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Messages - akoebel

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Thanks for the feedback, Cjhuitt.

The first part about her ducking to evade the assistant was a late addition. My alpha reader commented that Ciera seemed to be the only person inside the library besides her boss, and that in general, we don't see in the manuscript that the world is actually filled with people. That got me thinking that I needed to add some interaction with the assistants. Ciera being the asocial person that she is, I had her evade the assistant instead of talking to her. To me, it was only a reminder for the reader that she's still a very scared character.

For the "cover to cover" part, I never actually thought she would finish her "cataloguing" in one half-chime sitting. I'll have to correct that.

For the confrontation with Denalia, I'm glad you mentioned that. I'll consider it.

The chronology part actually bothered me while I was writing it. The original scene was Ciera remembering the fight with Denalia, which didn't break the time continuity, but felt as passive. My choice here was to rewrite the thing by rewinding time a little.

Once again, thanks for your very helpful comments.

Hi everyone,

Here is The Fifth Compendium, Chapter 9!

The situation : Destra, throws herself into the river to prevent Lorn and his men from taking away the book she's carrying. Ciera, a librarian, discovers the book while doing inventory and finds an old friend, Onmk, in the process. Lorn discovers that the book is still hidden in a library he can't enter. Onmk tries to help Ciera perform her library's inventory. Lorn finds a way into the library. He finds Ciera inside with the Compendium and gets her to accept translating the Compendium for him.

Chapter 8 : Ciera is a prisoner inside Lorn's house

When I first wrote the novel, I heavily researched cryptography (actually had to break my own cipher). As a result, two chapters did rely heavily on cryptography stuff, including this one.
In the next rewrite, I ended up removing much of the code breaking information. Pretty much all that remains is what you'll read in this part. Tell me if this is still too technical.

As always, comments will be greatly appreciated.

That was a very nice epic prologue you gave us.

I love to see the POVs of villains, and their motivations, and this prologue delivered just that.

What worries me a little is the feeling of inaction from Black Rose up until her minion gets zapped away. She seems just to sit there, watching the battle, while the Wanderer seemed to do all the work. When he gets killed, things start to go a little better as she starts to actually do something.

I won't re-tell what the others said about the ending, but I have a similar grievance about the Wanderer's defeat. The thing kills everyone in his path, but a single shaman is able to kill it in one blow? If shamans are that powerful, why didn't Black Rose plan something against them?

To finish, I also worry that, while the info-dumping is well handled here, the scene has a little too many characters. The reader will have to remember all those names later, so it will be a little more difficult for them.

Writing Group / Re: Cons in Europe/UK
« on: August 18, 2011, 08:10:02 PM »
How did I miss this reply?

I ended up going to Eurocon in Stockholm. It was very fun and instructive on some aspects (I learned a lot about e-publishing from listening Charlie Stross), but it failed miserably on the business side.

In retrospect, with my goal to get to know editors and agents, I should have gone to Eastercon.

Maybe I'll do that next year, unless I decide to cross the ocean and go to Worldcon in Chicago.

For the process, I think the main strategy is to get a feel of the editors and agents out there, so I can select best where I'll submit. In that case, personally meeting them at their booths isn't the main goal, as you don't know yet if you'll ever submit to them.

At any rate, it's a long and involved process...

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: August 18, 2011, 07:42:31 PM »
My next chapter should be ready by monday. If there are still slots available, I'm in!

It's refreshing to see some 1st person POV here.
I'm not against it personally (the POV I hate is omniscient), so it was a good change. What's important in 1st person is the strength of the narrator's voice, and I think you got it down.

I'm not a fan of the "It all started when..." beginning. I think you can find something more original than this overused trope.

The book excerpt felt too long (and a little boring) to me. Perhaps because I don't like that sort of book about hunters and all. I almost skipped the section.

I liked how you showed that the reality is very different here : having him puking around was fun. As the others, I wonder why he wasn't called on his behaviour. I guess I'll have to read and find out.

I noted that a few times, he's referring himself as "no coward". Is he that self-deluded?
Why isn't he convinced that he's dreaming? In his place, I would be!

The last line both pleased me and left me wondering. It's a wonderful joke, but is it in character for a 14 yo boy ? What does he know about marriage really to describe it as being worse than dying?

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/08/2011 - Amnonian - The Creator - Short Story
« on: August 14, 2011, 01:34:07 PM »
I'd say that the story was cute. It certainly didn't captivate my attention, but it felt nice to read, so I read along.

