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I try to imagine I've just taken a seat in the waiting room at a doctor's office and picked up a magazine to pass the time. Suddenly - what's this? - I stumble upon your little work of art. As a result of reading your story, either I will 1) I like it so much I MUST have it, so I stuff the magazine down the front of my shirt and hope the doctor isn't checking my heartbeat today, or 2) Become so nauseated at the ineptitude displayed by your chicken scratches that I will beg the doctor to consider me for an emergency euthanasia. Chances are it will be somewhere in the middle.
I'm good at...
I like to think I can recognize a good story when I see one. I can also recognize general structure errors, but it is important to realize that I 'ain't no stinkin' English teacher' either, so I probably won't catch everything. Besides, if it turns out what I'm reading is a real train wreck, it's likely I'll get frustrated with all the errors and shut the review down prematurely. I will try to be as constructively critical with your piece as I would wish for someone to be with mine. Okay?
Favorite Genres
Dark/Horror/Scary/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural/Humor (intentional or otherwise)/Drama/Ghost...
Least Favorite Genres
Anything that says you didn't do your due diligence before sending it to me is -- in my mind -- a "crummy genre." Nor do I wish to read your political rants -- as enlightening as they may be...
Favorite Item Types
Short Stories/Fiction
Least Favorite Item Types
Poetry! Unless you're convinced you have something that will sway me because it's A) Damned funny, or B) So sad I'll begin blubbering three verses into it. Otherwise, you'll probably cure my insomnia. Poetry ain't my strong suit, gang!
I will not review...
1) Your homework 2) Your kid's homework 3) Anything that suggests to me that you didn't even bother to use the spell check feature before sending it my way. In other words, if you sent me stuff because you are simply too lazy to correct the simple stuff yourself, then don't waste my time (or yours)! NOTE: ***Please keep it under 3k words; I want to have time to write my OWN stuff which can be ripped by some other reviewer - I deserve equal time, you know...***
Public Reviews
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Review of Chapter One  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello there, Winchester Jones . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. I react as I read; the same as a "normal" reader would. General comments will be offered at the end. Don't feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback... Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

Franco runs the long way through the garden, past the swimming pool and reenters the breakfast room through the open French doors. He returns to his place at the table and sits down, out of breath. He wants to laugh but doesn’t have the air. His plate of scrambled eggs and three pieces of crisp bacon remain in front of him just as he left it. Sweat slides down the sides of his face and down his back and his heart is thumping in his ears, and he can only smile. You made it; you made it, goddamn it! You made it! He tells himself this and tries to believe it. I find that putting internal dialogue in italics helps segregate story from thought, and eliminates the need for direction such as "He tells himself this."
Franco is, of course, today of all days, sitting in his usual chair, mid-table, his back to the arched entryway across from the marble floor and the white-carpeted staircase Silo Pol will soon descend. (This sentence is too long). It is pleasant in this room in the morning without his father. The Sunroom is what his mother calls it: a long glassed-in porch with high, black walnut beams on the ceiling. The beams are cool as f*** and must have taken years to carve. How he has never noticed them before seems impossible.
Eight French doors run the length of the room and are standing open behind translucent white curtains, each vaguely aflutter in the lazy morning breeze. Through the curtains he can see the swimming pool and the expanse of neatly cut lawn. He can see the mist rising out of the jungle beyond the lawn and beyond the 300-year-old ivy-covered stone wall the Spanish had built. Past the wall, and past the jungle and the cliffs, the Pacific Ocean shimmers with silver stars. Franco closes his eyes and pictures himself sailing through the silver stars with the blue ocean behind him, and ahead, nothing else but the ocean forever. He is about to be free. He will do it today. He will leave Colombia and he will be free of the horror that is his father. I think there is too much background before you get to this hook; your reader may have left by now. I suggest either moving "the horror that is his father" to an earlier spot in the story or weeding out some of the background clutter so you don't lose your reader. One last breakfast…
Silencio (who is this guy?) tells him, “Just act natural,” which is great advice. Stupendous advice! But Franco knows he has never acted “natural” around his father. Not once in eighteen years.
The third step from the bottom of the staircase creaks and Franco sits up straight. He taps his iPad to read about Silo Pol’s beloved New York Mets. The Mets are a safe subject. He sees that they played last night. And lost to the Dodgers. Six-two. (These last 2 sentences could have been connected with commas. The abruptness of periods doesn't add anything, IMO)
Now he hears his father speaking to the two supercharged, tail-thumping yellow Labs waiting for him in giddy expectation at the bottom of the staircase. His voice echoes off the marble floor and reverberates up Franco’s spine.
“One more breakfast, one more breakfast, one more breakfast,” he tells himself.
Now he hears his father calling to Rosita in the kitchen, in flowing musical Spanish that white toast and fruit would be magnificent. Then, “Doesn’t that sound magnifico? It does, doesn’t it? Huh? Huh? Yes, it does! Yes, it does!”
The sound of rubbery squawks on polished marble now join with the happy prancing sounds of clicking toenails, all coming straight for Franco alone in the Sunroom at the seat he always sits at, drinking coffee with cream and sugar as he always does, acting just as natural as anyone would ever be expected to act waiting for a father who is Silo Pol coming straight at him.
Franco can feel him standing behind him in the archway. Just standing there. Just staring at him. And he thinks, who does that? Who would just stand there?
“Come on, Mets! Jesus Christ!” Franco says. He considers pounding the table with his fist, and the preposterous idea makes him almost smile.
“Buenos dias, Franco," Silo Pol says. All previous enthusiasm is now gone from his voice.
“Oh!” Franco says. “Buenos dias.” He closes his iPad and tries to sit up straight and finds he is already sitting up straight. (Ha! A little humor always injects some life into a solemn encounter)
Silo Pol goes to the sideboard and pours coffee from the silver set. His jet-black hair is slightly wet and slicked back. There’s a tinge of silver-gray on the sides. He looks slim in his un-tucked white dress shirt. His sleeves are rolled up showing muscular, hairy forearms. His white cotton slacks are creased sharply. Upon seating himself at the head of the table, he sighs a familiar hum that clearly says, Here-We -Go-Again, and sets a cloth napkin on his lap with delicate care.
The usual silence follows.
“Mets lost last night,” Franco says, breaking the silence. He takes a small bite of cold bacon and feels himself being looked at. When he looks up, he does his best to hold his father’s eyes with his own. “Six to two,” he adds. His voice is solemn, befitting the news.
“The boat.” Silo Pol says. He spins his fingers around, meaning let’s hear it. His eyes are dark and steady. They offer no solace. No mercy. They don’t take prisoners.
“The buyer’s going to buy it,” Franco says, then thinks how lame that sounded. “The guy, Rule. He’s the buyer. I’m pretty sure he’s going to buy it.” Oh, boy…
“George should be here for the paperwork.”
“He is here!” Franco says too loudly, too quickly. He slows himself down. “He wrote up the contract and now has to notarize the signatures. Then we’re all done.” He sees his father staring at him. “They’ll be gone after lunch,” Franco says, then raises and lowers his shoulders.
Silo Pol is looking at him like he’s about to disagree with something, maybe everything Franco just said, and Franco looks at the ceiling beams. He thinks about asking about the carvings but tells himself not to ask. Not to speak. Wait. Just Wait. But if the silence lasts much longer, he knows himself well enough to know that he will speak. He’ll have to. He won’t be able to stand it much longer.
“Tell me the name of the buyer again,” Silo Pol says.
“Reuben Rule."
“R. U. L. E? (Use dashes, like "R-U-L-E". As written, it looks like an acronym.) What is that? Jewish?”
Franco says, “Maybe,” then shakes his head.
“You have him checked out like I asked?”
“Very carefully,” Franco says and takes another bite of bacon.
“Well, tell me, Franco, I think I would like to hear what you have so carefully uncovered.”
Franco chews the last of the bacon in his mouth and swallows it completely. “His name is Reuben Rule. Sixty years old. He’s retired. Divorced. Has a daughter living in San Francisco. I understand they don’t speak to each other. He made a lot of money in pencils.”
“His company manufactures them in the Philippines.” Or Thailand? Franco thinks now it might be Thailand but leaves it alone.
“That’s interesting. There’s money in pencils, you say?”
“I guess. He did all right.” Franco brings a strawberry to his mouth, bites into it, and holds the other half with his fingers.
“I want this man out of here, Franco—fast (Awkward. Try "Franco, and fast". Okay? You got that?”
Franco chews the strawberry more quickly and swallows it as soon as he can. He takes the last possible sip of coffee-dregs to speed up the process. Then, with his head tilted like a swimmer coming up for air, he says, “I got it!” and nods his head. “Absolutely.” (And why does Pops want Reubin Rule out?)
“Good. I’m taking a business trip. I’ll be back tomorrow late. I’ll probably be calling you, so be here.”
It is information Franco already has. “What time will you be back?” he asks. Then he thinks, Good God!
His father is now looking at him like he can’t quite make him out in the distance.
“Sorry. I meant… what time are you leaving? I meant leaving.” Franco sees that his father’s perplexed expression is not going anywhere soon. “Sorry,” he says again.
Silo Pol lets his stare last long enough to become painful, then says, “I’m leaving today about ten, and I will return tomorrow late in the evening. I’m not sure what the exact time my arrival home will be, but again, it will be fairly late. Is that okay?”
“Okay,” Franco says.
“You got it?”
“I got it, yes.”
“You’re sure?”
“Absolutely!” Franco says.
“And get rid of this Reubin Rule! He sounds like a cartoon character.”
“Got it.” Franco says and stands from the table. Rosita has come in with a plate of buttered white toast and a clear bowl of multi-colored fruit. Franco thinks he’s home free, but his father holds up his index finger as Rosita sets the food in front of him. Franco sits back down with that feeling of utter defeat he knows so well. You can never fool this f***ing guy. His heart is back thumping in his ears. He sees himself falling off his chair and lying under the breakfast table with his eyes frozen open. He sees his father staring down at his dead body, shaking his head. Fed up.
As Franco waits for the inevitable question. “Do you think I’m stupid?” Or maybe, “Did you really think you’d get away with it?” His father starts in on watermelon slices, and after two bites of that, and one of the cantaloupes, his eyes look up, find Franco, and swarm in like angry black bees.
“What?” he says.
“You went…,” Franco says, holding his finger in the air. “But okay. No. We’re all done.” He stands up again.
“Oh, yes,” Silo Pol says, and still chewing, holds his index finger in the air again.
Franco sits back down saying something so quietly and under his breath, even he can’t hear it.
“What? What was that?” Silo Pol is now staring at his son with all the paternal fondness of a man ready to snap open a switchblade. “I didn’t catch that…”
“Nothing,” Franco says.
“Nothing, sir.”
Again, Silo Pol lets silence last longer than necessary. Silo Pol, a man deathly afraid of whispers and secrets. A man who doesn’t like anyone standing behind him—ever (If you want to use dashes in an application such as this, put spaces between the dashes, as in "him -- ever." Otherwise, it appears him and ever are supposed to be connected for some reason). If you knew Franco’s father, you’d know never to stand behind him. And to not whisper.
Silo Pol had raised himself out of the streets, first on the West side of New York City, and later, the South side of Chicago. “A white boy with a funny accent. You don’t think I had to be strong? You don’t think I had to fight every day of my life?” These were words Franco seemed to hear daily.
“How many people have you got down there? On the boat.”
Franco feels his chin quivering. He puts his hands up to his face and rubs his eyes to hide his chin. “Three,” he says through his fingers. Both legs are bouncing now. He doesn’t know if he is talking too loudly or not loudly enough. He takes his hands away and sees he is being studied.
“There’s Rule, the buyer. Oh, the other two...there’s the yacht broker, Donna Torme, and their surveyor, Dick Webb, expensive and well recommended. The broker is ex-military, twenty-seven years old. Single. Lives in Panama City.”
There is more to say about the yacht broker; for one thing, the investigator’s report said she was trans. Franco doesn’t want to go into all that. When he sees his father is still waiting for more, he goes on, “I flew them in yesterday afternoon from Panama City. I told Mr. Rule it was a free ride if he buys the boat. He put ten thousand dollars down in escrow. I insisted on it. I wanted to see some genuine interest before I let him come here.” Franco looks to his father, thinking there might be a small nod of approval coming. There is not.
“They spent the night on the boat last night?”
“I have two men watching on the dock,” Franco says. “But yes, they slept on the boat. Right now, they’re getting ready for the test drive, or whatever you call it—the sea trial. Shouldn’t last more than a couple of hours and then Rule is going to wire the rest of the money to our Nassau account.”
“Who flew them in?”
“Martin (Who is this guy?) flew them in from Panama City. He has a pick-up today, the three Syrians out of Mexico. I was playing with the idea of him dropping the surveyor off first, but that’s a bad idea, so—”
Silo Pol uses his favorite double-barreled shotgun stare. “Are you out of your f***ing mind?”
Franco says, “Okay, I said I was playing with the idea. Relax!” Then couldn’t believe he just told Silo Pol to relax.
“Don’t tell me to relax. I don’t relax. You think I would be where I am if I—”
“Martin can pick up the girls tomorrow, okay? Take the surveyor today. Will that work? They can wait, right? The girls? Until tomorrow?”
“I advise you not to f*** that up, Franco.”
Franco nods, though his father doesn’t see it having gone back to his bowl of fruit. Again, Franco stands up and moves without hurry away from the table. He begins the hazardous ritual of navigating past two overweight dogs lying under the archway. There’s a fifty-fifty chance one of them will rise up as he’s being stepped over then yelp like it’s been trampled on, at which point, Silo Pol will come un-glued. Franco speaks to the dogs softly, “Easy…Easy.” Their eyebrows tighten as he stretches a leg over first one and then the other, and now he is past them both, and he is walking lightly, silently, victoriously, up the circular staircase to his bedroom. He shuts the door, sits on his bed, and lets out a breath of air he thinks he might have been holding since the day he was born. (I am puzzled by the lack of an explanation as to the relevance of the boat sale. If you want me to read chapter 2, I need more information clarified in chapter 1)

Initial Impression: A couple things jumped out. First of all, the lack of spacing between paragraphs is not a good look. It makes your work appear amateurish and daunting, which gives the reader a negative mindset about your story before one word is read. I know you said this was an earlier work and since you did space The Bus Driver, I'll attribute the lack of spacing to inexperience. But, if you want to do anything with this moving forward, add some distance between paragraphs. The other thing I noticed as soon as I started reading was that this was written in present tense, as opposed to past. I'm not a fan of present tense writing, and especially with this story, the narration feels rushed. That said, it is my own personal bias and some writers write almost exclusively in present tense, and do so successfully. However, I'm not sure it's a plus with your style of writing.

What Stood Out (Favorably): Your ability to tell a story still shines through, and that alone would have me curious for more information, but..

Characters: We know alot about Franco, we know alot abot his father. We know nothing about Silencio, George, or Martin. Sure, they probably are not integral to the story, but a simple internal comment about each would clear that up nicely. I feel like there is an imbalance in the information and the details of the information. Can we get an inkling as to what Silo Pol does for a living and why Franco is going to split?

Story: As I said, you paint a decent picture, but I think you need to reassess your balance of details for both background and characters.

Background: See above.

Dialog: Other than what I noted in-line, dialog was informative.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: Particularly with a novel, you don't want your reader asking too many questions as you go from one chapter to the next. I have enough that if they are not answered quickly in chapter two, I could see myself going back to reread parts of chapter one to see if I missed anything! Certainly, you want your reader to wonder what's going to happen in the next chapters, but don't leave him hanging with too many questions. I would try to clarify at least a few things for the reader before he proceeds to chapter 2.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do.

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source. And lastly, if I have succeeded in agitating you to the point of retaliation, I do apologize, but please make note of my address below, visit my port, and "let me have it."

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of The Bus Driver  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello there, Winchester Jones . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. I react as I read; the same as a "normal" reader would. General comments will be offered at the end. Don't feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback... Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

Why they called him Stinkbutt, he never found out. He meant to ask. He was going to ask, but he never did. And then one night on his way home on the bus, it was too late. Identical words ("on") close together. Not a big deal, but try to avoid

He had gone by many different names in his life. His real name is unknown, at least to the Devil’s Nightmare. They started calling him Stinkbutt his first day on the job, and the name stuck.

For twenty years, he had been a leg-breaker for Vito Tankette. He was known then as Danny Two-Sleeves and still today, mention the name Danny Two-Sleeves in any taproom in Koreatown, they let you into the backroom. In those days he demanded respect, and at six foot four and 320 pounds, he got plenty of it. You didn’t break legs for Vito Tankette and not command respect.

Those days are gone now nine months. Here, amid the bustling shadow-docks of San Pedro Harbor, the man drives a school bus. He stays to himself. He drinks alone, eats alone. Sleeps alone. He waits for a bullet to the back of his head. He had come west by Greyhound and took a job nobody else wanted.

His job now is to drive a bunch of delinquent street-hoods back and forth from school. The school report on Rocco was that he was the worst of the bunch. He was a punk-ass little kid who liked to swagger around showing off his switchblade. Danny Two-Sleeves got a kick out of him.

For most bus drivers, they might have been a lot to deal with five days a week. To Danny Two-Sleeves, they were a breath of fresh air. He was the seventh bus driver this year to drive the school bus, and it was only November. The other drivers had quit. The other drivers had run for the door. One sued the school board. Two called the police. Most didn’t last a week. They all tried hard. They said things like, “You boys sit down right this minute!” “Put that out!” “Don’t make me come back there!”

Danny never tells them to sit down or shut up or to stop smoking weed. He drives the bus, the Devil’s Nightmare blow spit wads at the back of his head.

Spit wads! Danny Two-Sleeves can deal with spit wads to the back of his head. It's the bullet he's waiting for that concerns him. Danny Two-Sleeves tries not to think about what’s coming. He knows what’s coming. New York’s coming. Chicago’s coming. St Louis is out there some place. He’s amazed he’s still alive, and he’s amazed at how much he enjoys driving this bus. The kids remind him of himself. When he was a boy, he thought he was a tough guy, even though deep down he knew he really wasn’t. He was just big. Then, over time, he became a tough guy for real and proved himself wrong.

That was then.

Now, with his sunglasses on, he secretly watches in the rearview mirror. He feels sorry for the little f***ers, and for himself as well. He sees himself in them. There are fifteen tough guys in the making back there jumping around on the seats, hanging their bare asses out the windows. Whistling at girls twice their age. The inside of the bus is covered in graffiti.

The kid named Rocco seemed to be the leader. He was the loudest and cockiest by far. He was a piece of work. A future tough guy bound for LA County in the not-too-distant future, and a three to one shot at doing a dime in San Quentin soon after. “You’ll come outta there a pork sausage, kid,” Danny wanted to warn Rocco, but never did. Danny Two-Sleeves thought he had time.

Today he watches Rocco in the rearview mirror. The kid’s coming halfway down the aisle, walking like a gorilla. He’s making gorilla grunts, and his arms hang down to the floor. “Who am I?” he yells.

“Stinkbutt!” the kids all say in joyous unison. Danny Two-Sleeves never says a word. He tries not to smile. He drives the bus and lets the little s***heads be little s***heads.

When things get out of control, knives drawn sort of thing, then he’s quick to stop the bus and take off his sunglasses. By glare alone, the bus quiets. They were young, this Devil’s Nightmare gang, but they were street. They knew true danger when they saw it. Stinkbutt’s eyes alone told them to sit their asses down and they did so quickly.

This was Danny Two-Sleeves’ life now. Pick up fifteen hungry kids at 3:30, drop them off in the projects across town just as it’s getting dark. This was on the other side of the canal, which in San Pedro is the other side of the tracks, which is the other side of the world from where streetlights work at night.

Most get off the bus at 118th. A rough area. But not as rough as this next stop, here at Hays Avenue where the Barkly twins live. They, the twins, went out the back doors this evening and nobody saw who came in from the front.

The Barkly boys held their noses, made farting noises, called out, "Stinkbutt” one last time, then jumped from the bus. He watches them run up the dark street until they turned left at the corner, and once again wonders why they call him that, when a bullet passes through his brain.

Someone from somewhere had finally shown up.

Initial Impression: I like your style. Some people have a great story idea, but end up failing to get the job done because they don't know how to communicate the story, because they have no "voice". You have a good writing "voice", and by that I mean you communicate with your reader easily and smoothly; your story progresses seamlessly. I sailed through your tale quickly, and never did I have to stop and reread something again for clarification.

What Stood Out (Favorably): I am most impressed by the fact that you had a simple premise: Known killer awaiting the inevitable (getting whacked). I knew he'd get popped at some point, so there were no surprises here, but you succeeded in getting me immersed in the antics of the punks on the bus that I was caught off-guard when he actually got whacked.

Characters: A wealth of information about the bus driver; but it never felt like an information dump. This is where your voice (your ability to write effectively) turns material -- that might be ho-hum from the hands of other writers -- but you present it in such a fashion that it leaves the reader asking for more. Well done.

Story: While this could easily be a chapter in a karger work; it is told interestingly enough that it's an engaging read unto itself. Again, well done.

Background: No issues here. I quickly envisioned the environment with the material supplied, and maintained a clear mental picture of the events as they happened.

Dialog: I tend to struggle with the "telling, not showing" and would suggest that perhaps increasing the dialog a bit would engage the reader even further. With that said, I'd be lying if I said that the lack of dialog in this story was an issue. I thought it was very well done as it stands.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: I like your writing style and it's hard to be very critical of something I like as much as I liked this. Consider larger works; find out what your limitations are and go from there!

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do.

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source. And lastly, if I have succeeded in agitating you to the point of retaliation, I do apologize, but please make note of my address below, visit my port, and "let me have it."

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: E | (2.5)
Hello there, . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. I react as I read; the same as any "unbiased" reader would. General comments will be offered at the end. Don't feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback...

Initial Impression: The very first paragraph tells me a lot about your writing style. You are enthralled with "over-telling" just about, well, everything! You add so many details that I am quite certain are not integral to the story, and I can safely suggest that you could write this story using half the words you actually used and not miss anything critical to the story's progression. And it was hard to miss that the first section of the story is apparently dedicated to background, while it appears the remainder is entirely dialog, with the exception of a few short blurbs which presumably answer some of the many questions the reader will surely have attempting to traverse the format you employ. Also, it seems that either you do in fact have a very sophisticated vocabulary, or you are merely addicted to using a thesaurus. Specifically, I'm talking about "commodious", "environs", and many more after the first paragraph. People don't read a story to see how many fancy words the writer knows, and using more than a few will not work in your favor. I'll end with pointing out that it's not wise to write down to your reader, which it appears you are doing. For example, your sentence finishes with "chandeliers encompassing 4-5 light bulbs for good lighting. I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that your reader already knows what the 4-5 bulbs are for. In the very next sentence you continue with "cupboards endowed with shelves for "keeping plates and spoons." Everyone knows what a cupboard is for. Telling them what they already know shall, if anything, only serve to send the reader elsewhere in search for a new story. I will also add that English is not your native language, and that is probably the root cause to many of my complaints here. Understand, however, that if you are writing in English, you will be measured against other English writers. With that in mind, you have plenty of work to do cleaning this up.

