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432 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
If you're really desperate for a review, feel free to email me. Just don't expect a very quick turnaround. NB: I'm happy to review novels. I tend to review from the point of view of a reader rather than an editor. I 'nitpick' on anything that interrupts my reading flow. If you want me to go all out with nitpicking in general, ask me to do a line-by-line. Quite happy to do so - as a copied static or email.
I'm good at...
Getting into the story from the reader's perspective.
Favorite Genres
M/M, romance, horror, western
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of Very Veritatis  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)

Hi Rhymer Reisen

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
Absolutely had no idea where this story was going, other than it could be a gay bashing ending. Which could be, might not be, depending on where the imagination goes. Even the persistent calling from Liam isn’t that suspicious nor the mention of meds, so I liked that I was lulled into a sense of okay, this is okay and even more that, as I started to get an idea of what was going on, I still didn’t really have the idea. Very twisty, turny. Have you written for Screams!!! yet? You should *Smile*

Some fabulous descriptions of things, despite them being on the gory side. They paint a great picture of Topher’s panicked madness as he’s rushing about the house.

Loved “What are you not understanding about this?”; it’s such a classic phrase and speaks to panic and anger very clearly. With some of Liam’s responses, I definitely get why Topher said it but I also understand Liam’s responses!! My main thought is who let this man be alone on Halloween? and then what the heck kind of scene will Liam arrive to in three hours?

The house itself doesn’t have much of a mention although it’s the scene of quite some terror. I’d like to have known if Topher was really there, if the horrible events (which clearly did happen) happened there etc. Either way, I can see why kids would pass it by!!

By the way, I had wondered whether you’d made a mistake using dormus instead of domus. Whether you did or not, doesn’t matter because Sleep of Truth and House of Truth pretty much fit this story to a T.

Would you write a prequel? I really want to know whether our main man really has blood on his hands or not, because honestly the thought ran through me that he just might.


Things to Work On
Possibly only me who’d be caught out with this but when Topher showed up in the second paragraph I was wondering who he was. It took quite a while to realise he was the Christopher in the first paragraph. Since Christopher doesn’t actually appear it again it might have been better to just introduce Dr Topher Malik.

Put The doctor of LGBTQ+ lit… as starting a new paragraph. I thought it was Brandon at first. Yes, mostly because when I see ‘Dr’ I think of a medical one, but there was nothing to say that it wasn’t Brandon. There’s a couple of other places too where a paragraph break needs using.

The paragraph starting This is why you’ve felt so distant lately. puzzled me. It doesn’t seem to fit in with the one prior. It makes a heap load of sense once the story’s finished but not initially. Wonder if you could have made it clear that Brandon has been devoting a LOT of time to the decorations.

He smiled at the before jumping… – a word is missing here.

…positions,none… – just needs a space.

…from slipping the wet tile… – presumably ‘on’ should be after slipping.


Closing Comments
Quite the story – starting out rather lovey dovey and then spiralling into blood before ending in (frankly) more horror. Lots of questions left unanswered, and a strong desire to see the prequel and the sequel!!! Some bits were a little bit puzzling but nothing totally horrifying. I look forward to reading more of your stories.


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of Once Every Year  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hi PureSciFiPlus

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
The logline for this story is really fascinating – a house that comes and goes (and takes people when it goes). There’s so much suspense that goes with that, though to be honest I really did think Jasmine was a little bonkers going into the house this time! Despite having a (slender) escape plan, the situation felt rather dire!

Feel a little like Jasmine understand that too, but she’s upbeat about it because if she’s stuck inside then she’s hopefully going to find the others too. Quite interesting that she says Even if I can’t get us out of there … | … we are still alive – seems like she’s already become one of those in the house though, at this stage, the house hasn’t even shown up yet. Investigative reporting at its finest, as well as a good showing of courage.

The house rather arrived without a lot of fanfare, even though the sky got dark and all the lights were shining out windows. Does it come onto a spare plot of land? I’m presuming though, even as I kind of see it whirling around like the one in The Wizard of Oz and kind of landing wherever. It’s great to see the image in the story at this point; it would be pretty freaky to see it suddenly appear!

Liked how when Jasmine got in the house, and then Max, there was the classic thing of everyone going ‘can you see this?’ as if they all needed to check that their eyes and brains hadn’t gone haywire. But I would like to have seen more description of what they were looking at. I think it’s just trees down a slope, but it must have been so much more than that.

I feel a bit like the house is a sentient being of sorts, but I do wonder why it goes about encouraging youngsters in its doors. Though, probably doesn’t need to try hard given youngsters and haunted houses kind of go together.

The end is great. I think readers possibly suspect it’s true, given that no one seems to have ever come out of the house whenever it’s shown up over the years, but it’s quite a bald statement from the young girl. I’d like to have known if the live stream was still going on at this time because I can imagine that would be causing a lot of panic!


Things to Work On
Thought there were a number of plot holes in this story, though sometimes to be expected when you’re writing to a word limit. The biggest is: if this house has been coming and going for two hundred years, taking with it up to 10 people a time, why the heck do people still go into it? And why does it stick around for three days? Is it acting like a venus fly trap, of sorts? On top of that, there’s a three-year gap between Jasmine’s sister going in and Jasmine going in after her – why three years?

Jasmine’s smile was mostly hidden by her lips behind the microphone in front of them. – though readers will get what’s going on here, when you slow it down, it’ doesn’t actually make sense. I’d recommend removing ‘by her lips’ and ‘in front of them’ to leave Jasmine’s smile was mostly hidden behind the microphone.

If I will be leaving with it. – Jasmine says this but on its own, it doesn’t make sense, but also, directly before this she says she will be leaving with the house, so I think you can delete this sentence entirely.

…she open it without any problems… – opened rather than open.

It’s very simple to explain. – this is coming from an 18-year-old and there’s no indication prior of her education or even her interest in science or science fiction. So… it seems a little off. And within this same section of speech she says At least it appeared like one to me. – appeared should be appears since she’s saying this out loud to everyone.

There are a couple of sections where sort of repeat yourself – when Jasmine is saying she doesn’t think her sister’s anywhere close and it will take some time to find her. Followed by Max asking what she wants to do, including looking for the girl and the others, and then Jasmine repeating that she is going to look for her and the others. And just after this there’s a conversation about Max staying or going and taking people and Jasmine saying she wants to take people. If you cut back on the repetition, you could find the word space for more description of the house and of this new planet they seem to be in.

See What? – What doesn’t need to be capitalised.

Watch that you keep dialogue by the same character together. Near the end where Jasmine and Heather are speaking it looks like it’s Jasmine, Heather, Jasmine, Heather etc (as one expects) but there’s a couple of sections that are Jasmine, Jasmine and it gets confusing for the reader who isn’t expecting that.

When Jasmine says You can’t be more than thirteen. to Heather, what is she actually saying it for? Does Heather now look like she’s 16? Or does she still look 13 and Jasmine’s surprised because she should look like she’s 16? (At the end, Heather says they don’t age so I’m presuming she still looks like she’s 13). Either way, a description of her would probably have helped clear this confusion.

Like every three months? – this is oddly specific but where would Jasmine pick this duration from? Everything in this story seems to be in threes (aside from the house showing up every year rather than every three years). Is that for a reason? If so, then it’s another little bit of a plot hole that needs filling.


Closing Comments
I liked the premise of this story and it definitely deserves a longer write – more lead-up (even showing the moments when Jasmine’s sister gets into the house) and afterwards when (if) they all get out. Especially fascinating to read about characters who come out of the house to find they’re two hundred years in the future!!

Some plot holes to fill in order to quieten readers’ puzzlement, but it is a nice story of courage and determination, and definitely a different take on a haunted house.

Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review of About Me  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)

Hi Thankful Sonali WDC Power!

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
A fun, light story which one may not expect from the prompt! And I like that you even showcased the picture in the story, almost like you’d opened your wallet to show us a picture of your kids or pets!

Both Karen and Danny, though, are really hesitant about the house so I would like to have seen a bit more on that side. Clearly, it’s a freaky looking house which would put people off but what other tales linger about it that would keep people away? Especially since it’s not haunted (Loved the bit about the moth!) and yet appears to still be furnished. The narrator is quirky so I’d like to have seen more of that come out.

Nice set of endings, too – the hotel and the engagement. Definitely not expected with such a prompt so it goes to show a prompt can be interpreted in so very many ways. The engagement ending is great in that it also highlights how humans can be such chameleon-like creatures. Nothing can really define us. And yet… the ‘it’s all about me’ became ‘it’s all about us’, which was nice.


Things to Work On
I admit I couldn’t quite figure out what tense this story was in. For the most part it seems a sort of present tense and yet where there are some clearly present-tense moments (such as Karen’s real-estate business needs to pick up momentum I was like, tense swapping. It didn’t massively disrupt my reading flow but I guess it picked at me enough to mention here. I suspect it’s all just me and not you though *Smile*

I really had only one other thing where I’d suggest a slight change.

“What isn’t she fooling you about, and am I, Danny, being fooled?” he asked – the ‘he asked’ at the end felt too late after two questions. I’d put it after the first question (to Aunt Edna) and then follow with his own question. Give the two questions a bit of a pause between each other for more impact.


