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51
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Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
I love the foreshadowing in this story in the third line, putting us on notice immediately that something is up and enabling us to read every succeeding line with a frisson as we anticipate clues about what that something will be.

For a brief moment, the word choices in the last sentence ("When they found her....") had me wondering if Janet had committed suicide. I'm guessing that wasn't your intent, but I'm still not sure.

For me, the only spot that could use some attention in this story is the sentence that begins, "Following behind Mrs. North...."). As structured, the sentence suggests that it's the roll that is following Mrs. North. My thought is that it would be more effective to say something like, "Walking ahead of Janet, Mrs. North didn't notice her new volunteer's eye roll." But, I quibble.

You're so good with dialogue, zipping plot along at a brisk pace and delineating character so effectively!

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52
52
Review of The Summoning  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
An enchanting story, even if the enchantment is black. Mary's transformation is painted with masterful economy here, starting with the name of the street she lives on.

Powerful use of sentence variety, as at the punchy beginning of the third paragraph.

I was so drawn into this story, I didn't even pause to wonder why Mary wasn't surprised to find out the crows could talk.

Nice job!
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Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: | (3.5)
All the elements are here: setting the scene, establishing the characters, setting the plot in motion with action, and building toward the climax, Sammy perched dangerously at the top of the slide. I suggest breaking this up into several paragraphs; look for where the focus of the action changes. For example, the sentence that begins, "Sammy's mom, a hefty woman...." could be the start of a new paragraph.

It was also a little unclear at the beginning who was who. I thought at first that Sammy was the girl with the pigtails, so I had to read the opening several times to get my bearings. You could address that issue by substituting Sammy's name for the pronoun "he" at the beginning of the second sentence.

You're a story-teller -- keep writing!


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54
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
For me, the charm of this story is less in the plot than in the wonderful use of language. The deletion of subjects in sentences ("Doesn't fully explain...," "...threw a ball faster...." etc.) zips the story along on slick and appealing conversational wheels and, in combination with the vocabulary choices, says a lot about the narrator's character.

Love the snappy dialogue and the ironic last sentence.


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55
55
Review of In the Black  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
The story doesn't build to a surprise, but I love the characterization of Cliff, a deft portrait of a bean counter blending in.

I'm guessing the sleeves on Cliff's shirt were just long enough to conceal the biceps tats. And the easy solution for the author to that potential problem, dressing Cliff in long-sleeve shirts, would have detracted from his characterization.

Seems like a good jumping off point for a longer story. I'm wondering, for example, what Eddie would have said (if anything) to his co-workers, or to Cliff, on Monday morning. And having a reader wonder about that is the mark of a good story!

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56
56
Review of Her Kept Promise  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Nice job of setting the scene and creating atmosphere here, with the candlelight and high heels crunching on leaves. The heels tell us that Sheila is dressed for a special occasion, and the candles convey that romance is in the air. But there's no answer from Bobby --uh oh.

The first sentence in the second paragraph is pretty long for a dependent clause, and brought me to a stop when I had to go back and re-read it to make sure I understood it, momentarily killing the momentum that the opening paragraph had established so effectively.

Grammatical nit-pick, and this is a common mistake: The transitive verb "to lay" is used with a direct object, as in "She lay the knife on the table." The intransitive verb "to lie" is used when there's no direct object, as when something like a body is on the ground. Hence, the correct usage would be, "Bobby was lying in the bedroom doorway...."

Quick note on verb choice: I couldn't quite picture the knife standing, as in "...where the pearl handled knife still stood." Was it lying on Bobby's jacket, was it sticking out of his body? When I stopped to try to figure that out, the story's momentum came to a halt at a time when I didn't want it to!

All that stuff aside, however, this is a riveting story at its core, and you really told it vividly!

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57
57
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Dialogue used effectively makes for an appealing story, especially in micro-fiction, and it's certainly used effectively in this story. Extended dialogue must flow naturally and it's a challenge to keep that natural rhythm going. You do it here.

As a reader, I felt compelled to understand who the narrator is. At first, I thought it could be anybody -- the guy's pal, or maybe his mom. But then I read more carefully, and it seems likely the narrator is the guy's girlfriend or wife, and the guy is having a crisis of sexual identity.

Nicely done!

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58
58
Review of Fast First Aid  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
The charm of this story doesn't come from one of the usual conventions of story-telling, an event that generates a change in one or more characters, but from the character of the narrator, and how it is delineated through language, and especially through dialogue. The author's choice to contract the final "s" from the character's verbs, for example, paints a picture of Mr. Landry as a folksy and likable guy.

What happens to Mr. Landry is certainly unfortunate, and I wouldn't want to be in his shoes (or inside his head wrap), but I was laughing out loud at this story, anyway. Maybe I could identify with Mr. Landry, and to the degree that's true, it's not only an indication of my own clumsiness but a tribute to the skill of the author.

I was wondering if this story was going to offer up a surprise at the end and didn't think so until the final sentence. Bravo!

