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Review of Forever  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A poem about love.

What I liked most
The poem was presented well, in terms of color and structure and format.

My general suggestions
This poem reflected a feeling of great emotion, but seemed to lack a certain depth. I kept waiting for the poem to say something more, and it really felt like you took sixty three words to say something that would be better expressed in three: "I love you". While a poem is not journalism, it is notable that there is no who, what, where, why or how in this poem.

Technical issues
Very clean. Good job.

Conclusion
A poem about love and deep emotion that doesn't really show it, just repeats it over and over. I think with just a bit of work, you could add more depth and purpose to the emotion.


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Review of The Boy Who Slept  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
I thought this was very well written and compelling. There are a few spots where I think you could clean it up slightly, but overall an excellent bit of writing. I have made a number of specific suggestions, not because I didn't like the piece, but because I liked it enough to want to make it as strong as possible.

What I liked most
I liked the whole tone and flow of the piece, and how the boy gradually comes to prefer his dream world, for good reasons.

My general suggestions
In the section which starts, "Whenever he walked the waking world," there are a couple of rough spots. You have "All the other children never invited him to play." which sounds quite awkward. I think the best fix would be to remove the first word, leaving "The other children never invited him to play." because the "All" and "never" don't go together well.

Somewhat less awkward, but still not idea, you have
"Neither would they cease their taunts and cruel jokes
Upon the innocent, hopeful child.
"

The word "Upon" feels wrong here. I tried out a few alternative ways to write this, and I'd probably change the word "Upon" to "Tormenting" as both more active and more correct with the nouns which preceed it, but you may well have a better idea of how to change it, if you choose to do so.

Later on, you have "You see, he found her one day", and I'd suggest losing the first two words. I tend to add things like that myself, but they really don't add anything, and detract from the flow to some degree.

You have "He kept her hidden somewhere in his tiny room, and the word "somewhere" weakens the line a bit. I'd recommend either removing it or adding a more specific spot.

You have "Keeping the bad dreams that came in the dark away." and I'd recommend moving the word "away" closer to the verb, as in "Keeping away the bad dreams that came in the dark."

Conclusion
Very moving and beautiful writing. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
I find it somewhat hard to review this sort of poem, as the value is mostly in the message, not the writing. While the message is great, the writing is too effusive for my taste.

What I liked most
My favorite two lines are:

You define the yellow of Sun; you're the blue Dog Star.
You are radiance captured in stone, cut to a gem.


These are very poetic and abstract.

My general suggestions
My least favorite line is:

But you are worthy of more.

which is just kind of flat and boring and doesn't match the abstract nature of the earlier part, but also doesn't use the gem analogy in a constructive way.

In general, I think the connection between the Topaz and Italy is a little tenuous. In this short a poem, it is just confusing to mix the two metaphors up this way.

Conclusion
I think this was very sweet in terms of sentiment, but could use some work in terms of writing.


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
An entertaining poem about being young, unemployed and eager for a mate.

What I liked most
I like the jazzy rhythm and the clever patter, especially lines like:

You just have to learn some important restraint;
When you can’t, you can’t, and when you ain’t, you ain’t!


I haven't be young, unemployed and single for a long, long time (celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary this year), so I am not so sure whether the advice is good, but the poem is fun.

My general suggestions
None to give. While the meter isn't exact, it tends to go along with the slightly flighty feel of the poem.

Technical issues
None that I saw. Very clean.

Conclusion
This was fun, and I am glad to have a chance to review one of your poems for once, as you have reveiewed four of mine over time, and I only have reviewed one of yours before. Best of luck, and keep writing!


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A wonderful poem about love between a skunk and porcupine.

What I liked most
I liked the entertaining word play, with my favorite line being "Was this love or something in the air?" although a close second is the first two lines of the last stanza.

My general suggestions
Not sure what to suggest, as this is quite good as it is.

Technical issues
I see why you have it, but I'd still probably remove the comma in the last line. It feels wrong, even though it seems to be there to communicate a pause. Perhaps you could use an ellipsis instead.

Conclusion
This was fun and well written. You have a knack. I'll be back for more, I am sure.


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A fun and whimsical poem about child memories and magic.

What I liked most
I like the return to childhood memories, especially the stanza ending:

The words find the lost music, as I begin
to recapture the windsong from my youth.


In general, the whimsical tone and flow of the poem are very good.

