Book Jacket

 

rank 333
word count 25795
date submitted 23.11.2011
date updated 26.07.2012
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Comedy
classification: universal
incomplete

Man by a tree

Dani J Caile

Take a devilish romp through a world of death, where souls pay for experiences, monkeys are the hosts, and God is the service provider.

 

God (Reginald) has been in control for millenia. With His staff of hundreds, and millions of souls passing through to experience the delights of physicality, his reign has become complacent. His servants, Satan and Lucifer, jump at the chance to take what they see as rightfully theirs.
The Grim Reaper, or Graham Reader as he calls himself, has been doing his job of transporting souls ever since he can remember, to gain his wings. But he has become tainted by the actions of the monkeys living on the planet. Unbeknown to him, a plan is afoot to change the status quo of 'up above' and 'down below', where he is a linchpin to both interested parties.

Available now...
https://www.createspace.com/3731273
http://djc.yolasite.com/

 
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tags

grim reaper god angel monkey soul satan lucifer hobgoblin goblin plan comedy

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92 comments

 

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johnpatrick wrote 807 days ago

BHCG
Hi Dani,
I'm sure your story induces alot of neck-scratching and fingers-hovering-over-keys amongst reviewers. I admit to not knowing where to start...
It's very engaging. A bit like great chocolate when you keep nibbling away at it. The short, punchy chapters help in this respect. I thought I'd stop at 3 but read on as it is, well, engaging and intriguing. I wanted to get a grasp on the story and see where it was going.
You successfully dangle the carrot and shift this lazy ass of a reader very skillfully.
The prose is tight but a little too whimiscal at one point-the description of driving, non-drivers etc. The dialogue is a tad colourless throughout as the dead seem to revert to the same type of idealised individual. The effect is therefore similiar to watching 'Its A Wonderful Life', as if everything takes place in pastel-colours.
But it's very funny, mischievious and yes engaging. It will appeal to a certain type of reader (Terry Pratchett?) and maintain the interest through the book.
I wish you Luck! On my WL and highly starrred.
Regards,
John
Dropping Babies

J. Owen wrote 825 days ago

DJC, I have to say; what a superbly originally fantastic piece of writing. It’s as though someone put a rocket up Terry Pratchett’s derriere and then fired him into a drunken Adams. Captivating, humorous, easy-to-read and thought provoking... And there’s clearly some very deep latent messages here about us mere mortals.

My favourite bit is actually CH1 and the Russian cosmonauts segment, ‘Oh, just a bird’ – I actually ‘saw’ that happening in me noggin.

Needless to say I couldn’t fault it, and I’m not surprised it’s so high up the ratings. It’s already on my shelf (the pitch did that much); and I might even concede to buyin’ the bloomin’ thing and finishing it up.

Best wishes for the ED,
J.

AunaJune wrote 838 days ago

Great pitch. It's enlightening and captivating. You have a nice well-written story. It shows you have really worked to fine-tune your story. You have great word choice and give the reader's a lot of different textures through sentence and paragraphs lengths. The voice is great and you pull the reader into the story. It was a good story to read. Thanks for sharing it on the sight. Best of luck reaching the Editor's Desk.

Auna June
Catalaysia: The Curse of Five

Sandie Zand wrote 838 days ago

There's a lot to like here - the mundane nature of the afterlife, the disgruntled hobgoblins in hell, the almost bored processing of souls into heaven. I love the thought that backseat drivers get sent to hell. It feels linear until we see Michael trying to tell God something's wrong with the numbers before we see the goblin interfering with heaven's computer, before we hear Satan and Lucifer obviously cooking up some sort of plan... so by chapter 15 I'm guessing these things are connected but am just starting to become impatient to know what the significance is.

There are some lovely, amusing and insightful observations along the way - and Graham is a great reaper... again I really like the idea that he's just got to blend in, be that silent slightly dull observer nobody notices - though I also like how the black cloak and scythe came about and, even more amusingly, why they were discarded again - but by the end of chapter 15 I'm wanting a bit more pace to the actual *story*... the settings and characters are well established by then and I found I was getting impatient. Just a bit.

But it's great stuff. Very droll in places... blissfully so.

earthlover wrote 843 days ago

I read the first 7 chapters.
Well written story. I like the play on words, with Grim Reaper/Graham Reader. Loved it when God batted Kailen into the vent, like an annoying fly.
I really don't have much to say about your writing, except it's very good...no mistakes that I can see. I liked the line about "too much white" in what I assume is heaven.
The touches of humor you add are nice.
I wonder what Kailen was doing on the computer. Does it have something to do with the musician in chapter 3? Highly starred! Good luck! Georgia
The Woman From E.A.R.L.

Brian G Chambers wrote 351 days ago

Hi Dani
What can I say. I love it, I love it. The hummour and wit hits you right from the off. A great, and original piece of writing here. I read to the end of chapter 10, and couldn't help smiling all the way. There is nothing I can fault with this. It is writing at its best. If I were you I wouldn't waste my time on here trying to make it to the desk. I would find myself an agent right away. You are clearly a very clever writer, so you should have these stories (I take it for granted that the others you have written are as good as this) out there so that the world can read them. You will have a huge following. Full stars from me.
Brian.

