Book Jacket

 

rank 881
word count 15179
date submitted 05.02.2011
date updated 11.03.2013
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historic...
classification: universal
incomplete

The Smoke That Thunders

Nate Bassett

"I refuse to let them strip me of love, of hope---of humanity. That is what they want. And, we must--and we can--pray for them, Peter."

 

'The Smoke That Thunders,' explores the quest for friendship and love in the midst of human frailty and human cruelty. It is a journey towards hope—hope that we can find faith in ourselves and in something much greater.

Early on in life, Peter and Chad decided not to care about the world around them...albeit for very different reasons. Chad took great pride in being a self-absorbed, pretty-boy. Peter, a has-been hippie, worked hard to disappear into his own world. A flip of a coin drew them into an unlikely friendship their first year at university.

A year later, they befriended a white South African exchange student. Concerned about their self-centered view of the world, he invited them to join him in South Africa.

This year in Africa forces them to face the realities of oppression and cruelty, and of hope and love. However, both begin to see these realities from very different perspectives; perspectives that threatens their friendship and in the end, shapes their futures.

This story wrestles with the possibility of forgiveness and redemption in the context of man’s inhumanity to man as experienced in an apartheid South Africa and a war-torn Zimbabwe.

 
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tags

africa, coming of age, forgiveness and redeemption, love and friendship

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73 comments

 

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Patsy4 wrote 340 days ago

In the opening scene there is a lot of conversation which brings the characters alive. Then when we come to chapter 1 they only speak in short bursts and there's a lot of description from alternate POV. I think that if they had more conversations then the reader would learn their attitudes to each other from what they say. However that's just a suggestion and it all flows very well so ignore if you wish!
I'll try and read osme more tomorrow.
Anne

MauriceR wrote 350 days ago

Hi Nate
I guess this is essentially a character study of two people, so what matters most is that they came across as believable. I also liked the way that you started with two stereotypes and then gradually humanized them. That works, I think, because you get an immediate sense of who they are (based on the preconceptions that go with the stereotypes) and this provides a basis for slowly fleshing them out and making them feel more real - which is often how things go when you get to know someone in real life.

I also liked the dialogue in the opening scene, particularly official’s words which were easy to imagine being spoken in a South African accent.
That leads to my only minor niggle - that in the opening scene it was the official who came across as by far the most vivid character, whereas the two protagonists were hard to tell apart and didn’t really come to life at all. In the wider scheme of things, perhaps that doesn’t matter - this aspect being comprehensively resolved in chapter 2 onwards. Still, if the aim is to get the reader involved in the story as early as possible, then I think some more foreshadowing of their respective personalities could really help. You do it to a small extent already, with Chad being presented as the more volatile one, but it wasn’t enough to clearly set them apart in this reader’s mind.

On the other hand, the behaviour of the official and the references to Rhodesia did a great job of putting the story into a particular time and place without any intrusive back-story digressions. As a result the prologue-based structure works just fine.

Maurice

Andrew Esposito wrote 353 days ago

The Smoke That Thunders is an engaging story that tracks the experiences of Chad and Peter. I really liked the Prologue - especially the menacing officer and the way he revealed evidence against the guys. It was a great insight into a South Africa from the 1970s that is still undergoing major changes today - and perhaps still has many of the past attitudes bubbling below the social surface. I particularly liked the final scene of the Amanda and the gun. I also like how the story leaps into the meeting of Chad and Peter in the US University. Great descriptions of the characters and how they, almost begrudgingly, become friends.

Nate, there's a few little nits I thought I'd mention for you to consider: change 'Odds' to 'chances' - I think it fits better with 'percentage'. Revisit using '* * *' as a time break. There are probably too many and some are unnecessary. I found it jarred the interesting story line into snippets.

The Smoke That Thunders is very engaging and the scene setting / tension encourages the reader to move forward and is well constructed. Nate, you're crafted a gritty, poignant story and I wish you much success with it. Best regards, Andrew Esposito / Killing Paradise.

