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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.
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Getting into the story from the reader's perspective.
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M/M, romance, horror, western
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26
26
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Hi PureSciFiPlus

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


Reader Impressions
I’ve got to say, this is one weird story. I spent turns at really liking it and being very confused. My ‘things that niggled’ section is very long but that’s mostly because I felt those things mentioned had me spend more time trying to understand what you were writing than letting me just read and get into the story (which actually has a really intriguing plot).

Elizabeth has a secret background that has her wanting to get out of the town, and she’s hoping the sudden appearance of the Christmas sandman is her ticket out. That’s huge right there, but we never find out just why she wants to leave and why she’s pinning her hopes on the sandman. Knowing those things would help the reader get behind her as she pushes for explanations. I especially want to know why a news crew would come to do a piece on her? What’s her background that makes them go down this route? Has she reported on weird stuff before? Has her background sent her slightly bonkers. You’ve got such great (hidden) material here to work with that I would love to see this story fleshed out, with a lot of ‘before’ and a good deal of ‘after’.

I live in New Zealand, where it’s summer for Christmas, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen or even heard of anyone building a sandman. So I definitely understand how one suddenly showing up on a beach would attract attention. Certainly if it appeared overnight. I think if it happened here we’d just attribute it to drunken partygoers! And a sandman that is not washing away with the tide is definitely plain strange.

I felt for Elizabeth when she hears about the news crew and Brian saying he had thought about her creating the sandman. That’s got to be tough on the confidence, but… knowing that background would help us understand not only Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings but also everyone else’s.

Though it was kind of classic when Elizabeth kicks the sandman. It’s kind of a frustrated action that anyone might carry out. I did wonder, though, how big is it? If she’s aiming for the head I can’t imagine it’s that tall unless she’s unleashing a fabulous kick-boxing kick *Bigsmile* I could see her doing this and it was a great moment. Elizabeth is frustrated and stressed and beating up this secretive sandman would be just the thing to do! Gotta release tension somehow.

I loved this: After several minutes of just staring in shock, Elizabeth finally spoke. “You can’t be the one who created that Christmas sandman.” It’s the perfect combination of action and speech and portrays her feelings exactly. And so hooks us into reading more – who is she speaking to and why does she sound so disbelieving? (But then I also when ‘who the heck is Peter? Because he comes out of the blue. For a second I had him confused with Brian.) Does she put her hands on her hips when she mentions her daughter? I imagined her doing so, in a sort of disappointed but totally curious manner. (Also, had to grin at Peter’s explanation at why the sandman is so close to the sea. I could really see them losing control of the rolling body and being in a panic as they chased it down the beach. Loved, also, that Peter seemed pretty blasé about it.)

Watch your ending. I felt it was anti-climactic. We didn’t get to hear Peter’s reasoning or even his answer about Judith. We get a vague reference to ‘why’ the sandman but there’s not a great deal in these final paragraphs that satisfies me. Elizabeth doesn’t want the story printed, even though she wrote it, so we presume it carries a heck of a lot of personal history, and the kids made the sandman for Judith because she wanted to move to the city too (or wanted to move because her mum did, that wasn’t clear) but we still don’t know WHY. It sounds like the story is going to rake dead embers and bring them back to life and we get a whole ‘do you want me to print, I don’t want you to print, I need you to print’ to and fro going on that doesn’t give us anything either. Those two final sentences – they carry huge huge weight but without explanation or even a figment of a clue they felt like deadweight. Elizabeth wanted to be a reporter and now she suddenly doesn’t? Why, why, why, why…. Which equals ‘write me a backstory and a sequel please’ *Smile*


Things that Niggled
I sometimes struggled to get some of your sentences and paragraphs making sense, which is hard because your story is a good one and has potential for something far more involved. But if I have to put all my time into trying to decipher what you’re saying, I lose the story itself. Often you repeat the same idea in multiple ways across a few sentences or even paragraphs (something I remember the last time I read one of your contest entries). It’s distracting. One example of this is when Elizabeth is in the office with Brian. She’s sent him the photo of the sandman. They have a conversation that sort of goes (totally paraphrased) like this:

Elizabeth: there’s a story in it.
Brian: do you think there’s a story?
Elizabeth: I think it’s a story.
Brian: I don’t see a story.
Elizabeth: there’s a story.

And afterwards, as Elizabeth is driving home from this meeting we get two more renditions about the story. I got to the point, honestly, where I was like ‘give up about the story!’ And that’s wrong, because we can see from Elizabeth’s comments that she’s pinning her hopes on the sandman being her ticket out of the town, hoping it will propel her to a better journalism job in the city. I get that she’s fixated, but it needs to be turned about so that we’re hoping alongside her not wishing she’d just shush. One way could be to use another word for story – scoop, article, item, report, feature etc. Even ‘something’ would work…As soon as I saw that I knew there was something about it. Especially, after everyone else started showing up there.

A query – when Elizabeth is by herself, is she always speaking out loud or is some of it thought? There seem many times when it’s a thought but because you use speech marks, I can’t quite tell. I talk to myself a lot, sure, but I’m not spilling massive sentences like she is. One example where I felt that thought was ideal was when Elizabeth pulls into her drive, questioning why she thought it was a story and did she want out of town so badly. (By the way, both sentences need a question mark.) She sounds tired and as if she’s losing hope and is definitely questioning herself. Yeah, she might mumble but this seems an ideal place for doubtful thoughts to be running around in her head.

small group of six tween – I think you could use ‘small’ or ‘six’ but together it’s a duplicate. Also, when Elizabeth zeroes in on one of the tweens, it’s not clear at all this Judith is actually her daughter. This is because you’ve not given Elizabeth’s name before. I only twigged she was her daughter when I got to the end of the story. When we first meet Elizabeth (second para) you could say Elizabeth Denton smiled. That would clear things up when we meet Judith.

Elizabeth sat down in the chair opposite Brian after she entered Brian’s office. – this is an example of detail you don’t need to worry about because the reader has already presumed it. Ending this sentence after ‘opposite Brian’ is not at all detrimental to the sentence and we know the latter simply because she is sitting opposite Brian and it’s likely to be his office because that’s where they had their last conversation. A little later, when they’re talking about the possibility of a hoax, just make it more clear who’s speaking. When you don’t indicate narrator, usually one reads as A, B, A, B, but a couple of times I think Elizabeth speaks twice in a row and that needs to be made clear. (Ha, you know how Elizabeth’s swears she didn’t create the sandman? Well, when she gets back to the beach that night it’s all ‘her creation’. Not a good way to pretend she didn’t make it *Smile*)

Why did you call me? – this should be ‘didn’t’ if we take notice of Brian’s comment a few paragraphs later. So don’t forget to proofread, and ensure also that you’ve got all the speech marks where they should be and that questions end with a question mark.

I don’t now how I’m going to do it – needs to be ‘know’ rather than ‘now’ but this sentence and the one after it are a prime example of repetition, made more so with the ‘to do it’ from the previous sentence also. You could amalgamate these two latter sentences like I don’t know how, but I’m going to prove I didn’t do it.. Aside from cutting the repetition, it also sounds a bit more fist-pumping determination.

Watch the timings you’ve given around the sandman creation. Elizabeth mentions how she thinks it can’t have been created quickly, and yet she dismantles it in a few minutes. Something doesn’t match up there.


Closing Comments
I struggled with the way the story is written, feeling like I was taken away from the actual piece itself and had to spend most of my time in decipher mode. And I didn’t like feeling that way because under all that, you’ve got a fascinating story! I want to know why Elizabeth is so keen to get out of town. Yes, she wants to be more famous but what happened in that small town to make her need to escape it so much, to put such faith in a simple sandman to get her there. Indeed, to have her daughter design the hoax? Something powerful here that we don’t know. If we’d had a bit of that background, then Elizabeth’s drive would also have made more sense and I could almost have forgiven the relentless ‘is there a story, there’s no story, I’m sure there’s a story’ flow.


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
27
27
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi Fynanew

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


Reader Impressions
There can’t be much worse that trying to get home for Christmas and not being able to make it for some reason or other. And add to that the need to stump up more funds to stay where you are until things are fixed. But as our narrator realises, spending Christmas in the sunny warm climes of Maui isn’t that horrendous (unless you really hated the heat or Hawaii!).

I loved that the hotel put on Christmas for the couple, though I guess they’d be doing it for the their guests no matter the actual circumstances of having those guests are. It’s nice for the staff and the guests to acknowledge the season no matter where you are. (I remember flying to Australia early Christmas morning one year and we didn’t even get a glass of champagne in salute of the date!) But, maybe even more than that it’s about giving the guests something that they’re (probably) missing by not being at home.

I laughed at the wrapping paper. Come to New Zealand at Christmas and you get that here too because it’s what our weather is, except we have surfing kiwi (bird, not the fruit). Wrapping things with wintery paper is really out kilter for us *Smile*. Being a non-American I felt I learnt a bit more about how you do Christmas too – since there were a couple of entries that mentioned the traditional Christmas pyjamas! As well, of course, as how Christmas is conducted in Hawaii itself. A buffet style lunch followed by singing and dancing sounds great fun.

The mental picture of adults happy on Mai Tais building sandmen is enough to make me smile. Definitely a memory being created there for the guests – if they haven’t had enough alcohol to prevent that. I thought the description of the melted snowmen was good – one never really thinks about that aftermath and what happens to the physical items placed on the figures. Such a simple sentence but it was really visual.

The title of this short story works with both the dream ending as the husband’s attempts to say Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. I liked that he kept trying! That adds to the feel-good nature of this story.


Things that Niggled
I only have two things to mention here and they’re rather nit-picky, no doubt, but were important to my reading flow.

The first is how you swapped from using the present tense in the first half of the story to using the (more standard) past tense in the latter half. I find I’m good at reading one or the other, but when there are swaps they really toss out my flow and then I get distracted from the story itself.

Second thing was the dream ending. Well… not the dream ending because that’s not completely off this planet as a plot twist (and I loved how the narrator’s husband spouts Mele Kalikimaka perfectly. (Surely that’s a dream *Smile*)) It was more that the ‘dream’ part was so involved, long and normal that it almost felt like the realisation that it was a dream came in at the end as a quick fix to end the story. I’d have thought it was about running close to the word count limit but you still had decent space there. Despite loving the husband’s correct pronunciation I feel the more perfect ending would have been when the narrator simply says how perfect the unexpected Christmas in Hawaii was. But this is, of course, just me!


Closing Comments
A good story for learning what spending Christmas in Hawaii might be like. Some of it bears strong resemblance to Christmas here in New Zealand *Smile*. I liked how the narrator and her husband simply got into the swing of things, rather than grumble and groan about not being able to get home. They took a fantastic opportunity and ran with it – until they woke up!


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
28
28
Review of Sandman  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Angel

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


Reader Impressions
This was quite a cute tale! I liked that you didn’t jump right in with the sandy prompt but took the time to introduce us to Fred and to how he ‘is’, ‘was’, ‘will be’. Also, I live in the half of the world where Christmas is in summer (though I have yet to make a sandman) and I quite enjoyed reading about water since we’re in drought conditions *Smile*

You put quite a spin on the life of a drop of water and I think you did a great job of bringing it to life. I love clouds and we had some big cumuli out and about today, but I’ve never thought about them as being made up of tiny individuals. I liked that idea! When we’ve had rain recently, it’s not the rain I hear laughing but the parched earth.

