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Review of As My Love Dies  
Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This poem is sad, and it’s very touching. The line “a tiny clock chimed your last heart beat” gave me the chills. The love and devastation really come through in this poem. There isn't a thing I would change about it. Its five-star average is well-earned. I can tell you really loved him.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I do a lot of reviews, so I’m glad I came across this piece. This is very good advice. I often find certain themes in stories daunting or uncomfortable to sit through, and it helps to skim through the parts I’m not crazy about and try to think about the parts I do enjoy. The perception of the written word is generally as much the reader’s as it is the writer’s once it’s published for eyes to see, but if the name of the game here is helping fellow writers improve, it does seem in poor taste to rate someone low due to a conflict in personal taste rather than technical skills.

That said, I thought this was a great read and hope other reviewers consider your advice.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
This reads like the kind of surreal thing I would watch on the Disney Channel as a kid, right down to the accent you chose for the dog. I mean that in a good way, because there is some entertainment value to this. You could probably remove any mention of sex and categorize this as a children’s story, since the dog does try to teach the protagonist the value of making a child cry, and appreciating the present moment. It shows that you tried to give this story some substance, which I appreciate.

The biggest nitpick I have about this story is that the protagonist doesn’t even seem to flinch when the dog starts talking. Is he like Doctor Dolittle with the ability to speak to animals? Is he having a hallucination or a dream? Elaborating on why, exactly, he can talk to this dog would make this story a whole lot better. As it stands, without that detail, this story seems needlessly strange. Another thing that’s strange is Keeva calling the little girl's mother. How does Keeva know her mother? At the very least, why doesn’t the protagonist question it? Wouldn’t it be strange if your spouse knew the number of a random child’s mother? The lack of reaction from your main character is the main thing dragging this story down. Otherwise, the story's not bad. I liked the ending.

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Review of Bankruptcy  
Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I want to see this performed at a coffee shop and given a standing ovation. You really hit the nail on the head with the subject, the mood, the humor, the language, the rhyming couplets, all of it. Welcome to the adult world, where nobody cares, and everything is too expensive. Maybe you'll earn $0.03 back at the pump if you're lucky.

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Review of Imagination  
Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.0)
I must confess, I’m a little confused by this, but I’ll try to comment on what I think the intent of this piece is. You seem to propose that we should approach a new way of writing, but don’t really explain what that new way is, at least not in a clear and organized way. Imagination is seemingly boundless, and writing is one way to express what we imagine, but what other way is there to express that vast imagination than through writing and revision? What is there to convey beyond the five senses?

I feel like, if you were to revisit this piece and organize your thoughts a little bit more, this would be a whole lot better. As it stands, this reads like a string of random loosely-related thoughts, kind of like a journal entry you jot down for twenty minutes and then forget about it. Admittedly, such work is not really all that insightful or interesting. It's an idea that's incubating at best.

I’d be intrigued to see in clearly defined terms and methods what the “new” approach to writing is, and how we can better utilize our imaginations more without being restricted to the five senses. That sounds like an awesome project for any writer to take on.

On YouTube, there is a video called "LEADERSHIP LAB: The Craft of Writing Effectively" by UChicago Social Sciences that's awesome. It certainly helped me rethink a new approach to being a good writer. I encourage everyone on this website to check it out.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is excellent advice, and it’s taken me so long to internalize this. I mean decades long. This was written in 2008, gosh, I was only 19 at the time. I was on LiveJournal, mostly keeping to myself and not wanting my work to be noticed so much by anyone other than my friends.

I have been sensitive to biting criticism in the past, yet that is undeniably what has made me a stronger writer and person in the long run, and I’m grateful for it. I try to practice paying that forward today because everyone who wants to get good at writing and wants to improve deserves honest feedback. It’s never my intent to hurt someone, but maybe it’s worth the risk if they come out better, stronger, for it. There’s always room for improvement. 😊

By the way, the offspring metaphor throughout is consistent and hits the nail on the head.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This essay reminds me of a bit by George Carlin: “If you’re looking for self-help, why would you read a book written by somebody else? That’s not self-help, that’s help. There’s no such thing as self-help. If you did it yourself, you didn’t need help!”

