1000 Word Review: Storm in Shanghai by J.M.Bush

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This is a story about magicians and the powers that threaten it, or so I think from the first chapter. It begins with a back and forth conversation between father and son, and the son wins in order to see some World Cup action. There is some mystical threat, the Maelstrom, that is threatening Italy. The father is some mage of some kind. Disaster strikes and the leader if left wanting to turn the page to see what happens. (I do)

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

Yes, it appears edited. The only thing I saw that might stand out is the story is written in present tense, but at times the story does switch to past tense sometimes.

Ex: “My dad, one of the world’s fastest casters, dismissed his ball of lightning and sealed the car door shut with Storm wind. He also charged the handle with a little bit of Storm lightning, it seems, because I get zapped as I grab it.” 

As far as regular grammar, it reads well.

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

I did. He kept it simple and started his story about a father and son relationship as told by a POV of a 10 year old. The kid wants to see some World Cup action and the father placates him. I think every man remembers how it is at this age. The father doesn’t have to say he loves his son, but this is enough to imply to the reader the unsaid. This is good writing, like in a movie. Show and don’t tell.

Do I like the world building?

I do. I like foreign and interesting environments. It was a nice touch adding Italian to the prose. He also sprinkled in some magic and world building the system. I assume the father is a mage or wizard of some sort. There is a Maelstrom threat to everything.

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

Yes. I want to see what happens after the blackout. Good on the author for wrapping me in so quick.

Overall Story Opening Rating:  4/5 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas.

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One thing I would have liked seeing:

I prefer past tense with the story, especially since I am assuming 1990 AD (nice touch adding the AD) is in the past and the story is being told today due to the vocabulary the kid is using. Would have liked to know where the mother is. Maybe describe what the heck the Maelstrom is and the total deaths caused and who the father is in the scale of mage types. Would have liked to know why the father’s dream is to visit the place, but why he couldn’t have bought a plane ticket for this long? Magic spell bubble or something? Is the Maelstrom threatening other countries? How long has this been going on?

The First Chapter can be reviewed here:


Q&A with J.M. Bush

How long did the first draft take to write?  The first draft took me three months to write and was at about 73k words.

Did you change the ending in the middle of writing? The ending changed slightly because, during the many rewrites over the course of a year, I added many new chapters from different POVs to show some backstory. This influenced the course of the story in many ways and as a result, the ending was affected.

Did you submit traditionally?
I did! I submitted like crazy after the first draft and first round of edits were done. After that is when I really went back and took it apart, then put it back together. It ended up being 106k words after all the rewrites. Then I began submitting again. This time, I got some partial requests and a couple of full requests. Two agents held onto it for a long time, but in the end, they passed. So I made my mind up to self-publish the book. I could have waited, but in the interim I had written two other books, one during NANOWRIMO 2015, and I felt that having something published, even self-published, would help me get these newer books picked up by an agent.
Where do you want to go with the series?
Two more books, at least. I have the overall arc of the story planned out, but it keeps changing. I keep having killer ideas about it, and so it is an ever-evolving thing. I’m sure it will change a lot more before it’s done, too. But at the moment, book 2 will take place in Malaysia and Cambodia, while book 3 will take place in Egypt.
Favorite author who has influenced your writing?
R.A. Salvatore got me started on the whole fantasy obsession, so I’d say he is the main influence. But more recently, Brandon Sanderson has really got me excited to write stories. I absolutely love his world building.
The J.M.Bush can be followed at @M_to_the_Bush

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 19)

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 10.39.42 PM.pngFear, once again, flooded into me. I looked into my protector’s eyes and saw only steely determination. Not-Exactly-Lila looked at the clock on the wall, back at me with a scowl, and then snatched a black case off a table. She tossed the case to me. It was heavier than it looked, and my knees bent under the weight.

“What is in this thing?” I asked.

“The controls to the bio-nanites. Without that, we won’t be able to retrieve them once they finish healing you. Hold onto it, and don’t let go. Your stupid little life depends on it, Caleb.”

Trembling under the weight of the case and the terror flowing through my veins, I only nodded in reply.

“Follow me, and stay close. Don’t get separated, no matter what. Things are probably going to go crazy once we get outside. We’ll head straight to the car.”

Again, I could only nod and clutch the heavy black case. The case that held the controls to the tiny robots filtering the cancer out of my brain. The case that held the power to save my life … or end it, if the Doc was to be believed. What the hell has happened to my life?