What Stood Out (Favorably): After reading it a couple of times, I don't think the story itself is bad -- but the presentation is not good. You are not a bad writer, either, but you need more practice structuring your story. As stated elsewhere, the dialog and background need to be woven together, and your punctuation cleaned up considerably, before you proceed any further with this. It won't happen overnight, but stay with it, and you'll have a nice story on your hands.

Characters: With the little background I read early on, there was not much to go on.

Story: Like I said, the story -- presented better -- has potential. But remember to draw your reader in with hints of what might happen weaved in. Your presentation is very black & white; the reader never becomes invested in what's happening.

Background: As stated above, much of the background is unnecessary and, as presented, does not add much to the story

Dialog: Again, very black and white, and at times very predictable as the story progressed.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: This is the classic example of telling as opposed to showing. Rather than segregating your background and dialog as you did, try to blend the background with the dialog. For example, include a facial reaction to one of the speaker's faces when he hears something he doesn't like, or the reaction of all when someone slams their fist on the table. Weaving it all together will keep your reader wanting more. I also suggest reading as many stories as you can in the genres you enjoy writing, and noting the differences between your story and the ones you've read. Keep at it, and eventually see what I mean.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do.

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source. And lastly, if I have succeeded in agitating you to the point of retaliation, I do apologize, but please make note of my address below, visit my port, and "let me have it."

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Hello there, WakeUpAndLive️~🚬🚭2024 . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. I react as I read; the same as a "normal" reader would. Don't feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback... Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

Prompt: You have received a bill in the mail and it was incorrect. There was a phone number to call so you give it a ring. The person who answers has a beautiful voice. After several minutes the issue is resolved, but you can't help wondering who this person is with such a beautiful voice so you take a leap and ask the person out. Surprisingly, the person says yes. What happens next?

500 words or less.

"What did you say? I didn't hear you just now, the line seems to be disturbed." Like this as a first line; a totally natural response.

He laughed his beautiful laugh. "I said yes, of course, why not, or did your hearing aid stop functioning?" Probably a tip-off that the person on the other phone realizes he's talking to someone older than he.

I felt a blush coming up at the other end. "I am not that old", I uttered, feeling both joy and stress at the same time. I had just asked this man out, what was I thinking?

"How old are you anyway", my voice sounded funny. These are two separate sentences. Try 'My voice sounded funny when I asked, "How old are you anyway?" Something to consider: When you write dialogue, followed by a reference to the manner in which the dialogue was spoken, sometimes the reader has to go back and read the line again to get the effect of the information supplied AFTER the dialogue was spoken. However, if you tell the reader how the upcoming dialogue is supposed to "sound" BEFORE he reads the dialogue, he will read it in the manner as intended. See what I'm saying? (Just a suggestion)

"Old enough to enjoy drinking a cup of coffee with a customer". His reply was. This is similar to my rant above. But as written you have two sentences, which isn't your intention. Here, 'His reply was, "Old enough to enjoy drinking a cup of coffee with a customer."' sounds much better (to me, anyway).

We exchanged cell numbers, set a date for the next morning and I hung up the phone. What on earth just had happened? I had asked out a total stranger with a beautiful voice. I must have been mad.

The next few hours I was busy changing cloths (clothes) and putting on some make up. Going natural or for the kill? I choose to look like myself and wiped off the lipstick. It was only a cup of coffee I told myself a hundred times, nothing to fuss about. But the adrenaline rose to dangerous levels. Here I got confused a bit, as the date was for the following morning, right? You would be choosing clothes -- not changing -- and the same holds true with the make-up, as that wouldn't be applied -- or not applied -- until the following morning (unless I missed something).

I woke up early that morning, after a night of wild and disturbing dreams. I couldn't help myself wondering what could be the outcome of my silly act. What if we hit it off, would I take him home with me to my house? I looked around in my one bedroom apartment and decided to a quick clean and clutter plan. My dog looked puzzled while I run (past tense, so use "ran") around with books, laundry and kitchen supplies. Within the hour I had transformed my flat into a cozy hide out. I even had time to buy some flowers and groceries for a lovely dinner for two. And what the hell, the steak was on special offer!

At exactly eleven I drove my car up to the shopping mall. The little coffee shop was at the end of the lane so I walked the last 500 yards. (Plural) I looked through the window, but the place was empty. I found a seat in the corner with my back to the door, sat down and waited. My hands were shaking, my feet were hot.

At 11.15 I was desperate. ("anxious" might be more appropriate here) What if he didn't show? What if, ...when the door of the coffee shop made a squeaking sound. Slowly I turned around, smiling.

"Hey, lady, can I buy you a cup of coffee?" His voice was as beautiful as I remembered.

And there he was: a kid in a wheelchair. He could not have been older than twenty five. My fifty five year old heart skipped a beat.

That night I learned the skills of a paraplegic. His hands were as phenomenal as his voice. Now there is an ending I never saw coming.

458 words

Initial Impression: I enjoyed reading this short story; you have a very intriguing first line which hooks the reader with or without the prompt shown. Only once did I have a little problem with the sequence of the story (with the clothes & makeup which I noted inline) but otherwise the flow and pacing was good.

What Stood Out (Favorably): You have a pleasant story-telling ability, which is hard for a writer who doesn't have that capability to acquire. In other words, you're an "easy" read. I had a creative writing instructor who subscribed to the KISS ("Keep It Simple Stupid") approach to writing and I agree with him. Nice job. Most of the fiction I write has some sort of twist at the end. I guess growing up with Serling & Hitchcock as TV favorites embedded the "twist at the end" in my brain. Your ending surprised me on a couple of levels. Nice!

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: All the suggestions I have have already been mentioned inline. No point in rehashing anything. Besides, they're all relatively minor.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. I like your style. And don't minimize that aspect; there are many writers who have the ideas, the vocabulary, and the desire, but not the ability to make their story a part of the reader. Like I said earlier, it's hard to teach, so hang onto it! Good luck in your writing endeavors, and I'm sure I'll be seeing more of your work here in the future.

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source.

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Peace at last  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hello there, Cleveron ! Indelible Ink here, with a review of your work as guest judge of "Invalid Item. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

1) Overall Impression: Interesting perspective of an exhausted soldier who has been fighting for some time and has reached a point where he begins to question the wisdom behind all he's doing.

2) Best Part(s): I liked the thoughts about killing the enemy, and how it impacts the relatives of enemy soldiers killed as well.

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help: A few minor things. In a sentence you state "on the mud"; where typically, you're "in" the mud. Also, the soldier fell down the hill. No explanation as to why no one (fellow soldiers) noticed. In another part, the soldier "wakes up in a cold sweat" but there was nothing prior to indicate he'd fallen asleep.

At the end, I wasn't sure if he'd found peace though death (I'm assuming that's what it was) but it's not clear to me, which is important.

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: I found it interesting, but there were a few bits which need clarification as mentioned above. You had thirty-some words left to add a little clarity; I think those words would come in handy...

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. After all: One item can produce a whole spectrum of comments; which certainly invites an array of opinions. Know what I'm saying? (That's okay, I'm not sure I do, either).

Regardless of whatever else you take away from this, keep on writing!

Indelible Ink

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of BANG!  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 13+ | (1.0)
Angus --

Houston, we have a problem. (You are Houston, I'm Major Tom). The problem being, I actually liked this story. The thing is, I didn't see the ending coming. And it was written well enough that I didn't have to re-read any part of it. I don't know if that is an indictment of you or me, old buddy (I use the term "old buddy" loosely because I'm 13 years older than you), but this is of good enough quality that I would submit something like this and expect a 4.0 or 4.5 from even the most scathing of reviewers.

Put another way, I'm seriously considering stealing this and entering it in a "serious" contest -- with expectations of winning. Well, okay, maybe "slipping into his slippers" was a bit over-the-top, but I've been known to write "while drinking his drink" so I can't come down too hard on that, either.

Tell you what...Next time you write a "bad" story that you feel shouldn't see the light of day, please send it my way. I could use the upgrade!

Thanks in advance!

Your pal in bad, darn awful writing,

Jeff/Major Tom

P.S. Good luck, I mean, BAD luck in the contest, right?!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello there, keikei-love critical reviews! . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. I react as I read; the same as a "normal" reader would. General comments will be offered at the end. Don't feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback... Note that with a work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

Kerateion, Antioch, 18 A.D.

At just twelve years of age, Zahara's kind of beauty would make a man sin. ("kind of beauty" doesn't really do her justice, IMO. Maybe something like, "Zahara's beauty was at such a level that might easily tempt an honorable man to sin." Or similar. Plus, I think "would" is too strong, as it isn't a certainty that EVERY man would, is it?)

And sin he had…

She could never forget those words, nor the voice with which he said it. She'd heard the words the first time her cousin Ishmael intimately touched her. Ishmael--who was ten years her senior--sought out her father, a man known for his faith and prayers, in a desperate attempt to find favor with God again. Three weeks ago, Ishmael stopped praying and began satisfying the carnal hunger within. . .(I'm a little confused after the first paragraph, which I liked BTW. Which are the words 'she could never forget'? There are no quotes except for the following, which I don't see as all that 'memorable' Might want to be a little more specific as to the words Zahara 'can't forget'.)

"Uncle Asa, come see what I've brought back!"

At the sound of the husky voice, her nerves skittered. The knife missed the rough ginger and sliced through Zahara's finger. Sucking her teeth, she drew back her thumb and nursed it in her fist, as she peered through the open window shutters. Zahara was now tall enough to forsake the stool and with the entire courtyard stretched before her, she took advantage of the clear view. The olive tree at the far left corner of the entrance wall stood perfectly erect in the brimming sun with small white fragrant flowers and an ever present company of fruit flies. Beneath its shade, an old stool was set before a hand millstone and every morning she would grind spelt to make bread---a skill practiced by only a handful of women in the community. There were public bakeries on every street corner in the city of Antioch and bread was easily attainable for those who could afford it. The pomegranate tree to the far right was laden with fruits baring red seeds of tiny edible jewels---a holy fruit visible in the hems of the High Priest's robe. Near the shed and covered with a wool cloth was their outdoor brazier, which she hadn’t used since the rain drenched it in the winter months.

Ishmael returned, pulling their ass laden with heavy sacks behind him. Holding her breath, Zahara watched him unload the sacks and carry the ass behind the fenced shed, where it plodded towards the clay bowl she filled with hay. When Ishmael leaned over the stone well at the center of their courtyard and took a drink of water, her heart beat like the nimbly plucked strings of a harp; not because he was pleasing on the eyes---he was far from charming with a face scarred by eruptions of the skin.(Nice!) Splashing the water on his face and neck, he looked harmless as a dove, but after last night, after what he did to her yet again---she knew he was far from it. When he caught her staring through the window, she gasped and quickly returned to the cooking pot over the brazier. Her father was still at work with the other farmers and now Ishmael was going to be in the house with her alone. She became oddly breathless, listening to Ishmael's footsteps, echoing through the eating area to meet her in the kitchen. The jewels chinking on his sandals bespoke his family's wealth; ever reminding her of her humble lifestyle. He stopped at the doorway and leaned his head against the plastered wall lined with hanging baskets of honeydew, lychee and apricots on one side and asparagus, radishes and onions on the opposite. All were gifts bought with his money.

"It smells good." He must have been waiting for her to respond to his praise because as the silence stretched, he took bites of his fingernail. "What have you prepared cousin?" He attempted again.

"Roasted corn and beans." Her back rigid, Zahara stirred in the ginger to flavor the beans.

"What of the lamb I brought some days ago?"

Zahara clenched the side of her blue robe nervously; though she was afraid of Ishmael's reaction, she was not willing to tell a lie.

"I cooked and distributed the left overs to some elderly men in the alleyways," she uttered.

Zahara swallowed hard as she waited for his rebuke.

"Asa has not returned?" He carried a water jar and a wooden bowl out of the kitchen to wash his dusty feet as if not a single word she said had registered.

"He'll be coming soon." She wished she could only blink and have her father home with her. Instead, she prayed in her heart. Come home Abba, please, I need you to come home now.

Ishmael entered the kitchen again, returning with the washing articles.

"I'm starving, are you not yet finished?" He covered the short distance between and standing next to Zahara, lingered near the pot of beans, inhaling the pine scent of bay leaves and the cumin spice. She quickly moved from the closeness of Ishmael's body and switched to assembling the wares. His presence brought a sick tightening in her stomach and a memory she wished was not hers. She could smell the lavender oil on his skin and she recalled the vulgar touch of his hands. Before Ishmael, lavender was a lovely and emotionally-uplifting scent, now it had become a revolting stench to her nostrils. (Nice sentence)

To look upon Ishmael, no one would see what he truly was. There was no beauty in his appearance to make him alluring to women, but more so, he did not like himself and this led many to believe he was a good man, unfortunately cursed with plainness. Zahara believed that Ishmael couldn't control his desires because of her openness with him. When her cousin arrived at their home three years ago, it was the first time she had ever seen him. His face did not deter her excitement to learn all about her distant cousin and so she tried to form a bond. (For some inexplicable reason, I don't like "bond" here; it doesn't fit -- to modern an application, I think -- for the time period.) Usually, she isolated herself from others as a result of constant teasing for being different. However, Ishmael was her blood relative, she saw no need for isolation and a lonely Zahara, desperately seeking a friend, opened herself to him. In the beginning, she took hold of his hand to walk him through their small garden. Whenever she served, she put aside the choicest portions of their meals to show him favor. Once she even danced to the playful children's song commonly sang (I think it's 'sung') in their community, as an attempt to be entertaining. Zahara learned too late that she had somehow incited the lust hidden within him. It must have been one of her kind gestures or an affectionate look. She could not tell what drove him to wanting her in the wrong way, but she was sure one of her actions was to blame. Ishmael said it himself: her beauty caused him to burn with desire until he lost the will to deny himself. (Nice)
When she finished distributing the food into their separate bowls, she saw that he was still behind her, gaping at every move she made with a perverse deportment. Her mouth went dry for a moment and her chest constricted with the mounting panic.

"I'll...I'll serve your meal right away." She washed her hands as Ishmael turned and headed to the eating area.

Zahara swayed on her feet, light-headed with relief. Fear rose like bile within her as she prepared to serve Ishmael his meal. Her hands shook and her eyes filled with tears until her vision blurred. No one was here to protect her should Ishmael decide to ravish her again. He was rougher the last time. It was as if he had an insatiable hunger he released on her whenever the opportunity presented itself. Why is he always around when Abba isn't?

Don't cry. Don’t make a fool of yourself and cry Zahara. She paced and gripped the sides of her dress before she dried her face with the back of her hands, removing the traces of tears. She tightened the white sash around her small waist and smoothing her clothing, (better to use a semicolon here) she tried to appear calm.

"I have good news for uUncle Asa when he returns." (Capitalize Uncle when used as a proper name) Ishmael's voice arose from the eating area at the front of the house. Zahara took a steadying controlled breath, in and out. Balancing the bowls in her arms, she headed through the doorway leading to where Ishmael waited for the meal. He sat at a round eating table atop a large brown mat with surrounding cushions for seating. Zahara kept her eyes downcast, though she knew how he looked at her when she approached. As on countless occasions, she felt his gaze bore into her and sensed he struggled with the cravings of his flesh. The breadbasket was already on the table. Thankfully she did not have to walk back and forth in his presence.

"Thank you." Ishmael's long-boned face stretched into a smile and he took the dishes from her. When his fingers brushed hers, she promptly pulled her hands to her side. The reaction was obvious, causing Ishmael to scrutinize her. "Are you well, cousin?"

"I'm fine." She poured watered wine from a broad-shouldered jar into his cup; her tone revealing she was not welcoming conversation. She felt his intense stare and after giving him the drink, she moved towards the kitchen, eager to leave his presence.

"You've been acting strange towards me. You no longer greet me with a smile."
Zahara halted.
When he had her attention, he added. "Have I wronged you?"

Her heart plunged. He asks as if he doesn't know why I can't be near him. A tear tumbled unto Zahara's cheek and landed on her collar bone. She turned and looked at him. Does he truly believe he did nothing wrong? Is he waiting until my father leaves for his night trade before getting on my bedroll? There was not a hint of remorse on Ishmael's face.

"Are you sure you're alright? You look pale." (Again, and it's probably just me, but 'alright' seems too modern for the time. Perhaps merely substituting 'well' would do the trick)

Ishmael reached for a piece of yesterday's pita bread which Zahara had warmed in the oven. She almost choked on the tears that were ready to pour. How could he pretend the act never took place?

His demeanor was calm. Hers was ready to shatter. Three years of living with Ishmael had reduced her life to a memoir of fear. In her world, the deepest shame a woman could face was having her virginity taken from her by her own kin. Such an abomination would crush a young girl's hope of ever being requested for her hand in marriage and forever stain the name of the head of the home. Which was why Zahara believed the night Ishmael came to her was the start of her journey of maturing into a woman; as a child she could withhold nothing from her father, but now she was learning to conceal the pains of her heart. Ishmael knew it was the one thing he had over her---she would never expose anything to hurt her father. Her cousin rose from his cushion and as he sauntered to her, she lowered her head to avoid looking at his face. Unattractive as he was, it was a face one could not forget for their entire lifetime. (Yet the un-attractiveness stemmed from what he did, right? Might want to reword)

"Zahara, come lie down, you don't look well," he said and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"Please don't come near me!" she exclaimed.

They heard footsteps and both Zahara and Ishmael looked towards the courtyard.

"Who brought this?"

She heard her father Asa ask aloud and as she staggered away from Ishmael, her cousin turned to her, his glare pinning her feet to the floor. Ishamel's calm demeanor evaporated and the pretense of a wounded prey returned to its true predatory temperament. She saw now he was fully aware he had wronged her.

"Zahara." His voice was a hot whisper. He said no more, but she heard the warning loud and clear. Ishmael walked past her with shoulders sloped from years of looking at his feet and to her father who stood examining the sacks against the well.

“That's grain and barley, uncle.” Ishmael hurried to the goods and opened one of the bags for her father's viewing.
Zahara stood in the doorway, staring at the two. Her father's striped mantle was dark with the patches of sweat beneath his arms and down his back, evident of harvesting all day.

"I bought it in the market today."

Asa scooped a palm full with his right hand and watched it slip through his fingers. Zahara saw Ishmael waiting for his approval, but it did not come.

"Ishmael, you know I can't (This is the last time I'll mention this, but here's the thing. It appears in some places you have taken great pains to try and get the conversations in tune with the times. That's why when I see a contraction like 'can't' it stands out a little bit. Just for whatever it's worth!)take this. It wouldn't be right." Her father shook his head and Ishmael's face sagged. It would appear in his hasty excitement, he forgot the noble man her father was. The humble Asa, who was a farmer and potter, did everything with a meek spirit.(Disagree with word choice here. Choosing to be meek is not indicative of one's spirit) Ishmael however, was selfish in nature and went out of his way to accomplish tasks because he delighted in praise. It was a trait her father pleaded with Ishmael to overcome, but he did not see his selfishness or rather, he chose not to.

Due to the recent rise in food prices brought on by weeks of destructive flooding, legumes---a precious commodity for poor families---became costly. Just this that morning, Zahara uncovered the storage jar and saw there was barely a cup full of buckwheat left. Ishmael bringing the goods home was a blessing for their family and it was just in time for the upcoming Passover. His motive, however, was to gain favor in the eyes of her father. (Just a note to remind you to stay true to the tense of the sentence. "Just this morning is in the 'here and now' while the rest is in the past. See what I mean? Or maybe I'm just goofy.)

“Uncle, I bought this for you and Zahara." Ishmael then shrugged as he reasoned. "Can't you see it's the least I could do, since I'm staying under your roof and eating what little food you have?”

As always, Asa reacted in humility, quite the opposite to what Ishmael wanted. Her father retied the bag.

"What I did was from my heart Ishmael. I didn't show kindness because I wanted something in return. You're family."

“As are you.” He sighed and motioned to the things he brought. “Think of it as gifts of thanks for your generous hospitality.”

"I don't want you to believe you owe me. Love's never given to be owed in return. You understand?" Her father asked, looking for comprehension on her cousin's part. Asa was ever the teacher in life's lessons.
Ishmael nodded and the two embraced each other around the neck. Zahara watched a smile venture upon her father's face.

"In You oh Lord, I placed the well-being of my household and once again, O God of Israel, You have provided for us."

The Ishmael that her father knew and the Ishmael Zahara had come to know, were completely different. Her father saw a young man who was trying to fix his past wrongs through a renewal of his relationship with God, but try as she may, all Zahara saw was a manipulator. He was a man who had an aberrant nature lurking beneath that outward display of generosity.

He would never believe me. She kept thinking as Ishmael and her father spoke. Fear of her father never believing her and the deep sense of shame that would spring forth if her father knew Ishmael touched her, was tormenting. Even worse, knowing her father would never look at her as his innocent Zahara again, was compelling enough for her to keep her silence.

"Zahra!" Asa looked past Ishmael and called out to her, snapping Zahara from her world of thought. "I got the eucalyptus tree you wanted."

He lifted a small tree that he rested on the well. Zahara walked towards her father and took the plant with its stringy roots. She waited all day to receive it so she could continue her planting on mMount Casius that rose up from the plains. ('Mount' is part of the proper name)

"Thank you, Abba." Her voice was muffled and she tried to smile, but the gesture felt as stiff as hardened clay.(Good analogy; it's consistent with the period) Zahara willfully kept her face to her father; afraid that if she looked at Ishmael, she would break down.

"Are you well daughter? You're pale."

Her father rested his palm on her brow to check for fever.

"I'm well enough, Abba." She stepped away from his keen fatherly sense to know when things were not right with her. "Can I go to the mount now? I've finished all my chores."

"You're on the mount more than you are at home."

Zahara wanted to tell her father it was because the plain and mount Casius were the only places she now felt safe, but Ishmael was staring at her and she decided it was best not to let him know her inner thoughts.

"Go ahead, but hurry home before darkness falls."

Zahara nodded and as she headed to the gate, Asa stopped her.

"Zahra, aren't you forgetting something?" He asked in a teasing tone, and turning, she ran to her father and hugged him. It was their habit for Zahara to hug him before she left the house.

"Don’t stay out there too long," he whispered.

"Yes Abba." Releasing him, she started for her safe haven.


The tangy odor of the green leaves and the lingering sweet aroma of thriving Pitanga berries perfumed the still air. Her favorites. The land blazed with color and the jagged path leading up from the plains was carpeted with a cornucopia of wild flowers, evidence of spring's arrival. Preparations for the Passover would begin soon. Yet, not even the serenity of the plain could steer Zahara's mind away from the pit of despondency she had fallen into or the constant darkness hovering over her. There had been no breeze within the last hour and heavy clouds were descending slowly; it would appear that even the weather attested to her gloomy mood, with its darkened sky and unusual stillness. This was such a contrast against the blooming scenery surrounding her. Zahara trembled as she placed her hands into the warm earth and covered the hole she had dug for the small tree, by scooping and patting the rich soil around its stem to cover its roots completely. She stilled and breathed in the aroma of the black earth so fertile from the consistent rainfall which kept the plains in a rich emerald green even during the torrid summers and brittle autumns.