Knowing this was a story about a drop of water, as I was reading through I became more and more intrigued as to how you’d show that inspiration based on the picture prompt of the sandman Santa. After all, a drop of water isn’t sand. But you tied it in very nicely – sand needs to be wet to stay in shape, hence Fred and his family and all the other drops have a purpose. One thing I would like to have read is what character Fred felt he was getting from the children who made the sandman. When he’s talking about being a snowman he says that each child tends to give a bit of their character. Since the story is inspired by the sandman, I’d like to have known if the sandman took on these things too.

Appreciated the good vibes at the bottom – that there are always new things to do, new ways to look at life. Fred might not quite have the same control over that as we humans do but we should be like him – embrace life and enjoy what we’ve got.


Things that Niggled
The main thing I want to mention here is the sometimes large lack of expected punctuation. Now, I was still generally able to read this story quite easily but the lack still irked. You’ve got some very long sentences linked (usually) by commas where a semi colon or a full stop would be a better option. I’m going to list two examples so just you can see what I’m talking about.

Technically, I’m a snowman, but I’m so much more than that, I’ve seen so many tears as I’ve melted away but you see I don’t really go away, I melt, yes, but I just turn back into my natural form, water. – the way I read this sentence there are three parts of it. Each of those parts could stand perfectly fine on their own, and be stronger that way rather than being hidden. For example, placing a full stop after ‘…more than that’ makes that opening ‘here’s what I am’ statement stand out. The second full stop could go after ‘…go away’. ‘I melt’ is a great way to start the final sentence. It seems to stand in high contrast to the previous sentence and intrigues the reader as to how a snowman could state both things and be true about them about.

Today, however, was very different, we all ended up in a container, a bucket apparently and thrown into a dip in the sand, we were quite a mix. – again, this sentence has three (to me) separate parts and full stops could be used after ‘different’ and ‘sand’. (And if that split occurred then I’d also say put a comma after ‘apparently’. Keeping the sentences short here also points to how strange and disjointed things suddenly are for Fred.


Closing Comments
A cute little story about a drop of water. It almost feels like it could become a series with Fred narrating different ‘lives’.


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
29
29
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi LegendaryMask❤️Believes

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


Reader Impressions
A very quirky tale, and a good one to read when you want to see the power of working together (plus a little hope and being nice *Smile*)

I like how we started off with Jackie’s boss being a bit sick of her and sending her out into world (Guess she’s been pestering him about reporting?). I’m pretty sure he thinks she won’t find much to report on so I relished the fact that she’s probably got the scoop of the summer!

One thing I really, really enjoyed was that the kids were all in this building of the sandman together and that they’d all brought items to put on him. And, yet, they also all accepted the brainchild of the whole event was Little Joey. I thought it was really quite mature of the kids to know and show that.

Originally I found myself a bit annoyed that the kids introduced themselves with first and second names, but then I realised that kids do seem to do this. They do take that ‘who are you?’ quite literally, whereas adults these days seem to want to give away as little as possible until the right moment. I never used to give my surname (hard to pronounce anyway); people had enough fun with my first name which is just the same as yours – hence my surname was always Green, even if it wasn’t *Smile*.

I liked that instead of taking the sunglasses from Hanna, Jackie picked the girl up and let her do the honours. That was a nice thing to do. And nice that Joey asked for help from Jeff. The adults were around but they weren’t running the show.

Isn’t it funny how a simple item can wield such power? I thought the sandman coming to life because of the santa hat a nice way to really get the story pumping, and of course these two things were a good nod to the contest’s image prompt. The magical nature of the hat also gave us that reminder of the magic of Christmas, and of belief. And kids take things so literally, so it was no surprise they gathered up the shells and sticks and santa hat to keep for another day. I can imagine Joey coming back every year, even as an adult, to build the sandman and put the hat on his head.

Loved the fact that Jackie giggled when Sandy asked her how she was. Almost sense a bit of a crush there!

One thing I was disappointed over – I didn’t get to see the look on Nick Slater’s face when Jackie and Jeff presented him with the story!!! I bet it was priceless.


Things that Niggled
The main thing that took me a while to get my head around was your tendency to have two different speakers or the thoughts of two different characters in the one paragraph. This can make it tricky to get right away who is speaking or thinking. Make each speaker a star; give them their own paragraph. One example of this is the one that starts You see Ms Chow, we have it all figured out. This is Little Joey speaking but the rest of the paragraph is all about Jeff.

Be consistent with names. You’ve got Del Mar Beach and Del Mar beach, and you’ve got a couple of places where you have ‘your’ and you need ‘you’re’ (or ‘you are’)

Over, here we have some children – remove the comma, not needed here. But I bring this sentence up for another reason. Reading it really made me feel a bit like Jackie was saying ‘and here we have some children, that species that runs about in groups, shouting and having fun’; almost like a nature show. I’d be inclined to join this sentence with the next and introduce the kids that way. Something like Over here some children look like….

… and ended at little Joey Turner – this is Jeff panning around. All other kids introduce themselves and then you use their names. Here you don’t. You’ve named the little boy before he has introduced himself, and it comes across a little odd (as well as repetitive). Perhaps swap this bit at the end of the panning to be a description of the kid.

Everyone begins to laugh out loud. – needs to be ‘began’ to fit with the tense of the rest of the story.


Closing Comments
A lovely children’s fantasy story and I didn’t see the second half coming so I was pleasantly surprised when Sandy came alive; it added a good twist.


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
30
30
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi beetle

Thank you for participating in the September-October round of "The LGBT Writing Contest. This is a review of your entry "The Pearcy Offensive


The Prompt
This story about awkward flirting over a chess set or, rather, near a chess set used two of the prompts: leaves and the random meeting. The third paragraphs gives a most lovely description of autumn leaves as dust devils being swirled around and we occasionally meet Brendon’s [e:green}leaf-green eyes but that was about it for that particular prompt. When the breeze kicks up, it seems to focus more on Colin’s or Brendon’s hair (both rather long and sort of unkempt) than back on the leaves that might have been settled on the path or the various chess boards, even the one where Brendan is setting out his pieces.

The random meeting prompt was, I felt, a little more off. Yes, the conversation striking up was seemingly random but as Brendan says in the opening line - Colin’s been watching for at least a fortnight. Colin probably thinks the meeting was random but I’m not so sure it comes off that way with regards to the prompt. We do get quite the change in Colin’s life; he’s almost there in admitting his attraction (which is a big thing for him), but the lack of randomness hobbles that prompt a little. Colin’s struck (several times) by Brendan’s beautiful eyes; that could easily have been the thing that brought about the random meeting – Colin striding along on his way to pick up his nephew and suddenly see those green green green eyes and everything turning upside down in him.


Overall Impressions
Despite reservations about prompts, which will always play a part when I’m judging prompt-driven contests, this was a cute story; two men flirting, very very awkwardly and perhaps a little one-sidedly for a while. But no matter that Colin seems more taken aback than anything else – even at the fact that the object of his gaze had noticed the gaze over several days – he manages a little flirting himself; his self-introduction mirroring Brendan’s was very cute and his *green*“I’m neither” answer to Brendan’s comment about being taken or straight shows that little bit of ‘tit for tat’ going on. He may be overwhelmed by Brendan (I was) but he’s not completely non-responsive, and the story ends on a bit of hope that Colin’s life is about to take a good step forward.

Brendan was quite the in-your-face kind of character. I wasn’t sure I liked that in the beginning; if I’d been Colin I’d have back-stepped rapidly no matter the attraction. He was too much too soon. But… he knew this about himself and admitted it in an apology of sorts and that let me like him again. He was obviously nervous too. He as talking nineteen-to-the-dozen, as they say and it think that was his attraction coming out and being flummoxed by his own nerves. Mind you, he’s clearly precocious too, so maybe nerves didn’t have any sway here? But I’m going with them otherwise I thought he was coming on too strong and I wasn’t such a fan. I’d love to have gotten some of his history though; professional trained in chess? Where, why, how… and when he says he’s had to do sizing up of people quickly I thought there was a little more to it than chess opponents. How has he come to be showing up each day in a park waiting for challengers? And is there more to winning (or losing) than meets the eye? You do this often in your stories – make me hunger for background and more stories that give that background!!

Back to Colin for a moment. You list a warning about PTSD/clinical depression. When I read through the first time I skipped the bit about Colin having PTSD (I mention skipping more below) but even when I did read that tiny paragraph about Colin’s military background, I didn’t think the warning was actually warranted. In fact, that whole paragraph kind of came out of the blue and I wasn’t sure it added anything to the story itself. Colin’s shy; that was enough to cover why he was so awkward when talking with Brendan. If that PTSD is what has been driving Colin to be quite solo, and if it plays a major part in his meeting/chatting with Brendan, then it needs to have a bigger role to play in the story. In fact, this story is one that I think you could quite easily turn larger – novella, novel….. Colin’s military/PTSD and Brendan’s (competitive?) chess background—that’s quite the mix to put together and would be a compelling read.

We’re fairly deep in Colin’s POV in this story that it almost felt first-person narrated. I can’t quite recall if I’ve read a first-person narrator of yours but I think you’d be perfect at it. And I think the deep story-telling would lend itself very well to an unreliable narrator, a narrator who’s hiding from himself as much as anyone else, which is what it felt like Colin was doing. In between those moments, I loved his stuttering, awkward responses. He’s so clearly on the back-foot, even if it appears he’s been eyeing the gorgeous young chess player for a while and I almost wondered if he was so nervous because of the gorgeousness or because of the chess playing. Right at the end we see that Colin does play (or, rather, has played) and that he’s as much taken by the game as by the one playing it. That match is worthy of being written. I want to know if he manages his best moves or if Brendan’s green eyes and longer slender fingers totally throw him off!

It was great to see a little more background to Colin—his family life, the fact he picks up his nephew after school. I get the feeling he doesn’t (isn’t able to) work so it’s nice that he does have something that keeps him busy. Funnily enough, Robyn sounds like he could be a match for Brendan in the precocious stakes!

The ending gave hope, which mirrored what Colin had seen in Brendan early on, and happiness. Though we might not have had the two men become a pair, we’ve got the seed sowing for a friendship that could become something more. I liked that, and more that you didn’t make it categorical. It all might, in fact, turn to custard but we’ve got hope that it won’t, and anticipation to keep us warm until that twenty-four hours is up before match time.


The Technical Things
I can’t think of a story of yours that has included anything I could shake a red pen at. And I didn’t find anything this time, however I did find myself skipping some paragraphs so I might have missed some (though I doubt it). It’s more the skipping that worries me. Your writing is a powerhouse and then some, amazingly deep and descriptive. But sometimes – well, for me at least – it’s too much of a powerhouse. I know that sounds stupid when we’re all about creativity and magnificent descriptions, but in this story I came to the conclusion that less would have been more. I felt that the hugely creative descriptions took the gloss off the awkward flirting, the awkward sparking of a relationship.