My general suggestions
The meter and rhythm of the poem start well, but get choppier. While it is not required, or always desirable, to maintain a strict meter, it is hard to read certain stanzas when the rhythm is to random. An example of this is the following stanza:

From verdant shadows, a Norwegian pine
stands tall, its branches like well-muscled arms.
It offers a promise, against the skyline,
of climbing and swings among its many charms.


The first two lines have a nice rhythm going (and happen to have ten syllables), but the latter two sound too long (and happen to have eleven syllables) and you feel slightly breathless trying to get to the end. In particular, the last line would be better as if "climbing and swings" sounded equal, as in "climbing and swinging", and if the end "among its many charms" were tightened into something shorter and more iambic.

The term "bracts" seems a little scientific for the purpose, and while I love the use of varying vocabulary, this is likely to send people to the dictionary, and still be a bit puzzled. I'd go with something more like "The cast-off leaves rustle under my feet." myself, although it is obviously your call.

Similarly, "You call that singing," was his breathless retort, which should probably have a question mark inside the quotes, also seems a bit off with the word "breathless", which doesn't seem to fit the snarky comment.

Conclusion
Overall, a very enjoyable poem, which could perhap do with a bit of tightening and honing. Good job!


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Review of The Outside Room  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
I enjoyed this story about a teenager getting a room of his own for the first time, but with unintended side effects.

What I liked most
I liked a few different things. I liked the way you described being poor as just something he grew up with - that part was well done. I also liked the descriptions of the trials of getting up in the morning, always a challenge for a teenage male, but particularly in these circumstances. Lastly, you did a good job of putting in good, vibrant descriptive action, such as the wonderful sentence starting "Frequently in the morning my mouth pierced the covers like a periscope...".

My general suggestions
The one general suggestion I would make is to reread the story slowly and see the places where you have a whole series of sentences which start "I tried..." and "First, I heaped..." and then "As I snuggled...". While this is a story about your experience (or at least a first person story), the sequence of I this and I that can tend to get a bit repetitive, and could be expressed with a bit more variety.

Technical issues
I didn't see any which jumped out at me. Good job!

Conclusion
This was fun and well written. Write on!


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A lovely vision of retirement, expressed well using a Villanelle form.

What I liked most
I like the strong visual of the "clear, deep lake of gleaming sapphire" which ties together the poem with a sense of tranquility, but vibrant, lively tranquility.

My general suggestions
The line "With nets and poles and people I admire," doesn't feel as strong as the rest, perhaps because you are visualizing specific people who like to fish and I can only see that the word looks jammed in to rhyme, rather than really fit properly. I'm not sure quite what to suggest, but maybe something about "fishing attire" or that sort of thing.

Conclusion
Well written and inspiring. I hope my retirement is something like that as well, even though it is still quite a ways away.


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
Excellent and very funny poem of a Princess in Waiting.

What I liked most
I liked the whole poem, but especially the early part where the princess is failing the pain of sitting on the hard stones. Reminds me of the Princess and the Pea. Very good use of the form, by the way.

My general suggestions
None that I can think of.

Technical issues
I didn't do a strict count, but the use of the form was good, whether or not it was quite strictly followed.

Conclusion
Very entertaining. I always enjoy your work, and will be sure to read more. Write on!


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Review of A MANLY THING?  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
Very entertaing and funny poem about a contest between a man and a woman.

What I liked most
I like the dialogue and action, although at the end I'd say she was cheating more than being clever.

My general suggestions
None, except that the rhythm gets pretty choppy in the middle, especially in the stanza starting Tween tipsied pair I’d been viewin',. No great harm, but it could possibly be tightened up a bit.

Technical issues
The punctuation is a bit off at time, but the gumor more than makes up for it.

Conclusion
A great deal of fun. Write on!


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Review of Revenge  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
Very entertaining, if slightly nasty, poem about an encounter with an ex-wife.

What I liked most
I liked the humor at the end, if as I hated myself for liking it.

My general suggestions
None that I can think of, except that the rhythm could be a bit more even. The humor was well worth it.

Technical issues
Nothing serious, although slight punctuation issues.

Conclusion
This was funny and sharp. Write on!


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Review of Destiny  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
An interesting vampire story with a twist, written for the Invalid Item  contest.

What I liked most
The character of Destiny, the young girl, is well described, and I particularly like what she thinks to herself as she leaves school. Very clever.

My general suggestions
I think this would be even better expanded a bit more. There is plenty of opportunity for suspense that is passed up.

Technical issues
I didn't see any issues. Good job.

