Book Jacket

 

rank 317
word count 82063
date submitted 15.03.2012
date updated 13.08.2012
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
classification: universal
complete

Tamria: Book One

James A. Gravil

The best laid plans never work out as you expect...

 

When Coren and his friends, a brotherhood of misfit thieves, accept a mission to kidnap a princess, they find themselves in deeper trouble than they can imagine. Caught up in a power struggle between three nations, they find themselves at the heart of a conspiracy involving an ambitious queen’s plan to take over the world, a politician obsessed with stopping her, and a magical arms-dealer secretly supplying all sides…

*** UPDATE 20-08-2012: I have decided to abandon this book and will not be editing or adding to it further. It will remain on this site for people to sample and, if possible, enjoy. The manuscript is "up for grabs" if anyone wants it. For more info see my author profile. ***

R.I.P. TAMRIA 2008-2012

 
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tags

adventure, adventure story, children's, comedy, coming of age, fantasy, heroism, humour, magic, sword and sorcery, war, young adult

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142 comments

 

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ChristineRees wrote 626 days ago

Hey James,

So I’ve finally had time to review your story!

YAL review.

I love the conversational tone in your narration. Asking the reader questions is definitely a way to keep the reader interested.

“Today was Aloria’s birthday – and the whole…” I would use a comma instead of “-“ in between your sentence. In my opinion, I feel as if it makes the sentence flow better.

Very nice descriptions. Everything is clear and crisp in my mind as I read through. The cropland wasn’t just yellow… it was bright yellow, etc. Anything described is vivid and easily created through imagination.

Like the name “Tarantella”

Interesting that the boy is fifteen but doesn’t know for sure his age. Piques curiosity.

I really like Dio, and how he “wears shadows.” Good hook

“Coren had to lean on the walls to steady himself: the shifting of the floor worried his balance.” I’d end the sentence with himself, instead of using a colon. It makes the idea of the shifting floor stick better. The sentences are punchy, more memorable that way.

Again, love your descriptions. “The ocean rippled” - very nice.

“The tallest tower looked like a shard of crystal…” Love this.

I also like that the story revolves around thieves who are more cunning than anything, and if you aren’t, like Brutus, you aren’t exactly accepted. It’s a bit of a change, since usually the smaller ones are picked on. It makes for a great story.

“big lug” and “blundersome blockhead” awww haha, poor Brutus

I like the names. They’re all so different, unique. Coren is my favorite.

Love that the chapter ends with them discussing this mission they’re about to go on. I want to know more about it, and if they will succeed. Will one of them get caught? Hurt? Die?

Some drama is going to enfold in the next few chapters. The reader already knows that after reading the first.
Seems as if there’s a bit of tension between Brutus and Coren as well. You do a good job of explaining that through dialogue, instead of merely narrating it for the reader.

Great job of “showing instead of telling”

I get the feeling the main character – one of the boys – is going to fall in love with the girl they’re kidnapping from the palace, the princess, which will bring about much more drama.

Ha, good word. “dunderheads”

I really enjoyed the way you wrote this story. Nothing appears repetitive, and the sentence structure is very well done. You have a natural talent, and the way your story flawlessly flows shows how much time you’ve spent correcting it and making it perfect. Clearly, you have polished this beginning and there really is nothing bad for me to say about it.

Descriptions are very important to me, and because it was so easy for me to visualize everything, I quite enjoyed it. The first chapter is composed of plenty of great hooks, to make the reader want to continue to the next chapter.

I really like that their thieves… yes, I’ve mentioned this already. Just thought I would again.

Highly starred!

Christine Rees
Spark

Cara Gold wrote 634 days ago

{Tamria} – James Gravil
Chapter 17:

The mystery thickens here, as finally we meet Kueller – an enigmatic figure who has been mentioned from very early on in the story. The sense of threat develops, and the reader begins to wonder more about his involvement. I like the power play between him and Beruthia – the queen really isn’t in control.

The questions keep rising in the reader’s mind; for instance what really is ‘Kueller’s Experiment’? Subtle references to the ‘rogue Mages’ also arouse suspicions to heighten the tension.

Another thing I particularly liked was the dialogue about ‘power’ and ‘trust’.

Great stuff!
Cara

ELAdams wrote 652 days ago

As I'm about to embark on a 5-week trip to central America (where I will be without internet access the majority of the time), I made it my priority to finish reading 'Tamria' and comment before I go, as I know how frustrating it can be waiting forever for a response to a read swap! I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book - now I find myself wanting to read the sequel!

Here are my notes:

I like the switch to Queen Beruthia's perspective in chapter 16 - I was wondering what was happening in the city after the chaos. Interesting twist with Aloria not really being Beruthia's daughter, and being an Ancient as well! This adds new layers to the storyline and keeps the reader guessing as to how events will turn out.

I was pleased that we finally get to meet Kueller in chapter 17, and the descriptions of his appearance, his voice, and his way of moving are brilliant. I like the introduction of the enigmatic Tatl and Tael (great names!) and the possible origin of No-Name. This is a really great chapter that explains an awful lot!

In chapter 18, I found the inclusion of information on the history and relations between the states really interesting - it helps us build a more 3-dimensional picture of your world, which you've clearly planned in great detail. The strength of a fantasy novel is in its world-building, and I think yours is one of the most absorbing and convincing I've read on the site! Meanwhile, the potential relationship between Coren and Aloria creates a new subplot.

In chapter 20, the encounter with the hostile Mage is very well-described, and you do a great job of evoking Coren's feelings of terror and describing the Mage's scary voice!

One nit-pick- I wondered why there is no mention of Dio's death in the chapters following it. I wouldn't have thought that the characters - especially Coren - would have forgotten about him so quickly, even after finding Aloria. I think you could go into Coren's feelings on the loss of his friend a little more, whilst still moving ahead with the story. Just a thought!

I like the reference to Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the end of chapter 21, as it works with the fairytale elements in the story itself. I found chapter 22 to be one of the most interesting in terms of developing Aloria's character, and the important information we find out through the dialogue with Coren fits naturally without seeming like an infodump.

The climactic chapters are engaging and exciting, and the novel ends on a great cliffhanger! I confess to being disappointed to have reached the end so quickly, but I understand that you're writing a series, and I think this is a good point to break off. I'll have to read the uploaded chapters of the second book next!

Overall, I think I definitely made the right choice in shelving this. It's difficult to criticise a book that's obviously been well-thought-out and edited, and the quality remains consistent throughout. Your characters, too, are consistent and three-dimensional; and your writing is well-paced with a good balance of dialogue and description, convincing world-building and an engaging narrative style. I think this is as good as any published novel, and I don't see why an agent would pass it up (though of course I have no idea of how agents' minds work - I recently received my first rejection letter for 'The Puppet Spell', and the agent was incredibly vague about why they didn't want my book...)

I'll keep this on my bookshelf for now, and I'll be back to look at the second book when I return from my trip! Thanks for the enjoyable read, and I hope that my comments have been some help!

Emma

faith rose wrote 668 days ago

Dear James,

I am so happy I came back for another look at 'Tamria'. Wow! This is amazing writing. I know I loved it the first time around, and I have no idea how you managed to improve on what I already thought was wonderful. This is really great writing. You are truly a gifted storyteller.

I especially loved the little things which seemed to set this story apart for others of its kind. The use of italics to set off Coren's thoughts really worked well (ie: "How did I get into this?" and "Will he ever let that drop?"). You truly give the reader a glimpse of Coren's thoughts, and I really love that. The dialect was also superb, and that is no easy task! (ie: "assumin' " and "we was jus' messin' round wi' you, is all"). Many times I find myself getting lost in unfamiliar dialect, but you have masterfully carried this. Wonderfully done.

I think Tamria has "big screen" written all over it. A magical, adventurous, marvelously written piece. I'm recommending this to my hubby (a teacher) for reading and shelving. He will LOVE this, too!

All the very best,
Faith Rose
Now To Him

Seringapatam wrote 375 days ago

James, More hooks in this book than on a pirates ship. Brilliant. I am sure there is some reason that you dont come on here and support or push your book, but I think its a winner. its not just the flow and pace of the narrative, but the way you describe tells me you have been writing for two hundred years. Its really class. So well done. i loved this and only see good times ahead for it.
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

Isoje David wrote 497 days ago

HI

I am reading your book and i am loving it. Your opening paragraph of the first chapter caught my attention. What i love o read is what you are have posted here. I am loving with the way Brotherhood of Thieves came on board. that will gives your readers some curiosities, they would like to know what they actually thief. It got me happier when i learned that they are about to steal to a Princess, a beatiful one. I love Coren a lot with the way you make Coren going on with the plot. I will read more, recommend it for others and rate you six stars.

I am wondering if you would like to read my book- i have done some changes to it and the first chapter ave been edited by an Editor.

