which seemed to be a chronology of the daily life of those in the business of shearing sheep. While that was an excellent chronicle of that way of life and involved commendable characters, it was clear you were writing about what you know, it didn't fulfill the promise I was looking for. I skipped on to chapter 39 and 40 and I still did not see anything cataclysmic. Perhaps that dwells in another chapter I missed but there is only so much time I can devote to reading all the requests I get. For some reason, I get lots. I am always happy to comply and read as much as I can before offering an opinion. If something proves to be a great fantasy, then I will keep going to the end.

I can see the possibilites in your work and believe that with some editing it can be turned into a gripping and still informative novel. I truly feel that is what you need to do in order to bring this up to be ready to submit to agents and publishers. Of course, that is only my opinion. Best of luck to you with this work.

Sincerely,

Mary Enck
A King in Time

Sandy Mackay wrote 1106 days ago

Hi Jane, Thank you for reading so much of "2012: When the Earth Moved" also for the nit-pics, they are the important part. I appreciate the things you say and will address them soon I hope. We get some conflicting advice on Authonomy and it is not always easy to decide what to act on. Your carefully thought out observations will be high on the list of those for implementation. All the best. Sandy

Sandy:
Your short and long pitches dont seem to relate to each other, which is somewhat confusing.

Ch.1. The pangs of parting are well described, especially Dad concentrating on that familiar road. I can picture it, from my visit to that area ten years ago. Perhaps you should take another look at the para about the father wrestling with words that never seemed to get out. Sounds a bit like the son leaving home, but never seeming to get out!
Callum was brave, indeed, to venture away from a family who had stayed put for a generation, and you show this admirably.
Try saying - about the calloused hand - like this: 'I took it, and he pulled me close, squeezing my hand in his vice-like grip.'

Ch.2. You dont need that first paragraph - the reader can remember what was said in the previous chapter. Nor do you need to include cliches such as getting off on the right foot.
I enjoyed the stop-over in Hong Kong, and following the sheep shearing trail with the lads in rural England. You have an easy-going style which carries the reader with you.

Ch.3. A sudden change of scene, with no introduction, and I find your staccato paragraphs spoil the flow. The background story doesnt blend in. Interest is re-awakened with the opening of the elevator door, and suggestions of Carlos's sexual leanings, but I dont find myself relating to any of the characters. You have a switch of POV in the final two paragraphs, which needs addressing.

Ch.4. Back again to England. I'm wondering if it wouldnt be better to move the Carlos chapter, and allow the reader to remain in England for longer. Your characters here are well-drawn, and you paint a clear picture of the farming life. The scene of Callum scoring his try is excellently done.

I hope this helps a bit. Forgive the nit-picks, but they do tend to distract a reader, and editors, agents and publishers are always looking for perfection! Starred.
Jane (Breath of Africa).

Sharahzade wrote 1107 days ago

2012: WHEN THE EARTH MOVED
Sandy McKay

Thank you for the invitation to read your book. I will give you an honest observation of how it came across to me as a reader. I believe you do have a talent as a writer when it comes to getting the words in the proper order and writing descriptive narrative. Therein lies the problem I had with reading it. There is a great deal of narrative and the bones of a story didn't seem to come together for me. I feel it is important to have some kind of action right from the first paragraph. Something that will promise development and carry the reader into the meat of the story.

The title offers a possibility of the end of the world as per the Mayan calendar ending in 2012, where people must deal with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers. There are a few references in the content that also suggest there will be some kind of upheaval in contrast with the orderly way of farm life. That would make this quite interesting and why I was eager to read it to begin with.

I read through chapter 14 which seemed to be a chronology of the daily life of those in the business of shearing sheep. While that was an excellent chronicle of that way of life and involved commendable characters, it was clear you were writing about what you know, it didn't fulfill the promise I was looking for. I skipped on to chapter 39 and 40 and I still did not see anything cataclysmic. Perhaps that dwells in another chapter I missed but there is only so much time I can devote to reading all the requests I get. For some reason, I get lots. I am always happy to comply and read as much as I can before offering an opinion. If something proves to be a great fantasy, then I will keep going to the end.

I can see the possibilites in your work and believe that with some editing it can be turned into a gripping and still informative novel. I truly feel that is what you need to do in order to bring this up to be ready to submit to agents and publishers. Of course, that is only my opinion. Best of luck to you with this work.

Sincerely,

Mary Enck
A King in Time

jlbwye wrote 1107 days ago

Sandy:
Your short and long pitches dont seem to relate to each other, which is somewhat confusing.

