shaun holt recent comments

written 2 days ago

Kate, having read the eighteen chapters you’ve uploaded at this point, here are some thoughts on the book entire.

PLOT – The plot moves well and chapters tend to have cliffhangers or progressions in the story. Some stories tend to have long pieces of exposition where the writer informs the reader about the plot, but this plot is woven into the story, so it doesn’t seem like there’s any of those boring exposition scenes. I’m holding back some judgment about the plot because it seems like these eighteen chapters were only a teaser; the first part of a story; the first act in a play. If there is much more to this story, then I think it is well done. The chapters progress neatly, but not quickly. If only a handful of chapters remain, then I’d say the story is a bit too slow. I really hope there’s much more to this story, because I feel like the characters are only really beginning their journey toward whatever future awaits them. Hope that makes sense. If the story is near its end, then it is not very action-packed or spectacular; if this is only the first half of the story, or the first part in a series, then I think it is much more well done.

CHARACTERS - The characters are quite unique from each other, with their own strengths and faults, and their own ambitions and goals. The protagonist, Antonius, seems noble, and these eighteen chapters made me wonder what the future holds for him. Nichola is the obvious antagonist, at least in these chapters, and he was almost completely dislikable. However, in the latter chapters I began to have a smidgeon of empathy for him, and hoped he might actually become good, however unlikely that seems.

DIALOGUE – The dialogue seems to flow, the characters tend to have their own unique voices. You mix description and dialogue really well, so it doesn’t seem like there’s long sections of description and no dialogue, or conversely endless dialogue and little description. There’s a good mix of the two.

SPELLING AND GRAMMAR – This book is a bit odd in that I found a few more suggestions earlier in the story, and less as the story went on. Usually it is the other way around, since the earlier chapters tend to be edited more thoroughly. There were few, if any, glaring mistakes and poor writing; it was all pretty well done, it was mostly things like a repeated word here, another there. Nothing major.

READABILITY – The book is pretty easy to read, although there are some sections talking about magical ability and such, none of it ever overwhelmed me. Also, as a non-big-magic fan, and not very keen on this genre, the book didn’t seem too technical or too much like copying another famous book. It seemed pretty unique. I didn’t have much problem with the vocabulary either, a few words here and there that I didn’t know, but nothing major. The setting is also a time and a place I’m not adept at, but I never became lost in the details of the food, the clothing, the customs, etc. The biggest problem for me was actually the spelling of the characters names. But overall the book was very readable and I didn’t get lost or confused.

----- Shaun Holt -----
German Derelict - An Adventure without seers. view book

written 2 days ago

Okie let’s finish this up.

Chapter 16 (chapter 17 on authonomy) –

Nothing much to say about this chapter, although I anticipate Nichola’s action in the end of the chapter is a prelude to him finally seeking to seriously sabotage Antonius.

Chapter 17 -

Again nothing to say in terms of suggesting changes, fixes, or improvements. I noticed you didn't put quotation marks around the 'dialogue' in the latter half of the chapter, during the initiation, but I suppose that is intentional.

Since this is all you have posted, I'm curious how far into the book(s) I am? 40%? 80%? *Shrug*. It seems though like you'd be able to have this go on for a while. In many ways this only seems like the first part of book one of a series. I don't mean that in a critical way, but a good way. That's also why I'm curious how much more there is to this story.

---- Shaun Holt ----
German Derelict: An Adventure without gems. view book

written 14 days ago

R2G review

The Learning / Chapter I, (Ch 11 on authonomy)

This part is kind of repetitive. … “Leila presumed they either grew things in a greenhouse or they brought everything from earth, somehow.” … Then a few sentences later, “We grow some of the vegetables in our laboratories. Some we transport from your planet.” Maybe just delete the first one? So it reads, “…anything she wanted. Everything tasted…” Just a suggestion.

In this chapter Leila goes swimming, talks some more about her view on human nature on explains love, and the scars it leaves, and finally views some of her happier memories on a screen.

Next chapter is about reviewing more memories, these ones sad. Leila saw some moments that would lead to much sadness, and wished she could step in and tell herself to stop. She reviewed some of her previous relationships, and replayed some issues about her mother, particularly leading up to her stokes.

The Choice

This chapter begins a bit with perception, the human nature, and senses. Soon (no spoiler!) they offer Leila a gift. She considers taking it or not (no spoiler!). Phew, tough choice. I’d take the gift! It’s the only way I’d be able to write all the books I have floating around in my mind.

---- Shaun Holt ----
German Derelict: An adventure without crackers. view book

written 16 days ago

R2G review

Chapter 12

No corrections or suggestions for this chapter. We meet another seer (I suppose is the term), Lorenzo, we learn that he can transform, and Nichola is a bad boy. Lorenzo also hints that the church is beginning to crack down on their profession as sorcery.

Chapter 13

“harm had come to the dog (comma) Piero…”

In this chapter Antonius goes home. You know what happens, no need to tell you. Ha! Anyway, I liked that this was the third or fourth time we’ve been to the house, and you are still describing it, the food, the smells, etc. It’s also a nice change of pace.

Chapter 14

Short chapter. Don’t want to spoil it. But I like how she speaks with him. No changes to recommend.

Chapter 15

“flame shadows, dancing up and down the crevassed walls.” I like that line.

Maybe it’s just me, but I always picture Nichola as Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter. *Shrug*.