Thanks

Isoje David

Animals In Paradise

Cas Meadowfield wrote 564 days ago

A gang of noble thieves out to kidnap/ rescue a princes with magic, humour and action, a fun read.
Ch1 a lot of the descriptions are jumpy with short sentences... The occasional 'and' or ';' would help.
After that the story takes off and becomes very enjoyable with lots of lovely touches.
Ch2 the humour of the mage's wood shoes tripping 'him' up made me smile.
Ch3 better and better, more flowing.
Ch4 the conversation between the two boys about the lamp developed their characters nicely. Exciting ending: a real hook.
Ch5 the word 'dead' seems a little heavy for this action comedy.
Ch11 'kueller' reminds me of Cueller DeVill from 101 doamations
Ch14 don't need to say they're near the edge of the forest.
Ch24 great cliff hanger of an ending...
a well deserved 5 stars and a backing
Cas
The Wind Maker

J C Michael wrote 570 days ago

James,

I can see you've been away from the site, and written off this as a piece of writing, but now the dust has settled on your decision maybe there's an opportunity to salvage something from this.
What I've just read was well enough written and edited to self publish, so why not give that a shot? You can do it at no cost to yourself, other than buying a copy to pop on your bookshelf so what's to lose? Alternatively rather than just giving away something you have obviously worked so hard on why not look for a writing partner, someone who could add whatever you think this is lacking.
OK, it's your call at the end of the day, and no doubt it was a long and hard decision to jettison this. All I'm saying us that in my opinion, based on your opening, there's some value here, and it seems a shame to just write off both that and the hard work you have put in.
Best wishes,
James

ChristineRees wrote 619 days ago

Hey James,

I’m here to read chapter 2 finally!

Again, your descriptions are very well done and easy to imagine. I really liked your opening sentence for the second chapter.

“cooling the excitement…” Great image!

Like “Shadows lengthened” – may have to steal it!

“This creature standing quietly is a Mage.” I think the tense needs to be changed, “The creature that stood quietly was a Mage.” I had to go back and read the sentence before it a few times to figure out what bugged me about the two sentences. The tense went from past to present.

“Now – what is a Mage, you ask?” I don’t think you need the “-“ after “Now.” A comma would be better

I’d take a look at your second chapter again and pay attention to your tenses. You switch from past and present a few times, so that’s one thing you may want to look into. One sentence you’re saying to Mage “was” this and then you start talking about how it “is” something else. It kind of threw me off.

“Magic is slowly dying these days, as it is being swept aside by…” the rest of this sentence falls onto the line below when there is space on it. I think this is a surface error that happened without your knowledge, so I thought I’d point it out.

Really like that a “Mage is a magician.” Very cool and interesting way to perceive wizardry. Unique
Also like that Mage is without gender. Another cool trait
And no face! – I like that

“And so it was that No-Name found himself…” It seems as though something is missing in this first part of the sentence. I had to read it a few times to understand what you meant, and I think all it really needs is a comma, so other readers don’t find themselves reading it over. “And so it was[,] that No-Name…”

“…and he was very proud and pleased about that, because” – don’t need the comma after the word “that” and I would use the word “by” instead of “about”

I like that you refer to him as “our Mage” in the story. It’s cute, as if he were a lost little kid. It makes Mage even more likeable, and the reader wants things to work out for him.

“When he first arrived in Arcadia, No-Name…” I’d fix this sentence to say, “When he first arrived in Arcadia, No-Name had to be very careful [of] where he walked, [to make sure he did not] get stepped on, or cause other people to trip.”

“Because the houses bowed together and their angled roofs drew close[,] the distance was not more than a few feet[,] so the boy and girl jumped easily.” – two commas

“…and when he finally stood on the other side he decided that it [hadn’t] been that difficult at all, really.” – hadn’t instead of hasn’t (tense change)

From what I’ve read, chapter 2 is a very well thought out chapter. It has a few minor grammar errors, and tense problems, but most writers go through that. I, in particular, have a problem with tenses, so I get it.

But James, this is great! You’re a fantastic story-teller with a way of captivating me as I read. I just want to continue on! I’m very impressed by the way you describe their surroundings so flawlessly, and without repetition. Like I mentioned before, that is huge!

I also like that your story isn’t just from the viewpoint of one person, but now two different people; Mage and the thief.

I look forward to reading your next chapter, and once again, I’m sorry I took so long to read it.

Keep up the spectacular writing!

Christine Rees
Spark

K E Shaw wrote 624 days ago

Hi James
I came across Tamria by accident via Lucy Middlemass's page, and couldn't resist a quick look-in. I've read chapter one (book 1). I'd guess you are not looking for any further in-depth reviews since you are on to book 2, but my overall impression so far is that is a fun, fast-paced read.

I enjoyed both the outright humour of the dialogue, which felt natural and easy-flowing, as well as the underlying humour in the prose. E.g. 'an anchor that, fortunately, no one had ever dropped'. Nice touch. The descriptions were light, vivid, and crisp - one that springs to mind is the view of the world below from the Tarantella - 'lively with the works of harvest.'
It's been a while since I've been in the UK, but I think the tone of the thieves' dialect in speech came across naturally - just enough to give the feel of a modern, updated Oliver Twist dynamic to this band of thieves - especially with the 'artful dodger' touch.

I'm not fully in my zone with YA, but this reminded me very much of Michael J Sullivan (Theft of Swords) - plenty of humour mixed in with the serious business of thieving!

Great read so far, smooth prose with the promise of much adventure and action to come.

I'm not sure if high/epic fantasy is your thing, but if you do ever have time to take a peak at my book (fairly new on autho) I'd appreciate any feedback.

all the best with Tamria

ChristineRees wrote 626 days ago

Hey James,

So I’ve finally had time to review your story!

YAL review.

I love the conversational tone in your narration. Asking the reader questions is definitely a way to keep the reader interested.

“Today was Aloria’s birthday – and the whole…” I would use a comma instead of “-“ in between your sentence. In my opinion, I feel as if it makes the sentence flow better.

Very nice descriptions. Everything is clear and crisp in my mind as I read through. The cropland wasn’t just yellow… it was bright yellow, etc. Anything described is vivid and easily created through imagination.

Like the name “Tarantella”

Interesting that the boy is fifteen but doesn’t know for sure his age. Piques curiosity.

I really like Dio, and how he “wears shadows.” Good hook

“Coren had to lean on the walls to steady himself: the shifting of the floor worried his balance.” I’d end the sentence with himself, instead of using a colon. It makes the idea of the shifting floor stick better. The sentences are punchy, more memorable that way.

Again, love your descriptions. “The ocean rippled” - very nice.

“The tallest tower looked like a shard of crystal…” Love this.

I also like that the story revolves around thieves who are more cunning than anything, and if you aren’t, like Brutus, you aren’t exactly accepted. It’s a bit of a change, since usually the smaller ones are picked on. It makes for a great story.

“big lug” and “blundersome blockhead” awww haha, poor Brutus

I like the names. They’re all so different, unique. Coren is my favorite.

Love that the chapter ends with them discussing this mission they’re about to go on. I want to know more about it, and if they will succeed. Will one of them get caught? Hurt? Die?

Some drama is going to enfold in the next few chapters. The reader already knows that after reading the first.
Seems as if there’s a bit of tension between Brutus and Coren as well. You do a good job of explaining that through dialogue, instead of merely narrating it for the reader.

Great job of “showing instead of telling”

I get the feeling the main character – one of the boys – is going to fall in love with the girl they’re kidnapping from the palace, the princess, which will bring about much more drama.

Ha, good word. “dunderheads”

I really enjoyed the way you wrote this story. Nothing appears repetitive, and the sentence structure is very well done. You have a natural talent, and the way your story flawlessly flows shows how much time you’ve spent correcting it and making it perfect. Clearly, you have polished this beginning and there really is nothing bad for me to say about it.

Descriptions are very important to me, and because it was so easy for me to visualize everything, I quite enjoyed it. The first chapter is composed of plenty of great hooks, to make the reader want to continue to the next chapter.

I really like that their thieves… yes, I’ve mentioned this already. Just thought I would again.

Highly starred!

Christine Rees
Spark

AudreyB wrote 632 days ago

Hi, there--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.

Pitches—I think more would be better. The SP is too generic to offer enough enticement, as is the LP. I think can imagine should be could imagine. Just looking at your pitches and your tags, I’d say we could use some humour as well.

Plot--opening, narrative flow/momentum
If the Brotherhood of Thieves is capitalized in the manuscript, why not also in the pitches?

I favor dropping paragraphs 1-5 and filling those details in as needed. This gets the book started with the image of the ship and the intro to Coren, which I suspect are bigger players than the world of Tamria. Now that I have finished Chapter 2 I see that Tamria itself is more important, so I’d like to change my advice. Drop paragraphs 1-5 and give us something juicier and bolder about Tamria.

Very nice cliff-hanger at the end of Chapter 2.

I’m no expert at pacing but am beginning to recognize it because people keep telling me I have pacing issues. I think we spend a great deal of time traversing the roofs. If the information shared there—the dropped shoe, No-Name’s growing confidence—if those details become vital later, then it’s fine. Otherwise, perhaps this section could be quicker?

Characters/Characterization
I love how parts of Coren’s body are quarreling.

