|Reviews for Nomad|
| lookingwest chapter 1 . 2/17
Congrats on winning the Feb WCC! If you don't mind, I'm going to do something a little weird and review the newest Nomad Ch. 1 version (2.1ish) here via FP as your prize review. I'm switching in between this window and my Google Doc. Hope this is okay - I figured that this is probably a project you'd like to hear about more than one of your older short stories you haven't thought about in ages. Though I do pride myself on having read quite a few more of them than the average user ;D
Character - I think the coolest thing about the first chapter re-draft is the inclusion of Nora's Mom. I know that she's here in this version at the very beginning, but I felt much more of a stronger relationship here, and I like that you reframe this around Nora having to do a favor for her Mom plot-wise as well. The whole bringing her in to the mix really helped your world building too, so it was just a massive win-win on that character angle. I think what's most interesting about her from what I've read so far (I'm in the middle of Ch. 4, I think), is that Nora seems very attached to her Mom in a way that might not be entirely healthy - I'm kinda of getting that vibe from how she imagines her Mom is waiting near the phone to hear from her at every turn, or the moment where she's with Mal and thinks about how she should call her Mom. It makes me wonder if Nora is much more dependent than her Mom is. So I think you've got a good place where there could be character tension here, plus I can tell that her Mom is going to be used again due to the description and background you give her. Wouldn't be surprised if she becomes a frequent secondary character :)
Setting - For some reason in the first draft, yeah, I knew that Nora was traveling a long way, but I almost feel like the journey was stretched out a bit more with the pitstops in between where she left and then to Chicago / Wisconsin. It made the setup for the night of rain when she finally gets to that point feel very natural. We still get that hint of foreshadow, but I just like those little details, like her buying the sandwich and all that, that weren't necessarily as noticeable in this other draft. It built up the world. I also liked your description of the rain and the small lake she had to drive through in the car. You know me though, I'm always totally for some literary device - I perhaps go overboard sometimes, but I generally from what I've read so far feel like you shouldn't be afraid to add in some when it comes to descriptions! (I'm talking about like, metaphor, simile, etc.)
Pacing - Pacing slowed way down in 2.1, but I think overall from the point I'm at now looking at it, this was a good decision. It gives some momentum to that moment when she actually does hit Bray and Dusty and begs the reader to keep reading into Chapter 2, so the pacing hitting quick at the end I think contributes to a great hook that keeps us interested / wanting to know more.
Enjoyment - Overall if you can't tell, I enjoyed 2.1's first chapter! It's different from what I expected and at first I was a little skeptical of not starting up with the action (like just starting when she actually hits Bray and Dusty), but I think that's more of a short story technique and here, you've got so much richness going on novel-wise with what you're setting up. You've got plenty of time to introduce the reader to this world, which is great, and I think I can sense a patience here with it that wasn't as drawn out before. It's a good thing! Thanks for letting me read this project - I'm excited! Hoping to FINALLY pass the threshold of Ch. 4ish soon ;D
Congrats again on the WCC win!
| VelvetyCheerio chapter 1 . 6/5/2014
Huzzah, here is your prize review for the Citadel's Challenge of the Month!
Here's to hoping this works, haha.
Wowowowow! This is definitely Nomad 2.0!
I'm glad we are introduced to Mama early on, starting from chapter one. This will definitely make her introduction in later books relevant. I love that you also throw in that brief, but needed, backstory of Nora's childhood and growing up. It definitely doesn't sound like it was easy, but it sounds like Mama tried to make it as comfortable for Nora as possible.