Ch.1. The pangs of parting are well described, especially Dad concentrating on that familiar road. I can picture it, from my visit to that area ten years ago. Perhaps you should take another look at the para about the father wrestling with words that never seemed to get out. Sounds a bit like the son leaving home, but never seeming to get out!
Callum was brave, indeed, to venture away from a family who had stayed put for a generation, and you show this admirably.
Try saying - about the calloused hand - like this: 'I took it, and he pulled me close, squeezing my hand in his vice-like grip.'

Ch.2. You dont need that first paragraph - the reader can remember what was said in the previous chapter. Nor do you need to include cliches such as getting off on the right foot.
I enjoyed the stop-over in Hong Kong, and following the sheep shearing trail with the lads in rural England. You have an easy-going style which carries the reader with you.

Ch.3. A sudden change of scene, with no introduction, and I find your staccato paragraphs spoil the flow. The background story doesnt blend in. Interest is re-awakened with the opening of the elevator door, and suggestions of Carlos's sexual leanings, but I dont find myself relating to any of the characters. You have a switch of POV in the final two paragraphs, which needs addressing.

Ch.4. Back again to England. I'm wondering if it wouldnt be better to move the Carlos chapter, and allow the reader to remain in England for longer. Your characters here are well-drawn, and you paint a clear picture of the farming life. The scene of Callum scoring his try is excellently done.

I hope this helps a bit. Forgive the nit-picks, but they do tend to distract a reader, and editors, agents and publishers are always looking for perfection! Starred.
Jane (Breath of Africa).

Sandy Mackay wrote 1110 days ago

Hi Babs, Thank you very much for your kind comments. Five chapters is a big chunk to read on Authonomy.
I intend to edit soon particularly the sentences into paragraphs which is a common cause for critcism. You are still on my watch list and I intend to read a bit more soon. All the best. Sandy

Hi Sandy
I read to the end of ch5. The initial chapter's, the boy leaving home, the emotions displayed by both him and his parents were believable, excitement mixed with uncertainty and I did get a real feel for the rurality of the NZ farm. The pace picked up with the introduction of the South American element, and was added to by O'Sullivan who was particularly well characterised. I think you have a good premise here, the idea of the local boy getting mixed up in goodness knows what, and in events which are certainly current. I think you could tighten the writing, by having a little less backstory upfront...think about maybe integrating some of the S American stuff as you go along, and perhaps consider condensing your sentences into paragraphs, which would make it easier to read, particularly on line. Hope this does well for you Sandy.
Babs

B A Morton wrote 1111 days ago

Hi Sandy
I read to the end of ch5. The initial chapter's, the boy leaving home, the emotions displayed by both him and his parents were believable, excitement mixed with uncertainty and I did get a real feel for the rurality of the NZ farm. The pace picked up with the introduction of the South American element, and was added to by O'Sullivan who was particularly well characterised. I think you have a good premise here, the idea of the local boy getting mixed up in goodness knows what, and in events which are certainly current. I think you could tighten the writing, by having a little less backstory upfront...think about maybe integrating some of the S American stuff as you go along, and perhaps consider condensing your sentences into paragraphs, which would make it easier to read, particularly on line. Hope this does well for you Sandy.
Babs

Sandy Mackay wrote 1112 days ago

Hi Richard, Thank you very much for your kind and constructive comments also the backing. I will try to implement the improvements you suggest as soon as possible. All the best. Sandy

Hi Sandy

You've definitely got potential hear with a story that rapidly gets interestingly complicated.

Now you've got so much material, I think you need to look at three things:
(1) Bring your sentences together into paragraphs. This will both make the text flow better and make your story's structure clearer to readers.
(2) Look out for cliches, e,g it's sharper to say 'a long silence' than 'a long pregnant silence'
(3) Check for words and phrases that are not adding much to the text - a good exercise is to take 10 lines of text and see if you can write it in 5 or 6 lines. This gives you a feel for where words are superfluous.

Anyway, good luck with it. I'll happily back it.

Richard

Sandy Mackay wrote 1112 days ago

Hi Phyllis, Thank you for your kind comments on "2012: When the Earth Moved." I hope you will continue to enjoy it. I will watch list "Paper Dreams" and try to get a read at it asap. All the best. Sandy

Hello Sandy, Good exciting read, well done. Need to read more, so it will go on my Watchlist. Good luck with this.

Phyllis
PAPER DREAMS & A PASSING STORM

Richard Freeman wrote 1113 days ago

Hi Sandy

You've definitely got potential hear with a story that rapidly gets interestingly complicated.