Closing Comments
A nice story with a definite ‘can’t judge a book by its cover’ theme. The mind does boggle a bit though at what escapades were dreamed up for the guests! (Maybe the guests can start telling their own stories.)


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)

Hi LightinMind

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
I like, obviously, that the house is such a big part of this story, and I think your second paragraph is magnificently descriptive of what it is and what it’s not. Also, the pinks and blues can read like a bit of the sunset, so it’s great to read later on that they’ve got nothing to do with the sunset but a new chapter in the house’s long and varied life.

I also like how we get a brief history of the life of the house and then we come full circle to it again and it’s still a big part of Noah’s life because the love of his life is in there. Despite him thinking he’s not planning a military operation, he so is by the words he using. And, obviously, that training allows him to be of the ability to walk into such a place now and save the woman he loves.

Great descriptions of places and people so that it was fairly easy to ‘see’ the story as I read it. Amused at how Noah sized up the bouncer: his belly was big. And then later how the big man twirled.

Good action scenes splitting the descriptive scenes, and I liked how the childhood memories of the house/garden came into play in the escape from the bar, as well as Noah saying he still remembers Susie as she was before war split them up.

The ending is nice and compact, bringing them both full circle, but I kinda think they need to get in that car and drive!!! (An epilogue where Noah bought the bar and turned it back into a house for him and Susie and their kids would be awesome.)


Things to Work On
Just some nitpicking things… mostly about punctuation.

The trees around looked slightly… – given this first paragraph is pretty much in present tense I think the ‘looked’ should be ‘look’.

…beneath its floorboards? – question mark isn’t needed (though it seems a bit wistful… *Smile*) For that matter, just above there’s another sentence with a question mark. That one doesn’t seem so out of place since Noah seems somewhat puzzled by being mystified but I do wonder if it’s meant to be there.

Then he was called up… – there is no indication prior to this that Noah’s in the army so this really comes out of the blue.

Put the section starting This brought him back to his senses. in a new paragraph as this particular piece is in the present. Also, the way you’ve worded him as the only survivor of the four men with him sounds a little odd. He’s technically not the survivor of the four men. He’s the survivor of his group of five.

…drained of life, she was a… – I think it should be a full stop here, rather than a comma. Could maybe then start of with Now she was a… to hit the then and now moments. I’d also put ‘had’ or ‘wore’ between and and an excessive amount of…

…take you home.” He said. – use a comma instead of full stop, and un-capitalised ‘He’.

…disarm the man taking his gun… – you don’t need ‘taking is gun’ since that’s what ‘disarm the man’ means. I presume you mean to show that Noah took the gun but the next few sentences show that anyway.


Closing Comments
I liked this story. Even though the idea of these contest prompts is that you are merely inspired by them I really do like seeing the prompt in full swing in the story, and the old house is definitely so here. It’s like a character in its own right. Also appreciate that though things went pear-shaped and horror-like for the couple, love prevailed and they got back together. It was a nicely rounded story.

Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch. I’ve got Covid at the moment and though I’m functioning reasonably well and it looks like I haven’t written a bunch of blah, it might still be blah!

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of The Art Contest  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)

Hi Graywriter

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
It’s really interesting to see how writers take on a picture prompt of a spooky house for a contest that’s running in October. One expects total horror and scary, so it’s really neat when that’s not always the outcome. A little part of me thinks the prompt needed to show up earlier in the story or else we tend to forget what it actually is, but you did tie it in quite nicely.

Fascinating that the house showed up in two modes – a classic haunted house and as a club the girls had gone to (completely illegally, by the sounds of it). Slightly funny regarding the children’s book illustrator comment because, in thinking of haunted houses in children’s books, they do indeed tend to have a splash of the fabulous about them in terms of colour.

You’ve written the characters really nicely, made sure they’re all individuals. Though we didn’t get to ‘see’ much of them through descriptions, actions and words could paint a picture of Edith, the school, and the other girls.

Like the way Gen says Poor Edith. If you weren’t taking notice that might almost sound sympathetic (though a flippant sort, also!). I suspect, though, that she’s using ‘poor’ here as to highlight that she herself is rich? (Also liked how she said perquisite when most kids wouldn’t know the meaning of the word – nor adults, to be honest. A good, simple way to show Gen’s upbringing and her level of ‘I’m better than everyone here.’) And rather an appropriate surname….

The ending itself isn’t a surprise, since this completely reads like a story where Edith would win, but the painting is. Honestly, until Genevieve rocked out the house, I thought Edith would in some way as a sort of illustration of being a foster child. But, her painting of the princess does much the same thing and on a far more emotional level. (By the way, I would think that painting would have been incredibly hard for the foster parents to look at. It sounded like they were doing a really good job but if I were them and I saw that painting, I’d doubt myself a bit.)

(An offside comment – if you ever wanted to try turning this into a horror story, easiest way is that Edith doesn’t win….)


Things to Work On
Just some basic punctuation blips, nothing really to be worry over (while always considering how even these wee things can throw a reader out. It’s rather odd how loud punctuation can be, as if we read the comma or full stop or whatever along with every other word.)

Put in a comma after 2nd and 3rd since you do it after 1st (And possibly, though I wasn’t bothered, write those out in full. Those placings may be written like that on the poster, but they’re not written like that in speech.)

“…for you” Edith said calmly… – a comma after the ‘you’.

When Genevieve ruins Edith’s painting there’s a bit that goes sauntered off to the commiseration of her friends – that sounds like it’s Genevieve’s friends who are commiserating, but I don’t get why they would, so it must be Edith’s even though there’s never really been any mention of her friends. It’s not an error, it was just that I had to read this a couple of times as it didn’t quite add up to me on who was who.

“… that marks the true artist – just needs a ” on the end.


Closing Comments
So, nitpicking things to work on which shouldn’t detract from a good story. A sequel would be interesting – how the art class situation changed (or didn’t!) when the girls were back in class. I almost feel like Genevieve would have changed classes (or schools).


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review of Seeking  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)

Hi debmiller1

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
At first I was like, you’re writing a fan fic? Even though I don’t watch horror movies I’ve heard the famous name that starts this show and I was actually thrown for a bit. Well, for almost all of the first section – but what a fabulous twist you laid in there at the end of this section!! I enjoyed that a great deal.

The logline definitely states fact but I’m impressed how Kyle thinks on his feet to deflect the intruder but then also speaks the truth. I couldn’t quite tell if he does that because he knows Gale will fix things but I also get that it shows his age (the young tend to wilt under fire….). It also rings rather true how at the end of the story, Kyle’s a little bit naughty. Though, TBH, I reckon Gale will know what he’s done. She seems to be onto him and he’s young enough to be stupid with what he’s done and give the game away!!

I enjoyed the sci-fi side of this story – how it is drugs of a sort but nothing like what people know. I can sense a lot more short stories based on this premise – especially around Kyle. I’d love to have seen a bit of his background but also, obviously, a bit more of what a quad-sphere really is etc. (Yes, I know there was a word limit *Bigsmile* but I reckon you could go further with this idea.)

Totally loved Okay, stop brainstorming you next lie. – there are a lot of times people could spout this but I think this is the first I’ve read it!! But…. should be your not you.

I do think, on top of all this, that there could have been a bit more on the house. That was the prompt for this contest and though it’s all about being inspired by it, the only thing we really see is that there is a drug house. We don’t even get much of what it looks like or how it’s a great set for growing the fingers. I’d like to have seen it almost as a character in its own right.


Things to Work On
Do keep an eye on the tense you’re writing in. The story is mostly in the standard past tense but occasionally swaps to the present; that makes it jerk about a little and can pull the reader out of their flow

You swap between Gale and Gail, so don’t forget to proofread names *Smile*, and there’s a couple of instances where the quote marks are back to front – ie they should be ” at the end of dialogue but have ended up “ instead. Nitpicking, clearly, but curved quotes really do stick out when they’re the odd way around!

…a voice demanded switching on a light. – just needs a comma after ‘demanded’.

After the bit where the man thumps Kyle and he staggers, it would be good to have the next bit of dialogue starting on the same line as it goes together. Separate, there’s just a little bit of ‘who’s speaking here?’

Misses – doesn’t need to be capitalised.

He nearly fought me off. – nothing actually wrong with this sentence but I was puzzled by it. Gail’s not been in the picture until she enters the growing room just before speaking. I can only presume she’s fought the thug off telepathically (due to the whole what he’ll remember when he wakes), but it should be made clear.

If teenagers ever see me in one – in one what? I guess you mean a costume but that hasn’t in face come up in the recent dialogue so it not something a reader would automatically think.

The one finder… – finger not finder.


Closing Comments
Fascinating story, with some great twists and turns. Would like to have seen just a little bit more about the house itself; like how it’s age or size or whatever made it a great spot to grow fingers. Just keep an eye on the proofreading so little things don’t throw the reader out of their zone.

Definitely think the premise could be fleshed out in other short stories.

Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)

Hi Sumojo

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
Ha, the first section totally hides that there’s some serious adventure coming up, even with the mention of the kid hiding in the box (tbh, my thought here was ‘how short’s this kid if he’s standing up in a washing machine box?’)