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59
59
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
This is a well-crafted story, with a consistent tone and a smooth buildup to the surprise at the end. The relationship between Rob and Pearl is concisely defined, and defined well, as it must be if the endearing language at the end of their phone conversation is to be credible. And the credibility of that language, of course, is key to what happens when Georgia walks in the door.

Fun reading this!




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60
60
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.5)
The details in this story tell us a lot in few words. For example, the beat-up nightstand conveys Charley's meager financial circumstances, an important story element, given the ending. Also, the candle suggests, to this reader anyway, that Charley is a dreamer. And the description of the smoke is especially well crafted.

A note to watch for run-on sentences (the last sentences in the first and fourth paragraphs).

This tale feels like the opening to a larger tale, that the ultimate impact of her new wealth on Charley is the real story here. The author has created a character we want to know more about!

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Review of The Knight  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
There's much to like in this story. You've created an entire world here in just over 1,000 words, no mean feat, and it's easy for the reader (at least it was for me) to imagine that world, beyond the boundaries of the narrative arc of this specific tale. You maintain a consistent tone throughout, and it matches your setting and plot. You move the plot effectively with dialogue, and that's also not easy to do. You are masterfully economical here in setting your scene and establishing your characters quickly, and delineating the relationships among the characters. Your opening paragraph is wonderfully well constructed, with two elegantly composed sentences followed by a short, punchy third sentence that ends the paragraph with a bang. That opening paragraph belies your self-description as an inexperienced writer. If you really are inexperienced, you were born with a serious writing talent!

I had a little trouble keeping my bearings in some of the dialogue passages, had to backtrack a few times to make sure I knew who was saying what., and that slowed the story down for me. In other sections of dialogue, you used skillful devices to make it clear who was speaking, so I know you're aware of the need to keep your speakers straight. I'd suggest remembering to keep quotes from the same speaker in the same paragraph (providing there are no other speakers in that paragraph) and always placing a new speaker in a new paragraph. For example, in this section, I'd suggest bringing the quote up into the previous paragraph:

"Maige’s stout back was to the door. She looked sharply over her shoulder without turning around, one hand reaching inside her sleeve. When she recognized the tall blond woman, she gave her a dismissive look and turned away.

"'Can’t you say ‘hello’ like a normal person?' Maeben did not answer."


The story, for me, reads like an enticing first chapter in a longer story, and lacks the denoument of a complete, self-contained story. On the other hand, it's so imaginatively spun, I'm absolutely wanting to know what happens next.

I really enjoyed reading this -- thank you!


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Review of The Scream  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Very imaginative. I love to think about how the author got this idea, where it came from. It took me two reads to fully understand what was going on here, but I didn't mind that - it was worth it. And I thought it was interesting that, as a reader, I grokked right away the conceit of Katie being able to jump in and out of paintings, and why she needed to do that. I think it's a measure of the writer's skill that as a reader I didn't question that - I was being carried too quickly along through the rest of the story to stop and think about it.

Running from the law, leaping into artwork - I never would have thought of that combination. This piece really has me thinking.

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63
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Review of Wounded  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Besides the fact that this story is so well crafted, with appropriate metaphors and similes, economical insight into the character ("...I couldn't stop myself. I'm like that."), and an effective consistency of tone, I loved the fact that, as a reader, I can't be sure if the narrator is a literal or figurative angel. He (or she) could be a supernatural being or an earth-bound physician or caretaker. The subtle skill of this story, for me, is that it doesn't matter: the power of the story is the narrator's compassion, regardless of who, exactly, the narrator is.

A lot of emotion packed into 270 words!

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64
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Review of Harvest Moon  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
I don't know how anyone could possibly read this and not laugh out loud at the very end. And the surprise was well disguised. As the story progressed, I was imagining a number of ways it might end, but I certainly didn't see this one coming. Completely enjoyable!

One suggestion: I found the sentence fragment in the third paragraph ("Their heels click-clacking....") a little awkward. It may have been intentional - sentence fragments are fine, when used judiciously, as we all know, and do -- but I had a feeling this one was not intentional.

This story was really fun - high five from me!

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Review of Mama's Boy  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Holy Psycho! This story compelled me to speed along like a spider along a web, racing toward the ending, to see what was going to happen. The awful unresolved dilemma the plot represents -- how is this child going to survive long-term, given his clearly diminished capabilities? -- is somehow overcome by the slam-bang ending, and that's saying something.

I'd suggest a few extra minutes of proof-reading. I suspect the sentence fragment at the beginning of the second paragraph was unintentional.

I'm not sure what it suggests about me that this yucky story was fun to read, and I suspect that a reader wondering about that was just what the author intended.

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Review of Fearless  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Nicely done. We don't need to know what happens after the last sentence, because the story is already complete at that point. The plot contains a beginning and a middle and, for me, the fact that the ending is only implied is not a problem because the most important element here (for me, anyway), the character's transformation during the story, is already complete, and conveyed with admirable conciseness.

Bravo!

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Review of Young Explorers  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: | (3.5)
I like the way the reader is drawn into this story once the action starts, and the subtle technique the author uses to convey that the narrator is a girl. The author conveys the horror of the body really economically: simple language, a few words ("...a body without eyes.") really pack a punch and create an immediate and indelible image in a reader's eyes, or at least in the eyes of this reader, who was glad to have them after reading this yarn!

