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Public Reviews
Review of The CSI Effect  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Great work! My husband is a crime scene technician for a police department here and he finds that the CSI effect interferes with a lot processes of police work. For his part, when he's processing a scene, he'll get homeowners or victims who think they know his job better than he does, or they don't recognize that he's the crime scene tech because he's not a badge carrying officer. He shows up in a lab coat and rubber gloves in his personal vehicle or the crime scene van, which resembles a bread truck.

The whole thing is really messing up our justice system, especially with jurors. It's pretty awful. Thanks for writing this! Hopefully we can educate some folks so they can distinguish between reality and (mediocre) television!
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: E | (4.5)
This is an honest, moving piece, told superbly and briefly. I could easily enjoy it in a more expanded form, but the way it is done is excellent. Great work!
Review of Growing Up Trina  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: E | (5.0)
Beautiful! :) Or maybe I'm partial because my family calls me Trina and this poem reminds me so much of me, my mother, and now my own daughter. What a great piece of work!

Only one suggestion is to fix the spelling on "teddys" to "teddies".

Wonderful, wonderful job!
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hello Unicorn! I‘m so glad that you posted in my review studio! This is a good story with lots of potential, a sad tale of love and loss and recovery. I look forward to seeing more of your work! I‘m going to start out with a commentary, answering questions about the introduction and characters, and then move on to the editing, and then I‘ll sum it up at the end. I hope you find this helpful!

*Right*Does the beginning capture me, does it make me want to read on?
         I found the beginning very captivating, the descriptions vivid, the emotions real. You have quite a talent; you just need a little spit and polish, but that’s why you’re here at writing.com looking for reviews! *grin* 4.5

*Right*Does it read and flow well?
         While the story does jump around in the timeline, it’s very easy to follow. However, there is a little too much dialogue as opposed to action (not in the sense of things going “boom” , but in the sense of descriptions and basic actions of the characters). You want to keep this evenly balanced, at least, though more action is always better than more dialogue or the story reads like a script. Try filling in the empty spaces more. Give more details on the reactions of the characters, how they feel when they say something, brief (this is a short story, after all) descriptions of the setting--for example, at the orphanage. 3.5

*Right*Does it hold my attention all the way through?
         I was very interested! I was immediately intrigued--what is she worried about? What news is there? And then I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the little boy. Well done! 4.5

*Right*How do I feel about the characters – are they believable? Can I relate to them?
         The characters are all very believable! I’d like to see more details on their reactions, though, as I said. You barely get to know them--in fact, I had no idea the man and woman were married until halfway through the story. You might want to talk about that a little as well. 4.0

*Right*What do I think of the ending?
         The ending fell a little flat. The foster mother just gave the boy a kiss and that was that. You don‘t really find out what happens to anyone. There‘s no conclusion, no solid ending there. The story just quits. You might want to expand on what happens. 3.5

The Editing!

The air was fresh and new, with the scent of jasmines, blooming in the trees.

The comma is unnecessary. Beautiful descriptive words, though! What a wonderful introduction!

“Good morning dear”, said Sister Anne looking up from her desk.

Should read, “Good morning, dear,” said Sister Anne, looking up from her desk. Note the placement of the commas.

She pointed a chair, “Please, have a seat….(body of paragraph here)…..The authorities think there is no hope of finding them.

The end of this paragraph signifies the end of Sister Anne’s part of the dialogue, so the paragraph must end with a closing quotation mark.

“Don’t go”, he held her hand fast as she stood up to leave.

Should read:
         “Don’t go.” He held her hand fast as she stood up to leave.
The quotation mark should follow the punctuation to end that particular sentence. And since you can’t say something by holding up your hand, you must begin a new sentence with “He held her hand” instead of continuing it with a comma. I know that’s not exactly clear, so if you have any questions on that one, I’ll email some examples.

“I won’t leave you”, she said softly. “I promise”. She kept her promise.

Should be “I won’t leave you,” she said softly. See the comma before the quotation mark. Because you followed it up with “she said softly”, which pertains directly to what she said, you may continue it all as one sentence.

“But how can we? He’s just a child. We can’t ask him to do this”.

The last period there needs to go after “this” and before the quotation mark.

Thanuja took both his hands in hers and looked him straight in the eye.

“It’s your mother, Soma, she’s alive.”

When you begin a quote, you do not necessarily have to begin a new paragraph. If the quote pertains to the previous sentence, then they can go in the same paragraph, like here. She is addressing Amal, so it would follow that the quote and the bit where she looked him straight in the eye would be in the same paragraph.

“I can hardly recognize you. You look so different”.

The period here goes before the quotation mark and after the word “different”. ß But as you can see, there are times when that does not work. I’ll explain that at some other point, though, since this piece doesn’t need that information at this point.

“There’s nothing to thank me for”, replied Thanuja.

The comma goes before the quotation mark.

“He has brought so much joy into my life”.

The period goes before the quotation mark.

“You two have a lot to discuss. I will come back in the evening.

She turned quickly and left. Amal ran up behind her.

These two sentences belong in the same paragraph. Also, you need to follow “evening.” with a quotation mark (make sure the period comes before the quotation mark).

This is pretty good! There are quite a few errors as far as punctuation is concerned, but your spelling is excellent and so is your story telling. The emotions are powerful and realistic throughout this heart wrenching piece about finding your true self and where you really belong--with a person who birthed you or someone who took you in. With a little tidying up and some work on the ending, this good be a very good piece. As it stands, I‘m going to rate it a 3.0. Bear in mind that I‘m a strict rater these days! Do not let the average rating discourage you--remember that 3 stars is average, not “throw this away“ stars! It has a lot of potential, so keep writing!

Good luck and happy writing!
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello, Debbie! Thank you so much for dropping by my review studio! I hope you find my review as helpful as I found your story enjoyable! It was a pretty good piece, emotionally driven, with strong images and colorful descriptions. I’ll start the review with a basic commentary—how was the introduction, were the characters believable, and so on. Then I’ll move on to the editing, and sum it up at the end with suggestions and an overall take on the story, and finally your rating.

