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Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: ASR | N/A (Review only item.)
This is a touching story about the author finding out later in life that she had a half-sister. This was not a case of her father keeping a such an important secret from his daughter; he was in the dark as much as she was. Although she said they were quite different, they both shared many of the same interests-maybe more than you would expect from two sisters who had known each other all their lives.

I think in the long run, it was best that she didn't find this out when she was much younger, but it is bittersweet that so many years had to pass before they met. It was heartwarming to read how well the families got along and bonded.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of RIVALRY  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
That's one way to end a rivalry! It works quite well as a piece of flash fiction- clearly defined characters, straightforward plot, and a conflict that can be satisfactory resolved in a the space allotted. Writing in the present tense is tricky to maintain throughout the story. In the last paragraph, it should probably read "have plenty." In the last sentence of the second paragraph, to be consistent it should be "my" rather than "his wife's." In flash fiction you often have a limited word count. There are three sentences you begin with "And" that could be deleted.

For clarity and possibly dramatic effect, when does Chief Kepanga stand?

I enjoyed how you resolved the conflict of Chief Mundi's big head. Made me laugh.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: E | (4.0)
Happened upon your piece via random review. See you haven't been on WDC for long. I encourage you to set up your bio. So I'm flying blind here, but I suspect you are a young person. I like how you think and would encourage you to expand on these thoughts. You've written some truths that many people never realize or never truly internalize. I liked your analogy of surfing, but I challenge you to reflect on history and the times notable individuals stood against a tide that was propelling society in a horribly wrong direction. Explore and benefit from all the great features here on WDC and keep on writing.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of The Skirt  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Happened upon your story via random review. Though it's been in your port for 15 years, thematically it resonates with what's happening in Afghan with women and girls losing hard-won rights- rights that never cross the minds of women in the Western world. Your story illustrates both the complexity and fragility of the female psyche. Sad that we are so influenced and restrained by the mandates of the times. Another sad truth in this story is women are so hard on other women. On the positive side are the times woman do get to celebrate newfound freedom. For me- and this will sound ludicrous to majority on WDC- it brings back the memory in high school when we were finally allowed to wear jeans! In this story lies a big truth-- one person taking a chance can set in motion a wave of change.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Turn  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: E | (4.5)
Congratulations on your win of The Writer's Cramp. I especially appreciate the symmetry in your story in that the turning of the wheel came full-circle, but with the entwinement with the soul mate, a better ending or would you say, a new beginning.

As to suggestions- There were several places where you used "they" or "them" where it seemed "she" would have been more accurate and consistent with what followed. On the third "turn," I think it would flow better if you put "centuries later" at the beginning of the sentence.

I found your piece soothing. There was a gentle rhythm to the piece that reinforced the theme.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: E | (4.5)
An excellent piece of flash fiction with a very clever interpretation of the prompt "You can't prove anything.". The main character, a girl of unspecified age, is struggling with algebra at the beginning of the school year. Her confusion is quite relatable. Lucky for her, she gets help from a very unlikely source. Ending had me chuckling.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of They Came  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: E | (4.5)
This short story gave me goosebumps. For those of you who have competed in the Daily Flash Fiction Challenge, you know this is quite a feat when you only have 300 words. NJ did it in 293 words. The reader feels George's guilt and how Jackie is struggling to understand his experience. Now that the contest is over. I'd really like to see this story expanded.

As far as mechanics, I think I would change "appeared out of nowhere" to "appearing..." Jackie's dialogue is mostly short, choppy sentences which readily convey his confused thinking and dazed state, but I think the flow of the story could be improved in some places by varying the sentence structure. Of course that has to be done carefully when you are dealing with a limited word count.

Though it was only an after thought and didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story, I wondered why Jackie was so intent on chasing after the moose. Obviously, it was a life-changing decision no matter the motive.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: E | (4.0)
Very, very funny. After I read it, I understood the significance of the "-ette" in the title.

Just a couple of editing suggestions. In the fifth paragraph, you need to use past tense- "fell". In the following paragraph, I would use "into" rather than "onto".

The single sentence: "The ground heaved on impact," confused me. I think its misplaced and would fit better as the last sentence in the fifth paragraph. I'd actually play around with this as it appears you were intent on conveying the sheer weight of the female alien. I had a hard time envisioning "heaved" - maybe buckled?