The few paragraphs beginning “Ha!” The startled bark of a laugh exploded… are one example of this. We learnt about Colin’s personality but it felt like it went too long and then moves into Colin’s thoughts on Brendan’s face/expression. I liked that the fourth paragraph in this section was simply Hope. but I kinda jumped to it, and then had to go back to read how hope comes up.

Another example when I started skipping was when Colin admitted that Robyn is not his lover but his nephew and Brendan responds. I really would have preferred Brendan simply be embarrassed over his assumption and focus on the game rather than babble on about the flirting. I felt it would have been more normal a reaction. Mind you, Brendan seems hella precocious so maybe that’s just his personality.

It’s probably a daft thing to comment on and you’re wondering what the heck???? I’m sorry about that. I do love your stories and I love your characters, but sometimes I find the descriptions just too much, too overpowering.


Closing Comments
Probably reading that babble under ‘technical’ you’re thinking I didn’t like the story, but that’s not true. I skipped sections yes, and had to then go back and read them, but I did see the story hidden in there – one man watching another thinking no one notices, that ‘another’ noticing just fine and finally acting upon it, the whole awkward flirting/maybe interested/I’ve not really told anyone but I want this man/oh crap what do I do thing. I’d love to see their game, to see if Colin has brushed up on his skills or if Brendan goes easy on him or even if they just stare at each other and forget the game!

Thank you so much for entering "The LGBT Writing Contest, and we hope you come back again! And - if you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Os


My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
31
31
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)

Hi Aleha

Thank you for participating in the June/July round of "The LGBT Writing Contest. I'm reviewing your entry, "Meeting At The Supermarket, in my role as the judge for this round.


The Prompt
I appreciate when someone’s bold enough to take on the one-word prompts, and I really wondered how ‘supermarket’ would go. Your story shows that it seems to go just fine *Smile*. The supermarket was your main setting, almost like another character, and Maria showed great familiarity with it and everything in it. And almost right away we see the other ‘prompt’ – the requirement that the character needs to be LGBT. We do find that Maria seems unable to keep a partner for long, and that she seems aware of the issues. Loved how the other self in her head kept shrieking warnings and yet she was totally ignoring them as she noticed Lila and started talking with her.


Overall Impressions
A refreshing story that puts some interest back into supermarkets! I remember a story on the news a few years back regarding a local supermarket and the fact that if you had a bunch of bananas and they were face up it in your trolley then it meant you were single and looking. Crazy how so much can be read into innocent fruit and veg. With this story, we actually get a bit of a food lesson too and it sounds like you know your stuff with regards to meat and cooking. It’s always great when authors put ‘real life’ into stories; makes them more unique.

The story is almost two-in-one, with Maria the central character in both. We kind of see her background and know she seems to go through relationships pretty fast. She understands this, I think, and so she’s got a built-in relationship-warning system to (try to) steer her clear of stepping from one relationship to another to another. We don’t quite get to know the cause of the recent relationship but Maria does appear to be a work-a-holic and is often away. I would almost suspect her partner feels like she’s vying with the job for Maria’s affections. Alberto rather confirms this with his conversation with Maria, and his concern over her. (Loved Lila’s You give him reason to worry?; it’s almost a little flirty here.) And while we’ve got that background going on, with the warning bells sounding at almost every turn, we see her ‘present’ – which mostly seems to be a struggle not to jump into a relationship with a girl she’s just met. And it’s made all the more hard because the girl, Lila, is quite obviously feeling the same attraction. I did have this moment, when reading, thinking I’d feel somewhat insulted if someone looked over the items in my trolley and started judging them, but Lila seems to have coped just fine.

Maria and Lila’s romance is definitely on the slow-burn, with Maria trying to obey the warnings even as she’s figuring out ways to ignore them (or dismiss them). I liked how things didn’t happen immediately, that it took two Saturdays for the girls to admit the attraction (and how Maria instantly decided Lila’s close friend from college was a lover). Found it also amusing that Lila understood some of the Italian. Speaking another language in front of people these days to sort of hide what you’re say doesn’t always work. You can’t look at someone and ‘know’ they won’t know. Kudos to Lila for hiding the fact that she understood and just went with the flow, but it must have piqued her curiosity!!

One thing I thought wasn’t made very clear, is what Maria actually does for a living. She travels the globe/country, scouting out food, but does she work for a restaurant change or a marketing company? We know she comes from a foodie family and that family own the supermarket but how does her job work in with her knowledge? It’s probably not so important to the story itself but it would help us know Maria more.

The ending is fab. We’ve got a relationship but it’s on simmer; the cooking analogy works really well here and clearly heats Maria up just fine (I suspect Lila says this for that reason!!) It’s definitely a story that begs a sequel, maybe when you next enter the contest???


She was though. – this is so telling!! Maria has just revealed reasons for being early at the supermarket as well as a relationship break up and all of a sudden there’s a ‘I see you’ moment. The ‘she’ is really great here. Even though you’ve not emphasised it, it still comes across as that – and it’s strengthened by the long list of attributes. This woman has really taken Maria’s eye!!!


The Technical Things
Mostly, I think you just need to proofread a little more – including looking out for punctuation in odd places (ie, there’s a couple of times you’ve got closing speech-marks on things that are not speech). I’ve listed a few of the more glaring errors here but they’re all pretty much easily fixable. Got a couple of ‘I’m puzzled’ things listed too.

…voice I had not heard in a long time – I think you mean that Maria hadn’t heard this type of voice? If so, then I think you need a little rewording here because it sounds like Maria knows this voice, but hasn’t heard it in a long time.

clear Southern sound | slightly Southern accented voice – I’m pretty sure this is just nit-picking but I’d call ‘clear’ and ‘slightly’ two very different things, so one of these needs to go. Definitely reveal the Southern nature of the accent but it’s either clear or slight; I’m not 100% it can be both.

I did a lot of cookin | my cookin improved since then – these are in the same sentence, but the latter leads me to think that the cooking back in the college days was pretty bad. And that made me wonder why she did most of it. Maybe just clarify that a bit?

There’s really wrong with it – this is Maria’s response to being asked what is wrong with the meat. You’re missing ‘nothing’ I think.

Watch the pieces in capitalisation. I like them but you start out using speech-marks around them and then stop. Either way, be consistent.

Alberto or Ernesto? Maria has asked Tom to get Ernesto, so who is Alberto (and also watch because he swaps between being Albert and Alberto)?

.. if’ you not busy tonight – this is Lila when she admits she could do with some help with the cooking. Needs to be ‘if you’re’.

South-Western dor – ‘décor’ presumably? Loved the fact that Maria seems full-on about knowing all there is to know about Lila even with those warning bells flashing around in her head!


Closing Comments
Probably going to sound a bit odd since I have judged this contest for a while now, but this felt like quite a different story to me, and I really liked that. Definitely got some proof-reading to do to catch those pesky issues I raised above but overall this is a lovely quirky story of a relationship beginning in a supermarket.

Thank you so much for entering "The LGBT Writing 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!.
32
32
Review of The Unlikely One  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: GC | (3.5)

Hi beetle

Thank you for participating in the June/July round of "The LGBT Writing Contest. I'm reviewing your entry, "The Unlikely One, in my role as the judge for this round.


The Prompt
This contest has two prompts, as you know, though one acts as a requirement as well as being a prompt. Entries must have LGBT characters, and you always work perfectly fine to that. We have a number of them this time round and they all portray perfectly as individuals, all with their wants and needs (even Josh. His surname translates as The Flower, right? I wonder if that’s why he’s such a… ahem.).

I’m not 100% convinced about the other prompt though – the secret stash one. I read through and came to the end thinking ‘what prompt again?’ because I hadn’t picked up on any secret stash of Patrick’s that had been discovered and needed explaining. Re-reading, we do find Miles digging in Josh’s pockets to find pills and I suspect that’s where your nod to the prompt comes in, but it’s not the main character/narrator’s stash. (By the way, not sure Josh can ‘deny’ ownership – isn’t he pretty much comatose at this point? Eek.) I’ll endeavour not to have ambiguous prompts in future rounds.


Overall Impressions
Well, I was gonna say this was a night that Patrick would never forget, but as circumstances go, I suspect he’ll have blanks in it. It’s a tough story-line but you give the reader as much warning in the opening note as the GC rating does, so no one should be shocked or alarmed. And, frankly, drink-spiking is a real thing. Talking about these things shouldn’t be taboo. You give a very vivid aftermath and we can really feel Patrick’s confusion – the moments of clarity, the moments of fuzziness. I very much liked how you showed the conflict within him regarding the punishment Miles was metering out – supporting it one moment, trying to stop it the next. That’s so believable, along with the sudden hero-worship of Miles.

We get no inkling of the drama at the beginning, but good doses of humour in Patrick, Alicia and Paula’s conversations. I’m almost thinking that six layers of make-up isn’t an exaggeration! Could be why Miles thinks he’s flawless later!! Great that we get snippets of ‘real life’ between the three - the yoga, the gaming, the study; this all makes them three-dimensional that we can relate to and therefore start to care about what happens to them. (On that note, I’d love to have heard from Paula at the end. I suspect she wouldn’t just leave and I think she’d be up for giving Josh round two of the boot.)

There’s chemistry flaring between Patrick and Miles, though some of it felt downright creepy (see the next section). The second scene between the pair felt a lot more normal. Less of the checking-out phase and more of the find-out-a-bit-more phase – until it was rudely interrupted by Paula. Darn friends! Patrick’s response to her revealing who she has run into is priceless, but we’re still a little bit in the dark over how he knows Josh (intriguingly he doesn’t react earlier when Paula puts Josh’s gift to her around his neck.) and though his expressions might be telling to Paula and Miles, they’re not to us. What kind of expression? Later, when Josh and Patrick are ‘together’ I guess we know, but a little heads’ up wouldn’t go amiss here, especially since Patrick seems to go with Josh willingly enough (if not a bit fuzzily), because then we can build up anticipation of something happening.

And whoa, what a something happening! Josh clearly has it in for Patrick – the thing is, we don’t know why. I almost get the feeling that the pair were sort of an item back then, though Patrick says Josh pretty much beat him up daily. Josh’s words sound like there was some weird sort of mutual something. It’s about as fuzzy as Patrick’s head, but it works because Patrick is our MC and it’s his story. This is a fuzzy moment!

I did kinda think that Miles didn’t have all his stuff together at the end. He kept babbling about getting help but it took – no, he never actually gets the help… what I mean here, is that it suddenly felt to me that it was too much baby-talk and not enough action. He’s just expended all that energy on assault and defence, and then it takes him so long to actually help Patrick with regards to his health. It was a strange, soft moment. Of course, I want him to take care of Patrick but there’s time for that once the ‘correct’ procedures are down with Josh. Usually I’m a romantic softy, but for some reason I found this moment too soft. I wanted to yell ‘Get the evidence, you idiot! There’s time for cuddles later!’