The Commentary
*Right*Does the beginning capture me, does it make me want to read on?
         The beginning was a little misleading. She asks some “dude” for a light, and for all intents and purposes, it appears that she is talking to the wall. In fact, I held the impression that she was alone in a room talking to a machine until you later say that there were four other strangers in the room. Try giving a clearer picture of the setting here so that readers aren’t so easily confused. 3.5 out of 5

*Right*Does it stir any emotions in me?
          As I said, this is an emotionally driven piece, detailing a difficult relationship with a politician-father and the absence of a mother, and the struggle of a young woman to find her place in the world. The father was appropriately disappointed in life, the mother flighty, and the daughter bitter and jaded. Good work! 4.5

*Right*Does it read and flow well?
          The story read pretty well, though I think there were some parts that were a little unnecessary that broke up the flow. I detail that later in the editing section where you can see what I mean. 4.0

*Right*How do I feel about the characters – are they believable? Can I relate to them?
          The characters are all very believable! The main character seems easy to relate to. I’m sure there are many fathers out there like the one in your story, as well as many mothers. This aspect of the story was excellently done. 5.0

*Right*What do I think of the ending?
         I loved it! It was a great way to end the story, fitting the build-up nicely, as well as the point of the slip of paper from the fortune telling machine. I felt very satisfied at the end of this piece, so you must’ve done a great job! 5.0

On to the Editing!

First of all, you need to capitalize “skirts” in your title.

“Ya got a light, dude?” she looked up surprisingly into a dark blank expression of a concrete wall

Capitalize “she” and change “surprisingly” into “surprised”. There’s nothing to indicate that she would be surprisingly looking at something; I believe the correct word is surprised. The restructured sentence should read as follows: She looked up, surprised, into a dark, blank expression of a concrete wall dimly lit only by an orange flicker of joyful dancing flame.

Perhaps sometimes in life, we gain dependence from beings we least expect. In certain time, from things we least expect.

I think you mean to say “dependence on” instead of “dependence from”.

Growing up for her was not easy, easy was never the word to grasp, not in her life, at least.

This sentence is pretty jumbled, several statements all wound up into one string of words. Try rephrasing. “Growing up for her was not easy; easy was a word not easy to grasp. Not in her life, at least.”

Her father, a down trodden political figure who was always more interested in protecting his own standing arse and her mother, who was so absorbed in her meditation classes that one day she ran away with the class facilitator.

This is actually an incomplete statement, and a rather lengthy one. What are you trying to say about her mother and father? You give a lot of information about them but not their action. You’ll see what I mean when you read the following rewrite: “Her father was a down trodden political figure who was always more interested in protecting his own standing arse. And there was her mother, who was so absorbed in her meditation classes that one day she ran away with the class facilitator.”

The news didn’t made headlines though, considering how unpopular a political activist her father was.

What news? That her mother ran away? Specify here. Try saying, “The news of the divorce” or “The news of the affair” would clarify that.

She had always wanted to attend classes but somehow or rather she would never make it.

I think you mean to say, “somehow or other”. Rather isn’t the correct word here.

It was a big upset to consistently have distasteful pretentious people walking in and out of the house; much less preventing her from a proper school life.

I think you should turn the semi-colon here into a comma. Also, “much less” indicates that you referred to an amount pertaining to “less” to begin with; for example, if you had said, “She didn’t enjoy consistently…etc”, because then you could indicate that she enjoyed even less how it prevented her from having a proper school life. As the sentence stands, it technically means that it caused less of an upset in preventing her from a proper school life. Rephrase, or try the following: “It was a big upset to consistently have distasteful, pretentious people walking in and out of the house, not to mention preventing her from a proper school life.”

It was a bit hard to clear the air especially to the education department that a political figure’s daughter had been skipping school often with no real digestible reason.

This sentence’s meaning is very unclear. Try rephrasing.

He just didn’t care nor acknowledge her presence after his career plopped down the wrong lane.

Add “did he” between “nor” and “acknowledge” to complete the statement.

None to naïve to realize her exceptionally hormone-inducing attractive figure is a prowess tool that could be manipulated for her own benefit, she occasionally fishes favors from the all too willing men who hastily laps up to her desires.

It should be “None too”, with “to” being changed to “too”, since “too” means “also” or “very”. Also, you forget which time sense you’re using (referring to past, present, or future tense). Make sure you pay attention to this, as I’ve already noticed several places in the story where this error is made, though I think they can remain as they are. Restructure this sentence: ”None too naïve to realize her exceptionally hormone-inducing figure was a prowess tool that could be used to her benefit, she occasionally fished favors from the willing men who hastily lapped up her desires.”

Go through your entire story and look for the “was” and “is”. Make sure everything follows your original past-tense format.

Middle-aged men, who have lost the panting for their wives, happily turn at the sight of a meek willing young sexy thing that seems like a glimpse of hope fore them to revive their diminishing appetite.

Rephrase. You forget to use past-tense again, and the sentence runs far longer than necessary. Pretty words are nice, but not at the expense of the reader’s attention span. Bear in mind while writing a short story that the people reading this are looking for a short story. They want the story told fast and to the point, without mincing words. Go through and you’re your piece, making sure that every word in necessary. Read the sentences to yourself and leave out words to find out if they are really needed or not. If the sentence works without the extra descriptions, take it out. Of course, you don’t want to leave the story completely without description, just don’t get carried away.

Middle-aged men, who had lost the panting for their wives, happily turned at the sight of a meek and willing young, sexy thing, a wetting of a long-forgotten appetite.”

And everything else that betake your fortune.

This statement reads very awkwardly. Consider rephrasing.

Huge and intimidating, it was decorated according to an Oriental-themed, although anyone could easily have dismissed it as a cheapo gimmick to cheat passer-bys of their dispensable one dollar.