Alice Barron wrote 505 days ago

What a wonderfu story. An instant hit with me. I was hooked when I read the short pitch. It is like the person that is speaking is fighting for his dignity but then in a turnaround he empathizes with the persecutor. Excellent.

We instantly feel for Chad and Peter as they are being interrogated in Africa, a foreign country, by an official. It could be any one of us. In a foreign land and being hauled in and questioned about something. I know people that this happened to so for me this is very real. It can be very frightening. Unsure of the outcome. You captured it very well.

Imagery of the surroundings is excellent.

What a lovely surprise at the end of chapter 1. It felt like christmas came early.

Alice.

Andrea Taylor wrote 518 days ago

This is very good writing. It is fluid, has style and sounds natural. This is an art and you have mastered it. After that any story is good...so lots of stars and a good luck wish it finds the ED.
Andrea
The De Amerley Affiar

Lenny Banks wrote 519 days ago

Hi Nate, I took a look at chapter 2 (3 on here), thanks for supporting my book. I found this to be a moving description of the relationship between the friends. Its interesting as it made me look back at how my friendships developed with other people. Including true-to-life experiences with apartheit will add an extra dimension. I think a lot of people will want to read this kind of book, most of us have no idea what happened in these countries. Good Work and I wish you good Luck.

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

superostah wrote 522 days ago

Wow.

I read through the prologue and I'm still feeling tense. Your writing style here is perfect for the story you are conveying. Such a simple conversation is produced in such a way that you can't help but be pulled in and feel as though you are the one on the wrong side of the desk.

I'm tossing this on my bookshelf and will be back to check out more as soon as I can find the time.

Kevin Bergeron wrote 565 days ago

Nate,

I read the prologue and chapters one and two. The story and characters held my interest; very realistic and totally believable. I particularly like that you're dealing with the everyday concerns of real people. I was a bit like Peter myself when I was in college. Peter and Chadwick are good characters, and I'm enjoying reading their interactions. The whole thing with the Professor, The Library and all, is really fascinating and amusing. I've never encountered anything like that in real life or in fiction, but it is totally believable, and when I think about it, there must be some pretty interesting and unusual characters who live on (and off of) the fringes of academia.

I'm still wondering who the terrorist is, and how he and Peter know one another. I'll be back to read more.

Kevin

LandMark wrote 596 days ago

I enjoyed what I read. I was a little confused at first by the significance of the prologue and then building the story from that point.
I would not agree with all the grammatical correction comments below, but would agree with others; so might suggest being selective on what attention you give them. I found your style, just that!

Good luck with this.

Mark

Lady Midnight wrote 620 days ago

Hi Nate, just read the prologue of The Smoke that Thunders. I’m not usually a fan of prologues, but this works. It does its job of setting up the scene and the descriptive passages are really well done. There are some minor nitpicks, which I’ve outlined below, but nothing major. If I get the chance, I’ll read on.

Peter noticed a few of the passengers [squirm] I’m not sure this works. Perhaps give them odd looks, or avoid their gaze?

[He was sure they were thinking that both he and Chad looked like exhausted, weather-beaten zombies.]
Great description.

Chad glanced at their fellow passengers, nodded politely – and [he] smiled. Don’t think you need this, it interrupts the flow. Chad glanced at their fellow passengers, nodded politely, and smiled.

[A few passengers expressed alarm when two [machinegun-laden] Should be: machine gun laden...

... pickup trucks took their places in the front and rear of the bus.] The word “in” makes it sound as if the trucks are actually inside the bus. Perhaps replace with “at”.

[…jarring Peter nearly out of his seat.] The syntax is slightly off here, suggest: …nearly jarring Peter out of his seat.

[Seconds later, rapid gunfire came from the bushveld to the left and drowned out panicked screams. Machineguns on the guardian trucks unleashed a barrage of bullets producing an angry cacophony that vibrated the bus and Peter’s eardrums. Along with all the others, he dove to the floor and covered his ears trying to muffle the terror that wouldn’t stop.] Again, great description – very evocative.