I wasn’t too fond of the kids harassing the dog, though was obviously amused at what Jedd’s dad thought about the name. (With thanks that my cat isn’t named Percy *Laugh*). Funny how the kids turned the adult’s thought into a new name. A reminder to not say some things in front of small ears.

Thereafter, an example of perfect imagination with a time machine made out of a box. Growing up, I don’t recall my siblings and I making time machines but we definitely had houses and cars! Of course, they didn’t give the same kind of action and adventure that Jedd and Jacob experienced.

Loved the fact that the sky and clouds seemed normal except for the fact they’d started out in a basement! And also liked the fact Jedd turned their misfortune into something not so bad – they might be lost, but it’s nice and warm where they now are. Thinking of small positive things is a definite help in such situations.

This story gives us a double action/adventure – imagined with the box and then suddenly in reality with the dinosaurs and I liked how they seemed to take it in their stride (in as much as they could do so) but also show expected fear at what they’re seeing. It’s a classic ‘this is so cool but holy heck I’m terrified’ sort of situation and it’s all quite real.

The fight scenes between the T Rex and Triceratops add to the action just nicely, giving the kids a better seat than at the movies. And the action of the time machine itself adds its own magic – imagine seeing that line up of nature that the boys do as they spin across time. Even just in ink it’s amazing.

Completely love “Oh, there you are boys” delivered by Jedd’s mother. It kind of felt like the boys would be ‘holy heck, mum/aunty Liz, that’s all you have to say?’ She totally brings them down to earth, but they’re not bothered about it, clearly already planning round two at some later point!


Things to Work On
Punctuation needs a bit of work; it’s missing from some expected places. A couple of examples are listed below that disrupted my reading flow more than others.

… new appliance delivered,” Mrs Crowe, stuck her head… – Should be a full stop after ‘delivered’ and there shouldn’t be a comma after ‘Crowe’.

Stan was in the basement, “We’re down here, Liz.” – Full stop after basement.

Pterodactyl rather than Tetradactyl?


Closing Comments
Really enjoyed reading this story. Classic appliance-box adventure that I think all adults can relate to, if they can remember that far back. Also, a nice example of kids playing together and NOT playing on electronic devices.


Thank you once again for entering "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review of Gavor Dannic  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)

Hi PureSciFi

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
I do like the first sentence. It speaks of action and suspense. There’s obviously some sort of fight going on and the reader is in the thick of it.

However, after this the action slows right down. Gavor isn’t doing much but surveying his surroundings and changing weapons (which sound cool, by the way!). He’s been in this place for six hours he tells us. Doing what???? Actually, this is a valid question as I spent a lot of time wondering what was going on. All Gavor is doing is thinking to himself and occasionally killing people. But for what reason? What is the building that’s near? What’s his purpose? We do, of course, find out in the last quarter but I think it would have been better to mention snippets of the task up front. Knowing Gavor’s come to break some out (aka rescue them??) but has to fight off X number of people would really heighten the suspense and action.

The action/adventure pace picks up once the girl is found, and I liked the humour between them (though… later hearing they’re so young, it did feel a little odd – almost too mature?).

The ending sheds a bit of light on the reason for Gavor being around, and I like the whole ‘oh wow, he’s a Professional?’ reveal. Sneaky! And, obviously, there’s so many more stories that can be written about him. Hint, hint.


Things to Work On
Gavor does a lot of thinking and thinks Gavor grates after a while. Surely he could whisper to himself sometimes? There’s a part starting Don’t know if I will be able to contact you – where it suddenly seems he’s contacting someone else but he’s thinking this. Is he using some sort of brain transmitter? (That’s pretty cool, but it would be good to know to lessen reader confusion.) Later, with Retinna, it’s the same: ‘We are on our way out of here right now as you can see. In a few hours, we should be back there.’. As this isn’t in italics he seems to be speaking it, but who is Gavor talking to and where is ‘there’?

‘this residence’ – this phrase shows up seven times. That doesn’t sound a lot but it’s particular and therefore really stands out. Better to explain a bit of what the building looks like, or even name it a couple of times.

Barefoot – should be ‘bare foot’. Just a note – using bare foot makes it sounds like the Long Weapon has fallen by a dead body. At no point does the reader understand that this is presumably Gavor’s foot (and if it is his, why the heck hasn’t he got shoes on?)

Aside from knowing there are trees, a cliff and a residence, there’s little other description so it was hard to ‘see’ where Gavor was and what he saw himself. When he’s talking about Professionals above or below it’s hard to tell where they actually are. Are they on the roof? A balcony? In trees? When he’s squinting inside the building, where’s he looking? In a window, a doorway?

On the other hand, I felt like you used up a lot of words describing something when you didn’t need to; the finger counting section for example. It would have been far easier to just say he counted the number of Professionals on his fingers and had to use both hands a couple of times over to reach the total of twenty-seven.

You have a number of fragment sentences, such as this example: Using the darkness to hide him. It doesn’t make sense on its own, so just watch out for those ones as they can trip up the reading flow.


Closing Comments
I did spend a fair amount of time trying to work out what was going on and where Gavor was while he was outside, and I almost started skipping parts because of it. The latter half is good action though, rescuing someone from under the noses of well-trained people, and to find out Gavor’s only thirteen was pretty neat. He seems the kind of youngster who could crop up in many a short story!


Thank you once again for entering "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review of BANG!!!  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)

Hi Odessa Molinari

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
This was quite unexpected as an action/adventure story, but the events are sadly relevant in this day and age and you portrayed a good amount of tension throughout and the power of family as the narrator tries to locate and then escape with her son from a bombed theatre.

It feels oddly mean to suggest this but you could have heightened all the action, adventure, tension, suspense by starting off with a moment of stillness. Were they in a movie theatre or a stage theatre? What were they watching? How many other kids were about? What was the general feeling? Showing us what life was like BEFORE makes the AFTER so much more action and adventure.

Added to that was the fact that it seemed so silent and still afterward. Our narrator is injured by falling building parts and there is a deceased. Is it noisy? Is it dusty? Are people screaming. You do have other building bits falling, which adds to the tension, but it otherwise felt a bit like a silent movie. On the other hand, shellshock probably would prevent someone noticing a lot of things. I almost expected us to find out the child had a serious injury because it’s kind of natural that some injuries just aren’t noticed or felt until later.

I liked how the characters had to turn back on themselves due to the robot bomb disarmer. On the one hand you think ‘yay, help’ and then understand what the job of that robot is. Sure, you don’t want to be anywhere near it, but to also turn away back into rubble in the hunt for another door takes courage. Heightens the action and suspense too – what if they don’t find that other entrance or they do but they can’t get out, and time’s ticking… It was very skin-prickling sort of stuff!

Total relief when they did find the other door, but shortly thereafter I was a bit confused. The narrator hears a clock ticking in her head. At this point I was thinking she had that ‘we have to get out NOW’ thought going on and had conjured the clock, which adds a whole bunch of stress and action (it’s amazing what strength one has when it’s needed). But… the ending… I couldn’t stop myself wondering if she was the bomb. I think it must just be how you’d worded the original hearing the tick, but the BANG and total ending of the story right then did make me wonder if that all came down to the fact that she was the bomb. Because, unfortunately, that’s not unheard of either. So I would ask, if I may, that you clarify that ending just a bit so we know it’s a secondary bomb going off inside. Maybe even have the very last part of the story showing the woman and her son sitting up, with their saviours, and seeing the flames shooting out or whatever but with relief that they’re all safe?


Things to Work On
Just to make them stand out, I’d suggest putting the narrator’s thoughts into italics. They’re sometimes a bit buried in the physical action.

Keep an eye, also, on the tense you’re using. This story’s mostly told in the past tense but it occasionally slips into present tense – that’s when it sometimes got hard to tell if it was physical action or thought…

Don’t waste selling points by using Other as the genre. Nobody searches for Other as a type of story they want to read. Suspense, Emotional, Drama, Family… There are plenty of relevant Genres to use here aside from Action/Adventure. Another one is, of course, Contest Entry. It probably doesn’t sell a story either, but it’s a good one for highlighting to the reader that there could be limits—the prompt, the word count etc.


Closing Comments
The premise for this story is certainly an action-filled one, high-stakes and on a tight time limit. It’s also suspenseful, even if I have suggested you could have made it more so (me encouraging the full use of the word limit *Smile*). Hard to call this a ‘nice’ story because of its topic, but it is still one and bravely told.


Thank you once again for entering "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of Zippers  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)

Hi Thankful Sonali WDC Power!

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
I liked the first paragraph in that it told us about the main character but also that the adventure was character-made. No action/adventure because she was in danger or because of anything truly extraordinary, but something that came out of her own actions and that she, herself, thought of it all as an adventure.

Mrs Sadarangani comes across just your words describe her – a very nice person – and it was enjoyable to read her sharing her niceness with others, and to fully taking part in the adventure that comes about from her purchase of multi-zippered pillows with secret pouches (what a cool thing!).

Ah… trains. How many of us have been on a long train journey? New Zealand doesn’t have many now that run between our main cities but I’ve been on several, and a few in other countries too. There’s definitely adventure in them, a whole different world to travelling by car and by plane, especially if you have to share compartments with strangers. (I, myself, love seeing the crowds on platforms or stopped along the road as steam trains go through; their pleasure-runs are always sold out!)

