Friday, March 24, 2017

Critiquing Opportunity! Julie C. Gilbert

A number of the authors have volunteered to critique YOUR writing. This post is Julie C. Gilbert's.

How this works -

You comment below with up to 500 words of your writing.
Sometime today, Friday, Julie will come by and give you feedback.

Sound awesome? Awesome!

Julie C. Gilbert


  1. (by the way, the character in this snippet as no memory of ... well, anything, really. She slowly regains information when she's awake - thought I'd tell you so that the snippet is QUITE as confusing)

    She woke up, and it was still dark. But a different kind of dark.
    Everything was a sort of wild grey-blue. The land and sky, one and the same.
    She might not know much, but something said this was not the description of the ‘daytime’ word in her head. It felt the same … but it was too grey.
    A snuffling sound snapped her back to earth – if earth it was, she didn’t really know – and she rolled onto her back to stare into one big, cloudy, reptilian eye.
    She scrambled to her feet and tried to scream – only to find that she had none of the thing her mind categorized as ‘voice’.
    And so she mutely gaped at the huge red-orange dragon that had been sniffing at her hair.
    The great beast raised its snout and sniffed the air, eyes flickering in no direction and every direction all at once. It stamped one taloned paw – which was most definitely bigger than her head.
    “It is she,” it boomed. “I can smell stardust on her.”
    “Ha!” Someone gave a sharp laugh that made her cringe. “For a blind pack animal, you have a fine sniffer.”
    “A demotion, I assume?”
    “Pfft, hardly. From one of all those bumbling humans with two eyes, to a seeker of the light-child with none?” A strange, small dwarf walked out from behind the dragon and gave its snout a well meaning smack. “In my humble opinion, I’d say-”
    “I’d say that I smell fear.”
    “Fear is not – Oh!” The dwarf’s eyes caught on the mute girl’s face.
    Her eyes were filled with frightened tears, and both her shaking hands flickered with feeble, frightened light.
    “Well bless me, we’ve scared her!” The dwarf cried. “Finally found her and now we’ve scared her half out of her senses, bless me!”

    ~ Savannah

  2. Bored and uncertain, she found herself wandering in the entertainment section. The wooden buildings reared up from the street with impressing prominence, each flaunting its own colorful sign. The streets seemed much too narrow to accommodate the crowds that tended to gather there, but the lights and music from several of the buildings were friendly and welcoming.
    Before she was aware of it, Laelara found her steps directing themselves to the PT. Without thinking, she opened the door, crossed the halls, and slipped into a doorway from which murmured sounds of competition drifted.
    Sure enough, a trivia contest was in progress. Laelara craned her neck to see who the competitors were this time. Both were strangers to her, but the question they were answering was familiar. She strained to hear the answer.
    Both competitors were breathless, awaiting a turn to answer. Just as the first one was about to answer the first question, a familiar coolness spread over Laelara.
    She didn’t need to turn to know that the person who’d slipped between her and the torch on the wall was Dontae. “What are you doing here?” she hissed, keeping her eyes on the competitor.
    “I might ask the same of you. It’s a fine day to be out and about,” Dontae’s voice wasn’t as quiet as hers.
    She strained her ears toward the front, annoyed that she’d missed the competitor’s answer, but not wanting to offend Dontae by hushing him. She nodded, glancing at him briefly, though her attention was still fixed in front.
    “Do you come to Trivia Contests often?” he continued.
    She nodded again, a bit reluctantly, wishing he wouldn’t ask such questions.
    “Have you thought about what we talked about?” Dontae’s voice was lower this time, but not any less irritating to her.
    “Yes,” she bit off. There, she’d missed an entire question, thanks to him. She took a deep breath. It wouldn’t do to become upset with him now.
    “Dontae, I don’t think this is the place to discuss it.” She finally turned towards him, hoping that she’d succeeded in making her tones sound pleading instead of irritated.
    It was his turn to nod. “Would you like to pick another place?” Now his lips were solemn under his thin rusty mustache.
    She considered a moment. She did want to speak with him as soon as possible – but not in the middle of a thrilling contest. “When this contest is over,” she said at last, “Is there somewhere you’d like to meet?” She wanted to ask him where he lived, but she didn’t want to speak more than necessary just now.
    “I’ll stay to the end,” Dontae replied, “We can pick a place afterwards.” He nodded towards the front of the room, and she turned her attention back to the competitors.