[Three seconds later – another explosion was followed by a storm of gunfire from the other side of the road. Machineguns fell silent; Peter could hear the pickup trucks swerve out of control. He braced himself, knowing what was coming – the bus veered left to miss the lead truck. Screams intensified.] As above. I felt as if I could “see” this.

…the German, bled from his [left right thigh.] I don’t understand this. Was he bleeding from both thighs?

His friend’s body [laid]…should be “lay.”

[Peter’s] brain ceased to process…
[Peter] motioned him to shut up.
[Peter] heard tugging at the door. You’ve used the MC’s name three times consecutively. Try to vary it a little, otherwise the narrative begins to read like a list.

[A few passengers began to moan and Peter again motioned for silence. The tugging continued until the creak of strained hinges sent a bolt of fear straight through Peter’s gut and spine. He dare not look – his eye remained fixed on his friend as he watched Chad’s lifeblood ooze through his fingers. Out of the corner of his right eye he saw the barrel of an AK47 moving slowly back and forth, up and down. Peter knew the terrorist was savoring the impending mayhem, the man was going to enjoy each execution, the death of each defenseless, innocent human being.] The tension in this passage is fantastic.

[The demon lowered his weapon, winked at Peter and said, “Dear Peter, we meet again.” He then looked at Chad. With a subtle, unnerving grin, he took a bandana from his back pocket and tossed it to Peter. “Take care my American friend, take care. I pray it is not too late for your friend.” He turned and walked out of the bus as he barked orders to his freedom fighters.] Nice bit of intrigue, to draw the reader on.

Debbie R wrote 696 days ago

The prologue has a good pace. I like the fact that the demon branishing the gun says to Peter 'we meet again' . This sets the question - so where have they met before?

Your story flows at a good pace and you describe your characters very well. You 'show' as well as 'tell' us aboiut them which gives them more depth. The fact that we hear what Peter thinks of Chad and Chad of Peter adds another layer.

There is a good sense of when this story takes place - the eight tracks (had those myself!), Chris Evert etc.

I like the fact that as much as these two characters want to avoid one another, fate seems to be pulling them together. Chad has the room next door to Peter and when he arrives late for a lecture, Kingsbury pairs them up.

I like the way you write and your characterization is excellent.

Not the usual sort of thing I would chose to read but am very glad that I read this. Starring it very highly and will
find room on my book shelf for it.

Best of luck
Debbie

Shelby Z. wrote 717 days ago

You have a good talent for changing the pace. You went from slow easy pace to a thrilling action packed adventure. The switch is so well portrayed that it draws the reader to go on reading.
It flows in an awesome way.
The title is very good and the pitch is written well.
Amazing work!

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

Adeel wrote 727 days ago

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

Sharda D wrote 729 days ago

Hi Nate,
returning your read of 'Mr Unusually's Circus of Dreams'. Thank again.

This is absorbing stuff, a good gripping start with a cliff-hanger ending to Chp1, then going back to the start of the story when the two main characters first meet. A good structure that makes sense and is executed seamlessly and confidently.
I love the slow build of tension in Chapter 2 as the two characters size each other up. It seemed very authentic and believable, reminded me of my male friends at University some 20 years ago!
Niggles?
1) Slightly confusing near the beginning where you have "Chad glanced..." that sentence sounded too much like it was from Chad's POV, so it feels like your switching back and forth between POVs, I know you're not, but I snagged on it a little and had to go back and re-read. I'm tired today, so that could be me.
2) In the paragraph "An explosion rocked the bus..." I felt that you lost a bit of shock-value by putting in words like "barrage" and "cacophony", better to take out the more descriptive nouns here as they slow down the pace a bit... particularly cocophony! Actually I think this paragraph (and the next) could do with being a bit more dramatic. It doesn't sound as terrifying as I would imagine it to be. Maybe you want it low-key for some reason, but it feels like you are pulling your punches a little!
This is a fascinating story and would love to read more. 5 stars from me
All the best,
Sharda.

