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Rated: 18+ · Book · Writing · #1423876
My 500 words-a-day... written (hopefully) daily
So, I'm giving myself a goal.

500 words a day, every day

the header for my 500 words-a-day project

I have no idea if I will be able to make that goal or not, but these will be the pages on which I find out.

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by A Guest Visitor
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January 1, 2010 at 1:57pm
January 1, 2010 at 1:57pm
Happy New Year!

Typically I do not make New Year's resolutions, but I made an exception this year. This year, I'm going to try to write every day. It's not going to be easy, and it may not even be fun, but I'm going to try.

I may not write a lot (I might not hit my 500 words a day), but I'm going to try. Who knows, maybe I'll actually finish something! Maybe not my novel, but maybe I'll be able to finish a few new short stories or something...

Then again, maybe not. *tongue*

Currently I'm sitting in my friend's living room in Tarrytown, NY watching my friends play Rock Band. I'll be joining them soon, but they've got three more songs on the set list, so I'll jump in on the bass after that. It's been really nice to see everyone again. Since we all live in different states we don't get to see each other nearly often enough.

January 1, 2010 at 1:28pm
January 1, 2010 at 1:28pm
Hi Mari! You're receiving this review as part of the package you won from "Raffle madness!" .

Specific Lines
- "Spellbinding sea, / I am your loyal slave." - Beautiful line. I sort of which this was the first stanza in the poem, as I think it sets things up beautifully!

- "The darkened skies will soon be clear. / There's nothing left to fear. / Spellbinding sea, / peaceful waters are near." - Nicely written. The storm is coming to an end in this penultimate stanza.

Overall Thoughts

The imagery in this poem is very clear and powerful. The repetition of "spellbinding sea" adds to the vivid imagery and very real emotion spread throughout the poem.

The awe and longing for the beauty/power of the ocean is very strong throughout this piece.

Very nice rhyme scheme -- I especially love the rhyme used in the third stanza. So cool! Also, flawless syllable count.

As A Whole
Overall I think this is an excellent poem. I enjoyed reading it very much. My only comment is that in two of the stanzas, you use the "ee" sound as the rhyme scheme, but that causes all four lines in the stanza to rhyme instead of only the first, second, and fourth (since every third line is "spellbinding sea). The rhyme scheme still works, but I found these two stanzas to be a little jarring to my ear.

I think this is an incredibly well-written poem and you clearly took some incredible inspiration from the quote mentioned at the bottom. Great job!

My Rating: 4.5 stars
December 28, 2009 at 6:17am
December 28, 2009 at 6:17am
Hi Gabriella!

Specific Lines
- "Birds find shelter in the feathery / branches that spring from the wide girth of the aging / pines." - I really like this description. Using the word "feathery" to describe the branches where the birds nest is very nice touch.

- " The stars turn away from / the sight of one of nature's own, bloodied and half buried in the snow." - I'll admit that this part through me off a little. I think I expected the poem to come back around and give a little more time on this part. Mainly, I expected to find out exactly what is bloodied and half-buried. Then again, I'm not really a poet and was never good at just leaving things unanswered.

Overall Thoughts

The description of this poem is "a winter tableau" and you have certainly accomplished that. I'm from New England (Maine) originally, and I found your imagery to be accurate and very reminiscent of a New England winter.

Excellent job with the emotion in this piece as well. There was, for me, a sense of awe at the beauty of winter, but also something akin to sorrow for the darker aspects of the season.

A free-form poem -- it suits this piece very nicely.

As A Whole
Overall I really enjoyed reading this poem. I think that 'bloodied' part threw me for a loop, but I know it was part of the darker side of things within the poem. I found myself either wanting more or less here, but was unsatisfied with the level in between. I think you have a gift for imagery, and you use it expertly. Great job!

My Rating: 4.5 stars


Hi Omni!

Overall Thoughts
Not only is this guestbook well organized and nicely laid out, it also has a very unique activity woven into it -- that is, when you sign the guestbook, you're asked to review something of the person who signed before you. Not only that, but then you've promised to give reviews to those who have participated, thereby providing a two-to-one ratio on reviews for people who stop by to sign your guestbook! What an excellent way to promote reviewing and getting to meet new people all at the same time.

(And yes, I completed the review for Gabriella. ^_^)

My Rating: 5 stars

December 26, 2009 at 8:18pm
December 26, 2009 at 8:18pm
Hi Joy! Below is a review via Simply Positive!

Specific Lines
- "You crave noise / to deny / the existence / of your own voice, / quivering / with hunger / to be heard." - Wow. I found this to be an incredibly powerful line, perfect for the end of this poem.

Overall Thoughts

This poem has very vivid imagery that gets your point across without actually saying it directly. I especially like how you format the lines to compliment the imagery.

The emotion of this poem (I think) comes across loud and clear. It sounds like the speaker wants to help the object of the poem, but the speaker is annoyed and frustrated that they keep seeking out this "noise" to hide from themselves. It feels like this has been a recurring problem that the speaker has been dealing with for some time.

Jagged and off-beat, but perfect for the subject of the poem. I have no complaints or criticisms regarding the rhythm. I think it's extremely appropriate for this piece.

As A Whole
Overall I really like this poem. I especially like how the first 'stanza' is so long and almost seems to ramble on. It helps to convey the speaker's frustration, but it also fits well with the whole "noise" concept that is the focus of the piece. The broken lines and off-set rhythm also go along with the "noise" of the poem. Great job!

My Rating: 5 stars


Hi Tara! This is review 5 of 5 that I owe you for your auction win a while back. Sorry it took me so long to complete them all, but it's certainly been a pleasure reading through your portfolio.

Specific Lines
"she awaits her midnight mystery / who said he'd come again soon." - I like the way this line sets up the rest of the poem, and I especially like how it's repeated at the end ("hoping he'll come again soon").

Overall Thoughts

Very vivid imagery to capture the moment. Extremely well done. I think the imagery in this poem is some of the best I've read in your poems.