Seringapatam wrote 402 days ago

Dani I actually enjoyed reading this book and think it will do well at the end of the day. There is a superb flow to this that nearly took me away from the story as I was so deep in the book. Thats a good thing for me as I lose concentration very easily. Great humour, great pace and a great future for this. Well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you??.
Many thanks. Sean

Tod Schneider wrote 560 days ago

Excellent, diabolical, funny stuff! I love your imagery and the dark whimsy of your work. Nicely crafted and well polished. Six stars!
Best of luck with this!
Tod
The Lost Wink
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

Chancelet wrote 609 days ago

Club Gilmoire Review

Cute start to the story, and good description of the hobgoblin soaring through the city and onto a pigeon’s back. Like the cosmonauts – kinda reminds me of when the jet pilots saw superman and he waved. It’s hard not to continue on to chapter 2, you just gotta find out what day 2 is like.

N. LaRonda Johnson
http://authonomy.com/books/45790/anticipation-of-the-penitent/

CaileD wrote 625 days ago

Chapter 1 is a pisstake on Grisham who gives everything, right down to the colour of the socks each character is wearing :-)

Chapter 1:

Beady little dark eyes is an old cliche. Took you 5 para' to promote the dialog and even then it was unimaginative for such a detailed explanation of the scenery and motion. The narrator tells you everything from his pov - what to see and what to think. I prefer a mix of these. This is fantasy for an older readership not YA, so I guess this is the format you chose to write this. I would take out those 2 sentences since they're not actually needed. You dumped all the information on us anyhow.

You do have a great imagination. But careful not to overdescribe. Then again,many readers are visuals readers.
Chapter 2 shows a much better promise of structure...

Nancy Lopez wrote 625 days ago

Chapter 1:

Beady little dark eyes is an old cliche. Took you 5 para' to promote the dialog and even then it was unimaginative for such a detailed explanation of the scenery and motion. The narrator tells you everything from his pov - what to see and what to think. I prefer a mix of these. This is fantasy for an older readership not YA, so I guess this is the format you chose to write this. I would take out those 2 sentences since they're not actually needed. You dumped all the information on us anyhow.

You do have a great imagination. But careful not to overdescribe. Then again,many readers are visuals readers.
Chapter 2 shows a much better promise of structure...

alison woodward wrote 643 days ago

Wow love it, so easy to get in to and love the short chapters,
backed and highly stared.
all the best

alison

Charlie James wrote 694 days ago

Hi, read the first dozen chapters. I like the idea here and agree with other comments that this is very pratchet like. Two highlights for me in the sections I read (up to 12) were the synchronised swimming passage and the Angels briefing. They made me smile.

In general it gives me the impression of a movie or similar because of the way it is written and the descriptions of the scenes, the vision I was being presented with was very definite. Whilst it was fun, I couldn't see the overall plot developing it the 25% that I read. Because of the relaxed style and short chapters I'm not sure that was a problem but it might be someone to consider.

Hope this helps.

rikasworld wrote 731 days ago

Comlit Review I think this is a great premise. I read as far as chapter 10, so am not sure how everything is going to tie together yet. I read most of it with a smile but things that particularly made me laugh were: the Russian cosmonauts, the list of what it takes to be a really selfish, detsructive monkey, Michael's security blanket paper work and the phrase about eternity in that section. I like the word blood-curious to describe a certain type of onlooker too. I assume the spelling of hare in the pub name Hare of the Dog was deliberate? Maybe that is explained later. The only things that jarred were the very long para at the beginning of ch. 3 and the very first para of the book. I felt maybe it should say the streets appeared deserted. However, that's just me. Fun, irreverent and humane book, I really enjoyed reading it.

Maevesleibhin wrote 731 days ago

Man by a tree.
ComLit review
Dani,
I am up to Autho chapter 11. While the writing is strong and the premise is funny, I still don't see the slightest hint of a plot. You have laid your ambiance out very carefully and deliberately, and even added a couple of side incidents, like the traffic accident and the homeless men. You have poked fun at dogma, God, the Grim Reaper, and an assortment of angels. But where are you going with it? I am sure you may be going somewhere eventually, but eleven chapters is too long not to hook for my taste.
Hook and plot- I think that you are trying to hook with the premise. I am very critical of this approach, as you may have noticed from other comments. This is a bit of an inherent issue with your subject matter. If things are eternal, then what is it that is so pressing? However, if there is going to be a shake up, I wish you would bring it sooner.
I am not suggesting you fix this by adding a prologue. Rather, I wish you'd at least hint at what the hook earlier. We all know the Grim Reaper. You do not need to show us a several scenes of him taking souls. That is part of the common knowledge. Hook me by showing me how it does not work, or how it changes, and then I will be intrigued to read on.
Character development-There are a bit too many characters in the segment I have read for me to feel you have adequately developed any of them. I suppose that the best developed is"Reader" but this is largely as a reference to the persona of the Reaper. Though I enjoyed some of these, particularly Michael, whom I am rather fond of, I think you would benefit from sticking to a single POV for a while. Again, these elements may be fine once the plot is rolled out, but right now it comes across as disjointed segments. You present Sarah briefly, and she may become important later on, but then you leave her soon after presenting her. The same goes for the hobgoblin. This character may be important, but just presenting him like this is not enough for me.
Entertainment and humour- I found the writing enjoyable and clean in places, but I found some of the humour heavy-handed or unsubtle. For example, the checklist was unsubtle and a bit dull, and it's place of honour in the first few chapters gives it undue importance. The portrayal of God as a petty manager is very bold. I feel that if you are going to do that, you need really good plot, characterization or humour to pull it off. I just don't feel you have established the ground work.
So I am afraid my review is not positive. Of course, I am only one reviewer and you should feel free to ignore me if it does not jive with your vision But it seems to me that you would benefit from consolidating your writing in the first few chapters to a single POV and develop a plot hook.
I give this 2 happy faces. I find the premise the funniest element, but the book itself does not do it for me. I can tell you are trying to be funny, but it does not move me to laughter.
Best of luck with it.
Maeve

marfleet wrote 758 days ago

Man by a tree ComLit forum (review)