SpicePepe wrote 729 days ago

Dear Nate

Fast paced, readable and believeable. When do more chapters come online?

Please have look at my book. The Road from Makhonjwa

Regards
Bridget

fatema wrote 730 days ago

Victorian fall Rhodesia, very enticing place, enticed me to read.
The beginning with public bus and busstop. then the gunfires, blood and injured people. suspense
Class-room professor. Metting nextdoor neighbour in the classroom to work together. interesting and exciting.
Then plan to escape a year of education to go to Africa. Convinced family, Good story and well written. i was enticed.

Dean Lombardo wrote 740 days ago

Hi Nate,
Here to return the read. While this is not my chosen genre, I am versatile enough to realize you have a gift. I am impressed with the realism, from the powerful opening scene to the nostalgic "moving in" feeling you gave me from your college scenes. The writing/pacing/characterization/tone/description are all excellent, and my only comment is maybe one more dreadful line/half line of description about the baby with the gunshot wound. I know there are bullets flying and things are happening quickly but something feels like it's missing there, and if I go back to look I might lose this post.
Very, very, very, very, very, very highly starred for now, and who knows?
Dean

Dianna Lanser wrote 744 days ago

Nate,

I have just finished reading the five chapters of The Smoke That Thunders that you have upload. This is absolutely the kind of book I love to read. I’m a person who reads the National Geographic from cover to cover, loving to learn about different cultures and people. My family is very mission-minded traveling to China, Mexico, Bangladesh and Nigeria (three times a year). So to find a book where I can learn and watch your characters change from the inside out is like finding a hidden treasure.

Your book opens with a definite attention-grabber and sets the stage for what the plot will eventually lead up to. Through the eyes of Peter, you do such a good job letting the reader see inside both characters.

“When he saw the barrel of the rifle pointed towards his head, Peter(’s) emotions disappeared…”

Chapter two is evidence that you know your characters inside and out. They are intriguing in all their differences and misunderstandings of each other. Their disdain for one another serves to increase the curiosity in the reader. I loved walking down memory lane with references to the good and quirky (Simon and Garfunkel, 8 track tapes) and the necessary bad (race riots.) Baby boomers will love this chapter, it really takes them back to that crazy, volatile time in U.S, History.

Chapter three - This was my favorite chapter. I loved the surprise waiting at Chad’s door and the conversation that took place at The Library. The friendship that is forming between Chad and Peter is really satisfying and almost heart-warming. The whole judging the book by the cover part is really very clever and shows what kind of man is hiding behind their necessary masks. Understanding comes when each man tells their story. Both stories bring an added measure of intrigue and tension to the book. I loved Chad’s almost humorous interjections as Peter related his sad love story about the mountain girl.

He’ll give generous discounts for (doing running) errands for him…” maybe pick one.

“There was a moment of silence as Chad finished off (the) first can….”

Chapter four - Simon and his wonderful accent appears on the scene. He challenges his new friends in ways they’ve never been challenged before.

Chapter five - Plans fall into place. Chad and Peter step foot on South African soil as the narrator hints of personal testing that will refine each young man.

“Simon asked me to go to South Africa and stay with him, see the county (country?)

Nate, you have done a wonderful job with this and have created an entertaining and highly relatable beginning. I can tell this story will prove to be much more deeper and richer that your average run-of-the-mill historical novel. Six Stars!

Dianna Lanser
Nothing But The Blood

Adeel wrote 751 days ago

The book is on my WL and i will leave my comments after finishing the read.

sensual elle wrote 788 days ago

Nate, you'll know what I mean when I save your novel 's good, 's nice, it's 'lakker'. This beautifully titled book begins when baddies in bakkies attack a bus and old friends unite.

At first blush, it's a buddy story, but one rooted in historical fact. The author's writing is smooth, perfect pitch, and goes down like Amarula. Read it, friends, read it.

From KwaZulu-Natal… I back it.

10Maria10 wrote 815 days ago

Hi Nate,

Loved your prologue. A very hairy experience especially in light of the fact that such incidences did probably occur very much as the country headed to its goal as Zimbabwe.