Nora's voice is great, too. I think dialogue and speech patterns really help build authenticity in a character, and Nora is already looking really good from this first chapter. It starts looking familiar again when she hits the road. I will forever be amused that the Italian Greyhound's name is Khan, hahah. xD
You did an awesome job with this revamp. Characterization is top-notch. Mama's character is stellar. She is visibly present for like a few lines of dialogue and I already love her, haha. The writing and voice is amazing. Nora's voice is still as hilarious as ever, lol. Awesome work, so glad you got this chapter up. It was worth the wait. Now I'm highly excited for all of the books. *All* of the books. o.o
Also, where is chapter 2 why would you lie to me look at my heart it is broken and bleeding ;-;
| Complex Variable chapter 2 . 2/3/2014
Oh—before I say anything else—there's something I forgot to mention about the previous chapter (Chapter 1). The teensy bit of minimalism you bring to your descriptions works fine here, I think, because of the ease with which the sardonic tone of Nora's narrative POV lends to being supplemented by "stock images" from my imagination: mental pictures of lonely highways, kitsch-filled vans, backwater towns, and so on. You deftly take advantage of the banality/familiarity of the setting; I like that. :D
I like how the opening of this chapter continues in the no-antics emotional tone that ended the first chapter. It creates a nice feeling of continuity between the chapters.
Nice description of the dog. :3
I also like how you start to slowly settle the narrative back into Nora's sarcastic vein once the immediacy of the chapter's opening excitement has come and gone (ex: [She needed to see this through, since she was the supposed animal lover]). It's a very realistic depiction of human emotion, and it makes Nora's character feel "rounder".
[The clock on the wall told her it was nearly five in the afternoon] - - - Okay, my head went for a whirl at this. She sits in the chair, but then, how did it go from 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning to 5 in the afternoon? Has she been waiting all that time? Or sleeping? Anyways, I'd recommend either adding something to make the passage of time feel less inexplicable (or, at least, to make its cause more clear), or, to just add a line break before that paragraph begins, so as to more obviously demarkate the passage of time.
[A flash of yellow caught her eye… her tired brain.] - - - This feels a bit heavy-handed (obviosuly indicating that her perception is incorrect). Maybe you could try something more subtle, like "A flash of yellow caught her eye. (It was probably / Probably) just a passing car." Don't fret over it though—it's a minor detail in a what is overall another incredibly well-polished chapter.
[the big-yellow eyed somethingpushed through the] - - - you need a space between "something" and "pushed".
Nora: master of Shoe-Jitsu. XD
Exciting ending, if a bit extreme. Ah, well… anyways, the smoothness of your prose makes reading this story a pleasure, and that—as far as I'm concerned—is one of the best qualities that a writer can bring to bear on their work.
Keep up the good work (and see you in Chapter 3)!
| Complex Variable chapter 1 . 2/3/2014
Really liking this opening. The humor of the highway metaphors both drags me in as a reader, as well as gives a wonderful sense of Nora's personality. A very good example, I think, of how one can use that sort of scene-establishing to build character and establish the "tone" of the setting. :)
The length of the last sentence of the second paragraph is quite appropriate to its "coffee-manic" tone. I also really like the picture it gives me in my mind. xD
I'm a bit of Romantic when comes to dealing with large open spaces, especially on highways, so it's quite refreshing to see them portrayed in such a tepidly tecthy light. I'm curious: do you share any of these sentiments? xD
[sing off-key and no one could lift a paw to stop her] - - -xD Love this.
[His voice crackled as… wavering bars here.] - - - Odd. For some reason, this sentence sounds a little odd; maybe you could break it into two pieces? Just giving my two cents. (FYI: everything else so far seems polished to pefection. Great job on that! :D)
Good ending to the chapter! :)
After all the (highly enjoyable!) sarcatic, acerbity of Nora's perspective throughout the chapter, the sudden bolt of seriousness brought to the fore by [A large dark figure darted across the road.] and the paragraph after it really grabs my attention, both as something that's outside the realm of Nora's experience, and as something meant to drive the plot forward. It definitely creates an air of mystery and the inexplicable.
I feel like this could fit right in to an episode of "Supernatural". :3
Just to reiterate, this chapter has been beautifully polished and proofread. It's always a pleasure to read nice and tidy prose. Great job on that.
