Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 22502
date submitted 20.06.2012
date updated 08.02.2014
genres: Fantasy, Children's, Young Adult
classification: universal
complete

The Ghost Shirt (Warriors of the Rainbow, Book One)

D.J.Milne

Meet his lost sister…rob a museum...become a Ghost Shirt Warrior …enter the Wakan spirit realms…fight cannibal forces…find his mother...Angus has a headache!

 

Do you have what it takes to become a Ghost Shirt Warrior? Angus, it seems, has little choice. Surviving a toffee spitting stepmother, and inadvertently befriending the school bully, these become the least of his worries. The arrival of his sister transforms his life! The tribes of the Sioux Nation have already warned her of the perils lying ahead. The sacred spirit realms are under attack, but, to defend them she needs a Ghost Shirt to transform her brother into the warrior he never dreamt he could be.
A strong heroine, ready to fight for what she believes in, and a reluctant hero, the Ghost Shirt Warriors gather together a group of unlikely individuals to form the legendary ‘Warriors of the Rainbow’, ready to fight back and make a stand against a band of ghoulish forces.
Based on Native American folklore with a strong twist of Scottish legend, all mixed up in a modern world on the brink of ecological disaster, this is a fast paced fantasy adventure with a good dose of humor. So come on... follow the Ghost Shirt Warriors!


 
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adventure, fantasy, folklore, humorous, teen chic lit, warriors

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HarperCollins Wrote

Broad Overview

Angus is a young boy who has a pretty horrible life. His father has married an evil stepmother, who divides her time between spoiling her horrific daughters, Coco, Chanel and Gucci, and spitting half-chewed toffees at her cat.

Angus is about to discover, however, that he was a sister of his own. Little Wing, like Angus, is half Native American. Unlike him, she has been raised aware of the magic power that surrounds her - and she wants to help Angus discover his magic, in time to save the magical realm to which they are connected. Aided and abetted by an invisible Sigh, a cat with wings, and a pair of school bullies, will they succeed?
This is young YA fantasy, humorous and fairly light, and would sit perhaps beside John Lehnahan, Garth Nix, Eoin Colfer.
This is novel has pace. It knows where it is going and is clearly part of a series. It is, in places, very funny, and Angus is a rather lovely character. The story is too heavily plotted – a few too many characters, and too much necessary exposition, but this is common for a first novel in a YA series and can be changed.

Weaknesses
The story is overplotted – with huge narrative leaps which appear out of nowhere. The introduction of Little Wing is too sudden, and the audience is not allowed to build up enough empathy with Angus before it happens.

I am slightly concerned by some narrative and descriptive similarities between Angus’ situation and Harry Potter’s, just in the first chapter. I realize suburbia is always going to be fairly similar, but I wonder if this could be changed a bit? Mrs McC seems really rather like Petunia Dursley.

Despite them all being linked, there are simply too many plots and sub-plots: the games company, the American Indian other world, the fate of the step-sisters, the boyband – everything is a bit much! Concentrate on one plot and one sub-plot and try to develop these.

Because you pack so much in, the narrative feels a bit too fast - you barely have time to get to know one character before three more arrive - add to that the funny dialogue, and it’s all a bit frenetic - you have enough plot in here for two books!

Strengths
I really like this. You write humorously and well. The characters are lively and realistic, the central plot is great, and this is a manuscript I immediately warmed to. I think you need to make this book slicker and smoother, and perhaps remove some of the jokes (not every character needs to be humorous, nor every situation slapstick) but I would urge you to revise this and then resubmit, because it is really very promising.

Decision
We would like to see this again after a really thorough edit which removes the excess plotting and the extra fuss which stops it being a straightforward, pacy and appealing read.

D.J.Milne wrote 82 days ago

For those interested here is the second HC review I received, after being asked to resubmit.

The Ghost Shirt
The Ghost Shirt is a fantastical children’s story, most appropriately suited for an audience of 11 years plus. It is fun, exciting, and original, however, we feel there are a number of issues, on the back of which we will be turning the book down. I hope the below comments will help add some context to this, and help you with the next stage of the novel.

Market
Whilst the language is very colourful and paints a vivid picture, some of the vocabulary used is too complicated for the target audience (strafing, blancmange, meted for example). At the same time, other elements would put off an older reader. For example, the concept of the imaginary friend is a very young idea and may be lost on a thirteen-year-old who hasn’t believed in an ‘IF’ for a long time. Perhaps expand the guardian angel or totem spirit idea instead (like the film Brother Bear with spirit animals).

Finally, the subject of Cannibalism, whilst adding a scary factor, lacks a certain execution. It is a sensitive subject, especially in the context of a children’s book, and the discovery of the dissected children in salt bags is treated as a rather trivial event. More needs to be made of this; how disgusting is it? How does it effect on the children emotionally?

Content
Whilst a lot of the description is very strong, some of it is quite long or unsubstantiated. For example, Angus is described as crossing ‘his stiff legs’, but it’s not clear why his legs are stiff – he is a 13 year old boy, after all. Similarly, other descriptions need more work for clarity’s sake. For instance, in the passage in which Tug and his relation’s escape from the museum, the description is confusing and required me to read it several times to understand. It’s a good idea but needs to be executed properly.

The environmental learning element adds an interesting extra dimension; however, make sure you don’t overdo it. The book is littered with clichés and stereotypes. Perhaps limit these and expand more on the story – very little time is actually spent in the Wakan Realms. Additionally, because the story itself is fantastical, it would be helpful to add more emphasis to the differences between the real world and Little Wing’s world. One way of doing this would be through toning down the drama and clichés in your description of real life with the McCormack family. Whilst the setup has all the components of a classic Cinderella story, for the readership, a sense of realism is still necessary.