It was the widow old Tirza to credit for the vast knowledge Zahara obtained about herbs and plants. The thought of old Tirza still threatened to summon emotions she released from time to time. The woman had been her tutor ever since her mother's untimely death and the emptiness left behind by the loss was beginning to expand, now that death had taken even old Tirza from her. It was through gardening Zahara was able to forget her troubles and find peace of mind. She worked vigorously to plant before the rain could fall, but her mind was far from her labor. The troubling thoughts clinging to her conscious were not easy to be rid of.

The more Zahara dwelt on the subject, the more she realized no one would ever believe the ugly secrets she kept buried as deep as the roots in this soil. Her father said on countless occasions she should be cautious when it came to how eager she was to open herself to strangers. He warned there were people who were intent on doing wicked things to the virtuous and she should ever be on guard. She never believed such a person would turn out to be her cousin. She remembered the day old Tirza explained to her the development that took place before a girl became a woman and how she was to guard her precious chastity until her wedding night. She had kept Ishmael's actions even from Tirza, for she was only twelve and had experienced what it was like to lay with a man. Who would want to marry me when I'm damaged goods? (The last sentence reads 'too modern' to me)

"No one would love me, no one would ever want me---" she whispered to herself as she remembered Ishmael coming to her once again last night. All her life, Zahara only had one dream: to be a good wife and have many sons so she could make her father proud and have his name mentioned in the circle of the elders. Heat flooded Zahara’s cheeks when she thought about never finding a prospective husband and forever dishonoring her father’s name. Her father was all she had and she couldn't bear to do such a grievous thing to the person she loved most in the world.

If only I could change the past, she entreated.

Alone with burdensome secrets, she found there was no one to whom she could talk to, no one who would believe she was speaking the truth. . .no one except Hashem. Lately however, Zahara was beginning to feel too unclean to pray even to Him. Sometimes she would go days without praying to the Almighty One, fearing that her filthiness should not even be in His presence. Hardly conscious of it, she gripped the earth when she felt her stomach tighten into a ball of intense pain. The dirt worked its way stubbornly under her fingernails, as fear enveloped her body. Daily, her thoughts waged war in the battlefield of her mind.

I've become so filthy, how can I ever kneel before a God who demands holiness, according to the teachings of the Rabbis? Does He still love me even if. . . I'm unclean?

When the tree was secure in its new home and she patted the last handful of soil, Zahara straightened and looked down at her grubby hands. She too was dirty. Twin tracks of tears slowly made their way down her cheeks. Every time Ishmael touched her, she cleansed and purified herself in the nearby spring; nevertheless, the blemish on her soul felt permanent. She dabbed her eyes with the back of her wrists and plopped unto the warm swath of grass. She meditated on all her father taught her about God. Instantly she remembered the words of King David that she'd come to know by heart. In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.

Zahara rolled on her side; she was so troubled she could barely unwind.

"Please help me not to hate Ishmael. I don't want to hate him, he's my blood!" She said aloud to God. She pulled her knees to her chest as if to cradle herself from the hurt. "Please help him to realize it's wrong and to stop what he's doing to me, so I can forgive him."
What scared her the most was the thought of bitterness consuming her heart and changing the person she was. She wanted to get rid of it, for she'd never hated anyone in her entire life and she did not want to start the practice of holding grudges.

“You have plans for me, isn’t that what you said?” She whispered, hoping to communicate freely with Him as she once did. The gentle stirring of the wind, which she usually felt when Hashem was speaking to her, was dead today and so Zahara shivered from the feeling of separation from God.

"Bring out Abiah!"

Zahara heard a shout in the plains and sat up sharply. A multitude of voices resounded and she jumped to her feet. In the distance, a crowd of over a hundred men and women gathered for the stoning of Abiah at the ruins of Nadav's well, the place of public execution. She ought to go home immediately, for her father warned her to keep her distance if a death sentence was ever to take place. However, Zahara felt the inner pull to do otherwise. It was the first time she'd heard of someone being brought out to be executed. The last stoning had taken place over a decade ago.
Other than her slovenly condition, Zahara found the woman to be of a demure appearance and she could not comprehend the cruel manner in which the villagers were reacting towards her. Curious as to what could be the woman's crime condemning her to death, Zahara gave in to the beckoning urges within. Like a childish spy, she climbed the nearby oak tree for a better view of the trial. Using the strong thick branches to pull herself up higher and higher until she sat on the paramount branch, she stayed hidden out of sight by the height of the tree. From the top Zahara peered at the condemned woman.

Other comments:

Initial Impression: I'm pretty impressed. I say that because I rarely read material that goes back to, say, 18 A.D.! For me, 'ancient' is the 19th and 20th centuries, so this is relatively prehistoric for me. Having said all of that, let me say this: You know how to tell a tale and how to tell it well. It was smooth, coherent, and to me, anyway, historically accurate (but as you might guess, I'm no expert in that area). But I do know a well-written story when I read one. And this is right up there...

What Stood Out (Favorably): The background and descriptions were excellent. You blended the info in such a manner that the background never felt info-dumpy. Before reading this, if you had asked me to read a story of more than 4000 words about a girl's struggles with having been 'touched inappropriately' at 12 years of age by a cousin, I probably would have opted out. Just not my thing. However, you kept my attention, and by the way, that's a nice little hook for chapter two, because I was bummed when I realized I wasn't going to find out what would happen to the woman who was about to be executed. Nice job there, too...

Characters: Attention to detail in painting a picture of the MC and supporting cast was excellent. Felt I was inside MC's mind enough that I "knew her"; very vivid pictures of Pop and Cuz as well.

Story: The fact that you used 4000 words in describing essentially a girl's emotional struggles w/o much further advancement of the plot (until the end of the chapter) says a lot about your storytelling abilities.

Background: As mentioned above; good stuff. Very well done. You couldn't have set it up much better than this.

Dialog: I mentioned this a couple of times in my line-by-line comments, but it appears that you tried very hard to make the language consistent with the times. My only objection here is that in some places, it appears you fell into the common trap of using today's language in places, particularly with the use of contractions, which are more a reflection of more modern/recent language than not. I think some of those sentences should be revisited and made more 'era-specific' if you know what I mean.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: I noted a few thing in my inline review, but really not much to speak of. It's obvious that you invested some time on this piece and the quality bears that out. Nice job.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. You weave a good tale. I have to think that if you can get my attention -- and someone like me responds favorably to it -- with a period piece such as this, you're doing many things right. It was a pleasure to read, and I wish you nothing but the best with it!

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source. And lastly, if I have succeeded in agitating you to the point of retaliation, I do apologize, but please make note of my address below, visit my port, and "let me have it."

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello there, Jules . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. I react as I read; the same as a "normal" reader would, and comment as I go. General comments will be offered at the end. Don't feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback... Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

Where is the Christmas Spirit?
(Note: I suggest you might consider replacing "Where is" with "Finding" since, after all, "Finding the Christmas Spitit" it is what the story is all about)

After Only two years into retirement, Hailey Coltrane felt a piece something was missing in her life. Was it that she missed feeling valued, perhaps? A part time job she thought, providing some social interaction, would do wonders for the her day. She missed teaching her high school students. She missed sharing their lives, hearing their laughter and constant chatter. The office personnel at the high school mentioned a bus driver position was open. So Hailey put in the work, took the exam, and became a school bus driver. (Note here that most states have special requirements to be a school bus driver; special license and/or CDL license may be required. I mention it only because, as written, it sounds like she walked in and took the job immediately; that's not the case anymore...there are some hoops to jump through).

ApproachingReaching the first stop on her first day, she saw spotted five students huddled together in an effort to keep for warmth. Opening the door, a gush of arctic air blew inside, chilling Hailey to the bone as the students boarded the bus. (Note: I'll point out here that when you break your thoughts up, you need to use the proper punctuation to indicate such. In this case, I added a couple of commas to the last sentence.) Also, consider your word choice carefully. The girls were picked up at a regular stop, right? So she should have expected to see them there. The use of the word "spotted" in that context made it sound like the kids had been missing for days and had just been located! See what I'm getting at?

As she followed her route Hailey listened to the girls who sat behind her rattle on about their Christmas lists. Hailey sighed, realizing its (A couple of things here: if you are using "its" as a contraction -- as was your intent here, there is an apostrophe (it's}. However, since you were speaking in past tense ("Hailey sighed" and "she had no Christmas spirit") it would be incorrect to use "it's" anyway. A better way to state the beginning of the sentence would be:) Hailey sighed as she realized it was two weeks before Christmas and she had no Christmas spirit.

On her sixth stop day she noticed a girl she didn't recognize climb into onto (or "aboard") the bus. She had no hat, no gloves, and a tattered waist coat. Her shoulder length brown hair was stringy, unwashed, her eyes stared at the floor,; no smile, expressionless. Her arms were wrapped protectively around her, (no comma here) hunched over body. Hailey watched her in the rear view mirror as she chose an empty seat. The other students didn't greet or acknowledge her existence.

Upon completing the route the kids single filed out, but one boy, named Jeremy crewcut, (Note: If this is his last name it should be capitalized, and if it's a nickname it should be within quotes. Finally, if you're merely describing him, place a colon after his name) dimpled cheeks, dressed in army fatigues, stopped to chat. He walked behind the girl that caught Hailey's interest earlier. Jeremy shared a joke each morning and Hailey enjoyed a good laugh. Her curiosity got the best of her so she asked. "Jeremy, do you know the girl who was walking in front of you just now?"

"Yea, new girl. She's in my biology class. Kind of quiet. "(Don't put quote marks here; don't need them -- he's still talking) Her name is Lisa. I don't remember her last name. Why, is she in trouble or something?" Jeremy asked. He shifted his backpack to his other shoulder.

"No, nothing like that. I hadn't seen her before, thank you. "

"Bye Ms. Coltrane. Have a good one." He yelled, dashing as he dashed into the building. (Remember to keep the tenses the same)

After running a few errands and having lunch, Hailey returned to school for her afternoon shift. The bell rang and the school doors sprang open as if a horse race was beginning. Hailey opened the bus doors as the kids piled in. What a difference from this morning. (If it is an internal thought you can italicize it) Giggles and chatter filled the bus. Then Lisa entered. Her arms still wrapped around her body, her book bag hung drooped from her shoulders. (You can help set the tone better with a word such as "drooped" here which sounds more pathetic than "hung")

"Hi there!" Hailey spoke said, smiling at Lisa, hoping for a response.

The girl looked up. Not Without saying a word she continued toward the back of the bus.

That went well. Hailey thought closed the bus doors. When the girl's stop arrived at Main and Hawkins, Hailey tried again.

"Hi I'm Hailey. What's your name?" She tapped her thumb on the steering wheel.

The girl gazed into her eyes. "Why does it matter?" Lisa responded in a whisper tone. (Note: I notice you have a habit of expressing emotion in dialogue after something is said. It's easier on the reader if they know ahead of time. -- i.e. "Lisa whispered, "What does it matter?")

"I like to know my students? You do have a name?" Hailey cocked her head.

The girl sighed. "Lisa. Lisa Walters." She turned and was about to descend the steep stairs.

"Lisa, do you like Christmas cookies?" Hailey threw it out realizing despite how weird that sounded.

She turned facing Hailey. "Yes who doesn't?" Her right eyebrow rose slightly.

"I happen to be an expert in baking cookies. Would you help me?"

"Help you how?" She asked nervously. "I don't even know you?"

"I have five dozen cookies to bake and I really need the help. How about it? Tomorrow after school meet me at the Home Economics classroom 106. Do you know where the room is located?"

The girl nodded. "I guess. How will I get home?"

"I'll drive you home."

"Okay, I guess that will be alright." She walked out.

On her drive home she stopped at the grocer to pick up the ingredients for the Christmas cookies. (Important to realize at this point that you haven't used a proper name for a while. You are describing interaction with two females, going solely with 'her' or 'she'. In the sentence above this paragraph, "she" is Lisa. You start a new paragraph with "she" and the "she" is Hailey. That can be confusing to the reader)

As Lisa walked by the following morning they winked at each other. Finishing her morning route Hailey dashed with the groceries to the classroom. Opening the classroom door she spotted Lisa alone at a table wearing ear plugs.

Hailey flicked on the fluorescent lights." I believe the school has cleared out, well accept except for sports that goes on all night." ("All night"? Really?)

"Are we like supposed to be in here? I mean what if the janitor or somebody reports us?" Lisa asked. "And what's up with the whole cookie thing.?" Lisa asked. (Use a question mark)

"First of all, if someone turns us in, it's all on me. And when we tell them were baking for charities what can they say?" (I have a little problem with this use of the school room w/o permission part. These days, I don't think anyone could -- because of the violence (school shootings, etc.) which is so prevalent today -- simply walk into a school room and help themselves without the building going into "lock-down" mode. I don't think this situation is plausible today, you might want Hailey to secure permission; she doesn't work there as a teacher anymore, and as a bus driver, she wouldn't have access/permission to the school) Hailey used her arms for support and leaped up on the counter. She looked Lisa in her saddened eyes, her voice a softer tone. "Lisa, I lost a close friend of mine a few months ago. And we always made cookies together for different charities. So I thought if you'd join me we could do this together. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?"

"I don't know." She replied meekly with a shrug.

"You will, when you eat mine. And I mean that in a good way. I bought enough to make five different types. Have you had a Home-Ec class yet?"

"No, my mom says, 'focus on a career -- not the kitchen'."

"Okay," Hailey replied jumping off the counter. "Time for a tour." She showed her where all the pots, bowls, utensils and dishes were stored. Then she laid out the ingredients across the counter.

(NP) Lisa didn't warm up for a while. She focused on Hailey's instructions. Once the dough was mixed and rolled out, Lisa talked of her classes. By the time they were putting sprinkles on the cookies Lisa actually smiled.

After placing the last sheet in the oven, Lisa said." I lost my dad three months ago, he was in the army."

Hailey plopped down in the chair next to her. "I'm so sorry." She reached over and held squeezed her Lisa's hands.

"Then mom had to find a job. So we sold our house and moved here." Lisa whispered. "I miss my friends and my old neighborhood.' She fidgeted with her fingers.

"I bet. It's hard to start over. But you will make new friends after a while. Hailey hugged her.

A loud slamming door noise echoed into their room. The sound of a door slamming echoed through the hallway. "Quick, duck behind the counter. I'll get the lights." Hailey whispered as she crouched dashing to the light switch. She then returned sitting next to Lisa. The sound of water in a bucket scrapping across the floor and a mop swishing told them that a janitor was washing the floors.

"What if he comes in here?" Lisa whispered in Hailey's ear.

"If that happens we'll sneak out." Lucky for them the noise grew fainter and further away from them. "My, I can't believe its six o'clock already. I need to get you home. Do you need to call your mom to let her know you're on your way?"

"No, she's at work." Lisa muttered, shaking her head.

"Does your mom work this late every day?"

Lisa shook her head. "Yes, she works nights too."

What goes on here stays between us. After all were friends now right? You're old enough to be alone. You're a young woman, not a child."

"Share these cookies with your mom?" Hailey stated unlocking her car door.

Her face dropped. "Aren't they going to a charity?" Lisa sounded disappointed.

"Tell you what. Next time the cookies will be for the charities. Would you like that?"

Lisa's eyes grew big as quarters. "I would love to make more cookies; this was fun."

"Are you busy Thursday? Next week is Christmas."

"Yes, I will be here." Lisa smiled. "This was fun. Thank you Ms. Coltrane."

"My friends call me Hailey." She patted Lisa's hand.

On the drive home Lisa talked nonstop about various television programs. Hailey knew her next assignment was getting her to read books. When she pulled into Lisa's driveway the house was dark. "Do you want me to come in with you until your mom gets home?"

"No," Lisa snapped. ("Snapped" implies anger or being upset. Not what I think you want here. I think "replied" would be fine) "I'm fine really. Got some homework to finish up. Thanks again Hailey, I had a great time tonight." She climbed out and closed the car door, waving as she unlocked the her front door.

For the first time this season, Hailey selected the a Christmas station and sang the traditional Christmas songs on her way home. I guess I'm a bit wound up from the day. (That sentence doesn't fit) Hailey thought smiled as she sat down and wrote out her Christmas cards.

The next morning Hailey greeted Lisa as she entered the bus. "Good morning Lisa. Sleep well?" Hailey gripped the large steering wheel and leaning forward.

"I did, thank you." Lisa wore a big smile. She leaned closer to Hailey, "thanks again for last night, she whispered.

"Your hair looks cute this morning. Aren't you cold though, without a hat and gloves?"

"Thank you. I'm fine. She changed the subject. "Tomorrow night right?"

"Yep, same place, don't be late." Hailey closed the doors and waited until Lisa sat down. On this morning she Lisa sat with another girl and they talked all the way to school.

The next evening Hailey arrived early, she had purchased a table tree that came with ornaments and under the tree she placed a present for Lisa: A hat and matching gloves., she knew Lisa needed these. (We already know this from earlier events; not necessary to repeat)

Lisa entered the room and introduced the woman standing by her side. They had similar facial features. "Hailey, this is my mom,(normally she would reveal her mom's first name here)." Lisa stated proudly. "I swore her to secrecy; no matter what she can tell no one. Right Hailey?"She smiled.

Hailey smiled, reaching out her hand. "Nice to meet you Mrs. Walters, you have a special daughter."

"I had to meet the woman who took such an interest in my daughter. Lisa's father passed away a few years ago (earlier, Lisa says it was three months ago), and I've been working day and night shifts to make ends meet. For the first time since he passed, Lisa and I talked as we decorated the house. Not to mention eating those delicious cookies. I simply had to thank you."

"Your You're (a contraction of "You are" welcome, now roll up your sleeves and start rolling out the dough; these cookies are going to the homeless." Hailey brought her Ipod playing the traditional Christmas songs. At first Lisa reprimanded reminded her that the music would might be heard, and they could be discovered. But at this point Hailey didn't care; she wanted the whole world to know what they were doing!

On her drive home Hailey realized she was infected with the Christmas spirit. (Not a good word choice here, "infected" sounds like she just found out she was HIV positive or something. This should be emotionally uplifting here. Perhaps, something like: "On her drive home, it occurred to Hailey that not only had her friendship with Lisa resulted in several batches of Christmas cookies, but also a wonderful batch of Christmas spirit." Maybe that's too long/corny, but you get the idea...)

Initial Impression: Great seasonal topic with a "feel-good" quality to it.

What Stood Out (Favorably): It's a nice tale; heartwarming. The message here is that by doing good for someone else, she does herself a world of good too.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: You'll hear the old "show, don't tell" idiom bandied about here frequently. Don't feel bad, most of us fall into the telling trap as well. Work on it by describing character emotions through showing (Simple example: "Tears streamed down Lisa's cheeks" is preferable to "Lisa cried.")

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. Welcome to WdC; you'll find a lot of decent folks here. Or, if it's not your day, maybe instead you'll find someone like me (better luck next time)! Seriously, it's a great little story. Work on your punctuation; sometimes reading a sentence out loud -- as you would have the character speak it -- might help in deciding where punctuation might be of benefit. Anyway, I wish you the best in your writing endeavors!

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello there, . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. I react as I read; the same as a "normal" reader would, and comment as I go. General comments will be offered at the end. Don't feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback... Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

My story begins just after school let out for the summer. It is 1975. My mother made plans for a wonderful two week vacation for two of my older sisters, mamma and me to New Jersey to visit with Grandma and all the cousins who live out there. My oldest sister had a one year old and had to stay home. My father had to work so he stayed home as well. (I'll mention this once FYI: If 'mamma' was what you called her -- it was her 'proper' name to you it should be capitalized. If mamma is used generically as in 'I told my mamma' or 'She told my mamma' then it would not be capitalized)

We flew out from Los Angels Angeles Airport on June twenty-sixth. It was a five hour flight. My first time on an airplane. A little scared, but exhilarating for an eleven year old. We landed at Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York. Aunt Terry was waiting there for our arrival. It had been several years since we last seen Aunt Terry when she used to live in California across town. As soon as we saw her it was all hugs and kisses and asking how we were all doing.

I couldn't wait to see the other cousins I'd never met. Aunt Terry took us to Grandma's in Denville, New Jersey. Grandma had a very small house way back in a wooded area and when the rest of the family showed up it was standing room only.

The next morning Aunt Terry showed up to take us into New York City. It was amazing to me. I had never seen buildings so high in the sky. We toured the Statue Of Liberty, the Twin Towers, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, China Town plus many other places within the city.

We were having so much fun that I never thought twice about why I was getting so thirsty. Everywhere there was a water fountain I had to stop to get a drink, or I would ask mamma to buy me sodas, then shortly after I would have to relieve myself. Running in and out of shops hunting for the bathrooms we just figured it was anxiety because of all the sight seeing (sightseeing is one word) we were doing.

The second day Aunt Terry came by again to take just mamma and me to the New Jersey shore to Coney Island. We picked up my little cousin John on the way. I was so anxious to get there, to see the east side of the ocean and ride the rides and play all the games.

It was like a permanent carnival never to be taken down. John and I played fishing games, ring toss games, darts and rode most all the rides together throughout the day. But I was even more thirsty today than yesterday. Before the day was over I had run to the bathrooms so (unnecessary word) many times to throw up shortly after putting anything in my mouth.

Yet, I continued to eat cotton candy and suck down Pepsi soda all day. My mamma noticed how sick I was becoming but we still never thought anything of it. We thought it was the different water or something. So mamma made an appointment for me to be seen by a family doctor as soon as we got back to Grandma's. (Grandma's is possessive, and I note that you DO capitalize Grandma...but not mamma)

My appointment was set for Monday, (comma) June thirtieth. I told mamma I didn't want to spoil her Forth of July birthday plans because I was getting sick. She assured me that I would be fine once we'd (i.e. we had) seen the doctor.

The night of June twenty-eighth I was feeling so weak and sick that I quietly went into the bathroom. I did not want to wake everyone up, so I slept on the floor next to the toilet because I couldn't stop throwing up. By morning I was drenched in sweat and I never sweat, well not much. (unnecessary comma and words)

I yelled for mamma to come help me. When she got to the bathroom I was almost completely passed out. How I managed to call out to her I'll never know. An older cousin Red, as we called him was visiting there too and mamma started flipping out. All I remember hearing was, " We need to get her to the emergency room fast."

As Red picked me up off the bathroom floor he ran to the car and that's when I went into a coma.
I have no memory of what happened after that except what I have been told by mamma and other family members.

The coma was bad enough that it lasted five days. The ER doctors told my mamma I had Juvenile Diabetes and asked if there was any history of it in the family. She told them " No, " no one had it before me. (You could write: She told them, "No, no one had it before (me)" and use the entire quote)

My whole family freaked out because the doctors told my mamma I was more than likely going to die. My last rights were read to me and there was nothing my family could do but pray. Mamma called dad to tell him what happened. He and my oldest sister along with the baby flew out the next day. I never knew they were even there.

My sugar count was over one thousand. How I survived at all is still a miracle. By the time I awoke from the coma everything was such a blur to me. I had an IV ( intravenous needle and thin tubing) stuck in my arm and, as I looked around the room, I seen saw my mamma and Aunt Terry crying and smiling as they reached out to hug me.

Mamma kissed my forehead and held my hand tightly. It took a few more days for me to understand what happened to me and why I was so sick. Mamma told me I had type Type 1 Juvenile diabetes. (Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes is an official name or designation an therefore is capitalized)

" What is that?" I asked. I had never heard of it before nor did I ever know anyone with it. Her words were filled with tears as she tried to explain to me what diabetes is and that I had to give myself shots for the rest of my life because of an organ inside my body that died out.

