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please review fiction story about compassion & ethics

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joann1025
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please review fiction story about compassion & ethics

Postby joann1025 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:36 pm

BookCoverPreviewIntro: This complex and almost poetic story illustrates something we all struggle with every day- the grey areas of ethics and morality in humanity.

Can the wrong ever justify the right? Are some things meant to be left alone? Buried? Hidden? Why do so many people accept this story when it is so transparent? Don’t they care or is it the most compassionate thing to do? Is it worth hiding? Will anything change? Do you pray for direction? How can you come to a decision you can live with?

Meet Julia Brown, a 30 something independent business woman. She has just lost her father and is traveling back to her childhood hometown to be with family. With a cell, laptop, and tablet spread across the front seat of her car she dreads the mentality of the small town community more with each passing mile.

Her life is about to change. Learn about loyalty, character, forgiveness, reverence, and gratitude as Lance not only falls for her, but turns out to be one of the most loving people she knows.

Inside Cover:

Maire’s Tail {mairz-teyl} noun

1. A long narrow cirrus cloud whose flowing appearance somewhat resembles a horse’s tail.

Quote Page:

How can we say that God’ s word has ALL the answers for life, when you can’t even get less than 10 Christians together who agree on anything? Baptist Board.com

The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. Nahum 1:3 KJVChapter 1

Chapter One: Julia

8:53AM blinks bright red at me. As I try to clear my head and make out my surroundings, I realize where I am, my office. The sadness rushes in, rushes over me. Papa’s dead. Even though I can’t usually remember much about dreams, I sense I just had one, an important one. Maybe he was trying to communicate on some level. I feel drained. My neck is stiff and hurts the most. After such a short catnap I only have one thing on my mind- to get through the next couple of hours. I don’t glance in the mirror because I’m sure I look like quite a site. Puffy eyes and dark circles offset by wrinkled attire. Did I wear these boots yesterday? I know I am emotionally spent after Papa’s funeral service on Thursday; I can’t seem to get it together. My family arranged the reception for this evening so I could stay and by combining my vacation and personal time I’ll have an 8 day break. I’m ready for a much needed break. Blue jeans, a light sweater and flats are in a sack sitting next to my halfhearted packed suitcase.

My assistant Ling stands in the doorway patiently waiting for me to look up. “Miss J boss, I get coffee and pastry for you.” Her words actually sounding more like bozzz, pasree and eweee. Even though she’s a little challenged in English, she’s the best. And she’s the only person I know who hums and smiles all day-every day. Today, she looks like a bee. (black blazer, slacks, yellow blouse and shoes) How does she stay so upbeat all the time?

Basically, I’m physically at the meeting, but that’s about all. I nod at the right time and occasionally raise my eyebrows to indicate interest. But I’m mentally making a list and counting the minutes. 9:42.

Finally, like an animal that’s been caged to long, I jump up and realize I’m free. I’ll have just enough time to change and freshen up. As I comb through my hair I remember when my mom got carried away styling it the night before I started the 5th grade. But mostly, I remember Papa saying, “Pretty curls, you are growing up so fast”. For me, that fall was filled with happiness and horror. I’m feeling pretty alone right now, I love and miss him.

Once on the road I start to relax. My cell rings, but I let voice mail pick it up. Since I don’t want any more electronic interruptions, I turn everything sitting in the front seat off. “All technology is banned as of this moment”, mentally I note my decision for much needed rest and praise myself, six hours of silence sounds heavenly.

After driving a couple of hours, I see the sun fading and feel a change in humidity. The Pine trees are slowly disappearing and I know what lays ahead- overcast skies, cedar trees, salty air and Elroy’s by the Sea, my home, or commonly known as the vortex as I like to call it.

I decide to stop for gas and a milkshake.

“Nice wheels, you must be from the city.” “Can I get anything else for you miss?” “No, thank you and yes, I’m from the city.” I’m nice out of obligation but sense this kid is flustered. As I start to check my face for smudges he almost seems embarrassed. I watch him as he stumbles away.

“Help me get through this”, I say out loud to no one in particular. I've given up on trying explaining why things happen because it’s just easier for me in the long run. As I contemplate the idea of an afterlife sitting next to a powerful being, I get a brain freeze. I decide to change the radio station and stop when I hear Sting. My assistant loves this song, seems she only follows two things, Sting and Buddha.

As I pass through the red hills I see several crosses alongside the road and I wonder about the people who have lost their lives due to tragedy. If Papa is doing anything right now he is probably having a little snort of some good southern whiskey.