Well, Nora's shtick is entertaining enough to have attracted my interest. On to chapter two! ;)
| Dr. Self Destruct chapter 1 . 12/26/2013
Beginning: I like this beginning. It's not exactly a grab-you-by-the-throat hook, but the wry humor really made it work for me. Plus it's nice how you carry through with the subject of the highway into the next couple paragraphs. I think that overall shows a really aware narrator, and that you know how to link things together into running jokes that go on just long enough, but also don't feel like you're overdoing it. So yeah, the beginning sets the tone up really well, and it introduces a matter-of-fact voice that's not too flowery, not to cynical, but more level with a touch of humor.
Scene: I think you can make the scene where Nora hits the dog more suspenseful. Not like...over doing it suspenseful, of course, but it sort of reads too mellow and blends into the rest of the chapter. I think throwing in some sentence fragments might help with that. Make it more jerky, like I imagine the van feels jerky from sliding off the road. Or you could slip into Nora's thoughts and close the narrative distance, helping us feel her surprise or shock. It's a little too tame right now, to the point where I wasn't even sure she had hit something. I imagine skidding off the road in the middle of a storm would be pretty terrifying. I know I'd at least scream.
Writing: Other than the scene I mentioned above, your writing is really clear and easy to follow. I really like that about your style - you have a much more simplistic diction and syntax that makes it generally easy to read. It reminds me of Octavia Butler's style, though you're a little more descriptive than she is. It's nice because it allows the reader to just enjoy the story and not have to decipher the style itself; it makes for light reading that's easy to get through. Plus you have some really clever phrases in the narration, like when Nora's van echoes that she should take an extra day where she is. Or how the rain arrived at the motel's address as soon as she did - I like how playful the narration is there. Also, the image of the woman wading through all those wagging tails is really cute, too.
Enjoyment: Overall, I think this chapter does a really good job setting up the story. I get some interesting facts about Nora, I learn a bit about her profession, and I get a lot of her personality through the singing and how she talks to the animals. Plus it doesn't seem like the plot is going to take too long to start - can already see it beginning here at the end. I think that was a good choice, though. I feel like you've covered pretty much as much you needed to in this chapter: got the characters down, the setting down, the situation down. And then you introduced conflict right at the end.
| AppleCinnamon chapter 1 . 12/26/2013
I kind of have mixed feelings on the opening. On the one hand, I generally prefer low-key approaches like this, because it allows the reader to build up to the tension without creating a slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am effect. I liked how you used it to introduce strong characterization for Nora without being over the top or relying on an info dump. My only concern is that impatient readers may be tempted to skim or skip over the story because there isn't a strong hook. Outside of maybe working in a bit of tension regarding the storm, however, I'm not really sure how much you could do to strengthen the hook without sac'ing the sweet lightheartedness of the opening.
Normal people being thrust into a world of supernatural beings is certainly nothing new, but it's something that sells. What I like so far about this opening is that there isn't some sort of hinting that Nora is in some way exceptional. The expectation that Nora is and will remain just a normal person really makes me interested in the plot, because it's something that rarely ever happens in supernatural settings.
The pacing for the chapter feels kind of weird. There is a lot of information being delivered in a short amount of time, but it doesn't feel so fast that the reader can't take it in. At the same time, though, while the information is being delivered in an efficient manner, the overall chapter feels kind of slow. The only thing that I can really think of would be how much is focused on the mundane, and then the last three paragraphs are suddenly faster-feeling in pace, so it could simply be a proportion thing.
The ending itself was rather jarring. The main issue is just how much was before it, and then suddenly there's stuff going on. I found the handling makes it feel more like going into a commercial break just as the story is beginning to pick up. I enjoy endings that have a sense of closure or cliffhanger, but in this case it just seems to cut off, and I think this pushes the reader to continue for the wrong reasons. I do like that a taste of the plot was introduced though.