It should be “Oriental theme” with no hyphen, and without the d. If you had said, “It was Oriental-themed,” it would work.

The marketing department was pretty efficient though, a dollar of an average of 78 hits a day

Change the comma to a semi-colon.

She stared mindlessly at the machine for a while thinking about the countless times she had passed it witnessing some superstitious individuals obligingly scrutinizing every word printed on the fortune sheet to some young schoolboys chuckling away at sheets that say, ‘you will find true love today’.

This is a very long sentence. Definitely rephrase this one. It contains a lot of excellent descriptions, and you get a very clear picture of the scene, so just break up what’s said. “She stared mindlessly at the machine for a while, thinking about the countless times she had passed it. She had witnessed everything from some superstitious individuals obligingly scrutinizing every word printed on the fortune sheet to young schoolboys chuckling away at sheets that say, “You will find true love today.”

The machine itself had withheld a timeframe longer than she had worked in the room, or was it a hall, she wondered.

Use a little writing.ml here. You can find the directs for writing.ml in a link directly above the body of your item in the item-making form (the page you use to edit or create your item). To italicize something, use {i} to make it italics and {/i} to close the tag (so that it doesn’t turn everything into italics).

To make this clearer, try italicizing the part that she’s thinking: “The machine itself had withheld a timeframe longer than she had worked in the room—or was it a hall? she wondered.”

like cold water on a winter night, it was a brothel.

Change the comma into a semi-colon.

The awfully garish bright neon signboard, the red dim Phillip bulbs which boasts a lifespan of 10000 hours, the pleasant geisha looking door girl sitting at the makeshift reception of a plastic chair and table, the dodgy looking couch for customers to await impatiently their turn alongside the fortune machine makes the world that she had unwillingly succumbed into after being revealed the appalling truth of the man who claimed to have loved her.

As far as I can tell, this is all one sentence. Try not to get carried away with these. They’re great as a style technique, but after a while, your reader’s attention span will snap. Try again.

The clues were all there: the awful, garish neon signboard, the red dim Phillip bulbs which boasted a lifespan of ten thousand hours. The pleasant geisha-like door girl who sat at the makeshift reception desk, the dodgy-looking couch for customers to await their turn alongside the fortune machine. All made the world to which she unwillingly succumbed after discovering the appalling truth of the man who claimed to love her.

Frankly, it was just human nature to reach out and leave and imprint on objects that they closely encounter; like how some idiots scribble on bathroom walls while taking a dump.

Great imagery here! People do seem to have that habit, don’t they? For this sentence, change “to reach out and leave and imprint” to “to reach out and leave an imprint”. Also, change the semi-colon to a comma.

As expected it is at a brothel, scribbles of such, laden with profane sense can only be duly understood and comprehended.

This is a strange sentence. I can’t decide if it’s necessary or not. The strangeness comes from the fact that it’s in present tense. Try saying, “As expected, it is only at a brothel that scribbles of such, laden with profane sense, can be duly understood and comprehended.”

Over time, the machine has seen perhaps a one too many four letter words and a tad too much of female anatomy descriptions.

You mess up your past tense again. “Over time, the machine had seen perhaps one too many four letter words and a tad too many descriptions of the female anatomy.”

Several seconds later, a fortune sheet dropped into the outer panel and the machined shuts off abruptly as if the one dollar worth of entertainment had just reached its time limit.

Change “machined shuts” to “machine shut”.

Unsuspectingly, she unrolled the paper to reveal,

Try rephrasing this. “Not knowing what to expect” would work a little more clearly. “Unsuspectingly” hints that she doesn’t suspect anything, but this girl seems far from unsuspecting.

Her eyes remained transfixed at the sheet for a considerably long period before she heard her name being called out rudely; awakening her fascination of the phrase.

Change the semi-colon to a comma.

She cringed and paused for a moment ignoring the door girl

Place a comma after “moment” and before “ignoring”.

Happiness, she thought, have I ever feel that way before?

Try the italics here as well. It clarifies when she is thinking and looks a little more professional. Also, keep an eye on your past-tense. Happiness, she thought, have I ever felt that way before?

This was just plain non-verbal signals that she had learned to be extremely familiar with.

Again, this jumps around with past and present-tense. Try saying, “It was just” instead of “This was just”. “It was just an example of the non-verbal signals she with which she had become extremely familiar.”

His slight crooked nose; the one that resembled her so much; the same one that she had last seen many years ago.

Say “hers” instead of her, as a nose wouldn’t resemble the girl, but her nose.

He gave a long huge sigh. A long, exhausted and longing sigh.

”Long huge” is kind of an odd pairing of words, since they both have too similar a meaning. It’s a little redundant, so take out that part and just asy, “He gave a long, exhausted, and longing sigh.”

Ubiquitously, she could never make out the tons of problems that her father could be facing, but at least, he had took her shoulder for comfort.

Replace “took” with “taken”

I’m not sure the scene about the man in the boutique and the skirt needed to be so lengthy. Try making it run a little quicker, with a brief explanation about the “up skirt” (because otherwise, I’m not sure a reader will know what you mean by “up skirt” at the end of the story). I do not see how it pertains to the machine in the room, the wall, or the lit cigarette, and the detailed description of her flirtatious, manipulative nature is unnecessary. It’s easy enough to figure out that she attracts older men when you say that she left home with one.

To make the story “tighter”, that is, to make it more professional and read more smoothly and swiftly, try reworking the introduction and the scene in the boutique. It needs to be apparent that the two scenes somehow relate.

This is a really great piece! Because of the number of errors, though, I’m going to give it a 3.5. With some polishing, that rating can go way up. It’s an excellent story, very well told, but in need of some finesse. Let me know when you edit it and I’ll gladly take another look! I’m looking forward to reading more of your work, Debbie!