Sadly not much else to say about this chapter either. I promise you I read all of it! The writing is fine. The story-telling is fine. I don’t like it when there’s not much for me to say, because the whole point of this site (I believe) is to give constructive feedback. The fact that I don’t see much to critique means, I suppose, you’ve done well. It all looks in pretty good shape. Odd, too. I’d think these chapters would be in worse shape, because it’s more likely that the earlier chapters are more thoroughly edited, and few and fewer people read this far into a story. I don’t know. I just notice that with my books – the earlier chapters have a lot of feedback, and not so much on the later chapters. That’s why I’d think there’d be more here to critique, but I don’t see much. No typos I see. The word choices are all fine. It doesn’t seem repetitive. It’s easy to tell who the dialogue belongs to. You have a good mix of description and dialogue. You aren’t just having the description in large clumps (as I tend to do), you spread the description out a bit more. Oh, I would say in this chapter though that I had a little more empathy for Nichola, especially early on, and how he feels frustrated that he isn’t as good as Antonius. That is, in itself, character growth. The whole time, I’ve just been waiting for him to be pure evil, you know, but now I’m kind of hoping he actually becomes a good guy.

----- Shaun Holt -----
German Derelict: An adventure without stables. view book

written 16 days ago

R2G review

Chapter One

Okay, “D’you reckon” and “Dax nods…” should be one paragraph (I think), because it is the same person (the dad) speaking. When you have two paragraphs back to back with the same person speaking, the reader may often get confused who is speaking. Better to have it all in one paragraph (unless it is a really long piece of dialogue). In the next paragraph (“You have told me”) you misattribute the dialogue. “his dad says”, when it should be Dax speaking, shouldn’t it? And then the next paragraph (“Dax quickly counts”) is again Dax speaking…. So I’m a bit confused who should be speaking each line. From all I can gather, the first two paragraphs are Dax’s dad’s speaking (“D’you reckon”, “It is a sacrifice”) and the next two are Dax (“You have told me”, “Control yourself”). So…. I’d address that.

“two large milkshakes” no reason to specify ‘two’, really, because you have plural of milkshakes. "Two double cheeseburgers, large strawberry milkshakes and fries.”

“Dax shrugs his shoulders.” This is a pet peeve of mine. What else would you shrug other than your shoulders? Your wrist? Your hips? Could just say “Dax shrugs.” That’s just me though. If you like shrugs his shoulders, keep it.

Hmmm… Interesting second half of the chapter. Makes me more curious about what’s going on.

Chapter Two

Nothing to say about this chapter. Didn’t spot any typos or anything. The chapter has a lot of description. You break it up with bits of dialogue and Dax’s own thoughts, and that helps the pacing of the chapter. So that’s all well-done.

---- Shaun Holt ----
German Derelict: An adventure without clowns view book

written 28 days ago

R2G review.

-- The Parting – (Chapter 9 on authonomy)

“Leila and Kai had developed a ritual…” The next eleven paragraphs are all about the same length. Is it possible to make some longer, and some shorter? Not too big of a deal.

This chapter begins largely talking about music Kai and Leila are listening to, as well as books they are reading, and films they are watching. Quite an extensive collection! Kai then goes to the sea for nourishment, and when he comes back, Leila learns that he will be leaving soon, and explains what missing him will mean to her. They then talk about love, especially motherly love, and what makes it the greatest bond. I don’t want to say what happens at the end of the chapter because I don’t want to spoil it.

-- The Passage – (chapter 10 on authonomy)

This is not a mistake as much as it is an oddity. The first two paragraphs… “to a rosy haze… rose-tinted hills… she rose unsteadily.” I’m not sure exactly what my point is. It’s unlikely anyone else would notice that.

“Leia, where is Leia? How did I get here?” The quotation marks are a little messed up there. After ‘here’. Check to see what I mean.

He hands her the glass.. “into the glass and offered it to Leila. Leila took the glass.” Repeats both GLASS and LEILA. I’d change it to say, “She took it and drank…”

Near to that, “sliding doors and said”, then the paragraph is broken up.

“a hand basin, some soap…” You don’t have to say SOME soap, you can just say soap. Just an option.

“only option was a bar of soap. She washed herself with the soap…” I’d just say, “bar of soap. She washed herself and wondered…”

“She smiled fondly at Leila and said,” another broken paragraph. Would you like me to keep pointing these out or not? I don’t mind pointing them out. But if you don’t need me to do it, or don’t want me to, I can quit.

“He said” broken paragraph. “My name is Kai.”

“wearing pink said” Broken paragraph. And another one a short time later. I’ll stop pointing them out.

After Pinkie gives her the coffee, I would cut the “and left the room” line, and start the next paragraph with, “Left alone, Leila poured…”

That's all for tonight. I liked this last chapter more than the others. The others, the writing is fine, but is a bit overly philosophical for my tastes. I like that this chapter has more discovery for Leila, if that makes sense. i.e. the other chapters are more about Leila telling Kai about human nature, things we already know about (although you have a unique take on it which is insightful), but this chapter has more discovery for Leila, as we learn more about Kai's planet. So... I liked this chapter.

Oh, we also learn towards the end of this chapter the fate of Kai's planet! That adds some more complexity to the story.

---- Shaun Holt -----
German Derelict: An adventure without rosy hills. view book

written 32 days ago

R2G review

Chapter VI – “The villagers...” Make these two sentences one sentence. “…at weddings, so she chose a dark-red…”

“Jewellery” May be UK v. USA spelling, but at least here there’s only one ‘l’. If there’s two where you’re from, nevermind. I see you use that spelling throughout the rest of the chapter, so it probably isn't a typo. I just don't know if those are spelling mistakes or simply UK spelling. Probably the latter.