This is imaginative and full of humour and delightfully irreverent. It rolls along at a good pace and carries the reader along well. I did find the gamma a bit off putting at times (mainly to do with the use of commas and some unwieldy sentences) and a bit of tightening in that area would make the read a lot smoother – but that can be done later if required. I have mentioned a few things in the first chapter but it may be just your style so feel free to ignore them.
The plot feels a little fragmented (at chapter 6) but as a lover of Terry Pratchett books this doesn’t bother me as long as it all comes together in the end. The long pitch is detailed and intriguing enough for me to be content to wait and watch it all unfold.
Up to chapter 10 and enjoying it immensely, it reminds me a bit of another book on Authonomy called Hell’s Super - you should read it if you haven’t already.
I will leave this open in a browser tab and keep dipping in but for now high stars and a backing next major shelf re-shuffle.


Chap 1
- ..old spikey features… || old, spikey features…
- …breaking sheets of falling rain. || …breaking the sheets of falling rain. Although this also doesn’t seem quite right.
- …past the skyscrapers, illuminated by the occasional lightning bolt. || Not sure from this if it is the goblin or the skyscrapers that are illuminated from this sentence structure. If the later …past the skyscrapers that were illuminated by the occasional lightning bolt.
- It had never…. || Subject confusion, It refers to Goblin.: The pigeon had never…


Andrew
A Fatal Misuse of time
Short pitch: Ever tried waking up yesterday instead of tomorrow? That is just the beginning of Tristan's troubles as his life is hijacked to reveal the future.
(Not a time travel novel really, more a mystery/philosophy comedy :-)

Greenleaf wrote 775 days ago

I love this book. I've only read the first five chapters so far, but it's fantastic--a bit whimsy, a bit philosophy, and a bit of a judgment on society. Really interesting. Good writing, good descriptions, fast pace. Highly starred.

I gues I have to check out your other book, as well. I saw your thread on the forum and that's what led me here to your books. Good Job!

Susan/Greenleaf (Chameleon)

Tonia Marlowe wrote 781 days ago

Hi Dani

I was really intrigued by the premise of your book and found I had read 8 chapters before the smell of burning dinner dragged me away. An intriguing concept, a little too whimsical (dare I say twee?) at times but nevertheless engaging and original. You tell the story well and really, what more is there to say than that. That's what it's all about.

5 stars from me, Dani.

Best of luck - it should do very well for you

Tonia
~Strange Bodies~

Numbers wrote 788 days ago

Dani,

This is such a good read, I like the dry sardonic humour, the rocket propelled pigeon, back-seat drivers and the fact that you've made God into a bit of a dumbass. I'm ever itching to reach the next series of words to make me laugh.

I, like others, can see the influence of Terry Pratchett in this writing. It's at least on par with, if not better than the work of Terry Pratchett. His stories can be a hit or miss at times, but this is a clear hit for me. Well done!

I'm looking forward to reading more.
Starred and will back it soon!

Adam

Steph Merrix wrote 788 days ago

Hi
Thanks for your message - I have read the first three chapters and I have to say it was excellent. Your central premise is really orginial and really drew me in. I enjoyed your writing style and how you etablish your characters and plots. Overall well done and good luck !

Steph

Alan L Williams wrote 798 days ago

Is there a way to print this out to read?

Mark Cain wrote 803 days ago

A fun run at the afterlife! Amusing characters (I like that God's name is Reginald), including that little hobgoblin.

The chapters are so short, they feel like an interconnected series of comic sketches. I have no problem with that. Just used to slightly longer chapters. At this rate, though, you'll have 150-200 chapters to reach book length.

I found it inventive how you got the hobgoblin to Heaven, although that was really to bad for the pigeon.

Maybe you'd enjoy my book, Hell's Super, which gives the afterlife a bit different spin. Still, it's a comedy too, so you might enjoy it.

For now, high stars! Congratulations on a fun read.

Mark Cain
Hell's Super
http://www.authonomy.com/books/40009/hell-s-super/

johnpatrick wrote 807 days ago

BHCG
Hi Dani,
I'm sure your story induces alot of neck-scratching and fingers-hovering-over-keys amongst reviewers. I admit to not knowing where to start...
It's very engaging. A bit like great chocolate when you keep nibbling away at it. The short, punchy chapters help in this respect. I thought I'd stop at 3 but read on as it is, well, engaging and intriguing. I wanted to get a grasp on the story and see where it was going.
You successfully dangle the carrot and shift this lazy ass of a reader very skillfully.
The prose is tight but a little too whimiscal at one point-the description of driving, non-drivers etc. The dialogue is a tad colourless throughout as the dead seem to revert to the same type of idealised individual. The effect is therefore similiar to watching 'Its A Wonderful Life', as if everything takes place in pastel-colours.
But it's very funny, mischievious and yes engaging. It will appeal to a certain type of reader (Terry Pratchett?) and maintain the interest through the book.
I wish you Luck! On my WL and highly starrred.
Regards,
John
Dropping Babies

Writer in Red wrote 815 days ago

Read chapter one and noticed a few things. I do not think you need the word "had" in the first sentence. "The storm raged all night..."
Third paragraph you describe the heaviness of the hobgoblin on the pigeon twice.
"Flew higher" is used twice and I think the first time is not needed since it is applied the hobgoblin is above the roof tops.
Besides that I found it to be quite amusing. The imagery of the bird hitting the window of a spacelab made me laugh. Will read more and comment if I see anything else.