Now you've got so much material, I think you need to look at three things:
(1) Bring your sentences together into paragraphs. This will both make the text flow better and make your story's structure clearer to readers.
(2) Look out for cliches, e,g it's sharper to say 'a long silence' than 'a long pregnant silence'
(3) Check for words and phrases that are not adding much to the text - a good exercise is to take 10 lines of text and see if you can write it in 5 or 6 lines. This gives you a feel for where words are superfluous.

Anyway, good luck with it. I'll happily back it.

Richard

Phyllis Burton wrote 1113 days ago

Hello Sandy, Good exciting read, well done. Need to read more, so it will go on my Watchlist. Good luck with this.

Phyllis
PAPER DREAMS & A PASSING STORM

rawan wrote 1114 days ago

Having just read the first two chapters of your book, I must say i'm glad to have backed you. Your story is very well narrated and believable. i think you have a great story and i will read a bit more when i get a chance, so best of luck for now, well done

Sandy Mackay wrote 1115 days ago

Hi J.S. Thank you for your kind comments, they are much appreciated. Will have a look at A Darker Moon and get back to you. All the best. Sandy.

Chapter one flows smoothly and nicely (and realistically) describes a family about to send off a younger son. The prose is polished but you may want to look at the slightly varied capitalization of Mum and Dad. The chapter ends on a good hook and an implied cliff-hanger for the future.

Some punctuation and other typos in chapter two. Personally I think you could afford a bit more descriptive detail of the dining scene in Hong Kong without slowing down the pace of the story. There’s another hook at the end of Chapter 2. Because of the echoes of the hook in Chapter one I could have done without it, but I am sure it will keep other people reading.

Chapter three had a bit too much background detail upfront, for my taste, and I found myself skimming it; a bit of editing might not go amiss, but it is a striking contrast with the farming scenes of the first two chapters.

There’s some good stuff here, though I think the later thriller-genre plot developments would make the plot a bit difficult for me to swallow, but then I am not normally a thriller reader.

Good luck with this.

J.S.Watts
A Darker Moon

Sandy Mackay wrote 1115 days ago

Hi Mark, Thank you for your kind comments. It's the first time Wilbur Smith and Ian Fleming have been mentioned on my page!! They have both been inspirational writers for me. I note with interest your mention of the different sights and smells people find on arrival in a new country. This is particularly relevant to the work I am doing at present. It follows an emigrant family to Australia in 1850s. Your comments have been a ray of sunshine after the detailed analysis of some of your predecessors. But hey! we're here to learn and I appreciate the time everybody puts in.
Thanks again and good luck with Winston. All the best. Sandy.



J.S.Watts wrote 1115 days ago

Chapter one flows smoothly and nicely (and realistically) describes a family about to send off a younger son. The prose is polished but you may want to look at the slightly varied capitalization of Mum and Dad. The chapter ends on a good hook and an implied cliff-hanger for the future.

Some punctuation and other typos in chapter two. Personally I think you could afford a bit more descriptive detail of the dining scene in Hong Kong without slowing down the pace of the story. There’s another hook at the end of Chapter 2. Because of the echoes of the hook in Chapter one I could have done without it, but I am sure it will keep other people reading.

Chapter three had a bit too much background detail upfront, for my taste, and I found myself skimming it; a bit of editing might not go amiss, but it is a striking contrast with the farming scenes of the first two chapters.

There’s some good stuff here, though I think the later thriller-genre plot developments would make the plot a bit difficult for me to swallow, but then I am not normally a thriller reader.

Good luck with this.

J.S.Watts
A Darker Moon

markwoodburn wrote 1115 days ago

I have read first three chapters. So far it seems incongruous that a New Zealand sheep shearer could get caught up with Irish Mercenaries and South American dictators, but Wilbur Smith made a fortune out of of wilder scenarios! The first chapter is full of normal people doing normal things but the chapter ends with a terrible hook. Chapter two is good also although I feel you should be more descriptive regarding Callum's thoughts on arriving in the "Old Country." I have been a professional migrant and the first thing you on entering a new land is the sights and the smell of the air being different (Canada, South Africa and Australia) so maybe instead of jumping into shearing which is probably over detailed, you could chop a bit out and relate Callum's thoughts on being in a new country.
The third chapter takes us completely out of our comfort zone and is the the clincher that makes this story different. Bisexual dictators, almost Ian Fleming like in their villainy and you just wonder how the hell this Kiwi is going to get caught up with them. The answer? Read on!!
I would try and squeeze together some of the paragraphs in chapter three as it is not easy to read and you could even cut down on some of the detail.
Imaginative, original in places and don't be put off by comments below about some of the vernacular you use. That is how REAL people speak. American novels are full of language that sounds weird to us Limeys.
Backed and starred. Regards, Mark