It isn't necessary to use both italics and quotation marks. Use quotation marks for spoken dialogue and italics for inner dialogue.

This is such a fun piece. I'd like you to use stronger verbs to describe the process to convey better how disgusting it would truly be- in particular where you used fell and slipped. Don't pass up this opportunity to make it revolting! Now if anyone reading this review is confused by my describing this as a fun piece while encouraging the author to make it more revolting, you'll just need to read this short story yourself!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Inhale  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: E | (4.5)
This brought tears to my eyes. All the more impressive as it's an incredibly touching and real story told in 300 words or less. I could readily feel the woman's pain and distress. Unfortunately I'm sure there are many people about to be intubated in American ERs at this very moment who have similar regrets for not getting vaccinated.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: E | (4.0)
There is a really good piece of flash fiction. Excellent details in depicting all the stages of running to put the reader in the story. I especially liked the use of visualization. Very good twist at the end. I wish you had indicated the prompt you based your story on. Some constructive criticism on sentence structure: in the third paragraph you used five sentences in succession that started with "She could." For me it interrupted the flow of the story and indirectly the pace of the runner. Writing flash fiction with a limit of 300 words and a deadline isn't easy. A well-written piece makes it appear deceptively easy. Look forward to reading your future entries.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Jailbird  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Congrats on your piece, "Jailbird," being one of the editor's picks on the most recent Horror/Scary NL entitled "The Wild Weird West." I enjoyed your western/horror flash fiction piece and those are genre I usually don't read. Have you thought about expanding this piece? You have done a great job of piquing this reader's interest in wanting to know what the MC has done to be behind bars. You've given just enough information for me to imagine the possibilities. I definitely want to see what revenge is being planned. Clearly the trap has been set. I especially liked your description of the jail bars as "Heavy, soulless, immovable iron." Your use of inner dialogue allowed me to envision your MC, but it would be interesting to see how those thoughts may differ from spoken dialogue. Given the length of the passage, I thought the pacing, description, and story development were all done quite well. The only constructive feedback I have are simple typos that are easily overlooked when you edit your own work, but nonetheless, they did cause me to stop and reread. In the 3rd paragraph- you used the word under when I'm sure you meant understand; 4th paragraph- not was omitted from "but much else;" and I imagine you intended to type ol' rather than "of" in the phrase "dusty of chessboard." Also the word laying should be lying in the next to last sentence--so easily confused, but then again it's more likely a typo. If you do decide to expand your story now that you aren't constrained by contest rules, please let me know as I'd love to see how your story develops.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of The Cursed Gun  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Congrats! Your story was one of the editor's picks in the April 24th Horror/Scary NL "The Wild Weird West" where I was lucky enough to find it. I really enjoyed your story. You are a master of flash fiction, making it look so deceptively easy. Every word contributed to the reader's appreciation of just how bad a deal the gunman had made. I think what resonated with me the most was how well you conveyed in so few words the utter weariness and despair the gunman could not escape. Just a great story.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Beach Bait  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Great, great story. Since its based on an actual event, I have to admire your chutzpah. I don't know anything about these types of card games except they're scams, but you captured my attention and made me feel I was right there in the crowd.

Great details of the setting and story progressed at a really good pace. I think my favorite part-- the area you showed great skill in-- was the descriptions of your husband. Very easy to visualize. Just great storytelling.

Saw only one error in punctuation which was obviously a typo- "Don't do this",

Thanks for an enjoyable story about an event that could have been a disaster.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Mule Feathers  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)
This was a sweet story. The interactions between the grandmother and grandson were very realistic. I especially liked how well you described Charlie. It was very easy to visualize so much of your story. I could smell the fresh hay. The story flowed well, but I did get a little confused in your description of the spring house-- specifically the third sentence in that paragraph. Also, watermelon is one word. Your story left me smiling as it evoked some of my childhood memories.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of This is Love  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (5.0)
What a thoughtful, insightful story about love shared by siblings. This story shows me you recognize the underlying dynamics of relationships. This would be a great piece to build from. I'd like to see how you would handle dialogue. You've got plenty to show. Would be a great YA story that I am sure would leave the reader wiser.

Just a few points- I've been told we should write out numbers. On the third paragraph, last sentence I think you could omit "herself". I would also omit "at all" in the second sentence of the fifth paragraph.