On a random note, I can't help thinking of the story behind David Boreanaz's hiring on to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Essentially the guy who suggested him for the role of Angel saw David walking a dog one day, and suggested him to the casting director for the role. It's a silly little novelty parallel (dog caregiver finding their way into a supernatural setting somehow), but I kind of like that such an obscure relation can be made for those who know the story. :)
Anyway, gratz on winning WCC this month, and I enjoyed the start into Nomad! :D
| lookingwest chapter 4 . 12/18/2013
Hey Lyra! :) Congrats on your WCC win! I know I've read this from you before, but it's been awhile, so I want to give you a proper review and some more detailed thoughts on specific moments. Hope that's okay.
Character - This time reading this chapter, I totally got a new vibe from Malcolm that I don't remember getting before. This guy is kind of condescending isn't he? I actually think he kind of comes across as a jerk in this chapter, haha, and I don't remember having that reaction before this (I don't think anything has changed but my interpretation for some reason, lol) and I'm kind of interested and enjoy Nora's reaction to his ambiguous lines. For instance, just at the end here when she asks him a direct question and his response is "What I was brought here to do" it's like - dude just give me a straight answer do you have any idea how crazy all of this looks?! haha. Now of course this perspective on him isn't bad at all - in fact, it's kind of giving me this sense that Malcolm has places to go to develop his own character - not like, "character in a story" but character/personality, lol. He has growing to do - is what I'm saying. Although I was a little surprised Nora didn't push him for more answers when he was like, "Oh this has just been a big misunderstanding" heh.
Setting - I could use more in this - especially the opening. Sensory, mostly. I get that she's in a forest, I get her clothes are catching on bramble - but maybe you could pull some more sensory things into this action? For some reason, I remember this chapter taking place in a park. I have no idea why I thought that (I even re-read and I'm pretty positive you're talking about a forest, haha) and while I think yes - that's clear - I could use maybe more when Nora is actually in the tree. Maybe the strain on her body where she's positioned, maybe the feel of the bark on her hands, the sting of her cuts, the ache in her muscle or the pain in her side from running. Once you seem to establish setting: forest - we lose much of the description of it or Nora's physicality's as she perches in the tree in lieu of listening to the dialogue. Hope that make sense.
Plot - You stumped me the first time I read this and you stump me a bit again - (in a good way), now because I'm spoiled by knowing you and being aware of your projects, I know that this overarching plot is about Dusty, Mal, and Nora hooking up and sort of "solving mysteries" or er (there's probably a better way to put that, haha) at least kicking ass and taking names across the Midwest and beyond. I can see that setup here through these introductions (which was still funny, haha), but the Bray character here is what totally alludes me because I find myself wondering if he'll ever come up again or if he's just one of Mal and Dusty's "cases" that will be "case closed" here pretty soon. And you know, now that I'm typing this I think maybe I remember the answer to my question...but then, perhaps I haven't read past this chapter. ANYWAY. I'm not saying not understanding Bray's position is a bad thing - not at all, I'm just saying: it has always intrigued me, and it makes me want to read more... In my usual... long winded... way, ahahaha.
Writing - There was a turn of phrases I didn't particularly care for in your figurative language - "like a pissed off jack-o-lantern". The language of "pissed off" kind of puts me off there a little in the narration happening at the moment, though I know you're characterizing Nora as someone who is supposed to be snarky in her narration (and dialogue as obviously shown in this chapter in her banter with Malcolm, which was great). It just didn't feel right for that particular moment - maybe just "angry" would work here - it deflated the "panic" for me that I think you were wanting to go more for than comedy? Or well - the opening didn't feel comedic to me, is what I'm saying, and this line did, which made it feel out of place. So maybe, amp up the comedy in this first scene with her running through the woods (which I felt could have some comedy since she's slipping a lot, though that might be cruel, haha) or bring her actually feelings more to the forefront of her panic. You kind of left Nora behind emotion-wise there. Touch-base with us a little more - we know she's thinking methodically because she mentions she doesn't want to be "beastie food" but we only get that weighed mostly in her action, and I think it could balance out more with her emotion or feelings - even if it's just, "She didn't have time to think - she could only keep moving" or something to that effect.
