Help Wanted (and a Review Request: The Strange)

Help Wanted:

Young, burgeoning universe seeks omniscient creator. No prior experience necessary or even possible, for that matter.

You must love all creatures great and small, watch them grow, prosper and bloom. Guide them through life's trials and tribulations.

And then kill them.

Other duties include:

Listen to the whining and bitching of entire planets full of beings and return to them endless love.

Plan down to the finest detail every single element of everyone and everything's every day and have a plan for it all and give every action, no matter how insignificant a true and poetic meaning.

Occasionally visit wrath resulting in the deaths of entire civilizations, just to keep things novel. Lesser, more personal smitings are also performed for much the same reason.

Watch without interfering as beings create ever more effective ways to kill each other in your name.

Perks include receiving "Props" from rap artists and athletes, worship in various forms and the occasional human barbeque. Telework available. Flexible dress code.

Anyone with the skill set to prosper in this job already knows how to contact us. Please bring resume and two forms of ID.


I thought it appropriate to append this short "Help Wanted" piece to my request for reviews for my newly indexed ongoing web serial, "The Strange". Here's the link. . After all, I do definitely want your help. If you don't want to do a review and instead just want to give me feedback, just say hi, or even pour torrents of flame in my direction, feel free to email [email protected] - or post them here.

I will gladly review exchange as well if asked.

I'm a little concerned that my story is not well suited for this medium or the audience normally drawn to this medium and if you've something to say about that I'd love to hear your opinion.

Thanks and hope you enjoy the show.

Stay weird.


Okay, that made me laugh, and thus I'll give you a review. Plus, I kinda maybe read the first chapter... and *damn* is that an effective story hook.

You're free to do a review as well, but at this point I've got five and a half entire novels done, three are unconnected, and three others are sequels... so, yeah, which do you like best? I've got one series which focuses on revenge, one which reflects on family obligation and responsibility, and one which is fairly straightforward action-adventure badassery. Take your pick.

Thanks TanaNari. I'm glad you liked the help wanted. My next project post-strange is more along the lines of this little bit but I'm trying to concentrate, lest things go off the rails. The other shiney thing is always ... so ... TEMPTING!

And I'm kinda in the mood for some badassery, so that's where I'm liable to go. My "To Be Read" pile is threatening to avalanche though (virtually, who kills trees anymore?) so it might be a while.

Stay weird.


Awesome. Then you want the Blue Steel series.

Kinda shamelessly bumping. Plus, I'm wondering if there is something seriously wrong in episode 6. What readers I have seem to get stuck there. This might be the law of small numbers making this seem significant, but I thought I'd ask.


I took a quick scan, and I mean a REAL quick scan, just to get the gist. (Very minimal impressions: As TanaNari said, good hook, you seem to have a good grip on the characters and the world, it simply it feels too dark for me, but then I'm something of a lightweight.) The only hypothesis I can come up with for why readers may drift about 6 episodes in, is how three sets of characters seem to be set up in the First Episode. If people feel drawn into one plot or character in particular, and then don't see that particular point returning much, they may lose interest. (Conversely, if they are drawn into one thread, but then don't like where it's going, that could produce the same effect. Conversely, what do I know.)

I can offer up the views for my T&T though, if it helps to have a point of comparison. Episode 1: 900 views over 2 years.

Episode 2: 140 views. Episode 3: 109 views. Episode 4: 94 views. Episode 5: 83 views.

Episode 6 is unfortunately unreliable, in that some bizarre scriptbot kept hitting Parts 6, 7 and 8 every day in June 2015, so the numbers are inflated.

Episode 10 is 59 views over 22 months... Episode 66a is 9 views over 6 months.

Yeah, I have only a dozen or so readers after 2 years (I say 12, not 9, since those who sign up to receive updates don't count in pageviews). So I'm hardly a representative sample. Not sure if that's in any way reassuring.

@Mathtans Too Dark. That is really interesting. I'm going to have to digest that. Thank you. I also see your point about people walking away if their character doesn't get much screen time. I made a conscious decision that I'd go wide with the story and show what the bad guy is doing, which significantly ups the heft of the work and threatens to do exactly what you said. I don't know. I suppose it can't be helped as this is set up for later on in the story.

But again I'm curious about dark. The reason is that the current update, which live and my own stupid brain have conspired against me to produce a huge delay, reads to me as dark. I'm re-doing a section to make it not so down as I thought it didn't fit. Hmm. You've given me much to think about. Thanks again.