Look forward to reading more of your stories.
Meg98
** Image ID #1744867 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Paraglide  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
Loved the twist at the end. I think this is a story line that really should be developed into a short story. I could easily see it developed into a story to submit to the "Twisted Tales" contest. You've already done the hard part!

Just a couple of comments. I was a bit unsure about two of your verb choices- glimmered and wallowed. Wallowed gives too negative of an impression. If anything he would have gloried (though not really sure if even this is the right word) in those happy memories.

Your sentence, "The tightness was reminiscent of times past" hinted at and was the first indication of something darker. If you're comfortable with going darker, then please do! Would be very interested in reading your story if you decide to develop it further.
Meg98
** Image ID #1744867 Unavailable **


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of Untitled  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Very, very funny! Realistically written. Felt I was right there sipping wine with your friends. Laughed out loud at the ending!

Guess writing is like riding a bicycle-- you may have not written in awhile, but doesn't show.

As you were writing quickly to meet the contest deadline, did see just a couple of typos. Need to omit "put her" from phrase "Heidi closed her menu." I'm sure you meant to write better instead of dinner - "romantic dinner probably would have been.."
Should have been "I wound up" instead of would. Saw a couple more, but all minor things.

Enjoyed it thoroughly. Writing comedy isn't easy! Love to hear about the second date!
Meg98
** Image ID #1744867 Unavailable **



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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Review of The Gift  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Ernest Hemingway


Hi Pat! I’m reviewing your work The Gift, as a student of the PDG's Rockin’ Review Academy and a member of the Paper Doll Gang. I saw your request for input on this piece on the Rockin’ PDG Gifting Station, but another Doll posted her review before I could. Even though your gift package has already been fulfilled, I really liked your story and wanted to post a review.

Good writing requires re-viewing and revising. I think it’s realistic to conclude you can only review as well as you can write. In many cases, I may benefit more from reviewing than the writer being reviewed. Please consider the following review as my humble attempt as a fledgling writer to help other writers in the pursuit of their art.


I am going to take a different approach to my review so it won’t be a duplication of what you received in the PDG review forum. I really like the story’s premise. You described this as a work in progress and needing much work. I’m interpreting this as you want feedback to grow this story to its full potential. I am also assuming with the revision you are not restricted by any specific word count.

So please think of this review as a literary exploration—not a critique. I am NOT a more competent writer than you, but I can offer what I do know as a reader. You’ve already accomplished the hardest part—you’ve written a good story that I want to read.*Thumbsup* *Thumbsup*

Essential Elements and Suggestions(i.e. Characters, Plot, Setting, Dialogue etc.)

I think there are 2 areas to focus on for your story to soar: building the suspense and fully conceptualizing the characters. For more years than I’ll ever confess, I’ve read and watched suspense & mystery. I knew in the fourth paragraph the identity of the unnamed woman. So you may be revealing too much, too soon in the story—of course when you’ve got a limited number of words, you don’t have the luxury of time. For me the most telling phrase was when Megan described her as vaguely familiar. I think it would be better for Megan to have that insight/awareness much later in the story. Maybe as she’s walking home feeling a bit disconcerted she hadn’t met the woman as was the routine.

Let’s first examine Megan. In the first two sentences, you’ve told the reader something important about her—which makes me wonder about her back story. She locks the door, then shakes the handle just to be sure it’s definitely locked. You tell us she also does this after she locks her apartment door. This shows me she’s very safety conscious and cautious. Just at the moment when she turns around to leave, this is when I would expect to see her really startled & feeling goosebumps prickling her skin.

Since she’s college age, her care in locking the door makes me wonder why she’s so cautious. This would also lead me to expect she would be very suspicious of this stranger she keeps running into. You tell us she gets goosebumps every time the woman comes into the book shop and later she feels the hair on the back of her neck standing up. If I were Megan, and definitely in the beginning, I’d be more than just a little freaked out. As a reader I would expect to hear Megan talking to one or all of her friends—Linda, Donna, and/or Karen about this weird woman who has been in the bookshop staring at her. Until I could identify a rational explanation, I wouldn’t be as calm and dispassionate as Megan.