I think there’s a bit too much telling when you introduce us to the characters with Coren. Their banter should be detailed enough to show us their personalities. I noticed this particularly with the paragraph starting, “With a condescending voice…” Cassius’s remarks can provide all the description you’ll ever need. Particularly if he’s gonna pick at his nail polish!

I like how some of the characters speak with distinctive accents. I envision this as a read-aloud book, and those accents give moms and dads a chance to have some fun.

It feels as though each character receives a perfunctory description upon being introduced. I encourage you to resist offering so much right at first. Let their personalities shine through, and offer us those details as the character emerges.

Perhaps this is counter-productive of me, but I like the way No-Name is introduced. Of course, he’s the only character we are meeting at the time, which makes it a bit easier for the reader to follow along and absorb ‘his’ characteristics. However, I find it curious that a mage doesn’t know simple vocabulary. Where’s he been living?? Perhaps a few details could be sprinkled in earlier to clarify his lack of knowledge.

Point of View/Voice
In chapter 2, your 3rd person narrator is giving us the story from the point of view of No-Name, who doesn’t know many names of things. This proves to be a bit tricky as the narrator notes the airship, but No-Name doesn’t know what one is or even that it’s an unusual sight.

Style--very subjective but good to know if it works or not for the reader
Just a few paragraphs in, I feel Chapter 2 is a much better reflection of your sort of glib, amused style than was Chapter 1. (I’m guessing you’ve been editing Chapter 1 quite a lot.)

Sentence level--grammar, repetitive structure, wordiness, unneeded phrases etc
To make an em dash—like these—you want to type two hyphens and omit spaces.
We’ve got Flynn and Flynn and Finn and Flynn. Which is it?
“Climbing had been straightforward, crossing one horizontally…” Delete ‘one.’ Or add ‘the ladder’ to the phrase before the comma.

Dialogue
I’d like more of this and a bit less narration.

Originality
I like No-Name and find him to be an original and funny character. My knowledge of this genre is paltry, so consider my lack of experience when I say that I hear echoes of Stardust in the description of the Tarantella, see shadows of Robin Hood and his Merry Men in the Brotherhood, and feel a bit like we’re invading the castle of either Florin or Guilder as the Brotherhood plans the attack. It’s possible those echoes, shadows, and feelings are the only ones I can get, so I make the connections whenever possible.

Publishability
Because I’m reading way outside my comfort zone, I can’t really comment on this. I do, however, appreciate the humor. I think we need many more books underpinned by humor.

All the best to you,
~AudreyB
Forgiveness Fits

Cara Gold wrote 634 days ago

{Tamria} – James Gravil
Chapter 17:

The mystery thickens here, as finally we meet Kueller – an enigmatic figure who has been mentioned from very early on in the story. The sense of threat develops, and the reader begins to wonder more about his involvement. I like the power play between him and Beruthia – the queen really isn’t in control.

The questions keep rising in the reader’s mind; for instance what really is ‘Kueller’s Experiment’? Subtle references to the ‘rogue Mages’ also arouse suspicions to heighten the tension.

Another thing I particularly liked was the dialogue about ‘power’ and ‘trust’.

Great stuff!
Cara

Cara Gold wrote 634 days ago

{Tamria} – James Gravil
Chapter 16:

This is a great chapter where we delve into Queen Beruthia’s thoughts, and the politics in the world of Tamria. The complexity of the story is heightened, building tension for future books.

Especially, I liked the details about the villain, Kueller, and the Queen’s fear of him.

We also find out about Aloria’s true identity, and the plans of world conquest. There is plenty of mystery, and questions raised.

Cara

Alecia Stone wrote 643 days ago

This is much more visual than the last version. I definitely feel more of a connection to this one than the previous versions. I had no idea that's what the Tarantella looked like. Fantastical. Did you change the book description? I'm certain something about the blurb has changed. Well, anyway, I like this blurb. Certainly more gripping and makes me want to read the book.

I still have to read on, but this is the best version I've read, hands down. Nicely done :)

D.J.Milne wrote 644 days ago

Hi James
Although it is midnight here I have just read Chp 3 and discovered Doris's long lost regal relative. The similarities to my character are quite uncanny. I love your portrayal of her dripping in jewelry caught in her flabby folds, wonderful. And the mad intelligence that lurks within is evident. Your writing is descriptive and captivating.
Just a couple of things i noticed. In the paragraph that begins Poor woman, there is a mistake I believe. You say, 'Most frightful were his eyes.' I reckon you mean her eyes. Also when describing the steps flanked by potted trees you say...'staircase's far flung fleet.' should be feet?
Given the hour and my wilting lettuce like lids, I will come back to the book very soon with less tired eyes. I have a couple of promised swap reads to do but I have put you on my watch list.
Thanks for your support for The Ghost Shirt
David (D.J)

JamesRevoir wrote 645 days ago

Hello James:

I began reading Tamria: Book One and found your writing style to be quite delightful. Your description of the floating airship is imaginative and sets the tone for a dreamlike setting.

Through the course of the dialogue and back story, you effectively present a unique profile of each of the characters.

Blessings to you for all success in this series.

James

Cara Gold wrote 645 days ago

{Tamria} – James Gravil
Chapter 3

This chapter is great because of the way tension ebbs and flows. The transitions are handled nicely, so we jump from the exciting atmosphere of the party, to the thieves as they commence their plan, to the musings of Sir Gustav, and the problem of the missing princess!

Background information is interweaved nicely, and at no point does the reader feel like they’re being overburdened by it. There are also great descriptions linking to the world of Tamria, making them unique and fresh – such as the princess being described as ‘Dreamflower of Tamria, after that rare blossom said to lie dormant and bloom once in a hundred years, briefest and fairest.’ I love that line.

Nice comical touches also lighten the mood, such as Gustav bumbling along, encased in his armour. All these elements make the read very enjoyable, and if this was a book, the pages would be rapidly turning :)

Cara

Cara Gold wrote 645 days ago

{Tamria} – James Gravil
Chapter 2

This chapter begins with some lovely description of the atmosphere as dusk is falling, and the reader really feels like they are there in the scene, waiting with anticipation for the party to begin.

Great introduction to the mage, No-Name. The writing has a conversational tone here that makes it very easy to read. I also think the task of creating new and appealing magical characters is very hard, given the fantasy genre is so overcrowded with them. But this is well done here!

No-Name is a fun, fresh and likeable character, and his interactions with the other children are enjoyable to read about. There is a strong feeling of excitement as they head towards the Palace, and my favourite part was seeing how No-Name overcomes his fears. His innocence is also adorable, and older readers might be provoked to think about the world and how much *nicer* it might be if some of No-Name’s principles were applied in our everyday lives.

At the end of the chapter, we are left with the line ‘It’s starting’. This is a natural cliff-hanger, making us want to turn the page and read on to find out about the party!

Great stuff
Cara

Cara Gold wrote 645 days ago

{Tamria} – James Gravil
Chapter 2

This chapter begins with some lovely description of the atmosphere as dusk is falling, and the reader really feels like they are there in the scene, waiting with anticipation for the party to begin.

Great introduction to the mage, No-Name. The writing has a conversational tone here that makes it very easy to read. I also think the task of creating new and appealing magical characters is very hard, given the fantasy genre is so overcrowded with them. But this is well done here!

No-Name is a fun, fresh and likeable character, and his interactions with the other children are enjoyable to read about. There is a strong feeling of excitement as they head towards the Palace, and my favourite part was seeing how No-Name overcomes his fears. His innocence is also adorable, and older readers might be provoked to think about the world and how much *nicer* it might be if some of No-Name’s principles were applied in our everyday lives.

At the end of the chapter, we are left with the line ‘It’s starting’. This is a natural cliff-hanger, making us want to turn the page and read on to find out about the party!

Great stuff
Cara

c1030 wrote 645 days ago

Your book is truly remarkable in terms of plot and your way of writing. kind of unique, though but exciting.

Your story sounds really great. Can't wait further to read what will happen. The idea of an airship is really very good. i really liked the character Brutus despite the way you presented him. Hope you can make more fun out of him. It is really good fantasy novel. Wish you good luck and congratulations.

Lucy Middlemass wrote 646 days ago

Tamria

Back for a re-read of chapter one. I really enjoyed it this time - especially the Brotherhood all pretending to think that they are supposed to be kidnapping the queen.
I couldn't find a mistake in the whole chapter and you know I'll have tried.
I'm not sure what you've changed exactly, but I think the descriptions of each Brother are more part of the story now, rather than being given as separate information. I think that's one of the main things I felt needed work in the book as a whole and you've definitely improved it here.
Maybe it's because I've read the whole book and I know what's coming but I found it easier to follow and frankly more likeable.

Let me know if/when there are other chapters you'd like be to re-read. I don't think I quite finished with the second book/extra chapters either, did I?