FRAN MACILVEY wrote 817 days ago

DJC, this is not my usual read, either, but eight chapters in, i do recognise an original talent when I see it. Clever, quirky and interesting, this could keep us entertained for a while, and then some. Where you get your ideas from is anyone's guess - some of this feels like a dream sequence - but it works very well, and I have no doubt will appeal to many who share the same quirky, offbeat humour. Original and talented. Should be in the shops. I shall be reading more asap. On my WL. :-)

All the best to you. I really hope you do well.

Fran Macilvey xx

Fr. Ambrose wrote 817 days ago

Hi Dani
You have a remarkable book here: full of originality, good characterisation, and humour. Although I'm no Neo-Platonist and so disagree with it philosophically, and don't accept what is said about Christianity, I really did enjoy it.
You write very well indeed. I did, however, notice a tendency to write over-long sentences, joining phrases with commas. Better to have shorter sentences and use commas more appropriately. The fifteen chapters I read (and I could have read much more, had I had more time) threw up the need for some editing to iron out a number of misspellings and a few misused apostrophes. "Exhilarated" is misspelled in paragraph 5 of chap. 1. I think in the same paragraph it should be "if it weren't for Union regulations". In chapters 9 and 10, it should be "fewer souls" and "fewer people", not "less". "Chihuahua" and "noticeable" are misspelled in chapter 10. But these are all very small things, easily corrected.
You have created something very imaginative, creative and funny here.
Very well done!
Fr. Ambrose

Master Bowman Lucas wrote 819 days ago

Initial thoughts:

- The overall descriptions are pretty tight, but--in places--could use a little more shaving.

- In Chapter2, I understand that you are trying to keep the identity of the 'mysterious man' a secret, but I believe you could set him, up a bit before the accident. Perhaps have his memories/reflection from the last half of the chapter upfront? We could learn a little about him (and his name) before he approaches the accident scene.

- The previous suggestion would help with the confusion in the beginning of Chapter 2. The pronoun "he" is quite jarring as the reader is trying to discern if it is the man in the suit, or the mysterious fellow. Having this character's name upfront would help you avoid the ambiguity.

- The term "monkeys" through me off as well. Initially, I thought it was referring to the hobgoblins... but then again, it seems as though it could be referring to the "white-executive-male" stereotype, and therefore, the man in the suit...

Good Start. Once again, it just needs a little tightening. IMHO.

~Lucas
CAPRITARE: The Cycles Begin

Tamria wrote 820 days ago

I've just read ten chapters of this in one sitting and I couldn't put it down! I really do wish you the best of luck in getting this published, I'd love to own it in paperback one day. Loved the whole Douglas Adams, "Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy" vibe. I'm guessing you're familiar with the author and that's the tone you're going for, only instead of spaceships, lasers and robots it's hobgoblins and angels! Can't level a word of criticism against your writing-style, although I admit I was a bit overwhelmed at first with the flurry of different scenes and characters; I'm sure this won't be a problem as I settle into the story. The chapters are short too which makes for a pacy read.

A few things that made me laugh:
Ch 8 - "Ah, a FAQ" (LOL!)
Ch 9 - (in reference to Dan Brown) "He had a hard time keeping up with the classics, let alone any mass-market hack." Hah, that guy deserves to be taken down a peg!
Ch 10 - "No more Wachowksi brothers stuff, ok?" I just LOVE these pop culture references, the idea that angels in heaven watch human films and have opinions on them is just so delightful!

A few (very minor) things to look out for in your writing - but these are tiny errors and you should have no problem correcting them; I can't fault anything else.

"alright" should really be "all right"; although I'm not sure if this is the American way of spelling.
"someday" - I'd use "some day" myself. Technically I suppose this isn't incorrect.

Ch 6 - "Michael stood in slience for awhile" - obviously, "slience" should be "silence" and "awhile" should be two separate words.


BRAVO! Fantastically enjoyable and I've added to my watchlist. I would back this to help you up onto the editor's desk but unfortunately my bookshelf is full at the mo and I don't want to let my other beneficiaries down. However I know that one of those is on the desk at the moment and the other is nearing evaluation so I will be sure to back this as soon as I can!

Hope this critique was helpful and I look forward to your opinion on "Tamria"!

James

Daniel Manning wrote 821 days ago

Legends built on myths but its business as usual in heaven. Sort of growls at expectation but then I imagine that was the intent so some of the clever subtle humour is registered. Like Peter committing the sin of pride or God's sterile boring name. What I like most about 'Man By A Tree' is the impossibility of space and time from the point of view of perspective in an ordinary quite mundane universe.What I dislike most about ' Man By A Tree' is the impossibility of space and time from the point of view of persective in an ordinary quite mundane universe. Excitement no, but then didn't creation start with a big bang. So far, at least, you seem to have refrained from gods toilet habits!

