Jo Gatenby

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Jo Gatenby Discussions
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Someone on another thread pointed me at Reedsy (we were talking about contests, and they have a pret…
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  •  · Thanks for the help, and the great idea... I'm still tweaking... 
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'THIS ITCH OF WRITING' did a great email on the different uses / meanings of these words the other d…
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Haven't popped by in a while, so wanted to share some joy! I'm having a great month - in spite of a …
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  •  · Still working on elevator pitches... trimmed this one even more (merged the first two sentences):Aba…
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I'm in the middle of a 3-day summit type thing, called STYLE AND VOICE. Some great tutorials so far.…
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  •  · Yes, but it doesn't hurt to have the free version of Grammarly turned on when you are in Word. It pi…
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I heard last night I got into the 'Ultimate Novel Writing Course' that starts in July, and runs for …
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  •  · Congrats Jo! I wish I was joining with you! What an immense leap forward in your writing this will b…
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Hey guys... I just posted this to the Fantasy group, but they're not always the quickest at respondi…
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  •  · Well this might make you laugh... just got the first Beta Questionnaire back, and she said her fav p…

Thanks for the help, and the great idea... I'm still tweaking... 

Hmmm... I enjoyed the "DREADED SECOND NOVEL" chat, with Peng Shepherd, and checked out her first two books... The Book of M influenced a short story I'm working on, about a woman's response to a pandemic, as I thought a disease attacking the brain and causing forgetting was very plausible (though no shadowless!!!). Personally, I blame Stephen King's The Stand for my fascination with world-ending government conspiracies!

"COMBATTING NERVES" was interesting as well, though I generally have no trouble talking (can you tell?), and have done lots of training and teaching (IRL). His techniques were interesting, and the tongue-twisters we shared in the chat were fun!

This is the first page, trying some of your thoughts, Slago... Better, or worse? I went with a radio announcer, rather than a headline... Played with the POV in the first 2 para's... is this closer to what you meant? Minor changes to the middle, then down to the fleshed out conversation with her DH (last 2 para's and a line), and a second radio broadcast...

But I'm almost at the word count limit now, so will have to seriously tighten the body to add more announcements and still meet that requirement...


Sometimes she feared she was the only one left. The last one who remembered….

It started unobtrusively. Everyone forgets things sometimes, right? ‘I’ve forgotten what I wanted, ha ha.’ So when it began happening more often, no one noticed.

“Good morning, it’s Monday, um… er… “
“It’s May 6th, Chet.”
“Ah yes... thank you. Now, over to you for traffic, um…”

Karen’s first inkling something was amiss came at work. Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Southern Exploration at a major oil company sounded prestigious. Truthfully, she thought of herself as a glorified secretary.

She knew her trim figure flattered the suits she favored, and her competence made her boss look good. Karen sighed. But I am SO bored! She blushed, feeling guilty admitting that even to herself.

As James often said, she was fortunate. Many people couldn’t even find jobs.

To kill time, she surreptitiously skimmed the Web. Videos featuring people exhibiting odd behaviors were posted everywhere she looked.

One man climbed into a fountain with his clothes on. If he had danced or jumped, it might have been funny. But he just stood there, observing the water play on his hands, as if he’d never seen anything like it before.

A woman, trying to walk in high heels, kept tripping and falling against people. She didn’t seem to notice. She’d walk a few steps, then twist an ankle and spill the opposite way. It was amusing at first, though it looked painful. Karen thought it was a miracle she hadn’t broken an ankle, and wondered if she was drunk. But the woman’s expression was so… bewildered…

There were more, all similar, and she watched for a while, before closing the stream. They made her uncomfortable, though she couldn’t explain why.

It was her husband, James (never Jamie, or Jim, and certainly never Jimmy), who told her about the forgetting. A serious man, not given to practical jokes, trying to hide a receding hairline and increasing stomach girth, James was the epitome of a ‘serious businessman, thank you very much’.

She was dismayed when he reported what happened. “Peter came into the office late. You must remember him from the Christmas party? Anyway, after getting in late, he didn’t recognize us. Looked at us like he had no idea who we were.”

He glanced over, confirming she was listening. “His memory was quite patchy, but reminding him of our names sparked a response. I quizzed him on what he remembered, which helped, I think. But he was forgetting again by lunch. Finally we called his wife, and she came to get him.”

I should give her a call, Karen thought, and see if there’s anything we can do.

“And a good morning to you all, on this bright May 13th, Monday morning! 
Chet seems to have caught this darn bug that’s going around, so he’s at home, 
as are many of you. I’m sure you all join us in wishing him a speedy recover.
 Not much traffic today, with the new restrictions…”

As things worsened, Karen and James quarantined at home, like everyone else.

Sorry, third paragraph should say "...not done reading Peng Shepherd's 'Book of M' yet..."

Thank you for reading as much as you did... your comments were really helpful - I especially love the 'news report' idea, and I may work on that - while (as you point out) staying w/in the 2-3,000 word restriction... If I can tighten, I may gain some word count to play with...

Switching the first sentence around to show mystery... and a reveal (sort of), was a good idea too - thanx! FYI, I actually had Karen's job, so I can attest to how boring it was! 😉 

This isn't what I normally write, but I've always been fascinated with end-of-world scenarios - I am literally on my 3rd copy of The Stand (Stephen King). The first copy was 'borrowed' and never returned, and the second was read to tatters and taped together, 😆.

In the interests of honesty, I'm not done reading M yet, so don't know why everyone is losing their shadows, or why it causes memory loss (and other weirder things) when they do... but I was taken with the idea of a disease that causes forgetting - since there are already some existing... (hints that Karen thinks it was man-made follow later in my story). 