Longing, lust, then longing again -- it all comes across very nicely in this poem. No critiques here.

Excellent rhythm. Everything seemed to flow very nicely and I didn't notice any obvious breaks in the rhythm. Great job!

As A Whole
Overall this piece is excellent. It's a very well-written poem that is very subtle and classy in the way it handles the adult subject matter. Other than a small typo in the third line of the fourth stanza, I have no comments for improvement. Great job!

My Rating: 5 stars


Hi Tara! It's Miranda again. Hope everything's going well with you!

Specific Lines

"Now, all I need is a plan..." - Ha!!! Perfect ending.

Overall Thoughts

I thought your imagery was perfect. It is all very appropriately mad scientist/evil genius type stuff. Very well written.

The first and third stanzas felt a little bit off to me in terms of rhythm. I liked the rhyme scheme you employ here, though the last line of the third stanza ("and I'll be ruler- for eternity") didn't quite feel like it fit in, rhythmically.

As A Whole
Overall I really like this piece. It reminds me a bit of a Jonathan Coulton song called Skullcrusher Mountain, which is also about a mad scientist who wants to take over the world. I think this is a very clever and out-of-the-ordinary poem, which is great! I think the rhythm could use a bit of work in a few places, specifically in the first stanza (the lines felt a bit awkward-- I had to read it a couple times to get the flow) and the third stanza.

Great job with this unique poem!

My Rating: 4 stars
December 25, 2009 at 10:24pm
December 25, 2009 at 10:24pm
Merry Christmas! All right, December really has not been my month for writing regularly. It's been really busy, and there are so many things that we're still dealing with in the new house. But I'm trying to stop making excuses and just sit down and do it. On a related note, I bought a bunch of writing-related books the other day that were on sale from Writer's Digest. One of them is particularly ironic, since it's all about forgetting the excuses and just sitting down to write -- but of course you have to read the book first, and then you have to watch the bonus features on the included DVD... not to mention the exercises about why it's important to write and what your major procrastination tools are. I plan to cite "writing a list of procrastination methods" at the top of that list. *Wink* Though in all seriousness, I think it's an interesting book with what I hope will be some helpful tips.

I've tried to pick up this short story again, but the problem I'm having is that I'm really trying to make a short story out of something that I think really needs to be a much longer piece. Maybe I can knock a short story out of it for now and pull it around to a longer work later on. It would be nice to actually just finish something. It never ceases to amaze me how exceedingly difficult that seems to be.

Work in progress:
The man in front wondered how much farther before they reached the border between Drahkonia and Sylenria. He knew it couldn't be much farther, and yet it almost felt as though they would never reach it. There was a girl somewhere, alone in the darkness, who was counting on him to find her. "I will find you, Katie," he whispered aloud, spurring his horse to an even faster gallop. "I promise I'll find you."

It was still before dawn when Jashua made his way out of his master's keep and across the open farmland to the forest that lay beyond. The plan that had been formulated among them in the middle of the night was shaky at best, but still it was a plan and, more importantly, it was the only one they had. Phillip Atharn had kept himself close to his homeland even after his exile, and so the keep that he made his home was but a short distance from the Drahkonian border. Jashua could make it there in only a few hours on foot, and then perhaps he would be able to find someone, anyone, to tell of the Queen's whereabouts. There would have to be a border patrol, wouldn't there. Surely someone would be looking for her and surely Jashua would be able to do something to help, even if it was as simple as showing them the way. He ran as quickly as he dared with only the moonlight to guide his way.
December 8, 2009 at 10:01pm
December 8, 2009 at 10:01pm

The woman sniffed quietly and wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. "Thank you, Jashua," she said, her voice strained. "And thank you for coming, Brother. I just... the boy said he knew a priest and I... I didn't know what else to do."

"It's quite alright," Leto said. He stood and moved to stand immediately before the queen. Crouching, he took her hand in his own. "It's alright, child," he said. This young woman was now no longer a queen to him, but rather a lost soul in need of guidance and comfort. "I will do what I can to help you. Phillip has been troubled for some time, but I had no idea his depravity had gone so far... that he had sunk into his delusions to the point of kidnapping a queen." Leto tightened his grip on Katarina's hand, and she squeezed back. "I must have been blind not to see the path he forged for himself. I should have seen."

A voice beside him offered a quiet confession, "I saw." Both priest and queen turned to look at where the boy still knelt with head bowed, his blond hair falling down to shield his face from view. "Three nights ago," he continued, "I saw the master." As Jashua explained the ritual he had unwittingly observed, Leto's blood chilled in his veins, and he could tell by Katarina's trembling hand that hers had as well. "I'm sorry," he said sorrowfully. "I didn't... I should have told you, Leto."

Surely the boy must have been too frightened by what he saw to speak up. But still, to think that the child had witnessed something so sinister taking place within the very walls of he keep and had not spoken of it to anyone -- even Leto -- seemed completely incomprehensible. Yet it would do none of them a bit of good to worry about that now. Now he had to be of solace to a frightened girl, alone and far from her home. "We should think," he said, hoping to avoid any of them dwelling on what could have or should have happened. "We need to come up with a plan.

"He'll be coming for me," Katarina spoke up. "Dominic will send an army, if he does not come for me himself."

"I have no doubt of that, Your Majesty," Leto said. "King Dominic is not known to sit idly by and let others do things for him. He will very likely send an army. And if he does, he will be leading the march. Now, my child, I hate to ask it of you, but do you know what Atharn's intentions are? Has he said anything to you about why he's done this?"

The queen shook her head, even as her eyes grew wide. "No, he's said nothing, but... but did you say 'Atharn?' Phillip Atharn? That must be it. It cannot be a coincidence, could it?"

"What, Your Majesty?" Jashua had raised his head again and was watching her carefully, trying to deduce the coincidence, or lack thereof, of which she spoke.