These types of realistic books are hard for me to read as they effect me quite a bit emotionally however I want to say that your writing is well paced. And i particularly liked that you had two mysteries in the proloque, one which the reader is privy too ie Peter knowing one of the gunmen and the other being in the first few paragraphs ie Peter and Chad boarding the bus with something of a story they've been eager to leave behind.

As i like to encompass a range of genres i'm putting you on my watchlist and do hope to see this different style of story on the Editors desk soon.

Kind Regards

Maria :-) (Otherkind)

Ron Mitchell wrote 820 days ago

Interesting Plot...Best of luck in the future with your book.

Ron Mitchell wrote 849 days ago

I love your writing style. It has a good flow and a great plotline that seems to be developing. Keep at it. Remember December Gold in your reading and comments.

Kady Colter wrote 864 days ago

Nate,

I plan to come back to this later (it's really late here and my eyes are soooo tired) but took a glance. Was reading the prologue and feel like your hook (IMHO) to start the book is "An explosion rocked the bus..." that's where I became engaged. Perhaps you can weave the other into back story later. Also, one other thing I noticed, you used the word came (passive verb) a couple of times in the early prologue so you might want to check and make active. What I do is go through my manuscripts and try to circle all passive verbs after an initial first draft and make them active.

Sounds like it's going to be an interesting read. I'll have to get back to it later. The eyelids will no longer stay propped open and I want to do your book justice!

And thanks for backing Shakespeare's Pink Cadillac! ~Kady Colter

Lisa A Powell wrote 871 days ago

Nate,

Great story. Kept my interest. Loved your opening. Put on watchlist and starred. As i was reading i saw an error. Chapter 3: A knock on the door (started) Chad...should be "startled". But that is all i ran across. Hope to read more. Please keep me informed if you upload more..

Have a great Day, Lisa

kriskrueger wrote 875 days ago

What I've read so far is very interesting. I will surely be coming back to read more.

audreyauden wrote 884 days ago

An intriguing pitch! The vivid, action-packed prologue kept me hooked from start to finish. Promises to be a page-turner.

Yerwun wrote 889 days ago

This was great! The characters had personality straight away, and the action scene was very well described. Your style really seems JD Salinger-influenced. Obviously not the plot or anything, but the sort of cynicism in the narrative. This is going on the shelf, and you'll just have to take my word that's it's not at all because you backed my book.

Momma Bear wrote 905 days ago

The beginning chapter was very compelling and very dramatic. I found myself biting my nails, something I try very hard not to do. It did a great job of making me switch to the second chapter. Your writing was perfect and very well edited. And the character development was spot on. Big stars from me.

leelah wrote 913 days ago

I have read both prologues now ( visited your Smashword-edition.) They really create quite different expectations in me. MAYBE I like the smashwod better: it lats me taste a bit more the different characters, Peter and Chad, and how unlikely it seems that they will travel together - and how wildly different their perceptions are.
I read this because of the pitch: forgiveness and redemption, love and friendship. I would be interested in exploring how these to seeming character-polarities can travel together, learn to use their differences to grow and love and forgive - because i think that's what life is about.
I found both prologues very likable: it was easy to believe in the descriptions and the story, and i found myself having fond feeling for both of them. I like they eye you have, that makes you write like this.
starred
Leelah Saachi

schild wrote 918 days ago

I've read Wibur Smith. Most of his adventures take place in Africa. Your novel is very much like his novels. I like your narrative prose. The dialogue is realistic. Gotten through the prologue and every chapter posted so far. I enjoy more mainstream novels than strict genre formats. I think a novel not fitting neatly into one genre, but encompassing many, is great writing. I look forward to the story moving back to Africa. I've backed you with six stars. Good luck moving forward.
David Schild

orma wrote 920 days ago

I've read first two chapters. The writing's quite well done and you have a knack for descriptions.
I identified more with Peter, that's probably because I used to suffer from panic attacks myself!
It would be interesting to find out how two really different people will make a friendship between them.
I like the bit of humour in there, re; Peter's death delusions.
All in all qiute a good read. Excellent grammer and spelling.
I wish you well and good luck with your publication.
Orma, Crystal Child.