This would also provide you a way of showing what this woman looks like rather than having Megan tell us. Plus it gives you another fine opportunity to show us more about Megan’s character. I just realized there’s another huge advantage of incorporating this into your story. It will introduce alternative explanations as to who this woman may be. Her friends may scoff at Megan’s saying this woman is coming into the book store just to stare at her. Maybe one of her friends might suggest the woman is trying to shop lift—that’s why she’s staring at her and the reason she never buys anything. As you mislead the reader, you build the suspense while upping the emotional impact when Megan opens the gift.

As to the unnamed woman—The physical descriptions and her actions suggest to me she is a meek, introverted woman who is not financially well off—the “same brown wool coat” and the “worn wool scarf.” Since you’ve described her wool coat as smelling of moth balls, it makes me think she has moved to this town from a much warmer clime—hence the lingering moth ball smell. You’ve done a nice job of including images other than sight—the scent of moth balls and the squeak of her shoes.

I also wondered about the significance in stating when this woman came into the bookstore, “she never removed her brown wool coat.” This phrase had me envision one of those quaint bookstores with easy chairs and reading lamps inviting the customers to linger and read. You’re providing information to the reader as to how different this woman is from the usual clientele. Or is it because underneath the coat, her clothes are out of style or show obvious wear?

In the scene where this middle age woman approaches Megan with something in her hand and an expression on her face to suggest she wanted to speak to her, this is a pivotal moment that should be shown, not described. Did the woman break eye contact at the very last moment? Did a sudden flush crept up her neck to her cheeks? What did she do with this unknown object in her hand? Did she shove it deep into her pocket? Or maybe her hands shook violently, causing her to drop it? So instead of facing Megan, she was stooping as she hastily grabbed up the fallen object.

I think it’s always good to have a firm idea of who are characters are—no matter how short the piece. That doesn’t mean you have to write pages and pages about each character. This is definitely a character driven story—the rest of the unseen iceberg (in this case, the why of Megan being put up for adoption) may provide additional information and direction for your story.

I hope my impressions of your story and its characters will help you in developing this story to its full potential. If I have encouraged and/or aided you, my fellow writer, in perfecting your craft, then this has been a very worthwhile endeavor. I look forward to reading this story as it evolves.

Thanks for having the courage to share you work.
Meg
** Image ID #1744867 Unavailable **

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed.
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Review of The Choice  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Ernest Hemingway


Hi Dark Huntress! I’m reviewing your short story, The Choice, as a member of the Paper Doll Gang-Newbie Project and a student of the PDG's Rockin’ Review Academy.

Good writing requires re-viewing and revising. I think it’s realistic to conclude you can only review as well as you can write. In many cases, I may benefit more from reviewing than the writer being reviewed. Please consider the following review as my humble attempt as a fledgling writer to help other writers in the pursuit of their art.


Kudos*Thumbsup*

In just over 1000 words, you have written a powerful story of desperation, terror, and the bittersweet triumph of good over unfathomable evil. Midway through the story, you know what choice Ramona must make. As a reader, you want her to make the “right” choice, but would any of us be able to uphold our beliefs of what is right and wrong if we were facing these consequences?

This isn’t a story you can read and then immediately direct your attention to some other activity. As I thought about the plot, I began to think of this story as portraying the female version of a soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save the other men in his platoon or a similar tale of great courage and heroics. Does Ramona represent the archetypal Mother? The “Man” even used this against Ramona. Mothers are supposed to be willing to sacrifice anything and everything for their children.

Does this choice illustrate the maternal “hardware” that was instrumental to survival of man? Now, I’m not going to go into a deep philosophical discussion. It just makes me think this represents behaviors/beliefs that would perpetuate mankind. Sort of like the instinctual fear of snakes the majority of humans have. Those attracted to and unafraid of these reptiles were unlikely to contribute to the gene pool! So that’s one type of curiousity, I bet, that died out very quickly in our ancestors.

Favorite Part

I’d like to think you fretted over every single word in this story. Your word choices heightened the intensity of each scene. I could see the storm, feel the cold, and the very planks of the boardwalk under my feet as I ran alongside Ramona. I wouldn’t be surprised if my heart rate jumped up.

Essential Elements (i.e. Characters, Plot, Setting, Dialogue etc.)

All the elements were there to make the story real. It was just amazing what you packed into this story. All belief is suspended. I was caught up in Ramona’s despair. There was no time to reason—Ramona was running off of pure adrenalin.