One suggestion would be to bring the reader into the heart of the story a little more quickly, maybe with some dialogue from the kids when they're already in the building, and then a flashback to convey the backstory. Another thought is that the conclusion of the narrative, while truly hair-raising, isn't really the end of a story. What happens next? Did the kids call the cops? Did they just scramble out of there, take off for home, and clam up? Did they debate what to do? Did they make any decisions about the wisdom of breaking into abandoned buildings, particularly at night?

A fun tale, for sure.

~~Image ID# 1807552's Content Rating Exceeds Item Content Rating~~
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Review of Rhythm  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
This story moves right along, as the author clearly intended, and the movement is smooth, the plot unfolding inexorably, and menacingly, without a break or an unnecessary side trip. The riveting details of the earring and the tapping pen draw us right in, placing us in the room, so that the light flickering on and off is immediately unsettling.

One suggestion: Since the POV is that of the intruder, think about what he (or she) would be aware of before opening the window. Is the intruder close enough, outside the window, to know that the book on the desk is a chemistry text? Would the intruder hear the pen tapping if the window were closed? If you want the intruder to be aware of that sound from outside, you might have the window opened at least a little, maybe for fresh air, from the start. That would also explain how the intruder is able to get in.

Nicely crafted!

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Review of Family Portrait  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
I like this story a lot. The use of present tense sets up an inherent tussle in time within the story, since the portrait, of course, takes place before the present time in the narration, even if the photograph may not have pre-dated the story's current action by too much.

The second paragraph never explicitly states that the relationship between the parents is strained, and yet it clearly is, given the father's lack of a smile, and his compressed lips. Given those clues, his hand on his wife's shoulder, with the gleaming diamond in his wedding ring, is absolutely sinister. Nicely done!

For me as a reader, the narrator doctoring the photo to express her inner turmoil in an understated way actually serves to heighten the tension in the story, and very effectively.

I'm still thinking about the fact that the narrator wants to use a red marker on a photograph of her grandmother. Uh oh.

There's a skilled writer at work here. Thanks for a compelling story!

{image:}
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Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Sarita,

I love the way your story flows, the terrific initial details that establish the setting and push the plot into rapid and intriguing motion. Such images as Catherine consciously steadying her hands concisely convey her state of mind and immediately ratchet up the suspense, as do such images as Cleopatra's snake, the hidden lion, and especially the noun "venom." Clearly, a skilled writer at work here.

I'm not able to work out exactly what's going on at the end, however. I'm not sure what the forgery is, since Catherine wrote the letter herself. As a result, I'm not sure what the ruse is. Given the forebidding and effective foreshadowing with language earlier in the story, clearly Catherine is up to no good. My mind immediately jumps to murder, and I'm guessing that's what you intend. My best guess is that the wine is poisoned, although a crime of that nature would be easy to trace and the path to the murderer would be clear, especially with a letter from Catherine accompanying the wine. Is she sending the wine and letter anonymously? If so, there'd be no point in an apology, even a deceptive one, if the recipient didn't know who's apologizing.

Sorry I'm not getting this -- a sharper reader than me might do better. But I just loved your use of language to convey setting, character, and plot so efficiently!

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Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
As a reader, I certainly had a good time with this story.

The adjective "shocked" in the first sentence puts us immediately in the shoes of the narrator, whose initial spoken words, coupled with the quick revealing of the identity of the person to whom the narrator is speaking, quickly conveys all the essential information about what's going on. Nicely economical!

Following the conventions of dialogue, moving to a new line for each new speaker, enables the writer to clearly delineate who's saying what. You didn't do that here, and with only two characters, identifying who is speaking isn't necessarily a big problem for the reader, but I think moving to a separate line each time the speaker changes would give the reader a chance to think a little more about what each speaker is saying, would give the reader some breathing space to appreciate the way the dialogue moves the story along.

You may have intended your genie to be spelled "Jeanie," but it was a little distracting for me -- I kept thinking of Barbara Eden in in the old "I Dream of Jeanie" TV series.

Especially with the twist at the end, this is a fun read!

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Review of Checkout Crisis  
Review by Megabob
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
I enjoyed this story very much, just tore through it, and the story's structure, primarily dialogue and short, snappy sentences, made that possible. The structure helps to create a distinctive voice for the narrator.

Tough with the 300-word budget, but one suggestion would be more of the classic show-don't-tell technique. For example, in place of saying that the voice of the self-checker "irritated me," the narrator might say that he slammed the bag of frozen peas onto the counter. You did it well when you had Angela rolling her eyes instead of having the narrator say that she was barely tolerant of the narrator's need for a cart instead of a basket.

Inventive idea, and a fun story!
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Review of Not in my bay.  
Review by Megabob
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Very nicely written. The setting, delineated expertly with specific images, immerses us in a world that pulls us smoothly along to the jolt at the end. The short sentence that makes up the second paragraph focuses us quickly in front of the backdrop and pulls us immediately into the plot.

I loved this. Bravo!
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