Self-help isn’t a genre that I would dismiss outright. The power of suggestion carries some benefits, and some of the advice is sound (depending on what you read), but I have read my share of useless fluff in that genre, too. I think, to avoid the risk of wasting money on fluff, self-help is best acquired at libraries or thrift stores rather than full retail value.

It’s true that if something is making you miserable, it pays to be honest with yourself and write down whatever is bothering you. You can’t bandage a gaping wound with positive affirmations. There’s a time and a place to be positive, and there’s a time and a place to problem-solve. Eliminating problems, and accomplishing tasks that you’ve been putting off, does a world of good for mental health, at least in my experience.

I think the advice to not have so much on your plate all at once is sound, since we only have so much energy to give. It’s true. You can burn yourself out having too many obligations. Sometimes it’s time to relax. Sometimes it’s time to prioritize. It helps to know that humans are incredibly good at lying to themselves, so good many don't even realize they're doing it. Dig deep and uncover the lies you've told yourself lately. That's what I would recommend if I wrote a self-help book.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
That's pretty funny. The one time someone swore after getting their mouth washed out with soap! 😉

Do you use the same sink to brush your teeth and wash the dishes? It seems like the only logical way to make this mistake, or at the very least it’s what I visualized.

I think the advice to start over with short routines is sound, especially in this case.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
My mom refers to excess lights as “vampire lights.” As you said, the coffee pot clock, the DVD player, anything sucking up electricity for no reason. Those little bits of power suckers are bound to add up, and I appreciate your testimony on how unplugging it all made the bill come down. The last line at the end about complimenting your spouse’s rear end made me laugh out loud. Using humor to encourage productive behavior? Smart.

The only thing I could think to add to this is that if the house gets cold at night and you don’t want to use too much power to heat it up, is it time to update the insulation? That can be costly, but perhaps it could help save money in the long run.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
This script reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoon or an anime. I like the premise you have, with George the “villain” not being taken too seriously. I imagine him hatching a competent plan in the future and Galaxy Girl’s aloof innocence making him feel bad about it, as opposed to her doing any moral posturing or lecturing. I feel like you have the setup for that being a possible plotline.

You might want to go back through this and comb it for spelling/grammar errors. I found one right in the beginning:

“Police officers are patrolling when they [noticed] a meteor” – you put “notices” and I corrected it to “noticed.” Pesky typos!

This is an entertaining start. Will there be more?

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Review of The Second Life  
Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
I’ve spent quite a few years in college on and off and find that your reflection is keen and heartfelt. I enjoy the optimism and thought put into this piece. It reflects gratitude for the gift of a higher education and is like a second life. Even for students who live off campus, an educational environment is totally different from home or work life, and every new experience is an opportunity to learn and grow.

I’d only change a few things about this. One is the formatting. There are no spaces between the paragraphs here, making it difficult to read on a PC web browser, so it's probably worse on a phone or tablet. I recommend the longer paragraphs be broken up into smaller ones, too. You’ve written “may be” a few times, but “maybe” is only one word. You want to avoid starting sentences with words like “and” and “but” and “because,” because those are words meant to connect sentences, not start them.

Overall, the content of this is great. Your insight is positive and valuable. Clean up the formatting, grammar, and spelling some more and this can be fantastic.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
As a citizen of the United States, I have no idea how things would be if this country were predominantly French. I can only draw upon one experience to contemplate elements of that alternate reality. There was a year I lived in Northern Vermont, about five miles from the Canadian border. Crossing the border from Vermont will bring you into Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking region. In Northern Vermont, half our radio stations featured music in French, and the area was overwhelmingly Caucasian. I spent most of my life in Southeastern Connecticut, so that was a unique experience for me.

I don’t know about Frog’s leg burgers, but I could easily see poutine being at every McDonald’s for sure. I could also see winter sports being more popular, and fashion being a little more classy and a little less tacky. Aside from that, I don’t really have any far-reaching, profound ideas on how different we would be, especially if the US were still a melting pot, which I imagine it would be. A lot of folks fought for this land, and everyone’s influence had some sort of impact, so who knows?