Spelling/Grammar - This is getting totally picky - but, I'm not a big fan of the interrobang, call me a traditionalist - a good example of why is when you do use it. "What do you want from me, then?!" Nora yelled... - well, the speaker tag is already doing the work for you. She's shouting. We don't really need to exclamation point. *Shrug* it's just one of those things to me that feels like it's redundant language, more often than not. Just something to keep in mind when you go back through for revisions, I think it's cool to keep with interrobangs if you like them, but make sure you're not being repetitive with your language verses your punctuation implications.
Overall - hope this can give you some more things to look at if/when you return to Nomad any time soon. You should be incredibly proud of yourself this year, for serious. I'm really awed by your accomplishments and I'm seriously looking forward to being first in line at your book signings once you get this series out, eh? ...Although, I might have to fight Don for the spot. And let's face it - he'd er, probably kick my ass. SO. I'm seriously looking forward to being SECOND in line at your book signings ;D Great work here, glad I've gotten to be part of this opening process :) Let me know if you ever need any opinions on stuff - I'll be glad to help!
| Mr. Santa Claus chapter 3 . 12/17/2013
This was totally creepy. Like say what - this old lady bringing Nora some food while she's trapped in a murder basement?! I really liked that creepiness that was part of this whole thing because it kept me on my toes and I kept wondering, "What is going on?!" Which I feel like pretty much matches Nora's whole outlook on this situation, lol.
This story is totally unique, especially when Bray comes in - I didn't expect that and I love it for those reasons. He kind of reminds me of some sort of wolf-man, and it's interesting that he can't speak very well and lives with who I'm assuming is his mother? It also makes me wonder what came first - was he a man turned into this, or a wolf turned into a man, or just born this way? Is he even a wolf-man or more of a dog-man? A lot of questions were raised but I liked that since we're just introduced to him!
I'm glad Nora escaped at the end - that was also unexpected. I thought she'd have to say a little longer, but apparently there's no trapping her! Her escape also characterizes her - she's not going to stay down for long. I like a strong woman ;) Last line was spot-on. Thanks for the read and Merry Christmas, ho ho ho, yadda yadda yadda!
| Jolly Fat Man chapter 1 . 12/17/2013
I am so happy that I get to be your Secret Saint Nick because this chapter was a treat to read. It was super, super clean and well written and straight to the point. It wasn't cluttered with similes and metaphors, but it had a sort of flow that pulls me in. It's impossible not to like it because it has everything a prose should in my eyes. Starting with the character, Nora, pretty name, easy to remember, and she's described in a way that's easy to remember and unique: crazy hair bun, maniac dark ring eyes... nice. She's also pretty funny too. I also like the situation she's in and how the story takes place with her traveling from Georgia to Wisconsin to give away these dogs, which makes sense when you think about the summary. I really hope this novel comes through for you because it's a pretty wicked beginning even though there isn't too much action, it's interesting to read.
| wookborm chapter 5 . 8/29/2013
Oh my goodness, I just stumbled upon your story!
And already, I'm incredibly intrigued! Does Bray become a lead character in the story or is he going to just fade into the past? I really like him...
And omg, does Dusty talk or something? 'Cause he seems like the kind of dog that can talk. If his companion can heal and emit light from his hands, a talking dog wouldn't seem quite as far-fetched.
Anyway, I'm rambling... Just showing some love on your story in hopes of seeing a new chapter soon!