Setting
You may want to consider developing the descriptions of places in the book. Although you show care in describing your characters in great detail, the fact that the McCormack home is in Scotland, for example, is not given enough emphasis. Through the description of characters such as Eldrich, who wears tartan, a kilt and a sporran, you have made a good start, however, more description of the town in which Angus lives is needed to aid the imagination of your readers. You could further emphasise this through including the Scottish accent in the McCormack family’s speech.

Similarly with the setting of the Wakan Realms, further development is required. Other than the salt mines, the forest and the water spouts, the realms are described as a vast nothingness with miles of grass and desert. As a fantastic place full of spirits and mythical creatures your description should create a magical world that appeals to the imagination.

Characterisation
Generally, the family history and life is undeveloped, relying too much on caricatures. For instance, I want to know more about Angus and Little Wing’s separation; how, why, when? Furthermore, you could develop the contrasts between their upbringings, perhaps with some short flashbacks or detailed recollections to Little Wing’s early life.

Dialogue and voice could also be further developed. Considering that Little Wing is Native American, it might be a good idea to emphasise this in her language. You do this well with the voices of Tug and J.M., which add personality to the characters. Additionally, some of your dialect is quite cheesy, particularly apparent in Little Wing’s speech, such as p205. It can come across as a little patronizing and makes for uncomfortable reading.

Angus’ character development is a little disappointing at the moment. You might want to consider increasing his involvement in the saving of the Wakan Realms. Little Wing is currently the heroine of the story (closely followed by Tug), but considering there has been a prophecy of sorts portraying Angus as the chosen hero, his role in the defeat of Eaten by Snakes needs to be emphasised; his only real achievements are guessing the colours of the rainbows. Additionally you could build on the relationship between Eldrich and Eaten by Snakes. You do not acknowledge their relationship, so it is not clear as to why Eaten by Snakes was overseeing the salt mining; perhaps Eaten by Snakes could even be the spiritual companion of Eldrich?

There are a few more issues that lack detail, which you may wish to expand upon:
• How can J.M’s beard see and talk?
• Why do the extremeophile hunters become babies? You say the porcupine needles are magic, but what exactly do they do? What are the extremophiles and how do they fit into the Wakan Realms; where did they come from?
• How did Tug reach an understanding of the spiritual world?
• How did the game manage to absorb humans after level 6? Is this a different type of magic to the spiritual magic used by Little Wing, Angus and Tug?
• Why and how does the white buffalo take on a human form? Is it really human? A confusing turn of events. How does the song defeat Eaten-by-Snakes?
• The fact that Marbles is able to leave the Realms needs further consideration. At the moment, it’s not believable or relatable for the reader. More, it feels pointless: he has not learnt any lessons from his adventure.

Conclusion
At the moment a lack of detail and realism is holding the novel back. There is too much focus on pace and extravagance, and not enough on characterisation and scene. This is a shame, because there are a lot of very good ideas in the book and with a better balance of style and substance it has the potential to be marketable.

Eva H wrote 529 days ago

CHIRG review:
This is brilliant. So funny that I was almost crying. "Vengeful blancmange". Perfect. This story works so well because it's so visual - which is such a hard concept to master, and you do it superbly. I have 'discovered' your book very late and can so see why you are at no. 5. The characterisation is some of the best I have ever read, I think you're rivalling Roald Dahl for wacky, disgusting, hate-inducing characters! Wishing you much success.
Eva H
Children of the Raven

Wussyboy wrote 668 days ago

Good comedy is notoriously hard to write, D.J., but you're doing a great job, I haven't laughed so much in ages. You had me with Pim Pam, the caramel coated cat, but then I read on and chortled over Stevens, the thuggy who would be a florist. Genius stuff! I'm giving this 6 stars for the most promising comedy voice I've come across this year. Well done!

Joe Kovacs
Ginger the Buddha Cat

(Is this a modern take on Snow White, with the grotesque Mrs McC as the wicked stepmother, and Coco and Chanel as the fashion-conscious step-sisters? Whatever, I can see this doing very well with the chick-lit teen brigade!)

ToosiYebe wrote 617 days ago

Hey D.J.
Well, I'm (finally) here to write my comment. Sorry for commenting so late. (I've had school, my instrument, writing of zee Network and all.)
Now, I've only read the first three chapters, but I'm already in absolute LOVE with everything about this book! Your description is so good I've gotten into a habit of reading with my books covering my face the way Angus does. Oh, and I love Angus (just as much as Jordas loves Remy :].)
I love everything about this book and my one initial comment: OHMYGAWDNESS. THIS IS AMAZING!
I'll message and/or comment you back when I've read farther but so far, GREAT-MAZING start.
SIX STARS PLUS FOUR MORE!
Later,
-Toosi

benedict wrote 663 days ago

CHIRG Review
This is, almost without doubt, the best book I've read on Authonomy in the three and half months I've been on here. Your writing is intelligent and hilarious. I would go through listing all the things I liked but it's pointless because I liked everything.

This will be going on my shelf tomorrow night when the end of month change over occurs. There are only two things that I feel could possibly stop this being published: The length - it's a little bit longer for a typical first novel aimed at this age group. And: Brain-dead agents and editors too short sighted to pick up such a fantastic book.

Well done.
Best of luck.
Six stars and on my shelf until it gets to the desk.

Benedict

D.J.Milne wrote 82 days ago

For those interested here is the second HC review I received, after being asked to resubmit.

The Ghost Shirt
The Ghost Shirt is a fantastical children’s story, most appropriately suited for an audience of 11 years plus. It is fun, exciting, and original, however, we feel there are a number of issues, on the back of which we will be turning the book down. I hope the below comments will help add some context to this, and help you with the next stage of the novel.