Sandy Mackay wrote 1115 days ago

Thanks for your comments. As this is my first novel I appreciate the advise and the time you have spent on it. I have taken it on board and am trying to cut out these basic mistakes in my more recent work, which is a series of novels following a Scottish family who travel to Australia after having been evicted during the Highland Clearances in the 1850s. Thank you once again for your time. Good luck with Aralen Dreams. All the best. Sandy

Some nitpicks from Ch.1

I'm not sure why each of the first several sentences are paragraphs. Unless I'm going for a certain effect, I try to have no less than three sentences in a paragraph. Also, you begin two out of the first three sentences with, "It was . . ." Strive to vary your sentence structure. Moreover, strive to avoid the "There is/there was/It is/It was" construction, for you can always find a more active, more precise way to express the same concept. For example, "We bounced down the road in my father's old pickup on a dull autumn morning" or "It took almost an hour to drive from our farm to Waverly."

I disapprove of your comma usage, but I recently participated in a big debate on comma use in the forums and I leave you to use your commas how you see fit. Notwithstanding, the paragraph about being crammed on the bench and the typical family group is structured in a strange way, not only from a punctuation standpoint, but also from a verb tense standpoint (i.e., you jump around from simple past tense to present tense and some conditional stuff too) (e.g., "Dad squeezed out . . . Mum would burst . . . . Then another long pregnant silence, Dad concentrating"). And that's just in the span of two sentences.

You touch on the idea that someone is going away, but we don't know who or why. Perhaps you want to build intrigue rather than provide the full back story, but it feels like one foot on each side of the fence to me (i.e., you're not concentrating on painting a scene and you're not concentrating on providing back story and you leave both elements dangling).

The run on sentence about the road, the road, the road, didn't work for me, especially as the varied time frames tend to negate each other. The idea is fine, but you don't need to repeat "the road" over and over, and you don't need to repeat the number of years in each clause.

Replace the period with a comma in "That group could do with a move to new pasture"

Another verb issue: You write, "Today, driving that same road was holding all his attention and concentration" becomes, "Today, however, driving that same road held all his attention." Moreover, it's not true. The road wasn't holding his concentration at all, as the next sentences demonstrates (i.e., what's holding his attention is his feelings that he doesn't know how to express).

Hyphenate "hard-earned."

I recommend that you go back through this and eliminate the early references to the narrator going away. Rather, show the reader the awkward truck ride and perhaps drop some references to father's inability to express himself. Don't reference son going away, however, until the arrival in the town. That way, you show the reader some tension by building a scene with images (i.e., brooding dad; mum putting her arm around son; maybe her head on son's shoulder to hide a tear, etc.). Once they arrive in town, you deliver the reader to the conflict and explain the voyage. I think you'll find it will present the opening in a more cohesive and satisfying manner.

Good luck with this.

Charles Thompson wrote 1119 days ago

Some nitpicks from Ch.1

I'm not sure why each of the first several sentences are paragraphs. Unless I'm going for a certain effect, I try to have no less than three sentences in a paragraph. Also, you begin two out of the first three sentences with, "It was . . ." Strive to vary your sentence structure. Moreover, strive to avoid the "There is/there was/It is/It was" construction, for you can always find a more active, more precise way to express the same concept. For example, "We bounced down the road in my father's old pickup on a dull autumn morning" or "It took almost an hour to drive from our farm to Waverly."

I disapprove of your comma usage, but I recently participated in a big debate on comma use in the forums and I leave you to use your commas how you see fit. Notwithstanding, the paragraph about being crammed on the bench and the typical family group is structured in a strange way, not only from a punctuation standpoint, but also from a verb tense standpoint (i.e., you jump around from simple past tense to present tense and some conditional stuff too) (e.g., "Dad squeezed out . . . Mum would burst . . . . Then another long pregnant silence, Dad concentrating"). And that's just in the span of two sentences.

You touch on the idea that someone is going away, but we don't know who or why. Perhaps you want to build intrigue rather than provide the full back story, but it feels like one foot on each side of the fence to me (i.e., you're not concentrating on painting a scene and you're not concentrating on providing back story and you leave both elements dangling).