“The guests would line up in a queue to celebrate the couple…” That seems to be more like “telling”, rather than “showing”. Wait till you actually get to the wedding, THEN have that line, but re-written. “Guests lined up in a queue to celebrate the couple.” You know what I mean? It’s like you are describing the wedding beforehand (telling)… “The guests would line up in a queue…” And we (the reader) isn’t even at the wedding yet. I think you should SHOW us this happening when we (the reader) are actually at the wedding. Make sense? So rather than you telling us there will be a line at the wedding, and the bride’s gown would have red poppies, wait till we actually get to the wedding, THEN have those scenes. Let us see the queue forming, and let us see the bride’s dress when she actually appears at the wedding (‘The guests stood up to watch her enter…) Don’t tell us about it beforehand. You’re even describing the line and the bride’s dress before Leila is even there, so she wouldn’t even know these things. So… I hope that makes sense.

“tease them, saying” (next line) “I willed it to open!” Make that into one line. I think you did that in an earlier chapter, so no need to explain.

I’m a little lost, why do you keep saying she would go through the gate on a car or a bike? “The car or the bike would go through… as Leila sat on the bike or in the car…” ???

“she presumed with a smile on her face.” I’d just say “presumed with a smile.”

--- Shaun Holt ----
German Derelict: An adventure without weddings.
view book

written 32 days ago

R2G review of chapter 9 (Ch. 10 on authonomy).

The second and third sentence could be re-written into one. “A long ladder, which Nichola had only seen his father climb once, stretched almost to the ceiling.” Just an option.

No other changes to recommend in this chapter, it is all well-done. We learn more of Nichola’s family, his brother particularly, and his family instructs him to accept his secondary role. This seems to have the opposite effect, as Nichola vows to put Antonius in his place.

Chapter 10 – When the clown has the accident, I’d add a line about the music stopping abruptly.

This chapter shows a festival, in which Antonius is glad to see Giulia, then he spots Nichola and knows he is jealous, and doesn’t know why someone with so much would be jealous of someone who has much less. Sadly I didn’t see anything to recommend changes, it’s all pretty well-done.

Chapter 11 – Why does Agnese place a cup of tea ON THE GROUND? Wouldn’t she place it on a table? Unless he is sitting on the ground.

Hmmm…. I believe in this and the last two chapters, your vocabulary is getting more complex. I don’t know how else to say it but you are using harder words. i.e. the saffron disc of the sun. There’s more, that’s just an example. I don’t remember the other chapters having words like that. The main reason I point this out is I would warn against having more basic words to begin a book, and then more challenging words later on. It could kind of shock the readers, and feel like they are reading a different book entirely. There’s nothing wrong with using these words and more poetic descriptions, but I’d make sure you have some of the same kind of words earlier. Does that make sense?

This chapter progresses the plot point about Giulia finding a husband, or more accurately, her father picking a husband for her, and her thoughts about Antonius and Nichola, seeing them as the most likely suitors. She apparently feels uneasy around Nichola, but doesn’t want to marry someone who is poor, although she doesn’t exactly care for a rich husband either, she just doesn’t want to be so poor she has to do her own washing.

----- Shaun Holt -----
German Derelict: An adventure without clowns. view book

written 32 days ago

R2G review.

Prologue – nothing to say in terms of improvement. I like the newspaper flying around, a little cliché, but at least it’s a way to explain the situation. The prologue helps create an air of mystery concerning the explosion, which I wonder if it’ll be the central focus of the story or not (I haven’t read the pitch, and usually never do read them). I like the line about the “Can you picture them as I do?” I also love the setting; Istanbul is one of the five cities I’d most like to see. And I do like Australia. It’s one of the five continents I’d like to see.

Chapter One – Oh wow, I didn’t realize it was set so far into the future.

Hmm POV change to 3rd person? I don’t much like that, but that’s just me.

Last paragraph before the news section, I’d remove “glass” in the first sentence. “The glass walls… so mirror-like until now…” That’s because you’ve mentioned ‘glass’ several times already and it’s becoming repetitive.

News report, “As everyone is aware…” I HATE this. This is one of my biggest pet peeves writers do. People NEVER say, “As everyone knows” or “As you know”…. If they know it, you wouldn’t say it. I would refer to the Australian President but sadly I don’t know who that is, so I’ll use the American. No one says, “As everyone knows, the President is Barack Obama.” When writings do something like that in their books, it screams amateur. They’d just say, “Today, President Obama…” blah blah blah. No one ever says, “As you know, your Mom’s name is Catherine.” “As you know, I am your only brother.” I HATE when writers do this. The only other thing I hate as much is when authors use the word CHORTLED. I hate chortled. And I hate “as you know”.

So I would re-write that paragraph to, “Thanks, Sarah. Pundits are expecting a close vote for the World Presidency, with [candidate’s names] locked in a close race. With billions of votes to count, we won’t know the results for some days after the election. I caught….” That way you don’t say “As everyone knows”. Please for the love of God don’t say as everyone knows. It drives me crazy!

I don’t really like the line, “I would like to remind every citizen that voting is compulsory.” Why would they need to say that if everyone was made to vote? Maybe re-write it to something like, “As all citizens head to the polls, I would like to remind them that this election concerns everyone…” Because the way you have it seems more like the “as you know” line again.