I didn't know what to think except, " why me?" What caused this to happen? I'm only eleven years old and barely one hundred pounds. (All of this can be in quotes) I thought I was just a little stick kid.

Our two week vacation now turned into a month. During my extended stay in the hospital I was poked with needles every few hours to test for sugar levels in my blood. There were no portable blood testing devices of any kind back then.

I looked under the covers to see a tube that was between my legs. It was a catheter and it was inside me collecting my urine so it could also be tested daily. It hurt so bad every time I tried to move around in the bed.

The doctors treating me tried to explain what this disease will would do to my body in time. (Note: Always keep a thought in the same tense. In other words, don't start out talking in the past and then shifting to the present) They told me all sorts of horrible things that can happen to my body if I don't take care of it. They tried to explain how to adjust the insulin from the moment I awake to when I went to bed at night. And even then if my sugar levels drop or stay too high again I could be back in a coma or that I could die if I wasn't careful.

Mind you, I was only a child and hearing these conditions that concerned the rest of my life were hard to take in and understand. I felt like I was given a death sentence at the age of eleven.

How was I going to do all of this that was required of me now and forever. I was told that I could go blind, or that I might have body parts cut off due to infections, and that I really had to watch my weight because of diabetes causing obesity. Plus many other complications.

" What ? Are you kidding me?" They spoke words that had no meaning to a child my age back then. There was no one I could talk to about what I was having to go through just to live. No one! I felt so alone and scared because of it, that I thought I had no choice in living or dying.

Then a nurse came into my room with an orange, a needle, and two small vials of insulin, one was clear as water the other one was a cloudy liquid.
"I am here to teach you how to give yourself injections", she said. They are shots, no matter how she said it. I knew that much and I hated them same as every kid did.

Crying did me no good, I begged, I pleaded, I yelled out, " I don't like this, please help me!" How was I to take on such responsibility to keep living.(Question mark here; you're posing a question).

Mamma was there every minute crying along side me all the way and she did her best to understand how important it was to listen and do as we were instructed before I could be released from the hospital.

When I was finally able to leave we went directly back to Grandma's house. My hands and arms were covered in bandages. I was given a large bag containing supplies I had to have and a pee testing kit, and lots of needles. I was bruised from all the needles I'd endured.

I really looked sick now. I lost twenty pounds during my stay. The clothes mamma made me for this summer trip were falling off my body. I had to keep pulling my shorts up all day. I looked as though I had been starved nearly to death.
My sisters and cousins were all there to greet me when I came into the house. I was still so very weak. All I wanted to do was sleep and hopefully wake up to my normal life again. I wished this was all just a bad dream. Unfortunately it was not a dream at all. It was real and I had to take (perhaps something like 'approach' would work better here?) my life very seriously if I want to stay alive.

As soon as we landed back in Southern California my mamma informed (maybe use asked or told here) me to unpack and then repack clean clothes because I had to go back into a Children's Hospital in downtown Los Angeles to learn more. Because there was so much more to learn about this disease.

My very best friend from across the street came over to spend every moment of time with me as possible before I left again. She was so afraid by what her older sister told her what happened to me in New Jersey. She didn't want me to leave again. Worried I might die.

She couldn't understand what diabetes was either. And why did I get it? " Will you ever get better?" She asked me. " No," I replied. " I will have diabetes for as long as I live."

We started crying and holding each other while mamma waited for me to get into the car before I had to leave again. " I'll be waiting for you." She yelled out. We waved at each other until we were out of sight. I kept on crying because I missed her and I hated being away from her again and my family.

" How long will I be staying at the children's hospital mamma?" I asked.
She replied, " The doctor said it would only be another two weeks or so. Until I fully understand how to care for myself." (If you're quoting your mother directly, you can't use I or myself because we know she didn't say that. If you want to 'substitute you can put (I) and (myself) in parenthesis so the reader understands you are making a substitution for clarity)

She grabbed my hand, and we looked at each other with water tearful filled eyes. "It will all work out in time you'll see." She tried her best to convince me of that.

Diabetes can be a controlled disease, but it will takes time to fully understand how to control it. Mamma was my rock, my mentor, my reminder, my everything. She helped me to learn how to control my diabetes for at least the first ten years.

That was Forty years ago now. I understand that it is a life style(lifestyle is one word) and I must to choose live, and never give up. I finally realized that everything that I eat or drink has an affect on my sugar levels. Now that I got this down, I chose LIFE, and it's all good.

It hasn't been easy by no any means, but I am still here, all of me and I plan on hanging around for as long as I can.

If you know someone with diabetes, type 1 or type 2, always be aware that the disease can kill that person at any time if not cared for right and monitored daily. Always ask what their sugar levels have been. 80 to 150 is good, 150 to 250 is okay, anything over that means that they are not caring for the disease well and it will take from them the most important thing in their life and that is their life.

Please support the American Diabetic Association whenever and however you can. With Sincere Thanks; DW. aka Sewcrazy

Initial Impression: Any time a story is told "straight from the heart" it is often sound judgement to throw out some of the standard writing conventions for fear of disrupting the person-to-person feeling that resonates from such a piece. This is one of those pieces, in my opinion. This appears as if it was written all at once, with little revision (not that it is in need of much; don't misunderstand) but if you mess too much with the original presentation, you might also disrupt the 'power' of the message. There are corrections which could be made, but I advise against getting too carried away.

What Stood Out (Favorably): The subject matter -- diabetes -- done through the eyes of an eleven-year-old girl (who is now an adult) tells of the dangers of diabetes; how they were handled forty years ago as well as what can be done today prom a monitoring standpoint. As one whose father lost both legs from diabetes, I am very aware of the importance of monitoring and staying on top of the disease. A story such as this serves as a reminder that diabetes is a life-long battle, and it comes with a hefty price to pay (as my dad learned) when the warning signs are ignored or not taken seriously.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: I put in a few suggestions here and there editing-wise, but it is still a powerful piece if left untouched. I think you did a heck of a job.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. I wish you the best in your other writing endeavors.

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source. And lastly, if I have succeeded in agitating you to the point of retaliation, I do apologize, but please make note of my address below, visit my port, and "let me have it."

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
Hello there PureSciFi ! Indelible Ink here, with a review of your work. You were kind enough to review something of mine, and I am merely returning the favor. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

You’re Not a Ghost

“You’re a Ghost!” (Shouldn't this be "You're Not a Ghost"?)

“Yes, I am. Why do you look so scared? It can’t be because I am a ghost. Because you don’t think I am a ghost. Why don’t you think I’m ghost?” Okay, I'm puzzled here already. Because of the title, and because here (in this paragraph) you say "Because you don’t think I am a ghost." while the very first sentence proclaims, "You're a ghost" which makes no sense & looks to me like a huge error in the story already, especially considering the dialog which follows. If my interpretation is incorrect I apologize, but if it is, that means there's an altogether different problem with the way the story is presented

“You don’t look like a ghost.”

“I don’t!(? This should have a question mark) What is a ghost supposed to look like?”

“A normal ghost is supposed to look like an upside down while white (I presume) funnel that hovers a few feet off the ground.”

“Your right, I don’t look like a normal ghost. But you aren’t describing a normal ghost.”

“What does a normal ghost look like?”

“The ghost you are talking about has no body, no mind, no reason to exist. In other words, it has no soul. And a ghost with no soul can’t move on to their next life.”

“Why don’t they have a soul?”

“It’s because they were bad people when they existed.”

“Everyone is bad on this planet. It’s Warrior War planet.”

“Do I look (like)I was bad when I existed on Lolimona?”

“No, you look beautiful. That’s why I say you’re not a ghost.”

“If you could see my face you would see that I am blushing – if a ghost could blush.” (Funny!)

“Who are you?. You look very familiar to me.”

“There is no easy way to say this, Forri, but I am your First Mother – your real mother.” (Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering why you capitalized 'First Mother' unless it's a proper name, but then left 'real mother' alone?)

“You can’t be my real mother. I was still an infant when you died. In fact, whenever I am bad my father, Robbirt, blames me for her death. He says thing(s) like ‘if only your mother was here’ or ‘your mother should be here to deal with a daughter’ and this one I like the best:.iIt's all your fault you mother isn’t here today.”

“That’s not true. Don’t listen to your father. At least not when it comes to me. He always hated me – because he thinks I forced him to become one together.”

“How did you make him become one together?”

“I don’t know if I should tell a girl of eleven this. But I think you are old enough to know the truth. Your father hates me because he thinks we had to become one together because I was about to have his child – you, Forri.”

“All of this doesn’t say you are my real mother.”

Your (You're -- a contraction for 'you are' is what you need here) changing the subject again. But that’s okay. It’s true you don’t remember me because you were just an infant when I died. But you do have images of me. And Robbirt has keep kept me alive in your heart. That’s why look so familiar to you.”

“If you are my mother then why are you here?. I’m not dead, or about to die, am I?”

“The answer to that question is yes and no. No, you aren’t dead or dying. But yes you will be if you don’t change your ways – and fast.”

“I’ll do whatever you tell me to do. I’m not ready to become a ghost, no offence offense yet – mMother.” (Mother is always capitalized when directly addressing the parent as such)

The End?

1) Overall Impression: The story gets off to a questionable start when the title is erroneously communicated in the very first line, at least the way I read it. This leaves the reader wondering about the accuracy with the rest of the conversation.

2) Best Part(s): The premise and story are not bad -- if communicated more clearly.

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help: Way too many grammatical errors here that a simple read-thru or two wouldn't correct. In other words, too many errors which shouldn't be on your finished product.

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: Being only 500 words to begin with, it shouldn't be necessary for the reader to navigate the number of errors there were. And the reader shouldn't be placed in a position of trying to figure out what the author really is trying to say. Because of that, it was difficult to even give this an 'average' rating.

5) Suggestion(s): Everyone makes a typo here or there, but before putting it out there for scrutiny, I suggest having someone go over it first, and you'll fare much better. It's well worth the time.

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! After all: One item can produce a whole spectrum of comments; and I just love a little diversity!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Me and a ghost  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi, I'm I.M. }, Indelibleink here. I happened upon your story while perusing the site, and decided to give it a read. I just finished reading it and wanted to share some thoughts with you about it.

As always, these are just one person's opinions. Perhaps another perspective may allow you to see your story in a different light - one you may not have considered. At least, that's my goal here. I hope you find something I've noted useful, and use that which may be of some benefit to you.

*Check3*Initial Impression: Story has a lot of potential; the Achilles' Heel for you is punctuation. That holds true with humor even more so than with any other genre, since much of which decides the effectiveness of your humor is timing and such (and punctuation is obviously a big factor in that). And I will also mention that even though it's known that everything is dialog, using quotation marks is still the right way to go. For one thing, you can use internal dialog as well to get an idea of what a person is thinking to him/herself, but it's impossible to do if you're not using quotation marks, right?

Let's take a peek at the story and I'll offer my thoughts on what might help:

Well, what are you moping about?


Yes you, do you see anyone else in the room.(Need question mark here)

But (comma) but I’m a ghost. How can you see me?

Don’t know and don’t care! I’m dying of boredom so you can entertain me with the story of your life.

Noooo (dash, period or comma) I’d rather not.

Ohhhh yesssss you doooo. Come one (on)(period or comma) please (comma)pretty please.

Ummmm I guess. But where do I begin?

I don’t know… You could start at the end and work your way to the beginning.

Well (comma) I died in a car accident a few weeks ago. I was looking for someone and didn’t notice that light was read (I assume you want a color here) and that is when I was hit by a car and died.

I feel drama.

In my previous life I died of food poisoning and…

Wait(...) what! Your previous life? How? What?

To this point I have been reborn seven times. How (comma) I don’t know. tThe only thing I know is that I wished for it and it came true.

And your wish was?

To meet the one I love as an equal, to be by his side when he needs me most, likeas he was for me, for him to love me like I love him, to live together for the rest of…

Woooo slow down. I think I get the general idea. But just so I have the whole story, how exactly did he help you?

Well, in my first life he saved my life.

I think I’ll need a little more information.

...If you must know it all started on a warm sunny day. I was walking around when this three giants surrounded me and started touching my head, beck (back?)

Yeah, skip.

When I was fad fed up I hit them but I wasn’t strong enough and they got angry and started hitting me,; nobody came to help me.


Except for him. He hit them, scooped me up, and ran away.

Oh how sweet. What happened next?

He died.

He died?



I don’t know...some disease.

So let me see if I understand this. He saved you, you fall in love, he died and thanthen you died seven times to find him.

Something like that...yes.

I can’t decide if it’s the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard or the most romantic. Why haven’t you found him yet?

I don’t know every life I try harder and harder, but I always die before I can find him.

So what I’m hearing is you focus so much on finding him that you forget your surroundings and because of that you die stupid deaths.

I guess...but how else am I going to find him.?

I don’t know. mMaybe live your life and if you are fated destined to be, you’ll meet some day.

Hmmmmm maybe. Oh my number’s up I have to go. (This doesn't fit well with the rest of the conversation. How does the kitty know it's time?) Bye.

Bye-bye kitty cat.

*Check3*Favorite Part: There is humor in this story; it's just that you make it difficult for the reader to see it or feel it because of the punctuation. I suggest you spend a little more time proofreading, or perhaps get a second set of eyes to give it a once-over before you submit. It would do wonders, because you do have some funny stuff here!

*Check3*My reviews sometimes include suggestions for improvement. Please know that they are offered in the spirit of (hopefully) improving upon that which you already have: Take a little more time on the piece before submitting and you'll be fine.

Thanks for sharing this item. Feedback is an important part of the 'process' and I hope something I've offered has been of some value to you. I wish you the best...


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hello there, Donkey Hoetay . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. I'll paste your entire story into the review tool. I react as I read; the same as a "normal" reader would, and comment as I go. General comments will be offered at the end. Don't feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback...

The old man walked slowly alongside his bicycle. Exhausted, Hhe was on his way back home, exhausted, from his fishing boat in the bay. (Consider rewording this to the way I changed it. Otherwise, as written, it sounds like that he's exhausted from his fishing boat). The sun pelted its rays onto his back, and his sweaty shirt clung to him as if it had claws. He never had enough strength left to ride over the small hill ahead and he would dismount as he rode through the village. The happy little stray dog everyone called Scotty, always joined him as he passed the rum shop. Trotting behind, smelling the tires and hoping for a morsel of food from the satchel that swung on his handle bars. Sometimes the old man shared a corner of bread with her, but soon, Scotty realized that there would be no gift coming from him today, and returned to the shade under the shop, her tail ever-wagging. The coastal island breeze kicked up a bit. It carried a faint smell of brine as a passenger, and cooled the perspiration trickling down his forehead. He tipped his hat to some older gentlemen he knew, sitting in the shop doorway, and continued on.

On a dirt clearing ahead, just off the road, a group of young men played dominoes. It was a perfect site for playing: The canopy of breadfruit and short coconut trees provided shade from the Caribbean sun, it was less than a stone's throw from cool beer, and most importantly, the bus stopped right there at the pole. Between games, while shuffling the tiles, the players whistled and catcalled at the pretty women getting on and off.

Lean Vernon Hackett stood at one side of the plywood that rested over a barrel. His skinny bare back faced the road as he studied the tiles and prepared to play. He seemed very proud of his bony arms and chest for some reason, and took any opportunity to show them off to whoever cared to look. He chose a tile from his hand and slammed it down on the surface with flair and bravado in anticipation of winning the game.

"Man Twig, you don't have to slam them so hard. Look how you mess up the rest of them," blurted one player.

The old man ambled towards the noisy group ahead, preparing to pass in the space between Twig and the road. It was his turn again, but as Twig raised his arm to slam another tile, the old man accidentally jostled into him. Twig's balance was thrown and his arm hit the edge of the playing surface, upsetting the entire game.

"Mercy be, Miah! You see what you make me do? That game was mine to win!" shouted Twig.

"I am sorry, Vernon. I...I was dizzy," said Miah in apology.

"Dizzy...You not dizzy, you need to use your good eye to see where you are going, and not that fake marble one that don't move," sneered Twig, and he lunged at Miah, pushing him over his bicycle.

Old man, (What's the comma here for? -- not necessary) Jeremiah David crashed over his handle bars and rolled off the bicycle frame into the dirt. He lay there for a moment, dazed, hearing just three things: the hushed gasps from the other players, the tic tic ticking of his spinning back wheel, and the barking growl coming from Scotty, ripping at Twig's trouser leg.

"Easy, Twig. Easy, man," said the player.
No one else dared to say anything against Twig as they were all very aware of who his father was. He was slight of frame but his connections were formidable. He kicked away the dog from his ankle and stood over Miah watching him prepare to get up. The contents of the satchel had also spilled out, and among the sweat rags, the half eaten sandwich, and the brown banana peel, something caught Twig's eye. Two tightly bound, thick rolls of money. Twig could tell that both rolls had twenty- dollar bills on the outsides, before Miah scooped them back up into the bag. The barking stopped, the tiles were picked up and reshuffled, and Miah continued on his way up the hill. The domino game resumed, but Twig was now far less enthusiastic about winning. (Well done; you have my attention now)

At home, Miah David had already taken care of the bruise on his forearm from the incident earlier. Into an iron pot in his back yard, he put a number of herbs and plants, added some water and covered it. He re-entered his house, went to his pantry and took the last can of sardines and six biscuits from the package, and sat down for his supper. That afternoon, they had started to set up stalls for the annual fish festival on the beach, and he had left early. He didn't want to be reminded of that celebration and how it had changed his life.
He sipped water from his enamel cup and listened to the BBC news on his radio. The batteries finally died around the time the sun set, and he shut the transmission down with a click. He got up, turned the kitchen and the dining lights off, sat on a bench outside his bedroom and waited. He sat in the darkness and thought about Eleanor...again, and waited some more. (Nice)

Twig saw the two lights go out in Miah's house from the bushes across the road. (Let me interject right here that you are telling this story from multiple viewpoints. It works for me okay but some will tell you to either settle on one point of view or change the point of view by chapter only. Merely an FYI because it doesn't bother me.) He tried to work out how long it would take for the old man to go to sleep. He figured a half an hour would be enough time to wait before he broke into his house. By the time he made his move from the bushes, he had already picked out the motorcycle that he was going to buy with the money he'd steal from him. Hardly anyone locked their doors in the countryside and he hoped that this lonely old man didn't decide to start tonight. Twig cautiously went up the three steps to the side door and turned the knob. It was old and rusted but with a bit of force the unlocked door opened. He peered head-first into the pitch black void then stepped into Miah David's house.

He reached back for his small pocket torch, took a step forward and his foot dragged on a nylon cord. He heard a swishing noise in the roof and without warning, Twig felt as if he were walking into a huge spider's web. Something fell on his head and around his shoulders. He muffled a yelp at the same time he was shoved into a chair and someone bound him with surprising speed in the darkness. With the need for stealth gone, Twig began to struggle and shout. The overhead light came on and he saw Miah standing in front of him with a cricket bat in hand. There was a fishing net draped over him and rope twined around his waist.

"I have no problem hitting you in the head with this bat if you keep shouting, Vernon!" quipped a terse Miah.

"How you get to do this to me? " said a struggling Twig.

"Why you break into my house, Vernon?"

"I...Your door was open. I was checking to see if you were alright. You better untie me!"

"Or you will do what? Tell everyone that you got beat up by an old man after you break into his house? Just settle yourself, Vernon. Settle yourself and listen to me carefully!" insisted Miah, pulling up a chair to sit across from him.
Twig's eyes adjusted to the light and he looked, with some fear, at Miah's craggy wrinkles and his grey glass eye up-close. His breathing settled a bit.

"Why do you think you are here? Why do you think you are tied up with a fishing net and rope?" asked Miah.

"I don' know."

"You are here because I am a fisherman. I am good at it in the sea and I am good at it on land. You just have to know what kind of bait to use. Look over there on the table Vernon. Is that what you break into my house for?" asked Miah.
He motioned to the table next to the wall, where the two rubber-banded wads of money rested like size 'D' batteries. Twig looked over and swallowed hard.
"You think you can get the Kawasaki motorcycle with that cash?" asked the old man.

"How you know that I want to get that?"

"I been passing by your domino games for years. Many things are said. I just pay attention."

"Listen, you can keep your money, you starting to waste my time. Untie me and we call this even, Miah."

"But I want you to have the money, Vernon."

"You...want me to have it?"

"Yes. The money is yours, but you have to do something for me in return," said Miah.

"Like what?"

"I want you to give your father some information."

"About what? I don't like going anywhere near him unless I have to. How much money over there?"

"There is enough money over there to buy a brand new motorcycle, Vernon. But you have to tell a story to him for me."

"Why?" asked Twig.

"I have a score to settle with him," replied Miah with a furrow across his brow.

"Old man, Miah...You know who you talking about right. My Father, Big Buffer, ex-police Inspector Hackett. You are more crazy than I thought. Nobody settles scores with Big Buffer. I seen and I feel what he can do to people," said Twig with a big grin.

"Just deliver the message, Vernon. I take blame for everything else after that."

"Why you keep calling me 'Vernon'. I hate that name. Everybody call me Twig."

"Because I knew your mother and I was there when she named you," said Miah with a scowl.

"You were there? You knew her? How?" asked Twig with a confused stare.

"It is not important how I know her. I just did."

"You know where she is in Guyana? Is she coming back here?"

"You think that is where she is?"

"That is what Big Buffer tell me all the time. That she run back there," said Twig. Miah cleared his throat and nodded. (This should be part of the next paragraph)

"I don't know if she is coming back, Vernon," said Miah. " Look, the offer is still there, the money is yours if you want it, but only if you going to talk to your Father. I can not force you. If you say no, I untie you and we call it even."

"My mother never went back to Guyana did she?" asked Twig looking deep into his eye. His nostrils flared and he breathed deeper. Miah just shrugged and blinked slowly.

"What is the story you want me to tell Big Buffer?" asked Twig. Miah eyed him for a second and spoke.

"Tell him that you overheard me say that I found a bale of marijuana floating in the sea while I was fishing. That I brought it home here and I am planning to burn and destroy it in the backyard tomorrow morning."
Twig nodded once. Miah got up and unwound the fishing rope then took the net from around his body. He went to the side table, picked up the two rolls of money and turned to hand them over, but Twig had gone silently, into the quiet night. A shadow when he came, a ghost when he left.

Miah went to the open side-door and closed it. He paused to see if Twig had changed his mind, but he was truly gone. There was a good chance that he would still deliver the message to Inspector Hackett. Regardless of the odds, He turned and began preparing for his arrival in the early morning hours. Of course there was never any marijuana found at sea, but Miah was sure that the scent of suggestion would be an overpowering bait for the ex-policeman. He put the rolls of money back on the side table and headed for the backyard. He lit a length of newspaper and used it to start a fire under the covered pot. The paper caught the wood shavings, and the wood shavings caught the logs and soon the orange flames danced around under the cauldron. He wanted it to burn hot, so he doused a few drops of kerosene from a half gallon glass jug. It was easy to become mesmerized by the fire in the yard and think about Eleanor again, but he had work to do inside.
Miah was not just a fisherman, but a tinkerer of sorts. He was intrigued by the cause behind the effect of things in life; natural or manmade. He fought through the hypnotic effect of the fire swaying against the pot surface. There was much to be done inside to get ready for retired Inspector Hackett.