The train journey itself is an adventure but you’ve added more action by having the strangers in the compartment with the ladies – a young couple with an upset baby and a single young man. This increases the character interactions and allows the plot to branch off. I didn’t actually see the ending coming for this story, but it’s so ‘normal’ too! And, obviously, gives us a doubling of action and adventure as the ladies and young Toufiq chase down the pillow! (Secret cheer for Mr Sadarangani’s forethought…)

One of the main themes of this story is the act of kindness to strangers. The story’s full of it, and the outcome is new friendships and expanded horizons. It’s a woman-made adventure story, where the action comes about from simple kindness. A different kind of action/adventure, I think, but very real nonetheless. And always with a little bit of spine tingle that it could have ended so very differently.

I liked the couple of pictures you included, and totally loved the humour you injected all the way through, especially the bit about the underpants *Smile*. The story-telling was really nicely done.


Things to Work On
I was a little puzzled about the stops, how the ladies were still quite some way from their actual stop when they got off, but obviously not hugely far if they could get taxis thereafter or chase after the pillow from the stop after the one that the young couple used. I presume it was an afternoon/evening journey given the sleeper arrangement, but was it mostly an urban journey or through countryside? I wasn’t necessarily distracted from reading, just a bit puzzled about where I suddenly found myself once they got off the train.

“We’ve reached,” he announced. – Should something like ‘our destination’ be added here? Ie reached what?


Closing Comments
This is a really nice action/adventure story, all the more so because the action/adventure comes about in a natural way – just straight-out human interaction, with a large dose of human kindness. Very enjoyable to read.


Thank you once again for entering "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)

Hi LightinMind

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
This story delivers action and adventure in a rather unexpected way out of a previous action/adventure moment in time, which makes it a good read and seems to double the stakes on getting a good outcome!

Bit sad that Bill doesn’t understand himself to know that that night with Sarah wasn’t a weakness. Their reactions are incredibly human in that sort of situation and I wouldn’t say weak at all. The outcome, obviously, isn’t really expected but it’s a perfect way to pin previous and current plots together and thoroughly increase the tension and suspense.

Much of the action is all on motorbikes, and Bill’s clearly proud of his and his riding expertise. Would like to have, therefore, known a bit more about his bike and even what he’s wearing himself just to add a bit more flesh to these scenes. The end scene between Bill and Captain Stuart, with them talking about his great barrier slide, was great – all sorts of dangerous criminal action going on but they talk about the slide!

The action kept up through the story and the last part of the chase was spectacular. I did like that the end of the story, however, had a slower pace. Even though Bill is being sent away, it still feels a bit like ‘phew, we can take a breather now’ kind of thing. Mind you, the Captain’s last words could be telling! Are you thinking of writing a sequel? Could be good.


Things to Work On
Some of the speeches sound a bit stiff. Partly I think because of the lack of or unexpected use of punctuation and partly because of the lack of contractions (she is = she’s, etc). Mia’s speech starting “Well you have to go see her…” is one example.

Although the run-on sentences make it seem like Mia’s upset enough to babble they just don’t read real. For example, You cannot simply abandon that child though.’ is really stiff. I think an upset (or angry) person would be using contractions all over the place. Also placing the ‘said Mia’ at the end of a very long speech takes away from the speech. It’d be better if it started something like “Well,” said Mia, hands on her hips. “You have to go see her…”

The long one by Sarah – her summarising the situation for Bill – is the same but here… she’s afraid and she’s warning Bill. Why is she giving him a novel? The time it takes for her to get all that ‘backstory’ out is wasting escape time. Her shouting stuff or pushing him away would be more impactful, or she could be spouting some stuff as he’s running back to his bike. Having that sort of thing going through his head as he’s escaping would add to the tense nature of the flight.

When the cop has the motorbike accident, Bill’s going 160mph; no way he could have seen half of what happened here, surely?

The action is fast simply because most of the story is a motorbike chase, but I felt like the very big paragraphs bogged the pace down somewhat. Make them shorter so we don’t have to trudge through them, falling behind.

Aside from serious damage to the paintworks his bike was fine. – I understand that you mean the frame is not bent or broken, but serious and fine in the same sentence don’t quite match.

Watch your punctuation, as there are several sentences that are missing full stops or even semi-colons. These things may seem tiny but they can pull a reader out of their zone and completely disrupt the flow.

1 x Other genre – definitely could have used Suspense or Drama here to round out three strong ‘sales’ points for the story.


Closing Comments
A good blending of different types of action and adventure as well as human relationships. I mentioned some things to work on but in the main they don’t take too hugely from the sense of adventure that this story delivers.


Thank you once again for entering "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of It Takes A Boy  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)

Hi elephantsealer

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions

This seems a classic childhood dream adventure born out of tragedy. It easily shows a child’s confused mind – who the good guys are or aren’t, for example, and wishes for things that would be excruciating in real life. We often dream of better times or fixes and that’s what Timmy does here, having quite the adventure along the way. He has a great imagination!

Feel rather sorry for Lannay because it turns out that she will be grieving just as much, and probably harder because of how Timmy is acting towards her. I like that she’s not giving up.

How old is Timmy? Sometimes he seems very young and sometimes he seems older than ten. But, then again, children can be like that! I liked the bit where he says Lannay is a witch but he’s not afraid of her but he wants her to go away. That seems all very contrary until you get to the end of the story and understand why he wants her to go away.

Really liked “Weird,” he whispered to the side of his face. – at first it read a little oddly to me but when you try it out, you understand exactly what he’s doing. It’s a classic reaction.


Things to Work On

There are some punctuation/grammar errors. An example of one: He felt eyes watching him He felt his bones got tight. – Should be He felt eyes watching him. He felt his bones get tight.’ (By the way, I’ve never heard of bones getting tight but it’s a really nice way to describe freezing up or getting afraid!)

I wondered how much talking out loud a child would really do? Some of it felt like it would be better if just thoughts.

Gosh, I hope she is all right. – this feels really out of place for Timmy to say. It’s pretty clear he hates Lannay and wants her gone. Hoping she is alright just feels so fake. But…. It does also show how see-sawing a child’s emotions and feelings can be!


Closing Comments
Good childhood adventure but also shows the natural (and sometimes not) small-mindedness and/or misunderstanding of a child who has been affected by tragedy. The latter bit was less action/adventure but served to explain how Timmy had ended up dashing through a forest to find a door in a tree.


Thank you once again for entering "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


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

Hi Kåre Enga UdonThani 🇹🇭

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions

To be honest, it was hard to figure out just what this story was about. It’s starts out as an immortal seeking entertainment to relieve the boredom of being immortal. This premise could have led to some very exciting adventures and lots of action as they tried to find the boredom antidote.

There’s a glimpse of a changed world with Earth and a barren twin (this ‘double’ Earth would be a good story premise all on its own!), and then Gala’s arrival on Earth (I presume it’s Earth, not the barren planet?) where things are not as expected. But once you’ve told us about a strange mechanical vehicle that’s apparently driven by animals and humans hiding in a cave, you leave it at that.

Gala is happy because there’ll be drama, action… but you never give the reader any and this story should be full of it, and could have been given that you used only 500 of the allowed 2000 words. Gala records the drama but what is it? What’s the mechanical vehicle? Why are animals driving it? Why are the humans hiding in caves? Do they ever come out of the caves? So much missing action and adventure here.


Things to Work On

The timeline delivered in the first three paragraphs of the second section puzzled me a little. Gala decides to visit Earth but then looks to go to the barren planet first, and then is spinning around the sun and resting. Is this resting AFTER going to the barren planet? Also, it seems like it’s been a century since Gala’s last visit to Earth, with the beasts there being taken out by an asteroid? Are you talking about dinosaurs, or some other such animals? If dinosaurs then the timing is way out, but if it’s something completely different then a short discussion of that visit would have been good and could have added some sense of adventure.


Closing Comments
The idea of this story is a really great one, but telling it with only a quarter of the available word count really hinders it. I’d love to see you expand the story and really show the action and adventure that Gala sees and participates in.


Thank you once again for entering "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hi Kotaro

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
This started out as a veteran falling asleep and dreaming that he was fighting again, which brings us heavily into some serious action, but I really don’t know how the story ended. Did the narrator die? Was he just overcome by whatever drugs he’s taking to live ‘normally’? Is he under some other sort of compulsion? What’s his wife got to do with it?

While the ending seemed a mass of confusion for me, I can see where it might fall into a range of scenarios. I guess it’s the fact he doesn’t really waken that makes me so puzzled.

But the beginning… Waking to find oneself in the middle of a dogfight at the controls of a plane must be pretty high on the ‘scare’ rankings of memories. I suspect Aaron knows what he should be doing here but you do really well in showing the moment between sleeping and dreaming and the confusion such a swap brings. We’re in the thick of a (losing) battle in a damaged plane with damaged companions. The suspense and tension can’t get much higher!

Once the plane has crashed, Aaron’s come to himself a bit and takes control. It’s quite the odd feeling to go from the hectic to the calm and then actually walking up to a house and introducing oneself and comrades!! But through this small, though still tense, section we get to feel that Aaron was a decent army man and could be relied upon.