Enjoyable, pleasantly so. My only concern is a slight inconsistency with regard being told the monkeys follow their parents and grandparents. I assume work, make babies, then die and go to heaven. So how come some homeless end up getting gassed. It implies fate and destiny, good luck and bad luck. It came across as a minor inconsistency where the impossibiliy of time blah blah... Well the monkeys just follow their parents. grandparents, no fate no destiny no good luck or bad luck.


Daniel Manning
No Compatibility

AuroraNemesis wrote 823 days ago

What a crazy, mixed up, hysterically weird concept for a book.
I love it.
I was stunned when I read the first chapter, thinking is this thing for real. However, I could not stop reading.
Well written, fast pace and well thought out.
What can I say, but wow well done

Dave Tarragon wrote 824 days ago

I'm not into the proper terms for authorism (And I know I made that word up) but... This is a completely brilliant read. I'm a huge fan of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, and you seem to have made a book that could be from either, or both, of them.

My favourite thing of this book (out of many) is the fact that as I read, I can see it happening. In fact, it's not so much 'reading' as 'giving the scene in my head ideas for what to do next.'

I would walk to the shops tomorrow and buy this, if I could.

soutexmex wrote 824 days ago

on my shelf - good luck!

WendyHarris1947 wrote 825 days ago

Great pitch. There is a lot that I like about your book. I like that it's amusing and has some odd observation which make it enjoyable to read.

J. Owen wrote 825 days ago

DJC, I have to say; what a superbly originally fantastic piece of writing. It’s as though someone put a rocket up Terry Pratchett’s derriere and then fired him into a drunken Adams. Captivating, humorous, easy-to-read and thought provoking... And there’s clearly some very deep latent messages here about us mere mortals.

My favourite bit is actually CH1 and the Russian cosmonauts segment, ‘Oh, just a bird’ – I actually ‘saw’ that happening in me noggin.

Needless to say I couldn’t fault it, and I’m not surprised it’s so high up the ratings. It’s already on my shelf (the pitch did that much); and I might even concede to buyin’ the bloomin’ thing and finishing it up.

Best wishes for the ED,
J.

stran wrote 827 days ago

i have a quiz on this

1. Why is the book called ‘Man by a tree’? (3 reasons)
2. If you are ‘Top Management Material’, what do you get? (3 things)
3. Who does Grint fall in love with?
4. What does Graham do to finally solve his problem?
5. Who was the real brains behind the ’simple plan’?
6. Who exactly is Sarah?
7. What job does Doug finally get?

ozhm wrote 829 days ago

BHCG review.

Like the SP. The LP – you know exactly what you mean, but for the ignorant reader (me) it’s slightly confusing. Would it be possible to simplify it?

Plot. The first chapter got me in immediately. Very atmospheric, and the vision of the hobgoblin emerging from the crack in the pavement is delightfully quirky. I did get a bit frenzied as I read further, but maybe I’m just slow on the uptake – it took me awhile to settle into the new reality. By the time we got to God, though, I was well into stride and thoroughly enjoying it. So far (I’m up to CH11) we’ve had a brief indication of the trouble brewing with Kailen’s appearance ‘up above’, and given the intricacy of the setup, this seems to me enough.

Pacing. Again, the setup is so complex that you need to reveal it reasonably slowly or risk leaving the reader behind. In Ch2, ‘...he appeared to take them away...’ confused me at first. I worked out who ‘he’ was from the LP, but I would have settled in more quickly if it had been more obvious – maybe ‘Graham was already on the spot when two cars...’? Or similar.

We don’t know where the homeless men or the muso fit in yet, but presumably all will be revealed, and meanwhile they’re nice teasers. We also don’t have the full story on how each of the characters fits into the hierarchy and why, but we’ve certainly got enough to go on with.

Characters. I’m loving them. It tickles my fancy to have God, Michael, Peter etc with human foibles. (Michael’s security blanket is a touch of genius and I think I’d probably gag if I met happy happy Peter.) Graham is so far the most interesting on a deeper level, I think.

The multiple POVs work for me.

Your style is well-polished and easy to read, and I love the tongue-in-cheek moments and outright funnies. But at the same time there’s a serious undercurrent in Graham’s reflections on human stupidity. Very clever.

You’ve also made good use of dialogue to reveal character – Michael’s conversation with God, for example, the angels’ meeting, Graham’s conversations with the car driver, and with Sarah.

On a sentence level, I had a few nitpicks, but not many, and most of them to do with ambiguity arising from word order.
CH1 – ‘...lack of oxygen and fairy dust.’ He didn’t lack fairy dust, so ‘...fairy dust and lack of oxygen.’
CH4 – ‘...and thick white rimmed glasses with bobbed white hair.’ It’s not the glasses that have hair.
CH5 – ‘...the lying corpses on the floor.’ Do corpses lie?
I found the quote marks on ‘up above’ and ‘down below’ irritating after a while. What about caps? (Just a suggestion.)

I haven’t read anything like this before, so to me it’s original. As for what’s publishable – only publishers know! I’ll be backing it though, just as soon as I have room.