We tore out of the building to find shadows dancing everywhere. The streetlamps were all out, and the sounds of muted whispers and soft footfalls floated through the night. Not-Exactly-Lila held a finger up to her lips, urging me to resist speaking. She must have some serious sixth sense, because I was just about to ask what was happening. That’s when, just as she had predicted, everything went absolutely crazy.

Two red beams suddenly traced through the air, visible all the way back to their place of origin, but I couldn’t make out who was there in the darkness. One beam landed on my chest, the other on my bodyguard’s forehead. Lila’s clone, faster than I thought possible, dropped and spun into a leg sweep kick, causing me to fall onto my back, slightly crushed under the weight of the black case still held in my arms.

Immediately the air was filled with a trilling of soft pops. Silenced gunshots sprayed right where we had been standing, but instead of killing us, the bullets hit the wall and caused a shower of dust and debris to rain down on my face. I shook my head, clearing the dirt away, and saw the men who had come to kill me. My eyes had finally adjusted to the low light in the alley, and I could finally make out the figures of the two hulking figures holding the guns. I looked over to ask my protector what we should do, only to find Not-Exactly-Lila sprinting towards the gunmen, her posture low. Upon reaching the origin of the red beams, she pulled a slender knife from a hidden sheath somewhere on her body and slid the knife across the first man’s throat while pushing his rifle to the side. The man fell to his knees, blood pouring out of the gaping wound in his neck. He dropped the rifle, which still hung from the strap across his torso. The dead man fell face first to the filthy street.

Meanwhile, the second shooter whipped his gun towards Not-Exactly-Lila in a lighting fast motion. But it was not quite fast enough. She placed one hand on the barrel, again forcing the aim away from her, and stuck the knife into his face, just to the left of his nose and below his right eye. Only the handle showed, as the blade was deeply imbedded. The angle of the knife was upward, so as he fell to die beside the other gunman, I saw a bloody red point sticking out of the top of his head. It all happened in seconds, two men trying to kill us but instead being mercilessly and brutally murdered by the clone of my dead girlfriend.

My body tried in vain to make me vomit, but I had nothing left in the tank. So, I just dry heaved onto the pavement as tears fell freely from my eyes.

“Get up. There’s more coming,” she hissed at me as she hauled me to my feet. I stood up, still clutching the heavy black case.

“They’ve arrived,” a deep voice said ominously.

I glanced in the direction of the mysterious newcomer and found Not-Exactly-Lila had a gun barrel pressed to the back of her neck. Her muscles tensed, ready to pounce on this new threat, but before she could attack, the man smashed the gun into her skull, and she fell unconscious to the ground.

“Give me the box, Caleb. The Senator wants his property back,” the big man said darkly.

Without hesitation I handed it over. “I want no part of this,” I said. “I never asked for this, please don’t shoot me.”

“I won’t kill you, Caleb,” the man admitted. “I know this isn’t your fault. I’m going to open the box now, and order the bio-nanites to gather in your ear. Then I’m going to cut your ear off. I’m sorry to have to do that, but it’s better than the alternative.”

While that may be an accurate statement, the prospect of having my ear cut off while I just sat and watched filled me with dread. The shakes returned to my body and I felt powerless to stop what was about to happen.

The man opened the case, and inside was a keyboard with a display. Somehow, this man knew exactly what to do. I saw him enter a set of commands, and the display showed the black dots I had seen earlier. They stopped their pulsating and small movements, probably the healing of my brain cancer, and all stood still on the display. He then began to enter another command, probably telling them to congregate in my ear. I wondered which one I was going to lose. I hoped it was the left one. It has the scar from the time I let my cousin pierce my ear with a safety pin, resulting in a crazy infection, eventually causing a dime sized piece of my lobe to almost rot away.

Before he could finish inputting the sequence though, two soft pops sounded from behind him, and two identical holes appeared in his white shirt. Red blossomed from those holes, spreading outward. The man who was about to cut off my ear fell forward on the keyboard, his fingers hitting the keys in random movement as his life fell away.

Genevieve stepped out of the shadows and kicked his body off of the case. Blood covered the display, and she hastily wiped it away.

“Oh shit,” she muttered, staring at the screen. She attempted to press some keys, but nothing happened. The controls seemed to be broken.

Looking at what had freaked her out, I saw that the black dots were not still anymore. And they were not in their previous formation, either. They were moving rapidly across the screen, and going absolutely crazy. That is when the pain erupted in my brain, and I blacked out. Before I did, though, I reached my hand out to her. As I fell into darkness, I noticed that my hand was changing before my eyes. It grew larger … much larger. And there were less fingers, too. Only two and a thumb. What had he done to me?