Good luck and happy writing!
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: E | (4.0)
Great piece! I don't live far from Branson (I'm in Arkansas, though, but only 45 minutes to an hour south of Branson, MO) so I'm somewhat familiar with the places to which you referred. The Branson Belle is frequently visited by my in-laws, and I have a picture of my husband, neices, and mother-in-law on the riverboat, dated 1999, I believe. It's always nice to hear about places you recognize in someone else's story!

One sentence was a little difficult to read: We were all given yellow Wacky Quackers, as they were called that dangled from a ribbon that we draped around our necks.

You may want to try to rephrase this, or add a second comma. Try We were all given yellow Wacky Quackers, as they were called, that dangled from a ribbon we draped around our necks.

Otherwise, this is another excellent piece! I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's difficulties, but glad to discover the concept of "trip insurance"! I never heard of such a thing, and boy, I bet that could save a lot of people a whole world of trouble!

Thanks for another great read, Dottie!
Review of The Dating Years  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This is a good story, and I appreciate your honesty in the telling of the dating misadventure! The only correction to be made is that I don't think "Circus" really needs to be capitalized since you didn't specify which circus.

I like the way things turned out; of course, if this is a true story, you didn't have to make anything up. Seeing our heroine get out of a tight spot with nothing more than flushed cheeks is always gratifying. It could have been much worse!

Great job, Dottie!
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Excellent writing! I have to say that I haven't read too many children stories at writing.com, as it's so difficult without the addition of illustrations to really enjoy a children story (unless, of course, you're a child). However, this piece was funny and entertaining! I love how "modern" it is, in the sense that Darla had a PayPal account.

The characters were all very amusing. I had forgotten as I started reading that this was a version of the Little Red Hen, so it gave me a good laugh at the end when I remembered. Oh yes! That's why she bought grain, silly! The whole point of the story!

I do have just one suggestion to make. When Darla steals with knob from the television and tells the guys that she'll be back in an hour, you used the expression, "Darla shot". I know that it was intended to expression a sharpness of tone, but I'm not sure that children will get the proper visualization from the word. I'd say "snapped", or something similar to it. I think kids hear "shot" and think "needles"!

Excellent work. I loved every moment of it. I did not notice any errors. Thanks for the excellent read!
Review of Eagle  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
It's a very large blow up of the head and neck.

You might want to call it a “very large print” instead of a blow up. It’s easy to tell what you mean by blow up, but it breaks up the rhythm of the introduction. Otherwise, I liked the first paragraph! You get right to the point, and I can easily tell that the story will follow the introduction--something I always appreciate.

I take it as a clear sign that it likes what I leave it.

Specify here what “it” is. It’s been a while since you referred to the eagle by name, and though you do in the next sentence, I think it’s more important to do so here.

Still, even with these 'gifts' it stares at me.

This should have quotation marks, not a pair of apostrophes. Also, the sentence needs another comma. Still, even with these gifts, it stares at me. And on that note, “Still” and “even” are redundant. “Even with these gifts” would work a touch better, removing excess baggage of unnecessary words.

At first I was elated, a 'yes' vote and I could be rid of the eagle for life. As simple as that, 'yes' and then poof gone!

Again, the quotation marks instead of the apostrophes. You‘re referring to the word “yes“ as a quote of your own vote. Above, where you referred to gifts, it should be in quotation marks because it‘s like saying, “these so-called gifts“, which suggests that you are quoting someone calling the water and candy gifts.

Very funny! The narrator is apparently pretty paranoid. I wonder if he should sacrifice those 30000 feet to the eagle? Great work!

Review of Four  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Gonna do something a little different on this one. Whether I see errors or not, I’m still going to give a running commentary as I read—I think that sometimes helps a writer get into the head of their reader. You get a better gauge of reactions. I haven’t read this piece yet, so whatever I say comes without knowing the ending.

The women were fierce and blood-thirsty with constant thoughts of the next kill on their minds.

Reminds me of my mother and her sisters!

The men were content to scout the surrounding countryside, looking for special plants and roots with which to work their medicines.

Ahh, nice reverse humanity type thing. Men are the gatherers, women are the hunters.

And besides, they were only Four. What could Four possibly know about hunting and medicine-making that the Great Village had not already discovered for themselves? The Four were, in short, outcast and made to live at the Edge of the Forest in shame and humiliation.

I’m sensing symbolism.

Meanwhile, in the Great Village in the Center of the Land, the Villagers were struggling through bouts of pnuemonia, anemia, food poisoning and basic starvation.

YAY! An error! Pneumonia, I believe is the correct spelling. Now I feel useful.

Ah…nice ending there, Zoo. *LOL* That’s much more realistic than happily ever after.
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
…tracing a path of crimson to drip rythmatically. upon the cold, flagstone floor. … her once melodical voice only able to produce a single hoarsely spoken word.

Few spelling errors here: rhythmic should replace rhythmatically and melodic should replace melodically. Great intro!

Long white hair hung in a simple ponytail down his lithe shoulders, pulled back by an elaborate strand of spun emerald silk. A tall and imposing figure, he moved to stand over the diminutive elven woman and glanced down at her with a look of sadistic glee.

Very good description here. You get a pretty good image of this person.

lost its luster as it was pulled from it's rightful owner and placed in the hands of her killer.

“It’s” should be “its” when referring to an object’s possession.

Her hand brushed a lock of her raven tresses from her eyes and she sat up, sinking back into the numerous pillows that they both lay upon.

As a technical detail, upon is a preposition and should not end a sentence. “sinking back into the numerous pillows upon which they both lay” would be more grammatically correct, but it’s a stylistic thing and doesn’t necessarily need to be changed. Over-correction and perfect grammar often leads a piece of art to sounding like an English paper, and it bores the snot out of people.

It was a hunger that could not be denied nor would it be.

As a scene ender, this sentence is intriguing, but could be rephrased just a smidge. Add a comma in there so it reads a little less awkwardly. “It was a hunger that could not be denied…nor would it be” would be good, since you have a tendency to use the “three dots style” in this piece so far.