Market
Whilst the language is very colourful and paints a vivid picture, some of the vocabulary used is too complicated for the target audience (strafing, blancmange, meted for example). At the same time, other elements would put off an older reader. For example, the concept of the imaginary friend is a very young idea and may be lost on a thirteen-year-old who hasn’t believed in an ‘IF’ for a long time. Perhaps expand the guardian angel or totem spirit idea instead (like the film Brother Bear with spirit animals).

Finally, the subject of Cannibalism, whilst adding a scary factor, lacks a certain execution. It is a sensitive subject, especially in the context of a children’s book, and the discovery of the dissected children in salt bags is treated as a rather trivial event. More needs to be made of this; how disgusting is it? How does it effect on the children emotionally?

Content
Whilst a lot of the description is very strong, some of it is quite long or unsubstantiated. For example, Angus is described as crossing ‘his stiff legs’, but it’s not clear why his legs are stiff – he is a 13 year old boy, after all. Similarly, other descriptions need more work for clarity’s sake. For instance, in the passage in which Tug and his relation’s escape from the museum, the description is confusing and required me to read it several times to understand. It’s a good idea but needs to be executed properly.

The environmental learning element adds an interesting extra dimension; however, make sure you don’t overdo it. The book is littered with clichés and stereotypes. Perhaps limit these and expand more on the story – very little time is actually spent in the Wakan Realms. Additionally, because the story itself is fantastical, it would be helpful to add more emphasis to the differences between the real world and Little Wing’s world. One way of doing this would be through toning down the drama and clichés in your description of real life with the McCormack family. Whilst the setup has all the components of a classic Cinderella story, for the readership, a sense of realism is still necessary.

Setting
You may want to consider developing the descriptions of places in the book. Although you show care in describing your characters in great detail, the fact that the McCormack home is in Scotland, for example, is not given enough emphasis. Through the description of characters such as Eldrich, who wears tartan, a kilt and a sporran, you have made a good start, however, more description of the town in which Angus lives is needed to aid the imagination of your readers. You could further emphasise this through including the Scottish accent in the McCormack family’s speech.

Similarly with the setting of the Wakan Realms, further development is required. Other than the salt mines, the forest and the water spouts, the realms are described as a vast nothingness with miles of grass and desert. As a fantastic place full of spirits and mythical creatures your description should create a magical world that appeals to the imagination.

Characterisation
Generally, the family history and life is undeveloped, relying too much on caricatures. For instance, I want to know more about Angus and Little Wing’s separation; how, why, when? Furthermore, you could develop the contrasts between their upbringings, perhaps with some short flashbacks or detailed recollections to Little Wing’s early life.

Dialogue and voice could also be further developed. Considering that Little Wing is Native American, it might be a good idea to emphasise this in her language. You do this well with the voices of Tug and J.M., which add personality to the characters. Additionally, some of your dialect is quite cheesy, particularly apparent in Little Wing’s speech, such as p205. It can come across as a little patronizing and makes for uncomfortable reading.

Angus’ character development is a little disappointing at the moment. You might want to consider increasing his involvement in the saving of the Wakan Realms. Little Wing is currently the heroine of the story (closely followed by Tug), but considering there has been a prophecy of sorts portraying Angus as the chosen hero, his role in the defeat of Eaten by Snakes needs to be emphasised; his only real achievements are guessing the colours of the rainbows. Additionally you could build on the relationship between Eldrich and Eaten by Snakes. You do not acknowledge their relationship, so it is not clear as to why Eaten by Snakes was overseeing the salt mining; perhaps Eaten by Snakes could even be the spiritual companion of Eldrich?

There are a few more issues that lack detail, which you may wish to expand upon:
• How can J.M’s beard see and talk?
• Why do the extremeophile hunters become babies? You say the porcupine needles are magic, but what exactly do they do? What are the extremophiles and how do they fit into the Wakan Realms; where did they come from?
• How did Tug reach an understanding of the spiritual world?
• How did the game manage to absorb humans after level 6? Is this a different type of magic to the spiritual magic used by Little Wing, Angus and Tug?
• Why and how does the white buffalo take on a human form? Is it really human? A confusing turn of events. How does the song defeat Eaten-by-Snakes?
• The fact that Marbles is able to leave the Realms needs further consideration. At the moment, it’s not believable or relatable for the reader. More, it feels pointless: he has not learnt any lessons from his adventure.

Conclusion
At the moment a lack of detail and realism is holding the novel back. There is too much focus on pace and extravagance, and not enough on characterisation and scene. This is a shame, because there are a lot of very good ideas in the book and with a better balance of style and substance it has the potential to be marketable.

Dawn Wessel wrote 146 days ago

It's like Cinderella meets Harry Potter...Wonderful imagination!...sometimes outright hilarious in places....just when I thought there was nothing new under the sun, here it is...it's a departure from the usual fiction and completely enthralling from start to finish...it also has a really good message for video gamers....an easy 6 stars from me, I would give it more if I could.

a few typos (or maybe they're supposed to be like that):
Chap. 9 - escort - should it be "escorted"?
Chap. 16 - "close in" - should it be "closed in"?
Chap. 17 "the miners how long have been here" - I think it's supposed to be "how long have 'they' been here"
"bring out a long knife" - should it be "bringing out a long knife?
Chap. 18 "invest" maybe should be "infest"

lenaperi wrote 205 days ago

Hi DJ,
I enjoyed reading a sample of your book, though I did wonder why Angus wouldn't go to the library to get some reading material and oddly get magazines from a dentist? I'm only on ch.3 so perhaps I'll find out as I keep reading.
I have to say I'm disliking the father, even more than the step mom. Poor Angus must feel like nobody loves him and I wonder why the stepmom didn't develop any kind of bond with him? Couldn't his dad stand up for him at least once? Also, as a father to a daughter he hasn't seen for a while, you'd think he'd be more excited to see her...he comes across as selfish and too passive, even though they had that short 'heart to heart' talk in ch.1.
Anyway, I'll keep reading!
Cheers,
Lena

Native1243 wrote 273 days ago

"Nii nahii'maa at'e, ya nahiika'ee at'e. " This is an Apache saying that means the Earth is our Mother, the Sky our Father. What it basically means is that we are the children of the Earth and Sky and as their children, we must take care of the Earth. I only read into the third chapter so I don't know if you added the Sky Father and Earth Mother into the book but if you did than it will definitely make it seem more spiritual and close to home for some Native Americans. I'm Apache and Cherokee so I wouldn't know much about the Sioux Tribes but if you would like, I could show this to one of my Blackfoot friends and see what he thinks about it.