A little bit of a plot hole. The computer offers to show her “the usual” – scenery, but Maia says she’d rather watch the news this morning. After the first little newscast thing, you say, “The news program was a particular favorite”. So in the first part you seem to say she’s changing her habit and watching the news (and we learn her dad is running for World President and get a little more on her backstory), but then you say the news program as a particular favorite. So that sounds like a plot hole or a contradiction. Maybe fix it.

“World health organization’s”… Would that be the World Health Organization? If so, it should be capitalized and re-written slightly. If not, I don’t think there should be an apostrophe in organizations. And if it were many health organizations, the comma should go after the ‘s’, not before. But this might be a UK v. USA spelling thing. I don’t know. But from my American eye, I’d remove the apostrophe.

*SIGH* Apparently there will be a lot of glass in the future. I would recommend you print out the whole chapter and circle every use of the word glass with a red pen, or a highlighter or a marker, so you can see how often the word repeats itself on the page. Try to think of which ones are really necessary, and which ones you can cut out, so it doesn’t get quite so repetitive.

All in all a good chapter, introduces the protagonist, the setting, we see some of the technology, we see that there’s a lot of glass, we get a little of the character’s backstory about her mother, we learn about her father, we see she teaches a class, etc. So the chapter introduces a lot of information, and it doesn’t ever get boring or dull.

Chapter Two – I like this chapter because I love history! What I wouldn’t give to have a history class like this! Interesting ending to the chapter as well. Absolutely nothing to recommend as far as fixing. It’s all well-done. I wouldn’t change anything about this chapter.

Chapter Three - Nothing to say about this chapter. See Maia’s old home, her father’s home, and a little more on her backstory.

Okay that’s all for now. So the big thing is change out that “As everyone knows” line, and maybe cut down on some of the glass, at least a couple usages, and that’s about it.

----- Shaun Holt -----
German Derelict: An adventure without glass elevators [lift's].
view book

written 40 days ago

Okie, here we go.

Chapter IV (Chapter 6 on authonomy)

Hmmm…. I don’t know the names of a third of these classical musicians, but I’m curious why Carl Orff is the only one you list both names (first and last)? Unless Elgar goes with Orff. I don’t know. I don’t know them. But it looks slightly weird (to someone insane like me) to have all last names except for Carl Orff. Same thing a few paragraphs later, Carl Orff is the only one you say both names. Also, since you list particular songs or compositions he likes, I wonder if that first paragraph is necessary at all. The part “Her classical music selection” to the end of the first paragraph is now unnecessary because of two paragraphs later when you detail which composers/songs he likes the most. Hopefully that makes sense.

Hmm… May be a UK thing, but when Kai needs nourishment, he comes up to Leila and said, then it starts a new line with the dialogue. Unless that’s okay where you’re from, I think it should be one line. You never end a paragraph with a comma. So either move the dialogue “I must now go” to the previous paragraph, after the comma, or move “One evening, Kai came…” to a new paragraph and… You know what I mean? So “I must now go” goes at the end of the “The wedding was due…” paragraph, OR begin new paragraph with “One evening, Kai came up to Leila and said, “I must now go…”

“sat next to Leila” Change to “sat next to her.”

About halfway down “he replied back.” I’d delete ‘back’. Its redundant. That’s just a pet peeve of mine.

Chapter V

Nothing to say about this chapter. However, I see a lot of repetitions of Bosphorus and the name Leila. What I recommend is printing out the chapter and circling every Bosphorus and Leila with a red pen, so you could see how often they repeat. You could change a lot of the Leila’s to SHE or HER. Sorry that’s all I have to say on this chapter. I like the description of the setting though. Istanbul is one of the five cities in the world I’d most like to go to in my life.

Shaun Holt
German Derelict: An adventure with Vivaldi music. view book

written 40 days ago

Chapter 7 (chapter 8 on authonomy)

“Good. It’s settled then.” I’d delete that line. Not really necessary. Or move it after the next paragraph. It’s just kind of weird to have her speaking, then a paragraph (Savinus looked down), and then her speaking again.

“glass water bottles, packed by Agnese.” Delete “packed by Agnese.” You already said that two paragraphs ago. “… and Agnese prepared water bottles.” Delete one or the other.

I don’t know if this is intention or not, but “waited while he waded…” Not a mistake at all. Just sort of a tongue teaser. Next paragraph repeats the word though, “waded into the murky water.” So maybe change one of the waded’s to another word.

“spoilt” or “spoiled”?

I like your characterization, having Nichola push ahead of Antonius, and the foreshadowing about the crow signifying someone shouldn’t be there.

Chapter 8

“I collect for various remedies.” Maybe GATHER instead of COLLECT, since you say collect in the previous sentence. … And next sentence has a third collect. Maybe “these I TAKE for my investigations.” Change “Following the ceremony” to “Following this”… “alone in their powers.” You say powers in the previous sentence as well, so many “alone in their ABILITIES.”

This may be a UK spelling thing, but I’d put a comma after RESPONSE. “Without waiting for their response, he headed…”

So in this chapter you seem to be expanding on the character relationships in the previous chapter. Giulia doesn’t mind speaking rashly to Nichola, and (at least in the previous chapter) Antonius seems a bit jealous that she was talking with him.

I like towards the end, Nichola deliberately trying to get Antonius in trouble by not telling him of the time.