Lucy

Cara Gold wrote 647 days ago

{Tamria} – James Gravil
Chapter 1 Revised
Hey! So I stopped by for a read before bed and just have some quick thoughts so far! Overall I think the opening is great; the first few paragraphs really set the scene and the prospect of conflict is introduced straight away with the mention of stealing a princess. Although the very beginning sounds a bit Robin Hood-esque, I don’t think this is an issue, because you leap into your own original story very quickly and there’s no problem having a bit of ‘pop-culture’ infused, which I know is what you do at times and it works to good effect.

I think the tone is excellent, definitely fitting the genre and perfect for your target audience. It is familiar, conversational, and engaging. You manage to capture the atmosphere on board the ship and introduce the characters, without overly sounding like you are ‘telling’ and info dumping. Often the generic advice is given out ‘show don’t tell’, but this is meaningless advice if taken out of context, when people don’t actually engage with a work and what the author’s objective is. You do it just right here, imo :)

The pace also moves along fast, the dialogue is snappy and fun, and does a good job at complimenting the characterization and highlighting the individuality of the crew.

If I were an agent, I would read on. One point of general advice I can give so far, though, is that you can still do more with your long pitch – really utilize that word count to show off your originality and uniqueness, what sets you apart? You don’t have to go on with a massive rant about plot, but I’m sure you could infuse a bit of quirkiness into there and make it sound more fun, own your space!

Hope that helps for the intro
- Cara

p.s. I found a few nits to pick out, although these aren’t really issues or flaws, the writing is very polished as is. Some of these points are stylistic too, hope something might be useful

‘naturally it was more disconcerting’ perhaps add something along the lines of ‘because they were so high up in the air?’ Just to make it clear, because some people might find being in a stormy sea more terrifying, if you get me, and this would put it more in the perspective of the characters and what they think.

‘scattering them as a prism scatters rainbows’ → technically a prism doesn’t scatter ‘rainbows’, it scatters the light into rainbows, or ‘splits the light into rainbows’, it doesn’t necessarily matter in a poetic sense though!

‘So that’s Arcadia,’ Coren said → next sentence you say ‘said those words’, so I would change the ‘Coren said’ to something like ‘exclaimed’ or ‘uttered with a sharp intake of breath’, something more exciting!

I’d say ‘might have originally been from Arcadia’, just shift the ‘originally’??

I think you need to add; ‘Jibes and insults ::usually:: bounced off…’ just to again emphasise that it depends…

‘A feast was spread on the table, and mouths were stuffed.’ → what do you think of varying the sentence structure hear; ‘A feast was spread on the table, and the crew stuffed their hungry mouths.’ Just to avoid the ‘was’ ‘were’ density in this para?

Lenny Banks wrote 647 days ago

Hi James, I read chapter 4. I really enjoyed the flow of your story, like someone commented before it felt like I was watching a movie. The characters seemed almost 'Disney like!'. I can see you are already doing very well in the ratings and I am not surprised. I think you are on to a winner and I wish you every success. I would like to add I love your use of the word 'haughty', we dont see that enough these days.

Kind Regards and Best Wishes

Lenny Banks - Tide and Time: At The Rock.

Shelby Z. wrote 648 days ago

This is still a really fun read. There is so much to it that is adventurous in a fun way.
The plot and characters develop super well. Everything in this catches the eye.
I like the new cover.
Amazing ideas and style of writings.

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

A.D. Stratu wrote 649 days ago

Dear James,

What a captivating story! What an arc! What an intrigue! The opening paragraphs about the Brotherhood are simply brilliant. You deserve myriads of stars for that, and now, before you get dizzy with my sincere and absolutely well-deserved praise, let me get to the critical part of my comment.

I cannot help but qualify your stylistics as plain, but then, nowadays when we writers try to please the common reader, it is an asset rather than a liability. Nobody wants huge paragraph-long phrases and endless rants and Tolstoi- or Dickens-worthy "flows of conscience" anymore. Yet I suggest you add a little "embellishment" to your writing - more metaphors, allusions, epitets, other literary tropes... Or else, when (and it's a "when", not an "if") you make it to the ED, we don't want some highbrow HC editor frown and say "homely and childish", do we? But then, this is how G.R.R. Martin writes - Newsweek gave high praise to Game of Thrones for "lack of unnecessary literary embellishments" - so please feel free to ignore this comment of mine.

Sorry, but I scrolled back to Cass-Brutus antagonism and can't help but give more praise - you seem to be skilled in HR management, is it perchance something you do for a living? A job in Human Resources management, maybe? The atmosphere of sparkle and benign conflict is described simply but beautifully. It is a rule of a successful team - there has to be a little teeth-showing, otherwise, when everyone is hypocrite friend to everyone in a team, the atmosphere grows stale and laden with suppressed anger. I, for one, always encourage my employees to gossip behind my back, because berating the boss always takes the steam off. Maybe this little insight will help you in your character development.

Will come back later with comments on Chapter 2 as soon as I'm done with other commitments here on Autho. Yours, A.D.

P.S. Cass is my kinda man. You guys should all do manicures, really. It's metrosexual, not gay, keep that in mind! :)

ELAdams wrote 652 days ago

As I'm about to embark on a 5-week trip to central America (where I will be without internet access the majority of the time), I made it my priority to finish reading 'Tamria' and comment before I go, as I know how frustrating it can be waiting forever for a response to a read swap! I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book - now I find myself wanting to read the sequel!

Here are my notes:

I like the switch to Queen Beruthia's perspective in chapter 16 - I was wondering what was happening in the city after the chaos. Interesting twist with Aloria not really being Beruthia's daughter, and being an Ancient as well! This adds new layers to the storyline and keeps the reader guessing as to how events will turn out.

I was pleased that we finally get to meet Kueller in chapter 17, and the descriptions of his appearance, his voice, and his way of moving are brilliant. I like the introduction of the enigmatic Tatl and Tael (great names!) and the possible origin of No-Name. This is a really great chapter that explains an awful lot!

In chapter 18, I found the inclusion of information on the history and relations between the states really interesting - it helps us build a more 3-dimensional picture of your world, which you've clearly planned in great detail. The strength of a fantasy novel is in its world-building, and I think yours is one of the most absorbing and convincing I've read on the site! Meanwhile, the potential relationship between Coren and Aloria creates a new subplot.

In chapter 20, the encounter with the hostile Mage is very well-described, and you do a great job of evoking Coren's feelings of terror and describing the Mage's scary voice!

One nit-pick- I wondered why there is no mention of Dio's death in the chapters following it. I wouldn't have thought that the characters - especially Coren - would have forgotten about him so quickly, even after finding Aloria. I think you could go into Coren's feelings on the loss of his friend a little more, whilst still moving ahead with the story. Just a thought!

I like the reference to Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the end of chapter 21, as it works with the fairytale elements in the story itself. I found chapter 22 to be one of the most interesting in terms of developing Aloria's character, and the important information we find out through the dialogue with Coren fits naturally without seeming like an infodump.

The climactic chapters are engaging and exciting, and the novel ends on a great cliffhanger! I confess to being disappointed to have reached the end so quickly, but I understand that you're writing a series, and I think this is a good point to break off. I'll have to read the uploaded chapters of the second book next!

Overall, I think I definitely made the right choice in shelving this. It's difficult to criticise a book that's obviously been well-thought-out and edited, and the quality remains consistent throughout. Your characters, too, are consistent and three-dimensional; and your writing is well-paced with a good balance of dialogue and description, convincing world-building and an engaging narrative style. I think this is as good as any published novel, and I don't see why an agent would pass it up (though of course I have no idea of how agents' minds work - I recently received my first rejection letter for 'The Puppet Spell', and the agent was incredibly vague about why they didn't want my book...)

I'll keep this on my bookshelf for now, and I'll be back to look at the second book when I return from my trip! Thanks for the enjoyable read, and I hope that my comments have been some help!

Emma

Edwin P. Magezi wrote 652 days ago

Hey James,

-> To be honest, I love the original beginning better. I don't think that surprising to you. :D Regardless, this reads more like a children's book (the beginning) except that once again (the expected description of the surroundings notwithstanding), it's giving out information a first time reader has yet to care for, especially since a character has not yet been introduced nor bound to the narrative.
-> Also, (from my knowledge of the story and its world), I had no idea the palace was close to the sea/ocean, as the mention of a harbour implies. Unless of course this is a harbour for airships, in that case the presence of seagulls adds to my confusion. Putting aside my prior knowledge, it seems there are both airships and ordinary ships.
-> From what I read before, the paragraphs prior to the introduction of Coren are a crude summary of details taken from the first 4 old chapters. Perhaps if I didn't know it all before, It would be better this way.
-> Your narrative has also shifted into a storyteller sort of perspective. I imagine watching this on TV, a voice narrating what is happening with breaks for dialogue. Hence the "I" references and tense changes. It's a new 3rd person perspective for me, though I remember it being in the No-Name chapter. I think this perspective is the reason for the sudden outbursts of information relating to any subject ... kinda like the thoughts of the narrator wonder as he speaks. Hmm.
-> I didn't read it all... Skimmed it and it seems you've combined the first 2 chapters from before. Nice. I have no idea how u find the time to make such huge changes, but I respect u for it. Will read on and see... Seems like my comment is just stating the obvious without being much help :D

Edwin.