  3. May, 1943. The Pacific Islands

    The carnage around Danny seemed to fade to the background as he fell to the ground, landing hard on his weapon. All around him he heard the panicked shouts of his comrades in arms.
    They had known the battle would be bad.
    But they hadn't known it would be this bad.
    A groan beside him caused him to jerk his rifle to his chest, but he quickly lowered it when he realized the uniform the man was wearing matched his own. Using his arms, he made his way to the wounded man, keeping his stomach hugging the dark, sticky mud.
    "Help me. Please." The voice was a whispered plea caused Danny to stop stock still as a look of shock and horror spread over his face.
    Ray. The wounded man was Ray.
    His brother.
    Throwing caution to the wind, Danny vaulted to his knees and leaned over Ray, his heart pounding in his chest. Even with the chaos around them, he could feel its quick, rhythmic thumping in his ears.
    Reaching for the front of his brother's uniform, he tore the blood-stained fabric open. A sickening feeling swept over them as he saw where the bullet had entered. Right in his lower, left chest.
    Ray's breathing was coming in gasps, and he reached up and clutched Danny's hand. "Help me, Dan. Please. Help me!" His dark eyes were swimming with unspoken agony, and Danny's heart twisted at the sight. This medic brother of his had helped so many men make it this hellish battle. Would he pay for the sacrifice with his own life?
    Forcing himself to think, Danny half shielded Ray's body with his own, trying to protect his brother from the shells that thundered overhead. He fumbled in his pack for a roll of gauze, one prayer repeating itself over and over in his head. God, don't let me lose him. Please, don't take my brother. I don't think I could survive losing him, too.

  4. [Excerpt from Prince Nácil, currently Book One of my Ýdára fantasy series. Edited due to length]

    “You’ve done a good job with Grandmother’s flowers, Mister Greenwood,” Jane remarked presently. “They almost look like they’ve grown since you started!”
    “They are good, healthy plants,” Victor replied. “Your worthy great-aunt took excellent care of them as they grew.”
    “You seem to know a lot about gardening. Did your parents teach you?”
    Victor gave her a strange half-smile. “My mother had a magnificent garden once, and it was through helping her to tend it that my brother and sister and I learned about green growing things.”
    “Was it as pretty as Grandmother’s garden here?” Jane asked, sweeping her little hand to include all the flowers along the foundation of the house, and those lining the fence.
    “Every bit as pretty,” Victor murmured, “and then some. You would have loved to see it, Miss Jane, for my mother had—well, one might say she had a way with plants.”
    “A green thumb?”
    Victor chuckled. “Well, if to have a green thumb is to keep flowers healthy and beautiful, then one might say all my mother’s fingers were green. There was never any blight or blemish in her garden, and pests seemed to know they were unwelcome, and stayed away. My mother’s garden was talk of the entire kingdom.”
    Victor started, blushing. “I meant the—the town,” he stammered. “There I go, once again thinking in terms of Faerie-tales.”
    “Is your mother’s garden still the talk of the whole town, Mister Greenwood?”
    He frowned slightly. “I can’t say, for I haven’t seen it for many years.”
    “Oh, I forgot,” said Jane, almost in a whisper, “you said all your family are dead, so I guess there’s no one to tend your mother’s garden now.” She looked up at him sympathetically. “I know how you feel, sir. My mama’s dead, too, and so is my papa.”
    Victor nodded, returning her sympathetic gaze. “I thought it might be so. I’m sorry, little Jane; but at least you have your honored kinsfolk to take you in.”
    “Oh, yes,” Jane smiled. “Grandmother went through a lot of trouble and bother to get me, but God wanted her to have me, so He made my Aunt Matilda let her.”

    * * *
    He smiled compassionately at her. “It sounds as though your grandmother loves you very much, Miss Jane.”
    Jane nodded. “Oh, she does—so much that it hurts her, she said.” She shot him a confessed look. “I still don’t see how loving someone could hurt, but Grandmother said I would when I grow up. Do you know what she means, Mister Greenwood?”
    His smile faded into that look of deep sadness again. “I do,” he murmured, turning back to planting the petunias. “When one person loves another very much, it’s as though that other person is a part of one—as though God Himself had knitted their hearts together in such a way that each can feel what the other is feeling. Perhaps your grandmother means that she loves you so much, little Jane, that when you’re sad, or afraid, or hurt, she feels it with you. But love can also rejoice with the happiness of those we love,” he added, smiling slightly.

  5. Hi! Thanks so much for critiquing our stories; I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

    Also, for context: this is from a fantasy novel of mine. Italics are for thoughts/mindspeaking. Thanks again!
    Blinding yellow-orange light filled Hunter's vision as Faime dove, flames leaping from the dragon's mouth to the ground. The fire caught in the dry grass and raced onward, joining with the patches from earlier as it devoured the thick stalks and leapt towards the skies. Hunter leaned forward, one hand clenched on the saddle, the other stretched out as he focused on directing the flames into a wall around the Circle force, penning the men in, pushing them back.