Perhaps he would just keep the cleric instead of just the symbol.

One of the justs should be removed. “Perhaps he would keep the cleric instead of just the symbol” is a good option, but you know what you’re doing.

His dark mistress approved of his practices and now it was time to see that she too was appeased in exchange for the dark powers she had graced him with.

This sentence is interesting and informative, but jumbled. “His dark mistress approved of his practices. Now ti was time to see that she, too, was appeased in exchange for the dark powers with which she had graced him” might work a little better, again, mostly because of the technical detail of the preposition of “with“.

Danon quietly dressed in his dark robes and fastened his sword belt on.

Again, the preposition here… I think the “on” can be removed entirely, or replaced with “around his waist”.

His twin bastard swords would come in handy once again for his absence from his home had surely not gone unnoticed.

What are bastard swords, anyway?

...even rage-blind Lanka, his wife of ten years, had finally begun to catch on.

HA! Lanka lives on! I couldn’t possibly imagine what in society would require a marriage to someone with horns on her head, but hey, when in Rome… Good to see what she’s up to, though, because I get the biggest kick out of that character.

Very interesting! You are very descriptive without wasting a reader’s time. I think my favorite part was finding out that Lanka is married to this fellow, but that does you a discredit. Really, the opening was fantastic, starting right out with blood and gore and a dripping blade, and no explanation. Did he only kill her for Sabrina’s collection? What a guy! What a world!

Great job here!
Review of Drive-In Movies  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
àMy perfect romance began the day I realized I couldn’t stop looking at girls, and the embarrassing events that followed because of it.

It seems funny now, how I never seemed to notice them before, I mean, I knew they were there, but not until I had reached high school did I really sense their wonderful presence.

Girls would walk by me at school whispering and giggling to each other, and I, as if I had never seen one previously, would just stare at them, completely mesmerized, mouth hanging open.

Girls were all I could think about: the tall, the short, the thin, and fat; how they looked, smelled, and felt; the way they walked, talked, and smiled, I loved everything about them -- everything!

There was this one girl, Cheri was her name. I’ll never forget her, and I’m sure she’ll never forget me or our first date. ß

I think all of this can be one paragraph, rathare than five separate sentences.

Punishment still ran rampant across school grounds everywhere, and I had gotten my butt tanned on more than one occassion.

Two points--you might want to specify what kind of punishment as punishment exists in many forms. Also, correct the spelling there to “occasion”. That on always gets me too.

“Sure! What’s going on?” She smiled at me. Her smile could melt ice cream.

Which really isn’t a difficult task…melting ice cream.

He told me about all the evils of teenage drinking, and how Satan was gathering up teenagers soul while they were young and stupid.

Might want to rephrase: “He told me about all the evils of teenage drinking, and how Satan was gathering up teenagers’ souls while they were young and stupid.” Note the apostrophe and plural.

and sported a flat-top haircut greased down with pommade

My spellchecker says this should be spelled “pomade” with one “m”, but I never used the stuff, so you might know better than the 22 year old undergrad who programmed my word processor.

I offered some to Cheri. She slammed it back like a pro, wiping her mouth off on the back of her hand. “That tastes pretty good,” she said. I tried some myself. Yuck! It tasted like spoiled grape juice that burnt my gut when it finally hit bottom.

It IS spoiled grape juice..

“Hey, you guys,” interrupted Mark, smirking with his head sticking over the back seat. “Break it up, will ya? I got some apricot brandy that I stoled from my folks. Ya wanna try it?”

Suddenly, I began to feel whoosey. I quickly sat up and the world spun around in a hurry to catch up with me. “Hey look!” I bravely said. “There’s still some wine left. Anybody want it?”

Oh no, you’re gonna puke in her sweater..

Suddenly a great gush of liquid spewed out of my mouth and landed right on Cheri’s chest, filling her D-cups. The look on her face was nothing compared to the scream that came afterward.

Saw that one coming..

I put the car in gear and began to slowly pull away. “Bang!” There was a loud explosion as the window on my side shattered into a million pieces. I immediately slammed on the brakes.

Tiny pieces of glass covered my lap and filled my seat; the floorboard sparkled. I looked out the window and saw the speaker torn out of its stand. It was lying there on the ground like a dead snake, glass everywhere.

I think I’d have left the car at this point and just walked home. *LOL* What an awful night!

Very well written. You do the “teen-talk” pretty well, unlike most adults who overdo it. The descriptions seemed accurate from a teenaged male’s perspective, and I love the part where the narrator, after breaking his window because he forgot to hang up the speaker, looks up at the screen to see a reminder to hang up the speaker.

Excellent job, very funny!
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
A young soldier hung from a dead tree that was nestled in the shallow gully of two hills. His hands were bound tightly above his head to an over-hanging branch -- his legs tied to the trunk. He was stripped to his long johns and a large, dark-red blotch stained the white fabric at his side -- a broken arrow jutted from its center. Groaning softly from the pain of the wound, the captive dropped his head to his chest and the movement caused his bright, yellow hair to flutter in the warm, midday breeze.

Intriguing opening. My attention is caught immediately, trying to figure out who the soldier is and what he’s done to deserve being tied to a tree. Had I not noticed glimpses of the rest of the story, I’d assume he had crossed the wrong woman. ;)

He watched a tall Indian dressed in light buckskins pull the Army saddle from his chestnut pony and drop it onto the yellow summer grass. Another Indian sat upon the ground, struggling with a pair of shiny, new boots. His long jet-black hair spilled down his back, and a lone, single braid, tied with a small piece of buckskin held an eagle feather at its end. He wore a tight-fitting U.S. Cavalry jacket with sleeves too short for his arms and a bloodstain on one side. The Indian’s skin was dark and browned, but his eyes were darker -- as black as a wild animal’s. The soldier recognized him as Night Bear, the renegade Comanche.