Just want to list a couple of your amazing phrases:

“… my eyes grew heavy till another world absorbed my being” – a stunning way of describing falling into a dream. I’ve always thought that we dream a dream, but this makes it sound like the dream chooses us and draws us in.

Gravity stretched my face and choked my throat. – another excellent description.


Things to Work On

“You’ve got to pulled up harder!” – pulled needs to be pull, but I’m also unsure about this whole scene. They’re in the glider, clearly, and they’re now plummeting. Why are they plummeting if they haven’t pulled the lever and released the tether? Is their guide plane the one that’s plummeting and is pulling them with it?

Though it didn’t seem odd at the time… – this is when Aaron is taking off his helmet and introducing himself to some home owners. I don’t really understand why it’s here, since it doesn’t come up later as a memory of ‘why did I do that?’ when the sentence seems to say that it would.

As mentioned, I’m baffled by the ending. Aaron drifts off several times and even once seemed like he’d become the enemy (since he was in a boat firing at an American plane?) and then as if he’s firing at other boats to protect the plane. But… that might just be a perfect description of PTSD!


Closing Comments
The narrator waking up in a damaged and out-of-control plane gives us a great action scene, putting us on the edge of our seats. Definitely befitting of the action/adventure genre. As I’ve mentioned, the ending was a bit puzzling but you still have the bones of a good story here. You didn’t use all the allowed word limit here, and I wonder how amazing you could have made this if it had allowed up to 5000! It feels the type of story that deserves to be longer. I get the feeling Aaron drifts off a lot!


Thank you once again for entering {item: 1803133}. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review of Snowglobe  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi rugal b.

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
Okay, so there’s a novel sitting behind this, right? If there’s not, there should be. You’ve got a whole world (two worlds, really) here that intrigue the heck out of me; there has got to be more to read!

I don’t read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy type stories so I never saw the ending coming, even though you hinted it right at the outset with Memories and Nostalgia in capitals. When I read it a second time I had a lot of questions – not the least being in how does Jen actually get to Winterbank? There seems to be various possible ways and means and it adds to the ‘what’s going on?’ and ‘am I sane?’ sort of feelings. Jen definitely feels something’s not right and I think you’ve done a great job of showing her as ‘I know what’s going on’ and then moments of pure ‘what the heck’s going on here?’ The Maxluxe case that she tries to remind Gig(i) about sounds incredibly interesting, and adds to the whole ‘playing with the brain’ theme.

When all is said and done, it really just could be some impressive drug taking. With Nostalgia capitalised and an explanation for Winterbank/Snowglobe forthcoming it’s definitely clear there are drugs/mind-control things taking place. Voluntarily too. Imagine if that was real-life? I’d think half the world would make that choice!

I mentioned above the wish for a novel or at least something longer. It’s not a crazy wish. The tiny glimpse of a backstory (the Maxluxe episode, Jen’s rough upbringing, Gig’s inadequacies) tell us there’s a whole world we want to explore. The same goes for the Snowglobe itself. An AI runs that, but who looks after the frozen people? How do they come out of this frozen state? Do they remember everything? There’s so much more for a reader to see, if you’d only let us. That, to me, is pretty good story-telling – making the reader want more has to be our goal.

It’s easy to see how the picture prompt of the white and quiet street inspired the story. Gave it a bit of a sinister feeling, actually, at the outset but eased into comfy feelings (even if those feelings weren’t quite real). The name of the town and the Snowglobe itself also speak of the picture prompt so I think you did a good job of making it a strong part of the story. (Though, honestly, if I was building a place to go when my brain couldn’t cope anywhere, there’d be no snow in sight *Smile*.)

The final words of the story are, I think, the strongest. Of course, they make us think of the saying ‘home is where the heart is’ and that rings true too. Home could be crappy or cold or many things, but it’s still home. I think Gig might have some different feelings about that, but she’s got a very good friend and partner at her side to help her out. Home and friendship. Two very fine things to go to hell and back for.


Things to Work on
This is a fascinating story that deserves to be read, but readers just aren’t going to find it when you use Contest Entry and Other for your genres. Now, Contest Entry is, I think, a good one to use when you’re writing for a contest (especially if you don’t mention it specifically at the end of the story itself). It warns the reader that you had limitations – word count, prompt etc. (This makes it good for reviewers too.) Other makes it feel like you had no idea what you were writing or, worse, didn’t care. This is a great story!!! Help it out. Sci-fi, Supernatural, Dark, Crime, Friendship, Emotion….. any of these would be better than Other and all fit in some way with the story. Goodness, sorry, that was rather a rant.

I heard a voice. – Nothing actually wrong with this sentence in its own right, but it feels a bit superfluous. We know the character heard the voice because the speech is right there beforehand. I turned tells us the character heard the voice too so we don’t need that opening sentence, if that makes sense. A bit further down, we’ve got this again when her friend calls her name.

So what brings to Winterbank? – I think ‘you’ should be after ‘brings’?

Yeah, he Nostalgia was really hitting me. – ‘the’ not ‘he’. And at the end of the paragraph that includes this you’ve got as he grasped his proffered hand and shook. I’m presuming it should be ‘as I’?

…simple evening at home | A nice breakfast.. – I think Gigi is just mentioning two different types of nostalgic events but because they butt up against either other it reads as if she’s mixed herself up and that ‘breakfast’ should be ‘dinner’. If it’s the former, perhaps add in something like Or like a nice breakfast… to make things fully clear.

Needles to say… – I actually like ‘needles’ here but that’s obviously not what you were aiming for *Smile*

…those who feel like the can’t take Neopolis… – ‘they’ not ‘the’

Is the narrator’s friend Gig or Gin?


Closing Comments
Right, so, I think the proofreading was a trifle lax (see the red bits above) but the story hugely made up for that. I really enjoyed it and the ideas/worlds behind it. When I say I’d like to see more, I mean it. One part of that is seeing Jen and Gig’s lives before this – their childhoods, their education, their jobs etc; how they got to be where they were before Gig’s ‘breakdown’.


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review of Winter  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)

Hi Falling Sox

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
It’s really interesting, with this picture prompt of a snow-covered street, how it’s the silence that seems to be picked up first. In this little story’s case, the total lack of sound is very apt, but we don’t realise that until the very end. Fascinating, too, that the first noises we don’t hear via our narrator are angry sounds – cabbies, road rage, sirens. The world would definitely seem at peace without those things. At the end of that opening paragraph we understand that nature’s silent too; there is nothing but the narrator’s breath as he walks that street.

Once you’ve read the story and know what it’s about, the paragraphs of walking around totally alone make a great deal of sense. Up until then, though, it’s a bit like we’re watching a sort of odd thievery going on – walking into strangers’ houses, eating food from shops. Sure, the narrator is alone in the world and he’s gotta live, it’s just weird having him do these things that would otherwise be called looting and breaking and entering.

We’re told its months that he’s been wandering about. This makes me think we should be getting some view of him. He tells us about the world, that technology is still active etc, but what about him? Does he know who he is? What is he wearing? He’s puzzled about a couple of things so it would have been good to know if anything about himself was puzzling him too.

Loved the bit about the library and it only carrying books he’d read. Such perfect sense when we understand what we’re dealing with here. If that happened to me, my library would be a very odd collection! It’s quite a nice way of sort of summing up a person’s life.

The descriptions about the hospital are really good, focusing on just a few things – the heart monitors, the dripping, the ventilators. Admittedly even at this time I still hadn’t quite twigged *Smile* That, of course, made the final sentence really, really great! Also was a huge light-bulb moment for the rest of the story and I thought it was well done how you’d managed to keep that little plot twist hiding away until right at the end.


Things to Work On
Don’t forget to make use of all three genre slots. Even in a tiny story like this, there is more than Drama. You could easily use Paranormal, Emotion, Health etc to give the reader an idea of what they might be encountering. Also, the genres are mini search engines so people can find your story. Of course, if you don’t want them to find it (e:smile) then Other works just fine.

…repulsed him and compelled him forward – as this sentence stands the ‘repulsed’ and ‘compelled’ kind of bash up against each other and make things sounds a little off. I know what you mean here, as would most readers, but it jars slightly. I’d recommend either putting ‘both’ before ‘repulsed’ or putting ‘yet’ before ‘compelled’ so that we can very easily see the push and pull of these two things


Closing Comments
A very tiny short story with a clever take on the prompt. I would like to have understood whether or not the narrator actually felt the cold but otherwise I thought it worked fairly well. Definitely enjoyed the ending!


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review of The Snowflake  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)

Hi Quick-Quill

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
It has to be quite a leap of faith in yourself to accept someone else’s body parts or fluids. Of course, in a lot of situations there is no choice but I wonder if everyone has, at the back of their mind, thoughts about what it’ll do to them as a unique individual. Comparing himself to unique snowflakes becoming just an indistinguishable pile is sobering for Daniel, even though it turns out he’s a scientist and has been studying this while he’s been undergoing leukaemia treatment. I would suspect he knows the risks better than most, but he’s also in one of the better positions to do something about it.

What I found interesting is that Daniel keeps thinking/saying he’s going to sort of disappear, and yet he also says that who he is is still the same (personality, likes, dislikes etc – though the newly discovered taste for bruschetta makes him think twice). He seems mostly calm about this, so I’m a little unsure as to why he’s doing this interview. It was almost like he was going to break a huge news-scoop, but that doesn’t seem to be it. I’d like to have known why he was doing the interview just so to get my head around things. What is he hoping to achieve by going to the media?

