fynagl duplicitus recent comments

written 762 days ago

Hi Jennifer, Here's your YARG review.

First a suggestion about your long pitch: Writing it out in the present tense makes it sounds more immediate and the voice is more engaging.

"Allison Spencer is no stranger to the paranormal. An animal empath, she is able to sense the feelings of animals. She has never met anyone else with unusual powers and has gotten used to the fact that she's an eccentric in a world of normal people.

Allison lives an otherwise ordinary life and looks forward to finishing high school in Ocean City. But when her older brother, Logan, disappears from a small college town, Allison's family move to the Hollow of Mont Noir, NY to look for him themselves. In addition to leaving behind her home and friends, Allison suddenly has to deal with life in a small town, a strange creature that is stalking her, a new school with cliques and cattiness, parents who are preoccupied with her missing brother, and an illogical fascination with an outcast boy at school.

As Allison settles into her new home, she begins to realize that not everyone is what they seem. She soon learns of the existence of supernatural creatures and is faced with a whole new set of questions - and some shocking answers - about herself and her family. "

Now, onward to the book.


The prologue, though interesting, doesn't really have a, for lack of a better phrase, "Luke I am your father" moment. It doesn't contain a dramatic plot reveal that stops us in our tracks and causes us to turn the page in the tense anticipation of finding out how it all began and then spiralled out of control to this moment we've just read about. The prologue currently repeats what the long pitch has told us about Logan going missing and iterates Allison's disillusioned philosophy on hope. It doesn't really pique the reader's interest in the manner that an effective prologue should. You want to jolt the reader and grab their attention. For this reason, I would suggest to either completely do away with the prologue (preferably) or perhaps choose a more gripping reveal from later on in the book (for example, you hint in your long pitch that there are some shocking secrets about Allison's family or her new surroundings - use one of these moments for your prologue).

Chapter 1

I enjoyed the Crittervision chapter. My only concern is that this chapter is pure backstory and can, again, be done away with. We learn that Allison is an animal empath and how she's honed her craft but this is something that can easily be interspersed in later chapters. The entire chapter recounts things which have happened, the experience of which we can't really be a part of because they're in the past. Allison is telling us of past experiences, whereas we want to see them happening now. And so, the telling effectively slows down the pace of the story and the reader will want to flip forward into the book looking for a current happening. The reader wants to start the story where it's actually happening, not look back on what has happened in the past so you need to get us to the action as soon as possible.

If you're going to keep this chapter, then perhaps think of moving it later into the book - maybe after a dream that Allison has - so that we first develop a vested interest in Allison as an MC...otherwise the backstory as a first chapter could put off potential readers and agents in its current state.

I would also possibly suggest switching around the passive tenses so that the action becomes more active.
e.g. I would dream...I dreamt I was running,
I would feel...I felt twigs snapping under my feet...
I could recall... I remembered
I was hoping...I hoped that if anything good...etc.

Chapter 2

The actual starting point of your story is the Moving Day chapter, which should be your chapter 1. We get to know the MC and find out she isn't happy about moving, we find out why she's moving, we find out about her family - there's a lot of good writing here. Perhaps the area you need to be careful about is getting bogged up in backstory rather easily - you get trapped in Allison's thoughts and take us back rather than steering the story forward. I'd like to comment some more but I have to step out for a while, so hopefully I will return to comment on this chapter (that's of course only if you want me to).

Overall you're a very detailed writer. Your prose is intelligent, well thought out and free of grammatical errors (which is lovely to see!). Where you get tangled up is in how much detail to relate to the reader and how soon to do it. You also tend to switch back to the wases and had beens (a symptom of back story) from time to time. I think once you're clear on what information is important and what isn't you'll be able to declutter your writing and it will flow much better.

All the best and keep going! view book

written 792 days ago

Hi T.D.

Here's your YARG Review

Your first chapter does a good job of portraying the broken relationships in Ricky's family. His mother seems timid, a bit lost and exasperated by trying to keep it all together and as far as Ricky's aunt and uncle go - everybody loves a pair of wonderfully despicable relatives!
Ricky himself sounds like a smart, tough young lad. His angst and frustration does come through (the thing to clarify here though would be is it a teenage angst or a pre-teen one?)
I'm a sucker for Basher.
Nice scene-setting and build up of tension towards the end.

When you're doing revisions, go through your manuscript chapter by chapter and read out loud. What sounds like it's coming from Ricky and what sounds like it's coming from you as the narrator? While doing that, picture yourself, as you look now, recounting everything to a stranger in the street and 100% convincing them that despite your outward appearance, you're in fact a 9/10/11 year old boy.