The run on sentence about the road, the road, the road, didn't work for me, especially as the varied time frames tend to negate each other. The idea is fine, but you don't need to repeat "the road" over and over, and you don't need to repeat the number of years in each clause.

Replace the period with a comma in "That group could do with a move to new pasture"

Another verb issue: You write, "Today, driving that same road was holding all his attention and concentration" becomes, "Today, however, driving that same road held all his attention." Moreover, it's not true. The road wasn't holding his concentration at all, as the next sentences demonstrates (i.e., what's holding his attention is his feelings that he doesn't know how to express).

Hyphenate "hard-earned."

I recommend that you go back through this and eliminate the early references to the narrator going away. Rather, show the reader the awkward truck ride and perhaps drop some references to father's inability to express himself. Don't reference son going away, however, until the arrival in the town. That way, you show the reader some tension by building a scene with images (i.e., brooding dad; mum putting her arm around son; maybe her head on son's shoulder to hide a tear, etc.). Once they arrive in town, you deliver the reader to the conflict and explain the voyage. I think you'll find it will present the opening in a more cohesive and satisfying manner.

Good luck with this.

Margaret Anthony wrote 1120 days ago

No comments from me about format, punctuation or other such things. I'm no editor, just a reader. Certainly, there is nothing taxing about the writing style. Clear, easy to read narrative with nothing wasted on 'purple prose.'
The scene setting in the opening is efficient and the story fairly rattles along. I confess, I like dialogue driven action but that is just my preference.
Could this be more topical considering recent events in the Far East, I think not. Good pitch too, which promises much. I'm sure lovers of the thriller genre will find a lot of potential when they look for a good read.
Starred and on my shelf for that reason. Margaret.

Sandy Mackay wrote 1125 days ago

Hi Greg.Thank you for your well thought out comments and observations. Firstly I must apologise for the Rugby generalisation as I realise it is out of date but in my generation of Scots it is a common mistake.I have met a number of young New Zealanders like Callum doing exactly what he does in the book.
I agree with most of what you say in your profile as well, I will be interested to see if the system eventually corrupts you when you get hungry for the success of your book.
On the subject of grammer, the older I get the more it confuses me.
I have had a number of peoples opinion before and since the book went on Authonomy, with various responces.
I had comma's in and commas out, ands in and and out, sentences shortened and lengthened. Its a bit like sending for the Plumber, the Electrician or the Joiner to fix something around the house.The first thing they usually say when they look at the wiring or the pipes ect, is "who made this bloody mess". I'm beginning to think language academics are much the same.End of the rant!
I visited your web site and was intrigued by the theory that Spaniards reached NZ first.I will watch list Spanish Helmet and comment when I have the chance to read a bit. All the best. Sandy.

I have starred your book. I think you have some potential with a few decent edit runs. You need to focus on grammar, lack of commas in much-needed places, but likewise you have a few very long run-on sentences to clean up. Throwing in some full-stops in those will increase the pace too.

I liked that I knew the roads you were driving and I could relate well to much of your content (small town boy here).
But, you make a few generalisations that are too broad. For example, the one that really made me cringe... 'Like most young Kiwis, my other passion was rugby.'
Pardon? In my school of 1000, rugby was played by a grand total of 30 (or so), the 1st and 2nd fifteen teams. Other sports, like volleyball, squash, rowing, etc. were mostly more important to both the males and females alike.
I guess it just bothers me that you make such a stereotypical comment. But I also get how it sets the stage for your friendships and characters lives. Perhaps, just change it to... 'Like many young Kiwis...'

I might find some time to read further later, and give some better feedback.

Best of luck.

GregScowen wrote 1126 days ago

I have starred your book. I think you have some potential with a few decent edit runs. You need to focus on grammar, lack of commas in much-needed places, but likewise you have a few very long run-on sentences to clean up. Throwing in some full-stops in those will increase the pace too.

I liked that I knew the roads you were driving and I could relate well to much of your content (small town boy here).
But, you make a few generalisations that are too broad. For example, the one that really made me cringe... 'Like most young Kiwis, my other passion was rugby.'
Pardon? In my school of 1000, rugby was played by a grand total of 30 (or so), the 1st and 2nd fifteen teams. Other sports, like volleyball, squash, rowing, etc. were mostly more important to both the males and females alike.
I guess it just bothers me that you make such a stereotypical comment. But I also get how it sets the stage for your friendships and characters lives. Perhaps, just change it to... 'Like many young Kiwis...'

I might find some time to read further later, and give some better feedback.