Please don't think TOO hard. Every comment comes with context, which you usually don't get. So here's some context - I couldn't get past the first part of "Worm" because it felt like it would become too dark for me. (Contributing factors: Other things I'd read about the story, and the fact that I really don't like bugs.) I'm one of those people who needs Buffy-esque levity to lighten up the apocalypse happening all around. Or a genre gateway, like time travel, for deeper psychological stuff like Doctor Who's "Torchwood" - superheros aren't really my selling point. (I'm also a teacher, so any swearing above "god damn it" automatically makes me hesitate, the same way it would if I heard swearing in the hall at school.) Hell, to get back to serials, rev fitz's "Existential Terror" pushed some of my nervous buttons, and that's just about a guy contemplating his place in the universe. (I don't like contemplating my place in the universe.) So as I say, I'm a lightweight. (If anyone wants an example of something that is around my speed, Jim's "Legion of Nothing" seems to hit a good light/dark balance for me. As did Stable's "Archive of Unusual Events" for completely different reasons.)

That said, your post here did toss out "And then kill them." along with "Occasionally visit wrath resulting in the deaths of entire civilizations" which is not exactly a benevolent God from Saturday morning cartoons. I dunno, anyone else want to jump in here?

As to the decision to show the bad guy, you do you, set up as needed. I went full on the opposite way, only gradually revealing my cast of 10 over the first twenty episodes (each 3,000 words). My hands-down most popular character (from a very small feedback pool) is Chartreuse Vermilion, who doesn't even APPEAR until Part 17. Less than 60 people have read that far. Most can't get beyond Carrie's attitude over the first 3 parts. Live and learn. I do wish you all the best, ScreamingCandle, I feel like our situations (trying to persevere as we stare at low numbers) are somewhat similar.

Oh yeah. The swearing. That would be a problem if it pings you each time it happens. Honestly, that's an issue I looked at and there is one character that hardly ever swears while Goldberg and Dan are foul mouthed. The narrator never swears. I've thought about it quite a bit and it informs the character voices so ... yeah ... problem.

I actually did a Levitz diagram for The Strange including the introduction of characters as a beat. I am now, with the episode I'm having problems getting into the can, at the point where all the major pieces are on the board.

Oh and the Help Wanted was just a short piece I had floating around that I thought I'd put here to amuse rather than just shout "Hey! Look at my stuff!!!" Seems to have backfired :) Really this piece is much more in line with another story I have called Idle Hands. The idea there is that the Devil runs a temp agency because he's got to find work for all those idle hands to do. Now THAT story gets DARK. Not as much swearing though, oddly enough. And I did not say that the position was for a benevolent god, just an omniscient one.

But really, don't sell your input short. It's important to me even though it's not going to have much of an effect on this particular story. Thanks again.


Sorry it's taking so long to get around to reading your story. My life has been bullshit of late.

Ah. Understood. I had this happen AND that leaves out the last week and a half where my Dad had three surgeries - two of them emergency surgeries - in a week. Thought I was going to have to get a new black suit. He's doing better now but that's kinda relative.

I have done something weird in reading Blue Steel. I tried converting the text to speech, as I find things easier to absorb that way anymore. My eyes, you see, are shit and it takes all the fun out of reading for fun. And it worked great, except anything inside of < and > are considered comments and not spoken in the text to speech program. I liked chapters one and two though! I'm fixing my bug and will start again. But, I've had to kinda preview the story while running it through the process. I like the ideas, as much as I can glean so far and will give it a proper audience when the shitstorm lets up.

In the meantime, I've put out some shorts under the banner of Liquid Wax. Not asking for reviews, but ... I mean... I think they are kinda funny at points and can maybe be wedged in between bullshit sessions. :)

Stay Weird


Damn! As far as shitstorms go, you got mine beat. My big problem is that the water to my house is hilariously broken and I can't figure out how to fix the damn thing for more than a few minutes at a time. Now it takes about an hour of work for every bath I wanna take, and showers just ain't happening.

Also: my stupid ass decided to write a novel where the main character has social anxiety/depression. And... well... I get too deep into the heads of my characters when writing them, which is a *real problem* when your main is someone who's depressed. Because it's a headspace that makes it very difficult for me to write.