In the POV you've chosen to tell the story, you're Ricky so it's a bit of a balancing act between writing the story and being the young protagonist which you presently embody. You get it spot on a lot of the time but sometimes your authorial voice and vocabulary creep in to Ricky's own voice.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing if Ricky really is 13/14 but you don't quite make that clear and judging from the title, the overall premise of the story and the way his mum and relatives treat him I'm guessing he's at least 9, at most 11 years old...

Some nitpicks:

"Aunt Sarah and Uncle John arrived yesterday." remove the had and it sounds leaner.

'Money was tight; we didn't have much of it, not since Dad disappeared six months earlier (ago perhaps?).

"Uncle John was never good at being genuine." - wonderful line.

Ricky sounds older than he is, here a few examples.

"But I was on a roll" or 'That was it. I lost it. "Shut up, all of you!"... "Cleaning was never my strong point"...an older teen would talk like that.

"Everyone told me I looked like Dad, with sandy brown curly hair that wouldn't be tamed. I was tall for my age, which also came from him (careful - here we understand that your age comes from him, not your height). Mum called me a mini version of him. But I had her calm nature - most of the time. Dad was angry when his gadgets didn't work..."

This needs a bit of reworking because it doesn't ring true as something a person would say of themselves. When describing yourself would you say "I'm 5'4, have a slender physique and a mane that can't be tamed?" So, rephrase the above to something like

"Everyone says I look like Dad, I even have his shaggy brown hair and long legs. Mum calls me a mini version of Dad, but he always disagreed. He said I had Mum's calm nature. That's cos Dad got angry when his gadgets didn't work..."

"Basher was waiting at the gate, and no sooner had I opened it, he charged off into the woods." - dropped the "than"

Watch for formal language - nothing wrong with it from a narrator, but since Ricky's the one telling, if he says "wasn't" and uses other contractions when he speaks then he'll also do it when he's narrating.

Other examples of narrative where the author's voice crosses over..

".... but I needed to go into the tree house, to somewhere Dad had been - if only for a while." Perhaps just for a little bit or just for a while?

"The room was in darkness once again" - The room went dark again. (Ch 2)

"There we were, standing across from one another." We stood opposite each other. (Ch 2)

"If he really wanted to hurt me...surely he could have grabbed me...." Anything where surely, indeed, undeniably and other such words creep into the conversation, check whether they really reflect Ricky's voice.

I like the introduction of Boris in chapter two. He sounds like a good laugh.

Plotwise, I like the premise of a magic doorknob. It's a fresh idea. I also like how the story develops into a quest to save Ricky's dad ( the bit in the woods where Ricky hears his voice is both chilling and heartwrenching) and to stop Grinder. I'd be interested to see how that comes about and if Ricky gets his dad back. I would also love to know how Ricky's aunt and uncle finally get their comeuppance.

Your story has some great elements that I enjoyed very much. I think once you've sorted the voice issue in the novel and done your edits, it will really shine through.

I'm still reading on at leisurely pace but I thought I'd give you some feedback. Please feel free to disregard anything you feel doesn't apply.

Thank you for the lovely read. view book

written 798 days ago

JC, this is a great read.

As I'm sure you've been told by others, Anexia is a fiesty, determined and engaging MC. Your style is light, playful, yet vividly descriptive and smart. Your writing evokes images of reading an adventure tale of old lore but your characters and the dialogue give the story a distinctly modern feel. I suppose the only criticism I can give you is that for nine years old, Anexia does at times seem to be much older than she really is. She oozes confidence, brazen determination, intuitive wisdom even...I understand that she's perhaps had to mature quickly after the horror of what happened to her parents and her village but take care not to give her too much of an adult persona at such a young age. Who is your target market? 9-12s? 13-16s? You have to be pretty clear on this...if it's 13-16s they won't want to read about a 9 year old, if it's 9-12s then I would suggest making Anexia at least 11 years old or thereabouts.
Otherwise this is a delightful read and I'm sure with a bit of polishing it has the potential to take off.
All the best,
Fyn view book

written 901 days ago

YARG Review

Hi Mary,

I've had you on my watchlist for a bit. Here's my YARG for Exterium.


