Jennifer M Eaton’s doing a blog hop critique–250 words (plus the end of the last sentence)–you post, critique others from the list, and critique back anyone who gives you a critique.


I’ve chosen a snippet from the beginning of the second book in my Witch of Atlas series.

Background: Humans found out 23 years ago that the fey–creatures like unicorns, elves, and pixies–are real, and so is magic. Althea Raven is a witch who works as a consultant, dealing with the problems that arise from supernatural creatures interacting with humans.

Here’s a link to Snippet 1 and Snippet 2, should you be curious. But I respect your time, so…

Bare bones summary: Two FBI agents knock on Althea’s door. As they’re talking, something screams in the backyard. There, they discover another male agent under Althea’s dragon guardian (animated statue). Althea frees him, and reveals that she knows the agents are witches.

UPDATE: Some comments addressed.

*   *    *    *

“Of course. Only new witches can’t tell one from the other.” Althea considered. “Or minor powers. I’m neither.”

“We know,” the man with the dimples said. “Which’s why we’re here. Are you sure we can’t go in? I could use a glass of water after tussling with your guardian.”

“It didn’t tussle. It sat on you,” Althea headed to her back porch, and took one of the two wooden benches there. “The porch is all you get.”

The woman and the crooked-nosed man sat on the other bench, and the auburn-haired man perched next to Althea. He leaned toward her, elbow propped on his knee, chin cradled in his palm, and eyes raised to Althea’s face. “Okay. But I hope you take pity on me. I’m pretty thirsty.” He put on a woebegone expression.

“Stop flirting,” Althea slid away from him, turning so he wouldn’t see the laughter in her eyes. He clearly didn’t need encouragement. “You’re making me nervous.”

The woman laughed. “I knew she wouldn’t buy it, Lamington. Move.” She and Lamington switched places.

The man with the crooked nose smiled at Althea, his shoulders relaxed and legs stretched out. His rugged features had character even if they weren’t exactly handsome. “So, why dragons?”

“Is that what this is about?” Althea leaned back on the bench, relieved to finally know why they were so desperate to see inside her house. “Dragons?” <Diamond?> She asked in her mind.

Diamond flew out the open window and landed on Althea’s lap. The fairy cat posed to show off her butterfly wings and the white diamond on her forehead to their best advantage. <Do these morons have any idea how lucky they are His Toothy-ness isn’t home?>

Althea glanced at the agents to see if Diamond had kept that comment private. The flitmuir could control who heard her telepathic speech, but often chose not to. This time, it appeared she’d behaved herself. 

<Mortals> Diamond snorted, curling up in her witch’s lap.

“I’m Special Agent Smith. This is SA Papadakis, and SA Lamington. And yes, this is about your knowledge of the fey,” Smith smoothed her already-perfect bun of golden brown hair.

*    *     *     *

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

19 responses »

  1. I am really enjoying your writing- liking the humour in this piece.

  2. kford2007 says:

    May I say I’m hooked already? Anything with animated dragons and fairy cats is my kind of read. I really liked this snippet. LOVE Althea’s personality. Strong. Kick-butt, but there’s a feminine side, too. Great read. Thanks for sharing. Only think I would change in this particular snippet: Make ““It didn’t tussle, it sat on you,” into two sentences. My brain wants to ‘fix’ it. It deserves more than a brief pause. There needs to be a full stop. Other than that, keep posting. 🙂

  3. Hi again 🙂 Glad that there is another snippet to look at. I’m enjoying seeing this story unfold.

    Okay, having read this twice, I find that I’m enjoying it enough that I only have a couple of minor nit picks for you.

    Now we’re getting some detail, I’m getting more into the tale. I like that Althea is no-nonsense and I’m amused that the other woman expected as much, though Lamington makes attempts to try it on.

    I wasn’t sure about the ‘chin propped on his knee,’ line. I know what you mean, but he would prop he elbow on his knee and then his chin on his hand, wouldn’t he? Or else he’s stooped mega low to actually put his chin on his knee.

    Is it possible to show us how Crooked Nose relaxes his body language? Perhaps by relaxing his shoulders or his body leaning towards her as they speak. Small physical things can show those things quite well.

    I’m glad you put the ‘mind speech’ (I don’t know how else to describe it… telepathy?) in s because to begin I wasn’t sure what that line was about. Now I get it, I’m not sure about the choice of formatting. Not that that is a big worry at this stage, I’m sure any editor will have suggestions/ideas on how to address that going forward, if you’re looking to go down that route later on.

    Last nit-pick ‘sun streaked’ has the potential to confuse people since that is something that has happened to the hair, rather than a description of the colour. Maybe ‘sun-bleached’ would have the same effect?

    • caitlinstern says:

      I absolutely meant knee-elbow-hand-chin, I just didn’t type it right. Thanks for catching it, that would be a weird body posture.
      Telepathy is kinda hard to format–you have to indicate it’s speech, but also that it’s not out-loud speech.
      For some reason, describing Smith is not working for me. I’ll pick a better word.
      Thanks for your detailed feedback!

  4. Which’s why we’re here. should this be ‘Which is ?’ in first sentence. The flow is good and introduces the new character’s well. Love the creatures

    • caitlinstern says:

      Good eye! “Which’s” is “which is.” I was attempting an (unapproved) contraction to make the dialogue sound right.
      I keep sounding stilted, which I’m trying to avoid.
      Perhaps I went too far the other way.
      Thanks for the comment!

  5. I did miss a part, but it’s easy to pick up the thread. I’m enjoying the byplay, and the simmering threat of the agent who keeps asking for water. What, one wonders, would he do with it? The fairy cat is fun, a very anime element. I’ll look forward to the next bit.

    • caitlinstern says:

      I’m glad you’re liking the verbal sparring. He’s trying to flirt his way into the house, she’s not willing to allow that without knowing why.
      I’ve always wanted a butterfly-winged cat, can you tell?
      Thanks for your comment!

  6. I really like this, but I have a concern. It ready very “middle grade” sounding to me. It’s the flow of it. For some reason it just seems to read and flow like a children’s book, and all of the sudden I hit the word “@ss” and my jaw dropped.

    I think the problem is the lack of emotion in the story. Middle grade is more action oriented, like this is, where adult readers need to sink themselves into a character to “get into it”

    The story is great though. Try infusing emotion in here. Emotional reactions, inner feelings, all that really hard to write stuff. I think it will fix it. It’s great, it just needs a little more “umph”

  7. Love this story! I would change “I’m not either” to “I’m neither.” It sounds cleaner. I liked that we could differentiate between the three agents better this time around, before they were introduced by name. Humor was cute. Don’t understand the carrot brackets (that’s what I call them, sorry, haha) when she mentally called her cat. Was that to indicate italics? Regardless, another gerat excerpt!

  8. The story has pulled me in more and I’m enjoying the read. A teeny point stands out for me. We have a crooked nose man and a man with dimples. Once they are introduced by name, I want to know who belongs to which name.

  9. […] a link to Snippet 1,Snippet 2, and Snippet 3, should you be curious. But I respect your time, […]

  10. […] a link to Snippet 1,Snippet 2,Snippet 3, and Snippet 4, should you be curious. But I respect your time, […]

  11. […] a link to Snippet 1,Snippet 2,Snippet 3,Snippet 4, and Snippet 5, should you be curious. But I respect your time, […]

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