Labradors and cappuccino wrote 278 days ago

Hey dude
Just read the HC review -well done to you. Hope you go ahead and do a rewrite and edit and knock their socks off. I'd take their advice on board if I were you and get on with it.It's great that you've been invited to resubmit it -so promising!!

sword of fire wrote 311 days ago

Just finished your book and I really enjoyed it. I can't wait until you post the second book.
Sword of Fire

Brendie wrote 314 days ago

This isn't my kind of story, I'm afraid - I prefer thrillers - but as far as the writing style is concerned this is an excellent piece of work. Some lovely, clever word play, a nice spattering of humour too. I think this book will do well.
Good luck
Brendan

Little Gypsy wrote 314 days ago

Congratulations on publishing! I can't wait to see it on shelves.

Benjamin Orion wrote 427 days ago

Congrats for that awesome review! :)

Mawdlin wrote 428 days ago

Well done on receiving such excellent comments from HC. Some of the best I've ever seen. You must feel very proud and good luck on the edit if that's the direction you go.

Mawdlin

soutexmex wrote 470 days ago

Apologize for the delay but it seems you made the editor's desk anyway - mazal tov!

Cheers!
JC

TobyC wrote 491 days ago

The Ghost Shirt by D.J. Milne

Fascinating pitch. I intrigued. Anything that can blend Native folklore with a Scottish twist is a must read.

The protagonist is the perfect age to bridge elementary and middle graders.

Mrs. McC sounds like a hoot or a pain, depending on perspective – nipping naughty thoughts

‘Mrs. McC sat like a bloated acorn in her sumptuous red-leather armchair.’ and ‘Angus, the hand-me-down child, the jumble-sale junior, and the shame of her life.’ - Vivid descriptions

Finally, with a slurp, her infamous caramel carnage was locked and loaded – middle graders are going to love this line.

The cliff hanger at the end of ch. 1 is effective. The entire story flows easily and my heart goes out to Angus. This is a protagonist most of my students would relate to, as he is the global child-of-divorce. While I know you don’t need my comments, know it’s a joy to read a good story, well told, on Authonomy. The fact that it’s for tweens makes the experience all the richer. Fingers crossed for your success with Harper Collins.


crossbus wrote 500 days ago

Good laugh, enjoyed

Dergy wrote 507 days ago

Congratulations DJ. Great news for a great writer and book. Good luck!
Gary Clark

AbiBoots wrote 508 days ago

Love this. Very whacky, very amusing, instantly memorable characters. The hook is in place in the first chapter, and curiosity is ignited. Lovely, tight writing, jam packed full of goodness!

Jackie Chiknas wrote 510 days ago

Don't know if kids will understand all the humour, but I loved it! Fantasy, surprising characters and a moral all rolled into one.
Jackie Chiknas
The Communicator

D. A. Quigley wrote 510 days ago

I loved the pace and the fact that you developed the story with small crisis scenes every so often. The characters are described so well I thought at first you were describing someone I knew. The mother and her caramel spit balls is a hoot, Overall it is well written and a book that you could cuddle up with a cup of coffee on a cold winter day. Keep up the good work.

D. A. Quigley wrote 510 days ago

I loved the pace and the fact that you developed the story with small crisis scenes every so often. The characters are described so well I thought at first you were describing someone I knew. The mother and her caramel spit balls is a hoot, Overall it is well written and a book that you could cuddle up with a cup of coffee on a cold winter day. Keep up the good work.

Natasha Vloyski wrote 510 days ago

Ch 1 Very exciting first chapter.The reader gets to experience the scene first hand as if we are an integral part of the story. I swear I felt like ducking so I wouldn't get hit with the caramel onslaught. Yuck! The author needs to watch the metaphors, I have no idea what a 'pigeon in a pig sty' means. But that is a small thing as well as a few punctuation errors. Still a stunning first chapter.

tomsarega wrote 511 days ago

This is fun, fun, fun.

As you read, vivid descriptions and humorous scenarios zip past you like cars around a scaletrix track and leave you hungry for more.

Even at the beginning you have memorable characters - Mrs. McC and the wonderfully named Coco and Chanel.

"Bloated acorn," and "unrelenting woodpecker" - brilliant. High stars and a backing.

Good luck.

Tom Sarega
Dreamcatchers - After Darkness Light

T Barr wrote 512 days ago

D.J.
Thanks for the invite. I enjoyed reading your 1st chapter. The verbal exchange of your charecters are very
smooth and easy to follow. You have really hit upon something with your novel. Good luck.

Tigershark wrote 513 days ago

Hi DJ, Have been busy with my Fire Safety business, and writing when I can squeeze it in. Got one of the winning entries in the Authonomy SS competition, so entered another one, can't hurt. Have put your book back on my watchlist and scored it. By the way well done for getting to 3, not easy, so congratulations. Tigershark.