Only much later did I start to ponder why this unnamed, unseen man would be willing to kidnap and kill one child, but not another. What reason could he possibly have for this decision? And why was this infant girl targeted? I had to conclude this man knew the infant’s mother and, in fact, had a relationship with her. She wasn’t his child. He could not risk any tangible connection to this murderous scheme.

Once again, instinctive behaviors to insure survival of an individual’s genetic makeup came to my mind. It’s seen as pathological behavior when a human does it (and rightly so), but it is common in the animal world. For example, a male tiger will kill the cubs sired by another tiger; this will cause the female tiger to go into estrus. The male tiger has increased the probability of his genes being passed along to the next generation. I know this is peripheral to your story, but isn’t it interesting how a story can set off a whole chain of thought?

Nuts‘n Bolts (i.e. spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar etc.)

think of the “nuts ‘n bolts” as the area in which a new pair of eyes can save the writer a lot of time. The fact is it is extremely difficult to edit your own work. As writers we just don’t see these types of mistakes. We know what’s on the paper/screen—or at least what we “think” is there. We tend to automatically fill in the blanks. So let me help you save time better spent on capturing your ideas on paper.

I had to reread to find these few typos. I couldn’t see the words for the story.

In the 4th paragraph, 3rd line, the apostrophe in “won’t” was left out.

In the sentence where Ramona dropped her cell phone, “final” was misspelled.

Now this is really picky—and I’m guilty of this grammatical error; frankly, I sometimes think it just sounds better even if it's considered incorrect---you have a split infinitive: “No human being would expect a mother to truly make that choice…” Rewritten as: “No human being would truly expect a mother to make that choice…”

Of course, with this statement, I had to think what kind of human being would force this on a mother. So maybe my comments in the “Essential Elements” section were germane.

Suggestions

Now this is almost always the most difficult part of a review. There were 7 points within the story my mental "picture show" of your story kind of “flickered.” Of course, it could just be the bulb or maybe a short in the extension cord. Doubt it was a power surge. So I’m going to point them out to you to consider.

The phrase “trying to get her to fall back into sleep” Maybe it’s colloquial, but I always think of it as fall back to sleep.

Now in the scene where Ramona takes the baby out of the blanket, then thrusts her out over the water—all the while making sure she does not see the infant's face— I had a little difficulty in connecting it all in one fluid motion. I thought maybe a conjunction might help: “as she turned away” or “and turning away.”

In the next paragraph, I noticed the phrase “running back down the pier to about halfway.” Do you see any improvement in rephrasing it as “running back halfway down the pier”?

In the next line, you’ve created an impenetrable cover: “but all steeped in shadow and storm.” I thought it might read better as “but all were steeped in shadow and storm.” Rereading this, I realize all is generally considered singular. Here you are referring to the warehouses and the line of shops, so I'm going with "were."

When her legs began to give way under her, I’m not sure my suggestion is an improvement, but here goes: “…robbing her legs of their strength as she sank to her knees on the pier.” That might not be any better.

I wondered about the use of “incredulous” to describe her fingers. It certainly needs to be a "strong" adjective.

It seems strange to say I love the last 2 lines as they depict a mother’s worse nightmare. Here I was looking at word order: rather than “a sound even recognized by the gods…”, what about “a sound recognized even by the gods…”?

To be honest, if you choose not to use any of these suggestions, your story will not suffer! As I mention in my “disclaimer,” I very well may benefit more from reviewing than the writer being reviewed. In this short story, you’ve demonstrated both the importance and impact of specific, sensory words in creating mood and ratcheting up tension. At the end of your story, I would like to think the man’s final act was psychological torture, rather than homicidal.

As the author—you will grow and nurture your story as you see fit. I’ve just tried to add some nutrients, pull out some weeds, and tell you how your garden looks from my side of the fence. But when it comes down to it, it’s your plot and you don’t have to please anyone else but you. If I have encouraged and/or aided you, my fellow writer, in perfecting your craft, then this has been a very worthwhile endeavor. I am certain I have benefited by reading your story.

Thanks for having the courage to share you work.
Meg
pdg Newbie & student of Rockin' Review Academy
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Review of Halloween Party  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Ernest Hemingway


Hello Sticktalker! I’m reviewing your work The Halloween Party to complete Challenge #3 as a member of the Paper Doll Gang-Newbie Project.

Good writing requires re-viewing and revising. I think it’s realistic to conclude you can only review as well as you can write. In many cases, I may benefit more from reviewing than the writer being reviewed. Please consider the following review as my humble attempt as a fledgling writer to help other writers in the pursuit of their art.