He tried to smile, but Josh wouldn’t stop being three of himself and Patrick wasn’t sure which one he should be smiling at. – absolutely amazing visual description.


The Technical Things
Not sure I ever really pick up grammar or punctuation issues in your writing *Smile*, and I didn’t here. At least, nothing that made me stop and stare. However, there was one part of the story that I didn’t feel was really needed: the angel and devil on Miles’s shoulders. We got to know a little bit more about Miles (loved the niece comment) and we can see he’s warring over his feelings, but I felt it was too much (and, can’t believe I’m saying this, sort of too slutty). For me, none of it was making Miles someone I wanted Patrick to get together with. I’d rather Miles have some of these thoughts himself; they’d have seemed a bit more personable and maybe less predator-like. (Ahem, the warning you give at the top…. reading this bit made me think it was Miles that was going to be the baddie.)

black wifebeater – We’re selling Mile’s lovely physique here so ‘wifebeater’ is not a good choice of words because of all the connotations. Black singlet, black tank-top – far less likely to make the reader get an impression of Miles that you don’t want them to get.

I’m not trying to skeev on ya, jailbait, but… damn. – this would have worked for me as a weird sort of compliment, but ‘jailbait’ killed it. And when that was followed by the next sentence, the opening ‘I’m not trying’ is such a load of BS that I didn’t like Miles. And so sudden was that feeling, that I was really quite put off him until he defended Patrick, when he became a hero rather than just a straight out creepy pervert. Huge kudos for making me feel that, by the way, though probably not quite the reaction you were after!


Closing Comments
It’s probably clear I have mixed feelings about this story. The drink-spiking, attempted rape – these are good things to explore (saying ‘good’ sounds so bad!) and you do those really well, and gritty stories are good at getting readers to think. I’m not a huge fan of Miles, which is somewhat upsetting since he does turn out to be the hero of the story. It almost felt like he was a chameleon – he’s skeevy, he’s baby-talky. The scene where Patrick comes back outside and they have a side conversation about theatre – that’s when he seemed most stable. I’d like to have seen more of that side of him throughout – this is the side that will become Patrick’s hero.

Ugh, reading over this review, I’m not sure I’m any less fuzzy than poor Patrick. Do let me know what doesn’t make sense or anything like that! And thanks for your continued support of "The LGBT Writing Contest; it is really appreciated.

Love,
Osirantinous


My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
33
33
Review of Found Out  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (3.5)

Hi Barabbas

Thank you for participating in the June/July round of "The LGBT Writing Contest. I'm reviewing your entry, "Found Out, in my role as the judge for this round.


The Prompt
Oh, what a secret stash!!! Unexpected catalogues, such as those Tom manages to find in a secret space, are definitely hard to explain. Our narrator (any reason why you never name him?????) is very much stuck because this comes right on top of a fight that stemmed from a misunderstanding that stemmed from the narrator being still in the closet with regards to friends and family. Yikes, it’s a situation that could go totally haywire. I thought both characters actually managed it with a certain amount of grace, and I was pleased to see a good outcome. Communication is definitely key.

The other prompt – well, an actual requirement – that one of the characters must be LGBT and you’ve worked that in obviously perfectly fine.


Overall Impressions
This was a sort of crazy tale, full of secrets and arguments and two people not quite talking on the same wave-length. Ha, a normal relationship, I guess.

I liked that even though the couple had argued the night before, Tom had obviously come around to make amends and when the narrator hears his voice he’s still all sort of lovey over to. These two argue a lot, I think. I do kind of wonder why on earth Tom would be tidying, but perhaps that’s his excuse for snooping? He feels like he’s reached a point where he must unearth his partner’s secrets or else he’ll just die from old age waiting. I’d like to know a little more about their background, how long they’ve been together, and I want to know why the narrator hasn’t come out to his family. Doesn’t have to reveal that other thing, of course, but I’d like to have known why or even had Tom push for a why. Would help us understand the narrator’s hesitance.

The narrator’s got some guts when he reveals more than just the catalogues, but we don’t really see a reaction from Tom. Does he pick anything up? Does he sort of go all goggle-eyed at what he’s seeing. I think for the narrator’s sake, we need some reaction from him. The narrator’s finally being open, so a physical response from Tom would be good.

The story itself felt a little awkward in the writing, mostly because there’s a lot of ‘I did this and then I did that and then I…’ – a sort of bullet-pointed kind of writing/reading. But…. because the narrator himself is very secretive and hesitant that writing also worked. It was really like he was having to think about every single word he said and thought he had or action he did, like he was concentrating so hard on not revealing himself that he became awkward. Though, I’m not sure you meant it like that so do watch how your writing flows.

I am a little confused by the ending; well the bit just before the ending. I’m sure it’s me but I just don’t get how the narrator’s need to dress in drag is him testing his feelings for Tom and vice versa. Or is it simply about testing how much Tom would put up with? A sort of ‘I’ll love you if you’re gay, but I can’t handle you dressing as a woman’ kind of test? That’s kind of understandable, but then that begs the question of how on earth is he ever going to know if he never actually tells Tom about it? I’d like to have seen Tom ask that question!

I do like the end – that Tom puts his foot down about the narrator telling his parents first and foremost, whether or not the drag thing comes into play. And I get the feeling the narrator is relieved about that, but also his final question is very cute. He loves Tom and he wants to show it, wants Tom’s approval/acceptance. Tom’s response is really quite lovely. We can’t tell just how he’ll really react when he actually sees his partner in drag, but he understands his partner’s feelings enough to support him. Would love to see a sequel to this – when the narrator does dress up. I want to know if Tom’s still supportive!

“There(’s) going to be another dinner?” | “Let’s get peacefully through this one first.” – love this little piece of dialogue. The narrator expresses surprise (perhaps he thought that their relationship was caput) and Tom’s got a ‘one thing a time’ feeling going on, and I can hear the edge that the narrator hears. It’s definitely an ‘oh oh’ sort of moment!

If so tell me now because if I wanted to fall in love and make love with a woman, I would not have gotten the divorce. – holy moly. Amazing sentence that tells us so so much about Tom and his relationship. The response from our narrator’s rather priceless too – snarky and defensive – and honestly, I was on Tom’s side here.

Methinks Tom gets all the best lines because this one is also really emotive: Just how far were you planning on exploring this drag queen thing? Seeing other guys? The narrator at this point is kind of stuck in a rock and a hard place, because he’s held the secret for so long, but it’s hard not to side with Tom here. He’s the one that seems to be really showing the emotion. Gosh, I can just imagine his mind must be frantically whirling over this!


The Technical Things
First things first, check your proofreading. You’ve got some double-up sentences, as well as sentences that begin with one character speaking and end with the other speaking – those ones can really throw the reader out of the zone. One example of that is when your nameless narrator is trying to explain the catalogues and Tom cuts in. If you ensure your paragraphs are nicely split out on their own, that helps the reader.

I’ve listed some other bits and pieces here that also jarred a bit. All easy fixes, so don’t worry too much.

You’ll find about three bottles of wine… – I think the ‘about’ can go as ‘three’ is exact; there’s no ‘about’ about that number. (Intrigued that there’s three! Seems like Tom thinks a lot of alcohol needs to go down to get the answers he’s after.)

frig’ – ideally, this would be ‘fridge’.

… when Tom started, “Along with… | …apartment.” Tom informed me. – I think you need a full stop after ‘started’ so that the dialogue sits separately, and actually belongs to the ‘Tom informed me’ dialogue tag (which should have a comma after ‘apartment’ rather than a full stop.)

Why does everything with you must be a secret. – this is a really telling question, and fully of hurt on Tom’s part. The ‘must’, though, doesn’t work here for sense. I think you’re after ‘have to’ in place of ‘must’. Also, probably should be a question mark at the end, though I can see Tom just spitting this out as a frustrated statement.

My mind trying to… – expect there should be a ‘was’ after ‘mind’. Thought this was a real response on the narrator’s part. He’s obviously been hiding for so long that, even in the face of his partner questioning him, he’s still trying to hide. *green*I had no defense tonight is really powerful, even though I feel he feels he’s being put on the spot unnecessarily.

If there is to be we are to continue seeing each other. – I know what you’re saying here but this wording doesn’t quite match. Almost like you’ve got two responses melded together. This could be either If we are to be a we. or If we’re going to continue to see each other. Or something else, of course. And, oh yes, Tom’s got right to be frustrated here.


Closing Comments
Quirky little tale, and I’d to see it made longer. Give me more ‘before’ and a lot of ‘after’ and turn this into something even more special. Of course, if you don’t want readers telling you that, then don’t make such an awesome ending hook *Bigsmile* Definitely got some issues to work out, but they’re really just cosmetic things – though…. If you ‘fix’ only one thing, please make that thing be a name for the narrator.

Thank you so much for entering "The LGBT Writing Contest. Hopefully down the track I’ll see these two again. If you have any queries about anything above, just let me know.

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


My member sig


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
34
34
Review of I Can't Do It  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)

Hi PureSciFi

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Quotation Inspiration: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
Science Fiction is not generally my thing, but I could definitely see a whole world being created here and many a story being written about it and those who live in it. But I didn’t think you need the preamble about the world, and since it’s not actually part of the story itself it’s a little odd having it first up. Snippets of that information could easily have been included within the story; get the characters to describe their surroundings, wishes, needs etc. You’ve got vivid dialogue already, but adding in bits of description now and then would have really showed the situation of Fathor and Nanca. And the living units could have been explored more in depth when Pachus and Yorlie arrive; after all, they’re checking out the facilities; they’re well placed to describe them for the reader.

I understand that Fathor’s in pain, but holy heck his pep talks leave a lot to be desired!! If I were Nanca I’d have shot him to shut him up! And it might just be me, but I think you need to watch the situation when your characters smile. This instance is particularly, ah, grim: Nanca’s sad face suddenly turned into a smile. “Maybe I can get one of them to kill you for me.” I wouldn’t have thought this was something to smile over, though… Nanca is in something of a panic. Perhaps for her this is a smiling situation.

When Pachus and Yorlie arrive, we don’t actually know what has happened to Nanca in the two weeks since she managed to get up the courage to kill Fathor. I would like to have seen some of that aftermath, just how Nanca’s coping with what she’d done and how she’s coping on her own (especially since Fathor pretty much reckoned she’d end up dying herself). Her doubt about killing Fathor but then managing to do it is what the prompt for this contest is all about, but once she’s done the deed we hear nothing of it and the second part of the story bears no relationship to the prompt at all. I felt like the second half of the story was, then, a little less appropriate. It would have worked, though, to have Pachus and Yorlie find Nanca and have her reveal everything to them, going over the panic and doubt and all that, keeping the prompt in sight.


Things to Look At
Didn’t really spot any punctuation or grammatical errors, but there are a couple of things I want to point out because they puzzled me or jerked me out of the reading flow.

You don’t do a whole lot of ‘he said/she said’ so sometimes it was hard to tell who the dialogue belonged to. One normally reads A, B, A, B when there are no tags, but a couple of times it looked like A, A (because of what the character said) and that that made me have to stop to see if I’d missed something or not.