"My husband told me stories of his cousin and aunt who had been exiled years ago, twenty years now at least. He said the boy harbored some misbegotten notion that Dominic had somehow stolen his birthright and that it was he who should have been in line for the throne. The cousin's name was Phillip, I'm certain of it, and his mother had been the Lady Atharn. He must have taken his mother's name upon his exile. But that would mean..."

"...He's done this to get back at King Dominic. And if he's still holding onto this delusion after all these years... I can honestly say that I have no idea how far he'll go to get what he believes is rightfully his." Leto turned and saw that Jashua was already looking at him. "We need to get her out of here as soon as possible."

Somewhere, through the darkness, three men rode as fast as they could across the open countryside. The moon was not yet full, but the sky was clear and provided enough illumination for them to find their way
November 21, 2009 at 9:55am
November 21, 2009 at 9:55am
Friends from New York are in town today. Three still asleep, two playing Magic: The Gathering, and me sitting with my laptop, seeing if I can squeeze out my 500 words today. We’ll hopefully be gaming later, and probably going bowling.
My friend (the one about whom several of my previous updates was written) finally called me. He has a long way to go before he has earned my forgiveness, and thankfully he doesn’t expect it any time soon. It’s just nice that he finally called. We’ll see what comes of it. We may invite him to come bowling with all of us, just to get him out of his house and to see everyone.
I haven’t decided how I feel about it, but I think it’s probably a good idea to at least extend the invitation. I don’t like giving up on people. It’s a character flaw that I have.
Also, I’ve included here, a review. :)

Hi Tara! You are receiving this review as part of a package you won from "SHERRI'S SIZZLING AUCTION CLOSED" !

Specific Lines
- "I see you spiral down this hole / like Alice in her wonderland, / and I am your white rabbit." - Very nice imagery here. You connect the reader to the emotions of the poem, since everyone is familiar with the story of Alice in Wonderland.

- "I watch you silently wither..." - This is a great line, since it gives both the sense that the object of your poem is withdrawing, but also that he (I'm just going with "he" here) shrinking and, in a sense, becoming less of himself. This line also expresses a serious feeling of helplessness, since all the speaker can do, as the lighthouse, is watch.

Overall Thoughts


Excellent imagery. You use wonderful ocean similes and metaphors that convey the feeling of helplessness, since people are often helpless when it comes to the sea. People can try to get by on it or near it, but in the end we are at the ocean's mercy, which in this case, is the object's (from what I gathered) unstable mental state. Again, that's just what I gathered from reading this poem, but it's possible that I'm coloring it with my own personal experience.


Full of, as I've said before, an overwhelming sense of helplessness. It comes across beautifully in this poem. My heart was aching by the end.


I'll admit it felt a little off to me, but I am in no way, shape, or form a poet.

As A Whole

Very nicely written. As much as a like the Alice in Wonderland reference, it felt a little out of place in the middle of the poem, given the heavy use of sea metaphors/similes throughout the rest of the piece. I cannot help but wonder what would happen if you stuck more with ocean references instead of switching to Alice. Regardless, you have a very moving piece here. Congratulations on fitting so much emotion into so short a poem. Great job!

My Rating: 4 and a half stars

New sig to represent the new me
November 17, 2009 at 11:09pm
November 17, 2009 at 11:09pm
Her golden hair must have been done up rather ornately not too long ago, but now it fell in wisps about her youthful face. Blue eyes, reddened and puffy, stared up at him clearly uncertain of what to expect. She was very beautiful with soft, fair skin covered with an elegant, if slightly torn, silken dress.

The door closed behind him, and as Jashua dropped to one knee before the crying girl, Leto knew immediately who this was. He likewise took a knee, though there were a number of creaks and pops in his aging joints as he did so.

"You Majesty." Jashua spoke before the cleric was able to find his voice. "This is Brother Leto, the one I told you about." He glanced over his shoulder to where Leto now knelt, hands clasped together in silent prayer. "Leto, this is Her Majesty, Katarina Drahkon..."

"...Queen of Drahkonia," Leto finished. He had crossed the borders into the neighboring kingdom of Drahkonia several times, but only once in the year since their king had taken his new and very youthful queen. "I know."
November 17, 2009 at 10:50pm
November 17, 2009 at 10:50pm
A note to one who I counted as one of my closest friends. And the saddest part of all of this is that I have no idea why this has happened -- only that it has and that it's become quite evident that I can't do anything about it.

I didn't know I was so easy to cast aside. This kind of thing has never happened to me before.

No, wait. That's a lie. It happened once before... in high school. My best friend of many years decided she didn't like me any more and stopped speaking to me for a summer. When I finally managed to get a hold of her, I told her I wanted to try to work it out. She wasn't interested. Something about how I was always talking about my boyfriend.

But then, she couldn't get a date to save her life. But I digress...

Still, 'psycho high school ex-best friends' not withstanding, I didn't think this sort of thing would happen. I thought that was all stupid high school drama. Sophmoric shit. I thought we outgrew that. I didn't think this would ever happen. At least, not between us. I think what I meant to say is that I've fallen out of touch with people plenty -- moving around quite a bit will do that -- but I never thought you would just stop talking to me. I know you do this kind of thing when you're upset... withdraw and try to avoid talking to people as much as possible.

First of all, that is completely unfair to us as your friends, but also because what if we need you. But again, I digress...

Either way, I know this is your fucked up coping mechanism. But this time, it's been over a month. And this time, it was really important that I talk to you.

But you weren't there.

I messaged and called and emailed, but I can't even get an acknowledgment from you that I'm alive. Not a single note or a single "hey can we talk later." You stood by me in college. I stood by you when we graduated. You came to live in my house when you had no where to go. I went with you to the hospital that time. Do you remember? When you didn't know what was going to happen, and all they told you was that it was likely malignant? It was benign, thank god, but I stood by you then. I stood by you through your crazy-ass girlfriend and your roommate who is so fucked up it blows my mind that he's survived this long. I haven't asked anything like this of you since my senior year of college four years ago.

But this time I asked, and you didn't answer. I didn't know it would be so easy for you to let me go.