Chapter 1

This is a promising start. Mike is clearly the bigger of the two brothers and Max resents his bullying. Though I empathise with him as he goes to his room after being pushed over by Mike, I don't entirely feel for him as much as I would like at the end of the first chapter. Maybe this is because the chapter is quite short and I don't glean enough about what his brother is like (except the bit where he pushes him) to make me really cast my lot on his side as an MC. While he's alone in his room I would have liked to know more of why/ what else about Mike upsets Max and makes his big brother a jerk. Perhaps you can expand a bit on that - maybe have Max talk to Echo about some of the mean things that Mike does and how it affects him or perhaps expand on the first scene by showing another incident between him and his brother once he enters the house. This way his wish for Mike not to be such a jerk at the end of the chapter becomes more powerful and emotive. Just a suggestion.

Some things to look at:

"I hate you, Mike!"

"echo"...name - sometimes you capitalise, sometimes you don't (Must have scared Echo. "Hey Echo!"...whispered to Echo)

He settled his sights on one. "Big Dipper!" He looked at another. "Aquila!" And then another. "Cassiopeia!"

"Dinner's ready!"

Otherwise I really like the action at the beginning and the way you've captured the boys' competitive nature. Your writing flows well and your style is clear, straight forward and lovely to read.

Chapter 2

I like this chapter. I get a better feel for Max and like him much more. I love his mother's character and laughed at the bit where he's telling her not to use endearments when calling him.

Nice description of Mackenzie. Question - is this for 9-12ers or older? I'm just wondering because of some of the words you use. If 9-12ers then words such as "saccharine" can turn out to be stumbling blocks for kids.

I liked the action at the bank. There was a sudden air of mystery around what Max had found and the introduction of the strange man at the end (wonderful description of him and his jiggling cheeks) suddenly made me excited that something was happening. Looking back, it made me wonder if you really need all the details of everything Max and his mum had done up until that point? In contrast to your first chapter, this chapter is on the longer side and there are some bits that you could shorten to increase the tension of the story. For instance, if you cut the bit where they're buying muffins and racing to the car, we get to the bank faster and this is where the action really is.

"Branch Manager - George Goldschmidt."

If you can find a way to tighten this chapter it would be a great chapter. It already has a few good hooks.

Chapter 3

I suggest to start this chapter where Max runs upstairs to his room. We find out about softball practice from Mike so you don't really need that first bit where they're driving home. Liked the rest of it. Mike really is a jerk.

Overall this has a great premise and shows potential. When you get around to doing a major edit, perhaps go through the book and work out which details the readers really need to know and cut those that they don't (or somehow work them into the slimmer framework without having to set an extra scene around them). It would greatly increase the tension and thrill potential of Exterium.

Good luck! view book

written 902 days ago

Hi Kelly,

Read through your first three chapters and this looks very promising. The opening chapter is a great introduction to Stevie. When life gives you lemons, it really gives them to you all at once...I couldn't help reading this with a knowing smile: heartbreak, getting cheated on, your world crumbling in a day - I've been there - and this is what I find appealing about Stevie, that I can relate to her and her situation.
I like the relationship she has with her family, particularly Damien and Charlie. It's rather heartwarming.

Sentence structure/ grammar-wise, there are a few areas where you can shorten or tighten. Also, watch out for your use of ' ; ' You use it quite a bit where a comma or a full stop would work just as well. Aside from that this was very enjoyable and it would be interesting to see the finished product once it's polished. Very enjoyable!

Fyn view book

written 903 days ago

YARG Review

Hi Michelle,

This is very well written. Your descriptions are subtle yet vivid, your story weaving magical and writing fluid.

I read the first four chapters and noted nothing major that needed changing.

One small thing that you might need to look at is two or three areas in which you use a comma instead of a full stop after speech to separate what should be two separate phrases. e.g. 'Thank you, my dear friend," Willow unravelled the stitches...into her bag.

Also, in the second chapter Willow's hair is black while in the third after she falls, you describe it as grey.

Finally review this bit and perhaps change every second Willow to her/she.
'Please, Willow,' cried a small boy who sat beside Willow's feet...
'A story, you say?' teased Willow...'but which one to choose.' Willow rubbed her hands together as if rubbing it (them) in front of a fire...