I also envisioned some different consequences than she did... Though I must say, I'm glad I read Peng's "The Cartographers" before I did "The Book of M", as I might not have read both if I'd done it the other way around... not quite my cup of tea, but very imaginative, and she writes well.

Anyway, thank you for your time, input - and friend request!

Added a comment to Tone 

I immediately knew it was a child, almost too old for a car seat, and in foster care, but not GOOD foster care (I have SIL who does foster care, so I am familiar with the better kind!). Loved the 'feeling of beige'! 

I found the story engaging, and the situation set out quite clearly from the start... great beginning! 

Now to get nit picky, LOL:

First suggestion: in the 3rd paragraph, I would probably re-order the third sentence:
When I was told to leave, one home said the suitcase I started with was theirs, and kept it.

 And change the first BEING to ONLY in the same paragraph (last sentence)... too many beings!

In the 7th paragraph... THIS HOUSE HAS A NEW PART... perhaps THIS LECTURE... would be better? I was thinking they added onto the house when I first read it, LOL. Same paragraph... the sentence that starts "he was angry"... possibly "...AFTER HE CAUGHT ME WATCHING HIM..."

I found the sentence that starts HOPEFULLY confusing, and had to read it a few times to figure it out. Simply fix, I think you probably meant: WON'T instead of DON'T...

Next paragraph (2nd from bottom) divide the first sentnce in two (at the comma). Last sentence... BE A DOG, I think you meant HAVE A DOG, 😆 

Final paragraph mom GREETS (not 'greats' - just a typo)... and the father "... makes a joke THAT he couldn't welcome me..."

Hope that helps, and that you get lots of useful comments...

Added a forum 

Someone on another thread pointed me at Reedsy (we were talking about contests, and they have a pretty comprehensive list)... anyway, in exploring the site, I found they send out writing prompts, weekly, I believe, and hold mini-contests for those using the prompts ($5 entry). Even if I entered 4X a month, that's only $20, so not a huge investment, but great practise for short story writing... I'm like Harry, everything turns into a novel - including this message - sorry!

I have taken a prompt from this weeks list - HAVE A CHARACTER USE A PHRASE 3X, and written the attached, which I'm hoping you will critique for me, before I enter. I always find the group's comments illuminating, and learn a lot, so I expect this time to be no different 😉.

As noted above, I do have a deadline - it has to be submitted by the 26th... I've done 3 edits on it, but I'm sure you'll point out things I didn't notice, which is how I'll learn to do better... You may note this story is a nod to Stephen King and Peng Shepherd's Book of M (w/o the shadowless, LOL).

Thanks to everyone who helps me... FYI, it's less than 3,000 words...

FYI, for those just joining 😉, I incorporated Slago's suggestions, and the newest version is posted at the end...

We were sharing tongue twisters in the comments... fav seemed to be DODD'S DEAD DAD'S DOG DIED... but I enjoyed I'D LIKE A PROPER CUP OF COFFEE IN A COPPER COFFEE POT.

Still working on elevator pitches... trimmed this one even more (merged the first two sentences):

Abandoned as a baby, in a kingdom that forbids magic, can a powerful young Warlock hide his growing abilities and become King? Should he?

And while I wait for my Beta readers to get back to me, I started working on that other novel I mentioned on another thread (a different series, or possibly just a stand alone book)... 

This is the one where I invented my own mythical creature in my day job as a designer. It's a Seanicorn (prounounced sea-ni-corn, not shawn-i-corn 😜 ), which is a sea-unicorn.

Here's my original needlework design, showing Cay, Starlet and their fry, Whip:

Though while writing the book, I realized they needed not just dorsal, but pectoral and caudal (tail) fins to be good swimmers, so they have evolved from above. They are MUCH larger than seahorses, with armor-like scales, and horns. Unlike seahorses, the females carry their young (called fry), and birth one at a time... though birth rates are declining...

Here's the elevator pitch for that one:

With their home destroyed and their only fry gone, can the Seanicorn blessing leader, Cay, find their missing son, while his pregnant mate, Starlet, leads the herd in search of a new home?

It's one sentence... but is it too long? Does it give you enough info to interest you, but not enough to give too much of the story away? 

Oh, and if you didn't know, a BLESSING is a herd of unicorns... I'm blending unicorn mythology with sea terminology (ie all of the names are sea-related, and most (such as starlet and whip) are types of coral).

I had fun researching this one, and can tell you SO much about coral now, LOL. I'm three chapters from the end of the novel, I think...

Would have been MORE helpful a few months ago 😜 as most of it seems to be expired now... but I've bookmarked the site to check out and keep and eye on - thanx!

Thanks for the feedback, so quickly! I guess I also hadn't realized there was a cost to enter... though I guess if there are cash prizes, that could be where the funds come from. I've seen some where just being posted by them is the 'prize', so guess I was thinking more along those lines... I'm in Canada, so the US ones are probably closer for me than the UK... though if they're on-line, than could be accessible internationally... 

I love the idea of a 'contest' forum! Would certainly help all us newbies 😉 

Something new to explore on this journey! I may check out that Mslexia one first, as I don't write children's books (as a rule), but just wrote one for my 4-yr old granddaughter last Christmas... I'm kind of stoked about how it came out, but haven't done much with it (except sell a few dozen copies)... 

No advertising or anything, except through an unrelated newsletter I write, where I mentioned it... I did put it on, but as I say, never promoted it, just used it to figure out how the process works... now I have to figure out how to get it on, as I'm approved for NA (so Canada / US / Mexico), but can't see how to set up anything but Canada... but that's a post for a different group. 

ARRRGGGHHH, always so much more to learn!!

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Jo Gatenby
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