… pulsating head was joined by this arms and legs – presumably ‘his’ rather than ‘this’ here.

A couple of times it was several times she had to do it. – this is in relation to getting Fathor to repeat himself. We’ve already learned that Nanca’s had to ask this (previous sentence), and I do get what this particular sentence is saying but it seems kind of redundant here.

The dialogue between Fathor and Nanca and then between Pachus and Yorlie seemed very repetitive. The first pair had a ‘you can/I can’t’ conversation which actually never told us what the ‘can/can’t’ was about until near the end when it became clear. And then the latter’s conversation about what had happened to Fathor and Yorlie went the same way about who might have died first. I kind of came away from that conversation thinking ‘who cares who might have died first? Stop talking, starting finding’. Just felt like a lot of conversation about not a lot, and it took me away from the actual story

Closing Comments
Re your footnote – that’s a fascinating way of explaining fictional worlds to people (and to yourself). Clever idea. The story itself felt a little disjointed, but I think that was because the prompt was oriented to the first half and then had nothing to do with the second half, almost like that part had you deep in the clutches of full novel-writing *Smile*. Definitely good stuff here though, and I’d like to see more of Nanca. She seems like a Koth to keep tabs on.

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

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig

35
35
Review of The Delayed Joke  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)

Hi Naveed

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Quotation Inspiration: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
Albert definitely has his work cut out for him, being a comedian, and I think he’d fit very well with the quotation prompt even if he didn’t have a stutter! Takes a lot of guts and confidence to get up on stage and make people laugh!

Albert’s confidence must surely take a massive hit with his father being downright nasty about his son’s ability, though oddly he never outright states Albert’s failure is going to be because of the stutter! By the way, I thought Albert’s opening joke was fabulous, would have made me giggle if I’d heard it. His father doesn’t help matters by sowing seeds in Albert’s mind that his best friend isn’t really laughing with pure laughter, but I like that Albert and Joey have a friendship that goes beyond that. Their friendship’s in it for the long-haul; that must build the confidence that his father is trying to break down.

I liked that we get a lot of inner thought from Albert – his hopes and dreams, and I love his comment about not being a stutterer in his thoughts. It was a nice little piece of humour that made me feel for him even more, as he worked through his ‘do the thing I don’t think I can do’ moments. It was great seeing his confidence grow as he started to realise what makes people laugh, the fact that laughing at one’s self is usually a good start. His opening comments – not necessarily a joke - at the pub bear testament to that, and I think everyone in the audience would have chuckled. I must admit I didn’t really get the ‘joke’ of the bit with the cab-driver, but that could have been more because I was thinking that he’d take so long to get the directions out that the cab would have gone past where he needed to go before the directions had been finished.

The ending is uplifting – the fact that his father appears to have gone ‘holy moly, my son can make people laugh.’ Parental support is powerful. Would love to have seen the aftermath of this though, where he does some apologising!


Things To Look At
Not much, to be honest! I did find myself puzzled when Albert starting telling his mom about his new friend. There’s no real lead-in, beyond not having a “ after ‘… for Mechanics’, to indicate we’re getting a reported meeting not a real-time one, so for a moment I was thrown out of the story as I tried to figure out if you’d deleted some paragraphs or something. I’d almost be inclined to suggest that could have been written in italics just to make it stand out a bit more, but that could just be me.

but he’d remained futile – not entirely sure someone can be futile. They can definitely do things that are futile but this read a little odd and jarred me out of my flow. Perhaps ‘his attempts had’ could replace ‘he’d’, since it’s not specifically Albert but his attempts that were thus.


Closing Comments
Really nice story about the strength of following a dream, but also about the necessity (even if we don’t consciously acknowledge it) of support as we follow those dreams. Albert does what he (and his parents) think he can’t do – be a comedian.

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

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig

36
36
Review of Renaissance  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)

Hi Bhaskar

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Quotation Inspiration: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
It is such a natural human reaction to be overwhelmed and think the world is against you, and then somewhat typical for good laid plans to go awry, doubling the belief that you’re doomed. I felt for Neil when his afternoon kinda fell apart, though also felt a speck of ‘oh sorry, you had to do secretarial work? How utterly terrible and beneath you.’ You probably didn’t mean to get the reader onto that sort of thought, though!

Convincing a Board to cough up 20 million dollars is definitely a daunting task, made harder in Neil’s case by his self-doubt about his own abilities – over getting the right data to make a good case, understanding data systems, and being able to actually present a good case. And this lack of confidence is not helped by his failures with exams. Part of him thinks he’s too old to learn, re-learn, start afresh, but I like that he stops that ‘excuse’ to his wife. We all start using our age as an excuse for not doing what we want to do or should do or even could do. Rita makes a good point – forget the failures, since you have learnt from them – but it obviously still takes some time (including physical time *Smile*) for Neil to come round to the fact that nothing’s really stopping him.

I liked how we got to see the turmoil in his mind via his thoughts, and later via his blue streaks and beard. Here he was thinking he was going about his morning rituals ‘normally’ and so totally didn’t notice what he’d done. Though his daughter laughs I felt she thought the change was good, and obviously his wife backs him anyway. Still, takes guts to go to work with blue streaks and beard, no matter the familial support. Neil didn’t freak out, didn’t rush around re-dying, or even shaving. Fresh start and all that, and Neil just went for it – confidence high that he’d done his job. I’m a bit like him – often freaking out when I have to give a presentation. But then I remember that I know the subject, the audience doesn’t, and no one can knock my confidence that way. Neil gets that, and of course as the presentation proceeds his confidence grows. He no longer has the ‘I can’t do it/woe is me’ mentality that we saw in the opening scenes.

The ending felt very short compared to the lead-up, but I liked that you tied the last sentence of the story to Neil’s blue hair! But I do wonder if he went home and re-dyed his hair the usual brown!


Things to Look At
A few errors in the story that could have been picked up by proofreading (such as emergency exist and Neil walked sat down on the breakfast table…); little but still can pull a reader out of their reader flow.

Also, I found your punctuation a little distracting – with the commas and full stops outside of the speech-marks, rather than inside as expected. You were consistent, though, so perhaps that’s just how you write.

And one final thing is Neil’s ‘assumption’ he was going to get an earful from his wife about being home late. He doesn’t at all and she is, in fact, incredibly calm. Not a huge issue, but Neil’s assumption was fairly strong and when it didn’t happen it was a little odd.


Closing Comments
Kind of a classic office story. Stress, money pressures, system issues, self-doubt, with the added ‘issue’ of age (though that’s quickly nipped in the bud). Neil’s lucky he has a wife who supports him 100% and knows him inside and out and therefore knows what he needs to get that confidence back. He could easily have given in to the depression and freak-out, but didn’t. He may still have confidence issues to sort out but he’s a fighter. Maybe even something of role model for others facing such challenges.

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

Kind regards,
Os

My member sig

37
37
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)

Hi Robert Edward Baker

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Quotation Inspiration: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
A tightly woven story, with good doses of backstory that inform the present, and full of tense action. Appreciated the occasional glimpses of humour from Sarah.

This story shows very clearly how tit-for-tat happens, how hate grows, and we end up in a never-ending circle of violence. And how people can be brainwashed into thinking X is Y and Y is X. It also portrays the terrible reality that family can often end up on opposite sides of the battle-line. Being an officer Jim has sworn to serve and protect, even as he faces his daughter. He’s had a tough year so it’s got to be a heck of a shock to find out she’s one of the hostage takers. I don’t think Jim’s a whole 100% in what he’s doing – he uses ‘raghead’ one too many times for me to feel he’s not got some ‘heh, let them taste their own medicine’ in him – until the end when he’s faced with the end-game. He can see that things have to be done for the greater good, even though his heart’s probably breaking. And he understands what anger can do. I think he gets a little taste of his own ‘medicine’ here and realises how he’s been reacting over the past year and therefore I think he probably feels to blame for Lauren’s action/reaction. That’s going to be tough to live with.


Things to Work On
Actually, nothing re grammar, punctuation or un-readable sentences. But I did wonder how close this story came to the quotation prompt. At the end, Jim has to make a difficult decision but it’s phrased as must do something he never thought possible. Me probably being really nit-picky but what’s possible here is different to doing something one thinks they cannot do, because presumably Jim has never actually thought he might need to kill his daughter? If this is indeed the link to the prompt then we need to see it earlier. As he’s trying to talk his daughter around he needs to be thinking about what to do if she isn’t going to back down. We need that doubt – can he, can’t he – to help push that suspense higher, to show how very difficult the action was.

And perhaps it is just me but ‘raghead’ feels not that much different to other racial slurs that people go irate over.


Closing Comments
Suspenseful story. I didn’t, I admit, like the continuous use of ‘raghead’ or Let’s go save some Arabs. but perhaps I’m just sensitive to that sort of thing. Outside of those moments and my query around the prompt, the story itself is well written.

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

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig

38
38
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)

Hi Breach

I am reviewing your story as a judge for "Quotation Inspiration: Official Contest. Thanks for entering!


Reader Impressions
A classic writer freak-out moment, being tossed from their comfort zone and freezing under the challenge. This is why I enter contests only when inspiration has actually struck me with an idea. Forcing myself to write an entry is just painful. Michael gets there in the end after a good dose of procrastination. Seriously, it’s amazing what can take your time and focus when you’ve got a deadline or challenge. Loved the comment about being messaged, and needing to wait ‘just in case’. We really have to turn off all messaging/notification devices. I handwrite my stories so I’m not so bothered there, but when I get on my computer I can get stuck on Pinterest for hours! Ooops.

Checking the prompt over and over is classic too – did we read it right, do we understand it, has inspiration struck yet? No? Well, maybe this time… Michael’s gotten into that rut of overthinking the prompt, I think, as if he expects it to show the way. But eventually he understands it – that it’s not the prompt or even the contest, it’s himself that he needs to overcome. Michael the short-story writer is the thing he thinks he can’t do. And voila, off he goes, tapping away on the keyboard (and I liked how the first line of the story mirrors the first line of the story!)

Would like to have seen a little more of the ‘after’ – whether Michael’s now thinking ‘that wasn’t so hard’ or ‘man, I’m never doing that again’; just so we can see how much of a victory he’s had doing what he thought he couldn’t do. Has he become a short-story convert???


Things to Work On
Nothing major at all. Noticed a misplaced comma here: … these things for fun, or worse, for a living. First comma should be after ‘or’.


Closing Comments
Found the comment about people who write short stories for fun, amusing. When I started on this site I was here to be serious about my novels. But then I started entering short story contests and now they make up the bulk of my portfolio! They’re a great challenge, and I often put my novel characters into a short story to work them out or work out parts of the plot. So… short stories can be fun *Smile* and you’ll only get better the more you write.

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

Kind regards,
Osirantinous

My member sig

39
39
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi Graham Douglas

Firstly, welcome to WDC. Hope you're having fun and getting to learn all the nooks and crannies. I spotted "Painting the future under the Read a Newbie column on the Hub page, and was intrigued by the description line, and having read thought I'd offer a review.