I thought you were one of my best friends. I didn't think I would ever have to say good bye. And now, I can't even do that.

You're already gone.
November 15, 2009 at 10:32am
November 15, 2009 at 10:32am
Hi Tara,

I know I'm giving you some reviews for your auction win, but this isn't one of them. (I hate when you're looking for some solid reviews and someone comes in an reviews your message forum or something )

Anyway, I wanted to leave you a note about your sig shop, because I think you have something really cool going here. I can tell that it's a very new shop, and I am keeping that in mind as I write this review. I think that your sigs are beautiful and there is certainly nothing to complain about in terms of quality. The only things that I think could be improved are that the selection is a little limited (but again, I can tell this place is still just getting off the ground, so I know that will be improved), and I found the categories to not be very helpful in terms of looking for what I wanted. For me (and this is a personal opinion, so I could very well be in the minority here), a sig is a banner is a sig. In other words, my sigs and my banners tend to all be about the same size, so it didn't really help me to have a category for sigs and a cateogry for banners. Perhaps once you have some more content, you'd be able to have categories based on theme or even color scheme.

Overall I think you have a great shop that has some lovely sigs. Keep up the good work, and please let me know when you add some new content. I like you work. :)


November 15, 2009 at 10:30am
November 15, 2009 at 10:30am
Review #1:

Hi RatDog! This review is to say Thank You! for your recent donation to RAOK.

Specific Lines
- "...sunshine on my shoulders... that was a song once, wasn't it?" - Not only did this first line make me smile, but it also sets the mood for the rest of the piece very nicely. It sets the stage for the other song references and quotes that come into play later.

Overall Thoughts


Short but sweet. You tell the story in so few words, but you do it brilliantly. At first I was confused by some of the lines. For example, I was wondering how the narrator could say that he hadn't been there for years in one sentence and then two lines later say that he'd never been there before. But when I got to the end of the piece, everything came rushing together and it all made sense. That is the mark of a well-told story.


The character of the grandfather is extremely touching. It's difficult to say what it would be like in the mind of someone with Alzheimer's (or dementia), but I can easily imagine that it would be something like what you've written here.

We don't get any descriptions of the mother or the grandson, but that's ok by me, since it's not really about them anyway. They're just there to provide the context.

As A Whole

There were no spelling or grammatical errors that I noticed.

This piece is unique for a number of reasons. For one, it's told entirely through dialog, either spoken or internal. It's often difficult to tell a story in this fashion, but here you've provided enough details and description to allow me to visualize what's going on. It's written beautifully and I cannot think of a single thing to do differently. Great job.

My Rating - Five stars

Review #2:

Hi Tara! I'll be reviewing some of your work for the package you won in "SHERRI'S SIZZLING AUCTION CLOSED" .

Specific Lines
- "...in the leaves of the trees." then "...in the branches of the trees..." - These two lines are one sentence after the other. You may want to consider mixing it up (or spacing them out) a bit to avoid the repetition.

- "He never did his job at night-everyone warned him not too." - This sentence seems a little random or possibly out of place, but at the same time it caught my attention. Now I want to know why.

- "...that killed him and his entire infantry." - I don't think infantry is the word you want here. An infantry is like a cavalry. It's not a unit of soldiers but rather a type of soldier (in this case, on foot as opposed to on horseback). Given the rest of this sentence, I think the word that would fit better would be "squad" or "platoon." A squad usually consists of eight to sixteen soldiers, and a platoon is typically 25 to 60. So depending on how large of a blast you were thinking of, either of those words might be a stronger choice.

- "Sometimes, he felt like Peter Pan and she was Wendy with the stories that she told." - I like the reference here. Very nice!

Overall Thoughts


I like the overall plot, and the story that you told here was very interesting and unique. However, I noticed what seemed to be a bit of inconsistency that you may want to look into. Jack's gravestone reads that he died in 1944. You then have that Marie's life was exchanged for his, but her gravestone reads that she died in 1952. It seemed strange to me that their dates of death should be so many years apart, given the other details.

Something else you may want to consider is that you have the opportunity here for a serious twist. From the start of the story, we know that the Jack digging the grave is the same Jack on the tombstone, and we know that the ghost of Marie is Jack's wife. My suggestion is to change it up a little so that the reader doesn't catch on to this right away. The name on the tombstone could be John Riper (as Jack is often a nickname for John). And instead of telling us Jack's story as he leans against the headstone, just let Marie's ghost tell it when she appears. We'll catch on that there's something going on here by Jack's reactions to her tale. Then, when Jack looks down at Marie's tombstone, it can all come together for the reader in a giant "didn't see that coming" moment.

All that said, I would like to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with how you've told the story here. I personally am one for twist endings, so I couldn't help but see the potential for that here.


Your characters were very interesting and you give good descriptions of them through their interactions with one another. Very well done.

As A Whole

Overall, I saw no spelling or grammatical errors of any kind. The pace of the story was just right for its length. The ending was nice, but it felt like you robbed yourself of another great moment. At one point, Jack says that he cannot dig his own grave, since Marie dug it for him. But then your final line is that Jack is digging his own grave. I wasn't able to resolve the conflict between these two lines.

You have a great story here that has, in my opinion, the potential to be even better. I look forward to seeing what else your port has to offer.

My Rating - Four stars
November 10, 2009 at 11:58pm
November 10, 2009 at 11:58pm
This is an email I wrote to a friend who hurt me very recently, but I'm not sure if he realized it. I haven't decided yet if I'm sending the email...

I wanted to write you an email to tell you why I've been trying to reach you. You probably think you know why, but I can guarantee with near-absolute certainty that you do not. The reason is because I found out in mid-October that I have to have spinal fusion surgery. If you don't know what that is, let your imagination sound it out and I think you'll hit on the general idea. The scoliosis in my spine has gotten so bad that they have to open up by back, drill screws into nearly all of my thoracic vertebrae, insert titanium rods, and overlay it with grafts from cadaver bones to straighten it out and keep it from continuing to progress for the rest of my life. I'll spend four days in the hospital and six weeks recovering before I can even go back to work to sit at a desk.