You know, I realized just now how good storytelling this is. Why? Because this chapter is actually pretty mundane. They get dressed, they ride out to the coast, they pick flowers, they have lunch, they peel the flowers, and they saddle horses. That is all pretty mundane, boring stuff. But because of the descriptions you have, the interactions between all the characters, and all the plot points you mix into it, from the crows to the powers they enhance at the cave, that makes the chapter interesting. Does that make sense? The actual events are pretty boring, but the storytelling makes it interesting so it doesn’t seem boring at all. If its not clear, I’m trying to say this is a GOOD thing. It’s good writing.

That’s all for now. I’ve gotta run.

Shaun Holt
German Derelict: An adventure without alembics
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written 53 days ago

Thanks for the read on “German Derelict”. Here’s the return read plus another chapter:

Chapter II (Ch 4. On authonomy)

This is nitpicking, but first paragraph, change “Leila decided” to “She decided”.

“Jane Austen novels” Hey! I just started reading Jane Austen! On “Northanger Abbey” now, first book I’ve read from her, the first novel she started writing, and then “Sense and Sensibility”. One of the characters in one of my books loves Jane Austen, so I figured I should read her too.

Chapter III

Repetition. “His strong sense of smell…. Following his sense of smell.” I'd change it a bit. Maybe like, "Follwing the scent of....." Or something along those lines.

“Humans are called Homo Sapiens with an erect spite.” Spite? Spine?

Near the end, “absorb it all in.” I think ‘in’ is a redundancy. Absorb means to take something in, so it’s kind of over-kill to say absorb it IN. So… “absorb it all.” That’s nitpicking but it’s kinda one of my pet peeves, redundant words. The most common one I see is "knelt down". You can't kneel UP! Absorb in is much the same. You can't absorb out. So don't say absorb in.

Very end, “favorite pastime.” Now I’m a little confused here, maybe this is a British thing, but a pastime is more of a hobby, an activity, traditionally sport. Music would more often be listed as a genre. i.e. favorite music genre. Favorite music style. I wouldn’t refer to a certain style of music as a pastime. Is that word, pastime, okay in this context, where you are from? If so, nevermind. I’d just wouldn’t use pastime and music together. Pastime is more about sport. At least in America. Food for thought. If you like that word, fair enough. It’s your book!

Shaun Holt
German Derelict: An adventure without Imams. view book

written 55 days ago

Chapter 4 (chapter 5 on authonomy), I like the sentence “ability to see the trajectory…”

“The final six dispersed.” You say ‘dispersed’ twice in that paragraph.

Not much else to say as far as suggestions.

Chapter 5 – Again not much to say. It seems the plot is speeding up, and potential conflict is introduced with the Conte’s son.

Chapter 6 – Again not much to say. A few reasons I think I have less to offer with feedback is that I don’t usually read this genre (which I guess is historical/fantasy), and also because of the UK spelling. As much as possible, I try to preserve the writer’s voice. By that, I mean that I assume that what you’ve written is the way you want it to be. I only point things out if A) I think it could be done better B) I see something that perhaps you have missed. In this way, I either mostly point out typos, grammatical errors, or suggest different words or ways to re-write sentences. Combined with the UK spelling and the different genre, I’m not sure about how to re-write it or make it better. So since it’s hard for me to suggest how to IMPROVE the story, I can at least give my IMPRESSION.

When I first saw how long it was, I thought this chapter was far too long, and would get boring. I’m an impatient reader, so long chapters usually can’t hold my attention. However, considering what is in this chapter, I think it’s a very important chapter, I DON’T think it should be broken into two chapters. I think the length is perfect. It’s BECAUSE it is such an important scene, I think it SHOULD be a long chapter. So… That surprised me. It was actually easy to read, it held my interest throughout because I was invested in the story, I care about the characters, Antonius specifically, and I am concerned that the Conte’s son is going to cause trouble. I like the way you show the Conte’s personality, from not bowing to greet Signor, to his thinking Antonius is inferior and a lower class, and leaving first and getting ahead of him. I was also curious how the Conte would take his son being passed over for Antonius, but he seems pretty cool. At least he seemed so with Antonius.

Shaun Holt
German Derelict: An adventure without chamber pots view book

written 56 days ago

Alrighty, chapter two.

“giving Jenny a hug.” I’d change to “giving her a hug.” That’s nitpicking though.

“telling you about.;” Delete the semicolon…. I think. I’m not sure about UK grammar.

“mask , being…” delete the space between ‘mask’ and the comma.

Okay, this is either UK spelling or a typo… But… Yeh, WIERD.” You have ‘weird’ in the previous paragraph, so I imagine it’s a typo.

This chapter is obviously not so well edited as the previous one. “shut up yesterday at lunch yesterday.” Delete one yesterday.

Lol I love the “All I want is a quiet evening….” Paragraph.

I really wish I was fluent in UK grammar so I’d know what are typos and what’s right…. We won the bloody revolution, we saved you in WW2, we’ve nuked two cities and you haven’t even nuked one, you should all use USA grammar.

“set down my camera….” DOWN is needless. Delete it or I’ll throw a fit!

“carer with at all times”. With HIM?

Okay I’m just not really sure if you have a ton of typos or if the UK grammar is just….. *sigh*…. I swear if I were to ever go to Britain I’d need an interpreter, or we’d need to speak to each other through a secondary language like Spanish. LOL wouldn’t that be funny, hiring an English-to-American translator? I’m seriously going to consider it if I ever go to the UK.