The half way point is within a few miles, a small farm community called Cleary. What a contradiction. My mind begins to wander and I end up thinking about my mom. Last night on the phone she sounded like a wreck, I have to consciously let up on the gas.

As I enter my hometown, I decide to turn on my cell phone. I call home and my sister picks up. “Julia, where are you”? “I’m just turning off Broadway, be there soon” I answer.

So much has changed since I was little. The high school burnt to the ground a few years back and was rebuilt into a more modern style. Most of the small businesses have closed up; it looks like a little ghost town. A lot of migrant workers move to the area looking for work in the orchards and on the ranches and this change is reflected in the amount of ethnic grocery stores I see-a lot.

Two streets connect three different areas, North, Main and West town. I have another 30 minutes to go and have actually made good time, but should have stopped for lunch because this stress headache is hitting me full force now. When I pull up to the house I see aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and ranch hands, most of who I don’t really even know anymore.

Cody, the sheriff’s deputy and my sister’s senior prom date is standing in the driveway, waving wildly. “Julia, will you park in the back? “We want to keep this end of the circle clear”. The irony of his concern strikes me as funny because all I see here is space. The old place looks massive. My entire apartment could probably fit into the garage.

Mr. Hogan is sitting on the front porch in a folding chair in obvious discomfort. He is wearing his signature frown face. Why is he even here? For the life of me, I don’t remember the connection between him and Papa. His teenage grandson is trying to get his attention. He is smacking a bug with a long stick, makeshift sword. Poor Jimmy, he lives in his own world sometimes; a place that he can mentally retreat to if confronted by anything unpleasant. Once he stares off into space the conversation is over- with a capital O.

The only other people I recognize are Mr. and Mrs. Greer; they are sitting off to the right. He is wearing a green suit, his Sunday best, as usual. It’s Monday. She of course is in orange, what else? What opposites. Both retired now, he worked for the hospital, in what capacity I don’t remember, and she taught piano.

After navigating through canes and walkers, I make it to the front door. Mom sees me so she ends her conversation and bolts towards me arms wide open. “Julia, my dear, I’m so glad you are home”. Suddenly, I realize everything will be alright, funny how a hug does that.

We head to the kitchen by way of the side hall. Everything looks exactly the same. As we pass the main bath I realize that the only exception is a couple of bars mounted by the tub. Other than that this house looks like it’s been frozen in time.

“Let me get you a plate”. “Everyone just brought something, but we couldn't have planned it better”. “It’s been so long since I ate such favorable food”. “Papa’s diet was mine, you know.” I remember eating nothing but bland food here. She starts to rearrange the dishes, obviously trying to burn up some nervous energy.

We hear a loud bang just as my sister Rita comes through the back door; she looks both ways as if she’s avoiding someone. “Mom, why don’t you go lay down now, you need some rest, even if you can’t sleep yet.” She leads her away then reappears moments later. “I think she is still in shock” “Want some tea?”

Two mugs later, we start to warm up to each other. My sister and I couldn't be any more different. Sometimes I wonder if she was dropped off by a gypsy. “My mediation classes are really helping me through this.” I notice a funky hemp bracelet on her wrist. We end up giggling about the time she made a dog food sandwich for whoever was stealing her sack lunch at school. Papa, thinking it was spam decided to help himself and well, the rest is history.

After another hour of feeling a roller coaster of emotions, I decide to call it a day. Rita is off to say her goodbyes to the last of the guests.

In the guestroom my suitcase is waiting for me on the bed. I am comforted by small things in this room, but most of all, by the hand sewn blue and green quilt folded neatly on the love seat. Once showered and settled I grab it, flop sideways on the bed, cover myself and take three long breaths. As everything around me fades, I see Papa in a field. He is waving, trying to get my attention. As he continues to beckon me, everything goes black.

jo555
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Re: please review fiction story about compassion & ethics

Postby jo555 » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:41 pm

Quote: BookCoverPreviewIntro: This complex and almost poetic story illustrates something we all struggle with every day- the grey areas of ethics and morality in humanity.

Oh, sounds interesting. Sounds like a conversation I enjoy getting involved in (I know it is a critique you are looking for, just saying). I am going to look at this one when I have more time because I am short on time now, yet look forward to coming back to it when I can give it more attention.
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord looks upon the heart - Proverbs

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Shann
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Re: please review fiction story about compassion & ethics

Postby Shann » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:35 pm

I think you start off with some valid questions. Be aware of switching your voice though. For example in this paragraph: Can the wrong ever justify the right? Are some things meant to be left alone? Buried? Hidden? Why do so many people accept this story when it is so transparent? Don’t they care or is it the most compassionate thing to do? Is it worth hiding? Will anything change? Do you pray for direction? How can you come to a decision you can live with?