Kudos*Thumbsup*
Excellent depiction of the Halloween party in the school gym. You were spot on; I could readily visualize the setting. I could also really “see” your characters, Zak and Phil, and I think your captured their conversation in a very realistic and believable manner.

Favorite Part
I especially liked Phil’s summation of the situation at the end. I like the contrast in your characters. You have Zak, who ridicules and makes fun of the idea of ghosts and pushes to prove his point, only to show his true character. Phil who trusts and believes what his teacher says, who is open to questioning and pondering the facts, and a boy who won’t lie to his mother. He is steadfast and takes everything in stride in the cemetery scene.

Essential Elements (i.e. Characters, Plot, Setting, Dialogue etc.)
I think you did a very good job in all of these areas. The dialogue was realistic—just enough grammar errors you’d expect in sixth grade boys’ conversations. I liked the rhythm of the line: “Wit no head, he’d be dead.”

Nuts‘n Bolts (i.e. spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar etc.)
Only one spelling error in the final paragraph: “…he started walking to the gate…”
All grammar errors were intentional and important to developing your characters.
There were a few incidents where you incorrectly had the period outside the quotation mark in dialogue, and used a semi-colon instead of a comma (“Zak said; “No ghosts!”), but it’s obvious these were just typos.
When you are describing Zak’s messy hair, I think the sentence would read better if you omitted his so it reads “running his short fingers through hair that…”
In the sentence where Zak is encouraging Phil to lie to his mother, I think you should use either a semi-colon or a period in the phrase: “She’ll never know; we can tell her the party got over late.”

Suggestions
I think these boys could be characters in a wonderful book for fifth/sixth grade boys. Zak is not a “bad” boy, nor would I think he would be a bully, but his responses were be much different from Phil. It could be an entertaining way to show this age group how to cope with everyday situations they will face.

If I have encouraged and/or aided you, my fellow writer, in perfecting your craft, then this has been a very worthwhile endeavor.

Thanks for having the courage to share you work.
Meg

** Image ID #1518357 Unavailable **
** Image ID #1744865 Unavailable **
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Review of The Secret Glade  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.0)
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Ernest Hemingway


Hello, Mr. Hyde! I’m reviewing your work, The Secret Glade, as a member of the Paper Doll Gang-Newbie Project and a student of the PDG's Rockin’ Review Academy.

Good writing requires re-viewing and revising. I think it’s realistic to conclude you can only review as well as you can write. In many cases, I may benefit more from reviewing than the writer being reviewed. Please consider the following review as my humble attempt as a fledgling writer to help other writers in the pursuit of their art.


Overall Impression *Thumbsup*
Your story is about a boy, Jason, who has a magical connection to a beautiful and secluded glade. In a dream, he finds himself walking through a garden that in part is like his glade. When he meets a girl named Leila, he realizes they are traveling through a composite of both their personal paradises. Suddenly they are forced apart, but not before they promise to find each other. Upon waking, his mother assumes he is sick and makes him stay home. Lying in bed he decides he has to go in search of Leila. He packs his clothes, gets some food and money, but before he sets out, he leaves a note for his mother. Your story ends with the promise Jason’s quest will become an amazing journey into a world of magic which will change his and Leila’s lives.

You have a very good beginning to an entertaining fantasy story for young adults. You have hinted at some background information on Jason. Leila will be another main character who I suspect would also have a deep connection to her personal glade. This makes me think there’s going to be an environmental theme interlaced with fantasy. So you have the makings of a story with vast appeal.

Favorite Part
I think your character has great potential to appeal to young adult readers. You’re hinting at his feelings of not fitting in, his awareness of the beauty and complexity of his soul, and his doubting the rest of him can measure up. With a bit more polish, more showing than telling, you have an enchanted depiction of his glade.

Essential Elements (i.e. Characters, Plot, Setting, Dialogue etc.)

Just an FYI: In writing dialogue, be sure to start a different paragraph each time the speaker changes. When you are writing internal dialogue, those thoughts are written in italic.

Nuts‘n Bolts (i.e. spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar etc.)

Great job— I saw only 1 spelling error. In the last paragraph, it should be “stared.” I didn’t find any grammar mistakes.