Which Indian is this paragraph describing? Which one has the hair and feather, the one with the pony or the one with the boots?

Finally tiring of wrestling with the army boots, Night Bear threw them away from him in disgust. Slipping his moccasins back on, he rejoined his new companion.


Night Bear roughly grabbed the soldier by the hair, pulling his head way back. With his other hand, he unsheathed his knife, and looking the boy straight in the eyes, slowly took his scalp.

Mm..brains. I’m hungry. Rather graphic there, but brave of you to write, and I do like brave writers.

The young man screamed as blood ran down his face and neck, dripping into his eyes. “No! Don’t! Please!”

It is surprising that someone would survive a scalping, but I suppose if you are only taking the flesh and not the bone..? Or perhaps if he’s good enough at it to not scrape away any of the brain matter, the victim could survive for a brief while. They live through brain surgeries, after all, yes?

The tall Indian did not back down. Signed, I am Thunder Bow of the Sioux Nation, Teacher of the Way. I am a man of peace who is sworn to the Path of the Medicine Wheel. This killing of innocent children is the Path away from the heart, my brother. Release this young pony soldier. He can do us no harm.

Well, no, he really can’t without the top of his head, eh?

Another question: why are they signing? Was this common among the native Americans? I can‘t recall hearing of it before, but it makes sense, always a good way to communicate without anyone being able to easily translate.

He turned and approached the soldier again. Without warning, he quickly thrust his knife deep into the prisoner’s shoulder just beneath the collar bone.

The young man screamed. “Aiiee! Stop! Please! I beg you . . .” He began to weep like a child.

Still alive, is he? Tough little kid, don’t you think?

Night Bear stopped, looking at the tall Indian with a new admiration. “How is it you know my language?”

Ah, well, that answers the sign language questions.

Major West called his squad to a halt, the neck of his Appaloosa wet and lathered from where the reins had rubbed. They had ridden hard throughout the day, stopping only briefly to water their horses along the river they had been following.

Question suddenly crossed my mind: Where is all of this, exactly? It isn’t really clear.

Sergeant McKeeny sauntered up and stood by his side. “You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’, major?”

Yeah, Brain, but where we gonna get all that puddin’?

“God knows, I know, and you know, major -- that boy’s dead. And chasing after ‘im out here like this ain’t gonna do nuthin’ but get some more of them young-un’s killed.”

“It’s my job to bring ‘em all back, sergeant -- dead or alive.”

Good to see some dedication in the troops during this time. You hear very little good about the army in those days. Even though the situation is grim, and the whole conflict was wrong (though Night Bear is just as wrong), it’s still good to see West being a good leader, strong for his troop of boys. Makes you wonder what was going on in the rest of the army. But then again, you don‘t hear about the decent people in war, because that‘s not the interesting part.

Night Bear quietly led the way toward the river, Thunder Bow trailing close behind deep in thought over the words that had been spoken the night before. It was decided that they would split-up once the river had been reached. Night Bear would go south following the trail of Crazy Horse, while Thunder Bow, not being able to persuade his brother against war, would turn east, toward home.

This paragraph read a little dry, like a police report, or a tactical report. It’s informative, quick to the point, but empty of personality. However, it doesn’t really need a great deal of flair, or else your story would get too long.

The Giver appeared to him as a low vibrating hum that resonated a perfect tone throughout his body -- One with all Living Things. The Taker came as a dead child, Soul Catcher, with a glistening horn that showed the Way of Destruction, and Loss of Spirit.

Well that…was depressing. I hope Pup isn’t going to die! He’s a very likeable youngster who has already lived through a great trial. What children were doing with the army… We should have been ashamed of ourselves.

He positioned himself directly behind the soldier, spotted movement of horses on the far side, and decided to deal-out a quiet death. Crouching low, he quickly rushed forward, easily smashing the small soldier to the ground, and digging his knife into the great vein that is behind the ear, stabbing again and again.

……that wasn’t very nice….. However, I appreciate again your bravery in telling a story. You don‘t hesitate to pretty anything up, to make it clean and nice for the reader. This is how war works, sadly, and you portray it well. It‘s a shame it ever had to happen.

Then the air suddenly exploded with the roar of thunder irons and the Sioux Medicine Man clutched at a fire that seared deep inside his stomach. He looked down at the wound spurting out his life’s blood. Dimly he saw Night Bear floating face-down along the river bank just before another bullet hit him in his head spilling him from his horse. The Great Circle moved to completion and Thunder Bow’s spirit hurried toward the sun.

That was…abrupt. It ended suddenly, unexpectedly. The ending was so centered on Thunder Bow’s spirituality that I’m left a little off-kilter, because so much of the rest of the story was revolving around Night Bear’s violence.

Characters were believable. I like that you showed both the light and dark side of things, one man savage, one noble and spiritual. There’s a good leader in the US troops in Major West, and the dark side there is that there were boys in the military, fighting a war we had no business fighting.

Great, great work. I understand now why you’ve been nominated for best western writer!
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Initial reaction will be in pink, corrections will be in blue, overall comments/character analysis will be in green.

Initial reaction:
Read the title, thought, “Oh great another person who hates LotR and is going to rip it apart. Ought to be funny!”

Inside the smoke filled room of the Prancing Phony, Ono sat at a small corner table with his friends, Hairy, Sippin, and Damn Flies.

Damn flies! *LOL* Very very clever. This opening clues me in to the fact that while you’re making fun of LotR, you apparently have a right to because you appear to know what you’re talking about (in other words, you remembered the Inn of the Prancing Pony). That makes it just so much more enjoyable!

..while combing his very furry feet.

Ew, combing feet… What an icky little detail. Makes you wonder though, with all the hair they had on their feet and the pride hobbits took in it, do you think maybe they did comb their feet hair?