It was just after ten o'clock when Twig reached the home of his father. He had walked the entire six miles in the dark and now he was standing outside the low front gate. He used to live there as a child for a while, just after his mother abandoned him, until his father kicked him out. He felt very conflicted about being there again. He had enjoyed the safety and prestige of living in a brick house in a nice neighborhood. But the beatings, on himself and his string of women...The beatings all but negated those feelings. He lifted the clasp on the gate and pushed. The rusted hinges made their metallic protest and he walked past Big Buffer's aging Toyota into the garage.

"Who is that out there? Don't come a step further!" Big Buffer's voice was gruff as it carried from behind the window in the garage.

"It is me,Twig."

"What do you want? You looking to get shot at this time of night?" challenged Big Buffer coming from behind the curtain.

"You got any food or change on you?"

"I have plenty of both but I don't see why I should give you any at all."

"I can come inside?"

"No... I have company, go back to where you came from," said his father putting his pistol back into his waistband.

"You hear from my mother recently? Letter? Phone call? Anything?" blurted twig out of the blue. He knew he had not spoken of her with him in over five years.

"Ahem... aah yes now that you bring it up. Got a letter last week. She good. She good."

"She ask about me?"

"No, it was business. Just business... Why the hell you asking me all these questions?"

"Can you give me her address in Guyana? I want to write her," pleaded Twig looking up at his imposing father.

"Look, stop humbugging me. I don't know the address. I think I throw it away. Besides, you can't even write properly. You need to go now. Your welcome is just about up." spat Big Buffer.
A woman came up from behind Buffer Hackett, dressed only in the towel wrapped around her. She pretended to adjust it and smiled. Twig turned to leave the garage then stopped and faced his father again.

"I hear Jeremiah David talking at the shop this afternoon. He say he found some wrap-up marijuana floating in the sea when he was fishing today. He carry it home and he say he going to burn it tomorrow morning."

"Eh heh? How much?"

"I don't know. A lot," said Twig, and he turned again.

"Hey okay. Hold this twenty-dollar bill for me then."

"Keep it Inspector. Keep it," said Twig with a scowl. He left his father's yard and walked back into the night's bosom. He could not explain the sensation he was experiencing. It was as if all the lies his father ever told him had grown wings, and were buzzing around his head. Twig had to fight off the over powering urge to physically swat them away. (I am intrigued by the story at this point. No doubt "Big Buffer" had something to do with Eleanor's demise. But what might it have been and how was Miah going to get even? Inquiring minds want to know! )

Old man Miah David stooped alongside the boiling mixture in the pot. He stirred the concoction mindlessly as his mind drifted back to thoughts of his Eleanor. How he still missed her over these decades. This new morning would make it twenty-one years since her death. Twenty-one years of solitude and loneliness without the grace of his beautiful young wife. Although there was opportunity, Miah had no desire for any other woman in his life after her. They had only been married for two years before her death, but he had known her and her sister Linda since they arrived from Guyana when she was just eighteen years old. He was already a mature man in his mid-forties when he first encountered them, and he could still see them both, in their school uniforms and broad-brimmed Panama hats, getting off the bus. They had been sent to stay with relatives until their parents could afford to take them back, but he prayed silently that their fortunes would not turn around before he built up enough courage to court Eleanor. He replayed happier scenes over and over from his memory banks, but the pain of her absence always won.

The old Toyota belonging to Big Buffer Hackett pulled up alongside Miah's house. It must have been close to five-thirty in the morning when Miah heard the tires crunching on the small stones. He had not slept for the entire night, but despite his aging body he was pleased with the energy he still had in reserve. The most difficult task of the night was always going to be getting the wheelbarrow from the yard inside the house. (I notice that once in a while your sentence structure is incorrect. For instance, as written, it sounds like Miah wants to get the wheelbarrow from a yard which is inside the house. A simple correction would be by saying "moving the wheelbarrow from the yard into the house". It's not a big deal, but a literal interpretation on the part of the reader can possibly point him in another direction and/or force him to go back and reread the line over again.) His plan would be of zero value if he could not have achieved this. The doorways in his house were very narrow and it had taken much twisting and leverage to slide it through upright. He placed the wheelbarrow facing outward to the backyard just in front of the back door. He spread his strongest nylon fishing net on the bottom, some bush and debris atop that and covered the whole thing with a bedspread. The last thing he did before he heard the footsteps approaching was to place the glass container of kerosene on the ground against the wall. He sat down and awaited the knock. The flicker of the kerosene lamp on the floor near the doorway offered a comforting glow.

Big Buffer Hackett was of considerable size. From his early thirties, the girth of his abdomen seemed to be on an ever increasing path. Despite his poor physique in the police force, promotions came steadily due in part to his high arrest and confession rate. He retired some five years ago from the force at the rank of inspector but the truth was, his corrupt nature had finally caught up with him. The commissioner demanded his shield or he would have recommended criminal charges be brought against the mountain of accusations leveled over the years. (Reconsider this sentence. The charges would have been against Big Buffer, not against the mountain of accusations) Buffer Hackett was feared and revered in the communities and villages up and down the East coast of the island. He knew Jeremiah David well. In fact they had attended the same primary school, only at different times, many years ago. He was a bully then, and he still felt entitled to all things he wanted, even as he walked up the steps to this door.

He slapped at the door with an open palm and shouted,"You in there, Miah David? Open the door, you one-eyed monk. We got business to discuss!"

"Who is out there?" feigned Miah.

"Open the door and you will see who. The law is out here!"

"What do you want? I did not send for you," said Miah.

"Open the door or I will break it down!"

Miah opened the door and stepped back from the entrance. Big Buffer Hackett filled the room when he entered. "I hear you found some contraband. I will take it off your hands and deliver it to the station for evidence."

"You don't work for the force anymore, Buffer. Who are you trying to fool?"

"You better turn it over or I will arrest you for possession, intending to distribute."

"As I said, you are not a policeman and I have already burned it," lied Miah.

"You what? What the hell is that in the wheelbarrow over there then? Step aside!" shouted Buffer as he strong-armed Miah out of the way. He headed through the kitchen towards the wheelbarrow. But Miah anticipated this and followed closely. (I would consider eliminating this sentence, as the reader already knows this from previous disclosure) Just as Big Buffer bent over to flip the bedspread off the wheelbarrow, Miah David brought his hands from behind his back. In each hand he held sharpened sticks that were pasted black at the pointed ends. He thrust both sticks hard, into Big Buffer's buttocks, then withdrew them. Big Buffer yelped in surprise. He grabbed the back of his pants and turned around to face Miah.

"What the hell Miah... You stabbed me? You know you are dead right? You are dead!" screamed Buffer Hackett in shock. He reached out and seized the old man around his neck and squeezed. Miah stood firm with little defense. He felt his wind pipe being compressed under the vice of the giant before him, but he remained calm.
Buffer Hackett felt the urge to kill, but in all honesty, he felt a larger urge to sit down and throw up. His knees buckled and straightened, then buckled again. His grip around Miah's neck was embarrassingly weak and he had difficulty focusing his vision. Before he could fall, Miah reached out and pushed him backwards into the wheelbarrow. Big Buffer Hackett thudded neatly into the barrow, crushing the debris and twigs beneath his weight.

"What did you do to me old man... why I feel so strange?"

"All in due time retired inspector," said Miah. He turned away and pushed the dining table from the center of the room then positioned himself between the handles of the wheelbarrow. He steadied himself for the heavy lift. He closed his eyes and pretended he was at sea hauling in a net full of flying fish. It took him three attempts to position the load in the center of the room, but his old back held out. Buffer complained vocally, but his limbs were of little use. Miah gathered the corners of the fishing net overhanging the wheelbarrow, threaded a large boat hook through the mesh and flung the attached rope up and across the large rafter beam in his ceiling. He used a small foot winch to raise the overweight man six inches out of the wheelbarrow and slid it out from under him.

"What you do to me? I can barely talk properly," complained the now suspended ex-policeman (a different context, but I like the irony in those words) swaying gently. "What is this all about?"

"This is about your sins. The wrongs of your life Buffer Hackett. We will just spend a few minutes talking about them. Remind you how you hurt so many people over these years and then I'll see how you feel about them."

"Why can't I move my arms, my legs?"

"Oh...Just a bit of curare on the tip of those sticks. You know curare right, Big Buffer? The muscle poison from certain bushes. Guess how I would know about curare? Hmm. Give up? I will tell you then. I was taught this bush secret from my dear wife more than twenty-one years ago. You remember her Big Buffer? Eleanor was her name and her Guyanese father told her about how to make it.

"What that got to do with me?"

"I will tell you... I will tell you brother. But while I do, I will continue to put some things in place before your interview starts. That curare will wear off in a while, if you are still alive by then, you will be free to leave. The rope between your legs will help you to get out of the net."

"Miah David, you don't have the guts to kill anything but fish, and even then you feel bad for them. You can't kill me!"

"You might be right... But if you die here this morning, it will be by your own hands," said Miah repositioning tables in the room.

"You madder than I thought," said the limp man swaying in the fishnet.
Miah David spoke while he worked. He emptied a box of dominoes onto the table and began arranging them, standing tall and close to each other in a line.
"You remember how I lost my eye Buffer, do you remember? We were playing dominoes at the fish carnival by the beach twenty-one years ago and you got upset at losing a game and flung a tile at my face. Hit me right flush in the eye Buffer. Remember that night?"

"You should have ducked." (This is a great sentence as it shows the inherent arrogance -- not a bit of remorse -- from a man who still has no idea of how much trouble he is in)

"Well this morning is not so much about my lost eye, but the tile that you threw, it was a 'deuce-one'. Just like this one here. I will tie this string around it and put it right at the end of this line of dominoes. That is important for you to know."

Miah was finished with his preparation and he sat on the floor against a wall, right on a big 'X' he made with tape. It felt good to finally sit down. His back was sore from all the bending and lifting. He paused to look around the room to admire what he had achieved. A mini engineering feat he thought, with all the levers and hinges. This was all for Eleanor, he thought happily, she would have been proud of him. But then the sadness rushed in again to fill the aching void. His lower jaw quivered as he fought back tears, but he managed to steel himself. The next few minutes would require a sterner focus.

"The string from the last domino tile is tied to something, Buffer. I want you to look up behind you, into the rafters."
Big Buffer obeyed and made out a crude appearing crossbow with a black-tipped arrow pointed in his direction.
"If that domino falls it will release the trigger on the crossbow and that curare-tipped arrow will hit you in the back. It is far more potent than the ones from before. This one will stop your breathing muscles and kill you in a short time. All you have to do is answer truthfully and the dominoes will stay upright," explained Miah.

"I will not take part in this crazy game. I am a grown man with loyal friends," said Big Buffer.

"If you don't answer I will count it as a lie anyway. It is up to you, Inspector," said Miah.

"Cut me down from this net! Cut me down from this rafter now!" cried a desperate Buffer.

"Look closely at that rafter Buffer. I do... all the time. You are hung from that rafter because this is the one I found my pregnant Eleanor dead and swinging from. She hung herself from that very beam of wood, Buffer Hackett."

"Jesus wept, Miah David!" cried a wide-eyed Buffer. "Cut me down!"

"Be quiet and listen carefully. This is your first question: when my wife and her sister came to your police station twenty-one years ago to pay for the permit to sell alcohol for the fish festival, did you rape both of them?"

"No...No that never happened like that. They wanted me to do things to them. They were asking for it."

Big Buffer Hackett told his first lie under Miah's interrogation. The two sisters did, in fact, go to the police station to apply and pay for the permit. Miah had been too busy setting up his stall on the beach and had asked his wife to do it for him. A bored Buffer was the sole policeman on duty that evening, and he took both girls into the back holding room. He made them parade nude before him and then raped them both under the threat of deportation. Both sisters became pregnant that evening.

"She and Linda kept that secret from me for nearly eight weeks. Never said a word to anyone, but I knew something was wrong. When she finally told me she was pregnant I told her it was alright and that I would raise the child as mine. But she could not do it. She felt ashamed and contaminated by your seed, Buffer. She hung herself. Right there, because of you!" blurted Miah.

"No, none of that is my fault."

Miah reached above his head and released a lever with a playing card at the base of the rod. It swung like a pendulum right over the first domino tile. The wind, from the passing card rushing by, did not move the tile at all. The arm swung back and clicked in place over Miah's head. He added another playing card to the base.

"Here is your second question: have you ever beat up innocent men into confessing crimes they did not commit or falsify evidence before the court to get convictions?"

There was a gruffy snort from Buffer, but no answer was given. He watched though, as Miah reached above his head and released the pendulum arm for the second time. The displaced air rocked the first upright tile, but it was not enough to topple it onto its brothers. Buffer realized then that Miah was serious about his mission. But something else was happening. He was regaining strength in his limbs. He could swing his legs a bit and even clench his fist. He tried to think how he could buy more time to get up out of the fishing net. He moved his hands closer to the rope coming through the net between his knees.

"Here is your third question: Linda bore your only child, Vernon. You grudgingly admitted that he was your son from that rape. You toyed with him in your shady schemes and pretended to all that you cared for him. You used the poor boy as an informant. So tell me, Big Buffer Hackett, where is Linda now?" demanded Miah.

"She left...I swear she just up and left and went back to Guyana ten years ago!" said a nervous Buffer. He was anxious to buy more time for more of his strength to return. He now had a pretty firm grip on the rope end.

"So you don't know anything about her dead decaying body I found in a bushy ravine. You don't know how your son's mother had her head bashed in and thrown down into a garbage ravine? I found her, Buffer! I buried her, Buffer!"

"I had nothing to do with that. She fell..."

Miah reached up and released the lever. The long arm pendulum, with the third card now at the bottom, was in flight. His expression was dour and blank. Behind his single functioning eye was a universe of sadness. Sadness that the obese ex-policeman before him had caused. Both he and Buffer watched the first tile teeter on its edges... then tip over from the draught of the cards. It toppled into the next one, and the next one, and the next, all the way down the line. Buffer held his breath as the final tile, the deuce-one, bound with string, fell off the table and tripped the crossbow trigger. The black-tipped arrow flew straight and true from the ceiling and sunk deep into the target's shoulder.

Buffer Hackett shrieked. Then he fell silent and opened an eye. The arrow missed him. Then he let out a laugh. A deep raucous laugh. The arrow was lodged firmly into Miah David's shoulder area.

"Haaaaaah! You missed, You missed me! Now it is you that will be paralyzed and suffocate!"

"I didn't miss. I never miss. I just wanted to make sure that I couldn't help you in the fire," said Miah bleeding, smiling, seated.

"Fire...What fire?"

Buffer Hackett was almost back to full strength, but he still could not get out of his hammock-like confinement. The rope that lay in his lap was the key and he could just grip it now with both hands. He pulled with excitement and hope at the prospect of becoming free. The prospect of kicking Miah David in the head before he stopped breathing. But the rope, the rope was split like the tongue of a serpent. One end tied to the glass container of kerosene and the other tied to the lit oil lamp on the floor, on the opposite side of the room. Buffer pulled and heaved and they collided under the net, shattering both the container and the lamp.


To Miah, it looked almost like an orange carpet on the floor. Beautiful and warm. Just like his love for Eleanor. He closed his eyes and whispered a 'Good morning' to her. He heard Big Buffer's struggles of course, but they were relegated to an unimportant frequency in his mind. He was calm and he was at peace. He was coming home, after all.

Not far away, just down the hill, Scotty woke from her spot under the rum shop. She stepped out and howled. She howled for the very first time ever, and stopped only when she heard the siren from the fire truck.
Twig had spent the night on the porch of the community center overlooking the bay. He sat up from the flattened cardboard and hugged his knees when he heard that wailing siren. He knew, somehow, the meaning behind that sad song.

Initial Impression: My normal procedure is to copy the story into the review tool, because it makes highlighting the (normally many) corrections easier. The problem here is that I didn't have much to critique, so it wasn't really necessary.

This was a wonderfully told story; you are a talented writer, my friend.

What Stood Out (Favorably): Everything about the story, the language (local accent), the detail, everything, was top-notch. My interest grew as I read.

Characters: Well done; details were fantastic. I felt I could see these characters in vivid detail. Again, as I mentioned somewhere, there is a tendency to shift point-of-view from paragraph to paragraph, and some folks will grab the torches and start running up your driveway, but I really didn't see it as a problem (because I don't see it as one). I was never confused about whose thoughts were whose, but someone will probably have a spaz attack over it.

Story: My biggest concern was probably that it seemed like the story took a little while to get legs and pick up steam. I wouldn't pretend to know what parts could be streamlined; because maybe it's just me, but I think the pace picked up when twig visited Pop and it sort of gained momentum after that.

Background: Excellent. Always had a clear picture of the scene in my mind.

Dialog: Superb. The accents and dialog seemed so realistic to me, a definite plus to the story

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: Not much; maybe just the few items I mentioned above. But don't get me wrong: It's a great work as is.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. It was a pleasure to read; you have a new fan as of today. Good luck to you Sir!

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source. And lastly, if I have succeeded in agitating you to the point of retaliation, I do apologize, but please make note of my address below, visit my port, and "let me have it."

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of A Slice of Time  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello there, Firesnake ! Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. So please do not feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. What I typically do with a shorter work such as this is paste it into the review tool and comment as I go through it the first time, for my initial reactions as I read. General comments will be made after reading multiple times. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback...


This was the crucial moment. A wrong movement ("move" more appropriate here; "movement' makes it sound as if he's in the bathroom) and hours of preparation would be completely lost. Taking a deep breath he looked briefly around the room, in an attempt to calm his frazzled nerves. (Notice you're big on adverbs. So am I, but I'm trying to be aware of them and reduce their usage. If you use them too often -- as is the case above, it does stand out in a negative way) His classmates were hard at work, trying to overcome the final hurdle in the long and difficult road towards the coveted badge of the Cosmic Police Force. (Run-on sentence, can be cut in half and say the same thing)
He couldn't help noticing that most seemed to be almost finished. (Just out of curiosity, how does one know someone else is "almost" finished until they are actually finished?) This caused a new wave of panic. What if he was the only one to fail?
Calm, he needed to be remain (I think "remain" works better here) absolutely calm. Closing his eyes he went through the prescribed exercises, pushing back any thoughts of failure or inadequacy.
Feeling better, he looked again into the machine. (I don't like this sentence. "Feeling better" probably doesn't reflect his actual feeling. This makes him sound like he was sick. Perhaps "Regaining control" or "Regaining his confidence". Also, be careful with the use of "again" since there was no indication of an initial viewing above. Don't want your reader scratching his/her head) The scene was almost perfect. The long hours spent in the Archives (capitalization necessary?) had paid off. It had been difficult, pouring through old and almost illegible reels, but if he pulled it off he would get extra points for originality.
In recent memory no one had used this Planet (again, why the capitalization?) or this period. Probably because with so much going on all the time it was difficult to isolate just one incident. But he had done it! (A minor point, but I'd lose the exclamation point here. It feels forced and artificial. Better to make the readers feel the excitement as opposed to telling them) Provided, of course, that the last bit went right.
Peering through the lenses he tensed, waiting for just the right moment. He couldn't be sure, of course, but he had a feeling that if he waited a few seconds more things would be even better.
There, now was the time. His right hand moved rapidly over the buttons. For a breathless moment it seemed as if he was going to fail. But no, the lights were turning green so he had a sample.
Doubt assailed him again. What if he had waited too long? What if the perfect moment had already passed?
The minutes ticked off, almost as loud as his heart. Win or lose, everything would be decided in the next few minutes.
Finally the last indicator turned green, indicating that the sample was ready. Holding his breadth he switched on the tiny screen and peered at it through the magnifying lenses. It was perfect, absolutely perfect.
He was certain of a pass, and with maximum points or very close to it. His sample had everything going for it: obscure origin, busy epoch, maximum number of main characters and perfect timing.
With a self-satisfied (the description means/adds nothing) smile he looked again at his slice of life: a dark alley, one man frozen in the act of falling, with blood on his shirt, the woman next to him with her mouth open in a silent scream, another guy with a weapon in his hand and a dog at the end of a leash trying in vain to avoid being crushed by the falling body.
And in Chicago, 1973, a couple walking their dog vanished without a trace, baffling the police, their respective families and their friends. The same happened to a local petty crook but his disappearance went unnoticed: nobody missed him.

Initial Impression: Nice job in keeping me in the dark as to the just what was happening here. I enjoy it when I'm surprised like that.

What Stood Out (Favorably): The title is perfect. You did a good job in keeping me interested enough to want to continue reading to find out just what was going on here. I like the way you set this up.

Characters: Really only one main character, who was nameless. I would suggest giving him a name, simply because we can relate easier to someone with a name easier than someone called "he" all the time. I think you could benefit from expanding on his character more, perhaps showing more physical reaction to what was happening.

Story: "A Slice" is a short tale, but a good one. Obviously, this could be used as a beginning, middle or even ending to a larger story. I like what you have here; I suggest you develop this into a larger work. I'd enjoy reading it.

Background: I'd go into more detail about the others in the room; maybe some groans from others who screwed up the "test" or perhaps a demanding instructor -- but it's your story...

Dialog: None. I'd personalize the story a bit by throwing in a few verbal comments by the main character; even if he's only talking to himself. It shows a glimpse of his personality, and helps us decide whether we are for or against him.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: As I mentioned inline, I'm a adverb maniac, too. It's an easy trap to fall into. But I would suggest you take some of those adverbs out and see how much you really miss them; you may be surprised at how little you do...Try to paint your picture through description/action rather than the "telling" of the story, if you know what I mean.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. Your word choice and presentation is very good for the most part. There were a few instances where I gave suggestions, which might clarify your character's intentions, but I still had the general gist of the story after one reading.

You say you've been out of writing for some time. It's good that you have returned to writing; you definitely have something to offer. Best of luck to you...

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Finding Meat  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
Hello there, P. K. Jørgensen ! Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. So please do not feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. I'm pasting the entire story into the review, as it's much easier to critique as I go along. Any other general comments I'll save until the end. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback...