We don’t really get much backstory with Daniel other than he’s a widower, he’s raising a daughter, and he had a bone marrow transplant six years prior. Okay, that sounds like a lot, but there’s not a lot of detail around these things, other than the changes that have gone on in his body with the blood transfusions. I would honestly have liked a little more about his personal life, but I can also understand why his job and his DNA are taking up pretty much all of his time! You haven’t used all the allotted word count here, but I think this could be made even bigger – backstory, present, future story. Does he learn to love again? How does his daughter react (in fact, how old???)? Does he know the donor’s family and contact them? I wondered all these things. Would love to read more if you ever expanded.

Loved this: He needed a life, if just looking at this woman he’d never met was affecting him. He thinks it might be his new DNA, I suspect it’s just the fact he’s not at work and he’s not having to deal with the stress of raising a child. And… his heart telling him that’s it probably quite okay to be attracted to someone again. In any case, it’s a really nice line. Made me want to give him a hug and a flick across the ear!


Things to Work On
A number of typos to tidy up; the biggest ones that stood out and jarred me are listed below.

Neither of us looked… – up until this point the story has been in third-person, and then we suddenly have this third-person rendering and the next paragraph begins I paused. I suspect you’ve got so much dialogue here that you just moved into first-person narration outside of it, but it was a ‘what?’ moment for me and stopped my concentration. This is a deep story; it’d probably go really well in first person.

She paused and waited for his to look at her. – ‘him’ not ‘his’.

He’d just nodded. “Had you already had a DNA sent into one of them?” – ‘He’ not ‘He’d’, but also, this looks like he’s spoken this question because it’s on the same line as the action, but it’s Tori. Make sure you keep actions and dialogue separate if they belong to different people.

I’m sorry. How awful. – nothing wrong grammatically. I know Tori was responding how awful that Daniel was in the situation of having lost his wife and was raising a child on his own, but the way it came really made it sound like she was responding that being a widower and having a daughter was awful. Kind of as if he’d said he had the plague. I think it would be better to have something along the lines of I’m sorry, what a difficult situation to be in.

The main thing that I had a bit of a problem with is that this story didn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t really end. Yes, we do go back to the picture prompt with the snow and return to his earlier thoughts about how he is becoming like a melting snowflake, becoming indistinguishable, but… given we’ve just had quite a heady conversation about DNA and changes to a person’s make-up that didn’t feel like it worked. It sort of feels like we’re on hold waiting for Tori to get off the phone. I’d like to have seen a close-out of their interview to act as the ending.

PS – Family would make a better genre than ‘other’.


Closing Comments
A very intriguing story with quite a unique take on the picture prompt of the snowy street looking at the uniqueness of snowflakes/humans and how actually we’re not really. The ending did fall flat for me, but I think you’ve got the good bones (DNA) to make quite the novel here.


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review of Foresight  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)

Hi Myles Abroad

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
This is incredible story-telling but I honestly didn’t have much idea about what was going (see my comments in the next section). Despite that, it’s an amazing story. I guess that might be hard to get your head around, but even though I felt several steps behind most of the time I could easily see your ability as a writer.

You’re economical with words but hugely descriptive with those you do use, you’ve got complex characters (haven’t seen one like Dee in quite a while!), and you’ve spread emotions about like wild seeds (for characters and reader alike). I could feel the heat of the day, the desperation of Dee and Mac, and Dee’s panics quite easily.

Turning the picture prompt of the snowy street totally on its head to a garbage-filled street with fighting dogs was definitely not expected, and it took me some time to get that. It’s hard when the prompt is ‘write something inspired by the picture.’ Well, heck, inspiration can hit from any angle but I do still expect to see something that is reasonably easy to link to the picture. When Mac says it hasn’t snowed in ages, I’d have liked to have him mention maybe a snowy street – or how great the street would look under snow with the current ghastliness buried. Basically, somehow mention a snowy street and my brain would have clicked so much earlier what you were trying to do. Ah, I’m sure this review is reading weird to you but I’m very prompt-oriented when it comes to judging (despite how awesome the story is outside of that prompt).

Found it quite ironic that Dee is worried about the snow and insists they better be gone before it happens, and yet totally ignores the rumours about Yellowstone. Sure, snow… ash…. different things but it’s odd with her dreams that she doesn’t connect the two.

I really liked that through this apocalyptic story we had a family. We don’t get massive glimpses but it was incredibly easy how tight they are. Mac’s support of Dee, though I’m sure he’s had moments, is strong and it’s a good blend of ‘I’ll look after you’ and ‘I’ll stop you’. Little Josh didn’t really need to be in the story but he still made his presence felt and gave hope and unconditional love, and also added that extra bit of drama of the randomness of a three-year-old!


Things to Work On
Mostly, it’s not so much things you need to work on but me explaining what I didn’t understand, which was a great deal of it. This story is incredibly well told, but I felt like I’d been dropped into a scene 125 minutes in and not given any background at all. What’s with the dreams? What’s with the fear of snow? What century/life/apocalyptic world are we in? Who are the Blackshirts (I couldn’t easily tell if they’re good guys or bad guys)? What does Dee mean with Winter’s coming? Is she living Game of Thrones scenes (that’s where I know that phrase from but have never watched/read).

This reads very well, but also as if it’s been plucked out of a novel. Which I hope is true because it’d be one hell of a novel!!


Closing Comments
Okay, probably one of the oddest reviews I’ve written where I war with my feelings as a reader vs my feelings as a judge. Despite everything, I hope it’s clear that I did like this story – just give me twelve extra chapters either side and I’ll be perfectly pleased! (I mean that…. Should you continue on, I’d like to read it.)


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)

Hi Dan I Am (aka Mordee2)

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
This little story opened with a good ‘view’ of the picture prompt. I was able to ‘see’ the street, almost feel the cold. Ice-encrusted eyelashes cannot be comfortable!!!

Returning to one’s childhood home is always an interesting experience. I’ve driven past mine whenever I’ve managed to be in that part of the country. I can still draw the layout and I’ve not been inside in 34 years! James’ ‘home-coming’ is bitter sweet, though we don’t find that out until the end. Early on, he’s just walking along his old street, viewing the house and remembering life there and his interactions with neighbours. It’s a nice feeling and would feel rather special on Christmas Eve.

Interestingly, though, we’re only seeing those childhood/teenage years. Sure he probably went away to college or something but there’s something sort of telling that we don’t see that moment, the day he left. I didn’t really think about that at the first reading, but once I got to the end and went ‘ahhh’ I re-read and started wondering about this and that. (See my comment below on further thoughts about that.)

I loved that whole ‘what if’ all previous dwellers returned; that would indeed be so fascinating to hear of experiences – including the tradition of the candles (does that include the candlesticks? Just wondering.) If only inanimate objects could release everything they’ve ever seen or heard! In any case, this particular paragraph was a really good one for allowing the reader to let loose some of their imagination alongside James. (And… it’s all the more poignant given his current situation.)

It’s not until the final paragraph (in fact the final half of that paragraph) that reality smacks us in the nose. It leaves us with a lot of questions, but it makes the entire story that went before it hit the reader rather hard. A lovely vista on Christmas Eve with memories and candles and then…. Ooh, it’s nothing like where my head was going. It’s a hard ending but also positive in that James is still able to look after himself. He’s got strength and he’s got courage to both face the past and the present, and that’s a nice way to end.


Things to Work on
Well, really, there’s nothing here but two of my own personal feelings as a reader.

1 - that as James is reminiscing, we could be reminded more of the cold – the contrast between his ‘in the house’ memories and reality. That would make the last two paragraphs really hit.

2 – we got a bit more of James’ background. His family is apparently non-existent, but two of the three members of it are still alive. Feels like there was a rift somewhere that split them all up (and clearly James isn’t interested in sorting that out). Some memories of that, or of the last Christmas in the house with family etc would be handy here so that we can get an angle on James himself. You’ve got 2000 words to play with in this contest, don’t be afraid to use them all *Smile*.


Closing Comments
A small story, which some would probably consider simply a scene or a vignette, that packs a good ‘punch’ at the end. It’s very visual, making it almost as if we’re walking alongside James and he’s giving us the low-down on the area. I wonder what we would choose to show someone if we were leading a tour of our childhood street.

Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Review of No Return Address  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi Thankful Sonali WDC Power!

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
What a clever idea, taking the picture prompt at face value and using it as a postcard. Though…. when Pamela’s mum is running down the list of what’s on it, she’s forgotten the snow. It’s not mentioned apart from a quick memory about snowflakes later on. We know it’s cold where they are – well, there’s a cold breeze – but we don’t actually get anything other than that that is winter-like. You’ve picked more on the prompt as being Christmas than generally winter, I think.

It’s a lovely Christmas story, full of hope, but also showing how family arguments can really go on for years. Forty years is one heck of a long time!!! I wished you’d given some indication of what the property argument had really been about, why the split had seemed so final.