As for the arrows? If I'd known that was going to cause so many problems (and it has for more than just you), I never would have used it in the first place. Maybe brackets would have worked better.

Okay, having made it past Ch 9... one of the big problems you have is that you have so many focus point characters, and most don't do shit. I'm counting eight separate character focuses by Ch 9, and each of your chapters spend about 500-1k words dedicated to that character, then jumps to another. Most of whom I don't care about, only three of them have actually done anything interesting, and thus far while you have this "six degrees of separation" thing going fairly well, that can only carry you so far when there's basically nothing else.

I mean, it's clear you're setting this chain reaction up for something in the future... but those 9 chapters of still building forward has taken over 25,000 words. Which is actually longer than the novelization of Romeo and Juliet.

It needs a whole lot of streamlining before it can be called 'readable'.

@TanaNari That's totally fair and you've hit upon the central gamble I've made in this book. I'm going to lose a lot of readers right around where you've pointed.

The gamble is that I wanted to write a story that actually read like a graphic novel. I also gave myself the constraint that I'm third person limited and I don't use "thought bubbles" with any character except Goldberg, which ups the exposition a bit. The narrator also is provides very few clues as to what is going on. This is an approach, by the way, that I cribbed completely from Brian Michael Bendis's original "New Avengers" where he took out any narrative blocks or thought bubbles.

Anyway, this is a fair review coming from the point of view of someone for whom my gamble did not work. If I get further and no one is getting to the new content, maybe I'll ditch and do something else. The one thing I'm not doing is extensively revising the thing. I've already sunk enough time in and if it's a failed book, it's done.

Thanks for looking it over. Sorry it wasn't something you liked.


The New Avengers has the advantage of *legacy* behind it. People already know and like the characters he's working with, so he has wriggle room.

Thing is- I *DID* like your story. But a good reviewer or critic takes personal opinion out of the formula and demands the work stands on merit alone. You have a solid premise, and with some decent editing it could be a great piece of work. Throwing it away because the first, worst, draft didn't garner interest? That would be a waste.

Are you certain all these perspectives are absolutely essential to the narrative? Because as of right now, most of them don't seem to be. Like the government agents one... they can show up later- when they're relevant- and say "oh, yeah, we have equipment to detect shit like this"- one line which contributes everything their combined chapters have on the subject.

And was there really a need to show the one girl's sister playing with her boy-toy? (And the fact that I can only remember one person's name says an awful lot about how much impact they had on me). The weird psychic thing later could just as easily have been our first introduction to her, and cost nothing to the reader (as well as saved plenty of words and reader time investment).

And the pervy roommates first and only moment of relevance came *after* Goldberg got home (PS- don't think I missed the pun on his last name... cute). You could delete all his scenes up to that point, and it costs nothing to the narrative.

Really, you could delete every perspective thus save the old couple, Goldberg, and the thieves... and you'd have a fairly streamlined and well paced story that has enough mystery to hold the hook, enough action to stay interesting, and enough information to keep the readers content, but wanting more.

Alternately, you can reshuffle the story's scenes so that when a character becomes relevant, you can then show their backstory in flashback mode if you absolutely have to- that way, we're at least staying at a constant flow rather than leaping all over the place.

There are ways to save this novel of yours, if you're willing to put in the effort.

I hear you @tananari. At this point I'm going to continue to roll out the story as established and not revise. This is not because I think the story is perfect, but it's simply an issue of time and effort. I'm a full time computer person, Just finished a masters in my off time and I have an autistic 8 year old who is fantastic, fascinating and challenging. There is no shortage of things to spend time on in the house of the Screaming Candle and I'm no stranger to hard work. The challenge and opportunity as I see it is to prioritize what I'm spending my time on. I decided before I started posting that I am NOT going to spend my time on doing significant revisions to The Strange through it's run being posted. Maybe after, and maybe if doing that results in a more professional distribution. And there is a lot of maybes in that, but one promise which is to finish this book in it's current form.

And what I've got to look at is that this is just ONE story. I've got plenty of other stories - some half written, some popping fresh from the woodwork after beers last tuesday, some kinda done. And yes, a lot of those are garbage, but some might be ok and have legs enough to go long. I'm currently dropping some of those out in my "liquid wax" area on the site to see if they light a fire with people before spending a huge amount of time on them.

So this is a decline - at this point - of the kind offer to revise what's been put out so far. Who knows, maybe when it's complete you'll think the other stuff was worth the time.