Helen Meikle
‘Six Weeks in Summer’

burtont73 wrote 830 days ago

BHCG Review

Plot:
I like the way you only reveal a little at a time about what is going on. It is mysterious and that grabs a reader and makes them want to read more until they find the answers they seek. The only problem I have with the way the plot develops is that your narrative flow is disrupted by a weakness in grammar, sentence structure, and wordiness. Several times I had to either slow down or reread a passage so I could understand what you were meaning. Many readers would give up if its too hard to understand.

Pacing:
I think you have done a great job with the way you paced the story. I have read four chapters so far and I am just now beginning to understand what might be happening. You have given clues but have not revealed too much. Great job here.

Characters:
I haven't read far enough to analyze this much yet. I can see that you have some creative characters; I just can't relate to them very well. I will reserve this for a late time.

Point of view:
I think you could use more of the homogoblin's point of view. So far I don't see much of what he thinks or feels. I may be wrong, but it seems kinda cold. I'm not sure what you are trying to portray. I do like the way you portray the events that are happening. They are very descriptive.

Style:
You have an interesting style. I like the fantasy applications of the story. You make them believable with the descriptions you use.

Sentence Level:
This seems to be your weakness. I think that is the case for most people. I am going to point out some of the things I noticed.

(chap 1)

"The storm had raged all night, rivers filled the drains, water covered the roads." This is three seperate independent clauses. You need to use some other punctuation besides a comma. Or you might make it into three different sentences.

"The streets were deserted, no one was in sight." Again, independent clauses joined by a comma. A semi-colon might work well here.

"Emerging into the night...legs and feet." This sentence is so long that the meaning is unclear.

(Chapter 2)

eternal flow--I really liked that description

I like the selfish little monkeys. The questionnaire? That didn't quite work for me.

"Slim though it was." Sentence fragment.

muso? what is that?

(Chapter 3)

".....stuck in a deadend motel...one weeks....paid for." You should never end a sentence with a preposition.

"dialled" is misspelled. It should be spelled: dialed.

oblivious to the view? Those words don't seem necessary. They don't tell me much of anything. Why is he looking out the window?

(Chapter 4)

What is a homogoblin? How does it get fairy dust?

I really like the scene where the homogoblin sneaks into the restricted area.

"for a few moments....staring at flight white screens." Sentence is too long. It' too hard to understand.

What thick wooden object hit him in the head?

Vary your sentences. Watch for misplaced modifiers. Be careful how you use commas.

Dialogue:
You make great use of dialoge. You seem to make it a scene all its own.

Originality:
This seems to be a well thought out manuscript that has had a lot of work put into it. It has a lot of elements that tease you because of past knowlege from similar stories, but it also has an edge to it that makes it different from other stories. I think you have done a great job coming up with an original idea.

Publishibility:
I like the idea behind your work. It needs editing, but I believe that with hard work and perseverance this piece can definitely be worthy of publishing.

I hope I was not too harsh. I tried to show you some positive aspects as well as the negative. I hope this helps.

Tina Burton
Tears in Heaven

Dianna Lanser wrote 830 days ago

Dani,

Thank you for introducing me to your book. I shouldn't have read through chapter fourteen but I did. I have too many reading obligations to catch up on. But you caught me! I found your book absolutely entertaining. For one, the story isvery original and has a comical side to the ever after and secondly, I was really interested in finding out where you were going with this. I wanted to know your real take on God. After fourteen chapters, I didn't get my question answered, so I'll have to keep reading (a little later - I have other books waiting) before I pass "judgment" :-) Your writing is really fantastic.

Dianna Lanser
Nothing But The Blood

vmorr wrote 832 days ago

The pitch is great and I enjoyed the novel overall, even though I didn't agree with some of what you wrote (in terms of religion). It was well written, easy to get into, with a nice tone and good pacing. The length of the chapters worked well, and a lot of it was inventive and unpredictable. Nice work!

Candymace wrote 834 days ago

This is the first book I've read on here and it's good fun. A nice easy read with short chapters. It made me laugh. I've put it on my bookshelf. Candy.

turnerpage wrote 836 days ago


This is entirely the sort of fantasy that this reader can relate to - a style that is very much rooted in realism. I recall a black comedy novel from the 1980s which had a simiarly delightful premise, (the title of which escapes me) and it proposed that when you die all that happens to you is that you have to move to Crouch End in North London.

GIven that synchro swimming is now a hot topic as far as an over-subscribed Olympic event is concerned, I too laughed out loud at that point, particularly at the conundrum of just exactly how a spectator is supposed to watch.

I don't know where this is all going by the end of Chapter Three or how it will all tie up, but because of your biting wit and irreverence I am happy to go along for the ride. There are so many great images here - a dead pigeon floating away into space, watched by two Russian cosmonauts who make no big deal of it and quietly get back to work. I like that.

The tedium of the afterlife and the idea that a good day for God was watching Neighbours repeats, going to the toilet and a buttered scone is very very funny.

I don't yet know what the plan afoot is to change the status quo of up above and down below, as I haven't yet read far enough, but I intend coming back to take another look.

This is on my W/L and highly starred.

Lambert Nagle - Revolution Earth

GrahamD wrote 836 days ago

Hi Dani

I just read the first ten chapters, and found it very amusing. I also found a few grammos and spelling errors, but nothing that can't be ironed out with a good edit. I particularly like the notin of the Grim Reaper going home at the end of the day to popcorn and a western. How about changing God's name from Reginald to Gordon; it shortens better.