On the flipside, of course, such an argument lays the foundations for an awesome reunion, and that’s what we get as well as a lot of family members meeting for the first time. It is really quite crazy how families really don’t keep in touch, especially in this electronic world. And, actually, that’s why I like the postcard idea – the simply act of sending someone a physical letter or card is so foreign to the younger generation these days. Marie’s right too – barely enough space for the To: address, let alone trying to fit a Sender on it (not sure I’ve ever seen a post card with a Sender address, in fact).

The few words on the postcard tell a lot to Marie and Pamela and, through them, to the reader. We also start to get a picture of what this older brother is like, or feeling. It’s perfect how they’ve managed to organise the reunion for Pamela’s father and his brother Jim, and I love how there’s another one happening that they’re not really party to – it’s going to be a great Christmas for them as much as for the brothers.

I was rather relieved that the reunion worked!!! Would have made for a miserable time if it hadn’t, though I kind of get the feeling that the brothers might have been shoved outside and everyone enjoyed the reunion without them *Smile*


Things to Work on
I think I would like to have seen a bit more of the snowy side, unless Christmas is taking place in a non-snow environment. Even if that were the case, you could still have brought the postcard back into the story – showing it to the father (though…. if their split was because of property, maybe not a good idea to show him the image of the property!!)

‘You stalked us?’ Roger asked his eldest cousin – I’m pretty sure you don’t mean Roger here given that it was he who asked for the stalking to happen. I think this is Pamela’s father (who is never named).


Closing Comments
A rather unique take on the prompt, and I didn’t feel that we saw a lot of it again in the story. But, the story was really nice; heart-warming yet fraught and chaotic as one expects in a semi-secret reunion!


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review of Silence  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)

Hi Lovina 🐕‍🦺

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
The opening lines give us a heads’ up that something is odd, but not so odd that we might have an idea where the story is going. Sometimes a street does just go quiet. Mine right now is wonderfully quiet but usually there are kids playing and cars coming and going, and the neighbours next door renovating.

We know how silent Hank finds the street because we get lovely descriptions of the noise prior. Noise that was possibly irritating originally but definitely missed when it was gone. However… in this case, the silence is beyond normal. Hank’s able to explain away some things (like the bus having picked up the kids and everyone else having gone off to work) but no sound or movement or anything whatsoever is odd.

It’s somewhat interesting that he heads to his neighbour’s house rather than going back inside his own house, though that does help with the plot as it unfurls. It’s as if he needs to just suddenly check he still has a neighbour, that someone lives like him. Which is…. ironic.

I love how you explained how Hank’s voice kind of became one with the nothingness. As odd as it sounds, that was quite a visual way of putting it; sort of like you can see the spoken words fading out as letters into nothing. The creeping quiet is also very visual, like a thickness Hank actually has to move through.

Once Hank is in the living room he finds his son there (he’d noticed the car outside his gate but hadn’t it heard pull up at all) and all the sound that had been missing comes back as he comes face to face with the reason for it all. Pulled my heartstrings to see him wanting to comfort his son, pulled harder with the appearance of Hank’s wife. Man, I was reading this on the train. Tears seeping on a train is not cool!

Very nice ending, despite the grief, because it’s a happy ending as well – and completely unexpected, even though there were signs at the beginning.

The inspiration for this story was a picture prompt of a snowy, silent street, which we definitely got early on. Even the silence that stayed with Hank almost all the way through harked back to that. I would like to have known, though, if he’d felt the cold because that didn’t really seem to make an appearance.


Things to Work On
Firstly, two little things to tidy up, though they didn’t mar the reading flow:

… to his neighbors house – neighbor’s.

The Hank on the couch did not breath – breathe rather than breath. (I notice as I send this review that someone has already alerted you to the missing 'e' and it has been corrected *Smile*)

You seem to do a lot of comma splicing; joining two sentences with a comma rather than fully separating them. I do it to, which is why I notice it these days. The sentence starting He reached an arm up to knock… is an example of this. In most cases, the reader will read well enough to make everything make sense but shouldn’t really have to do that. So, as you’re proofreading, bear in mind long sentences that might be two or more in disguise.

This story is written in the simple past tense, so that made He has found that extra part of him… jar with the use of ‘has’ (the double use of ‘has’, actually). I think this needs to be ‘He had’ and ‘that had’ a bit later on. (And again this has been corrected *Wink*)

I wouldn’t use Dark as a genre here, because it’s more sad than dark. Relationship or Family might be a kinder term.


Closing Comments
A nice little story that manages to be both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the end. Quite a different take on the picture prompt, which I thought worked quite well.


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)

Hi Dorianne

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
It’s really nice how you worked the picture prompt early on in the story and then smacked the reader with a plot twist. I was gearing up to hide behind my fingers *Smile* You reminded us several times of the season and what it is like and Tammy’s mother’s layers, layers, layers highlights the chill factor in a simple repeated word. Our news weather forecasts have started saying how many layers we should be wearing too. Bit depressing when they say three for us, given we’re supposed to be in summer!

Tammy’s Twilight Zone dream didn’t feel like a portent when it was happening, but the events she goes through the next day made me remember that dream. How she felt there was much like how she felt as she tried to evade the stinky guy and even get to the post office for that letter. It was a mixture of being bewildered and vulnerable and being alive and active…. and panicky/desperate. Even more portentous when we find out what’s in that letter!!!

The second half of the story ties, of course, with the first half with the reappearance of the stinky man. By the way, And his last bath might have been longer than that was a really nice way of stating the obvious without giving us a blow-by-blow description. It let the reader ‘smell’ for themselves. I commute daily, and there are few things worse on a train that heavy BO smell or alcohol fumes. I fully understood why Tammy moved away and also why she got anxious when she was followed. Anyone who has been in that situation would have been getting twitchy. Her moving into a store was actually something I did when I was followed once; it does give you that little bit of security and sense of safety.

Tammy seems quite a flighty girl, even if she’s shy. Her thoughts are here and there and over there too; that makes some of the sentences quite jumpy but they do match her attitude. The paragraph when she’s back on the subway after getting the letter is a prime example.

In the opening part of the story Tammy, rightly to her, calls her father ‘deadbeat’. We think nothing more of that until right at the end when a lot of things all line up and the lightbulb goes off. It must be incredibly hard for her to come face to face with her father, having actually already done it once that day, and learn some truths. I thought she responded quite well to the shock of seeing him and hearing his explanations, and to the fact that the certified letter was all about him! (I would love to have seen her mother’s reaction.)

There is one thing about the ending that puzzled me and that’s the very last line. The last thing she saw was her father walking away in the white snow. Firstly, nice hand-wave back to the picture prompt, but… why’s it the last thing she saw? I kind of get it but it also really makes it sound like she suddenly dropped dead, which I presume didn’t happen, but it’s not an impossibility nor is it a total stretch to wonder if this was all actually just another dream. So, I would suggest you maybe clearing that up somehow?


Things to Work on
The things listed here are, of course, my opinion so feel free to do with them what you will.

There were a few punctuation errors that occurred mostly with dialogue. …another 15 minutes.” her mother shouted angrily. is an example. We expect a comma there instead of the full stop. (I’d also expect, in speech, numbers to be written out. I expect that in general, actually, so seeing 5, 10 and 20 were a little jarring.)

The two sentences about Tula and the sandwich kinda came out of the blue and went nowhere. The lead-in was talking about breakfast. When we suddenly went to Tula handing over a sandwich it felt like we’d totally jumped a scene and were at school, or that Tula was in the kitchen waiting for Tammy. Since neither of those things were actually happening, I’d remove those two sentences just for the continuity of the story.

second had story – ‘hand’

Tammy could not tell you how… – seems a little odd ‘addressing’ the reader (you) here when it hasn’t happened before. It would be a bit more fitting to say something like Tammy couldn’t have said how…

but she got there and into line – watch your continuity. The last location we heard about was the dress shop so this sentence makes it sound like she just got there to presumably buy her dress. Make it clear that it’s the post office she made it to on time.

He voice was firm. – ‘his’

When the father is doing his explain, try to keep his words and the actions together. In general, readers will read one line of speech as character A and the next line as character B, but there’s a couple of sections where both lines of speech are Tammy’s father. Keeping things together means the reader won’t find themselves befuddled and have to stop reading to figure things out. Keep us in the reading zone, rather than drop us.


Closing Comments
We got some really good visuals on how the picture prompt inspired your story, and it really does sound as if you’ve stood in a street much like it. There’s a lot of action and emotion packed into the story, and we get closure on several of the little plot loops (the stinky man, the letter). The things I pointed out that I had trouble with are really quite minor, though do try and proofread to pick up the pesky punctuation.


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)

Hi El-Fyn

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
This story opens with the odd moment of a man walking five hours in the snow to get home, and then we start realising why. Things have suddenly gone very haywire and if this was set twenty years ago then the whole thing would have been ramping up stress levels because of the perceived Y2K bug. You don’t mention that fact (and I don’t recall tablets being a thing then) so you’re just intent on freaking us out at the turn of a new decade *Smile*

I like the snow scenes, very reminiscent of the picture prompt and the cardinal’s song out of nowhere is poignant. Interesting that Rob says the song shattered the silence. Just goes to show how silent the scene is outside of his own walking/breathing. And if he’s not had the chance to really hear birdsong, then it must have felt extra loud to him.