You are using people and they, then you switch it to the second person and speak directly to the reader. Since this is the back cover, I think speaking to the reader is fine (You won't hear that from me often.) I wonder in more of a summary instead of barrage of questions might work. Even the first question seems backwards to me. Maybe something like this: In a world where the people justify the wrong, things can get brought up that might be better left alone, buried or hidden. Yet many people accept this transparent story. Do people just not care or perhaps accepting things is a compassionate thing to do? What should stay hidden, and if it does will the world ever really change?

Then I think you need to transition into Julia. Is she the one asking all the questions? Perhaps you could segway it with Julia Brown finds herself wondering just these things.

Again in the last line of the preview you switch voices again going from the single third person to the universal you or perhaps to the reader. Instead of telling the reader what she will learn make it about what Julia will learn on her journey.

You broke one of the cardinal rules in the first line. Don't ever start a sentence with a number. It can be fixed easily though. The red glow of the clock mocks me: 8:53 A.M. As I shake my head in a futile attempt to clear it, I realize I'm in my office.

(I like that even though I tweaked it a bit. It sets up an immediate conflict, dozing off at work or at least drifting off. It makes me eager to want to read more about this person.)

Also remember that em dashes--should be the length of the letter "M" and not have a space on either side. I paused at the phrase half-hearted packed suitcase. It makes it seem like the suitcase is half-hearted. Again a simple tweaking will help with that.

I like that you use dialog to help develop the characters, but remember that you need to start a new paragraph each time someone new speaks. You also may want to sprinkle some narration in as well:
“Nice wheels, you must be from the city." The mechanic leers at me, sending chills up my spine. He wiggles his eyebrows and almost purrs while he is speaking. “Can I get anything else for you, miss?”
(That was just an example to show you what I mean. It shows the reader that even though she is rumbled and grief-stricken the gas attendant finds her attractive.)

Also remember punctuation almost always goes inside of the quotation marks.

You do a nice job with the ending of the last part. It's a great way to end a chapter. It makes the reader want to keep reader. I think you have done a fine job of starting to introduce your character and build the conflicts. You pose some interesting questions and started off with a good catch.

I'm not sure what this is for. I would urge you to get a professional editor if you're going to go the self-publishing route or even if you were to submit it to a traditional publisher or a contest. Even professional editors are wise to get someone else look over their work.

You have a lot of good things going for sure. I did kind of a quick review/critique. You may want to put this in the Critique Circle to get more feedback. I do look forward to finding out more about your intriguing character. :D
Shann

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Sometimes God calms the storm; Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child

jo555
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Re: please review fiction story about compassion & ethics

Postby jo555 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:12 am

First, the story held my interest, and I am interested in reading more. Let me know when it is out.

I love the first person perspective.
I personally have so much to say in a story, I usually don't use it, but one day I would like to try it.

I agree with what Shann said, although I believe she will be able to detect more errors than myself. I'm not the best there either, but like to help where I feel I can be of service.

So, giving it a shot here.

Can the wrong ever justify the right? Are some things meant to be left alone? Buried? Hidden? Why do so many people accept this story when it is so transparent? Don’t they care or is it the most compassionate thing to do? Is it worth hiding? Will anything change? Do you pray for direction? How can you come to a decision you can live with?

This just didn't flow right to me. It's like a bunch of questions thrown together and it takes awhile to see how they fit together. I'm still not sure, but Shann seems to have pieced it together.

Then, for me, it is sort of an awkward switch from that to Julia. I would have liked a better transition that linked the questions to her.

Maybe something like this:
And these are the questions that follow (or haunt, etc) Julia, a . . .

You may also want to start off by telling a bit more about the story and conflict. Use some things in the story that will link the questions to the story, then ask the questions (how I went with mine). You don't have to give the story away in the process. I will try and share an example some other time.

You seem to need help with transitioning, yet don't be discouraged. I loved the first chapter and I sincerely look forward to reading more. I like your use of the first person. No, I loved it. It held my interest. It makes me want to learn more about the character and story.

In the meantime, consider an editor, and / or learn more about transitioning in various areas (perspectives, tenses, topics, etc).

I will say though, that your first person voice is more clear, and I can follow the story nicely. There are some issues, and I hope these critics don't leave you discouraged because I found your storytelling in the first person containing elements that were wonderful. Hope to share more later.
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord looks upon the heart - Proverbs


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