Anyway, if you ever revisit this idea, I'd love more details on how you think more French influence and dominance would affect the United States. All I've got is French music, poutine and fashion.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This was really cool, just what I like to see in Sci-fi. Even though our protagonist is an alien from another world, I find her easy to relate to. I also find that there are great details specific to this world, but you don't make the egregious error of bogging down your readers with too much world-building and history all at once. You've given us just enough that we get the point.

The fact that this ended on a hopeful note was the cherry on top. I enjoyed reading this a lot.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
I love the concept of this story. The Freaky Friday-esque plotline is always fun to play with. I would be interested to see an expanded, fleshed-out version of this. I think because you wrote this with a word count limitation for a competition, the pacing and details suffer a bit. I think a story like this needs a little more time, and a little more detail, especially where Julia is concerned. She’s a little too mysterious and I want to know more.

This was written well enough that I was invested. My main critique is how this is formatted. A few of the paragraphs, especially the first one, could be broken up into smaller paragraphs, which would make this a lot more readable. Some paragraphs don’t have spaces between them either, which makes the presentation appear awkward and unfinished.

Still, I think David’s response was appropriate given the situation, and I liked how the two guys had a chill day playing poker. It was a nice touch. I think if you revisited this story, expanded upon it, and cleaned up the formatting a bit, it’d be great. Overall, it’s good, though. Well done.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is a great story, and I love how you tell it. If you’re a plagiarist then so is Disney because myths, folktales, and fairy tales are meant to be passed down from generation to generation and should never belong to any individual person.

In this story, the moral appears to be that it was in Billy’s best interest to take all of Medicine Bear’s advice, but he didn't. He messed up, and sometimes the cost of messing up is very dire. As Orpheus did by looking back at his dead wife a moment too soon, Billy left the house before it was time, and the consequences he was warned of came to pass. I love stories like these because they have a lot of value, both in moral teachings and in insight from a variety of unique cultures. This was a very enjoyable take on a classic tale. Well done!

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
“It’s like taking someone from a lost tribe in Africa and giving them the keys to a sportscar.” Uncle Peter sounds kind of like a snake oil salesman to me. If that’s what you were going for in this story, you nailed it.

I’d be interested in learning more about Orgone from a bystander’s point of view, but I completely see why Liam is not receptive to Peter’s pitch. Even so, if Peter’s the one who has charisma, I wonder if he’ll sell Liam on the idea in the long run, how he’ll do it, and what the consequences of seeking and/or using Orgone is. You’ve got a great first chapter here. So many questions that need answers. That’s a great hook. Well done!

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Review of The Ooze  
Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
No plot, just atmosphere, you say? I will observe the atmosphere then. A flash of anger in the courtroom gives the reader a sense that some grave injustice has occurred. Not only has an injustice occurred, but only the narrator seems to care enough to address it. We’re in a courtroom peaking through the eyes of someone who is jilted enough to drop their coffee and reach for their inhaler. I gather a feeling of oppression, high anxiety, and hopelessness from this nugget of fiction. It’s a very uncomfortable atmosphere, and wherever this could go, I’m not too optimistic about the outcome.

Overall, this was an interesting read. Good job!

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
My, how haunting this piece is. Your description of a “prose poem” is an interesting choice, because this does invoke something like poetry, and yet it is prose. What I mean is that the imagery is vivid, the words a few and none wasted, and this seems to speak more to the subconscious mind than the conscious one, which is something I usually associate with poetry. I can easily see a person consumed by terror, depression, apathy, etc. carry on just like this.

This is truly a portrait painted in words and I’m impressed. Well done!

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Review of D is for Monkey  
Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Whoa, reading this is like viewing a surreal scene from a horror game. I’m not sure if what I’m viewing is a psychotic break, a trip to the afterlife, or what, but I will say this: the visuals in this story are vivid and cool. The image of “faceless children” is creepy. The tall man in the pristine blue uniform, which really pops in my mind amongst blurry and gray imagery, is very unsettling. I like that you didn’t have him finish his statement on where the next stop is.

Then the “monkey” appeared, and you could feel the protagonist’s consciousness scatter. That would be an effective jumpscare in a game. It was cool, and I’m impressed that you pulled this off so well. One detail out of place could have ruined this, but you stayed consistent and delivered. Awesome job!