Philthy wrote 921 days ago

Hi Nate,

Honestly, I can’t recall if this is a return read, I owed you a read, or I was simply drawn by your pitch :P. Sorry for that. My WL is out of control. At any rate, I’m glad to be here.

Short pitch:
Not too fond of using a quote for a short pitch, and from what I hear, publishers hate the overuse of dashes (and ellipses). Just something to think about.

Long pitch:
Delete that first paragraph. It does absolutely nothing for you and is sort of a turn off to the reader, because it doesn’t really say anything.

“Early on in life,” delete “on”

Take out the part about the flip of a coin. You aren’t going into it, so what does it do for you in the pitch? (I wouldn’t go into it here).

There are some good hooks here, but I’d suggest cleaning it a bit by scrubbing out some of the unnecessary back story. The reader doesn’t need a synopsis, just the hooks.

Chapter one
I don’t understand the separation part after the first paragraph. What does this do for you?

“and he smiled” you can delete “smiled”

Delete “he offered”

Delete “notice him”

“and with no animation” is awkward word choice here.

Nice chapter! I love your voice and flow. I think the biggest thing I can suggest is to scrub it for excessive wordiness. Otherwise, good stuff. High stars.

Again, I can’t recall if this was a return read, mostly because my brain is absolutely fried, but if you haven’t checked out my pitch I’d invite you to do so and read on if it interests you. I’d love to know your thoughts!

Good luck!

Phil
(Deshay of the Woods)

AudreyB wrote 926 days ago

Wow, this is a fascinating story. I enjoyed reading about how Peter and Chad met and got to know one another, and appreciated their encounter with Simon. This is sure to do well.

I am often accompanied on my reviews by my English teacher alter-ego, The Grammar Hag. The Hag thinks you are skilled enough to do more showing and less telling. Take Simon, for instance. Instead of just telling the reader what Chad and Peter teach him, take us on an outing and let the events unfold. The other thing The Hag wonders about is what on earth happened during the presentation that made them willing to socialize? Their decision to go for a drink is so unexpected, it'd be nice to know what caused it.

But this is interesting. We need more literature about Africa, and you have clearly got a great idea to explore.

Best of luck to you!
~AudreyB

NerdGirl61023 wrote 936 days ago

Nate,

I read up to Chapter 3 very good story. You paint a very good picture, but I do agree with the below comment that there is a lot of narrative. Sometimes it is good to have this broken up by dialog. Not saying that it is unwarranted. Overall good stuff.

cheerful273 wrote 938 days ago

Nate,

Very gripping first chapter. Normally, I would not be reading something like this but it is a great story. Read the first three chapters.

Since it's a work of fiction, might there be more dialogue that can be worked in? There is a lot of narrative to digest and it can lose readers who are impatient to "hear" the characters talking.

Other than that, you've captured the scene for me but waiting to be emotionally vested into the character.

Alice

Author apart from the rest wrote 939 days ago

Nate,

This book has drawn me into an emotional and inspirational journey. You have a jewel here, and I truly hope you make it to the editor's desk-would be very much deserved. Super job!!

a.morrison712 wrote 944 days ago

I was only able to get to the first chapter. I enjoyed what was put before me though! Nice writing style and it was paced well. Also, your pitch is just enough to keep the reader wanting more. I will be back for more reads. You have been starred and I'll be watching! Best of luck with it!


Ashley
'Maddy Hatfield and the Magic Locket'

ses7 wrote 963 days ago

This is a well-written piece, and I was sorry that I only had time to read the first two chapters for now—I really wanted to read on. I really like your use of the prologue—it’s a short, quick action sequence with no backstory that gives us a snapshot of things to come and, it really drew me into the story and made me want to keep reading. Well done.