Conclusion
This was entertaining and different. Good job on the prompt, and good luck in the contest.


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
Well written and creep story for a "short short" story contest (150 words max).

What I liked most
I liked the last line, which carried off the creepy tone very well.

My general suggestions
I have read this a couple of times over, and it feels as if you should add just a touch more motive. While you allude to "the last time", you spend much more time on stylistic details, which are very well done, but which could be pared down slightly to give a slightly more complete story about "the last time". At first, I read this more like a vampire story, partly due to the stylistic excess, partly due to the title and description.

Technical issues
None that I can see. Well done.

Conclusion
This was well written and effective. With a bit more tweaking, I think it could be excellent.


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Review of Life's Plan  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
Very effective "short short" story (max 150 words per contest rules).

What I liked most
I liked the lead up and resolution, which was well handled. The emotional intensity was surprisingly high for such a short piece. The last line is well done and shows without telling very effectively.

My general suggestions
Not much to suggest, although in re-reading, it struck me that "his mates" would more likely be back at the war, although I guess they could be mates from back home.

Technical issues
Note that I saw. Good job!

Conclusion
This was a well done effort. I wish you well in the contest.


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Review of Bid for Freedom  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
Very clever and surprising story for a "short short" story contest, max 150 words.

What I liked most
I liked the twist, which was well sprung.

My general suggestions
The last word seemed wrong. Shouldn't it be singular rather than plural? (Not wanting to give anything away)

Technical issues
None that I saw. Good job.

Conclusion
Clever and entertaining, if a bit un-PC. I very much enjoyed this.


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
This was a well done "experience" story, writing about an encounter with the unknown in an unexpected place.

What I liked most
I very much liked the way you communicated your sense of trepidation facing... what you were facing, as well as your feelings after you discovered what you were facing.

My general suggestions
None, really. Well done!

Technical issues
I didn't see any issues, and thought you did a particularly good job with the italics, not over-used, but very effective.

Conclusion
This was an excellent entry in the contest. Best of luck!


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Review of A BAD OMEN  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
Well written and packs a lot in a very short story.

What I liked most
I like that you don't try to explain too much (tough in 150 words anyway, I know), but leave the reader wondering how Baby Bear will avenge them, as seems inevitable.

My suggestions
You use the phrase "strange smiles" twice in subsequent sentences. Trying mixing it up a bit, as it sounds a bet repetitive this way.

Conclusion
You did a good job with this challenge, and left this reader wanting to know more.


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Review of City Streets  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A good story overall, although I think it suffers from a bit too much foreshadowing.

What I liked most
I liked the way you described how a person can go from a perfectly satisfactory position to a less and less tenable position with each step making sense. The idea of "I wish I could have seen it coming" with the reality that nobody really could is well done.

My general suggestions
It is difficult when the POV is looking backwards to make sure that narrator doesn't foreshadow too much, but rather describes things as they felt back then. The most specific example of this is "Regardless, she wasn’t too tired to notice the way Mark watched her with those fathomless eyes." and other references to how hard it was to know what Mark was thinking. These tended to make it harder to believe that she would fall in love with him. I think you should find a way that the difficulty knowing what he is thinking starts as a positive, and is ohnly later revealed as a negative. The general impression of Mark is negative from very early on, so the suspense of what is to happen is missing.

Technical issues
I didn't see any obvious issues. Good job!

Conclusion
I liked the story, but felt it could be much stronger with better suspense and surprise about the characters.


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
An interesting article on the writing process and how it can reveal our inner ego - to our writing's benefit.

What I liked most
I very much liked the paragraph ending "When it comes to writing, the fear is that we may leave some permanent evidence of our lies.", which is eloquently put, and with which I fully agree.

My general suggestions
The one area that is not addressed is the juntion between skill and internal honesty. Your final sentence is probably quite true, but in the absence of any nod to technique or skill, it could also be construed as indicating that all that matters in writing is internal honesty, which could be an invitation to purge poems and the sort.

Technical issues
You have "we say something a matter of factly" and it seems you have either aan added word or a word or two out of place. I am not entirely sure what was intended, but perhaps it would be better as "we say something matter-of-factly" or "we say something as a matter of fact".

Conclusion
I know this is an old piece of writing of yours, but I enjoyed it. Write on!


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Review of One Too Many...  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A very entertaining poem about a field trip with unexpected results.

What I liked most
I like your rhyming sense and sense of humor. I especially like

I gather them in one place and now comes all the fun.
I count each smiling face… Hmmm. I now have thirty-one.


but the whole tone is clever and fun.