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
I really enjoyed the immersive quality of this short story. There are so many details that bring the reader right into the moment, like the beers the family drinks, the lawn darts, the bikes, the fireflies, and the innocence of anticipating your first kiss. There’s a powerful nostalgic feel to this story.

It’s also a bittersweet goodbye to a cherished childhood home, occurring when the protagonist is only fifteen. That’s quite an age to be uprooted, but I love how this boy makes the most of the time he’s got left. It shows gratitude and attention to detail which makes him very likable and real. He got a kiss from the girl he likes in the end, too. I have a feeling he’ll be ok.

This is a great story overall. I really enjoyed it. 😊 I only wish there were more.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
It appears you've established what you were aiming for in this piece. It’s categorized under Children’s, so the direct simplicity of the story works well. I learned something new today about the “Pharos Light” and appreciate you providing the correct pronunciation of “Fresnel.”

Between the lines “ A typical lighthouse of the 1700s…” and “He climbed the stairs three times a night to check the lantern and wind the weights” I think you meant to insert a few paragraph breaks. The formatting here is a tiny bit distracting, but that’s the only suggestion for improvement I have here. Overall, I thought this was cool. Well done!

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Review of Bumble Boy  
Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This story is incredible: the pacing, the sequence of events, the personalities and motivations of the characters, the character development. You really nailed it! They feel like real people making real decisions, right down to that last shocking and exceptionally poor decision. You established foreshadowing for that decision in the very beginning, and it packed a punch when you got there. Pieces of writing that build a protagonist just to tear them down can be hit or miss, and I think this is a huge hit. Not a word wasted here.

The only nitpick I have really is the excess use of Italics to differentiate between past and present. There are better ways to show a flashback, in my opinion. One example that comes to mind immediately is how the story Trick or Tweek by Tom Buck leads us into a flashback. Other than that, I was hooked reading this story and became emotionally invested in the protagonist until the end, which is heartbreaking. Well done!

Trick or Tweet  (13+)
Technology is advancing at an ever-increasing pace. Can it be taken too far?
#1765162 by Tom Buck


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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
This invoked in me a cinematic view of the hero’s stand. The moment in which our protagonist is about to face off against the villain. It’s not apparent who the heroes or the villains are, or why, but just that we are engaged in some sort of dichotomy. It could be the hero vs. an outside enemy or an inner demon. I like the versatility.

Coveted peace, heated journey, thrilling vortex. Your words have a lot of emotion and action behind them, just like a movie. If that’s what you were going for then I think you achieved that. The ending seemed a bit abrupt, though, like even if you painted a great picture and stirred the imagination, I kind of wish there were more. It seemed to end right with the standoff, not really offering resolution. Maybe I missed something. Oh well. Overall, interesting poem.

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I really enjoy poems that use rhyming couplets. There’s something satisfying about seeing words arranged and organized in a very specific way, and you used that ability well here.

You’ve also invoked the spirit of what Christmas can be. I want to come back and read this again during the holiday season to get into the mood, because for me this is nostalgic. It’s also a reminder that this is the one time of year we’re supposed to find happiness in showing appreciation for one another, and I think this poem does a good job showing that. Well done!

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Review by Larisa McGrath
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I’m not too crazy about Orcs or Goblins in fantasy, but I still read this from start to finish and enjoyed it. You know something is well-written when you can inspire a non-fan to hang in there. What was great about this is that even the first paragraph is funny. Erirk smells blood because he got into “an altercation with his cutlery.” That’s unique, and it works.

I’m surprised that Grok sticks by Erirk’s side, but because of that it’s easy to sympathize with these characters. Tiffany is a funny character, too. She put together what she calls a “bulls***” contract, and Erirk made the effort to read and understand it, which ultimately wound up saving both Orcs. Maybe that’s why Grok keeps him around. Very resourceful.

Overall, you took something I have very little interest in and made it fun. That’s something to be proud of. I’m giving these five stars because I have nothing to nitpick. The spelling and grammar are good, the pacing is good, the characters are likable, and the comedic timing is on point. It’s immersive, even, with sensory details like the smell of blood, or the threat of being burned to death.

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