LyricalChaos wrote 514 days ago

Hi DJ(:

I really don't have much to say about this. Because honestly, it was extremely well written, and your characters, the voice, everything was very well thought out. Throughout the story(I only had time for one chapter) I had the sense of Cinderella in this story, especially in the beginning. Yet, at the same time it was almost nothing like Cinderella. Very nice; I love Cinderella.♥

Here's just a few things I found, you can completely ignore me if you disagree:
--"In the heat of the moment [I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be a comma after 'moment'] her..." So it should look like this: "In the heat of the moment, her..." Now if I'm wrong, totally disregard this.
--Another thing, I found that Mrs McC didn't have the abbreviation punctuation. But if this rule is different in Scotland, TOTALLY ignore me. I just thought it was strange that it was written the way it was, but that's because American rules are different from others.
--And lastly, I wanted to point out that own of your paragraphs wasn't spaced as another paragraph, not sure if you were aware. Here's the the beginning of it: "Suddenly, Angus felt heavy and slumped..." Hoped that helped. You have to read the middle part of Chapter One to catch what I'm talking about.

Okay, that's it. Again, I really enjoyed your story. Like in your first message, the story definitely made me smile. Great job with this, and I wish you the best of luck with the Editor's Desk. Thanks for trading !! :D

*~Lyric~*

carol jefferies wrote 514 days ago

Hi D,

I've noticed your book 'The Ghost' has been very popular on this site, so decided to take a look.

What a great imagination you have. I was laughing from the start. I like the way the story revolves around poor Angus, who has to put up with the moaning Mrs Mc C as well as her unpleasant daughters.

I especially liked the way you described Mrs Mc C, 'sat like a bloated acorn.' Angus doesn't get much sympathy from his weak father.

Well done,

Carol Jefferies
(A Prince Unboyed)

Jay O'Maille wrote 514 days ago

Hello D.J.Milne! I have read some of The Ghost Shirt and thought I would share some of my thoughts after reading the synopsis and the first chapter:

First of all, it becomes quickly evident that you are a masterful writer. I'm afraid I have no criticism simply because what I've read doesn't warrant it. I found myself saying throughout "This is a book I would buy". You write with a real flare and have some excellent turns of phrase such as "an event as likely as finding marshmallows on the moon". I like this line because it means to say something but it means to say it humorously. There is a lightness in how the characters communicate that I greatly enjoy. The part about not being able to hear the TV over the magazine struck me that way as well. Overall, what I've read is really an incredible specimen in really good writing...

I have rated your book generously because it more than deserves it. I have also put it on my watch list. If you wouldn't mind giving mine a look, I'd much appreciate it! I trust if you find it good enough perhaps you'll rate it, shelf it, and or put it on your watch list as well. Thanks so much!

Best of wishes,

Jay O'Maille - The Geldings of Eidolon

NowSpeakTruth wrote 515 days ago

YARG review

Well, no grammatical/wording nitpicks to note. I think you weeded all those out before making the desk. (Congrats by the way.) Beautiful story here and very difficult to put down. I wish I could write more but I'm just looking forward to reading a bit more. I really love your style.

God bless

Tom Bye wrote 515 days ago

Hello D, J Milne
book - The Ghost Ship-
After enjoying the first six chapters and scan reading some more , have to say that this
wonderful book of yours is a winner. So full of humour and fantasy it would make a great gift for
young children and older indeed-
The writing style flows along and I found it to be a page turner-
I have no hesitation in giving it my six stars-
tom bye
' from hugs to kisses'

Suzi F wrote 516 days ago

Love the opening scene.'Mouth Ulcer Monthly' says so much about the humour in store that I smiled in expectation as I read on. Great succinct visual description with a dialogue to match. Highly readable and enjoyable - my kind of book and obviously many here feel the same.
I have only read the first chapter and will have to come back to it but you have great imagination. I wish you well with this.
Teresa
Love, Suzi x

Mommy Lynn wrote 518 days ago

YALF review

Sorry this is a little bit late. I've been looking forward to doing this review. Unfortunately, life threw me a few curve balls, so I was only able to get through three chapters of it.

The first thing I noticed when I pulled up your book is that you've cut about 25,000 words from its pages, and I think it is much better for it. I don't feel as if you're going off on tangents anymore, yet you're still managing to give us the important information while keeping the humor.

Your characters are all well developed individuals. Each has their own personality, with the exception, of course, of the twin sisters, who remind me of an evil version of the twins they'd use in the Doublemint Gum commercials they used to have here in the states. I loved their description as they entered the room in chapter one.

I really have very little to critique. I really like what I've read so far. (My 13-year-old daughter has read much more than I have, and is loving it.) Comedy is very hard to write, and you do it well. Writers that can actually make me laugh are few and far between, and you've made me laugh several times within these three chapters.

I did jot down a few quick notes as I was reading for you to consider. Take or leave them.

Chapter 1:
- I don't remember reading a description of Angus in this chapter. I'm a very visual reader and like to get an idea of what the MC looks like right away. I know there is a comparison of Angus and Little Wing in chapter two, but even that doesn't have hair and eye color, or actual height and build.

Chapter 3:
- "... with a lace, to tie the collar tight..." - I don't think you need the comma after "lace."
- "As he now knew, one of their ancestors." - This felt a little awkward. It's two phrases stuck together, without quite making a complete sentence.
- "... let alone the answer it." - Omit "the."
- "If, I'd known this would be so difficult..." - You don't need the comma after "if."

Overall, this is a great read. Highly starred and I'm keeping it on my bookshelf!

Lynn
Surviving Sunset

Kirstie wrote 519 days ago

The Ghost Shirt

YALF Review

Chapter One
Firstly, I think your voice is great. You have a lovely turn of phrase and there are some hilariously funny lines. The opening chapter is not quite what I expected from the title and the pitch, it is funnier than I expected. I think boys (and girls) will relate to your MC Angus and his dry, matter of fact way of describing the madness that surrounds him. He is a sympathetic character too, although we get a sense of his pain, he is never whiny or self pitying.
The characters are great. Mrs McC is deliciously horrid and P McC provides a nice counterbalance to that. The sisters are not as well rounded, but I don’t think they need to be, they are the ugly sisters from Cinderella and we all know their type!
The conversation Angus has with his father hints at a more serious situation and gives us intriguing clues to the past, and the possible future of the story. The last paragraph provides a great hook and left me wanting to read on.
I was surprised at Angus’ low level of reaction to the furry ball and wondered if he might have had more inner thoughts, and perhaps alarm at what he was seeing.