Best of luck.

Walt Alexander wrote 1126 days ago

Hi Sandy, Your story embraces a worldly theme reminiscent of a James Bond film. I'm not sure of the appeal of sheep minding but the San Francisco earthquake certainly gets the attention. Been there & to Yosemite- no earthquake thankfully. The current Japanese crisis is about the same order on the Richter scale but with a tsunami on top!!!!! I liked your tale. The rape scene was was, as is the rest, well portrayed and your writing carries the reader at a breathless and exciting pace.The finale is good. I liked the phrase: 'mighty dinosaurs of the past..........mankinds exist......subject to Mother Natures acquiescence.' Backed & shelved when room.
Best Walt.

Raven Jake wrote 1126 days ago

This is skillfully written and I enjoyed it. The visual descriptions are the strength of the piece and they do well to expand and clarify your scenes. Along with the great visuals I really wanted some visceral sensory descriptions to match. The story moves faster at first, but seems a little plodding in the bar as there isn't a sense that the scene is going anywhere- even knowing it is. The same scenes with a cohesive conflict to unify them will make for powerful reading.

I combed through for some structural observations:

(It was a dull autumn morning as we bounced down the road in my father’s old pickup truck.)
I'm undecided on this. I really like the first two sentences as they have strong imagery- especially the second. I think they could possibly be stronger with the elimination of the passive actions. 'It was a' strikes a sort of rhetorical accord for the opening line, but I get the sense that there is a more solid reworking of the sentence. For the second line 'began to cloak' can just be 'cloaked' for a stronger action, as the qualification for the cloaking occurs throughout the rest of the sentence.
 
(soil,.)
Good sentence, punctuation typo probably from lingering edits.
 
(Then another long pregnant silence, Dad concentrating on driving the road he never had to think about any other time)
This sentence also has pretty strong imagery and deals some great character development for the father.
 
(a father wants to say when his son is leaving home but can never seem to get out.)
This doesn't work. The other sentences are dealing with character and scene rich material, while this is a sweeping generalization from the omniscient.
 
(Dad had ...to a halt at the bus stop twenty yards away.)
Cut 'at the bus stop' as it has been established.

(Tears were trickling down her cheeks now and I made out I was struggling with my bulging rucksack to avoid meeting her eyes.)
Rephrase to remove the passive 'were trickling down.'

(to alight.)
Seems like strange wording here but then again, I'm from a different region.

(and stuck out a huge calloused hand)
'His' may work better here. When one analyzes the sentence, and they're morbid enough, they'll at least envision once that the man is sticking out the hand of someone else.
 
(The words we were both looking for would never come, but we both knew them anyway.)
This doesn't settle well with me when describing the slight of communication between these two. It boarders on a generality.



(“Right son, like time, that bloody bus waits for no man”)
The more minimized this voice is, the more powerful it will become. Use as few words as possible for the maximum impact. 'Right son, like time...' is an excess. The father simply looking and saying 'the bus waits for no man.' Is more powerful, as the patriarchal stoicism is encapsulated.

(and trying to say “Wellington Central” to the smirking driver while holding out the fare.)
Sorry, but I'm not familiar with buses of that region, only other regions, so this may be an irrelevant observation. Most often on buses, you pay the tortured non-human at the front, you sit down and the vehicle rides off to wherever it was going to go, with our without your input. And if it so pleases you, you may leap off at the right moment in order to escape your dull humming prison somewhat near your intended destination.

(Although Dad and mum were sad, I knew they shared my excitement as they waved me off on the bus.)
This is slightly contrary and not as subtle as their previous reactions.

(They had worried far more three years ago when my older brother Neil had gone off on a similar trip but communication was so much easier now.)
This hints at a specific and interesting event, but is vague and not enough to satisfy curiosity.
 
(Neil had returned ... the farm.)
Comes close to the simultaneous trepidation and reverence towards military service.
 
(We never dreamed of the series of terrible events that were to ensure that I would never see any of them or the farm again.)
The collective is dishonest from the first person. Don't speculated on what the others never dream of.

(As a country boy it was the most exciting, invigorating place I had ever seen, living up to all my expectations and then some.)
The opening sentence of the section is more acceptable in a passive voice. Here, the passive blends the character voice to the point of generality.

(he replied affably.)
Peculiar tag.
 
(His accent ...Giant Buddha we had seen at the Po Lin Monastery earlier in the day.)
Great image.
 
(he wasn’t exactly easy on the eye.)
Singular? May be a regional expression I'm not familiar with.

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