Hogarth Hughes wrote 654 days ago

Hey James,
This is a fantastic piece of writing, I'm very impressed with what I've read so far. I like the story you've begun weaving and I'm a bit of a sucker for thieves as heroes. I think that the 'telling' rather than 'showing' approach you've taken works for your style of writing, and I didn't find it boring or bothersome in the least. I always like to have a good idea of what the world presented in a novel looks like (especially when the author has created something entirely new) and you did a wonderful job with that. The following are my nitpicks/pieces of advice for you. Keep in mind, these are only my personal opinions, so take them with a grain of salt.
- Since you've listed your novel under the 'Children's' category, I believe your chapters are much too long. Now, this is easily remedied and maybe its just the way you've uploaded the MS, but I do believe this is something that needs to be addressed. Kids tend to lose interest quickly and if you have a chapter that seems to drag on (no matter how action packed!) your reader may be inclined to put your book aside. Keep that in mind.
- 85, 000 words for a children's novel is steep! Obviously I'm no expert, but I think you'd have a really hard time selling this to an agent at the length that it is. You may want to consider chopping unnecessary sections.
- I didn't like the way your narrator says 'I'. Normally, a third party narrator stays kind of anonymous, and to have him say 'I' out of the blue really pulled me out of the story. It raises questions for the reader and is a bit of a distraction.
- I've seen you confuse past and present tense several times throughout the first two chapters. A good comb through of your MS would be very beneficial.
Overall, your characters are well contrived, your story is flowing at a good pace, and I really enjoyed what I read. Well done.

- Hogarth Hughes

Eftborin wrote 655 days ago

James, I am not too sure of it at the moment. Personally speaking I think there is too much dialogue and found myself rushing through sentences. Some names look familiar i.e, Brutus/Cassius and i am sure i have seen Bacchus somewhere. Brotherhood of thieves reminds me of my fav game OBLIVION. I am sure you are aware of it, Imperial city, etc.
Have to read more at a later date. Maybe you could shorten the chapters. It may help for easier reading. I was given the same advice.
Pat

ELAdams wrote 655 days ago

Sorry it took a while - I'm back to comment on chapters 9 to 15. It was difficult to find errors, mainly because I was so caught up in the story!

The descriptions of the forest are great, and the idea of trees that eat people is pretty sinister! I like that No-Name makes a reappearance, and Dio's and Coren's growing exasperation at his ignorance is amusing. Once again, the dialogue is great. I love the 'man-eating lizards' part in chapter eleven.

I did think that the scene when the wolves attack seems a little detached, and it isn't clear from whose perspective it is - I know that you're using an omniscient narrator, but I felt that the narrator's observations detracted from the action a bit. Also, there are quite long sections telling us the characters' situation in chapter twelve, which young readers might be tempted to skip over to get to the action. Just my opinion, of course!

I really like the way you show us the characters' predicament in these chapters, and the description of Coren's feelings as being like walking on a cliff in darkness - great description! Coren getting kicked out of the Brotherhood, everyone turning on him, and Gustav becoming a reluctant ally are twists I didn't see coming. Dio's death at the end of chapter 15 is shocking, and I think the repetition of 'Dio was dead' is really effective.

As before, your story is captivating and imaginative, and there's plenty of action and humour, and some sad moments too. Poor Dio!

I'll be back for more shortly - I'm going on a trip later this week so it's my goal to complete all my authonomy readings before I go!

Emma

Mandy Leafield wrote 655 days ago

Okay, finally got around to looking at this.

You said this was a children's novel? I'm guessing for the older kids; there are some relatively big words that even I don't know. (Or rather, have never heard before. XD ) I suppose that's to go along with the medieval feel of the piece, though. Just letting you know of the matter, anyway~

Geddy25 wrote 656 days ago

CHIRG
Just read the first two chapters but you were editing so I couldn't continue.
I love the style of your writing and I can easily picture the places and characters from your descriptions. It's the kind of fantasy story that I've always enjoyed. If I struggled with anything in the first chapter, it was the number of new characters being introduced at once, but it still flowed well.
You have listed this as a children's book, but I fear that some of the words you used are above most children - sardonically, aplomb, and imperious to name but three. It might be an idea to replace these with easier words? (Just a suggestion).
When I started on the second chapter, the first thing that hit me was that you'd suddenly started writing in the present tense. I thought there might have been a conscious reason for this as it was a different scene / situation, but when the two children and the mage put the ladder against the wall to climb, you went back into past tense. I guess you need to alter the tense of the first part of the second chapter?
All in all I think you've created a wonderful start to a story. I would have continued if you weren't editing.
Good luck with this!
Mike.
(Rudolf Goes Bananas)

Christopher D. Abbott wrote 657 days ago

First impressions were very encouraging. I kept reading and whilst I was reading, your description of the Airships and the surroundings immediately brought to my mind the Fighting Fantasy books written by Steven Jackson and Ian Livingston. I think it was the The City of Thieves and the Creature of Havoc that it reminded me of specifically. There's a touch of the R. A. Salvatore about your writing, which I don't think is an unfair or unworthy comparison. I have no comment on your grammar, punctuation, etc, because this is not my area of expertise. It all seems good to me.

Your story flows nicely, your characters really burst into life. I particularly liked Dio's speech. It gave him real character, real personality.

I'm still reading, so I will come back later with more, but for now I'd say - you hooked me 'good n proper.'

Incidentally, I don't think it would be too complex for a younger reader.

5 Stars

chevalier94 wrote 659 days ago

Well, that was fun...
This is one of the best fantasy novel on earth! It's infatuating, fascinating and wonderfully written. I get the picture of the airships, the city, the characters etc. I love the way you put details in environment descriptions. I can nearly see it!
There are some advice from me though:

-There are some paragraph which is a bit smoother. You need to add a flow, a tone, or whatever you say so ur reader won't get bored reading it. e.g.:
doors to the other rooms ran along the left side. and spiralling stairwells were at both ends. The tarantella had three floors, each joined by a staircase. Coren and Dio were at the second floor. Sunlight streamed through a window on the right, flooding the corridor with warmth. Cass and Brute were standing beside this, gazing out in silence.

I think the paragraph should have some variation than by keep starting each sentence with subject. I'm not saying that this is a bad paragraph, but I'd prefer this:
There were doors leading off to other rooms along the left side, while spiralling stairwells were at both ends. The tarantella had three floors, each joined by staircase. On the second floor were Coren and Dio. It was the sunlight which streamed through a window on the right and flooded the room with warmth. Gazing out in silence, Cass and Brute stood beside this.

That really isn't a problem, but you have it quite much, so it's a problem for me, like in the 4th chapter: Bacchus' men slipped into position.... etc.

Anyway, you've done it very well. I haven't read till the very end, and it's impossible to miss such a good novel. So I'll just get back to read.
Thanks Chevalier

benedict wrote 659 days ago

CHIRG/YARG review

Hi there James,

many thanks for the comments. I really loved a lot of the language you use in the first chapter. It is full of elegant descriptions and I particularly enjoyed the expansive scene of the airship flying over the city. Truly beautifully written.

Your characters are fun though I felt your description of them went on too long and especially that you dwell too much on the stupidity of Brutus, I felt that even the narrator was rather mean to him. Your dialogue is absolutely spot on and the scene of the meeting works well. However I wanted a little more action, more of a hook, by the end of the first chapter.

All in all though, this is very good. Here are my close observations - nothing major!

Today, the Brotherhood was going to steal something.
-I don’t like the use of today in the past tense. I would say, one day or, on this particular day.
-Same with NOW later on

worth beyond a mountain of treasure
-beyond is normally used as a modifier of adjectives, it would make more sense to say Worth MORE THAN a…

It was the date of the queen’s festival
-this simply isn’t said
-It was the DAY of the…

Horses hauled carriages, wagons, carts, families jostled with possessions.
-sentence not clear. Either: Horses hauled carriages. Wagons, carts and families jostled with possessions. OR:
Horses hauled carriages, wagons, carts AND families JOSTLING with possessions. Or:
Horses hauled carriages, wagons AND carts. Families jostled with possessions.

Where has it ever been writ
-this archaism doesn’t really fit with the rest of the narration

with a flame-red shock of hair
-wouldn’t he therefore be very noticeable?

Coren worked his arms and shoulders, to ease the weariness from his muscles
-comma unnecessary

a tongue quick as silver
-might be ok spoken but you need the as quick as construction in written English

thickest person in the entire Brotherhood. If not the entire world.
-I’d delete the first entire

thing does fall apart and the guards do come after us
-emphatic use of do rather jarring - thing falls apart and the guards come after us.

Their heads, Brutus, mind, not ours
-too much – I’d say - Their heads, Brutus, not ours

Not to mention THE FACT he wouldn’t really do anything

thieves for forty years, said he had never met a better ONE.