| DizzyRayBabe chapter 2 . 8/29/2013
I was going to review chapter one, but decided to read onwards a chapter(: A small town girl trying to help out some animals, huh? Cute enough. The fact that she hit something in the first chapter? Awesome, haha. That would be my luck. The way you gave to two dogs she was carting some basic personalities in the beginning was also cute, and I can see them now in my head. And the way you described the downpour of the rain and how she was too stubborn to just let it all subside made for a good beginning. I feel like this might be going too fast in some parts though, if it were me I'd try my best to flesh it out a wee bit more. If that's not your style, oh well, but that's what I'd do. The dialogue seemed a bit too slow for as short as it was, but I like lengthy descriptions, especially about what they're thinking while they talk. The setting fit the events happening as well. I imagine the highway looks the way it does here in Maine (with the no other car thing :P) so I can see that in my head well enough. Especially with the deer running across the road and the downpour of rain. This made for a good setting to hit an animal before seeing it well enough to stop properly (especially in the rain). Would've liked to see more detail about the cornfields and such though. But that's just me(:
All in all, from what I've read, this was a very good story. I can relate to Nora in that I'd probably hit something while dead-tired in crappy weather, just probably not a dog :P Like I said earlier, I wasn't crazy about the dialogue, to be brutally honest I found it somewhat boring. But other than that I really liked it. Can't wait to see what happens next! Especially with that thing that just barged in, what even was that? At first I thought it was a moose, now I'm thinking somewhat of a supernatural creature? :)
P.S. at the end of the chapter you have a typo. Third to last paragraph, you accidently typed: "yellow-eyed somethingpushed through," you might want a space there(:
| GossamerSilverglow chapter 2 . 8/23/2013
The tags on the dogs’ collar…I originally thought it was a werewolf. I thought in the summary it said they were brothers, but maybe I miss read it. (Went to go reread it), okay, nope didn’t miss read. Okay, so werewolf? Or cursed to be dogs? I figured there’d be more of a meeting between the brother and I’m curious how they end up meeting again (I’m reviewing as I read). Now this thing is attacking her, probably kidnapping her. I suppose that’s how they meet again. I’m pretty curious about this, not really sure where it’s leading. Great chapter!
| GossamerSilverglow chapter 1 . 8/23/2013
Freebie Review won by lookingwest on The Review Game:
“they were largely devoid of intelligent drivers.” How true is that? For an introduction I honestly didn’t expect it to be funny from the summary of your paragraph, but this cracked me up. And already I think I have a feel for Nora’s character within the first two lines. That’s pretty amazing. Also, I’ve been to Middle of Nowhere! It sucks. *Wipes a tear* I crack myself up. I really the getting lost though, that part wasn’t a joke! *_- Anyhow, Nora’s sense of humor even if she’s annoyed is lovely. That first paragraph was awesome and the description in the second one was actually unexpected. What I had expected was a whole paragraph going over the surroundings, then another paragraph about her appearing like a crazy person with her hair in a bun and so forth. I liked how you meshed it together. It could have easily been over detailed, but you gave enough to give me an idea of the setting and of what she looked like with out info dumping or getting too detail happy.
The joys of listening to tone deaf singers! I’ve spent many a lonely night singing off key in my jeep too. Hehe. I love the dogs and how the greyhound ‘responded well’ to baby talk. Baby talking to animals is so fun, especially if they cock their head to the side and get super excited. I didn’t even know there were such things as shelter pet cabbies. I can’t believe it! She hit a werewolf. I’m looking forward to reading the next chapter. In fact, I think I’ll go check it out now.
| Faithless Juliet chapter 5 . 6/28/2013
I'm liking the pace of this story so far. I think you are moving along with plot development at a very even pace. You're also enticing the reader with just enough information to keep them intrigued and wanting to read on. I'm really liking the modern day fairytale vibe as well.
Your characterization is also strong. I liked Malcolm's mystery and depth so far. Even though Bray is a beast and acting rashly I do find myself liking him despite myself. I wish that I knew more about who Nora is at this point. Some of her actions feel too convenient story wise and I would like to know more about her motivation from scene to scene. Keep up the good work. Update soon.
| Faithless Juliet chapter 4 . 6/28/2013
I'm really enjoying the mysticism and mystery of Malcolm's character. I'm glad that you brought him back into the story and I'm immediately fascinated by what he's doing to the Ma character, and how he is 'healing' her. You also managed to really give Dusty a personality here as well.
Something felt off about the scenes that proceeded Nora in the tree. I feel like there should be more fear from Nora about what's going on. It seems odd that the scene ended as quickly, and that Nora just willingly went with them at the end. I think the scene itself was good, but I feel like there needs to be more transition from point A to point B.