Good work

Graham (not Reader)

AunaJune wrote 838 days ago

Great pitch. It's enlightening and captivating. You have a nice well-written story. It shows you have really worked to fine-tune your story. You have great word choice and give the reader's a lot of different textures through sentence and paragraphs lengths. The voice is great and you pull the reader into the story. It was a good story to read. Thanks for sharing it on the sight. Best of luck reaching the Editor's Desk.

Auna June
Catalaysia: The Curse of Five

Sandie Zand wrote 838 days ago

There's a lot to like here - the mundane nature of the afterlife, the disgruntled hobgoblins in hell, the almost bored processing of souls into heaven. I love the thought that backseat drivers get sent to hell. It feels linear until we see Michael trying to tell God something's wrong with the numbers before we see the goblin interfering with heaven's computer, before we hear Satan and Lucifer obviously cooking up some sort of plan... so by chapter 15 I'm guessing these things are connected but am just starting to become impatient to know what the significance is.

There are some lovely, amusing and insightful observations along the way - and Graham is a great reaper... again I really like the idea that he's just got to blend in, be that silent slightly dull observer nobody notices - though I also like how the black cloak and scythe came about and, even more amusingly, why they were discarded again - but by the end of chapter 15 I'm wanting a bit more pace to the actual *story*... the settings and characters are well established by then and I found I was getting impatient. Just a bit.

But it's great stuff. Very droll in places... blissfully so.

Noelle J. Alabaster wrote 838 days ago

A BHCG review!
Plot: You've got an good plot, and your writing flows nicely!
Pacing: very nice. Both chapters start with a bang, carrying the reader along.
Characters: different and unusual, with quirks and views all of their own.
Point of view: fine.
Style: easy and simple to read.
Setences: a few run-ons here and there that you'll probably want to edit out, just so your sentence length isn't too long.
Diaogue: just fine.
Originality: this is very original!
Publishability: I think this could easily be picked up by a publisher or agent!
Good luck,
Noelle J. Alabaster

PA Davis wrote 838 days ago

Man by a Tree - by Dani J Caile
Very inventive and unique. I scrolled down and read a number of the comments and agree with most. StacyM and AudreyB did a good job of identifying issues.
I like the humor and would like to see this with some editing.

P Alan Davis
The Red Poppy
Raindancer

Colin Neville wrote 838 days ago

Original, ironic, sardonic, witty; a great read. I enjoyed this very much.

This is a humorous take on death, in the form of Graham, the Grim Reaper; Heaven, with Reginald (God) the CEO; Michael his irritating bureaucrat-in-chief; Kaileen, from the Other Place, screwing things up in the way in the way devilish imps do, plus a cast of mortals who have recently popped their clogs, or are about to. I particularly liked the way people who use their mobile phones whilst driving, causing the death of others, get their 'good riddance' at the hands of the impish ones. Nice.

I read ten chapters & enjoyed most. There are convergent story lines, but these are easy to follow. The narrative held my interest, except for ch. 9, which didn't seem to progress the plot much. But I loved chapter 10, with the heavenly team meeting, complete with its own very recognisable jargon and in-jokes; a great pastiche of your worst ever team meetings; certainly mine.

The writing is assured and 'flows' well, although, without wishing to do a 'Michael' on you, you could dispense with the tautology of 'The streets were deserted [no one was in sight]; and 'The storm had raged [on] all night' in ch. 1.

Definitely recommended; Five Stars; will back this when I can.

Eponymous Rox wrote 840 days ago

Man by a Tree will be promoted on my webbie soon, Dani. Back from vacation now, sorry for the delay.

E.R.

KirkH wrote 841 days ago

This is like a Monte Python sketch on Death and the Grim Reaper, or the Meet Joe Black / Death Takes a Holiday sort of genre. These are always great to write if you know how to do it. Lots of British Humor (or Humour). I got a little bogged down on the lengthy paragraphs, like a type of Douglas Adams way of making things wordy but not boring.
Since you mentioned in the forum that you've been getting lots of praises but few backings, I decided to give you a helping hand by backing it.
StaceyM also made some good observations that I must agree with as well. Just fix the nit-picks and it will get better. I also had to get thrashed a bit too.
All the best.
Kirk
"How to Steal a Lion"

CaileD wrote 841 days ago

Thanks StaceyM for yet another comment:-)
I don't agree with everything you say, again, but there's one thing I'd like to put straight.
When drivers in my country see that they cannot overtake, they don't hit the brake and sit behind. What they do is put the car down a gear and hit the gas/accelerator. They are insane. Most of them get away with it, but people die every day in this country from this type of accident.

StaceyM wrote 841 days ago

A BHCG review. Please don’t take offence at any of my comments - they’re merely suggestions. If I come across as harsh, please blame my BPD-driven inner perfectionistic editor. She’s mean but she means well.

Pitches: Sorry to be mean straight off, but I didn’t “get” your SP. Souls generally are the customers for death….perhaps you meant it the other way round? Where souls are prizes and not just customers? LP - umm. OK but might benefit from some tightening up and re-working that first sentence. I also wasn’t hooked by your final statement - yes he’s the lynchpin, but how exactly will he be affected? About to join the millions of monkeys on the dole perhaps?