Alone and broken, eaten up inside. She shivered by the fire whilst watching the wood burn away, just same as her soul. A moth was swarming (I would suggest another word, as "swarm" represents more than a single insect) around her head, quiet, yet she noticed it. Outside the rain ruthlessly threw itself at her windows, but she didn't care, the wind was clawing at her house, but it didn't matter to her either. Her bare feet were as cold as deaths embrace, even though she held them close to the fire. Her hair was a mess; she hadn't brushed or washed it for days, her clothes were bloody and torn after the struggle, but she had no will left in her to move from the fireplace to change clothes. (IMO too long a sentence; consider breaking up) In her sweaty hands she held the dagger tight. "Please stay dead this time." She whispered and glanced at the carpet next to her bed which covered the corpse. She sighed deeply, and fought a bitter ("Bitter" doesn't seem to fit here; how about simply "losing"?) battle against the tears. She had no where ("nowhere" is one word)to hide or run to. (New paragraph) She lived deep inside an old forest, with trees as tall as towers, forever reaching into the blackness of the sky. Her car had broken down, and the weather had not allowed her to leave the house for a long time. She carefully scratched her arm, the bite wound was heavily infected, and she knew she was dying. "It's been three days." she mumbled and tried to forget the day her son visited. He had been attacked on a gas station on his way to visit her, knowing she was a nurse he figured she could tend to the wounds he got from the fight. When he arrived he explained to her that they had tried to eat him alive, but he managed to fight them off before it got too serious, aA few hours later, he grabbed her arm and bit her. At first she managed to lock him inside the bathroom, but eventually he made it out by scratching through the wooden door with his nails. She stabbed him in the chest while defending herself. A tear ran down her chin. It wasn't enough to kill him, he kept coming towards her, she panicked and pushed him away, he then fell and hit the floor with the back of his head and blood painted everything red. I suggest you look at how long your sentences are overall. In the highlighted one, for example, you have numerous segments of description which are hard to take in all at once) A lightning strike lit up the room. Once again, she glanced at the corpse, wondering what really happened to him, wondering, what made him that way. Not long after, she starting feeling faint, her thoughts slowly faded away, and the feber fever was starting to get out of control. She looked at her arm, the pain was spreading from the bitewound bite wound to every part of her being, yet, she felt a strange numbness in her body. Once again, she scratched the wound, and a piece of dead flesh gently fell on the floor. Without a thought, she picked it up and put it in her mouth, to her, it just felt like the right thing to do, no questions asked, she chewed on it and blankly looked into the fire. With eyes as dry as sandpaper, she slowly walked to the couch to lay down, and it was only a matter of minutes before she quietly took her last breath.
She opened her eyes, waking up after a beautiful dream, but she couldn't remember any details of it. But she had the feeling inside her, whispering to the corners of her mind that this was good. The fire was out, and had been out for a long, long time. The rain had stopped and sunlight came in through the windows, bringing life back into the house. For a while she didn't move at all, she was quiet, wondering why she couldn't hear her heartbeat, wondering, why she didn't breathe and why she was concious conscious (Question: Did you bother to use the spell check prior to posting this?)if her body had shut down. A sudden burst of anger and fear invaded her mind and soul. She started to shake, and forced herself to breathe to calm herself down, but the air felt hollow. She started to hit her chest, trying to force her heart into action, but it remained quiet. "This is a nightmare." She thought to herself, because her mouth and throat denied her of speaking out loud. A hunger raged through her body as snake venom, the urge to eat was so intense that the anger and fear was replaced by panic. It had been weeks since she had been out hunting, thus leaving her with no food in the house. The panic and hunger was building up inside her, and she ran to the corpse of her son, "Atleast (I won't correct any more errors which simple proofreading on your part would have caught) we can be together this way (The logic in this seems a bit contradictory, even though I understand what you're aiming for. However, the rationale that by consuming someone you love somehow brings you together is very farfetched)." she thought to herself and took a bite of his hand. "I am so sorry.", she took another bite and eventually devoured his entire arm. She wanted to cry, but her eyes were dry and the hunger remained as powerful as before, but she couldn't make herself eat more of her dear son. So...she draws the line at only eating an arm, huh, even with her hunger level remaining the same? I wouldn't include these thoughts, since either she is lucid enough to understand it is her son and doesn't snack on him, or she isn't. I get that you're attempting to illustrate the conflict within her, but it simply is hard for me to buy. The man she had given birth to and raised so well without a husband. Ashamed, she walked outside. The birds were singing and a quiet wind gently pushed her hair away from her face, a leaf fell from one of the tall trees and danced on it's way towards the ground where it would unite with the others that had fallen ever so gracefully to cover the grass under them. The woman didn't notice any of this, the only thought going through her head was to find something to eat, something that wasn't her only son. For days to come, she walked quietly through the forest, eating whatever animal corpses she'd walk across, until eventually she reached a town.
At first glance, everything seemed deserted, as if everyone had left in a rush, cars was were left on the streets with open doors, even some houses had smashed windows and open doors. Few of the homes were boarded up with pieces of wood and furniture,. "What happened here?" she wondered as she walked through the silent street. (All right....If she is still capable of rational thought at this stage, and she is fully aware of what she has become, how can the state of the town be -- even remotely -- a puzzle? If she is a lucid zombie then she also appears to be a fairly stupid one, too. My BS meter is ringing quite loudly at the moment.) She no longer cared for in which what direction she walked, she simply followed an inner compass telling her that the way she was walking, was the right one and eventually found a mall surrended (SP) by people. However as she came closer she realized, the people she saw were all dead, most of them, more or less eaten up, and the stench of rotten corpses in sunlight filled her nose. (Again, how is she capable of being turned off by the smell of the corpses? Isn't she getting a bit stinky herself? How come her nose still works?) Her body demanded to push forward, and eventually she found herself pushing her body against the barricated glassdoor (SP) keeping everyone out of the mall. "I want to get inside. I need to get inside. I must get in there!" her brain demanded of her. Thus she kept pushing herself against the door. More corpses joined the fight against the foe, which was the door in front of them. "I want to get inside. I must!", she never wondered why, it was just how it was and she didn't fight it. She had no reason to. It was just something that had to be done. "s***, if they keep at it, the door will break before help gets here!", "Be quiet John, they can hear us." the voices came from the heavens she thought (uh-huh), and looked up, two men was were on the roof, looking down at her (why just her, if she was with a bunch of other zombies a moment ago?). "I must get inside. I need it. Right now!" it seemed as though everyone around her had the same thought and suddenly, glass shattered everywhere and the war against the barricades began. Through the wooden planks she saw people moving around, "I want to get inside." (Okay, I get it! I think you've stated this more than enough for us to understand where they want to be!) she thought and pushed against the wood even harder. The panic inside her started to awaken as she saw the humans disappear into the mall, up the stairs, closing a door, another obstacle. The barricade broke down. Another small victory! (Are we supposed to be rooting for her?) She ran (Do zombies run?) along with hundreds of others up the stairs and broke down the door fairly easy. More stairs. "The roof. I want to go there. Now. I must!" she ran up the stairs with the army of corpses and suddenly, gunfire filled the air, she allowed herself to be swallowed into the group, to use those around her as meatshield. (Notice how long that sentence is. Also, there is no mention of the origin of the gunfire?) "I will get there first. To the top. Because I have to!", (Why? Is there a prize for getting there first?)the stairs became soft, she looked down and realized she was walking on a carpet of corpses (Very far-fetched). It didn't matter, that only meant they wouldn't get to the roof before her. (Guess not...But seriously, why the race to the roof? you should explain this) "Tyler! Quit shooting and get out here so we can close the door!" a woman shouted. She finally reached the top of the stairs, alas, another door was in the way, everyone around her pushed towards the metal door, "We must get out there, we just have to!", united in this matter, everyone put all their strenght (SP) into defeating the final enemy. Something crushed her foot, she felt no pain, but she did feel the bones shatter. "It doesn't matter. We're almost there. We're at the top!". (Style point: Is she actually saying this out loud, or is she thinking it? As presented, it's a sentence, but I don't see the value of speaking it) The door finally gave in, the group dragged her back (explain to the reader why they did so) and rushed out of the through the door. "No!! I want to get out there! NOW!" Panic rushed through her once again. More intense gunfire and the door would soon be too full of corpses for her to get through. She forced her way outside, the gunfire had quickly been silenced, and now screams filled the air, people, eating people. She stopped for a moment to watch the scene, those who had been hiding up here was being eaten alive, clothes torn to pieces, guns shattered across the roof, and a helicopter flew over her head and stayed at the edge of the building. Watching. Just as her. "I could... Eat those as well..." she slowly limped towards the feast, she simply went along with whatever was happening around her, following every single new instinct. (?) (This can be stated much better) Someone pushed her to the ground (how rude) and rushed to join the feast as the screams quickly died out. The helicopter was still watching. "I....I'm so hungry..." she thought to herself (Uh-oh...Here we go again) and got on her feet and limped closer to the feast. Something made her stop again, uncertain of what it was that made her stop, she looked down at her feet, her twisted foot and bleeding legs, then at the helicopter. For some reason she suddenly had a strong desire to catch it. She limped to the edge of the roof to get a closer look, it was so close and she tried to grab it, alas it was further away than she thought and she fell off the building. (Zombies trying to catch helicopters NEVER ends well)... She had been fighting so hard to get up there, and the hunger was tearing her apart. The helicopter flew over her head, watching. She looked at the helicopter for a while and tried to grab it with her hands, but no matter how much she stretched her body, she couldn't reach the noisy machine. She growled and moaned, wondering why she couldn't reach it. She then shook her head (Ah, yes....zombie frustration) and got on her feet, trying to decide where to go next, when a crate was lowered down in front of her. It smelled nice. It smelled like meat and she walked into it. It was indeed meat, pig, cow, she didn't know, but she happily started eating it until everything became black as the crate was closed around her. The helicopter had caught her in a trap. (Never trust a helicopter, I always say)
Her her teeth ripped the raw meat to shreds, the blood ran from her mouth onto her torn week old clothes, (good luck trying to clean those) and her eyes stared blankly into the darkness which surrounded her. She was being carried across land and sea, but she had no clue, nor did she care, in fact her mind wasn't even present. (Okay, that sentence,completely contradicts itself). That part of her was sleeping now, resting with no worries because she had the one thing in the world she needed between her hands; Meat.

Initial Impression: Before we go anywhere as far as the review, you need to do two things 1) Double space between paragraphs, and 2) Understand what constitutes a paragraph. This requires/encourages order to your story; as it needs the thoughts broken into tolerable, bite size (in zombie terms) sections, which are known as...wait for it...paragraphs! This is something you MUST do, if you want your work to appear professional. More people will be likely to review it, too. Note: Right before sending this, I returned to your story and see that you did everything suggested re: double-spacing and paragraphs, so disregard what I said about the paragraphs. Keep in mind that my critique might not reflect any other changes you made, either.

What Stood Out (Favorably): Here's the thing: Looking back over this story, it appears to me that you took great effort in the beginning of the story to present a true literary work of art. I mean the metaphors, everything, made it fairly interesting to read

Characters: Part of drawing a reader into your story is getting the reader to sympathize or otherwise connect with the MC (Main Character). I don't recall ever even seeing a name for her. So, the entire story was either "she" or "her." I don't understand the reason for the (intentional?) disconnect.

Story: As mentioned earlier, it appeared in the beginning that you were really attempting to paint the reader a picture with some detailed descriptions, etc. Unfortunately, it degenerated considerably as I read, and ended up being more of an "info dump" than a story. Honestly, the last 2/3 or so of the story read as if you'd written it while your house was on fire, and you were dead set upon finishing before you could leave. There were many way-too-long sentences with confusing story logic and unanswered questions. I noted some of them, but skipped many of them as indicating each one would have been way too time-consuming.

Background: More in the beginning; barely any as the story progressed.

Dialog: Dialog is an excellent vehicle for the dispensing of information. While it would have been difficult in the beginning of the story given the circumstances, by the time "she" was at the mall there were other, non-infected humans and much more info could have been given though their conversations.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer: I'm no zombie expert, but at certain points, you describe her as crying (tears) and sweating, for example. If she's a zombie, how does that work? And, I thought that once you were a zombie, rational thought pretty much wasn't an option anymore...Here's my suggestion, and you can do with it what you will: If you are going to write a tale in which the "accepted" standards of logic and/or convention will not apply, it is up to you to explain this to the reader in some fashion or another. I mean, you presented us with a thinking, rational zombie who could feel emotion, etc. This isn't "normal" in my experience with zombies (although I must admit to not having much other than a few other zombie stories I've critiqued).

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. I felt like you started relatively strong with this and sort of drifted away as you wrote. What started as a more serious effort became rather comical as I read, and I doubt that was the reaction you'd hoped for. Always remember writing is not a sprint. It doesn't have to be a marathon either, but you still have to put some work into it. There wasn't enough of that in my opinion. You have the imagination; just work on the technique of getting the story out to the reader as you intend it. Slow down, give it some thought, and the results will come.

I wish you the best in your writing...

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
Hello there 🌷 Carol St.Ann 🌷 ! It's Indelible Ink here, with a review of your work. This is basically to fulfill the requirement(s) for the Game of Thrones Contest. I selected your work as it was listed under the GoT "Written Pieces" section for your House. In spite of the fact that you are the enemy, the words you read are not spiked with venom from House Lannister (The venom's all mine). No, seriously, I hope there's something here that you'll find useful. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

Recently, a friend asked me if I had ever seen a ghost. Did I believe in ghosts? Why or why not?

You know, I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person with an eye on the mystical, it's true. But, since you've asked, I have to admit -- right here, in front of God and everybody, as the saying goes -- I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do . . . Well, you get the picture.

I've never seen one, but I have encountered one. Of that I am surer than sure.

Here's what happened.

Okay, wait. First I need to share what happened that led up to what happened.

As a child, I spent many a summer at the Jersey Shore with my family. Often, as parents do, they allowed me to invite a friend along for a few days, or a weekend. I usually chose my best friend, Meggie Gillespie. This went on for years. (By the way, for those of you who've read my Woodstock experience, yes, it's the same Meggie.) (Okay, I'm immediately looking at you in a different light, as I do anyone who was at Woodstock. I believe that which you refer to as 'spooks' are more commonly known as 'flashbacks')! She and I met in the second grade and will have dinner together in November to celebrate our sixtieth birthdays. It's been a long, wonderful run!

Now, Meggie's parents would reciprocate the invitations and invite me along to their river house on spring and autumn weekends.

While my family beach house was a brand new 1960 contemporary ranch, with kids and pets relegated to a separate wing just beyond my parents' room, Meggie's was a long, narrow 1880's two storey (story) and had been in her family for generations. Kids quarters were on the second floor, an unfinished attic space her mother had designed like a military barracks: bunk bed, nightstand, bunk bed, nightstand, four along each side with the stairway in the center. It was an open stairway with a u-shaped railing that went around it on three sides. The door was at the bottom, on the first floor. (And - yes, you read right, folks. That's sleeping for 16 kids.)

Are you with me so far? Good.

Now, downstairs, at Meggie's, there were three bedrooms that occupied the full length of the house; Meggie's was in front, facing the porch and the street; her parents' room was in the middle, facing the driveway side of the property; and her brother's, (comma unnecessary here) was in the back, facing the yard. The stairway that led to the kids' barracks was just outside the door to Mr. and Mrs. Gillespie's room and smack in the center of the house.

Whenever I was visiting, we would say our good nights and ascend the stairs, Mrs. Gillespie calling up to us to turn out the lights and get to sleep. She never once came up those stairs, and she always closed the door at the bottom. She also never slept in the middle bedroom unless Mr. Gillespie was along; when he wasn't there, she slept on the daybed on the front porch. I never made special note of those two last bits of information, until many years later.

Fast forward to "many years later". I know, you're blown away at how clever I can be. (Your ingenuity is, in fact, 'spooky') (ahem)...

Meggie and I were in our early twenties. We'd had a terrific time with some friends at a well known disco in Manhattan and decided, since it was such a beautiful balmy late-September night, and we were pumped from having met and spent the evening dancing with -- wait; that's another story for another entry -- that we'd throw caution to the wind and make the hour and a half drive to the river house. Maybe go boating the following day.

We made the drive in quick time because there wasn't any traffic on the NJ Turnpike. The river town was very quiet at that time of year and we noticed, on our way in from the interstate, there were no street lights. Back then it wasn't unusual for town officials to save a few dollars each year by shutting them down after Labor Day. We remarked to one another how erie (eerie, with two e's, unless you're talking about the lake) it was; almost like a ghost town. (Nice touch)

We arrived at the house, turned on the electric, and settled in. It was, as I said earlier, a balmy autumn night. The house was stale and we went upstairs to open some windows for the cool breeze off the river. We left the attic door open and opened the transom above the front door to encourage the breeze to waft through the house and keep us cool. We felt more secure with all the first floor windows closed, since it was just the two of us and we couldn't see outside past our noses. Pleased with our cleverness, we said our good nights. Meggie went to her room and I to the middle bedroom. Well, we weren't kids anymore and no one else was there. It seemed silly to sleep upstairs.

I remember vividly how peaceful it was. I'd always loved being in that house and the pitch-black of night partnered with the wonderful memories of our antics earlier that evening at the disco and made it easy to fall asleep. It was lovely.

Some time later, I was awakened, by what, I couldn't tell you, but I had the immediate, overwhelming sensation someone was coming down the stairs. Oddly, though, they didn't creak. There was a presence standing close to me. I was sure I wasn't alone. "Meggie?" says I, with no small degree of trepidation. "Meggie? Is that you?" (Side note: I often wonder why people, when they're only with one other person, always say the other person's name, when there is only one logical choice for an answer. I mean, do ghosts, serial killers, et al, ever answer "Yes, it's Meggie here. Nothing to worry about -- go back to sleep.")?


I sat up in the bed and was just about to stand and turn on the light when something grabbed hold of me by my shoulders and shook me violently. I figured it was Meggie, either messing with my head or sleepwalking. But when I shoved my palms forward to push her away, nothing was there. And it hadn't let go of me yet. It paused and then shook me again, just as violently as it had the first time. I'm not shy about admitting I began to pray. Hard.

I screamed for Meggie several times before she came running. Whatever it was, let go of me as her footsteps reached the doorway. She hit the switch and turned on the light. No one and nothing was there. (how about you?)

I told her what happened, and, after a warm glass of milk, we agreed to decide I'd imagined it. We went back to our rooms and attempted to go to sleep, but I couldn't. Embarrassed beyond reason, I asked her if I could sleep with her. She agreed. I crawled into her bed, like a child, and tried to fall asleep; I really did, but it was just not possible. After a short while, I woke her again and said I had to get out of there. Indeed, I wanted to go home.

Meggie knew I wasn't given to nonsense. She agreed to leave, even though it was 4:30 in the morning. We left immediately, in our pajamas, and drove to her parents' house, an hour away.

When we arrived, her mother came downstairs and asked what on earth we were doing there at that hour. Meggie and I told her we'd been at the river house and I had had a scare in the night. Mrs. Gillespie stood up from the table, put on the teapot, sat back down and asked me if I'd been sleeping in the middle bedroom and if we'd left the attic door open.

I've never gone back to that house.

Like I said, I've never seen a ghost, but I have had a ghostly encounter.



1) Overall Impression: Okay, I just have to ask: While at Woodstock, how did you and Meggie entertain yourselves (besides the music supplied by Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, and Sha-Na-Na?)(What, there were others?)

Seriously though, you did a nice job with this story. Very entertaining, and it is written as if you believe it really happened. Did Meggie's mom ever elaborate on what she knew about the attic door being open and sleeping in the middle bedroom? I would have HAD to ask sooner or later; know what I mean?

2) Best Part(s): You tell a great tale; keeping the pace fast and making for a good, entertaining read. I enjoyed the manner in which you shared the experience.

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help:Not much at all; I think I pointed out a few insignificant items (trying to earn my keep here) but overall, very well done.

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did:An excellent story should be rated as such.

5) Suggestion(s):Just the minor items noted earlier. Other than that, if it ain't broke, don't fix it... An awesome job; keep it up!

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! I crave the attention! After all: One item can produce a whole spectrum of comments; and I just love a little diversity!

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of For Baby’s Sake  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: ASR | N/A (Review only item.)
Hello there Joy }! Indelible Ink here, with a review of your work. This is basically to fulfill the requirement(s) for the Game of Thrones Contest. I selected your work as it was listed under the GoT "Written Pieces" section for your House. In spite of the fact that you are the enemy, the words you read are not spiked with venom from House Lannister (The venom's all mine). No, seriously, I hope there's something here that you'll find useful. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

My! Look at that baby rattle. This will come in handy to get their attention. It makes such a jingling sound. I'm getting used to playing with little things right now. What a gift! The kids should make this rattle our family mascot.

Greg must have bought the rattle for Shannon since she thinks she's pregnant. Be careful what you ask of Heaven; you might just get it, Shannon.

I remember when I gave birth to Greg. He was such an itty bitty thing, so helpless. I promised myself I'd look out for him together with that funny, pointed head of his; a promise I took seriously then, and I had to struggle to keep it. (A difficult admission for any parent to make outwardly, although I suspect most of us make it inwardly at some time or another).

What a relief being without pain! I was in agony, and I was so alone, until a day ago... Now I love this feeling of being light, doing as I please, going through the walls and other structures. I find I have a lot of fun floating around inside their apartment, picking things up, and putting them down. And I have barely learned how to lift things. Imagine, what I'll be able to do in time.

Look, I found a pen. This will come in handy. I think I'll write a reminder on their bedroom wall. Hey, I did it! I wrote, "Death... Mother." I'm getting the hang of it all.

I love making myself at home, here. After all, I'm going to live with them from now on, whether they want me or not. Where else can I go but to my son's home? Greg and Shannon, my son and daughter in-law, they didn't care to admit that I lived. Now they'll have to. They'll see that I have existed and still do exist. This will serve them right.

I spent months in the nursing home. Greg came to see me just once, stayed a few minutes, and left with a vague promise of returning with Shannon. Later I found out Shannon had called the nurses a few times to inquire about me. That doesn't mean much though, because Shannon is dutiful. She called the home out of a sense of duty, propriety, or the scary cobwebs of 'what-will-people-say'. That doesn't sit well with me. What I needed was their caring and affection.

Still, maybe it was me. Maybe I was too considerate of their privacy, their youth, their time. Maybe I should have gained a backbone instead of a wishbone. (Awesome sentence there)!

Oh, I'm in their bedroom now. Look at that brown leather wallet on the dresser. Greg left his wallet home, same as when he was in grade school. He always leaves things behind.

No need to be civilized. I can look into their things now, as I'll search inside this wallet... Nothing unusual... Where did Greg buy this wallet from? It has so many compartments. Ooops! What's that? A phone number with an address. "Carmen?" I know it...

Just like Warren, his father. I used to find such things in his pockets, too. I endured those and him, in tearless silence, as if Warren were a stranger. For Greg's sake, I said to myself. (Very revealing as to Mom's approach to her husband and family)...

Warren had adored me at first, my precise features, blue eyes, and my feathery figure, but his interest dwindled later. Not all men are like that though, thank God for the sake of womankind!

Carmen ha, Greg? I won't let you hurt Shannon. That Carmen needs a visit or two from me, but I'll get to that later. (Some would argue that Greg should be the one tormented, but at the same time I do realize this is Mom's perspective, plus, as the saying goes, 'it takes two to tango')!

Oh, I hear footsteps in the hall. Greg and Shannon must be returning. Let them come in first. Then the fun will begin. Here they are, walking in. Let me listen.

Greg: "I hate to eat while balancing on my lap a full glass of wine on a dripping paper plate. And I hate making stupid conversation with idiotic people."

Shannon: "Well, it is over now, but you know we have to reciprocate, don't you. Sweetie?"

Greg: "Sure. Why not invite all the homeless under Riker's Bridge and serve them in even thinner paper plates? I bet the conversation will be more interesting."

Shannon: "Oh, Greg!"

Look at her...There's nothing like seeing their relationship up close. I bet it will be different than the facade they put up for others. If not now, it will be so after the baby comes." (Lose the quotation marks)

Oh, they are going into the bedroom. It shouldn't be long now.

Shannon: "Greg...Greg, did you write on the wall?"

Here it comes. She saw it. Let me sneak in there.

Greg: "What wall, Honey?"