‘Me neither,’ Dio said, stoicAlly.
-runs more smoothly

back into its usual blank, mystified expression
-comma

Very highly starred and lots of luck getting to the desk. You definitely seem to have the vocabulary and mastery of language to deserve a top spot.

Best wishes,

Benedict

ELAdams wrote 659 days ago

I'm back to comment on the next few chapters of 'Tamria' - something I've been meaning to do for a while!

I've read up to the end of chapter eight now, and I'm enjoying this story immensely. As before, I like the easygoing relationship between the thieves, particularly Coren and Dio, and the dialogue is especially good. The plot continues to engage the reader, and I really like the descriptions particularly of the crash-landing in the Twisted Forest (great name, too!). Love the line, 'Everyone except Brutus was doing everything in his power to stay away from Brutus'.

With appealing characters and a compelling narrative, I'm certain that I made the right choice in backing this unique, well-written fantasy story. This is a book I'll be reading to the end - do you fancy a chapter swap? I'll be happy to comment as I read, and I'm looking for more comments on the later chapters of 'The Puppet Spell'. :)

Emma

femmefranglaise wrote 661 days ago

Hi James, this isn't my normal genre so it's high praise indeed when I say that this is a cracking good story. Great narrative, lots of imagination and creativity and multi-faceted characters. The pitch is perfect. I'm a great fan of short pitches that don't give much away. That way the story can surprise me. I would happily read on if I had time so well done, really great stuff.

All the best
Melanie
La Vie en Rosé

Famlavan wrote 661 days ago

CHIRG

What a brilliant story, great characters.
For me, and this is my preference, you set the scene with a visual narrative, however it would be more atmospheric if you would have added descriptive sound and other descriptive senses in the opening. Minor, but to me it sets the scene better.
Saying that, what a great storyline, you have the structure of myth built into a very entertaining book. Nice hooks and believable characters drew me as a reader in, a skill that is missing in some fantasy stories. I enjoyed this and will be back to complete the story along with the next book - Ian

SuzanneJefferies wrote 662 days ago

Enjoyable and entertaining. Happy to back it.

Philthy wrote 662 days ago

Hi James,
I’m here to check out Tamria. Loved the story and writing. Have a few suggestions below. They are my humblest opinions, of course, so take them for whatever they’re worth.
Chapter one
Even if your first chapter isn’t action-packed or heavy in suspense, don’t underestimate the power of a strong, opening-line hook. Frankly, there isn’t much of a lure in this one. Even for a children’s story, it isn’t a bad thing to consider.
Why is the “Oi, Coron” part italicized? Italics are most often used to indicate internal thought. Doesn’t seem to fit here.
“Today, he and his brother were going to steal something.” Totally up to you, but you might consider reworking things to make this your opening line. It’s a strong lure. That said, you know your story best.
“sharply sloping” is kind of an awkward combo of words there. For one, I don’t think alliteration is your friend here. Second, it reads funny. Third, if the ceiling slopes, it’s unclear if the entire ceiling is low, or if it’s just lowest at the lowest point. You might consider something like, “The ceiling was low at the highest point with a sharp slope that met the floor.” (or something like that)
“knock” I’d add “on the head”
Frankly, I think you’re spending way too much time describing the ceiling and the fact that he has to be careful about getting up. All we really get from that paragraph is that he isn’t tall (and perhaps that the ceiling is low). It seems to distract the reader from the story, as you’ve taken us too far away from what’s most interesting, that the MC is about to steal something of significance.
There are any number of things that could go wrong on a sea voyage, too. Not sure you’ve really conveyed the idea that the airship is more dangerous than a sea voyage, which seems to be what you were shooting for.
“on the right side” On the right side of what? I’m not seeing this.
“Coren rubbed himself to get the sleep out of his muscles.” Didn’t he already move his arms to do this? How much focus does this need? Frankly, it isn’t interesting to the reader. Again, you’re pulling the reader from the outstanding story you’ve laid out.
“I’ll never get the hang of sleeping on an airship.” I’m guessing that you’re putting so much emphasis in his waking up to support this line, but it really isn’t needed. These last four or five paragraphs could be significantly condensed.
“furnished rooms” Weren’t the bedrooms furnished with beds? I would just say what it was furnished with. Otherwise, all you’re telling us is that they weren’t empty of furniture, but why not just say what it’s furnished with?
“mountain-range” Two words, no hyphen
“verdant” Not sure this word is fitting for a children’s book
“put those aside” I’d change to “put those doubts aside”
“he told himself” needs to be “he had told himself” since this happened in the past and you’ve written the narration in past tense (making “he told himself” actually happening in the MC’s present).
The narrative is very good, but I think it could be even stronger with the imagery amped up around it. Communication between characters is in more than just the words spoken. Expression, gestures and reactions are all crucial items, too.
“spectacular and awe-inspiring” They mean more or less the same thing. You could drop one of them and make it a little sharper. Same goes for “thickest and dumbest”
“his heavy features kneaded” Kneaded what? This imagery doesn’t really work.
The dialogue works very well in helping your characters to pop. It’s really well done.
“Very Serious Undertaking” Not sure why this is in caps. If that’s how someone phrases it, it should be in quotes.
Overall Impressions: Your biggest strength is your characterization through dialogue. I think this is crucial, especially for children’s and YA genre. It’s easy to connect with your characters, especially the MC.
My biggest suggestion is to look to condensing. This chapter dwells on some things that probably don’t deserve the attention they’re given. I felt like I kept getting yanked away from the story to cram in backstory and setting. Those things could be better sprinkled in. We don’t have to know all the details right off the bat. The goal is to get the reader excited about the story and acquire that context more subtlety. Also, there are also redundancies here and there in the descriptions.
A very well-written story, though. These are tweaks, not overhauls. I tended to focus on things I thought could use some polish, as I think that’s what you’re looking for, but know I found way more positives than negatives.
Good luck with the pitch to the agent. Hope this has been as helpful as your feedback to me was.
Phil
(Deshay of the Woods)

Sara Stinson wrote 663 days ago

James,
I have read the first chapter and I applaud your idea of a great story. You placed much thought into the plot and characters.
It is the world of Tamria. And one of the cities is a place called Elyssia. The band of honourable thieves have a job. And they have an opportunity to become very wealthy men if they succeed in kidnapping the princess of Arcadia.
You have done a wonderful job with appropriate character names and personalities to match. I especially like Brutus! Poor Brutus, he is stuck with the luggage again.

I know you have worked diligently with your project and it surely shows! I do have some suggestions. You are running high in the rankings. I believe this one suggestion will benefit in your writing, (It was one of my initial mistakes I made in my story, Finger Bones.)

I am referring to Dangling Modifiers.
A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in the sentence. A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about the about the concept.

FOR EXAMPLE: Their target was the most precious thing in the whole of the kingdom, valuable beyond a mountain of treasure. (What was valuable? In the sentence it is saying the kingdom is valuable. This is incorrect usage. Since the doer of the action expressed in the participle is not clearly stated, the participle phrase is said to be a dangling modifier.)

CORRECT: Valuable beyond a mountain of treasure, their target was the most precious thing in the whole of the kingdom.

Now the target is valuable.

Other sentences I noticed. These examples will help with other sentences in this chapter and the rest of your book.

I: He moved his arms and legs, working weariness from his joints.
C: Working the weariness from his joints, he moved his arms and legs. (Now the target doer is he.)

I: Golden sunbeams streamed though the window on the right, shimmering with dustmotes. (You are saying the right is shimmering) Need to redo.

I: They held the briefing in the ships galley, huddled about a low table. (You are saying the galley huddled.)
C: Huddled about the low table, they held the briefing in the ships galley. (Now they are huddled.)

I noticed several others. I think you get the idea with these examples.

Sometimes you may have to make 2 sentences out of it.
Other times you can combine the phrase and main clause into one.

I know you have worked hard and it is wonderful story. I know as you get closer and closer to your goal on the site, you will be ready and prepared for Harper Collins! GOOD LUCK!

I will be happy to look at more or review when you have made corrections. Go on any site about dangling modifiers if I have not given enough samples.

Keep Reading! Sara Stinson.


Sara Stinson wrote 663 days ago

Write a great fantasy and I am hooked! I love to disappear into the world the writer has created. I love the prologue, Can't wait to read! HUM, this golem...

Keep Reading! Sara Stinson

Come see and read what Finger Bones ad Wendy are up to!

Nanty wrote 663 days ago

CHIRG Review:
Tamria: Book One.

Chapter 1 - A Conspiracy of Thieves.
honourable villains - immediately thought of Robin Hood and his merry band of men.
Liked: 'To the Brothers, a hundred sweating pairs of hands, it was all fair game.' Ethos of the Brothers well depicted and a good image created with briefest description.
'Drowse-addled' - I really like this, but wonder what a child would make of it.
'working the weariness' - don't think you need 'the' - working weariness flows more easily.
Liked the description of Dio.
I felt a little bombarded by all the names cropping up.
Paragraph beginning 'Sprawled beneath the walls of the palace...' You are describing the city nestled around and about the palace and suddenly revert to a scene inside it eg: 'its snaking corridors etc. I found this confusing and had to read again to make sure I had read correctly.
Good description of Cassius - love the nail varnish.
Ditto for Brutus - particularly liked 'awe-inspiring margin'.
Not sure if children will understand some of the language used eg: 'de facto'.
The chapter is rather long to hold a child's interest, combined with the content I'm wondering if this work would be better suited to young adults who would lap up the gung-ho/comedic portrayal of the theives.

