Character Development

I’m not sure about Hal. I can’t decide if he’s comic relief or just a bumbling idiot. Because of Ethan’s devotion to Debbie, it’s not unbelievable that he would be drawn to such a nincompoop, but I think it might be more realistic if you teased out a few of Hal’s better qualities to explain why they have stayed friends after the initial bonding experience over the Cadillac’s restoration.

I really love Ethan’s love of Mexican food. I also really appreciated that you never actually said as much in the text. So often, the novelists I beta-read for describe rather than show – I really get a sense of “getting to know” Ethan over the course of the book. There were a number of moments in the text where I noticed a pattern of behavior in a character that hadn’t been explicitly described to me by the narrator – I think this is the golden standard of character development. Well done.


If you’re going to self-publish, I wouldn’t change much. The book moves at a quick clip and has a good attention to detail without being distracting. Unfortunately, agents and publishers really focus on the first ten pages. It might need more of a shotgun headstart.


The spacing and format of your dialogue is a little off, but I thought it was really quite believable. Even when I wasn’t sure who was speaking based on actual attributions, I could usually tell just by the vocab and structure. I don’t know if this was done intentionally, but it was artful. I’d suggest doing it a little more, but a truly excellent start.

I found the focus on Amber finding everything “so cool” a little much. Ethan doesn’t really mock many people throughout the rest of the book, and she seems like a nice girl. Why is he mean to someone making Hal so happy?


I’m neither an Elvis fan nor an expert on the 1950s to 1970s – and you should definitely get someone in these categories to beta-read and fact-check. There were two places in which my “anachronism antennae” were vibrating (whether rightly or wrongly).

  • The vehicles. Some of them were really well researched (like that weird Ford truck I had never heard of before either), but I was really shocked to read about a Subaru. I was born in 1984 in Canada, so maybe this is my being a foreigner, but I don’t really remember seeing them on the road until the mid-1990s. How can Hal afford a Harley on his shitty job?
  • The money. Especially the tipping. Actually, it’s the tipping that made me notice. 10k was a lot more money in the 1970s. The food bills at restaurants seem much too close to contemporary prices, but the tips seem much more reasonable. It was the taxi ride from the UCLA hospital to the Western Union that really made me stop and ponder. How much would that same cab ride cost today? On the same note, how did Ethan know there was a Western Union on that corner? When did payphones go up to being a quarter from a dime?
  • The Title

    It’s awesome. Just wonderful. Unless someone is offering you a cash advance, refuse to change it.