• I love stories of people born having to straddle two worlds. I hope the parents love works out for them but I’m concerned you’re going to blow it all to pieces!!!

  • So much here and I’m sitting here like, “this was going to be hard to explain to his wife.” The story of course is interesting but the voice just keeps me going. Awesome.

  • “Family meeting,” my stepfather traps us all at the table as my mother stands to clear the plates, cracking his third beer.

    My mother’s eyes dart to mine before she drops back into her chair.

    “Daaaad,” Riley whi […]

    • Hi Beth, I haven’t read the first scene yet, so I might get some things wrong. I think you wrote the beginning very well. I could feel the danger, the tension in the family, and the overall threat to Roark’s life so strongly. Your descriptions are well-crafted. I have always been a fan of outcasts, they usually have a great story to tell. I can sense that Roark will lead his clan, even though things seem otherwise just now. But I guess that’s what your novel will tell us, right?

    • Hi Beth . This isn’t a genre I normally read so I’m hesitant to comment, but I like your style and pace. I think this paragraph…My mother’s eyes are practically chewing into my back as she stands behind me in the kitchen while I wash all the dishes. She’s hovered on the periphery for years, not daring to approach me, and tonight will be no different. Just once I’d love to know what she so desperately wants to say to me. Or maybe I don’t. It’s surprising the new things to be angry about as I grow older, trapped in a community of outsiders that don’t include me……. gripped me and I got to feel the character and complexity of emotion. I’m not sure what the council is …? but I think things will unravel. Thank you Graham

    • Hi Beth, I liked the description of the “coil” in the character’s chest, very descriptive. I also liked the way you packed a bit of exposition into the conversation at the end, showing us more details about the social structure of the world and how the MC feels about it. The father seems like a pretty awful guy, I’m already hoping he gets his come-uppance, but also wondering if there are unexpected reasons for him acting the way he does – clan rules? trying to protect someone? Looking forward to seeing what happens next!

    • Hi Beth,
      I am in Roark’s corner, feeling his frustrations and anger. Looking forward to next scene! But from scene 1, i was convinced Roak was a girl, I must go back and reread to see what I missed then.


    • You’ve done a really good job of showing the family tensions and weaving in more of the backstory and world without obviously doing so. Subtle family tensions, sibling rivalry. I love the this bit: “Of course not,” she says, her voice too high. “Any son running the clan is the best gift I could hope for.” Her smile stops short of showing her teeth. Great way to show her emotion. I feel I need to concentrate a bit to get all the siblings right – but I guess I’ll get more familiar with them as the story moves on.

    • Defiantly following this story.

    • You have created a very strong antagonist in the stepfather, clearly portraying him through his words and actions, as well as in the other characters’ responses to him. Well done. I’m curious about Kimball. Is he a normal human being? If so, how come he is so accepting of the ‘change’? I look forward to finding out.

    • I adore this. I am so invested. It is also not my usual cuppa, but I love your dialogue, your informal style, your very modern take on family. I must confess that in the first chapter I thought your MC was female and so I was confused when she ‘became’ a he in this chapter. No idea how I got that one so wrong!. Looking forward to more.

  • I saw your comment and I thought the mini-scenes were fine. I like how this flows right along and your writing is not bogged down by trivial details, but is very rich in world building detail. They’re all relevant to the trajectory we’re currently on and there is detail on how it got there from here. I’d call it post-apocalyptic, and altho…[Read more]

  • Hey Bev, I read today’s installment and then I went back to read this one. I like how you’re showing dad’s absorption in his world in this scene and then there’s discussion of it in the next. I also like the details of the setting in South Africa, being American myself, so cool details like the making coffee difference really add to the story.

  • Anne, this has the makings of being fun right from the start. I initially thought Beth was an adult, but if she is a teen and the story is focused on her throughout, I think it would be safe to say it’s YA. And i think it’s fair to say Southern Fiction as well, as someone who loves that genre but probably would not last long in the south mys…[Read more]

  • Oh, what a place to start from. Poor Maggie. I’d love to see more sensory details of the house, and I’d love to know if she’s an avoider in general or the grief is particularly hard. I’m sure I’ll find out more as you go!

  • I like how clear the king is in my mind and I agree with Astrid about the hair detail being excellent. I like how the conversation shows how the king may be more compassionate than his wife and trying to heal rifts and she is more distrustful. Maybe more ruthless. And that despite being a royal marriage, there is a closeness there and she has…[Read more]

  • Dealing with parents who are shifting into new phases of their lives is a relatable plot line for me. I like that this is not just about Dad’s changes in personality but is also about the surprise with Mom checking out a house when they don’t seem to need one. Keep going with this! I’m looking forward to seeing what the house is about.

  • I enjoyed the little girls becoming friends and the obvious discord between. Brian and Barb to set the stage. I can always appreciate a headstrong female character, as much as I cringe the whole time as they do what they are not supposed to do. I’m definitely interested in how this will play out.

  • I’ll be interested to see how this all unfolds, how the thriller piece will continue with the romance piece. I am ready for a calmer scene now with two explosive action ones with an impulsive kiss! Whew. Keep going!