Shannon: "Turn around and see."

Greg: "It must be Jennie's son. He's a handful."

Shannon: "But he didn't come in here. I had the door closed all the time."

Greg: "Well, kids! What do you expect? You better get used to this, Honey. You'll find out when we have ours. I always sneaked around behind my mother. She never had any inkling."

I didn't? Of course, I did. I knew every single thing he did but didn't let on. What an idiot, my son! Maybe I rushed his toilet training. That's why he turned into this nincompoop. (Or maybe it was the 'not letting on' thing, Mom)!

Shannon: "Oh, Greg...Speaking about your mother, did you call about the funeral?"

Greg: "Yes, Sunday. Everything will be proper. It is a good thing we didn't mention it tonight. I didn't want to get everyone all upset. It would alter the atmosphere."

Alter the atmosphere...Now, I am mad. I know how to alter their atmosphere. For a head start, I'll shake the rattle again in the living room.

Look at them dart out of the bedroom half-undressed. What a sight! Hehehehe...

Shannon: "What was that?"

Greg: "Nothing here. It must be from the outside."

Well, so, how's this? I'm turning on the radio and the television at the same time. Oh, what a racket! And my son, the you-know-what, is coming back to shut it all off.

Greg: "It's okay, Dear. I turned them off."

Shannon: "Greg, you must have done something when you installed the light dimmer."

Stupid kids! It isn't the dimmer on the wall but the dimmer in their heads. (Another great line...priceless!) Will they ever understand? I want to tell them, "You had a mother who loved you both, and she's dead." But I don't know how to do that human-voice thing, at least not yet.

They don't even have a photograph of me around. Except, didn't I see a photo of us with Warren several years ago when I came to visit, right there by the hall in the entrance? Yes...That image...The photo of perfection...Greg's happy family, loving parents...

Shannon comes from a broken home, and she envies Greg. There was nothing to envy. We may have been together for a photo-op, but I was an abandoned woman, in more ways than one. There are many forms of abandonment, as I found out.

Now, where's that photo? Here! I found it. Inside the hallway closet on the top shelf. Let me give it a push. Great. It's falling to the floor. Look at its glass shatter into thousand shards...Here they come running. Imbeciles! Neither thinks of checking inside the closet...

They've gone to sleep now. Let them sleep. In the meantime, I'll go take care of that Carmen. I'll try to break her things, make noises, scare her silly, and write 'Leave Greg Alone!' messages on her walls. I'll give her a night, (I see no reason for the comma there) she'll never forget.

Then tomorrow, I'll come back, curl on the sofa, and think of a way. A way to undo the lousy model Warren has set for Greg, and the other model I also set for him, to make up for that deficient model, by accepting Warren's behavior.

But then, just like in that movie classic, Gone with the Wind, 'tomorrow will be another day.' And this ghost will plan things better than the living, for the living. For the baby's sake.

1) Overall Impression:A very well-done piece. Initially, I suspected it would be the basic overdone premise of someone who'd died and was now coming back to sort of 'set the record straight' -- more or less. However, this goes considerably deeper, as the dead mother's criticisms include considerable introspection; not only of her, but of her husband, too. There is enough second guessing on her part to assume that what she has learned after death may not only indict her husband, son, and daughter-in-law, but her as well.

2) Best Part(s): I enjoyed the way the mother told the story. Everything sounded so natural and real. It has to have a very high 'believability factor' rating...

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help:Not much; I thought it was well done!

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did:One of the better "not-meant-to-be-creepy-but-turns-out-to-be" stories I've read of late.

5) Suggestion(s):Can't think of anything significant. This is very, very good without my meddling...Keep it up!

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! I crave the attention! After all: One item can produce a whole spectrum of comments; and I just love a little diversity!

** Image ID #1920846 Unavailable **

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello there Maryann - House Martell ! Indelible Ink here, with a review of your work. This is basically to fulfill the requirement(s) for the Game of Thrones Contest. I selected your work as it was listed under the GoT "Written Pieces" section for your House. In spite of the fact that you are the enemy, the words you read are not spiked with venom from House Lannister (The venom's all mine). No, seriously, I hope there's something here that you'll find useful. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

Gabe Kotter's head turned slightly to observe his students as he entered the room. One teen's face was hidden in his arms as he rested down on the desk. Kotter assumed he was asleep. Several other students gazed, transfixed, in one direction or another. Kotter himself had attended this very high school many years ago. He knew what it was like to have a class at eight o'clock on a Monday morning.

Kotter picked up a piece of yellow chalk and began to write across the green chalkboard, taking a moment to reflect on what he wrote. This one was a topic about bar drinks! I'm glad we're still in the 1970s. In a few years teachers probably won't be able to write topics for (a) discussion like this.

The teacher spun around quickly with the attempt of looking as animated as he could. "If your family were a drink, what would they be?"

After surveying the class for their reaction, his face looked glum. He realized that no one moved out of their original positions. I knew I should have brought a bottle of ice water to spray at them. Hmmm, time to seek out a victim. "Vinnie?"

Vinnie Barbarino stared in confusion at hearing the mention of his name. "What?" (Ah, yes...Travolta when he was actually funny)...

Kotter was used to putting lots of effort into snapping his students out of their hypnotized trances. He waved an arm in the direction of the large yellow words and elaborated more on the topic. "If you're the head of your family someday, what drink would they be called? What would the family aura be like which could be compared to a drink name? Does your family travel a lot? Do they work hard? What would inspire you to create this drink? How would you make it? "


"In your home, or where your family happens to be."


Kotter was about to say something else about the topic, but they were suddenly interrupted by a slender, enthusiastic student.

"Oooh, oooh, oooh, oooh!" Arnold Horshack was all but jumping out of his seat as his hand outstretched toward the ceiling.


"Ahem." Horshack cleared his throat as he stood up next to his desk. "When they made me, they broke the mold." He quickly sat back down after his proud expression.

Kotter blinked a few times. "That's good, Arnold, but I'm looking for something more specific."

He looked around for his next victim. "Freddy?"

Freddy Washington didn't hesitate with his answer. "Mr. Ka Tor, when I'm the man of my family we're going to be Sex on the Beach. You know what I'm saying? We're going to be a Hurricane, my Bahama Mama and I. You know what I'm saying?"

Gabe Kotter broke in. "That's fine, Freddy, but could someone here think of a fictitious drink which the head of their family would name for themselves. Crazy Bananas, Fluttering Butterflies..."

The compassionate teacher knew the students weren't getting this. All around, desperate students were averting eye contact. It was going to be a long week. The corner of his mouth formed into a small grin as he offered one more. "Sleepy Zombies?" (Nice!)

1) Overall Impression: Well, I certainly felt compelled to check this out the moment I saw the name of the story. A big fan of the show back in the day!

2) Best Part(s): I like the way you tied in the GoT topic with a '70's TV show. I never would have considered the possibility in a gazillion years. And, you also managed to sneak in most of the Sweathogs while you were at it (They were the Sweathogs, right)?

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help: No problems, although this is one of those pieces in which folks who watched Kotter will likely get a chuckle or two out of it; those who were born too late to catch it will probably shrug and say, "I don't get it."

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: Not side-splitting humor, but just seeing all the characters again in my head was reason to grin. You presented it well.

5) Suggestion(s): None, except next time try to squeeze in Juan Epstein (along with a note from 'Epstein's mother')

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! I crave the attention! After all: One item can produce a whole spectrum of comments; and I just love a little diversity!

** Image ID #1920846 Unavailable **

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of The Reunion  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello there ~MM~ ! Indelible Ink here, with a review of your work. This is basically to fulfill the requirement(s) for the Game of Thrones Contest. I selected your work as it was listed under the GoT "Written Pieces" section for your House. In spite of the fact that you are the enemy, the words you read are not spiked with venom from House Lannister (The venom's all mine). No, seriously, I hope there's something here that you'll find useful. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

1) Overall Impression: I was a bit conflicted after reading this. Don't get me wrong; it is well-written and the images are clear in my mind. This reads almost to me as if it's part of a larger work, and it probably should be, as I think it has some difficulty standing on its own. Certainly, a single mother moving with a pre-teen and a smaller child is inherently difficult; and moving in with an uncle who has no experience with children has the makings of some real conflict. However, taking this as a stand-alone piece left me feeling a bit empty, as nothing happened to get me really invested in the piece, if you know what I mean.

2) Best Part(s): I thought the story itself was well-done. The setting and terminology all felt legitimate (although I must confess to not reading a heck of a lot of futuristic stories). The dialog and human reactions seemed spot-on; from that aspect I think you nailed it pretty good.

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help: Here's what I guess my real issue with this is: If you took the same scenario in today's world, and eliminated the futuristic peripherals you have in your story, I'm not sure where anything would be different. In other words, it's hard for me to determine what sets this apart from the "same old, same old" move people make millions of times per year in present day. There are some underlying conflicts that threaten to bubble to the surface, but don't. Perhaps it's simply that I feel the story should have some aspect to it that the fact it's set in the future is relevant to the story, but I don't see that here.

Check out the following:

Works on the main bubble-line mean(s) we’re going to have to detour a little. (If I understand the sentence correctly I think you need an 's' there)
"Six weeks is a long time to go without really coffee.” (real coffee)?

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: As I said, it's well-written; you are no stranger to the finer points of the written word. At the same time, the story itself could use a bit of a jolt, at least from my perspective.

5) Suggestion(s):I'd try to throw a bit more conflict into the story, to grab the reader's attention. An example might be: When the family arrives at the brother's house, they're greeted at the door by Uncle's girlfriend. Or when they show up, they discover the uncle has suffered the same fate as Laisa's husband. So they're starting completely alone in this new world. I'm not saying these are the answers; just trying to get you to consider spicing it up a bit. For whatever it's worth!

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! I crave the attention! After all: One item can produce a whole spectrum of comments; and I just love a little diversity!

** Image ID #1920846 Unavailable **

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Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello there GeminiGem of House Lannister ! Indelible Ink here, with a review of your work. This is basically to fulfill the requirement(s) for the Game of Thrones Contest. I selected your work as it was listed under the GoT "Written Pieces" section for your House. In spite of the fact that you are the enemy, the words you read are not spiked with venom from House Lannister (The venom's all mine). No, seriously, I hope there's something here that you'll find useful. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

Note that with a shorter work such as this, I find it easier to paste it into the review tool and comment as I go along; saving general comments for the end of the story. That being said, let the games begin!

Keep your Enemies Close And Your Sisters Closer

“This is the first year that involved bloodshed, but all in all I think they came out pretty good.”

I had just handed out my annual family photo Christmas cards to my co-workers. Susan was new in our department, and this was the first time she had received a card from me. I always brought copies of the previous years’ pictures because people really liked seeing how the family and the pictures changed (you're talking past tense here) over the years. She had heard about them, however, and wanted to know more about the history behind the pictures.

“Did you say...bloodshed?” said Susan.

“Well, very minimal bloodshed. Maximum hurt feelings.”

“Is it like that every year?”

“No, there was a time when this was a fairly simple and combat-free operation.”

As she looked at the past years Susan said, “Wow, these have really changed over the years.” (Using 'years' so close together sounds redundant. Perhaps, "As she looked at Christmas photos from the past" or similar)...

I looked at the long line of photos and wondered how we had gone from a simple family photo 18 years ago to a yearly family photo production complete with the drama.

We started out simply enough. The first year, the photo had everybody sitting in a nice, tidy group. Everyone was calm, and no one got hurt. We did absolutely no advance planning.

My finger tapped the picture at the top of the column. “This was the first one we did. It lacks a little in composition, but it really is beautiful in its simplicity. At the time, just getting a picture taken with everyone together and mostly looking in the same direction seemed like a monumental victory. It was a big hit with family, friends and co-workers.”

“And this one?” Susan asked, pointing to the next one in line.

“The next year we did a little planning and had everybody wearing one matching piece of clothing. Still a simple enough concept.”

“And still combat-free?”

“That’s right. We made two fatal mistakes the year after that,” I said. “The first mistake was that we did the family photo for the third year in a row. This established a precedence, and locked us into this yearly torture for the unforeseeable future.”

“Oh wait, I bet I know what the other mistake was,” Susan laughed. “Year three is when your pictures started getting more elaborate.”

“You got that right. Once we incorporated a theme, there was no going back. The card recipients would not be satisfied with a nice, calm, (Need comma) unplanned family photo.”

“So what happened this year? Things got a little crazy?”

“You could say that,” I said, nodding my head. My husband and I work as a team. He takes all the pictures while I keep the props where they need to be, pose the kids, and try to get everyone to look at the camera at the same time. This year’s theme was ‘Christmas vacation on the beach’. I had to keep the tropical-looking drinks from getting spilled, the sunglasses in place, and the lifeguard in her chair.

“That does look like a lot of work.”

I nodded. "Right in the middle of this photo shoot, somebody got into somebody else’s space, and it suddenly turned into a Friday Night Smack Down! It all happened so fast that we didn't really see how it all began. All I know is that my props were flying all over the place, and it was complete chaos. I had to move in and break up the fight before the set was completely ruined. Luckily, nobody was seriously hurt.”

“So what did you do?”

“I reassembled the set, but at this point, everyone was in a bad mood.” I laughed. “We bravely soldiered on because we had to get it done. Smile for the camera! Grandma and Grandpa in Wisconsin are waiting eagerly for their Christmas picture from our family!”

I am already dreading this year’s Christmas picture.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should click on the links below. You will see the first family picture taken in 1997,
and then the latest picture, taken in 2013.

Christmas 1997

Christmas 2013

1) Overall Impression: Cute. This is a seasonal piece which typically gets even 'cuter' around the holidays. Having grown up with dogs, and being friends with a number of people who consider their pets 'family' (some consider their pets 'family' over and above actual family), I understand your feelings exactly.

2) Best Part(s): "We bravely soldiered on because we had to get it done." You're certainly a couple of troopers, aren't you? Oh, the lengths some will go to keep Grandma and Gramps happy...Seriously, the element of humor adds to the tale.

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help: From my reading, it seemed as though it could stand to be personalized a bit. This comes off as a blanket re-telling of the photo shoot. I'd try to get a little more dialog in there; things you might have either thought or said to keep the gang happy. If any of the dogs have names, you could recall reprimanding them by name.

Also, perhaps the 'bloodshed' reference was a bit over-the-top; I had a feeling it might be pets, simply because a real family photo shoot which turned that nasty probably would result in a cover-up rather than photo distribution.

And while we're at it, I know a couple of people who kept the camera rolling when the subjects got out of control; the actual photos of the carnage were hilarious. (Which has nothing to do with your presentation, but it's something to think about...

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: As I said, it's cute, and the presentation is good. There were very few problems with grammar, etc, which is always nice to see...

5) Suggestion(s): It wouldn't be that hard to add a bit more dialog and your personal thoughts as the carnage was going down; dogs' names (human sounding ones, anyway) would humanize it and better disguise it for the reader.

I hate to show my ignorance here, but the part of the title, " And Your Sisters Closer" sort of lost me. All I can think -- and the possibility seems remote -- but perhaps all of the dogs are female? And even if they are, the title doesn't fit the tone of the story -- for me. But, I could simply be a raving lunatic, so pay me no mind...

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! I crave the attention! After all: One item can produce a whole spectrum of comments; and I just love a little diversity!

** Image ID #1920846 Unavailable **

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Ghost Town  
Review by Indelible Ink
In affiliation with  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)

Hello there, 💙 Carly ! Indelible Ink here, with review of your work. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments. My standard practice is to paste your entire story into the review tool, which makes my comments easier to understand (in theory, anyway). That being said, let's get on with it...

"Bah! I don't believe in that whole Friday the 13th scary stuff. It's just a bunch a nonsense," he always argued until the day... the day everything fell apart. One thing I noticed after a quick read-through is that you need some work with punctuation. For example, in the above sentence "he always argued until the day"...This implies he was up all night arguing, and didn't stop until daybreak. I know that's not what you meant. You know that's not what you meant. But to take the suspense out of the sentence for whoever else might be reading, place a comma after 'argued', so the thoughts are separated from each other. Or even a period, and then begin a new sentence, so we don't think we're dealing with a guy who likes to stay up all night. See my point?

Mike figured he had everything figured out. (Same word -- 'figured' -- repeated within the same sentence...Not cool). He was big and brawny and male. Nothing scared him. Things that may have scared the rest of us had him laughing. (This is told in first person; later it becomes third person. Choose one and stay with it).

So when we planned out trip to a rustic Western Ghost Town, Mike was all for it. Sandy, his wife was not so sure.

“You sure you want to go that week...there is a Friday the Thirteenth...”

“Oh, that’s a bunch a nonsense.” Mike bellowed, as if saying it louder would chase off any scary stuff.

Sandy shook her head. “I really don’t want to go.” She whispered to her friend Gloria. I'm assuming here that Sandy is telling Gloria she doesn't want to go, right? Then "She" shouldn't be capitalized as it's part of the whispered quote. Try "I really don't want to go." she whispered to her friend Gloria.

“Oh Sandy, you have to come. If you don’t I’ll be the one they try to terrorize.”

“We should be the ones to get them.” Darla whispered back. She was the newest to our group and by the look of mischievousness in her smile Sandy knew she liked her more already.

“What do you suggest?” Gloria whispered back as the two of us leaned in to hear what Darla had to say.

So we were going. Thursday. Packed and ready for a six in the morning trek out. We were to drive into the middle of nowhere. There would be a campsite about a mile from the ghost town. No cars or vehicles of any kind were allowed into the town. We had to walk. And this was our vacation. There was horror in that alone.

We were taking only two cars and had decided the guys would be in one with the girls in the other. Mike was not too crazy about that idea, but as he was driving, he let it go.

Darla decided she would be the first to drive. We followed the guys for a good two hours then after lunch we took a bit of a detour. Darla wanted to pick up some things for our plans for the guys. She had an Uncle who could provide. We let the guys get way ahead, they would claim they were better at setting up camp, so with the detour, we would miss out on the boasting and arrive after everything was ready. If we timed it just right, they would make dinner as well.

The next morning found them heading into the old western ghost town. There was an eeriness that hung in the air the closer they got. No one spoke. The girls walked quietly together each with a backpack filled with things they would need, but as they neared they were not so sure they would even need the stuff.

"I feel cold." Sandy said, wrapping her arms around her as they entered at the far end of the town.

Seeing as it was almost thirty degrees Celsius, Mike scoffed at this. "You are crazy, woman. It ain't cold."

"But I am." Sshe whispered looking at Darla and Gloria.

Darla gave her a knowing smile, but Gloria looked uneasy and reached out to take Sandy's hand.

"Let's hit the Saloon." Mike boomed. In the morning air his voice seemed to reverberate (?) off the buildings.

Sandy tightened her grip on Gloria's hand. "Do you hear that?" She whispered.

Gloria had stopped pulling Sandy to her. Darla looked on, giving them a quizzical look. (Using look -- or a form of it -- twice in the same sentence is not -- if you'll pardon the expression -- a good 'look').

"I can hear something..."

"Come on little chicks. We got exploring to do." Mike boomed again and the guys roared with laughter as they moved ahead.

"There is something here." Sandy said uneasily. "Something is not right."

"You girls are playing it up great." Darla whispered with a mischievous smile.

"We're not playing...just listen."

Darla stopped. The girls stood in a small circle. A breeze seemed to billow around them and on the breeze were whispers. Anxious whispers, tears and screams.

"Could be other people...came earlier than us." She whispered back.

Each girl trembled. Then turned to look towards the saloon. (Incomplete sentence; you should probably combine the two)

"I am thinking we should be able to here hear the guys..."

"Mike is never this quiet."

"Do we go see what’s up?" Gloria asked. She clearly did not want to go any farther and neither did Sandy, but Darla nodded, lifting her head confidently.

At the saloon they peered in under the swing door. They could see the guy’s legs, but there was no movement. Do you want to be saying they could see one guy's legs -- or all the guys' legs here?

"Mike?" Sandy called her voice raspy. "Mike?" She called with a little more force behind it.

Darla reached to touch the door but Gloria's hand struck out and stopped her.

"Something is not right, seriously." Sshe said. Both she and Sandy moved back a step. Moving off the boardwalk seemed to lessen the queasiness Sandy was feeling.

"Not feeling so good." Sshe said.

Darla ducked down again, peering into the gloom. Beyond the guys she could make out the bar. She could not see a thing. “I’m going in.”

Darla touched the wood and swung the door wide. Lifting her foot she shifted to moved in. As soon as her foot was about the touch down, the girls watched in horror as the guys crumbled to dust. They screamed, turned tail and ran as fast as they could, hoping Darla was behind them.

Darla could not move she felt the frozen edge of the room as it pulled her in. There was no backing out. The horror of seeing the guys disintegrate filled her and though she tried to pull back she heard the echo of maniacal laughter and fell forward knowing she too would soon be gone.

1) Overall Impression: Strange ending. Actually, I liked the premise of the story. Certainly, it's been done before, but I like the ghost town angle; has a Twilight Zone feel to it.

2) Best Part(s): I thought the the story got better as it went along, although the ending was a bit abrupt for me. It almost seemed as if you were called away for some reason and never had the chance to finish it. Nevertheless, I liked the story itself. Definitely creepy.

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help: You like to place two spaces between sentences -- even quotes -- which can be a bit confusing (at least to me). Too many instances of "she said" or similar. In other words, you didn't paint much of a picture with your characters and word choices. As a result, it reads a bit 'sterile' for me. Try throwing in some additional info; maybe a sentence per paragraph and see if it helps.

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: The narration needs to be fixed, and the characters could use some more warmth or feeling to start to grab the reader's attention, if you see what I mean. In other words, make us worry about what's happening to them...

5) Suggestion(s): As mentioned above, narration, character enhancement, punctuation (specifically, comma placement) could use some attention. It might seem like a lot of criticism, but rectifying them isn't all that difficult. You have a good imagination and you do have the understanding of what a story needs to work; it's just a matter of tweaking it up a bit. Hope this helped a little in that regard. Good luck with your writing endeavors!

ALSO: OH-OH! I did this review earlier in the month and just realized I reviewed something alse of yours a little while ago. Ain't I stoopid?

Oh, and by the way, this is a
** Image ID #1533819 Unavailable **

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
In affiliation with  
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)

Hello there, ! Indelible Ink here, with review of your work. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments. My standard practice is to paste your entire story into the review tool, which makes my comments easier to understand (in theory, anyway). That being said, let's get on with it...

I Need to Get Ahead This line has been done to death, as with any Frankenstein references. Don't expect an audience to respond favorably to a comic using tired cliches.

I need to get ahead!
Your head would do nicely! Exclamation marks don't make the line(s) funnier. The audience -- if properly motivated -- will supply the exclamation marks.
My head is defective so a transplant is required.
Would three o'clock tomorrow be good for you?

It's rather hard to find heads just laying around now-a-days,
and you never know if a stray head could be defective.
Your head would satisfy my need, since I consider you to be quite intelligent!

Of course, I would never expect to request someone's head without offering one in return,
so I am willing to exchange heads with you in the form of a trade and some added monetary payment.

My head, although defective, is still quite useable, since I have only been diagnosed with a mild case of schizophrenia.
I would be willing to part with an insane amount of money in exchange for the use of your head, especially since I am a man and you are a woman!