Chapter Two

There is lots of action in this chapter. It’s pacy, funny and poignant. Little Wing seems like she will make a great addition to the family. The social worker is absolutely hilarious.
The only tiny crits I could make in this chapter are a couple of unnecessary repetitions of ‘his’
In ‘he pulled his newly acquired magazine from his school bag’ – you could probably change the first his to ‘the’
Also in ‘his growing sense of panic was making his ears throb’ you could change the first his to ‘a’
But that’s being exceptionally picky!

Chapter Three
There is a real change of pace in this chapter. It’s quite spooky and as a reader I really got a sense of Angus’ confusion and fear. I like that Little Wing she seems to add to Angus’ problems rather than solving any of them. The ghost shirt is introduced well. It really worked to see it ‘in action’ and then have the explanation from Little Wing. Again you have provided lots of information without overloading the reader with stuff to take in.
Chapter Four
The environmental theme of the story becomes clear here and I like it as a basis for the tale. It makes a nice cohesive element and is very topical. It’s a great idea to deal with such an important issue in a fictional way and I don’t think it comes across as preachy.
I noticed centauries should that be centuries? Also wasn’t sure why it was Lovers Loan.
This chapter has another great ending.
Chapter Five
I’m pretty sure Angus wouldn’t have been tempted to tell his school mates about the Imaginary Friend without the warning!
The descriptions of the graveyard and the well are deliciously spooky.
Tug is a great complex character, a child born into a family of thugs who wants to be a flower arranger – hilarious. I did find some of his dialogue a little sticky to read in places, for example I wasn’t sure if ‘kid or two ins here’ was a typo of dialect.
‘sacred hoop’ – I wasn’t sure if this was a typo for hope or actually a hoop – if it is hoop, then perhaps Angus would ask for an explanation
Chapter Six
This chapter sets out the problem faced by Angus and Little Wing. It has taken a long time to get to this point, and although you have used the time well to explain the backstory and introduce the characters, I wondered if you would hold the reader’s attention better if you got to the crux of the matter a bit sooner. The word count is quite high for a children’s story so perhaps a little judicious pruning would also help you to market the book.
The ideas, though, are wonderfully original and fresh and your voice and characterisation carried me through and made this a very enjoyable read.

George Stoner wrote 520 days ago

I've read some of the top five books here,this is my favorite.

Gwyndrid Morgan wrote 521 days ago

From the couple of chapters I have read, looks a very good read. Funny well written. Well done.
as Eva H wrote - very Roald Dahl like characters - will come back to it later.

Gwyndrid Morgan

Isabel Parkinson wrote 521 days ago

YALF review

There's very little I can add to the glowing reviews here - The Ghost Shirt is well crafted, amusing, and extremely professional. The first chapter is basically spot-on, with just the right amount of development to enlighten me, but not so much that it was overwhelming. Loved the flawless characterisation and simple yet effective description. Fits its target audience brilliantly and I wish you well on the ED!

Isabel
The Boy From The Next Dimension

Sam Banfield wrote 521 days ago

Ghost Shirt

YALF review
Happily tucked into the first three chapters, and will read more at a later date... hopefully when published. Good work on the characters, very well drawn, with a strong MC. I can relate to certain comments which point out the female characters come off as bad guys on the whole, but saying that 'Little Wing', looks to rectify this (btw I love that Jimi track- axis bold as love has to be one of the best albums of all time).
If I had any critique to make, and its going to be hard, I would say that you would need to cut the chapters a bit. Although saying that its hard to make any recommendations, as the hooks at the end of each of chapter are really sweet, so splitting them is out of the question. But a few cuts here and there might spice up the pacing a little.
A solid adventure story, backed up with great characters, and an environmental twist, if you get the pitch right, and aim this at the right agent you could have a winner on your hands here. I wish you all the very best.

sam

Sally M wrote 521 days ago

Great writing, gripping plot and wonderful characters. You more than deserve your high rank!

I wish you all the best with your book.

Sally Morgan
The Psychic Detective Agency

godyzarc wrote 522 days ago

OFM!.

I read what I could, but had to stop before I threw up. Basically, your work is a rehash of every Native American stereotype perpetuated since the invasion of the Taino People in 1492, the subsequent invasion of North America and the genocide that followed.

Obviously, you know how to write. Just as obviously, you know how to read. Unfortunately, it appears your favorites are the cartoon depictions of First Nations People.

Your premise may be interesting, but utterly off the mark. The Ghost Shirt was believed to be "bullet proof." A "kevlar vest," if you will. They would protect the wearer during activism against white oppression. Obviously, they didnt work.

Your attempt to imbue a wearer with "spiritual powers" is offensive and perpetuates the bliss bunny, crystal twinkie love and light brigade interpretation of First Nations spirituality. It continues the mind set that Native People have "special powers." We dont.

Before you rail against me, understand this. We have been fighting against this stereotypical portrayal of our culture since our home was invaded. Hollywood and books of this nature dont help.

They make it worse.

Halley H Halford wrote 523 days ago

I loved your book, a genre in which I/am enjoy writing myself.
I can relate to your characters as they remind me a lot of my family especially Coco and Chanel!
Your book is both humorous and well written. It flows naturally and the reader appreciates that.
All the best :)
Sheyla Clem-Lurline
(Top Left Corner - Chameleon)

NicolaHoppe wrote 523 days ago

Hi D.J.,
I read your first chapter. Awesome! The characters are believable, your writing comes natural and incredibly humorous, the reader gets drawn into the family situation of poor Angus at once! Good job. I hope I'll soon have time to return to this, for now you're watchlisted and starred.