  • originally, I thought The Others would be like shadow people, but they sound more like they look like ghosts. My idea of shadow people is they don’t necessarily have eyes. Super curious as to what sets them apart from ghosts? And more interesting it’s in a dystopia with a post-apocalyptic feel. Not a place where it’s good to be diffe…[Read more]

  • My favorite bit about this is the voice. It brings me back to my long gone days of being a novice psychotherapist, even with all the world building. I love magic in a story, and magic with rules, so I’m excited for this. As Pers said, what can possibly go wrong?

  • Hey Sharon, I love a story that starts with something to pique the interest but engages in the world building bit to set the stage for disaster. The kid already has a lot to cope with before he finds his outlet in drawing which sets the stage well for something to become an addiction. When I was around that age, it was really cool if you knew how…[Read more]

  • I also got hung up on her leaving the shoes instead of taking them, but that leaves them a chance to return later to get to the shoes. I do hope Lottie gives him a run for his money with further scenes, no pun intended. And I hope she hates him soon to punch it up! So much in this first bit, I am interested in where you’ll take this!

  • Hm, being different in a controlled, possibly dystopian world always leads to trouble! Or post apocalyptic. So much here to take in. I’m interested to know what she’s going to need to worry about!

  • Hello Per: being late in the game commenting, lots of my thoughts were stated above. I agree read it would help to know earlier that Amy is Indonesian, but I like the idea of two people trying to take a break from the rat race and it’s more complicated than may at first be apparent. Looking forward to more!

  • Ah, Sunday dinner.  An otherwise blissful weekend with friends punctuated by the formality of family time. Or, more accurately, blended family time.  Complete with gritted teeth. Except I’m the only one tha […]

    • Great start, can’t wait to read more and see how you answer all the interesting story questions. I’m intrigued. 🙂

    • Hi, Beth. Nicely written scene. I like your characters and you developed good dialogue between them . Is she the one that will take over the “tribe” because she is the oldest? Or because she is a girl? I don’t read dystopia, so am not sure if this is something I am supposed to know. Thanks for sharing, Sharon

    • I liked the dialogue and its sharpness. I also liked the characters and already feel there is going to be battles in this family.. “Let me bring this up to your mother,” he says to my back as I climb the porch steps. I nod. He has to know he’s in control. As if he hasn’t reminded me every day of this fact for the last nine years of the fifteen I’ve walked this planet. i thought this last line was excellent. so many tangents.!

    • Hi Beth. Your writing style is so readable and fun, the first person perspective is so perfect here. I really look forward to reading more of this! You are masterful at showing your characters’ personalities through their actions: “He parks where there isn’t a parking spot and leaves the engine running as he goes into the gas station, not acknowledging me. Just how I like it.” This line says so much about both of them. Great start!

    • Hi Beth, I can taste the fumes and old car smell and it brings back so many memories. Lots of different directions this story can take and I am interested to see where which one you take.

    • Really great build-up of the world your MC lives in. Also extremely well-drawn characters – and showing rather than telling. The tensions are very clear and foreshadow some interesting challenges and conflicts ahead. Well done1

    • From the second paragraph, I dislike the stepfather character. The beat-up red Honda with its pouring fumes is a great show of financial marginality.
      The protagonist’s emotional discomfort at being associated with this car/community/man is clear and strong.
      You do a great job of explaining why this narrator is unable to exercise her agency to separate herself from this unpleasant character – she won’t be able to until she’s of legal age.
      The stepfather begins to put uncomfortable pressure on her right away. I like her internal humorous response about coming home to poop – if she can’t resist overtly, she’s going to do it internally. It made me smile.
      I like the shift in my understanding that happens with this sentence: “I hated going over the exhausting list of signs that I wasn’t ever showing that I was about to shift into an animal form. ” Now so much that I have questions about is clear to me.
      I also appreciate the themes of toxic masculinity that are already showing up – whether it be in human or animal form.
      Thanks Beth! I’m hooked!

    • Hey Beth, these are such interesting and original characters. I am very excited to read more. I love the setting as well – strange and creepy.
      There are a few places here and there that the tenses felt a bit jumbled and that confused me, but nothing a re-read can’t fix.

    • I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

    • You have created a very interesting world that reminds me of a cult. I think that you used description very well to establish character and relationship. For example, ‘his gaze touching the side of my face’ and the protagonist’s desire to blend with the upholstery.

  • Ah, SM, I probably don’t have anything to add other than this is a completely satisfying tale. I don’t know why I love the fact that the guy at the end doesn’t recall disclosing his accidental murder to the surgeon but I do. I like all the action you can portray and the layers even in a short word count without it becoming too much. I also…[Read more]

  • hey Megan, I agree with Honey Mustard’s thoughts of putting it into Ronnie’s perspective, and mentioning his intense relief as she goes away in the ambulance. Getting carried off in an ambulance to the hospital for mental health usually involves a statement that the person is feeling suicidal/imminent risk to self or others. If it’s in Ronni…[Read more]

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Beth Stillman Blaha

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