Can you guess why I was trying to get in touch with you about this?

Because it's scary as hell, and I thought that I would be able to get a hold of one of my best friends to talk and explain and vent. But I couldn't reach you. I tried on the 14th, when I'd had a day or two to internalize it. I tried on the 21st. I was ignored, but I waited, patiently, while I watched your status updates change but never got so much as a "hey, can I talk to you later." Then I saw your update -- shunning the world. I don't know why. Something about McCain I was led to understand. Or the fact that it's autumn. I can't pretend to know what's going on with you when you decide you don't want to share. So I waited. I tried again yesterday, and again today. Still nothing. You are the last of all of my friends to hear about my upcoming surgery, and it's because I couldn't get you to acknowledge that I wanted to talk to you. And you were the last person I expected would do that to me.

I know I never wrote and said, "Hey, I know you hate people right now, but I really need to talk to you so please stop shunning and write me back." But honestly, I shouldn't have to do that. I should be able to get a response when I send you a message instead of being ignored for going on a month now. For all the times that I've been there for you -- that Dan and I have both been there for you -- it's hurt me more than I can manage to express that you would choose to ignore me when I needed you.

So I wanted to write you an email to explain how upset I am by all of this, and now I find that my words are falling short. All I can do is hope that next time you will think twice before you shut your friends out of your life. Because for all that we worry and care about you, sometimes what we're really looking for is for you to show that you worry and care about us too.
November 9, 2009 at 9:02pm
November 9, 2009 at 9:02pm
**I'm trying my hand at a contest that has a deadline of November 30th. I'm hoping I'll be able to get this done in time.**

Somewhere, through the darkness, a man stood amid glowing tapers of carved and crafted beeswax, their mismatched scents entwining and encircling his person, though he paid it no mind. His focus was on the patterns—the circles and runes carved, elaborately, painstakingly carved into the stone floor on which he was standing. He knew the army would soon be coming. It would not be long at all before the king and his advisors worked out exactly where he was hiding. They'd be coming to kill him, the man knew. The thought made him smile. It would be glorious. After all, true genius borders on artistry, and like all great artists, Philip wanted an audience for his brilliance. And a grand audience he would have. He checked inscriptions over once, twice, once more before stepping within the swirling, runic grid. He closed his eyes.

Somewhere, through the darkness, a boy crouched behind a door too poorly shut. One eye, wide with some intoxicating mix of awe and terror, watched through the space between door and jam. His ears twitched at the unfamiliar, yet altogether disturbing language coming from the man standing amongst the candles and runes. The darkness swirled, seethed, undulated. He closed his eyes.

The cleric walked through the darkened corridors of the keep not paying any particular attention to where he was going. He'd taken to wandering late at night when no one else stirred. It seemed to help ease his mind, especially of late. He found himself in the large hall that Master Atharn used for his private dining. It contained a large banquet table with far more place settings than would ever be needed on any given day, and there sat at the far end a large, throne-like chair, gilded and draped in porphyry. He rolled his eyes as he walked quietly down the length of the table. Brother Leto had seen much of vice in his time -- after all he was not as young as he once was -- but the blatant vanity, greed, and pride displayed by Philip Atharn had not yet ceased to amaze him. As he ran his hand along the intricate carvings on the chair's arm, he heard a small voice behind him. He could not be sure if it was the first or second time the boy had called his name, as he had been rather lost to his own thoughts. Leto turned and squinted through the darkness and past the beams of silvered moonlight that slanted into the space from the great hall's lofty windows. The shape his aging eyes made out through the scant light was that of a young man, no older than seventeen, with shaggy blond hair, and a frame far too thin for his height.

"Jashua... child, the hour! Isn't there some place you should be?" His voice was heavy with concern, and they both knew why.

The boy crossed the hall quickly, turning once to glance over his shoulder as though to ensure that no one was following him through the darkness. "Yes, there probably is," he said quietly. "But I thought you would want to know. It's... It's about the woman Master Atharn brought here yesterday."

"The guest." The added emphasis was not entirely necessary, for they both knew what was meant. "What about her?"

Jashua took a step closer to the brother, leaning closer and lower his voice conspiratorially. "Have you seen her yet?"

Leto wasn't sure what the boy was getting at. Was there something of significance regarding the young woman? Leto had been working hard to convince Atharn to see the error and sin of his ways, so far to no avail... a fact to which this latest captive was clearly a testament. "Not yet," he said, raising a gray eyebrow. "Why?"

The child took one more look around the darkened room before gesturing for Leto to follow him. "You should," he said. "She wants to meet you." The two of them, priest and servant, left the great hall and headed with no shortage of urgency to the room where the young woman was being kept. Jashua had access, Leto knew. The boy was always sent to wait upon Atharn's guests. He suspected it was likely because the child had served Atharn all his life and had never known anything beyond the immediate vicinity of the keep. Even if Jashua should somehow develop the nerve to speak up against his master, who would he tell? The gruff guards standing outside the door paid little attention to the servant, but rather turned their questioning gazes upon the brother. "She wished to speak with a priest," Jashua said as he set his hand upon the door's heavy iron latch. When the large men made no motion of acquiescence, the boy spoke up once more. "Should I tell Master Atharn that the lady's request has been denied?" After a brief glance to one another, the guards stepped aside to allow both men, the one very young and the other quite old, to enter.

By the gods graces, Leto thought to himself as he followed Jashua into the room. This woman must indeed be something special to have the child up in arms, such as he is. As the heavy door swung silently on its hinges, the priest craned his neck to see past the servant's narrow shoulders. The room itself was ornately decorated, with a large stone fireplace against one wall, an over-sized four-post bed, and an open sitting area with a plush armchair and a matching sofa. A young woman sat upon the sofa. At the sound of the door opening, she lifted her face from where it had been buried in her hands.
November 3, 2009 at 8:20pm
November 3, 2009 at 8:20pm
Review #1

Overall Thoughts
I don't give out too many five star ratings, but this one deserved it! An expertly told story, beautifully crafted, with incredibly real characters presented in so few words. Honestly, aside from that one comment I had above, I don't think you should change a thing.