I also love your writing style, and your descriptions of the interactions and the setting were great and really came alive for me, especially in that opening bus scene. Excellent. And I love how you go back and start telling us how these two men—Peter and Chad—came to meet and end up as friends on this trip together. It’s intriguing.

I also liked the descriptions of Peter’s anxiety attacks. It was succinct, it made sense, and it was a great aspect to help us get to know this character better. The character development on Chad’s was succinct and well done also.

A couple of constructive comments (both were simply typos):
(1) “…the German, bled from his left right thigh.” Choose which one (left or right, or “left [and] right”). :-)
(2) “Professor Kingsbury asked if there was anyone who did not have [a] partner.”

I enjoy your writing style, and I love the story you’re telling. Your prologue is very effective and brings me right in, and I just want to keep reading. Excellent job.

-Sarah ES (Destiny of Species)

JamesRevoir wrote 974 days ago

Hello Nate:

I have read the first 158 pages of The Smoke that Thunders on Smashwords, and I must say I really like this book. It is amazingly well-written on so many levels.

The love-hate relationship between Peter and Chad reminds me of a remarkably similar relationship which I had with a cousin of mine when I was growing up. Some may wonder how two completely different people can forge such a friendship as theirs, but I can that this can and does happen.

In addition, your writing explores so many dynamics from making a stand for righteousness to the complexities of unexpectedly falling into love.

With regard to the prologue to choose-both have their merits but I think that the prologue on this site wins out in my mind; for no other reason than the shock value of the opening bus scene.

This book is definitely a winner on this site.

Blessings to you.

James Revoir

jlbwye wrote 977 days ago

Smoke that Thunders. An evocative cover and a brilliant title. I've been there, and it is awesome. Your pitches call on something deep within me. But your approach -presenting opposite sides of the spectrum - is different from mine in Breath of Africa, which seeks to draw them together. Interesting.

I take notes as I read, but dont pretent to be an expert.

Prologue. Is it necessary to show thoughts in italics? If does spoil the flow abit, going into the first person like that.
Maybe some of your short sentences could be combined into long ones, to provide variation. 'Along with all the others he dove to the floor, covering his ears to muffle the terror.'
Peter is in the bus. Where do the pick-ups come in?
Love that bit, 'countless bullets ripping surgical holes through the metal'. Do you need the defenceless adjective? Makes the picture stronger without it.
What a mind-blowing end to the Prologue. Brilliant.

Ch.1. My, Pete's a bigoted bloke isnt he. You almost overdo it.
Oh - no you dont. Well described.
Your exposition of Chad draws his character very well, but modern readers and editors, I think, prefer a less passive description. An alternative would be to 'show' his character - like you did Pete's - by getting under his skin in his POV. That way, the blocks of writing scrolling down the pages can also be broken into dialogue, creating white space, which isnt so tedious for the reader. You cant really put your finger on a line to keep your place on the screen, like you can with a book...
Skilful technique, showing what each thinks of the other.
Beware of repeating words in a paragraph, and you could delete words like just, quickly, thereby making your message stronger.
I enjoyed the humour of Peter's outburst. Dont think you need the last two sentences of the Shit paragraph.
I wonder which of the topics fell to Peter.

2. Oh, Norman is a town.
I love your picture of the Professor speaking in short sentences, each ending with a quick breath as he prepared to give birth to a new one. (I dont think you need the repetitious concise).
Pete's story is told with sensitivity, and skilfully contrasted with Chad's remarks. Masterful. They make a good, if unlikely pair.
That's a clever description of Peter frowning.

Your story and character-drawing are very good, and I'm looking forward to reading on. Your style of writing, perhaps, could do with more editing. Someone mentioned to me the saying 'less is more'. Perhaps if you pared out all the repetitious words and unnecessary bits, leaving the bare necessities, it would help your book to take flight. You certainly deserve it.
Editing and re-editing is a pain, but we all have to do it.

Jane. (Breath of Africa)

MIRO1K wrote 980 days ago

Kia ora Nate,

A BHCG review.