Technical issues
I didn't see any issues, except for an inconsistent meter, but it didn't detract from the poem much.

Conclusion
This was very entertaining, and I look forward to browsing through your port some more. It is always fun to find a poet who writes comfortably in rhyme. Good work, and write on!


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Review of A YELLOWED LETTER  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (3.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
This is a great concept that hasn't quite made it into a great poem.

What I liked most
I like the idea of the letter being found too late, and the husband wishing it had been brought to his attention earlier. I also very much like the imagery in the lines

As, without knowing sea depth,
On surface stays the foam.


which perfectly sum up how one can live on the surface of a relationship or life and not understand the depths, or even how deep they might be.

My general suggestions
While it is not always important to explain everything in a poem, and sometimes it is very effective to leave the reader to fill in a certain amount, this poem loses some of its punch because you don't really say what the wife said in the letter that he wishes he had known. For example"

Pity that I knew not how
You felt when you became
My wife and I did not care
About you, what a shame.


We, the readers, still don't know, and might appreciate a few clues. I assume from this she was not happy and did not feel the husband paid adequate attention, but that is more a wild guess than a reasonable assumption.

I'd strongly suggest revisiting the poem, as I think it has the makings of something special, but it just feels somewhat pale and inadequately drawn as is.

Conclusion
I enjoyed the premise, and hope you take the time at some point to better build on this premise. Let me know if you do. Write on!


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Review of THE ANNIVERSARY  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A poem of lost love.

What I liked most

My general suggestions
You have "Till the eternity", but one does not usually refer to "the eternity", so I think you should change this to "Until eternity" as there is no need to abbreviate "Until" and then add a word that is not needed.

You were the dream that I wove
But now it is shattered.


I like the imagery of the petals and memories scattered later in this verse, but it is usually better in a poem to keep your images and verbs matching, so the first two lines make less sense. If you wove something, it could become threadbare or tangled or snagged or something, but not "shattered", which implies something brittle and rigid. Alternatively, if you want to keep "shattered", it could be the dream you carved or something that denotes a brittle, hard item.

Since that day my wet eyes have
Not known colour or gleam.


Similarly, although not as bad, it is unclear why your "wet eyes" would not know "colour". You could have "dull eyes" or you could use words in the last line which showed either wetness or dryness, as the ideas would then strengthen each other.

Conclusion
This is a good poem that could be even better with a bit more consistency in your imagery. Write on!


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Review of Girls Night Out  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
A well written contest entry that describes a night out with "the girls", looking for love in all the wrong places, or at least one of them.

What I liked most
I thought you did an excellent job weaving in the titles without making the story sound forced.

My general suggestions
I was really curious to hear what Stacy thought "the rules of attraction" were, and was disappointed to find them skipped. (OK, that is not really a problem with the writing, but it was what I felt after reading this)

Technical issues
None that I saw. Good job!

Conclusion
This was fun. Congrats on the 4th place finish!


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Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
I stumbled upon your poem by accident, but I am glad I did.

What I liked most
I like the imagery and the tone, but my favorite lines are:

Does she know about the echoes
that empty hearts make?


My general suggestions
I like most of the phrasing and images, but the lines

Does she think of me
or am I another passing car.


kind of hit with a thud. Given the ethereal nature of the rest of the piece, wouldn't a more natural image be something more from nature? Obviously, this is just an impression from a single reader.

Conclusion
This was well done. I have enjoyed wandering around your port and will look a bit more when it isn't so dreadfully late.


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Review of Pain Pain Go Away  
Review by Ben Langhinrichs
Rated: E | (4.0)
This review is offered in the spirit of encouragement and assistance. I appreciate your sharing your work, and am simply sharing my opinion in return. I hope it can be of use.

Overall impression
An interesting discussion of the "funny bone", and how painful it has been for the author.

What I liked most
I think it is clever to start out drawing the reader in by talking about how everybody feels when they hit their "funny bone", and only then extending this to a discussion of the author's specific difficulties. I also think that keeping the story a bit lighter by focusing on the name makes it easier and more pleasant to read, which would not be true if it just felt like a long complaint.

My general suggestions
When you finish up by wanting to "get my hands on the person", I couldn't help but think that if you did, it would only hurt your hands. It make be appropriate to acknowledge that, and perhaps even make a joke out of it.

Technical issues
in the mean time -> Should be "meantime".

Conclusion
A good story. Write on!

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