My biggest concern would be its predictability. Even before Crea gave his name, I knew he was the creator. When he dreamt of the Destroyer, I knew we would see the Destroyer come in human shape like he did. All my predictions were right until the end of the story. Now, I'm not sure what you could have done to change that. I think that giving us the story of the creator out of the blue and stop right there was a clue too important to miss. Maybe without the story, I would have been a little more surprised.

One lesser concern is the ending. Creating a new earth with Dinosaurs and all if THE cliché of all clichés. That one was a downer of its own.

For the rest, as the others said, you're trying to cram too much into this short story, and it makes for a narrative which is too fast for the reader to really attach themselves with anything.

Reading Excuses / Re: August 8 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch15
« on: August 14, 2011, 12:55:52 PM »
It was very interesting to see the Nothroi's side. We've been so much shown of the Imperial way that it's refreshing to see the Nothroi describe themselves as civilized and think of the Empire as a group of savages.

That being said, the thing which worries me a little here is the fact that I'm not feeling like Jhuz is in any real danger. As such, it's just like he's a tourist visiting a strange country. The scenery might be refreshing, but we know it'll end soon and Jhuz will be back to the legion.

Lisu's introduction also threw me a little off before I understood they were former friends. If she's to become one of the POV characters, I'd worry a little about the fact that so far, we've had only Jhuz's POV. It seems a little late to introduce other POV characters, since the reader won't be expecting any changes at this point.

I'm eager for the next chapter : I love the Chell!

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/7/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter One
« on: August 13, 2011, 08:36:57 PM »
That was a pretty darn good opening you wrote. You managed to grab my attention right away and hold it through the end.
There is certainly a lot of interesting material here, both in world-building and character creation. Lots of little details spread out everywhere that make this world very real.

Now, after reading it, I think I don't empathize with Medora that much. In the beginning, I thought I had her down, then it all changed. At the end, she comes out as a little too whiny for my taste. As the others noted, there is almost a feel of multiple personalities to her.

Mostly, I don't understand her plan. If she only came here to kill her opponent, she should be focused on that and nothing else (especially not political scheming). In the event she succeeded, there was little chance she would live, and even if she did, she would surely be arrested for the deed. If she failed, the result for her would be the same. So, why even think about becoming prime minister?

Saril stopping her stunned me. I was expecting her target to wear some kind of armor, but her own father stopped her? Seeing that man, I think he knew her plan all along, and he should have stopped earlier, before she could start a riot. If he didn't, why not letting her go all the way?

A little note on gemblades. As Hubay, I worry a little about possible comparisons with shardblades. In  your comments, you said that saphire is harder than steel. That's true, however, crystals shouldn't make practical weapons, because any blow at the right angle will cleave the crystal (that's actually how we cut gems). Iron might not be as hard, but it won't break. Also, producing large crystals free of defects is very, very difficult. On the same subject, a weapon, however hard, will still have trouble cutting through large bones, except if it is wielded with great strength.

Aside from that, I have nothing more to say. I'm eager for the next chapter.

Thanks for all the comments.

For the two of you jumping on the story right now, the society in this book is a pure matriarchy where women have put an effective ban on education for the men.  Basically, men can do pretty much anything that doesn't require reading or writing, but any woman worth her salt should see men as uneducated children - not people you can trust to perform elaborate tasks.

The fact that Lorn just happens to pick up Ciera's mother's book always felt a little too coincidental to me. My primary alpha reader already pointed this out, but at the time, I didn't know how to fix this, so I left it. With your comments, I think I found a nice way to do this, so thanks.

The "us" sentence isn't a typo : Lorn has some friends (henchmen :-) ) who are staying at his place.

As for Ciera giving out too easily, I can see the issue now. Maybe I should make this last a little longer. The fact is, she's under a lot of pressure to go with the book at any cost. Since Lorn already has the book, the voices in her head demand that she accepts Lorn's proposal and try to escape later on. For her chattiness, maybe I should tune this down a little, you're right.

@Amnonian : Are you requesting a partial? :-)  I'm sending you the prologue (since chapter 1 is basically 3000 words to say that Ciera went to work).  It's been revised a little after the group's input back in february, so you might notice different things than the ones they saw back then.