My Rating - Five stars

Review #2

Overall Thoughts
Since this is a collection of poems, I'm going to give you my thoughts on each one before summing things up.

Auto-bio poem
Clearly a personal piece. I like the repetition of the "who" at the beginning of many of the lines. In my opinion, one of the stronger poems in this collection

Where I am From
This is my favorite poem of the collection and, I feel, the strongest. I don't know if you need the little dividers between the stanzas -- maybe just a line break. The typos in this poem (see the specific lines above) were distracting, but I still felt that I got a strong sense of the speaker in this poem.

Lincoln High Marching Band
This poem didn't seem to flow as well as some of the others, though I'm not sure why. I liked the "BANG BOOM" interjected between lines so I don't think that's what did it. Also, not sure I understood the last stanza when the band "go low into the hole." Also, watch the subject/verb agreement in that last stanza.

Poetry is...
I love this poem because every sentence can begin with "Poetry is," EXCEPT the eighth line (Breaks the rules but not caught). I was really into the feel and rhythm of this poem until I hit that line, and then it just threw me off. Consider making this line fit the scheme of the others to avoid jarring the reader. Even though there is something to be said for the poem to break its own rules, my sense is that the poem will be stronger if it follows the form laid out at the beginning.

Silent Night
I have to say that I didn't care for this poem as much as some of the others. Maybe it's the novelist in me, but I felt that you could have turned this into a brilliant piece of flash fiction. As a poem though, I found myself scratching my head throughout.

I like this one. It's straightforward yet entirely true. Honestly written. My only comment here is that I think you could have compared the boiling spinach to grubs earlier in the poem and perhaps added one or two further comparisons.

Another truthful and straightforward little poem. Again, I don't know how I feel about the little divider line. Also, I didn't get much emotion out of this poem. It felt more like an accurate (and beautiful) description, but I didn't get anything about how the speaker feels about the butterflies.

Fiction for You
I like this poem (being more of a fiction writer myself!) and I like how you flow through the different things that are attractive about fiction. I'm not sure I understand why some of the text is in red, but I didn't find it too distracting from the poem itself. Overall, nicely written.

As a collection, I enjoyed reading these and think you have some heartfelt pieces in here. You need to work a bit on spelling and grammar (a quick run through spellcheck will catch most of the issues), but otherwise I thought everything was well written. I'll also admit that poetry is often not my strong suit, especially when it's more free-form, so I tried to do my best here. As with any review, these are solely my opinions and should be taken with a grain of salt or less. Let me know if you polish up the spelling and I'll be happy to come by and take another look. :)

My Rating - three and a half stars
November 2, 2009 at 4:35pm
November 2, 2009 at 4:35pm
It is time for a reinvention. Neither the dragon, nor the believer, is dying. She's just... evolving.

There are events that can happen in your life that make you realize you are not the same person you once were. Somewhere along the way something happened, and you changed. Hopefully for the better. I don't know when that moment was for me, but I do know that I just recently realized that it had actually happened. Maybe it was hitting the two year mark at my job -- the longest I've ever worked in one place (since I've been out of college only three years), or maybe it was getting married and buying a house in the 'burbs with my husband. I'm not sure, but I do know that when I joined WDC six (yes, SIX!) years ago, I was Dragon Believer: a teenager with a crush on fantasy, a thing for dragons, and a propensity for gaming and the imagination. The teenaged me has grown up, but she hasn't lost her flare for the imaginative. I still love dragons, and I still love gaming. But I've grown so much in six years, and my writing has grown so much, that I don't think I'm still Dragon Believer. I think it's time for a new pen name and a new identity -- one that more closely represents who I am now, six years later.

One of my favorite fantasy novels of all time is The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold. One of the characters from that novel stood out to me and earned my devotion and admiration. His name is Foix (pronounced "foy") dy Gura, and together with his brother, Ferda, he is a dedicated soldier to the goddess known as the Daughter. In his appearances throughout Chalion and its sequel Paladin of Souls, Foix earned a special place in my heart.

Another fantastic novel is Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay. The story centers around three main characters; Jehane bet Ishak, Ammar ibn Khairan, and Rodrigo Belmonte; however it is the wife of Rodrigo that captured my undying attention. The wife of the captain of the cavalry, Miranda Belmonte had to stand up for herself and for her two sons. She is a strong-willed woman who can hold her own in the man's world of Al-Rassan. She is the head of her household and does not let anyone push her around. Yet she is a kind and loving mother and wife, and it is clear through Kay's gorgeous writing how truly remarkable and complex of a woman she is.

In honor of these, my two favorite characters, I had adopted the pen name Miranda Foix a while back while signing up for a blog. It seemed an apt tribute to the characters and their ingenious authors, while also brining to the fore the attributes that I hope I embody myself.

It's time this persona made its appearance here. I am Miranda Foix.

So what does this mean for my presence on WDC? Very little. For one, you can call me Miranda now, which I have a feeling is slightly easier and less distracting than saying Dragon Believer, or DB. Secondly, it'll give me the freedom to change and expand my portfolio. All the old fantasy writing will stay, and the new fantasy will be coming in too, but I'll also be trying my hand at some other genres and item types. I'm stretching out my imagination, throwing ideas onto the wall, and seeing what sticks.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my little experiment. Sometimes change is necessary to foster growth and new ideas. So this is me, Miranda, hoping it works.
November 1, 2009 at 6:48pm
November 1, 2009 at 6:48pm
Today I did a couple of reviews. I know I should be working on my NaNo novel some more, but the motivation just hasn't been there yet today.

Review #1:

Specific Lines
- "It was not my place to question why we were being punished, just to know that we were." - This is an excellent line. I think this sums up the general puritan ideology of that time frame perfectly. This really sets the scene for your story.