Here are a few easily corrected typos. In the third line of the sixth paragraph, it should be “and saw an envelope.” In the fifth line of the next paragraph, you omitted a word. It should be- “Always keep it with you.”

Easy fixes: I saw several errors in ending punctuation when you wrote dialogue. The period goes inside the quote mark, for example: “when I woke up it was night.”

Suggestions
Revising some of the structure of your sentences will help your story flow much better. Spend some time findng just the right words to convey your ideas with precision. And like me, we both need to work more on showing, not telling. I hope you are continuing to develop this story. Just let me know if you would want me to look at any revisions.

If I have encouraged and/or aided you, my fellow writer, in perfecting your craft, then this has been a very worthwhile endeavor.

Thanks for having the courage to share you work.
Meg

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Review of "Free"  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Ernest Hemingway


Hi Johnathan! I’m reviewing your work, "Free," as a member of the Paper Doll Gang-Newbie Project and a student of the PDG's Rockin’ Review Academy.

Good writing requires re-viewing and revising. I think it’s realistic to conclude you can only review as well as you can write. In many cases, I may benefit more from reviewing than the writer being reviewed. Please consider the following review as my humble attempt as a fledgling writer to help other writers in the pursuit of their art.


General Impression*Thumbsup*
In your story, the main character’s perception of the events of his day is being altered and the reader is led to believe it has something to do with his glasses. When he takes them off, the previously violent scenes are back to normal. His search for the explanation for these events seems to end with a psychotic break. His face is the face of the man who pulls the trigger. The reader hears glass being broken and is left wondering what has happened and exactly what has been physically broken. The character clearly has been broken psychically.

This line sounds so poetic: “Every tick, every tock a stroke of the axe at the executioner’s block.”

Essential Elements (i.e. Characters, Plot, Setting, Dialogue etc.)
Good pacing and suspense. The reader is carried to through to the end wondering just what possible reasonable explanation exists to explain what’s happening to the character.

When writing internal dialogue, use italics. This will be especially effective in your story where the character speaks out loud, followed immediately by his internal thoughts which interject his doubts and fears. It will heighten the feeling of his losing his grip on reality.

Nuts‘n Bolts (i.e. spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar etc.)

There are just a few punctuation, spelling, and grammar errors—the kind of errors many of us overlook because it is just so difficult to self-edit. It’s obvious you know the rules, so when you’re editing it would help to read your work out loud. This will help pinpoint errors spell checks overlook. For example, in the second paragraph of the evening event: “Hiding behind his book..” In the next paragraph: “into the mirror and with a gasp…” Also pay attention to changes in verb tense.

Suggestions
In the evening scene, your description of the man’s actions seems to indicate he is choking, not suffocating his partner.

The character’s favorite book is Alice in Wonderland and he identifies with the White Rabbit. You have references to the color white in all 3 scenes. I especially took note of the man’s “beautiful white wedding band.” I knew this had a special meaning as it was obviously a deliberate word choice. The only thing is, you don’t usually see white wedding bands—they’re usually white gold. Maybe there is something else in the afternoon scene you can label as white.

The words “breath” and “breathe” are commonly confused words. Breath is respiration; breathe means to inhale and exhale. There are 3 places where you have used breathe where I think it should be breath. Reread those sentences and substitute respiration and see if that sounds right.

If I have encouraged and/or aided you, my fellow writer, in perfecting your craft, then this has been a very worthwhile endeavor. If you would like for me to look at any revisions, just let me know.

Thanks for having the courage to share you work.
Meg

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Review of Cultural Exchange  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Congratulations on another winning entry, Jim. I always look forward to seeing how your work a twist into your work. Quite a talent and always entertaining. I think you are exceptionally good in a skill that isn't as obvious and writers new to flash fiction may miss. After I finished reading "Cultural Exchange," I had to go back to find the words in the day's prompt. You incorporate them into your story so seamlessly- there's never a feel you've been "forced" to use these words.
Thanks for a very entertaining story.
Meg

My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Go Noticed
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Review of Jealous Rage  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
This rings too true. The darkness, thirst for blood and vengence most women will deny exists in the feminine psyche. We civilized women believe we are too evolved and controlled. Luckily, the fourth verse is seldom manifested. Maybe we maintain our civility by hiding behind our masks.