Poor Rob finds out that there’s so much more wrong than just a cab and a cellphone dying, which is very sad. I found his thoughts around the gifts he’d purchased a tough read. People always babble on about we shouldn’t be worried about things that get broken or stolen because they are just stuff. But it’s our stuff, our things. Things that mean the world to us, and I can see how Rob felt when he got the book and how he imagined his father would react. I hope he took the book when he and Sam made their escape.

The arrival of his niece, Sam, changes things markedly. We know she exists because he’s brought presents for her but to have her suddenly pop is brings shock and ‘oh oh, this is even way more serious’. I loved her assurance that Grand and PopPop wouldn’t die without telling her. Such a child’s logic! But… we suddenly get more serious when Rob talks about the power going out being the cause of their deaths, and Sam thinks around that knowledge to her mum being on the plane. (And we think about Rob seeing the plane fall out of the sky earlier.) Question: who lets a child watch a scary movie with EMPs in it??? The ‘best’ thing to come out of that, however, is that the kid is more aware of what’s going on and what will likely happen. She seems to be amazingly calm about it.

About this time you drop a huge ball of mystery on us – when Sam says that PopPop had been talking about this sort of thing happening. Now, Grand probably hushed him because who talks like that in front of children, but he obviously knows something – why else is the MGB all packed with survival stuff??????? If you were to write an epilogue, or chapter two, then I would hope that that odd little moment would be cleared up.

I had to Google MGB just to be sure I knew what I was ‘looking’ at. Yep, that’s a tough vehicle to try and escape in with the snow!! And how much can you actually pack in it? Whew!

Rob’s parents live in a decent neighbourhood and presumably there are plenty of people actually alive there (unless they’re all on oxygen machines and pacemakers) and for now it’s all genteel. The gunfire reminds him that the louts are out and about. I expect they’re raking over their own neighbourhoods first – revenge – but will be heading to the ‘richer’ ones next. Seems a little odd that he hasn’t checked on the neighbours but I understand the need to leave, especially since Sam is with him; likely his only living relative. The final sentence is a powerful one and a short, sharp ending to the story.


Things to Work On
Mostly just typos that a computer spellchecker wouldn’t have told you about:

brought a had to her head – ‘hand’ rather than ‘had’

were a slew presents awaiting – needs ‘of’ after ‘slew’

bookshelves living every inch – ‘lining’ instead of ‘living’ (though I like the idea of bookshelves living!)

We’d made a fast trip to her house… – yes, we’ve only got one active female but this comes at the end of a long paragraph that doesn’t really mention her. I’d suggest putting ‘Sam’s’ here instead of ‘her’.

A nitpicky thing but this puzzled me a little. Rob says he hasn’t used the house key in about three years, but when he sees his niece, who only lives a couple of blocks over, he says they haven’t seen each other in at least five or six (judging the years between kindergarten and ten). Would not the family have caught up if he was doing a flying visit home three years ago?

And a reminder to make use of the genres. Other and Other aren’t gonna sell this cool story! Horror/Scary, Sci-fi, Crime, Dark, Mystery, Family (even) – plenty of good options that will help readers find this story.


Closing Comments
Fascinating story that is, for a tiny second, seemingly good but quickly turns a lot more sinister. Rather telling that you use Korea and Russia as the ‘possible who did it’ bodies. Those of us outside the US would probably add the US to that list. Also shows how wide-ranging an EMP is; I suspect a lot of people don’t’ think about thinks like pacemakers or even tablets or cars – things that are not plugged in.

I would like to see a sequel of sorts to this – at least a telling of what it’s like at the cabin and what it was like on the way there.


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review of Town Circles  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)

Hi DragonBlue

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
Now, this is a scary story inspired by a wintery silent street!!! It’s got a good title that tells you all you need to know as well as sends you in circles as you try to understand it. Nicely done.

Poor Cory. His yearn for freedom has actually taken it away. No…. I think it’s his lost cell service that did that. He’s always going to wonder that if he’d stayed on the highway would he have been okay? Ah, typical kid and his reliance on technology. I do appreciate that he seems to be appropriately dressed for the weather, but he’s got that standard teenage attitude of not listening/believing. I chuckled at his whole comment about the stinking town.

Donna May has such a story to tell in her own right that I reckon you could do a few spin-off stories as she meets various people getting sucked in. Also tell her own story, since it seems like she actually lived in this town before it got warped into something cold and white. I liked the contrast you gave from when she first saw the town and its shape and colour to the here-and-now of deep, soulless winter.

I liked how we started with Cory as if he’s the main character, but then he just fades into the background driving around and around. He’s becomes just another ‘ghost’ there, definitely no longer free in the manner he was aiming for!

I was a bit confused about the warp itself. I can definitely see that it’s not letting people leave and that Donna May is the only one left alive of all who originally lived there or got sucked in there, but why does she think that Cory’s arrival after so long means the warp might be fixing? If the warp is stopping people leaving (which he obviously can’t) then it’s not really fixed. So a little clarification on that would be handy.


Things to Work On
I think the main thing sitting under this heading is a recommendation that you watch your sentence length. Some of them are very long and that means they’re not always easily understandable. The final paragraph of 65 words is one sentence. It packs a punch in what it says, but splitting it up would have made a more understandable punch.

Some of the sentences also have two halves that don’t seem to quite complement each other. An example is

His cell phone had just lost service so late last night he pulled off the main highway to try to find something to eat and get some gas for his car and ended up pulling into this strange little town. – it reads to me as if he pulled off the highway because his phone lost service, but instead of pulling off to try to get service he actually pulled off to find food and gas. That has nothing to do with phone service so it makes the sentence read a little odd.

There are a few other little punctuation things, but they don’t interrupt the reading flow as much as the length sentence structure do at times.


Closing Comments
A freaky little story that makes you really not want to see a silent, snowy street!!!!! Definitely has the bones for something longer, or a whole bunch of short stories at least!


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
25
Review of Crossing A Line  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (3.5)

Hi debmiller1

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
Well, this is quite the story! It’s full of family and YA angst, volatile emotions and feelings, and stupid things that people do when their brain is disengaged. The title is apt so many times over.

Katie almost ruins many lives in her naïve act of defiance, including her own. It’s a damn tough learning curve she has to experience. The picture prompt of the snowy street is inherent throughout the story with the snow and cold, and whether or not the snow/white made it easy to see a fleeing kid! Fortunately for her, easy to track/save a fleeing kid!

The story deals with darker things and it fitted quite well within the plot, including Katie’s naïve question to the man suddenly in front of her, giving details that he used against her. It’s damn scary, but I like how she wasn’t going to go without a fight. I can’t say I’ve ever bitten down on a corn cob like she does, but it’s a very good visual description of her action.

Despite that dark unpleasant moment, I have to say that I didn’t completely like Katie and it pretty much all stems from kicking the cat. It’s inexcusable and even in fiction immediately gets my hackles up. Regret joined her maelstrom of unhappy feelings is a strong sentence and shows a lot, but given she goes immediately on to think it’s the cat’s own fault I’m finding it hard to accept that ‘regret’ is real. She has this same ‘it’s your fault’ a bit further down which cemented that feeling. From that point on, I found it hard to feel sympathetic for Katie. Not all because of the cat, but because of how she treats her family. Yes… a blended family has to be quite a wrench and hard for a kid to accept. I’ve read a number of these types of stories now where one kid just totally flips, and yet the others don’t.

It’s a very human thing, I think, to be so mired in your own feelings and emotions as to forget that the other half of the equation is likely feeling the same. We get that when Sarah lets out her (valid) feelings. It takes two to tango, as they say. I did appreciate that Katie came to this realisation at the end, but I suspect it was only the terrible fright she had that got her there. Having said all this, I think you portrayed her absolutely perfectly – it’s a sign you wrote her well that I feel anything about/for her.

Eric is a strongly written character who is sitting between a rock and a hard place and doing the best he can. He knows the risks and has been trying to mitigate them for ages so that the two halves can become one whole family. He’s definitely got a strong father mentality, and his actions in going after Katie on foot and in beating the crap out of the attacker show that. The beating also shows that he’d built up things for a long time which needed an outlet. One punch could have knocked the guy out but when an outlet shows itself, out everything comes even if they don’t have anything to do with the ‘right now’.

You wrap the story up nicely and even though I suspect Katie has a long way to go, Eric’s faith in her is being restored and so is the faith within himself.


Things to Work On
Make use of all three genre options. Family or Relationships would have been very good to use here. Genres are selling flags to readers so if you want to catch readers, use them. I do like the use of Contest Entry, however, if the entry itself doesn’t indicate that that’s what it is. It gives readers a bit of a heads-up that there could be limitations of size, prompt, type etc.

I’m not totally sure this should be rated E. Given it involves assault you’d be best to rate this at 13+ at the very least.

I myself had a little bit of an issue with the physical layout – the massive indents with singular spacing. That’s not something you have to fix, but just think about ease of reading.


Closing Comments
A strong and unique take on the picture prompt and dealing with real human feelings. Just because I didn’t have great feelings toward Katie doesn’t mean this wasn’t a good story. I suspect it would be a harsh read for some, but that’s what reality is


Thank you once again for entering "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest. If you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig



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