- "Some of the townspeople had opposed to the trials..." - I think this should be "were opposed to the trials" or "had opposed the trials."

Overall Thoughts
What an excellent story! I love the use of the quotes to break up the paragraphs. The fact that all of the characters used, including the narrator, were actual historical figures from the Salem witch trials is impressive and fascinating. The only comment I have is that I think William Hobbs' wife and daughter were also accused of witchcraft, so it might have been interesting to see the family dynamic in the face of such accusations.

Overall a very well-written story with enough historical accuracy to be truly haunting.
My rating: four and a half stars.

Review #2:

Specific Lines
- "...happily noticed our window opened a crack." - This sort of makes it sound like the window opened as you were looking at it. Perhaps, "...our window was open a crack."

- "...the window came down on me and I'm stuck!" - Watch out for the changing tense. Consider changing to "... and I was stuck!"

- "The giggles start,and we both need to pee." - Oh wow, I can see where this is going! LoL!

- "...my sister and I out of our dilemma." - Technically, this should be "my sister an me..." because if your sister weren't there, the sentence would be that your father "helps me out of my dilemma."

- "It was embarrassing, one of too many moments, I wish nevered happened., but still laugh over because I couldn't laugh then." - Looks like this sentence may have been edited a couple of times, as there's some rogue punctuation. I would suggest going over this last sentence again for clarity. I would suggest, "It was embarrassing! One of too many moments I wish never had happened, but I still laugh over it even now." I would delete the part about not being able to laugh then, because earlier in the tale, you describe giggling. :)

Overall Thoughts

Thank you for being brave enough to share such an embarrassing moment with the world! I got a good laugh out of the story, and could picture the whole thing in my mind. You do a great job of capturing the embarrassment of the whole situation, but the technical aspects of the story are lacking. Watch out for switching your verb tenses! You switch from past to present about halfway through. Also, be careful not to get too comma happy. I have this problem too, but often times you can get away without using a comma. Sometimes it's even better to break the sentence down into more than one. I suggest taking another look through your third and fourth paragraphs, specifically. Overall, a hysterical tale that needs a little technical polishing. Thank you so much for sharing this!
My rating: three stars.

Review #3:

Overall Thoughts

Clearly a heartfelt poem. You are already aware of the weaknesses of the poem (lack of rhythm/flow), but what the poem lacks in technical merits it makes up for in emotion. It takes a lot of courage to throw words down onto the page when emotions are running high, and it takes even more courage to then turn around and share those words with the world in their raw form. The poem could benefit from some edits for technical style, as you mention in your notes at the end of the poem itself. But you get the images and emotions across regardless, and that makes for a truly inspiring poem.
My rating: four stars.

A little dark, but that's sort of how I am

October 30, 2009 at 4:26pm
October 30, 2009 at 4:26pm
I've been a long time gone from this group, and I'll be honest -- I've missed it. I haven't written nearly as much as I would like in the recent months, what with buying a house and moving and all, but I think now is a good time to throw myself back into the saddle.

This is the only little blurb I've written today, but it's better than nothing, so I'll throw it in:

The bird nods. "Excellent. Just repeat after me: 'Mother Taerna, I accept your gift and will that it be bound to my body. Mother Taerna, I accept your boon and will that it be bound to my mind. Mother Taerna, I accept your blessing and will that it be bound to my soul.'"

As Lucien finishes the recitation, there is a flash of light and he feels a push against his chest. When the light fades, the bird is gone and there is a very warm, tingling sensation in his chest. Pulling at the collar of his tunic and looking down, Lucien sees a marking -- a rough, stylized outline -- of a raven, wings spread over his heart.

The voice of Skepsy echoes in his head, "Ok. That... was weird. The Mother, in all her infinite Glory and Wisdom, did not warn me about that."

Lucien now feels a connection to the bird, as he does with the beast in its cage within him, as though Skepsy is just one more aspect of his being -- a part of his soul that he didn't realize he'd been missing.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, my main project currently is still the story that my husband and I are writing together (which is why there are lots of bits and pieces here that are out of order and make no sense. He writes everything pertaining to one specific character (in this case, Lucien), and I write everything else, including all additional characters and plot points. We talk things out ahead of time so that we can make sure the story is heading where we both want it to, but sometimes, since the world it exists in is kind of my baby, I still like to surprise him by throwing him a curve ball.

Also, it's been far too long since I've done and good, old-fashioned reviewing:

1.) A very nice story with an excellent ending. Interesting premise and well-written. My only comment is that you seem to have a tendency toward a particular cadence in your writing. There are a number of instances where you will use the formula, "Someone did something, description." For example:
"The stalls snaked their way down the esplanade, only a low stone wall separating them from the beach below." or " I turned back to the bottle, smoothing the paper label down with my thumb." or "I held out the bottle, wishing, not for the first time, that I had a few more inches of arm." etc. It's a good sentence structure (I use it frequently myself), but just be careful not to overuse it. :)

Overall, an excellent story, especially for a contest!

2.) A beautifully written and thoroughly well-grounded essay. Your use of quotations from various sources, from the Bible to Jon Stewart, all serve to bring your thoughts together coherently and drive your point home. Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful essay and for sharing it with everyone.

A cute little hatchling dragon

June 28, 2008 at 10:09pm
June 28, 2008 at 10:09pm
The boy walked quickly through the halls, a tray of bread, fruit, and tea held in his hands. To be fair though, he was not so much a boy as a young man. It was the youthfulness of his face and his large, round eyes that always made him look younger than his seventeen years. He moved through the halls of the keep easily, knowing every turn and loose stone without a thought. After all, he had spent his whole life (as much of it as one can remember, anyway) in service to his lord. Today, however, was an unusual day. Today, this very morning, there was a guest in his master's keep.

A guest who had arrived in the dead of night and was being held under lock and key...