“whilst” I’ve heard this from one of your countrymen! You actually say whilst in the UK! I couldn’t believe it! Giving feedback on here, I said, “Don’t say whilst. That’s from like the 1600s.” She said, “Everyone says that here.” I was like !!!!!!!!! lol you Brits amuse me. I love you all. You’re so cute. I want to adopt one of you. One of you, an Australian (preferably a New Zealander), and have pet penguins and a monkey butler.

Hmmm…. Hopefully it plays into the plot somehow, but I don’t like the bit about Thomas. It just makes me wonder, “What does this have to do with the story?” And that slows it down, I think.

Interesting end to the chapter…… The next chapter is pretty short and I’m curious, so I’ll read on!

Second paragraph, capitalize ‘kate’.

And that’s it. No other suggestions in this chapter. I like the ending.

--- Shaun Holt ---
German Derelict: An adventure without the word 'whilst'. view book

written 57 days ago

Hiya, I read the prologue, The Encounter and Chapter One. The first part describing the weather is a bit cliché, but it is very well written, very vivid colors and descriptions. The rest delves into human nature and the meaning of life, which seems a bit philosophical but has many insightful parts about goals, success, failure, love and greed. The Encounter again has description of the weather, followed by meeting a boy, seemingly lost, but he turns out to be more than you'd think. Chapter One (Chapter 3 in terms of the authonomy chapters) continues the discussions about human nature. The story is unlike anything I've read or seen posted here, it is a bit deeper in philosophy than I imagined, but it is still well-written. It's an interesting blend of philosophy, spirituality, fantasy, and, also, nature, both the natural world and human nature.

Shaun Holt
German Derelict: An adventure without rainbows view book

written 58 days ago

Hiya, first I love your name. C.S. Morgan sounds like a good writer’s name! I wish I had a good name like that. Okay, that was awkward. Moving on! I usually don’t read pitches at all, but I saw you had two books posted. I read the pitch for “Light in the Box” and was immediately intrigued! The first paragraph of the pitch made me think, “Hmm… how did that work? What’d she do???” And then the bit about where would you go, birth of Christ, assassination of JFK…. This sounds like an interesting book!

Now, usually I am very picky, but your profile said be easy, so… …… I’m still going to be picky, lol. But I’ll try to do it in a nicer way.

Not much to say about the first little section, 2015. I think it is well written, it looks neatly edited, which is a little surprising to me because usually books that haven’t been edited here very much are ripe with errors. Yours isn’t. I think the first half of this little section is good at making the readers wonder what your character is doing here, and the latter half shows why. I also like that you change scenes JUST when I want to hear what happens next. I think that’s a good way to get readers off-balance. Get them really wanting to hear what happens next, and then switch to something else entirely. …. I like that, believe it or not. I think it’s a good way of keeping them interested, because it builds anticipation. I want to see what happens in Israel. So I want to read more and get back to Israel!

LOL I love the end of the first paragraph in 2014. I think it also helps to build the sense of humor of the character.

“I kneel down” this may just be me, but “kneel down” is a redundancy. You can’t kneel up, can you? So I’d delete ‘down’. Just one of my pet peeves.

LOL I like “I turn on the microwave and jump back.”

Question…. It’s clearly UK, but you have MPH signs in the UK? Not KPH? Don’t you go off kilometers? Lol I’m sure you know more than me, I just would’ve thought they’d have kilometers, not miles.

“in out race to the only hot radiator.” Do you mean OUR race?

I like them avoiding each other in the restaurant and then asking about each other. Urgh.

“haven’t have a pot” Haven’t HAD?

LOL! Maybe I can get lucky and push her over! LOL!

And that’s chapter one. I was going to say it was too long, but I like the ending so I’ll let that pass. The writing is all pretty good. The story sounds interesting, a neat, funny little twist to time travel. I’m curious where you go with the story (Israel, I know!)…. I like the humor in the story. Because of the UK stuff I’m a little ignorant of some of the terms, but that’s no big deal.

I wish you the best of luck with it!

Shaun Holt
German Derelict: An adventure without time travel. view book

written 60 days ago

Hi Kate, here are some thoughts on the prologue and first three chapters of "Stone Circle."

Prologue – It’s all written well, I like the description of the dark water and white hair seen in the muted light. Small issue is you say “propelled” twice in largely the same manner. Propelled them forward (paragraph 1), propelled him forward (paragraph 5). Perhaps another word for one of them.

Intriguing prologue. Makes me wonder why this character had this prophetic dream, and why his companions would do this to him.

Chapter 1 – No suggestions about chapter one, at least not without REALLY nit-picking. I suppose the key points here are finding a husband for the girl, and also the studies. Chapter also ends on a curious thing about transformation, so that helps encourage the reader to read more.

Chapter 2 – This would be a bit tricky to correct, but I notice the first paragraph has… 11 uses of the word ‘the’. That’s not SO bad. I think most readers will just pass over the word ‘the’ without thinking about it much, like he/she and ‘said’. It’s just such a common word in our language that I think we don’t really notice it all that much. But still. Eleven uses in one paragraph are a bit much. Re-writing it would be a bit tricky, but it might also help make the paragraph stand out a little more.

Small recommendation, “taking on tasks others disdained” could be re-written to say, “taking on tasks others disdained, like emptying chamber pots.”

“Before Antonius could retire to his straw mattress, there were many jobs to complete.” Could be re-written as, “There were many jobs to complete before Antonius could retire to his straw mattress.” Read it both ways and see which way you like more.