All the best,
Nicola
"The Burden of the Badge"

AdeleVBW wrote 523 days ago

The Ghost Shirt – YALF

I’m afraid I don’t have a great deal to say about this book. As one would expect from something at #4 on the ED chart, it is very polished. The 10,000 words I read were well-written, and the concept and story is fresh and engaging; all of which is great... but doesn’t leave me a lot to say.

I suppose my main quibble with what I read (and the problem with commenting on only part of a book is that this may be resolved later on, in which case do please mutter ‘The woman’s an idiot’ and move on) is that the book feels a little uneven. On the one hand there is the broad comedy/grotesquery* of Mrs McC, the caramels and the stepsisters; on the other there is the mystical and mysterious Little Wing. Yes, it’s good for books to have contrast, light and shade, comic relief and all those excellent things, but the bridging characters have to sit comfortably and credibly in both worlds. From my POV, Angus’ lack of information about his mother and his father’s reasons for not giving any are just about OK in the context of a comedy romp about a horrible stepmother – the sort of book that doesn’t give you time to draw breath and think “Hang on...”. My difficulty is that the pace slows when Little Wing arrives and –despite the supernatural aspect she brings to the story – the book becomes more realistic in tone, and P McC’s excuse and cravenness do not work in that context. It may be explained later on, but you need the reader to get that far.

I have mulled this over for a few days and I did have a flash of inspiration about what you could do but I didn’t write it down (Didn’t need to! It was so obvious!) so I have forgotten it. The problem, as it stands, is that Angus’ lack of information about his mother feels like something that works for you as part of the construction of the story, rather than something credible. Just MHO, of course. If we knew what Angus knows from Ch1, or if P McG was more consistent or persuasive about why Angus mustn’t know, it might help to bring the two sides of the story together.


I didn’t make a great many notes as I read through but, FWIW, here they are:
Ch1

I get very confused about compound/hyphenated nouns so may be wrong but I thought it was weathergirl, not weather-girl. Isn’t it weatherman?

I love love love ‘Hand-me-down child’. A real ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ phrase.

Not sure about the ‘n’ in Coco ‘n’ Chanel. I see what you’re doing but I’m not entirely convinced. Also, from the rest of what you say about them, I think they should have long, straightened hair that the flick back over their shoulders. That type don’t tend to have short hair.

I suggest you do a quick read-through (maybe out loud) for repeated words. And see if you can swap a few out, e.g.:
‘...short brown hair, neatly brushed.
Behind the twins, a ball of light brown woolly-looking hair...” The repetition feels a bit clunky.

‘Although a year younger...’ Who is a year younger? Angus or the twins?

‘Phone Charlie Payne, the plasterer...’ This is clunky, especially as we learn that Charlie Payne is the plasterer later on. You only need ‘Charlie Payne’ or ‘the plasterer’ at this point.

Ch2

‘Goat’s cheese’ seems like an oddly specific cheese for Little Wing to mention, especially as a commonly held British belief is that American cheese is bland and plastic and they only have three types. Maybe Native Americans are known for their herds of goats producing gourmet cheese, but it’s not something I knew about so it didn’t feel like something she would say.

Ch3

I would have preferred it if the ghost shirt was a slower reveal: if Angus realised there was a mystery and tried to discover it. He is a very passive character so far, so it would be good to have him actually do something rather than have things happen around him. So far all the male characters have been a bit wet and the female ones are pretty unpleasant, but presumably that changes as the book progresses and Angus and Little Wing are fleshed out.

Or perhaps Little Wing wants Angus to wake up and see her? In which case, I think you need to make that clearer. I would not expect someone to do a long, secret ritual in a room with another person (she could have gone to the bathroom, for example, and Angus could just have seen her carrying something, or followed her and heard chanting through the door). It’s another situation that seems to serve the progress of the plot rather than grow organically from the characters’ personalities and motivations.

You say at one point that the chanting ‘takes on an eerie air’. ‘Eerie air’ is a bit awkward anyway, but also, isn’t someone doing a strange ritual in the middle of the night preety eerie anyway? It felt like an odd thing to say at that point.

And that’s it! Congratulations on topping the Ed chart and I look forwards to reading your HC review. Good luck!



*This may not be a word, I admit, but it should be.

JBerg wrote 524 days ago

I just read chapter 1...very entertaining! There are a few grammatical errors my English teacher eyes caught, but other than that, this book (so far) is an enjoyable read:) I look forward to reading more when time permits.
Jessica
A Place to Call Home

SL Dwyer wrote 525 days ago

D.J.
The story is so engaging, I had to stop myself from reading more, since it is time to start dinner. At times, well most times, I wanted to crawl inside the story and smack Mrs. Mc. What a miserable person. There couldn't be any other bad habits this woman could have that you haven't thought up. I suppose later in the story you will reveal why Mr. McC puts up with her treating his son like this.
The characters are so real and the story's pace is great. So I am putting the book on my shelf and going to contine reading it.
Good luck.

SL

SL Dwyer wrote 525 days ago

D.J.
The story is so engaging, I had to stop myself from reading more, since it is time to start dinner. At times, well most times, I wanted to crawl inside the story and smack Mrs. Mc. What a miserable person. There couldn't be any other bad habits this woman could have that you haven't thought up. I suppose later in the story you will reveal why Mr. McC puts up with her treating his son like this.
The characters are so real and the story's pace is great. So I am putting the book on my shelf and going to contine reading it.
Good luck.