Ono remembered what the wizard Randolph had told him. “You must not give in to the urge of The Wing. It calls out to be found,” said the wizard. “Once you start gnawing on it, the Evil Guy will be able to see where it is hidden, and then none will be safe in all the land.”

Evil Guy. *slaps forehead* This is so so bad. *L* And so so good.

“Sippin, you’ve had too much to drink,” said Ono, as he tried to lead Sippin back to the table. “Are you making up crazy stories again?” As he turned, Ono’s foot caught on a small stool. He tripped and fell. Unconsciously, he
stuck The Wing into his mouth.

Little format error here. You may wish to fix this.

“If you harm one hair on Master Ono’s head, you’ll have us to deal with,” threatened Damn Flies.

Those Damn Flies can be a problem when upset, can’t they?

“Bravely said,” replied Hider, as he sheathed his sword.

Don’t think the comma is necessary there, but not absolutely certain.

“Oh, no!” said Hairy.

“What, Hairy? Did you call me?” asked Ono.

Okay, now that’s funny. Both times.

One carried a small bag that he kept barfing into from time to time. Every so often the bag would be passed around and the sounds of retching could be heard throughout the Prancing Phony.

Gross… Gross… Gross… Extra points for gross..

“Do you think you could get back at the end of the line now, please? Those pesky flies of yours are starting to drive me crazy. They, too, can smell The Wing... and they keep trying to eat it!”

Dying laughing, just dying.

“The leaves were long, the grass was green
the hills were all covered in dew...
Alone was I, hiding unseen,
‘til she said ‘ Ah-ha, I see you...!’

Stony mountains, cold and gray
traveled by oh so few
hide-and-seek was a game I played
‘til she said ‘Ah-ha, I see you...!’

Immortal maiden, elven-wise
she walks without a shoe
I long to hear her say once more
Ah-ha, I see you...!”

How very….romantic? *LOL* very well done, though, quite in the Tolkien theme of things. I never did like his penchant for turning a fantasy novel into a musical, but the rest of the story made up for it. This was a great little ditty!

The Nauseated,drawn to The Wing, immediately attacked.

Requires a space between the comma and “drawn”

Hilarious! You did a great job of following the details of the actual story and twisting it to your own parody. I love the funny names, Randolph’s boogers, and the Nauseated. Everyone still managed to be true to their original character, with just a touch more humor involved. Great writing!
Review of The Fledgling  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: E | (4.5)
Copper knelt, her back against a pine. Benge was asleep. The holy ranger deserved rest; she did not deserve his guarding. It was right that she guarded him, the one who surrendered his life to the forest to give her life again. His presence emboldened her; never was living so vital as when he needed her protection just as now.

Good to see Benge! With this new character thrown into the mix—rather, to realize that Copper is part of this story as well—it complicates the overall world quite nicely. I wish you’d compile it all into a book!

Benge no doubt felt that yearning for home as well as he had smiled when she insisted they leave that night.

This sentence is a little awkward. I suggest breaking it up into two sentences. “Benge no doubt felt that yearning for home as well. He had smiled when she insisted they leave that night.”


The last part of that scene is a little unclear. Was she remembering standing in the sun? Or was she doing it just then? However, the rest of the story is fantastic. I love the transformation, Benge’s reaction, and the hierophant.

Excellent, as usual. I loved seeing Benge older (I assume he’s older) and away from Lanka. I think Copper is fascinating, and that Benge has grown up nicely. The different religions in this world are great. The development, consistency, and uniqueness of each religion is a sign of a great author. Great great work.

Review of Echo of Linkbard  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Srin stalked his fellow elves. The forest crawled with them; he knew bronze-skinned elves lay just beneath the tree shadows. He knew he would find them, catch them in their paths as they flowed like lifeblood under the skin of the leaves. They would yield their secrets to him; after all, there were no secrets a cousin could keep from another.

Excellent introduction here. The concept of bronze-skinned elves stray from the ordinary array of pale or translucent-fleshed elves. Srin seems like a strange person, and I wonder what kind of elf he is and what he looks like, how big he is, if the elves he’s looking for are tiny, as the statement describing how they move seems to suggest.

An elf’s imagination can be the most boundless of all fancies; Srin’s mind was gifted, some say cursed, by his own wild beliefs. It was of course Srin’s idea to seek the ruins of Lilliki, his foolhardy idea to interview every wild elf tribe to discover any scrap of knowledge they might have of that grand, devastated nation. A shame it was that no others saw the genius of his endeavors save the humans he gave coin to for protection. As Srin examined another puddle that somewhat resembled a footprint, the humans spoke.

Good explanation of Srin’s purpose here, also adding mystery to the story with the mention of the lost civilization. Gives the reader more to hang onto than a fascinating character.

She leaned over the blond elf’s shoulder. “Two… maybe up to four. It’s rained soon. Could’ve been any mount for what I’m seeing.”

Not sure if this is the way she speaks, or if you actually meant “amount” instead of “mount”.

His mind rushed with possibilities each time he discovered a new outlet for the secrets of his ancestors in these foreign cousins of his.

One mystery solved. So the bronze elves used to be a fantastic civilization. It reminds me of the Mayas, who disappeared from their great stone cities into the jungles and descended into the Aztecs, and now are comparatively primitive. What happened to them? Did they succumb to dark religious practices like blood sacrifices? Did they become a warring people and were destroyed in battle? Was it disease, natural disaster? It’s good that I want to know all of these things. This piece has a great deal of mystery in it that keeps me reading, though I’m perched on the verge of frustration as more mysteries are tossed in—like the Buck Chasers. Do they chase deer because they rely on their senses to detect danger?

Finally he did discover the Buck Chasers. In Magria’s opinion, the wood elves had discovered them.

This capture strikes me as a little sudden. I think it could be quite the involved little sequence, with more detail. Did they pop out of the woods with their arrows? How did Magria reaction? And so on.

The huntress looked perplexed at the elf. All this revelry around them and he wanted her to track them still? She cut him a curious look and turned to examine the print left by her escort. It was the footprint of a large deer.