Okay, the mind-reading stuff helps tie together some of the questions about the dream he had. It’s done in a pretty practical way too. I like that he doesn’t believe, at first about the mind-reading, but then how quick he seems to accept it.

I think you say “learnt” three times in this chapter. I’d find a different word for them so you don’t repeat words. ‘Learnt’ is a pretty easy word to spot and become distracting.

“Bathed the room in deep blue.” I may be mistaken, but don’t you say the water is deep blue in the prologue? Or somewhere else about the sky being deep blue? I may be wrong.

“A deep purple hue.” Same idea as above. Deep blue, deep purple. Maybe another word than deep.
“frown creased her brow.” I like that line.

Good chapter. Get to know Antonius a bit more, and his history. And you see that he likes her father, is interested in the magical stuff, and is also interested in the daughter. I also like the bit about his mother wanting him to honor the family name, so I am curious whether he will do so, or whether he’ll ruin it.

Chapter 3 – Not much to say here. No suggestions. This chapter progresses the plotline of them finding a husband for the girl. So all the points of the plot, the magical abilities, finding the husband, Antonius’ history, how he came to work for the family, about keeping the family honor, etc., all the plot points are moving.
The writing is all good and seems to fit the genre. I can’t say too much more than that because it’s written in UK rules as opposed to US spelling. So a lot of things that I would do different, like dialogue, quotation marks, paragraph length, etc., is all different. Those aren’t mistakes, or things that need corrected. That’s just the UK way of doing them, I suppose. So… it all looks good, the story is moving, the writing is good, as a reader I’m not bored or lost as to what is happening, it is all easy to read and follow along, and you are developing the characters well.

Good luck with it! Hope you read the Editor’s Desk soon.

Shaun Holt
German Derelict – An adventure without chamber pots view book

written 63 days ago

Hi, Annabel.

I read chapter seven. It's well-written. The scene moves along smoothly, with more description and details early on, and then things get shaken up in the middle as there's a crisis moment. The interaction between Bill and Carol lets you know how the characters, Bill especially, feel. It isn't written in a corny or sappy way, but a deeper, connecting way. The mood shift later in the chapter is abrupt, and tension spikes at the worst possible time. This helps pull the reader into the story, wondering what is going to happen next.

Well done!

-- Shaun Holt --
German Derelict: An adventure without campfires.
view book

written 93 days ago

Also agree with the other commenter, about "spit hoarsely in a hushed tone." I thought that was odd when I read it. You don't spit in hushed tones, at least not usually. That's odd phrasing. I don't know why I didn't point it out in my feedback. I guess I was trying to be tolerant. But yes, that stood out to me as well.

And this too! "Argue indifferently." I wonder why I didn't point that out? You don't argue something indifferently. That is an oxymoron. My impression as you were using these terms, spat, argued indifferently, etc., because you were afraid to say "said". I firmly believe that "said" doesn't get old. I think readers simply don't notice SAID. Same think with he/she, him/her (unless you start every sentence with them). I think we don't notice these words, but writers are afraid they get 'boring' or 'repetitive'. I don't think they do. Don't be afraid to use them. And for the love of God, never, ever, use the word "chortled". You didn't use it (yet), I'm just saying. CHORTLED is the most amateuristic word on earth. There is no such thing as chortle, how do you chortle a sentence? Just say 'said'. Said is great. Rookie writers make mistakes trying to use other words than said.

I agree on ending the chapter at whistling. I was growing tired of reading and that's a scene change, so a good spot for a chapter break. view book

written 93 days ago

Okay, to begin, the prologue is far too long. “And more to come”? More PROLOGUE to come or more STORY? Because the prologue is already long enough.

Now, I tend to be a bit thorough in my feedback, so don’t mistake my brutal honesty for being a jerk. Everything I say is only a suggestion, sometimes a strong suggestion, but a suggestion nonetheless. If you agree with me, great. If you disagree, that’s fine. It is YOUR book, so it needs to reflect YOUR unique voice. But if you get several people pointing out the same thing, you should probably make the change, unless you are absolutely sure the way you have it is the way you want it. Oh, but I wouldn’t give thorough feedback if didn’t like the book or see any potential. If I simply don’t like a book, I don’t comment on it. I only post suggestions to hopefully help writers fine-tune their books and get a better idea of what works and what needs improved.

Here we go. Buckle up!

I’d merge the first two sentences into one. “Night was beginning its descent upon the colossal city of Fain, choking out…” Another reason to make this change is because you mention darkness twice, and that gets repetitive (and hence weaker). “With it the darkness…. As the darkness settled…” So combining the first two sentences into one would remove that first “with it the darkness” line. And it’s just a recommendation, you can ignore it (as with all my suggestions), but maybe the sentence would be stronger ending at, “dull glow.” “In the distance on the horizon” just seems to weaken it a bit. And a very small suggestion, still on that paragraph… The reason I’m being picky about that paragraph is because it is, of course, your first paragraph, so you want it to be as powerful as can be. Anyway, you have 3 THE’s in the final sentence, so maybe cut the first and third one. And another thing I noticed, this paragraph BEGINS and ENDS with the word ‘night’. Night is a pretty strong word, so you should try to swap it out for something else.

So the whole first paragraph would read: Night was beginning its descent upon the colossal city of Fain, choking out the dying sun and reducing it to no more than a faint, dull glow {in the distance of the horizon}. As darkness settled, so did the {or a} nocturnal chill.