Aside from those minor nitpicks I have to say that I enjoyed this immensely. Your opening chapter just sucked me right in. The arrogance of the mayor, the perverse schadenfreude and fearful ignorance of the Riverbenders, Lila's heartbreaking determination and Willow's bravery and acceptance of her fate - I found it ghastly, intriguing, sad, unfair, maddening and strangely poetic all at once (not to mention the opening chapter being called The End is a nice touch).
The story in the second chapter is beautifully told and I love the subtle connection you make at the end between Lila and the man in the tale of the Gypsy Rose...I'm guessing that she is Sienna's and this man's child...and it now makes me wonder about the end and who the man is that Willow killed...
Lila is a passionate and likeable character and I like her relationship with Willow, Thing and Simeon.

This has the makings of something special and different. view book

written 914 days ago

Flash Mob Friday Review

Hi Sue,

This was a humorous piece. Your dialogue is spot on and you do a very good job of revealing the details of Dora's life, her family and past marriages without plonking us in chunky texts of backstory. I like Ralphie's character and there does seem to be a bit more to him than we initially see (I love the campy bit where he flutters his hand in the air).

One thing I noticed especially in the opening chapter is that you sometimes tend to let your sentences run rather long...you love the commas :) For example see the paragraph "Now I was in the habit of calling in...with a bottle in the crook of its forearm."
You sometimes also use a comma before 'and' when it isn't really needed.

There's nothing wrong with starting a sentence with 'and' but you do rely on it a bit much. Either drop some of them or work them into the preceding phrase where possible.
"And why do you ask me?"
"And then Ralphie had seen me."
"And for no reason that I could explain..."
"And Caspian has been known to..."
"And which one of these three ladies..."
"And you certainly don't want to see her dead..."
"And when he said Nanny had popped in..."
"And life is full of surprises..."
"And how long is it since Nanny Barrel Hips..."
"And after the day I've had..."

I love the names and nicknames of the mothers-in-law :)

Although I enjoyed the first chapter and in particular the dialogue, I started to feel a bit restless as I waited for some action to develop out of Dora's conversation with Ralphie. Don't get me wrong, the writing is very good and I laughed at the banter but a part of me kept waiting for Ralphie to say "Let's go sort this out right now..." That feeling has me wondering if maybe starting the chapter at "Are you quite sure your house has been invaded by a presence?" would be an option? The description about how Dora first got to The Halifax is lovely but the chapter could just as easily do without it...just a suggestion - in one ear and out of the other as you see fit.

The second chapter was absolutely hilarious. Be careful with the "And"s again.
"Shut up! Shut up, you silly old bag!" My quote for the day.

All in all a rib-tickling read with plenty of laughs, witty conversation and an MC at her wit's end.

Keep going! view book

written 915 days ago


This is a very interesting story so far (I read to chapter 3). Your writing is very good. Grammar, punctuation, style - one can tell that you're versed in the inner workings of the English language. Your characters are three-dimensional and likeable. The names do sound more akin to the sci-fi genre but the story fits easily in the fantasy landscape.

One thing that's a bit unclear to me is who your target audience is. The story is about a young wizard of school going age so I'm assuming that this is for young readers? (Or how is age perceived on Tutheda...is it like in LOTR where 30 is considered little more than a teen?) If it is then you might have to simplify some of the language. If not then you might need to make this clearer somehow.

I wish you all the best with this. view book

written 916 days ago

YARG Review

Cariad, I can't find much fault with this wonderful piece of work. Your writing is polished and crisp, your descriptions are spot on and so vivid that the tastes, smells, sounds of Brighton and the characters truly come alive in your prose. You have a way with imagery. Coo immediately drew me on her side and I found myself getting very protective of her. I've read your first three chapters and I must say, this was a delight to read. view book

written 916 days ago

Su, I remember reading Seasons in the past and I loved your narrative voice and the whole premise of the book. It's quite a different and refreshing approach. I am more than happy to give it another turn on my shelf. view book

written 922 days ago

Hi Kirk,

I remember reading this last year before I went awol. It was great fun back then and I see that it's only got better with time.

Weiter so!

(can't seem to be able to back the book at the moment...keep getting an error but maybe that has to do with my ipad. I'll back you from my pc tomortow) view book

written 1329 days ago

And my MC is a GIRL. view book

written 1329 days ago

Please Suzie - don't bother. I'm not interested in your "lots of dialogue and short paragraphs" nonsense. And no, I will NOT back your memoir. view book

written 1363 days ago

You seriously have issues that medication can't solve. view book

written 1401 days ago


I must commend you on your excellent use of language. Your writing reveals that you have great command of vocabulary as well as grammar.