The boy would never know why he was chosen to tend to the master's guest. The question, as well as several possible answers, crossed his mind for the first time as he nodded to the guards stationed on either side of the door. Perhaps his master thought him the least likely to speak up, for he was known for saying very little on most occasions. Or perhaps he simply though him the most naïve, and therefore the most compliant.

As one of the guards moved to open the door, the servant boy numbly balanced the tray on one hand while running the other through his ruddy brown hair. It was a shaggy mop that hung to just past his ears and fell into his eyes more often than not. The eyes, when they were visible beneath the mass of unruly hair, were of a dull, unremarkable brown. With hair thus temporarily tamed and eyes fixed straight ahead, the door slid open and the guards gestured him into the room.

He didn't know what he had been expecting, but it certainly was not what was on the other side of the heavy wooden door. The guest was seated on the bed, wearing a torn and muddied riding dress, and her face turned toward the window which was closed, latched, and locked. She looked to him just as he cast his eyes to the floor. Though his face showed no signs of it, his heart skipped a beat. She was young, she was beautiful, and she was familiar.

But no, it couldn't be who he thought it was, could it? Certainly the master would not—could not—have... The boy glanced up. She was staring at him. "Uh..." Dark eyes darted back to the tray in his hands. "Food, my lady." He set the silver tray on the small table by the door. He started to turn to leave, but the meek voice from the bed stopped him.

"Thank you, young man."

"Jashua." He turned back to her and hazarded a little smile, wanting to reassure her in any way he could; to let her know that he wasn't like him. He wouldn't hurt her.

The woman nodded and an uncertain, if grateful, smile came to her lips. "Thank you, Jashua," she said softly. "My name is Katarina."

By Ainam's glory... He'd been hoping he was wrong.

A little dark, but still beautiful in my eyes.

June 28, 2008 at 10:07pm
June 28, 2008 at 10:07pm
I don't know exactly what brought this rant from my mind to my virtual paper... Oh wait, yes I do.

I hate griefers. Those annoying little shits who live only to be a pain in the collective ass of society... I'm getting ahead of myself. Anyway, read on if you so desire. I hope to have more to follow at some point, when I have citations and more than just the addled ramblings of my mind when I'm pissed off and tired.

* * * * *

With as long as I've been on the internet (I think that's about ten years now, possibly twelve), I do not think I will ever understand griefers.

I understand the concept well enough. I think we all do-- even those of us who have never taken the time to look up the definition. The definition is inherent in the name and in the feelings it invokes when we hear it.


A person who causes other people grief for their own enjoyment. (for more details on definition and usage, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griefer)

This term is generally applied to MMORPG's (massively multiplayer online role playing games) like World of Warcraft and EVE Online, but I have found in my decade+ online that these people exist everywhere. For the MMO folks, they are the corpse-campers, the ninja-looters, the gankers, and the chat trollers. For the rest of the internet, they are in chat rooms starting fights, they are on product comment pages leaving useless reviews, and they are in WDC giving rating of 1 *Star* without any comments or starting drama within groups. They poke and prod and harass, all with the intention of pissing you off and making your online/gameplay experience less enjoyable. By definition that is their sole purpose for visiting these games and these sites: to make other people miserable.

The part that I don't understand (and likely never will) is why they enjoy making people miserable. I know the anonymity of the internet allows for that sort of 'no-consequences' feeling that has been known to happen with rioters. But in a game, or a chat room, when almost everyone is there to have a good time, why is it that these Griefers can find no other way to do that than to harass people?

I don't get it, and I likely never will.

(I plan to add citations to this for when I post it on my blog, but here it is in its basic format for now.)

A pretty sig with a quote from one of my favorite TV shows ever.

June 24, 2008 at 2:42pm
June 24, 2008 at 2:42pm
A few more bits and pieces from my online story-telling endeavors. Out of order.

* * * * *

Hawk popped a couple of the roasted nuts into his mouth and smiled. "What are ya talkin' about? We are bein' productive."

The two men continued on their patrol for about another hour or so without further incident. Hawk made casual conversation along the way, making general observations about the state of Taernfane, or about the army, or just about life. Most of his statements left an open space for Lucien to interject, though nothing of what he said required it.

After a time, the soldiers find their patrol taking them past one particular alley on the outskirts of the market...

* * * * *

Colin had made his way from his brush with the Taernfane military somewhat shaken. He hadn't expected the magical encounter, and he certainly hadn't expected that one soldier and her to have a history.

After the goosepimples on the back of his neck had gone away, Col found himself a bit of breakfast and was heading back toward his usual haunt via the alley behind the fruit vendor when he was struck hard from behind.

The blow sent him stumbling forward and, as he tried to regain his balance, he was tripped up and sent sprawling onto the cobblestones. "Vire's hells!" he cursed, rolling onto his back as quickly as possible. "What'd'ya think yer--" But the sight that greeted him silenced Col's indignant questioning.

A man (he guessed), very tall from his position flat on the ground, stared down at him, a finely crafted blade held in his left hand. The hood obscured his eyes and a dirt-smeared cloth covered everything below them. The figure dropped to a knee beside his mark and pressed the dagger against his cheek. "Mind yourself, street ear," the muffled voice came low and deep from beneath the mask. "You will do well to stay out of matters that do not concern you." The blade pressed against his face. Not enough to draw blood, but enough to give the impression that it could without much effort on the part of the wielder.

And like that the figure was up again and moving away from him, further down the alley, away from the market and the two soldiers rounding the corner.

[Private to Lucien: Basically Lucien and Hawk see Col, stunned, on the ground and a figure just standing up from over him. The figure is walking away from them.]

* * * * *

Illiandra finds herself far away from this scene, on the opposite side of the market. She has not seen Antimony yet today, and no one has seemed to be in need of her services.

After a time, she does spot a little boy stealing a loaf of bread from an unsuspecting merchant. The boy appears no older than ten, his clothes are dirty and frayed at the edges, and he moves quickly to hide the small loaf beneath his shirt as he slinks away.

He looks like he's done this before.

A dragon gifted to me by a dear friend

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