Mystery solved, curiosity satisfied, frustration abated. Very good. Also, good survival technique to disguise their footprints with deer tracks. But what makes them want to hide so desperately when they seemed to have little problem with bringing Srin and Magria (both great names, by the way) into their city?

“Echo, um, I came to you for information regarding Lilliki. I have seen the magic boots, those that reshape the footprints into animals’. How did…”

It’s nice to see the superior elf stammer and quake. It makes him slightly more likable.

Magria set their packs against her back again. She muttered again, “Weird elf.”

Weird elf indeed. I enjoy how sputtering he was around Echo, and how stern and self-important he is around Magria.

Again, your characters are engaging. Echo was an enchanting character, and while you barely described the elfs at all, you gave them just enough description for me to know the basics: they had bronze skin, they liked to play, they intrigued and seduced and stole dreams away. I’m curious, though, about just what happened there with Srin.

Great work here. Lots of mystery. This is definitely a story I’d like to see made longer and more detailed, but it works wonderfully as a short story. I feel satisfied by what I read, that my time was not wasted in the slightest. Good job!

Review of Timarie's Guest  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
with shinning holy powers.

Do you mean shining? Shinning sounds painful. Actually so does the other…


I sort of ruined this story for myself in the process of copying and pasting it into my word program for reviewing at my leisure; it gave me a glimpse at the last paragraph, so I knew what to expect and the surprise was ruined. Very good piece, and I think Timarie is a fascinating character who deserves more, ah, fleshing out (no pun intended). It wouldn’t fit in here, and I see that you do have another piece about her, but I think she deserves something more than a handful of short stories. Good work, as usual!

Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
But the world was different: Benge loved Lanka. And she was going to know it.

Poor guy loves demon baby, doesn’t he? Great introduction, as I’ve come to expect. Again, you don’t waste any words. I feel as though my time is being used efficiently, keeping my interest without dragging me through any literary wandering (not that I’d mind).

“Dear Lanka, In case you did not get my other leters, I want you to know I love you. Your the prettyest girl in the whole monestarey. Please meet me behind the big oak tree after dinner tomorow. I love you. Your seacrit admiror.”

Benge needs some romance lessons, does he? *LOL* This was startling in its humor. So far, the story has been very sober and dark, and to come across this little twist was delightful. Words fit for a queen, indeed! Nevertheless sweet and honest, though. What courage the boy has to approach her when everyone else seems to flee. Or if not courage, then foolishness?

The girl then burst into motion. Her clawed hands snapped out between them, ramming him back. She saw his stupid face twist in shock as he lost his footing in the snow, allowing himself to fall foolishly into the tree. She heard a sharp snap as she turned away from the boy and ran back toward the temple. Lanka wanted to laugh at the idiot boy who made himself look so stupid. She did not try to understand why she shed tears as she ran away and chose not to think about it ever again.


So I guess that’s a no for a second date?

Great action sequence there, nothing overdone, nothing underdone.

Lanka: Definitely trouble, but I’m looking forward to seeing what becomes of her. Is she redeemed? Can a demon spawn find goodness? Her mother had seen a vision of those who were sinful or demonic finding innocence and purity. Could this be the case with Lanka?
Benge: Foolish, bad speller (I’m assuming that was him and not youJ), but loyal and faithful. You have to hand it to him for still being determined to love her and protect her. Nothing redeems like adoration.

Excellent work again! No errors that I could see. All in all an excellent way to spend my time!

Review of Someplace Fun  
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: E | (5.0)
I was sitting in my maroon and white flowered sand chair attempting to read my book, sipping from a chilled can of pop, the sugared sweetness of which pleased my mouth with its bubbles and syrup. I wasn’t getting very far. My barefoot toes kept scrunching sand, stroking the warm top layer and the cool, almost damp sensual pleasure of the feel of the sand deeper down. October brings days of perfection in Ventura, California. The sun was warming my skin delightfully, and I wiggled deeper into my sand chair, my toes digging up another layer.

Fantasic introductory paragraph. However, I think it would look somewhat better with “October brings…” being the first sentence. But then again, you are a far more talented writer than I…

Another great piece of work. I couldn’t find any technical errors, and everything flowed superbly. Sometimes I thought that the paragraphs were too short, but it worked well this way. It was a short story, no need to elaborate too much. The story itself is pointed.

Darn tourists.

As adults, we quit taking the time to appreciate that which we take vacations to go see. I used to live near Lake Michigan, and I still hold a great deal of affection for a particular beach between Charlevoix and Petoskey. It’s just a little picnic area off of the highway along the lake, and you can go Petoskey stone hunting and watch the tourists argue with their children and feed the seagulls things that seagulls shouldn’t eat. They always want you to take their picture by the unimportant things, like the water pump because it’s old fashioned, and their vehicle, or a car with a Michigan license plate. Off shore from this park, a group of old, old airplanes went down during a training exercise, and there is a memorial there, a plaque imbedded in a rock. I think only the children and the WWII generation ever notice it. The parents are too busy with the camera, and the trash that needs taking care of, and the soda and who has had too much candy today, and whether or not the children are wearing sweatshirts.

Let ‘em have some fun, for crying out loud.

“We’ll go someplace fun” indeed.

Great job! I thought your poetry was good (which is saying a lot), but your short stories are fantastic.
Review by Katrina Kamradt
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Gotta say this is another piece of yours I loved. My dad--here we go with my dad again--actually took care of lawns for a long time, 18 years with a private school, then an additional bunch of years with a landscaping company in Northern Michigan. His solution to the lawn issue: Gravel. Just a thought.

Everyone: Read this guy's work. He's fantastic. If you're looking for a chuckle or a moment to stop and think, "Yeah, I can see that" or "Yeah, I knew someone like that" or "Yeah...uh..." read Rasputin's work. It's excellent stuff.
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