Although I did enjoy this - It was a good laugh that lightened up my morning - there were times when I found myself struggling to read on as my attention span dwindled. I know that the writing style demands certain descriptions but in some areas the descriptive passages tend to ramble on and it's more difficult for the reader to save all the new information and new characters that are introduced to him/her within the one chapter. We're not entirely sure who to side with. What I mean by that is that as a reader, when I open any book, one of the first things that I want to know is whose side I'm on, who am I rooting for? That's not entirely clear in this delightful romp of a banquet. With the numerous, sometimes intertwining backstories, all we remember is a list of names with no faces to go with them and no one to particularly direct our sympathies towards. We need to settle into the setting and make a bond with at least one of the characters in order to care enough to sift through the ensuing passages or else we'll close the book. Perhaps you could find a way to shorten the first chapter by focussing on the most important characters first, then two or so minor characters before finally introducing the others in subsequent chapters?

In any case, you're an inherently good writer. It's just your beginning chapter that needs to be worked on somewhat.

Brenda view book

written 1408 days ago

Dawn, I'm not a "don't tell, show" fanatic, but I must say that what I like most about this is the effortless way in which you give us plot information and show who your characters are through their interaction with each other. You're very good at having the characters divulge things to us in their own voices instead of reading it from the author's perspective. Your sentence structure is snappy and to the point - another plus which gets us from A to B in record time.

I can't really fault you on much, except that I felt that the first chapter could have been shorter e.g. It could have ended with a page turner on "Four shots fired. The muzzle blazed. Staccato sounds echoed in the night."

The other small niggle I had is with the clichés interspersed in your otherwise sound descriptions - green eyes, perfect cappucino skin, tall, dark and handsome...and the name LaKeisha for the black woman...it's very cliché and could even come across as offensive depending on the reader...remember that you can use a normal name like Rose and still manage to get her heritage across.

Otherwise, this was a pleasant read and I enjoyed it.

All the best,
Brenda view book

written 1412 days ago


This is a very hard topic to write about and I take my hat off to to you for successfully broaching the subject. The script is logical but not cold and unfeeling, although it does deal with alot of pain and what many still consider a taboo subject. Your writing offers information, counselling and solace and I commend you for including the Lord's perspective in it.

All the best,
Brenda view book

written 1486 days ago

Hi Moses,

Sorry for the delay...I've been on and off for a while but here I finally am.

I read your first three chapters a while ago and backed your book but didn't have time to comment. In the mean time I see that you've made some chapter updates. I really like the revisions and there's nothing that I can fault you on. I like your voice, your use of language and the epic "feel" to the setting of the story. I remember before, your opening chapter was very descriptive with little dialogue but I'm very pleased to see the positive touch ups that you've made to an already fascinating and very well written piece of work. You have a larger than life character in Caio and where other authors would tend to over-embellish on such a character's divine and powerful nature, you still manage to make him humble and accessible to us and we can relate to him - a balancing act nicely done. I like the brief insight you give us into Caio and Ilario's friendship in the second chapter. Lucia is my favourite and I connected with her right from the start. I can't wait to see how things work out for Caio, but especially for her.
One minor nitpick relates to Jurg in the bit where "he knocked a praying soldier to the ground and ran past him." Seeing as he is partially lame, perhaps it would be more natural if he hobbled by apace or similiar? Just a thought.

All in all a very good piece of work and with the final edit, I have no doubt that it will be worthy of a salute from Homer.

All the best,

view book

written 1534 days ago

Joanne, I'm currently on Chapter 6 but I had to stop and tell you that I'm thoroughly enjoying this - and I'm one of those people who steers clear of crime because I'm lilly-livered and I'll end up sleeping with the lights on. But this I couldn't put down. The prologue is -and there's no other way I can put it - sick. Confronted with such blatant psychosis, how could I not read on? Your plot is sovereign and you do a marvellous job of directing the reader through your characters' dialogues and their observations. You have a great eye for detail - both technical details and little emotional nuances that you use to distinguish Chelsea in particular. I could identify with her immediately and as the story unfolds I'm actually finding myself worried about her and what she's about to stumble into. My favourite bit so far is the tragically ironic bit on the balcony where Chelsea resolves to start her life anew while at that very moment elsewhere her friend's life is coming to an end.
Although they haven't gotten together at the stage of the book that I'm currently reading, I'm rooting for her to finally meet Lucas and find love again and I'm itching to find out if Lucas can get it together or whether he's going to lose it and her. I can't wait to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together.

This is very very good!
view book

written 1535 days ago

What a wonderful idea! Absolutely quirky and my kind of read!

Brenda view book