Plot/opening narrative etc: I’ve covered your opening before on the agents thread and my comments from then still stand. The rat and “only” broken by the constant bombardment. Not sure why the goblin’s emerging feet first and not sure if it’s important. When Graham appears, I’d like the He to be capitalised; first read through I stumbled. But on the whole you set the tone for the book nicely. I know what to expect if I read on.

Pacing: Some convoluted sentences that slow things down for me as I try to work out all the commas and clauses. Personally, I try and stick to under 30 words a sentence.

Characters/Characterisation: You describe Graham well (loved the line about the synchronised swimmers). I’d like to see a bit more about each character as we meet them. By chapter 6, I’m dizzy from the bobbing backwards and forwards between the different characters. I know I’m one to talk (having 11 POV characters) but the chapters are so short, I don’t learn much about each character before you move onto the next. E.g. can’t the two chapters concerning God/Reginald be melded together?

Sentence level/grammar: exhilarated, not exilerated (C1). Heavier now, the burden was too much; the rain etc (semi-colon instead of a comma). Muso? The comment about the convoluted sentences applies to this section of the review too.

Dialogue: “I guess I was a bit slow with the gas…” - isn’t the gas the accelerator? So he’d been too slow with the brake? I put that niggle in this section because I didn’t know where else to put it. On the whole, your spoken dialogue is fine.

Originality: No idea how original this is as it’s not my normal genre (excluding DiscWorld).

Publishability: Same as above.

I think the premise is interesting, and some of your lines are great, but I’m too confused by the abrupt head-hopping to really get into this (after 9 chapters).

CaileD wrote 841 days ago

Thanks, Audrey for the comment :-)
You should have read a little more to get characterization and dialogue, 4 parts isn't much. But thanks anyway :-)
PS. 'alright' is accepted informally.

AudreyB wrote 842 days ago

Hi, there Dani– this is your BHCG review from AudreyB. As you may know, I am accompanied on my reviews by my English teacher alter-ego, The Grammar Hag. Whatever you don’t agree with was likely her doing.

I like your SP but wonder about your LP. With the buzz your book has been getting, I expected a truly bodacious LP. I do appreciate that it’s brief. So many are toooo long.

Plot – opening, narrative flow/momentum
I got a little stuck in the opening paragraph. Our hobgoblin emerges from the pavement feet first and then apparently levitates the rest of the way through, then shoots up into the dark. I think he needs to turn over. Or perhaps his feet emerge and he plants one tiny foot on each side of the crevice and the rest of his body emerges like a gymnast springing upward from a handspring??

I am uncertain what’s happened to the cosmonauts. Are they dead? Because they are watching, so I don’t think they’re dead. But clearly something has happened to them?

I was enjoying the interview to determine if one was a selfish Monkey…until my car keys came into the picture (=:

I think that the paragraph starting, “The souls had now changed shape…” could include some more detail. By the next paragraph (“The job was done…”) a job has been finished and I don’t know enough about what has happened. (Understand that perhaps you didn’t want me to.)

Is it possible to imbue (impregnate) a bird with fairy dust? Imbue implies that the bird absorbs the dust. I suppose that depends on the properties of the dust…

“…he’d formed opinions on everyone and everything. Except synchronized swimming.” I laughed out loud.

What’s a muso? Ah – musician. Is that really all a musician would ask another musician? Wouldn’t there be questions about style, previous band names, and such?

OK – at the end of four chapters I’ve encountered Graham Reader one time, in the second paragraph. Is that enough mention for the only person mentioned in the pitches? I think you might want to modify either the pitches or the chapter order, depending on your purpose.

Characters/Characterization
I don’t really have enough to go on at the end of the four chapters I read. I’m still a bit mystified. In this case, I believe that’s a good thing. You’re teasing me…

Point of View/Voice
Omniscient.
Style – very subjective but good to know if it works or not for the reader
I feel as if I’m watching a movie that’s giving me some strands of the story to consider and hope that they will knit together at some point.

Sentence level – grammar, repetitive structure, wordiness, unneeded phrases etc
We know that editors look for a great story. That any fool can edit a magnificent story, but only a gifted writer can produce one. Alas, my gift is grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage.
“…alright…” isn’t a word. Use “all right” if you must use it at all.

And that’s the only one The Hag has for you today.

Dialogue
Not much dialog after four brief chapters. What dialog I have read is also brief.

Originality
Here’s where I’m no use at all—I seldom read any fantasy (except for YA fantasy). I don’t know if this world you are building is unique or not.

Publishability
I don’t really know what this book is about. I’ve read four chapters and don’t get pulled into the promises made by the pitches. Do your pitches need revision or could you offer me more of Graham (love that name) in the first four chapters?


All the best to you,
~AudreyB
Forgiveness Fits

scoz512 wrote 842 days ago

This is deinitely my kind of read. I'm sorry to say I only had time to read the first three chapters so I will have to comment more later when I get the time. I'm only stopping to write this much just because I wanted to say it looks good! Alright, so I'll be back,

Sara

earthlover wrote 843 days ago

I read the first 7 chapters.
Well written story. I like the play on words, with Grim Reaper/Graham Reader. Loved it when God batted Kailen into the vent, like an annoying fly.
I really don't have much to say about your writing, except it's very good...no mistakes that I can see. I liked the line about "too much white" in what I assume is heaven.
The touches of humor you add are nice.
I wonder what Kailen was doing on the computer. Does it have something to do with the musician in chapter 3? Highly starred! Good luck! Georgia
The Woman From E.A.R.L.

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