Chapter 2 - No-name.

Really good descriptive first paragraph.
'Now what is a Mage you ask?' 'A Mage is, of course, a magician.' I thought 'of course' was unnecessary. In my opinion it implies the reader is stupid not to know.
A pointed wizard's hat is hackneyed and completely stereo-typical. Perhaps consider a hat with a broad brim, and let the reader decide what form it takes. Other than that No-name is intriguing and his character is developed very well. One thing struck me, he's very naive for a magician, though his seeming innocence is very endearing.
Golden ticket - Willy Wonkerish. You have a good imagination so should have no problem thinking of something to fit a much prized ticket.
A lot of narration in this chapter, which I liked very much. It wasn't intrusive and didn't detract from what was happening to No-Name, Tom and Rosie, and the voice used in the prose had a friendly tone.

Overall: I haven't bothered with punctuation or grammar on the basis, I'm not so hot and there are lots of very generous people on the site who can help if needed.
Some very good descriptions of characters and places. In the main the prose flowed well, though as I have mentioned before, in my opinion the chapters are too long for younger children and some of the language would be much better suited to young adults. Hard to say how the story will develop with only two chapter read, though with such an inventive author, it will be worthwhile coming back to read more.
For the moment - starred.

Nanty - Chrys!

Diane60 wrote 663 days ago

CHIRG
James,
read just a few chapters of your book and i was very confused as to what kind of book i was looking at. Are you aiming for satire/comedy or a mix of the two? The rhythm seems disjointed and out of sync.
i was thinking it would read more like BORED OF THE RINGS but it doesn't. the story arc seems well constructed and thought out as do the characters i've met so far. (although you maj is such a rip off of roger from american dad)
i've starred you highly as i think it is a tweaking issue OR it could just be me!
:)
diane

sticksandstones wrote 665 days ago

CHIRG/YARG Review:

James, finally got around to having a read of Tamria. Honourable villains, excellent start, the sort of group I'd expect to find in a Terry Pratchett novel. Greedy rich and humble poor, brilliant! I love 'a hundred sweating pairs of lawless hands.' Equally like 'the hairy nose of the queen.' You build some good suspense straight off; something which other children's books I've read (on authonomy) have sorely lacked.

I immediately want to know what the object is, and why the Brotherhood are planning to steal it. Nice description of Dio and his unfathomably dirty hands. Fantastic description of the endless vista and Imperial Palace. Those are fautless paragraphs, with tight, perfectly worded sentences. I would change 'I'll think about those later' to 'I'll think about it later.'

The focus is on the mission, whereas Coren's doubts about it are superflous. I love the description of Brutus, even if it does seem a little unfair. You have a natural flair for not only dialogue, but characterisation within dialogue. It makes everything that's spoken between the Brothers seem totally believable. Of course, that comes with a suspension of disbelief, but I really like Dio's character so far.

' . . . a Very Serious Undertaking,' brilliant! As aburd as it might seem, following your deft descirption of Boss Bacchus, I'm now thinking of Oliver Twist. Specifically, the band of pick-pocketing thieves. Other than that, I don't have much to add. The events of the kidnap are set up well, but somehow I don't expect it'll go according to plan. I can't see any reason why this wouldn't appeal to children.

I do think you need to jump straight into some action with chapter two. I'll reserve judgment as I don't have time to read on right now. Otherwise, a very polised start!

Ben - Franky Frog's Worldwide Travelogue

Paul Richards wrote 666 days ago

After reading through chapter three, I can tell that you have a vivid imagination. It is not difficult for a very visually oriented person such as myself to see what you are describing. However, children's stories are not my favorite or even appealing to me, so I fail when trying to understand and judge their effectiveness when reading them.

I was easily confused and found my self back tracking to understand the why of what what happening. The narrator speaks in the first person too often and so I am not comfortable with where I. as a reader, am in relation to the others in the story. What is my position in watching this story as it develops in my mind's eye?

There is a lot to see as I read and I like it when I understand it. For some reason I expected that the Brotherhood was traveling to a destination of high altitude so when we ended up on the coast, I had to go back to find out why I was misunderstanding that part.

I am certain that you have a good audience for your story, I'm just not one of them.

R.J. Blain wrote 666 days ago

Hey, just popping by; you need to delete chapter 2 and reupload it; it is getting the an error occurred message. Chapter one is much smoother than before, good work, much more interesting and tense. Chapter three I'm torn on -- in basics, it is good, but there is more telling vs showing than I think is absolutely necessary and the POV isn't deep enough when dealing with the Royals. I'm not certain if this is intentional, though.

But, Chapter 1 just needs a few out-loud readings and smoothing out any sections that are hard to speak out and I think it is good to give the wilds a test. Let me know when you get chapter 2 reuploaded and I'll take another peek at it.

ELAdams wrote 668 days ago

Commenting on your newly edited first three chapters!

I really like your new opening - it does work better than starting with dialogue. I like the paradox of 'honourable villains'. You do a good job of introducing backstory gradually and I see a definite improvement in the flow of the writing overall - which is something, as I really enjoyed it the first time around!

The new chapter arrangement works well - I like how you introduce No-Name in the second chapter now , as I think he's the character most likely to be a favourite with young readers!

I'm afraid in-depth editing isn't my strong point (and I can't remember all the little details that have changed) but I don't see any stylistic problems with this. Best of luck submitting to agents and publishers - I'm in the middle of doing this with my book right now so I know how exactly how it feels!

I'll continue to read and comment on the next few chapters - this is one of my favourite fantasy stories on the site, and I think it has the potential to be a great success!

Emma

faith rose wrote 668 days ago

Dear James,

I am so happy I came back for another look at 'Tamria'. Wow! This is amazing writing. I know I loved it the first time around, and I have no idea how you managed to improve on what I already thought was wonderful. This is really great writing. You are truly a gifted storyteller.

I especially loved the little things which seemed to set this story apart for others of its kind. The use of italics to set off Coren's thoughts really worked well (ie: "How did I get into this?" and "Will he ever let that drop?"). You truly give the reader a glimpse of Coren's thoughts, and I really love that. The dialect was also superb, and that is no easy task! (ie: "assumin' " and "we was jus' messin' round wi' you, is all"). Many times I find myself getting lost in unfamiliar dialect, but you have masterfully carried this. Wonderfully done.

I think Tamria has "big screen" written all over it. A magical, adventurous, marvelously written piece. I'm recommending this to my hubby (a teacher) for reading and shelving. He will LOVE this, too!

All the very best,
Faith Rose
Now To Him

R.J. Blain wrote 669 days ago

Greetings! As requested, here is your thorough, brutal, scathing and honest critique of epic line-edit proportion. Please put your trays in upright position and buckle up!

First two paragraphs:

I’m intrigued by your first line. However, consider swapping out respected or respectable for honorable instead. You’re saying the exact same thing twice and it really just didn’t work for me. Also, you do this again in the next paragraph. “They were known as the Brotherhood of Thieves.” We don’t need to be told thieving is their trade. It is plain to see in their name.

You can also trim out the first line of the third paragraph; unnecessary. You want your opening to have as much bam! As possible. I think this is a much, much better opening, and done in a fairy tale sort of way, but you need to tighten this. I think there is still too much purple prose here that is redundant. Get to the point, stick to the point, write clearly and concisely. You can flower it up after we get to the good stuff.

One important thing of note, while this is an interesting start, it is a very, very passive start. The passive voice can work, but you might be courting danger here. Especially if you keep it passive past the first two or three paragraphs.

Paragraph three, you could easily scrap. You’re telling here. Show us their character by showing us *the characters*. We’ll learn they aren’t cruel, they don’t like violence, and they respect the area around them through their actions.

This is a big info dump, and while the first two paragraphs work, I think you need to get immediately into the story in the third. Get right behind the main character and start the action. You had me intrigued in concept for the first two paragraphs and lost me on the third. Just too passive in general.

For example, you could *show* us this in dialogue and action: Boss Bacchus, their founder and organiser, called what they did wealth redistribution. Their victims called it theft and burglary. The Brothers, who did the actual thieving, called it fair game.

Have them coming off of a heist and one of the new recruits make a comment about how they are thieves. Have Boss Bacchus, in as dignified a manner as possible, state they were in the business of wealth redistribution, not theft. This will remove the passive nature of the text and show us instead of tell us.

You start off with 484 words of passive voice and exposition/info dump. I’m convinced you can cut this down to *maybe* 50 words. If that. Start the story with the story. You’re a better writer than that. You do not need to rely on info dumps and exposition to set up your world, your thieves, and your characters.

