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jerich100
July 4th, 2014, 04:40 PM
I've written 22 chapters (so far) of this sci-fi novel. Would any of you want to swap a larger piece of, say, 6000 - 10000 words, with an equal number of yours? I can provide many more rich and fulfilling comments when I can scribble on a page and draw lines and other goodies, than when typing on this tiny screen. :)



Vertical granite cliffs enclosed both sides of the Johnson Valley from the Elders train station in the east to the town of Wilmington Bay on the Pacific coast. Through the wide ravine ran the Johnson River on its leisurely course to the ocean. Pine and oak trees, and the occasional manzanita peppered the grasses between farmlands and the dispersed agricultural, dairy, and mining towns. Along the river were the highway and the double set of train tracks, both running the length of the two hundred-mile long valley.

Stores, restaurants, and gas stations accumulated around the towns that seemed always to grow in size. Each year the residents of the community of Gunter talked of incorporating the way Coleville Township had done ten years prior, and Tremont thirty years before that.

There always seemed to be enough work. A handful of companies moved into the valley each year. Real estate was less expensive than other places in the state, probably because of the depressed wages and rural life. Most of the new folk had seen enough of the world. Edgy, impulsive people they’d be until they grew accustomed to the relaxed pace.

Hanover, the largest Township in the Johnson Valley, covered only a tiny portion of the broad gorge. Gary Steinman’s father was a production supervisor for the Hanover Dairy. Even though his father was a patient man, there was occasionally someone at work who got him in a rage. Gary’s family would hear about that at dinnertime when they often ate plenty of eggs, cheese, and milk from the day-old stock. Sometimes on their back porch on weekend nights they’d lie on chaise lounges and eat mom’s fudge cookies until their stomachs ached.

The residents in the Johnson Valley were rumored to be more supportive and generous of each other’s time than people elsewhere in the country. In fact, Gary’s greatest burdens came from within himself. He thought he talked slower than other people and had difficulty remembering things. Anytime he visited his old elementary school or other places from his childhood, he felt he was experiencing someone else’s memories.

There were some experiences he wished he could forget. Years earlier in grammar school, he didn’t realize how poorly he was doing until the day the schoolchildren showed each other their grade cards. When the other children saw Gary’s, their cheerful expressions faded and they walked away in groups of twos and threes. He had thought the grades of “4” and “5” meant the best because they were greater than “1”.

The schools in Hanover and the other towns had higher teacher-to-student ratios than the national average. This might have been because of the high percentage of older folk in the valley compared to other places. The schools were challenging and seemed to teach all there was to know on any subject. Schoolwork emphasized self-discipline, self-respect, achievement, and responsibility. The streets were quiet at night because students had so much homework to do.

In the summer, there were campouts, swim meets, bike rides along the river, and vacations to the beach. The sand tickled their feet and dark things in the water made them feel creepy, but they didn’t care.

During their precious free time, Gary and his older sister Cora used to go to McHenry’s on Main Street for chilidogs and sit at the tables outside the store to watch people. Gary and Cora made up names for people and invented unflattering stories about their lives.

When she was eighteen years old, Cora moved away to college in New York City to become a paralegal. She had a talent for remembering details, and Gary enjoyed reading the letters she sent home. His high school teachers said his grades were good enough for him to go to college like his sister.

Eating chilidogs in front of McHenry’s shop was still one of Gary’s favorite activities. He wished he had a younger sister or brother with whom to share his time, but then remembered it wouldn’t matter much anymore because in four months he’d be eighteen and off to college.

Gary sat at one of the tables in front of McHenry’s. His chilidog with all the toppings was satisfying. Across the street, a man who Gary had named Herbert, stood in front of Kendrick’s Sporting Goods scolding his poodle. Two old women walked past Herbert. They must have been going on a walk because they had nothing in their hands.

A girl with long, black hair walked toward Gary. A black purse with thin straps hung over her shoulder. He watched the girl with bright eyes until she returned his stare, which made him look away. He said, “Hi,” as she passed. She didn’t respond except to whistle two ascending notes softly. He returned his attention to Herbert, who by then was on his way somewhere, his poodle leading the way. Gary’s eyes again tracked the girl, who had made it to the corner at Brentlass Street. She looked back at him and blinked twice. With that, she disappeared around the corner.
It was then when the empty parts of him felt as if they had a taste of something good. This surprised him because there wasn’t anything unusual about the girl, although people in Hanover didn’t acknowledge each other often. And she might have been his age.

Gary thought of her for days, wondering if everyone who was about to move out of Hanover became interested in those staying behind.

He told his parents and his boss at Curt’s Groceries about the girl. They told him he had a crush on her. They said crushes were unexpected and not based on anything at all.

Maybe it was her black leather purse. She had looked back at him when she rounded the corner. Or perhaps it was how smoothly she carried herself. She had a proper walk that caused her to float along as if she were in a ballet. His folks weren’t going to leave the valley in a few months, so how could they understand how he felt?

LeeC
July 4th, 2014, 05:39 PM
As to your query, it might interest you to know we have a Beta Readers Group (http://www.writingforums.com/group.php?groupid=71).

Regards,
LeeC

jerich100
July 5th, 2014, 01:59 AM
Is a "Beta Readers Group" the place where people exchange for comment large, completed, or 3/4 completed (whatever), works prior to submission for publishing? If so, how do I become a member of this group?

On other sites I've exchanged 6000 - 10000 words at a time through e-mail, and would like to do so at this time. Thanks.

Deafmute
July 5th, 2014, 02:04 AM
I am at 9 chapters on Death throes that you commented on before its about 17k i think last time I checked I wouldn't mind a nice swap for reviews.

jerich100
July 5th, 2014, 02:18 AM
Deafmute,

I PM'd you. When you give me the nod I'll e-mail you the words.

Thanks

Deafmute
July 5th, 2014, 02:58 AM
Vertical granite cliffs enclosed both sides of the Johnson Valley from the Elders train station in the east to the town of Wilmington Bay on the Pacific coast.

in the east of the town

In general, this sentence is a bit cumbersome, consider a rewording, also being the first sentence it doesn't really grab the reader. Its not a requirement but really the first sentence is the most important sentence in the book you want to really grab their attention somehow, but at very least it shouldn't be this cumbersome.


Through the wide ravine ran the Johnson River on its leisurely course to the ocean.

Through the wide ravine ran the Johnson River, on it's leisurely course to the ocean


Pine and oak trees, and the occasional manzanita peppered the grasses between farmlands and the dispersed agricultural, dairy, and mining towns.

to many ands consider rewording this sentence.


Along the river were the highway and the double set of train tracks, both running the length of the two hundred-mile long valley.

Along the river was the highway and the the double set of train tracks, both running the length of the two hundred-mile long valley.

Before I continue, I think I want to go ahead and make a suggestion. Reading through the entire first chapter only one of the chapters has any actions. Everything else is just description. Narration of what this town is like. Its fine to easy your way into the story, start with the wide shot and gradually focus down until you reach the story, but remember you only have so long before people put the book down and move on the next one. You have to grab your audience, if you haven't had anything happen by the end of the first page or two and you haven't wowed with them with any impressive visions or messages people are likely to move to something else.

By the end of this first chapter I still don't know anything about the story. I think its safe to say it has something to do with this kid Gary, who I know nothing about, and at very least the start of the story will be about him and this mysterious girl he passes on the street.

Now I have to make sure I say that I am not saying I don't like the story. Its to early to really tell much about the story. I don't want to go through and make a lot of small insignificant grammar changes if you go back and change a lot of this anyways.

I hope this helps.