Reading Excuses / August 8th - Akoebel - The Fifth Compendium, Chapter 8
« on: August 08, 2011, 09:12:12 AM »
Hi everyone,

This is chapter eight from my first novel, The Fifth Compendium.

Last time on "The Fifth Compendium" : Destra, throws herself into the river to prevent Lorn and his men from taking away the book she's carrying. Ciera, a librarian, discovers the book while doing inventory and finds an old friend, Onmk, in the process. Lorn discovers that the book is still hidden in a library he can't enter. Onmk tries to help Ciera perform her library's inventory. Lorn finds a way into the library

Chapter 8 : Ciera is working late at the library

This is the first big scene - actually one of the 3 I had in my head before writing the book.

I rewrote it so Lorn doesn't appear as cocky as he was on the first draft. Tell me if you think he's still coming as too confident.

As always, comments will be greatly appreciated.

Arnaud Koebel

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: August 07, 2011, 02:46:30 PM »
My next chapter is ready - it was ready a few weeks ago, but my primary alpha reader decided to take a few weeks off, and I wanted her input, since it's an important chapter.

If 4500 more words to read this week is OK with everyone, I'll post tomorrow.

Reading Excuses / Re: July 25 – Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch14
« on: August 01, 2011, 09:15:54 AM »
In fact, I liked Hex as a character. Yes, some of his sentences felt a little odd, but I saw them as in character, so I let that fly.

What troubled me was his reasons.
He was contracted to kill someone, so someone has to die? If your mark got killed before you got there, wouldn't that void the contract? Also, having an assassin organization refusing to kill innocent people felt a little silly. People with contracts on their heads aren't necessarily evil, so why the stricture?

If Hex was hired to cause chaos, there was a large array to choose from to cause mayhem without killing anyone : poisoning supplies, sabotage, ...
Why did Hex restrict himself with killing the head of the army? In my opinion, killing minor officers would have resulted in much chaos, and there were bound to be some there which were not that innocent.

Aside from that, nice chapter. I liked the explanation about the eggs!

When I opened your chapter, I told myself that there was no way I was going to read it in one sitting (I had some writing to do half an hour later).  Then, I plunged in and couldn't stop until I reached the end.

So congratulations, your chapter completely hooked me. In fact, it hooked me so well I'm wondering if it wouldn't make a strong beginning for the book.

My grievances will be few this time:
* as said in the previous chapters, Darkclaw always explains himself more than he should. All he needs to tell them is that he's going away. They don't need to know  why.
* Darkclaw's conversation with the High Lord felt a little strange to me. I got the feeling that the High Lord wasn't taken by the alliance idea, but didn't say much. The whole scene looked awkward.
* I feel that the taking of the batteries was way too easy for so little troops. Even shock troops shouldn't be able to dislodge an entrenched enemy this fast.
* How could fighters destroy capital ships? I'm willing to accept that the one which rammed his was successful (even though any ship should have navigational shields which should deflect something as small as a fighter), but the other ones went down a little too easily.
* The Felinari are very trusting people, I see : the security measures are very limited (as seen by Darkclaw's POV). Darkclaw could have gained audience with the king and killed him quite easily. Also, as a ruler, I wouldn't have signed any alliance treaty with someone I had heard of the same day - at least, not with some serious intelligence backing my decision (which they do not have). I get that there is a large political pressure to answer the Alliance's attacks, but everyone would have understood the king taking a few days to consider his options. Darkclaw never put any firm deadline on the matter, so what was the hurry?

Things I liked:
* The felinari are once more shown as feral and cat-like
* Darkclaw's emerging emotions which have been foreshadowed since the beginning.
* The Felinari's emotional response to his proposal (though I would have liked a little more insight about exactly what happened with them and the alliance)
* Nayasar's chatter with Darkclaw felt very woman-like.
* The unease between Darkclaw and Felivas

Once more, nice chapter. I hope the next will be as good as this one.

Reading Excuses / Re: Policy on Outlines?
« on: July 26, 2011, 12:54:15 PM »
I'd say submit away.

It might be interesting to look at an outline, to see if there are holes in the story arc, which is something quite difficult to do with one chapter a week submissions.
Of course, depending on the length of the outline, it can give us very little information or a great deal.

On the same topic, I thought about submitting a synopsis myself. This is submission material, after all, so it too could use a critique. The only difference with the outline would be that people are already familiar with the book for the synopsis, whereas the outline should be a little more difficult to read.

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