In the first line, I think it should read " who does she think she is" I am not a poet and claim no expertise so these suggestions are from the "gut."
The words "creepy face" does not fit with the mood of the poem. It's too light & not a descriptive phrase a woman who is relishing this "glorious and hideous" act would use. Combined with "crinkles" it just doesn't sound exactly right to me. I understand the intent and can clearly picture the ol' hag, but play around with this.

"Age of eons" is I think redundant. My impression is you want to depict this woman literally as a wrinkled up ol' prune--but if she does not recognize what she's done to evoke such wrath, it seems you want to convey age without wisdom.

Somehow I pictured the narrator (I don't know the term used in poetry) as a younger woman who has suffered a terrible slight in front of the man she desires. It felt like rage alright, but I'm not sure about "jealous." She's like a tightly coiled spring--- barely contained.

If your poems become any more intense, I may have to avoid reading them right before bed time!

Meg
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Review of Inverted Kingdom  
Review by Grin 'n Bear It!
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Scott Adams


Caveat: Good writing requires re-viewing and revising. I think it’s realistic to conclude you can only review as well as you can write. In many cases, I may benefit more from reviewing than the writer being reviewed. Please consider the following review as my humble attempt as a fledgling writer to help other writers in their pursuit of their art.

Kudos: Very creative! It made me think and worry! This story has real potential to become a much longer piece. You have 4 characters whose actions impact Faith. Excellent name for your main character!

Style: I had the sense you were in that wonderful "flow" state and this story just poured out. You may have not yet gone back to edit. Changes in your sentence structure will improve the reader's experience. The intent of the review on WDC is not to edit. As we are both in the newest group of Paper Doll Gang Newbies, if you'd like some help, that's one aspect of writing I do have more confidence in my ability. In my experience, it's extremely difficult to edit your own work.

Are you wanting the reader to sense the rapid, tangential and intrusive thoughts Faith is experiencing? If so, I think it would have a greater impact if you would rewrite Stein's and other character's internal dialogue in a style that sharply contrasts with Faith's.

In paragraph 5, the POV changes-- these are her mother's thoughts--inaccessible by Faith or Stein who were talking immediately prior in this paragraph. The only time you have mom saying anything is at the end of that paragraph. This is important info for your story, so work on this. Again a more experienced writer could be of help.

In the line:"She wasn't in her right mind of course but the mind is genius at making you think you are." Whose POV is this? Faith's? In my professional experience, people who aren't in their "right mind," don't know they aren't in their right mind. Maybe this idea can be conveyed by Stein or one of the men behind the mind experiments.


Difference between lightning & lightning bug (selecting the right word): I think "fervently" in the first sentence of the 3rd paragraph isn't correct in this context. Also, "imbibe" in the 3rd line in the same paragraph may technically be correct, but most readers will make the association of drinking alcohol and it may interrupt their flow of reading.

Paragraph 4, 8th sentence- Use of "sniffed"--Don't be afraid to use said. We don't sniff words. You'll need to show this in another way if this is something about this unnamed character you want to convey to the reader.

You talking to me?: There were a couple of places in your story I wasn't sure which character was speaking. In paragraph 3, there's not a real clear signal you've gone from Marcus' to Stein's internal dialogue. I may be wrong about this so check with a more experienced writer, but I think italics are used to denote internal dialogue.

I got lost in paragraph 4. I didn't know who was speaking. In the last paragraph, Marcus was phoning central office so I was expecting an exchange over the phone. So I'd recommend conveying those cold & calculating statements as a phone conversation. It makes even doubly disturbing the characters would make such devastating decisions over the phone.

In paragraph 5, it wasn't clear to me who said: It's just a phase...

Nuts 'n Bolts (i.e. spelling, punctuation, grammar): Are you able to cut and paste your piece into a word processing program? If you can, I think the majority of these errors will be flagged.Check for missing quotation marks, apostrophes in contractions, commas, etc. In 6th paragraph, 3 lines from the bottom, "your" should be you're--that kind of error won't be picked up by spelling/grammar check.

"I think of situations then they turn in to a hideous event." Both of these words should either be singular or plural.

Quotation marks are missing in several places in your story such as: "she exclaimed, much darker." I think it should be: she exclaimed, "Much darker."


So I've come to the end of my review. Would I read more of your work? Absolutely! I think the following quotation should be our mantra.


We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. Ernest Hemingway


Look forward to seeing you on WDC,
Meg
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