This was very impressive -the writing is immediate and has excellent pace. You sentences are quite wordy but, whereas in other books the writing would become laboured -your writing has excellent rhythm that it seems to add to the power and impact. This reads serious and has anger fuelling it -it has real character. The two pitches are also powerful and demand attention.

Things to consider:
Your concern is for events -this keeps the pace moving brilliantly -and less so for environment. I wonder if you've considered adding small details to add a little more imagery for the reader. You might also think about adding small details on temperature and expression -just something to consider -your style is already very evocative -but perhaps subtle details might add more emotional resonance.

I'm going to read on and add more thoughts.
six stars for now -highly recommended.

Kaal Kaczmarek
Cousin Felicity and the Eels of Misty Point

mapleyther wrote 981 days ago

The power of the short and long pitch persuaded me to read a few chapters even though the subject matter is not one I would be normally be drawn to (to dark and gritty for my tastes). That power has been replicated in the text. I was persuaded to drop the prologue from my book but you must certainly keep yours! Good luck with the book...!

zelmira wrote 981 days ago

Not a great fan of prologues but this one read well. Writing is crisp and there's quickly the sense that this will be a riveting story.

Daniela Pitakova wrote 984 days ago

Smashing, what an intense beginning to your story. It captures any reader and invites them to turn the pages swiftly. Your writing style is also pretty polished. I am pondering who Peter is (deeper within his character). I enjoyed what I read up to now and I will try to return to read more. Fully rated. Good luck.

Wussyboy wrote 988 days ago

Wow, Nate, what a prologue! I didn't want to read it (it's 2am for gawd's sake!) but your comments drew me in. And the writing kept me there. This is gory, visceral stuff - I can see you doing real well with this on Authonomy.

Hell, I'll go over to Smashwords (when my ebook reader arrrives) and BUY a copy!

Joe Kovacs
He ain't heavy, He's my Buddha

M Atabo wrote 990 days ago

Some say prologue is a waste of time; 'readers don't read them!' they say. But this one has the pitch point that will stir readers to keep reading. Good work Nate.

Nigel Fields wrote 1001 days ago

The days before Wellbutrin and Xanax. I really felt for Peter's anxiety issues, though I smiled through them. Chapter one follows well after the prologue. Peter and Chad come across excellently and are great characters for this tale. I look forward to reading more of this. So far so very good.
Best,
John Campbell

elmo2 wrote 1019 days ago

hi, i read about the first four sections of this story, i think the prologue is fine, i too would pick a place, given the setting and pitch, where the drama seems crystallized, the contrast between young american students and a reperensentative from the south african regime, a clash of outlook and culture, you signal ahead of time this is a coming of age piece, so then to go back after the prologue to reveal the young characters seems also appropriate, the interchange between the two takes center stage and this advances the story and reveals character, i think i would not be so ready to have my characters reveal so much of themselves and their background through dialogue during one major scene as you have though, it seems a little forced, over a couple beers these young men, who up to then are not so forthcoming reveal so much of their backgrounds and the sore points there in, they reveal their histories like a laundry list, one adding references to viet nam and racial unrest, as if you not only want to bring in your character's unfortunate affair with an unfarithful lover, but want to give his political take on the world also, just telling how he got dumped would be plenty for one scene, and probably the most a person would or want to reveal through dialogue in one setting, even with alcohol loosening his tongue, also i would stay away from the narrator soon after summarizing the future of the realtionship, how it would grow and reshape itself in time, at this point the drama should be gripping the reader, let them discover how the relationship advances, summarizing should be left for minor characters and for final chapters, i think a rework of this piece would make the piece much stronger and be worth it, i am going to back the piece, you will have to wait a couple days, i need to let some of the pieces on my shelf have some time on it, i want you to know this is a good piece and it deserves attention, and it also has historical significance and can reveal much to interested readers, best wishes

elmo2 wrote 1020 days ago

i thank you for backing "the sound not heard", i have put your piece "Beneath the Southern Cross" on my watch list and i will get to it shortly, best wishes

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