“Oi! Coren! Get a move on, will ya? We’re nearly there.” – this would be an excellent starting point. Just feed us the above information, line by line, in small amounts only when necessary. This will make for a more intriguing, stronger read, in my opinion.

Cut one or the other sentences; they mean the same thing: At first, his surroundings were unfamiliar. For a drowse-addled moment he wondered where he was.

Note: Here he was, a vagabond, a street-urchin, a thief – of respectable pedigree but a thief nonetheless – on his way to an inescapable rendezvous, party to a plot to steal from the royal family. – This is exactly what I’m talking about in regards to slipping in tidbits of worldbuilding information. You’re also revisiting what you just spent 500 words telling us in the passive-voice info dump above this point.

Consider switching the paragraph order of these:

Nobody spoke for a while. There didn’t seem a need to say anything. It was enough just to enjoy the view. Coren guessed they were about fifteen hundred feet up, and their perspective gave them a peerless view of the world.

An endless vista spread below, unblemished by cloud or mist. The sea shone to the east, sweeping mountains reared to the west. A verdant country nestled between, rich with the hues of summer, humming with the labours of harvest.

You have us enjoying the view but we don’t know what the view is yet. This is reaction before action, where you want action then reaction.

I think it would read more naturally if you included an ‘and’ before twisting here: Sprawled beneath the Palace was the city of Arcadia, a dense wilderness of low rooftops, crowded houses, twisting, clotted streets.

Missing a quotation mark: ‘And you have? said Coren.


Personal preference, but I think it would read a little smoother if you inserted a comma between Brothers and he here: Like all the Brothers he was an orphan.

Personal Note: I’m a little put off by your accents, and some of them don’t make much sense to me. It’s triggered a gloss-over-dialogue response a bit.

Coren stifled a smile (he was always amused by Brutus’s exceptional dimness), but deep down he felt sorry for the great big lug.

Cut the ( ) section; it really comes across as a cop-out. We get that Coren is somewhat amused by Brutus’s dimness, so it isn’t necessary, and it is blatant telling versus showing.

I don’t like the section around here:
And as for Coren…

Well, it might be said that he was the most normal of the boys; and at fifteen he was probably the most sensible and level-headed. Fairweather was not his real surname, but one his friends had bestowed upon him because of his positive outlook. If Brutus’s asset was his strength, and Dio’s was his wit, and Cassius’s was cunning and finesse, the quality that Coren brought to the team was common sense.

My reasoning for this is that it is telling and it is in the passive voice. Compared to the stronger sections before, this could be removed and fed as single-line tidbits as needed – if needed. I don’t think it is necessary. You should be able to show this to us through the actions of the characters, not through telling it.

Otherwise, this is a much, much stronger improvement than the versions you had up previously. You’ve obviously worked your tail off on this – good work. A little more, and I think you’ll have a super-strong start to your book.

On to Chapter Two…

You start with the passive voice and another info dump. There are books that this works in, but it just isn’t hitting the mark for me. There is humor, but it isn’t enough for me to want to get back to the story you’ve abandoned for info dump.

Start it right at where the story continues. Feed us this as tidbits. You did it quite well in the first chapter. You don’t need to rely on these little crutches.

Also, the shift to first/second person just drove me right up a wall. Don’t break the 4th wall. Please don’t break the 4th wall…

Also, the lead POV here is nebulous. It seems to shift between Bacchus and Coren. I would clean this up; this chapter isn’t nearly as strong as the first one. Dive right into the conversation, get right into the action, and dig right into the conflict. Set up who the POV character is solidly from the start and stick with it, I think this will notably up the general quality of the second chapter.

Once you settle into actually telling the story, it goes much smoother.

Nit pick: Consider exchanging ‘this’ for ‘it’, since you set the subject in the previous sentence. This just doesn’t flow right for me. : Most of this centered on how they would get the sleeping princess out of the Palace and into the airship without anyone in the crowd noticing.

Other than that, watch for the same generals I mentioned in chapter 1’s section, and I think you’ll be able to whip chapter 2 into shape easily enough. It isn’t far off, I just think the beginning needs a lot of rethinking. You’re relying on a lot of telling to get your story off the ground.

On to Chapter Three…

The first paragraph I like. It is a good description, but… after the hopes of it diving right in are extinguished, you break the 4th wall again and go into another info dump. You can show us these things as a part of the actual story. Just tell us the story. Worldbuilding is important, but you’re not telling us a story; you’re telling us about all of the time and effort you put into the world.

In a real situation, I’d be skipping all of this to get back to the story. Which is exactly what I’m going to do here. (I hope this doesn’t offend you, but I don’t think either one of us want to beat the dead horse much more.)

This chapter is baffling me. You’re swaying between past and present tenses here. I think you should stick with one tense type; it’s a lot easier (and enjoyable) to read, in my opinion. This is just personal preference of course, but I’m really not liking this chapter as much as the previous two. (Did I mention this is, in general, a huge improvement over the previous versions? It really is.)

A little later in the chapter, you do end up settling on third present. I’m not a fan of it, but I can cope. I do think you need to keep to one POV type and tense, though. It would be a lot easier and much less disconcerting. While it isn’t a deal breaker, it does test my patience a bit.

Some notes about the section starting with this line: And so it was that No-Name found himself drawn, quite by accident, into his very first Adventure.

I think I would really like this line if you jumped right back into the active voice. A line, a single paragraph, maybe the rare two of this voice is interesting. It adds flavor. More, and it becomes just another info dump. I think you need to treat it like boiling water: carefully, and at arm’s length.

Once again, you could easily feed these lines in later or, even better, *show* it to us as No-Name goes around with Tom and Rosie.

The 3rd chapter has interesting premise material, but I really think the execution needs a little polish. If it were a book I purchased, I’d likely be doing a full skim of all sections with this character as a lead, because I just didn’t find it as enjoyable as the first two chapters. That said, the tension of the basic events was good, so if you can bring the basic quality and immediacy up to par with the first two chapters, I think you’ll have a very strong introduction for an agent or publisher.

You’ve really put in a great deal of work on this piece, and it *really* shows. You’re almost at the point where you’re balancing the exposition in the text, so I think it’ll be spot on when you can break your desire to have info dumps at the start of each chapter. Less telling, more showing, and I think this piece will be golden.

Hope my comments help – good luck with your submitting to agents & publishers.

~RJ

Honour Thompson wrote 669 days ago

My friend recommended this book to me (away from Authonomy) and I can see why. Fast paced and amusing fantasy. It has a lovely quality and feel to it that seems to be missing from today's fantasy.
I see you've labelled it as YA/Children - but I do think adults would enjoy this - Tom Holt / Gaiman lovers especially.

Nice job, thank you. Highly starred and WL'd for more and shelf rotation

ELAdams wrote 671 days ago

I can't seem to find the comment I'm sure I left last time, but here I am again commenting on the first six chapters.

Your characterisation is great; I like the way you show the differences between the members of the Brotherhood. And I absolutely adore No-Name (and I'm sure young readers will also!).

I disagree with the comments that say you should be showing more, rather than telling - although this is only my opinion (and I can't deny that I'm often guilty of including too much backstory in my own writing!), I think that this style works for the story you are telling. Whilst arguably, you could move certain background information to later in the story so as not to tell us too much at once, I think that this kind of narrative voice is perfect for young readers. Having the narrator as almost a character in the story, giving important information about the Brotherhood and the Mage, for instance, is better than dropping the information in casually as it ensures that readers will remember it - and it isn't at all boring to read.

Your writing is polished and the narrative flows beautifully. The dialogue is great, and your descriptions of the settings immerse the reader in the world you've created. The action-packed plot and appealing characters will doubtless keep young readers turning the pages. I've given this six stars and will be back to read more shortly! Your book definitely deserves more support, and is on the reserve for my bookshelf as soon as I can make room!

Emma

Mademoiselle Nobel wrote 671 days ago

~Tamria by James A. Gravil~

TAMRIA is a great adventure story filled with beautifully written and vivid descriptions! As promised, here are a few pointers I hope will help during the next edit. I’ll also comment on the next chapter too. I wish you every success with the wonderful TAMRIA, James! It’s such a fun, escapist story perfect for this summer!

Iman xxx

Miss Manners: http://www.authonomy.com/books/39355/miss-manners

CHAPTER 1:

● On his way to an inescapable rendezvous[,] party to [a] plot to steal from the royal family. (no need for comma or ‘a’ here)

● They planned to whisk it out under [the] cover of excitement... (you can add ‘the’ here?)

● Even with just a few people inside it felt crowded[,] and the ceiling was low.. (no need for comma here)

● With a [disobedient] flame-red shock of hair... (‘disobedient’ isn’t really needed here; without it, ‘unfathomably dirty’ would perhaps have more impact?)

● ...preparations for the [Q]ueen’s festival (people’s titles normally start with a capital letter)

● ...snatch the [P]rincess and pull of the heist.

● He had a [large] face oafish face and a lopsided smile. (you don’t need the words ‘dumb’ and ‘happy’ here)

● ...but one his friends had bestowed upon him[,] because of his positive outlook (not need for comma here)

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