The fact is, I'm very tired of having to shave every day. With your head, I might be inclined to kiss the mirror, but I am willing to exchange cleaning the mirror, for the task of shaving.

Besides that, it would be amusing to see the astonished look on a suitor's face, when he realizes that I'm not what he expected!

I happen to know a very accomplished surgeon, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Shall I give him a call? I assure you, he's quite accomplished!

"Hello, Dr. Frankenstein, are you available tomorrow for a rather lengthy surgery? I have a slight problem that needs your fine skills".... (If this is a monologue, who are you talking to here?)

1) Overall Impression: This was a rough go for me, personally. First of all, a monologue, in a comedic sense, is presented by a stand-up comic to a larger group -- certainly more than one person -- wouldn't you agree? So the 'joke' in line two ("Your head would do nicely") would not be applicable to a large group. (I realize that many comics will single out an individual and "pick" on them throughout the course of an evening, but I just don't see the humor as being strong enough to accomplish that successfully). And, as far as monologues go, this is what -- a minute and a half, tops?

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help: Most successful comedic monologues are based in reality, at least to a certain degree, as humor is often found in situations folks can relate to. Very often they are one person's take on real events. Getting an audience to hop on board with this line of humor is probably a bit of a stretch.

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: I didn't think it was a true monologue; and I didn't find the humor very appealing.

5) Suggestion(s): Take an everyday occurrence -- such as going to the grocery store (which everyone can relate to) and make references to the prices -- or the other shoppers -- all stuff people can relate to as well, and poke fun at what you see every day. Again, people will laugh at that which they can relate. Maybe you see a woman who's wearing spandex that she outgrew years ago. She drops her shopping list and when she bends over to pick it up, there was a rip, and well all I could think was "Clean-up on aisle six." See what I mean? Simply an exaggeration of real-life situations.

Oh, and by the way, this is a
** Image ID #1533819 Unavailable **

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! After all: I'm a Rising Stinkin' Star; I can take it!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Dear Me - 2014  
Review by Indelible Ink
In affiliation with  
Rated: E | (4.0)

Hello there, 💙 Carly }! Indelible Ink here, with review of your work. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

1) Overall Impression: This is a very well thought-out, detailed list. That's the good news. The bad news is that it reads like a very well thought-out, detailed list. Not so bad unto itself, but not likely to stand out from the others -- many of which will be strikingly similar.

2) Best Part(s): Obviously, you're sincere, and I have no doubts about you accomplishing your goals, You have no problem expressing your thoughts or articulating what you want to do in 2014.

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help:Your second sentence: "I need to think about what it is I what want to accomplish." FIX the typo!!! Hopefully, you see this before the deadline tonight! It's a simple typo, but since your entry is relatively short I don't think you want any boo-boos...

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: Again, it was well written, but if I were you, I'd take a bit of a chance and try to come up with an unusual angle to try and get the attention of the judges. Otherwise, you'll most likely just be another entry with a bunch of goals.

5) Suggestion(s): I know I reviewed this too late for any really good suggestions, but I think -- when entering any sort of writing competition -- you have to think about what might get a judge to do a double-take while reading your submission. Not saying that it always works, but it's like a job resume: You have to do something to get the HR person to put your resume in the "Worth a second look" pile. Know what I'm sayin'?

Oh, and by the way, this is a
** Image ID #1533819 Unavailable **

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! After all: I'm a Rising Stinkin' Star; I can take it!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Genesis One  
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hello there, OldDog . Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. So please do not feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback...

Initial Impression: I am stunned. Actually, I'm stunned at a couple of things. First, that someone with your talent went so long without writing (I peaked at your port and saw that you'd been away for some time).

Secondly, I'm also stunned that (since you have the results of prior reviews of this piece visible and you average 4.0 from 8 reviews) so many people were not completely overwhelmed by this piece of writing! Seriously, either they're nuts or I am (and, admittedly, I don't like the odds at this particular moment). Maybe you've made changes, but the writing time-frame suggests you haven't.

What Stood Out (Favorably): This is going to sound trite, but the whole story, for me -- was excellent -- beginning to end. Mind you, I normally paste the entire story I am reviewing into the old review tool and make my (hopefully helpful) comments as I go through the story. I did that with your story as well, but soon came to realize that it was a waste of space, as I simply loved it. So I deleted it from my review. Your economy of words, characters, honestly, everything, was a pure delight to read. You had me from the very beginning until the very end.

Characters: I felt I saw Howard Wassermann. No, I felt I knew Howard Wassermann. I enjoy writing/reading horror, and this guy scared the crap out of me. 'Nuff said.

Story: You set this up in one direction and took the reader (well, me, anyway) in another. With it being sci-fi and all, I was thinking some kind of futuristic entertainment program or similar. Not sure exactly why, but that's what I was thinking. And I loved it.

Background: Plenty. Like I said, economy of words. Something I strive for but always fall short of. This is a "how-to", my friend.

Dialog: Fine.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer:

Not a thing. Any criticism would be a 'reach' because in my mind, this is a gem. As in published somewhere.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. Haven't read any of your other stuff, so giving you advice based on what I've read would be just wrong. Thanks for allowing me to read this story. It was -- in my mind -- perfect!

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source. And lastly, if I have succeeded in agitating you to the point of retaliation, I do apologize, but please make note of my address below, visit my port, and "let me have it."

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review by Indelible Ink
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
Hello there, anujmathur ! Indelible Ink here. I'm reviewing your story per your request. I sincerely hope this will be of some benefit to you...

Keep in mind that I'm not a reviewing professional. So please do not feel offended if my views don't coincide with yours - this writing thing can be pretty humbling for even the best of writers. With that in mind, let's proceed to the feedback...

Also note that I've fallen into this nasty habit of pasting the entire story into the review tool, simply because it makes what I may be referencing obvious, rather than having to say something like, "Back in paragraph 37, and again in paragraph 85, blah, blah, blah..." In other words, it's much easier for me to do it this way; hopefully better for both of us. All of the disclaimers out of the way, let us start...

The Search

“I’m afraid there aren’t any chefs available at such short notice” said the restaurant manager to the eager gentleman.

“Not even one?” he asked dejectedly.

“I’m sorry, Sir. Not even one.”

“But I’m desperate! I really need a chef for my book!”

“Pardon me, did you say you needed one for your book?”

“Yeah, I’m writing a book – a novel if you please, which takes an in-depth look into a chef’s life gone awry. It’s gonna make me millions! Since I don’t know anything about chefs, I thought it would be nice to do a bit of research on them. You know how any writer worth his salt is supposed to research his characters to make his writing more believable? It’s called 'getting under the skin of the character' …”

“Get out!”

“Excuse me?”

“You want to hire a ‘Grandioso’ chef- one who is sought after by the elitist of the elite, for some lousy two-bit book! It’s preposterous!”

“What? It’s not like I won’t pay him. In fact, he can have one percent of the royalties from the book sales…and an honourable mention in the book…although I can’t guarantee that I’ll use his real name – makes it seem more mysterious, you know?”


“I’m going! I’m going!”

As he walked away, Vikram was still as determined as ever to get his writing career off the ground. He believed that he had found the easiest gimmick to get rich quickly – a writer was always only one best-seller away from becoming a billionaire, after all. And even though he didn’t know much about writing, he believed that 'researching the character’ was absolutely essential. And since he was writing a mystery trilogy with a chef as its protagonist, he needed a chef! (Note: Not sure I'm down with the name of your protagonist, unless there's a purpose down the road. Hmmmm...spelled backwards, it's 'Mark IV'...The conspiracy theorist in me now wonders...)

Vikram looked around as he prodded on towards the bus stop. The street was chock-a-block with fancy restaurants with glass windows. His eyes lit up as he saw a sign on one such window.

“Kitchen Help Wanted”, it read.

That amounts to a front row seat to a chef’s performance, he thought. What better place to observe a chef than in his kitchen.

“I hope you have the requisite experience for the position?” the manager asked him after the preliminaries were complete.

“I can boil eggs.” Vikram ventured.

“You’ve studied cooking at college, of course?”

“I boiled eggs when I was at college.” replied Vikram earnestly.

“I’m sorry but you’re unsuitable….” the manager was interrupted midway by a voice from behind the kitchen door.

”Send him in.” the voice said.

“But Caesar, he doesn’t have the skills or the expe….” the manager began, but was
stopped yet again.

“Just send him in!”

“You heard the boss.” The manager shook his head and pointed Vikram towards the kitchen. (Just out of curiosity, what becomes of the manager at this point)?

Vikram opened the kitchen door and walked in to see a man in a chef's hat chopping some vegetables on a slab. He strode out towards him and stuck out his hand in greeting.

“Hi, I'm Vikram. I saw you(r) want ad outside and...”

“Tell me Vikram, can you boil eggs?”

“Done it all my life.”

“You’re hired.” Caesar said quickly.

Vikram scrutinised the kitchen. It was rectangular in shape and had cabinets, for appliances and dishes, at one end and wash-basins at the other. There was a large rectangular marble slab, built around a pillar, in the centre of the room where the major cooking related activities seemed to take place. A bunch of wires were plugged into a switchboard near the wash-basins. The other end of the wires vanished under a door to the side.

“Where is the rest of the staff?” Vikram einquired, looking around at the empty kitchen.

“What staff?” Caesar said distantly. He seemed to be busy scribbling in a small notebook he had just taken out.

“The cooking staff. You couldn’t possibly run a restaurant kitchen with just two people, can you?”

“Oh, we manage to get by.” His scribbling intensified. (Is the scribbling ever explained?)

“How?” asked a bewildered Vikram.

“I suppose I’d better tell you all.” He's only telling one person, right? Or...do you mean it in the context of: "I'd better tell you all about it"?

Caesar walked across the room to the door and opened it. Vikram followed him and peered inside with anticipation.

Vikram tried to make sense of what Caesar was pointing at, but all he could see in the room was a bed. A pretty bed. A pretty pink bed covered with yellow polka dots. A pretty pink bed covered with yellow polka dots that was nailed to the ceiling. He was about to utter a bunch of words in Caesar's direction, mostly beginning with 'wh-', but he had to stop himself. It had come to his sudden notice that the bed had turned into a human form and had floated down to face him. Vikram thought for a moment, decided that no answer from Caesar would be good enough for him at this point, and promptly fainted. (Silly? Yes. But silly doesn't always automatically translate into laughter. Don't get trapped into thinking absurd situations will provide laughs; you can go to that well only a limited number of times).

When Vikram came to, he found himself lying on a bed in an unfamiliar room. He tried to recollect how he got there. He looked down at the bed and thought that it reminded him of something but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. He shrugged his shoulders and closed his eyes to go back to sleep. After all, he was tired and the bed was really comfortable. It wasn't just comfortable, he thought, it was in fact the most comfortable bed he had ever slept on. He was making a mental note to go and seek out the owner post-nap and find out where he could buy himself one, when he remembered. (I liked the last sentence in particular -- funny -- but the 'when he remembered' adds nothing; I'd drop it).

Caesar heard the loud shriek followed by the even louder banging on the guest room door. He allowed himself a little smile before turning to his companion. “He's up. Let's get ourselves introduced.”

His companion floated mistily to the drawing room door and waited patiently as Caesar opened the door and asked Vikram to calm down. He wondered if Vikram would be able to help Caesar out. But then he remembered the others that had come before him. This would end the same way too, he thought. Horribly.

(Style point here: In consecutive paragraphs, you are relaying the thoughts of two different characters. Be careful about throwing around "He thought" and "He said", etc. You'll leave your reader confused as to who's thinking what. Generally it's recommended you stick with one character's thoughts per chapter, or go to greater lengths to differentiate exactly who's saying or thinking what).

“Morphy, meet Vikram. Vikram, meet Morphy.” Caesar said with every bit of nonchalance that he could muster. He always enjoyed these first meetings.

“What is tha-that thing?” squeaked Vikram, as he pointed an accusing finger at Morphy.

“He's an alien. And stop pointing, it's rude.” Caesar slapped Vikram's hand down.

“Nice to meet you, Vikram” said Morphy.

“Uh...likewise...” was all Vikram could manage to splutter out.

"Maybe you should sit down."

Vikram looked at the bed nervously.

"Don't worry, that one's just a plain old regular bed." chuckled Caesar.

Vikram sat on the bed reluctantly. He wouldn't be able to trust any beds for a while, he thought, but was immediately conscious of what an absurd fear that was and tried to compose himself. He looked up at the alien and studied him properly for the first time. Morphy wasn't very tall, in fact he was probably a few inches shorter than him. He had an almost perfectly round face and an even more perfectly spherical nose to complement it. The other 'human' features were pretty run-of-the-mill too. He was smartly but simply dressed in a striped t-shirt and long oxymoronic shorts. Morphy could almost have passed as one of them, Vikram thought, if he didn't have just one eye. Of course, there was also the small matter of his skin being pink and yellow polka dotted and the fact that he could float in air.

Vikram was trying to sift through his limited encounters with science-fiction novels to remember whether Martians were supposed to be green or pink, when his thoughts were interrupted by Caesar.

“Let me try to tell you all...again. And please try not to pass out this time.”

“It all started on April 20th, 2054. It was a bright and stormy night...with a full moon...which was also the cause of the brightness. And I think I also saw a shooting star or two go by. Great set up right?” Caesar began.

Vikram nodded resignedly.

“Yes, it was. I should have known that something big was going to happen to me that night. I was engrossed in perfecting my signature recipes, when I heard something crash... wait...this doesn't feel right. A story like this deserves to be told...nay experienced... better! Morphy, prepare the time machine! We'll let Vikram see the events as they transpired that night in their full glory – in person.”

“I'm afraid the Sinetransmorgodor, or what you call the 'time machine', did not survive the milkshake incident. And since I cannot contact my planet anymore, the only recourse for us is to wait until your people invent inter-planetary travel so that I can ask the manufacturers to deliver the spare parts here.”

“How long will it take for us to invent it again?” Caesar asked with hopeful eyes.

“The same time as when I told you last. Five hundred and twenty four more years.” Morphy said bluntly as he glowered at Caesar. Vikram couldn't help but think that it was an impressive feat to do that so effectively with his solitary eye.

“Don't look at me like that! How was I to know that your alien technology is so susceptible to milk based drinks? And why don't they have a service centre in this part of the solar system? They're the people you should be mad at!” said Caesar defiantly.

“You guys have a time machine?” Vikram asked.

“Where were we?” said Caesar, quickly changing the subject. “Ah yes, the crash. It wasn't very loud actually. I don't think anyone except me would even have heard it. I went to the back of the restaurant to investigate anyway. I opened the rear door to a sight was something out of a science-fiction movie. The entire area was covered in smoke and there was a small crater in the backyard. In the middle of that crater, lay what looked like a spaceship – black, orb shaped, with smoke coming out of various crevices.”

“It was a spaceship.” Morphy interjected.

“I'm telling it. Let me tell it my way!”

“All right. Go ahead.”

“In the middle of the crater was a spaceship” continued Caesar while scowling at Morphy “and before I could do anything, a small door slid open on one side noiselessly, and a mysterious misty figure stumbled out of it.” Caesar paused for effect.

“It was me.” said Morphy.

“Why did you have to ruin it? Why??” thundered Caesar. (Though this kind of exchange has been done a million times, this proves that -- when done correctly -- it's still funny the million and oneth time! I found myself smiling at it).

“It's okay. I kinda guessed it was him anyway. Please continue.” Vikram tried to calm him down.

“Anyone else in my position might have been scared on seeing an alien walk up to them, but I stood my ground. He looked and walked kind of funny – in a sinister manner.” Caesar continued grumpily.

“I had just crash landed on an alien planet after travelling for days, maybe even months. I was tired and disoriented.” said Morthy (?) defensively. (Did Morphy morph into a Morthy? Sorry - couldn't help myself).

“Yeah, yeah. Don't get your antennae in a bunch.”

“I don't have antennae! Are you blind? I've warned you about the stereotyping before. If you do that again, I'll...” (I like how the alien complains about thing(s) happening on this planet that are apparently also happening on his. I'd ride this line of jokes a little further, if I were you...the "universal" appeal could parlay itself into a half-dozen or more space jokes; don't let the opportunity escape you).

“What happened next?” Vikram intervened before the argument could escalate any further.

“I asked E.T. here where he came from. (Like the sarcasm; now you're talking my kind of humor) At which point he mumbled something incoherent and passed out. I had to drag his scrawny alien body inside and wait for him to come to. I kept expecting a knock on the restaurant door from someone in the government or the neighbouring establishments but no one came. Luckily it was almost closing time and I didn't have any customers to worry about.”

“By that logic, it's always closing time here.” Morphy winked at Caesar, or he may have just blinked his eye, it was hard for Vikram to tell. (Good line)

Caesar pretended not to hear the jibe and continued, “When he finally came to, after zoning out for a few hours, I tried to find out where he was from and what he was doing here. I was surprised to find that he could understand and speak English pretty well..”

“It's not that hard. My planet's language had one million, five hundred and twenty eight thousand, three hundred and twenty eight consonants and vowels at last count. And I'm sure a few hundred thousand must have been added since I've lost contact. I was easily able to master hundreds of your languages, if you can call them that, during the journey.” Morphy said smugly. “Oh, and I wasn't mumbling incoherently before I passed out, that was Kannada – I was very well prepared.”

“You learnt English and Kannada and hundreds of other languages during the journey. Riiight. That is, if you remember that part of the journey correctly. And I doubt that you do.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Vikram.

“He says that because he's a jerk, and also because I seem to be suffering from what you call short-term memory loss. I suspect it may be because of something that happened during the journey, but I can't be sure.”

“Oh, how bad is it?”

“He can't even remember why he came to our planet.”

“All I remember is that I'm on an extremely confidential mission and my presence must not be detected at any cost. At any cost whatsoever.”

Vikram felt a small shiver down his spine as he heard that even though there wasn't a hint of malice evident on Morphy's face.

“You still haven't answered my original question.” Vikram turned to Caesar. (I'm just curious as to what -- after all he's encountered since asking the question originally -- Vikram's experienced which would make him still want an answer to THAT question...Isn't it likely he'd have a boatload of other questions? You know...like maybe alien-related???)

“Ah yes. How do we manage without any staff, you ask? We manage because no customer has set foot in this restaurant for weeks. Not since that cretin, Lily Legume wrote that scathing review of my restaurant in her 'Bestaurant Guide'.”

“Oh, how I despise that woman.” Caesar added after a pause.

“But...if there aren't any customers, why did you hire me? How do I fit into all this?”

“Very snugly Vikram. Very snugly.” (I thought you were on a pretty good streak of building some laughs there, but felt you lost your momentum the last 5 or 6 paragraphs before the end of the chapter. You might be better off ending it with the shiver down Vikram's spine...You want the reader still smiling so they'll proceed on to chapter II).

Initial Impression: I noticed from your spelling that you're most likely from across the pond. That might explain some of the differences in humor. I thought the story started quite slowly and honestly didn't find much to laugh about at the beginning. However,after a while you began to generate a little momentum, and I found the second half of this superior to the first.

What Stood Out (Favorably): Certainly the storyline is unique (and there might be a very good reason for that), but it's what you appear to want to write about, and, as most people who deal in humor will tell you: Anything is funny if it's presented correctly.

Characters: The three main ones: Vikram, Morphy and Ceasar are presented adequately, but if we're talking book here, you want to add a little bit more detail about each as you go. The reader doesn't need a rough sketch; he needs a digital stinkin' photo of your characters. This is a perfect opportunity to squeeze in some one-liners to keep your readers grinning. (I.E. Something like this when describing Vikram: Not to say Vikram was out of shape, but it was clear he hadn't renewed his gym membership in many months. No...make that years.) You get the picture.

Story: The story is far-fetched and goofy which is fine. As long as it's funny. Your rule should be: Funny comes first; everything else a distant second. In the first half of your story I think you're guilty of trying to establish your characters (i.e. or setting them up). Consequently, the laughs are few and far between; most of the humor feels forced and/or secondary to the story. Switch that around. Have the story revolve around the humor.

Background: Add more to the background of your scenes, again capitalizing on the opportunity to give your reader something to smile about in your descriptions.

Dialog: As the story progressed, you seemed to become more comfortable with the dialog between your characters and there was more humor evident. Stay with that; it works.

What might I suggest for improvement? Please know that any criticism(s) are offered in the spirit of helping a fellow writer:

Okay, here's the deal with a successful comedy routine...be it a short story, a stand-up monologue, or a novel: The pace has to be fast (not the story pace, but the humor), and it has to be funny. Now that sounds like a difficult task, but it's actually not as hard as you might think. Start with the guy in the restaurant. Have him look at picture on the wall and the old woman in the picture is very ugly. Vikram comments about her. "That happens to be my mother," the manager replies. Think about all the funny things you've seen in your life at a restaurant and possible funny things that did or might have happened in those situations. Then repeat the thought process with every scene. My guess is that you'll at least get 4 or 5 good jokes from every scenario; plenty to get you from one scene to the next, and your reader laughing along the way.

Best advice I can give: Keep writing. (Duh.) That's far and away the best thing a writer - at any level - can do. About mid-stream in this story I could see why you want to write a comedy -- because you're funny. Stick with it, and one of these days I'll be begging you for an autographed copy of your billion-seller. Good luck!

Final disclaimer ('Bout time, huh?): I sincerely hope this review has been of some benefit to you. If my review was less-than-flattering, just consider the source. And lastly, if I have succeeded in agitating you to the point of retaliation, I do apologize, but please make note of my address below, visit my port, and "let me have it."

Indelible Ink

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.

 Indelibleink Laughing Guy

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Rated: 18+ | (4.5)

Hello there, Unwritten Insanity ! Indelible Ink here, with review of your work. This is just my opinion, be it right or wrong, and you are free to take as much - or as little - as you'd like from my comments.

1) Overall Impression: I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this. (Maybe that's sort of scary unto itself)? Setting this up as you did, with the psychopath rationalizing this as just any other, ordinary addiction was really well-played, and although I sensed early on that this guy was going to be something of a nut-job, it didn't become readily apparent to me until near the very end in exactly what fashion the craziness would manifest itself.

2) Best Part(s): I thought the whole thing - start-to-finish, was set up quite nicely; you caught my attention right off the bat and I just had to see where this was going; couldn't stop reading.

3) What I Thought Needed Some Help: Personally, I didn't think the parentheses were necessary here. For one, parentheses are usually used for smaller chuncks of information; it didn't feel right to see them used for such large parts of the story. I realize you were trying to seperate the killers thoughts from the regular narration, but I think the reader whould have picked up on that quickly, as there was a definite 'tempo' to the story, and a change in the manner of presentation. Maybe it's just me, though. Also, there were a few grammatical errors, such as 'relieveing (reliving) everthing he just did', but they're not deal-breakers by any stretch.

4) Why I Gave It The Rating I Did: As I said, this was a great read, I found it fairly captivating. I think you are a gifted author.

5) Suggestion(s): Outside of the parentheses thing and what I mentioned earlier, I think this is spot-on crazy-good.

I have no doubt I'll see more from you in the future!

Oh, and by the way, this is a
** Image ID #1533819 Unavailable **

I certainly hope this was of some benefit to you. If not, come on over, read one of my items, and rip me a new one! After all: I'm a Rising Stinkin' Star; I can take it!

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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