SL

Helen Laycock wrote 525 days ago

CHIRG

DJ, I had a spare moment, so thought I'd pop along to have a look at The Ghost Shirt. I've only read the first chapter so far. Brace yourself . . .

Well, what a treat! You, D.J. Milne, are a VERY FUNNY MAN!!! Well, your book is, at least. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is hilarious and could give Roald Dahl a run for his money . . . if he was alive.

It reminds me a bit of a Cinderfella pantomime. The stepmother and step-sisters are almost caricatures whilst Angus and his father are the real people with whom we identify.

The writing is tight with well-chosen vocabulary and imagery. It has been edited to perfection and my prediction is . . . (dons headscarf and gazes into crystal ball) . . . that this will soon be adorning the bookshelves of all major bookstores. Oh, and you will become a millionaire.

I look forward to reading the next installment.

Helen
Glass Dreams

P.S. Any relation to A.A.? ( I bet you're sick of that question.)

JMF wrote 525 days ago

YALF continued
Chapters Four and Five
Some excellent characterisation here. I particularly liked the bully Tug and I hope he plays a large part later on. All your characters are very individual - you are obviously a master at creating oddball, interesting personalities for your story. There's a lot of different threads going on in these chapters - Little Wing's seeming disappearance, the strange taste illness, the encounter between the teacher and Tug, the other encounter with Angus and Tug, the tramp and Sigh's appearance and conversation about the planet. What a lot to take on board. I'm interested to see how it's all going to link together.
I did wonder whey Sigh says 'we must hurry' at the end of Chapter Four, just for them to go to school. Why the hurry?
Jx

G.W. 2012 wrote 525 days ago

YARG review

I've enjoyed reading the first four chapters of The Ghost Shirt. In these chapters you have done a nice job laying the groundwork for your story with a humor and ease that I'm sure young readers will enjoy. Also, you give readers a sense of Angus' miserable life with his carmel spitting, unloving step-mother, obnoxious step-sisters, and spineless father. Another aspect young readers will enjoy are the character descriptions; unlike books geared toward older teens, I think younger readers like knowing what the characters look like so taking the time to give vivid descriptions is good. Finally, I wish you all the best this month as you wait to see if you'll make it to the desk.
Well written, high stars, and best wishes, GW 2012 ~Escaping Shady Lane~

Dergy wrote 525 days ago

DJ - You've got a winner here for sure! Great characters, huge story, clean style and a laugh a minute. Thanks for all the fun I had reading.......

Gary

Dergy wrote 525 days ago

DJ - You've got a winner here for sure! Great characters, huge story, clean style and a laugh a minute. Thanks for all the fun I had reading.......

Gary

EMCART wrote 525 days ago

YARG/YALF review

Hi D.J.

I reviewed Ghost Shirt a while back and loved it, and it’s on my bookshelf. I’ve read a couple more chapters for YALF and I still love it. Usually I like to give quite detailed comments, suggesting even small changes to sentence structure as well as big issues, but honestly nothing at all occurred to me as I was reading this. The writing is really good and I wouldn’t change a thing. The story is also really interesting and I think quite unique. The combination of Native American history and environmental issues with a Scottish setting is really unusual. The fantasy elements are well balanced with characters who are very real, and the humour is great.

Good luck with the editors!

Em

JMF wrote 525 days ago

YALF continued
Chapter Two
I enjoyed this chapter as here we meet Little Wing for the first time and we get a hint of something about to happen. Some great imagery - I think you might have cut back on it a bit, which is all to the good as what you have left stands out more. You have a great imagination and some lovely ideas. Mrs McC is a brilliant character - grotesque but comical with some excellent lines.
One nitpick:
'His mind began to spin like a tormented cyclone and his heart began to . . .' repetition of began.
Chapter Three
Little Wing does her thing with the ghost shirt. This chapter seems a bit slow to me - I want to find out what the problem is and I think I need to find out earlier than now that there is a threat and Angus is a key part of the solution.
As always please ignore any comments you don't agree with - mine is one perspective.
Will return.
Jx

Kate LaRue wrote 525 days ago

YALF/YARG review-The Ghost Shirt

DJ,

There is a good reason this book is on my shelf. Angus is such a likable character, someone who the reader can connect to instantly. The stepfamily is satisfyingly nasty. Mrs McC might just be one of my favorite characters, despite her caramel-spitting tendencies. The entire scene in the sitting room pulls the reader into Angus' life, and in just one chapter I feel as if I've known this family for years. My one suggestion for this first chapter is that I might have liked a hint that no one saw the glowing ball of fur when it first appeared in the hallway.

Okay, this is really nitpicky, but everyone jumps to the conclusion that Angus and Little Wing are twins because they look so much alike, but fraternal twins don't necessarily look any more alike than normal siblings-they only shared a womb, not matching sets of DNA (obviously, since they aren't the same gender, but like I said, really nitpicky, but only because I'm finding it hard to come up with suggestions).

You have made some changes in the order of things since I first read this, and I like the rearrangement.

Tug is another great character, as is the aptly named Savage. Their animosity toward each other is palpable, and then Tug shows Angus his softer side. He must trust Angus immensely to tell him of his dream to become a florist.

As I was reading it, I wondered if the description of the whole of Lover's Loan was necessary (though I'm sure it is, there seems nothing here that isn't necessary). Maybe it was just reading through the entire description of the lane before Angus ventures down it? Could just be me, but thought I'd mention that that portion had me rereading a bit.

Another great Mrs. McC moment, with the oxygen tent. I was hoping that she'd still have a way to spit caramels :)

The powwow was nicely done, and I love the description of the pipe. You have me wondering what the memory chip for the video game has to do with everything, and whether Eldrich is someone to watch out for.

I have only read through chapter seven at this point, but will be back to finish. Six stars, and staying on my shelf until you have your medal.
Kate