Reader Impressions
I'm of the same opinion as your artist, generally. Tourists are a pain in the butt when you're trying to get a good view of something - to paint or to photograph. Nevermind that oneself is a tourist *BigSmile* But I've not really thought before about tourists being the future. The old man is so right. Many countries live on tourism and I'm sure we wouldn't have half the awesome ancient ruins or houses or statutes left if tourism wasn't paying for them. It must feel like being stuck between a rock and a hard place sometimes.

I liked the old man's frame of mind, liked that he had it even with his history with the house. He could so easily have been upset with the visitors but he understands the house wouldn't look as beautiful as it obviously does without the tourists paying to see it. Must be extra painful if the house has been within the family; given it up would be a hard decision to make.

Not overly convinced that time runs in one direction with regards to art, but I understand what the old man says and what the artist remembers. Felt it a little bit ironic though, since most artists paint the past, and the money from tourists goes toward protecting the past. Given the artist's original feelings, I wonder how the new painting came about - did she paint the tourists as they were with the garish clothing, or did she mute them so that while they were there they also blended in?

Ha, for all the man's words he takes the painting without the tourists! But that's kind of heartwarming too, since his memories of the house would actually be without tourists. I can imagine him gazing at it the rest of the evening, indulging in memories of his summers there.



The Technical Side
I think you could remove 'soon' from the Soon she finished... paragraph. It sounds a little odd to have there when it's followed by drifted - one is fast, one is slow but they rather relate to the same point in time.

The man speaks twice in a row, but when you have it split into two distinct sentences on different lines without dialogue tags the reader (alright, me) tends to read character A, character B, character A - so I was thrown a little and the mystery of the speakers wasn't cleared up until the artist asks if the man misses the house.

Finally, I'd recommend splitting the old man's final suggestion into two distinct sentences. Give power to both of them, rather than make them run-on with each other.


Closing Comments
I liked this wee thing. It's about more than an artist painting a house. It's the past and the future and how the two remain very much together. Mind you, when I'm snapping photos of an old Greek theatre I will still wish away all the tourists ruining my view!


Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read and review your writing! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need any clarification regarding my comments.

Best wishes,
Os

My member sig
40
40
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)

Hi PureSciFiPlus

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


Reader Impressions
This is a story that definitely reads like it could be just one short story among an entire collection centred on the Young Ones. Have you written others? If not, I’d encourage you to do so. I enjoyed it.

The idea of children and teenagers (ahem, Younger Ones and Young Ones) cruising around in space on their own felt new to me. I admit I don’t read a lot of Sci-Fi but I thought it was an idea that could definitely be explored, and I certainly could appreciate Pauvic’s “I don’t want to talk to any children.” I could pretty much hear the snobby adult tone! Which was interesting as the story grew and we understood that both sides were playing games, and how the Younger Ones were quite adept at playing adult-like games. Which most kids are!

On first reading, I thought that the opening face-off between Pauvic and the kids read sort of slowly and I was trying to stop myself jumping forward. On second reading though, that sort of slow feeling matched with Sanica and Mallin’s feelings – how many times had they had to explain the situation? I bet they’d rather have simply sent Pauvic a ‘read this first’ postcard which gave him the facts without him needing to quibble. On the other hand, later we understand that Pauvic is playing his own game. His needling of Sanica and Mallin is probably entirely calculated; though he could have jeopardised the help they were going to give.

I was thrown by Leoni and Bradin when they appeared, simply because there was no introduction to them at all. That’s not too bad a thing, though, and I soon realised they were a pair of the Younger Ones. I liked their and Zanide’s conversation, a small tit-for-tat moment I thought. Zanide also came out of the blue but somehow she (I think?) wasn’t so startling. You gave a good description of both her and Pauvic, but not so much of the four kids. I didn’t actually miss that on first reading, rather I’m picking it up as I write this! I’m slack at describing my characters too, but I wonder here if description could be used to remind us we are dealing with kids. They’re acting as adults, masters etc, but surely they still have child-like thoughts, reactions, physical natures? If Zanide is twice as tall as Bradin, is that really tall or not so tall since Bradin isn’t tall himself? See, a description of Bradin helps us also size up Zanide.

I was puzzled by the protection room and the conversation the four humans had around it (I’ve listed that below), but it was definitely visual and I could ‘see’ it fairly easily. Loved Mallin’s comment how about bad it looked after Bradin said it wasn’t. That’s very much an adult/child difference and I thought it sort of funny they had these roles even though the Younger and the Young were very sure they’re weren’t adults.

Pauvic played into the kids’ hands, really, with his whole ‘all I wanted was my death weapon’ trick at getting it back. Just the sneaky kind of trick that an adult would play to get a kid doing X, Y or Z. Yet, the kids had their own tricks – well, Sanica and Mallin at least and they definitely got the last laugh, as it were.

PS: love the names. For me, characters’ names are really important, and they tend to have a ‘they work’ | ’they don’t work’ switch with me. I really liked yours, found them to be quite suited to their personalities as well as the genre.


Things that Niggled
When Sanica and Mallin are discussing whether or not they should help Pauvic, Sanica says It sounds like the kind of help we might be able to do. Except, Pauvic hasn’t articulated what the help he needs actually is. He says they could be a good fit (physically) but there is still no indication, so her words seem a little odd here. I’d like to have seen them query Pauvic more just so me as a reader wasn’t left wondering how Sanica came to the conclusion.

I was a bit puzzled about the protection room. I love the idea that there would be such a room in front of the engine room but what makes it a protection room? It seemed to me that the electric storm would provide that sort of protection, and yet the Young/Younger Ones don’t seem to make that connection – hence me ending a little puzzled. (Would love an explanation, just so I can get my head around it.)

Keep an eye on your punctuation. There’s the occasional missing speech mark, and some missing question marks too. Plus just a few typos and queries.

It did sound like will could help him – presumably ‘will’ should be ‘we’

The main monitor admittedly zooms in until the electricity filled the monitor. – not sure why ‘admittedly’ is here since it leads the sentence to make less sense. Also, watch your tenses. You are mostly in the past tense in this story, but occasionally the present sneaks in – like ‘zooms’ here when I’d expect to see ‘zoomed’.

They can’t be monitoring us without us knowing. – this is Mallin. I’ve a feeling that ‘can’t’ should in fact be ‘could’ here, otherwise Mallin’s next sentence about how the others said they ‘wouldn’t’ doesn’t quite make sense.

Sanica put her hand flat against the wall… – nothing actually grammatically wrong here but I wondered if this should be Zanide, since I presume that it’s Zanide who has the speech at the end of the paragraph. If it is Sanica doing the action, then Zanide’s (or even Pauvic) speech should be in its own paragraph to make that all clear.

I don’t truth them not to… – Leoni needs to use ‘trust’ here rather than ‘truth’.


Closing Comments
An intriguing story, and definitely one that I felt could be part of a series. And that includes one that gives the background for while children are running around in space *Smile*. Some parts were a little puzzling, and the typos did occasionally make reading a little difficult, but overall, I thought the story had promising bones.


Thanks 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!.
41
41
Review of Anime Hamster  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)

Hi Robert Edward Baker

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


Reader Impressions
This wasn’t just another story about a geek and a jock making a bet. Well, no, it was since that became the beginning and the ending, but we had received a whole new ‘story’ in the middle when Chris and Mary talk about their art. It was very un-cliché and I liked it because I echo Mary’s sentiment. It’s not often we’re comfortable enough to reveal our art (writing’s the same) to others when all we really want to do is talk to like-minded people about it! So this story had a feel-good factor – two artists having a really good conversation. Not only that but we found out the reason for Chris’ nickname in a nice roundabout fashion without you having to do a serious amount of backstory.

Chris came across like a regular nice guy, standing up for someone even though he kind of knows the outcome. His sarcastic “Gee, thanks for helping’ was great. Even though he found himself in a (likely) unwinnable bet, I doubt he’s that mad. He seems like the kind of guy who’d stand up for someone just because he could. The conversation with Mike’s fascinating. I’ve not read The Hunger Games but I liked that you brought it in as a way to describe Chris’ character (if I’d read the stories, I’d probably have gotten the links more clearly, though Mike does explain his choice of character fairly well).

Miriam’s quick appearance allowed the story to flow from start of the day to the end of it, and her response was entirely appropriate. In teen stories the guys always seem to think a girl must be lesbian if she doesn’t want to go out with one of them. Chris’ apology isn’t really one, since he should never have said it in the first place if he didn’t mean it. In any case, that does seem to soften Miriam a bit and she reveals the truth. A little harsh but she’s a girl of standards, and I liked that! (In this speech she refers to Daniels’ tweet but earlier Daniels said he was going to make the bet his Facebook status. He may have done both, for all I know, but when you mention one and then the other without a sort of link it jars.)

The flow into the final part of the story is nice and smooth. If we were really smart, we might catch on with the new girl’s hair colour but initially it’s just a conversation between Chris and Mary about their art, working through various artists and styles. A reader might be lost at the references but in each case you do give enough description to make the reader a vague acquaintance with the subjects under discussion. Shared interests are a great catalyst for creating and growing friendships, and in this case a possible romance. I really liked that, though I had a sneaking feeling where this ending was going, it wasn’t really categorical until the end, and I thought you managed it quite nicely, natural even. Of course, the final lines are great too, taking us all the way back to the beginning and the bet made with Daniels. Pity this wasn’t a longer contest; I’d like to have seen how the parade through the cafeteria went down *Bigsmile*


Things that Niggled
Most of these things aren’t ‘OMG you need to fix these things immediately’ so don’t worry. They’re just things that caught my eye as I read. They may not catch other readers’ eyes!

… so he had to squeeze through and snagged his… – this one probably really is just me but I think a comma’s needed after ‘through’ because without it it sounds like he had to squeeze and snag, instead of snagging being the result of the squeezing (if that makes sense?).

In the opening part of the story, you’re dealing with three male characters who all take turns at action and/or speech. However, you often only have ‘He’ to indicate a character. I found it difficult to keep track of who ‘He’ was sometimes, so I’d suggest just going through and using Chris, Mike, Daniels a little more often (especially Chris since he is the narrator; he shouldn’t be reduced to ‘He’ when the others are named). (Though it looks to me, as I skim the item pre posting this, that you've sorted most of this issue out. Awesome!)

Also watch your apostrophes when you use them with Chris. You have both Chris’s and Chris’. I’m in the latter camp most days, but whatever you pick, be consistent because using both stands out.


Closing Comments
This was a light-hearted, brief look at high-school/teenage life, and I thought you pulled it off without being very clichéd (though, I’m not based in the US so high-school/geeks/jocks stories…. Well, they never grow old with me.). I thought you told the story well and managed to get the romance in there (and therefore likely winning the bet against Daniels) without it being way too far-fetched. Bringing in the art side was good – we got serious discussion as well as the geek/jock bit between Chris and Daniels and the boy/girl bit with Chris and Miriam. It was a really good range throughout the 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

42
42
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)

Hi Author Ed Anderson

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


Reader Impressions
I thought this story incredibly cute, with the tables turned on the usual monster-under-the-bed theme. Part of that was the fact that it was the monster doing a lot of the initial freaking out. I loved his stammering and his wide eyes, and the fact that the missing toy was his instead of Don’s. I suspect that Orgo admitting he’d lost his toy was what calmed Don down. Even though Don’s eight, and might at times feel he’s above being so attached to a toy, I’m sure he immediately feels sorry for Orgo.

