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,Snippet 2,Snippet 3, and Snippet 4, 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. They sit on Althea’s porch, and the agents ask her to come and consult for them about their fey problems.

*    *     *     *

“You don’t want to change?” Lamington asked.

Althea’s teal tiered skirt and burnt-orange blouse with shell buttons contrasted sharply with the three agent’s slacks and neutral button-up shirts. The green, black, and orange feather tied to the tiny braid behind her ear swung and caught the light as she studied the woman next to her. “Do you need me to dress like Smith?”

“She’s a consultant. She’s fine, Lamington,” Smith crossed her legs, examining the glossy toes of her practical shoes.

“I bet you look nice in a pencil skirt,” Lamington grinned at Althea.

“I bet you look terrible in one,” Althea stepped through the sliding glass door to her bedroom, and closed it before he could react.

The wicked amusement in Diamond’s eyes matched her witch’s smirk. <He walked right into that one>

“I’m getting the measure of him.” Althea headed into her living room.

She scooped up the navy canvas tote she’d left on her sofa, and checked its contents. As she was doing so, the dragon in her bedroom chirped. Althea glanced up at the mirror hanging on the wall across from her, which displayed an image of Lamington, his face framed by her curtains, forehead flattened against glass. The illusion’s eyes widened, and the face withdrew, the mirror flashing red and resuming a normal reflection.

Althea shook her head and held the bag out for her familiar. At three pounds, Diamond was the size of a kitten, but she felt heavier after she’d perched on Althea’s shoulder a while.

*    *     *     *

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.

13 responses »

  1. I’m enjoying the story and you are gradually revealing your characters which is great. Not sure why you use though – if it is internal thought it is usual to use italics.

    • caitlinstern says:

      It’s not internal thoughts, it’s telepathy. I was worried if I used italics people might get confused.
      Look like no one likes the brackets, though.
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. JackieP says:

    first time I’ve read your snippet. Now I will have to go and read the others. I love anything with dragons and mystical things. Nice writing.

  3. What jumped out at me in the beginning was the tell word “wore” Take out wore adn just describe what they were waering. You can do this by saying the skirt reutled in the breeze or something like that… make it active so it is part of the story rather then telling.

    THis paragraph does not flow well:

    Lamington got up to stand by the partly open blue and brown flowered curtain. As he peered through his cupped hands, the dragon statue behind the glass door reared up, wings spread, and stared at him. Lamington yelped and stumbled backwards.

    I’d suggest infusng a little emotion into it to break it up.

    Also, at the end the word “inside” to switch the scene to somewhere else seems a bit odd. Try to pick a point of view and stay with it inside a scene. Follow that particular character around.

    You still have my interest. There’s really not a lot to comment on here.

  4. This story is becoming more engrossing by the snippet. Here are my two cents worth:

    “As he peered through his cupped hands…” I don’t understand about the cupped hands although I read previous snippets. Why did he cup them? What is the meaning behind this? (I can be dense at times.)

    “At three pounds, Diamond was the size of a kitten, but her favorite perch on Althea’s shoulder grew uncomfortable after a while.” I know what you’re saying here but it’s not clear that it was uncomfortable for Althea and not Diamond.

    • caitlinstern says:

      He’s trying to see through the glass, but the motion probably isn’t necessary unless the glass is tinted. Which it isn’t… Good catch!
      Dang pronoun confusion. Gets me every time.
      Thanks for the critique!

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

  6. I love the idea of Diamond going in the handbag! Kinda like a handbag dog but a hell of a lot more deadly!

    I’ve really not much to add – at this stupidly late stage! – but to question the POV shift. We were so firmly in Althea’s head for the other snippets and then there is a brief point where we leave her perspective as Lamington tries to peep through the curtains.

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