Read it with and without the “in the distance of the horizon” line and see which way you like more.

Phew! That’s a lot of work for one paragraph.

“Don’t give me that…” I’m already getting tired of all the bloodies being said by the older guy. They’re likely to start driving me crazy at this point.

“The other warrior was astounded.” At this point, the “older warrior/younger warrior” bit is becoming a little old. If you can find another way to say it, do so. i.e. “Astounded and bewildered at such a remark, his youthful eyes went wide.” Then the line, “A green boy you call me?” Maybe the next part could go, “Aye, that’s so,” the grizzled veteran chided in anger. The next one could be fixed by simply having dialogue, no attribution. “I am a man-grown, an honored warrior of the Bolmarian rebels!” Next line, take out ‘old’. And warrior is getting repetitive, so how about haggard fighter, instead? This way, hopefully you’ll get everything across the way you want, without saying young warrior, old warrior over and over. Know what I mean? Oh look, you say grizzled veteran a few paragraphs later. Hmmm… I dunno. I’m not going to fix every line. Except to let you know the old warrior/young warrior thing is repetitive and it’d help if you find ways to not repeat it so much.

“sheathing their steel.” End the sentence there.

“settle a despute”, wow, can’t believe I caught this without a red squiggly line, but its DISPUTE, not DESPUTE. …. Unless you’re from the UK and that’s how the British spell dispute, then never mind.

You could re-write this part to something like, “You could have betrayed us with your bickering, loud and pathetic as two alley cats. We’re fortunate the city guards are not upon us.”

“Above and all around.” I don’t like the way that sentence is worded. Seems clunky.

“gaze… at the night sky.” Another NIGHT. Perhaps twilight, or evening sky? The last sentence in that paragraph is clunky as well.

“They were of the deepest brown.” That paragraph is good, but you could probably make it even better. It seems to stand out from the others though; ‘ever alight and never dying’. Very good.

“A true warrior.” What about another line? After that? Like “A born leader.” Or something along those lines? A born leader is cliché, however, and Machiavelli said that good leaders aren’t born to rule, they rise to it. In other words the best leaders are those with talent, not birthright, if that makes sense. That's all merely a suggestion though, it's fine the way you have it.

I’m confused when I read it, is the leader Maxim, or is he Petre? Who says “Yes, Maxim?” And is it the rebel leader speaking, “We have plotted…” ???

RANT ALERT!!! Hmmm maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really like TELLING the plan. “We have our separate….” If they are already on the cusp of attack, isn’t it a bit late to say, “Okay, here’s the plan.” And as a reader and a writer, I HATE when authors have dialogue like, “AS YOU KNOW, our plan is to…” How often, in your life, have you told someone, “As you know….” You don’t say that because they already know it! “As you know, our parents are divorced.” You would never say that, ever. It’s obvious. I know why writers say it, because they need to communicate this information to the reader (who doesn’t know these facts yet). But following this, “As you know, the plan is to…” path is unrealistic to me, and amateuristic [if that’s not a word, it should be].

Also, exposition like this is boring. I don’t want to hear all about the plan to attack the city. Show me the attack on the city! Have you seen Ocean’s Eleven? You notice in that film they sort of talk about the plan for the heist AS the heist is going on. This is because I don’t want to hear about their plans for an hour, and then see the heist. Just get right to the heist. Same idea here. The paragraph about taking the guard’s uniforms and positions – why can’t that be a paragraph about actually doing it? The paragraph about the merchant – why can’t that be a paragraph about the merchant arriving, and them knocking him out and approaching the city as merchants? The paragraph about them being led into the town and then lowering the gate, why can’t that be a paragraph about them being led into the town and lowering the gate? So… I’d say this whole exposition should be cut, or re-written. It’ll be a lot of work (or a lot cut out), but the prologue is too long anyway, and the story will be a lot better without all these paragraphs talking about the plan.

It’s hard for me to get back into the story after that long planning sequence. I don’t feel connected with the characters. Part of that may be the simple length of the prologue, and also the planning sequence. Hopefully you understood why I disliked the planning. Picture it like this. A book begins with a soldier on a ship. An officer comes, and says, “As you know, we are about to attack Normandy Beach. This is important because blah, blah, blah. Our plan is to blah, blah, blah. After this objective is complete, we plan to blah, blah, blah.” I don’t care. Just storm the beaches already! Does that make sense? You can use that to your advantage. Soldier breathing heavily, it’s the calm before the storm. Putting his thoughts together. Switch to a German officer in a bunker. He sees a silhouette of a ship, and then 1,000 ships. Switch back to U.S. soldier getting into a landing craft. Maybe at this point you mention that the previous night, paratroopers dropped in behind enemy lines, so the soldier hopes they’ve done their job, and that they are waiting for them on the other side. Know what I mean? That is a far more intriguing story than simply spending six paragraphs talking all about plans for the attack. Have you seen “Saving Private Ryan”? They didn’t start the movie with 40 minutes exposition talking about their plans to attack Normandy; they begin with the landing craft heading toward the beaches.

Anyway, think about it. The first paragraph and the older warrior/younger warrior bits can be improved just by tweaking them, but the exposition/planning scene needs re-written or removed entirely. That would also help with pacing. Having it basically grinds the book to a halt. That’s why I’m so insistent that you fix it. Sorry I spent so many words talking about it. I tend to be long-winded.

-- Shaun Holt --
German Derelict: A Novel Without Castle Sieges. view book