Though you’ve given us a definite monster description of Orgo, he’s also been given ‘human’ characteristics, right down to having a favourite soft toy and a fear of monsters. Those attributes aided him in gaining the reader’s sympathy, though I think a child would have picked him for a friend long before an adult would. Kids believe in monsters but as soon as they seem to start showing a sort of ‘normalness’ kids make them their friends. I liked that this worked from the monster’s POV too! And I’m sure most kids would go a bit green over the playground. 20 swings? Awesome!

The fact that Orgo thought he’d find the toy above his bed was interesting, but I liked that – reminded us that his world is opposite to ours. And you brought that in earlier, too, with the mention about his dad and the name-calling. There’s always two sides to a story or a monster. Don and Orgo’s short conversation about who’s scaring who and who doesn’t look like who feeds into that, and they both learn that each of them has suffered name-calling and bullies. On the other hand, Abs is a perfect nickname for Abominable (as well as being simply a short form of his name!).

Abs is definitely a bully monster and his taunt I’d eat it if I had it seems just the sort of thing someone like him would say (and it’d be something that would upset the owner of the toy!). He shows himself to be, ahem, perhaps a little dim-witted too, getting his angst on but then being beaten by a simple trip. However, he plays his part – firing up the action in a scene that kids can probably relate to (who hasn’t met a bully in a playground?)

Nice to know that monster moms are no different to human moms, always making their kids clean their rooms, but also often having cookies on tap and embarrassing kids in front of friends. I did wonder about her telling Orgo that after the snacks Don had to go home and Orgo had to clean his room. Mostly because Orgo, at the beginning of the story, says his mom cleaned his room and that’s how he lost bunny.

The ending was happy all round; new friends made, lost toys found, cookies eaten. And the ending – talking about solving mysteries – is a great starter for an entire series of short stories where Don and Orgo team up to solve mysteries (in either world). You’ve got two cute characters here whom I think kids would enjoy reading about.


Things that Niggled
There were a few phrases that read a little odd to me, but my biggest niggle was the comma use. You’re a comma-splicer fanatic (a bit like me really, so I notice them *Smile*). It’s just when you should use a full stop or even a semi-colon instead. I’ll give a couple of examples:

Orgo looked around, he was confused. – these are two separate sentences or you could cut out the ‘he was’ – like Orgo looked around, confused.

He was curious about the other world, Orgo hadn’t said anything… – again, two sentences. However, in this case, because the two link thematically a semi-colon would work.

Also watch the punctuation around your dialogue. It kind of sounds stupid, but the speech and the dialogue tag form part of one sentence, so the dialogue tag part isn’t capitalised unless someone’s name/title starts directly after the speech. On the other hand, you sometimes put a comma when the piece coming after the dialogue is not a tag (and in that case, you need a full stop). Some examples here too:

“Orgo! Orgo! Where are you?” His mother hollered down the street. – when written like this with ‘His’ it reads like she’s yelled the speech and then she also hollered down the street (well, she might have). I presume, though, that ‘hollered’ here takes place of the plainer ‘said’, and if so then ‘His’ should be ‘his’.

“Right there,” Orgo pointed his long finger… – the speech and the pointing are separate here so there should be a full stop rather than the comma after ‘there’.

Some other typos through the story so do remember to proofread. I always read out loud; boy, does it pick up where I’ve stuffed something up. And watch the limbs that seem to move on their own accord. One example is: He took his long, green hand and wiped them away. – this really does read as if Orgo picked one hand up in the other and used it to wipe his eyes. You could avoid that by something like His long green hand wiped them away.


Closing Comments
A funny little take on the monster under the bed, and I think you did it well. Proof reading – out loud – would have helped clear up much of the noted errors above but the story itself was strong enough to carry the reader through them without too much gnashing of teeth. I think definitely a story that children would read, and it’d be neat to see a series of mysteries solved by Don and Orgo.


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!.
43
43
Review of The Legacy  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (3.5)

Hi Graham B.

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


Reader Impressions
When reading this tale, I thought back to visits to my Nana when she was living alone after my grandfather’s death. As a child they didn’t seem awkward at all and there was always strange stuff to look at and cakes to eat. But as I (and my Nana!) got older they did seem to be a visit always forced by my parents. Still stuff to look at and cakes to eat but Nana half seemed in her own world. Nothing like Natalie’s grandmother of course, but I could relate to how Natalie felt – a sort of loss over the past (physical, emotional) and concern about the present (and the future). When I used to visit, cell-phones weren’t around so I never had that conversation with Nana, but you pegged grandparents well. They just seem to know what’s going on even if they also seem away in their own world!

You gave wonderful descriptions through-out the story and I could see the house and the sad garden. I’m a visual reader, compiling it all in 3D in my head so the descriptions allowed me to build the setting up. And though you only mention the mustiness once, I could sense that too. Descriptions that cause readers to call up their own memories are great! I also liked how you described Natalie – not through actually describing her but in relation to her ancestor; a clever way to do it and one that fitted with the general theme of the story; a mystical feel that Natalie was but a small piece in a very big puzzle of events and history.

I did find myself losing track sometimes of who was speaking. This was mostly because you often put an action on one line and then speech on the other line and, I’m sure this is just me, I expect a new line to be a different character often when action/speech are used. One example of this is when Natalie’s grandma catches the whiff of Natalie using her phone and smirks. The next line has her ask if Natalie’s waiting to hear from someone. At first read, I thought the speech was Natalie’s (even if it clearly wasn’t!). Obviously I’m old-fashioned in this regard. By the way, I loved Natalie’s Nothing! in response. Even though this totally doesn’t answer her grandma’s questions, it’s such a typical answer from anyone caught doing something they shouldn’t! Teenagers especially *Smile*

I liked how the story went a different way to how I was expecting and that it got more and more clear as the tale went on just what Natalie’s place was in the world, but I also think parts of it were not made clear enough. Natalie is a witch – or at least that’s what history would call her – but with the vicious visions she has, it sort of came across that her inheritance was to be pilloried and burnt, and I’m sure that’s not quite what you meant! The end of the tale makes us aware there’s more to this inheritance than that and Natalie seems quite calm as she loops the pendant around her neck, but I still felt like I wasn’t getting the whole picture. That possibly came about because of the word limit of the contest, which might have forced you to cut your ending a little short (it does, after all, only cover about a fifth of the story).

And you’ve done your research, which is always great to see! Depending upon which culture you look at the dragonfly is a symbol of good or of bad, and has been associated with witches. Quite a different thing to bats, cauldrons and cats! Being a nerdy sort, I love stories that lead me to go searching on the web for more information. I kind of think that Natalie would do the same when she got home, especially since she thought the dragonfly she saw on the fencepost was a little out of its normal time.


Things that Niggled
None of the things mentioned here are really showstoppers, they just niggled at me enough to mention them. And since everyone always has their own opinions of things – including the actual author – don’t think that you have to make instant changes!

Taking a deep breath, she pushed the gate open… – because the previous paragraph has been focused on the dying and unloved garden, ending with Grandma being alone, the ‘she’ of this opening sentence could really be either the Grandma or Natalie. So I suggest here that ‘she’ becomes ‘Natalie’ for ease of understanding and that the ‘Natalie’ of the second sentence becomes ‘her’.

… unicorn sprawled among… – when I imagine ‘sprawled’ I see things lounging around, lying down, taking over space, so it reads odd here to have the unicorn sprawling. I presume it’s actually just standing where it’s always stood and isn’t really growing. So for me it’s not really sprawling. Each to their own, but it jarred my reading a tad.

… loveseat – both covered in plastic, – the comma after ‘plastic’ probably should also be a hyphen, otherwise it reads as if everything coming after that hyphen belongs together in a description of the loveseat.

… but she ignored it – this comes after Natalie being distantly aware of her phone signalling another text. I actually think you could remove this latter part of the sentence. Using ‘distantly’ sort of makes it clear she’s going to ignore it anyway, that she’s under some sort of ‘spell’ and only sees/hears her Grandma.

The rocking chair was covered, both in… – when you use ‘both’ readers will expect to see ‘and’ coming along to indicates the second thing. That doesn’t appear here so the sentence reads awkwardly. You could either remove ‘both’ or keep that and change ‘beneath’ to ‘and’. (If one were to be really nitpicky, ‘both in’ felt a little round the wrong way, but that could also be because the comma before ‘both’ made me pause and then I read ‘both in’ differently.)

… and thoughts rose unbidden in her mind… – these are not really thoughts but voices that she hears so I think ‘thoughts’ needs to be swapped for ‘voices’.


Closing Comments
An intriguing story. With Natalie just receiving her inheritance you now have a lot of material with which you can lengthen the story into a novella or even novel. The subject is such – YA and supernatural – that I think it’d be quite appealing in the longer formats.


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

44
44
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)

Hi Elle

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


Reader Impressions
Reading of any form of abuse is always uncomfortable, more so when the victim has rather resigned themselves to simply taking it because they can’t win. This story reminded me, too, that I have quite a number of characters in this position! Hmm, but perhaps knowing my characters helped me think here that Mason was doing what he needed to do – both in terms of being able to cope and in getting the situation over with quickly. I could not poke a finger and yell ‘get up and fight, you nitwit!’. He’s clearly been in this position before, though I’ve a feeling this attack is one of the worst. I started to fear the worst, even as I recalled the limits of this contest probably wouldn’t let you get that far (fingers crossed).

I thought it interesting that the rant over what happened came from Mason’s saviour, rather than from Mason, and yet I guess I shouldn’t have thought that. Mason’s quite aware of his situation and how it impacts on others. He may agree with what Ben says but he doesn’t seem quite the kid the reveal it himself, not unless he knows he’s got others on his side in support. I loved his I only meant to think it.; it both shows the effects of this attack (he’s frazzled) and that whole ‘I can never tell anyone’ sort of feeling, and I can also hear the ‘oh god, he’s going to think me a dork’ thought starting to whirl. I enjoyed Ben’s reaction, and even though we presume he’s probably gay too it’s simply nice to think that others can act in support no matter what.

Poor Mason, he’s definitely in a daze. I love the fuzziness of his actions and emotions that suddenly turn in pure clarity on Ben’s looks. He’s bloody and beaten and probably half out of it yet he’s hooked onto Ben’s eyes and his hair, and those things spring up now and then. Ben's caring actions certainly don’t hinder Mason’s interest, and though Mason tries to get himself on the straight and narrow again once he’s realised what all the talking was for, it’s quite clear that’s he’s doomed (just as he says later on).

I like how the story ends, still with Mason a bit befuddled but with roots growing for friendship and possibly a relationship. You don’t end dead with nothing for the reader to go on. You might not ever continue this story but at least the reader can imagine how the next day’s visit might go or even how Mason explains to his mum what his ‘accident’ was.