    Arrows on the left, Gwen warned. Faime turned up and away, and Hunter spared a glance in that direction, just long enough to see the arrows fall away, still glowing but caught in the sheet of ice that Gwen had formed around them. More arrows rose like dark blue sparks, but Faime incinerated these at the first sound of Gwen's alert before dropping once again to pour out his flame on men and plains alike. Hunter once again pulled his focus back to controlling the growing fire. Can't get distracted . . . Gwen and Aleta had both made sure he knew the consequences if their wildfire got out of hand.

    Bluish energy crackled along the ground around the flames, rained from the air above in icy drops, attempting to choke the fire, to stifle it. With every touch of the magic, the flames faltered- but then the energy broke apart into useless sparks, overcome by the heat, and the fire roared higher than before. Another swoop from Faime added to the inferno- not that it needed the help. It grew on its own, straining against Hunter's control.

    Aleta called another mental warning: Magic blast coming- fly! Faime responded without further prompting, shooting up and away from the fire and the Circle forces, then spiraling higher still and sending intermittent bursts of flame at the rising disc of energy. Where the fire hit the disc, it crackled and holes appeared and were rapidly repaired until the whole thing exploded- less forcefully than last time, but still with enough power to send Faime temporarily tumbling and break Hunter's hold on the wildfire.

    Faime angled lower as soon as he'd recovered, and Hunter reached out once again for the flames. But they were wild now, hungry and growing, and they resisted his every attempt at control. Hunter gritted his teeth, reached deeper into the power, straining for more. His outstretched hand tingled, then began to grow warm. Sections of flame reluctantly bowed to his will- but not enough; most still raged where it would. How had he ever thought he could control all this? Been so confident that he'd told Gwen and Aleta he could handle it on his own? It's too much- where's Dustin when you need him? Faime-

    Faime growled his response before Hunter could even finish the question. Dragons create fire. Riders control it. I can give you strength, but I can do no more.

  6. Chapter 1
    Aine Gormal
    Location: FTID headquarters
    Time: 6:54 a.m.

    I hate these early morning shifts. Sheesh. As if the FTID ain’t working me hard enough already. For the love of fairy godmothers, I clocked in to my apartment at 1:01 a.m., and now they want me in… lemme check my watch… 4 hours and 59 minutes later? Not happening.
    6 a.m. is for the birds.
    I slap last night’s report down on the desk in front of the too-pert secretary. “Don’t look at the clock.”
    “You’re late.” Barra slides my folder across the desk with a whoosh. She plants her elbows on top of the angel-white desk, smirking at me. Little twerp. Like her job is hard, sitting behind a desk all day.
    “Chill. I just got the call half hour ago when I dragged my burnt-out behind out of bed. Shoulda called in sick.”
    “You take a half hour?” She raises an eyebrow. I feint a punch—feint, I swear—that barely misses her head as she ducks. I warn’t gonna hit her on purpose. Like I need more trouble with Sarge.
    “Mornin’ Sarge.” I saunter through the wide open doors into his office. ‘Course he glares in my direction. He’s got no other facial expression.
    “You’re late.”
    “Yeah.” I slump down into one of his office chairs before his desk. “You got something for me?”
    “You could say that.” He slips his wire-rimmed glasses lower down over his greasy nose and passes a slip of paper across the desk. A pic of a pale chick in a blue dress. Crystal slippers.
    “Cinderella again? What’d she do now?”
    “It wasn’t her this time.” Sarge turns back to his overly-large, antique computer and types away. “I’m sending you to the AU department, southern France, circa 1697 anno domini.”
    “Perrault?” I roll my eyes. “Please, not the Perrault again. Remember what happened when I got stuck with Rapunzel.”
    “Stop complaining and just listen already. You’re trying my patience, Agent Gormal.”
    When he gives us that look, well, we listen. Ain’t much else a person can do less they want to get fired. I lean forward in my chair, get a closer look at this Cinderella.
    “Fine then. What happened?”
    “Cinderella was murdered last night, before our nameless Prince Charming discovered her identity.”

    Chapter 2
    Location: anwindlyn, France
    Time: late into the night

    Anastasia stood over poor little Cinderella’s body, staring at the grimy blood, slimy blood, coating the tip of the high-heeled crystal slipper. This was not supposed to happen in this manner.
    Cinderella was supposed to be kept at home, picking the lentils from the fireplace. Cinderella should have done as she was told.
    But no, she had to somehow gather every lentil into the pot. She had to find herself the most lovely gown, made of silver, with crystal slippers. She had to catch the prince’s attention.
    Anastasia wanted the prince.


Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

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