One question – where’s this story set? Using chipmunks made me think of the US but then you use Mum and Panadol which is apparently sold in the US but certainly isn’t the main brand, and so I thought of New Zealand. And then I thought that if the setting is New Zealand, chipmunks seemed odd to use in describing Mason’s headache. Nit-picking, I guess but it did make me wonder.


Things that Niggled
I don’t really care too much when someone uses too many adverbs in their writing. Then tend not to jar my out of my reading flow. However, excessive use of ‘me’ and ‘my’ in writing with a first-person narrator does (even in my own writing!). Once I read a few in a row I become ultra-ware of them, like when you’re listening to a speech and every second word becomes ‘um’; you just can’t focus on anything else. You have 68 instances of ‘me’ and 79 of ‘my’ (with 8 of the latter appearing in the first paragraph), so they started to distract me from the story you were revealing. In some instances, the word was really quite redundant (we know the owner of the ‘my’ and we know who other characters are reacting too with the ‘me’) and in others it acted a little like ‘was’, making the action pseudo-passive. A couple of examples:

My breath wooshed out as I landed, my backpack thumping into my lower back. – Removing the first and second ‘my’ makes this feel a little more active and, at the very least, doesn’t damage the sentence.

I grabbed the warm hand he offered me. I swayed slightly on my feet… – here, I think ‘me’ is redundant since who else is Ben offering his hand to? And ‘on my feet’ could go entirely. When Mason sways we’re expecting him to be on his feet, and the rest of the sentence shows that in any case.

Gotta admit that it took a few readings before I really coped with your formatting. A space, to me, indicate a new paragraph, so for a while I was thrown by it not quite meaning that. Don’t change it though because once you’re used to it, it doesn’t block reader flow.

… their faces though. They weren’t hiding from me. – ‘though’ jolted me a bit since you’d used this construction just a little bit earlier, but I also didn’t think it quite matched up with the next sentence. It matches with the sentence after (starting They knew damn well…). I would be inclined to suggest you don’t need ‘They weren’t hiding from me.’

… and it took me a minute to register that something had changed – aside from the ‘me’ being un-needed, I was also a little puzzled at your meaning. When I first read this I took it to mean that Mason’s registering that something had changed in the attack – as if the earlier kicks were ‘play’ and then the kick to the temple meant that things were now very serious. Except, the very next piece is the mysterious person asking if he’s alright. So, I presume Mason’s registering the change that is ‘no one’s beating me any more’??? I actually think you could remove this entire sentence. Ending with him seeing stars, and then suddenly the voice tells everyone that something has changed – but also adds weight to the fact that Mason probably is a little in la-la land.

That last blow to my head had left me dazed. – no kidding, but show it, don’t tell it. (The whole struggle to get his arms through his backpack straps later is a perfect example of showing this.)

… dark brown sedan that looks like… – ‘looked’ rather than ‘looks’. (And I think the opening ‘as’ needs to be ‘when’ since in this sentence ‘as’ seems to be a word of motion, except Mason’s leaning against the car at pretty much the same time (eek, hope that makes sense).

… as frowning apparently doesn’t go with concussion… – I’m not 100% sure ‘as’ works here; it feels more like a ‘since’ moment. I’m sure there’s a proper grammatical explanation but I don’t know it. Also, think it should be ‘didn’t’ not ‘doesn’t’ to keep in line with the tense.


Closing Comments
Being a fan of both MM and first-person narrators, I naturally enjoyed this story. I also enjoy those that combine dark with light and I think you managed that here in quite a realistic way. Mason came across as quite a fledged character, almost as if you’ve been thinking him for a while (though I think I recall you saying you’d come up with the idea and written it in one day??) and definitely the sort I’d like to read more of. I suspect he’s never really had a relationship and I’d like to see how this (possible) one with Ben plays out. And, of course, I’d like to see how the pair of them stand against the bullies since I feel Ben is likely to be quite bullish over his feelings.


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!.
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Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)

Hi WakeUpAndLive~

I’m reviewing your entry, "Dance me to the end of love, for the Summer round of "A Romance Contest.


The Prompt
This summer round of A Romance Contest had no particular prompt but it required that the entry be romance and that the season – summer – be clearly identifiable. It’s not until we’re halfway into the story that the season is mentioned (This lovely summer’s morning), but the thing is that’s almost all we get bar that the sun is bright and there’s a bit of a breeze. The next paragraph includes lovely weather but it’s not nearly enough to make summer really be part of this story. What is ‘lovely’ about the weather? Show us more than the sun shining bright – and how is the ‘shining’ happening anyway? Is it glinting off windows? Is it rising down the end of the street so it’s in the character’s eyes? Is the temperature already high even though it’s early morning? Does the black of the Ibiza make it even hotter to sit in? Are there lots of people out and about (even in the suburbs) enjoying the weather before it becomes too hot? I get the focus is on the character, but summer needs a little bit more show too (you could even show it in relation to the character’s own heat).

Being a romance contest, the other required ingredient in entries is, of course, romance. I’ve gotta say that I found ‘romance’ lacking and ‘stalker’ to the fore in this story. I understand how a new love can really take over a person’s life but this particular character really creeped me out (probably because I can’t stand clingy people) and I found that I couldn’t sympathise with her at all. All through she simply seemed obsessed with the guy, physically rather than emotionally, and when she spotted him with another woman I couldn’t help thinking of a story I’d read long ago, when someone was eavesdropping and they were told how dangerous that was because the eavesdropper often heard something about themselves that they wished they hadn’t. I think we needed more story to this sort of ‘love’ – how they’d met etc, how the love had come to this point of stalking.


The Plot
A very simple plot here – a woman in love taken to the point where there is no romance but simply obsession and jealously. And from that there can generally be only one outcome. So the A to B nature of the story fitted quite well in this respect, and even nearing the end there was a little bit of ‘not sure what’s going to happen here’.

I understand that you added in the lyrics to the song after being advised that the word-count was too small for the contest. The lyrics are interesting (had to listen to the song on YouTube, didn’t realise the song had been written for The Alamo! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6ryBrtQtgM) but I think all at once at the end didn’t really help the story. The lyrics end up being quite telling and you could have brought this into the story through-out – hearing it on the radio while she stalked her man, for example, thinking of the lines about courting and standing by your wife, imagining the moment he proposes etc. Maybe the character had even seen the movie and was romanticising about it. The reaping and dying lyrics would, then, have come into their own in the latter part of the story especially if you’d combined them with the action. The pair are slow dancing – this song would actually work with that (possibly that’s the CD she puts on????). Basically, make us think of romance, put us (and the man) off the scent and then whammy us with the result. Give us a bit of a chance to actually feel sorry for the woman, because as it stands I didn’t feel that at all.

I liked your use of present tense to tell this story; it puts us right into the action and makes what’s happening sort of frenetic, fits with the moments of panic the character feels when she sees the other woman.

Your last line was particularly nice. Funny, I saw a lot more romance in this than the rest of the story but it also works with the ending itself, so a good strong final sentence.


The Characters
Being a first person character we don’t expect to ‘see’ a lot of the narrator, but you could bring her in here reasonably easy if you make her think of herself in relation to her man. For example, when she mentions the ‘gorgeous build’ she could be thinking of how she presses her cheek against his chest (tells us her height), how she remembers her bright red nail polish looking like little points of flame against his tanned skin, how his strong fingers like to get tangled in her curly hair….

Though I felt the character was a heck of a lot more creepy than romantic, I appreciated the level of stalker that she reached!! Detailing the man’s car was really good.

One thing I’d like to have known is the man’s name. Our narrator seems the sort of have written X loves Y all over the place and I’d expect her to be trying out the Mr and Mrs XXX wording or how his name rolls off her tongue, or even to the point that she’s looked up the origins of the name and thinks about how well he fits it. Aside from that, these are other little ways of showing her obsession.


The Technical Things
Aside from working the lyrics in throughout the story, another way to lengthen it is to give more show. Fro example, the character talks of her man’s great posture, his manly appearance and his gorgeous build. Go to town on the descriptions. She’s obsessed after all, so I think she’d be right down with ogling the breadth of shoulders, the flick of his hair as he walked, the crease even of his pressed pants, the straight nose, tan at his throat. Otherwise, all I wonder is ‘what is great posture mean? What’s manly about his appearance? What’s gorgeous about his build?’ Don’t be afraid to make the reader see what the character sees. If we become as obsessed as she is we might feel a little more sympathetic toward her.

…always punctual, at 8… – put a full stop after ‘punctual’ or a semi-colon otherwise the reading flow of this entire sentence doesn’t quite work.

…before driving to the other direction… – ‘in’ rather than ‘to’ here, because you drive to a specific location but you drive in a direction.

...meet again at Friday night – ‘on’ rather than ‘at’.

…anticipating on my disillusion… – remove ‘on’ here as the sentence works just fine without it.

…as I suddenly spot his car… – I think the ‘as’ should actually be a ‘but’ or even ‘except’ because what she spots stops her from driving passed (I suspect this doesn’t make a lot of sense, sorry, but the ‘as’ doesn’t work as a ‘stopper’.)

…numb like state.. – show us what this state looks like, rather than tell. And if you can’t show, then I’d reduce the sentence to simply something like I am numb. as that’s more powerful and a ‘numb like state’ seems to me to be simply ‘numb’ anyway.

Put the title of the song in italics. And one thing I noticed when I was listening to the song (the link above) was that where you’ve broken the lyrics with some more story was different to where the singing broken the lyrics, and in one particular place that was very powerful. At the moment of birth is definitely linked with And to stand by your wife, so I would not separate these two in the story; they’re powerful lines and I think they’re the two that would encourage this woman in everything she does, getting her man to stay in and have a quiet night.

I googled cyanide to see how quickly it acts because I did have a thought that too much time had passed between the gulping of the drinks to her throwing away the cyanide bottle. Apparently someone can be dead within three minutes depending upon the dose, so don’t forget to take that into account here. And also, one minute she’s slow dancing and then she’s throwing away the bottle. Is he already dead and she’s just tidying up before she dies???? Why hasn’t she thrown away the evidence already? Perhaps you could have him think the beer tastes on and then she actually reveals what she’s done??


Overall Impressions
Despite my reservations about this being a romance/love story, I do understand the obsessive side of the character. I just wish you’d given me something that made me feel on her side – perhaps if we had longer backstory; how they’d met, how he’d ‘healed’ her or something – things that would make me feel that her love was real before it all went a bit crazy. I do get that she’s been tipped over the edge, and her reaction is realistic because it goes hand in hand with the stalking and I think was the only ending she could perceive as being okay. The song’s powerful so make more use of it; definitely don’t just add in things like that to up word counts *Smile*

As a story linked to the two other genres, dark and drama, it worked really well, and I can see this being showcased, actually, in a dark romance kind of contest, or even a horror contest quite nicely.

If you do think about reworking the lyrics in, as I rambled about above, I’d love to take another read once done.


Thank you for entering "A Romance Contest, and I do hope to see you back! And - if you have any queries about anything above, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Os

My member sig



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

Hi FrostyDuf ⛄❄

Thank you for participating in the July round of "The LGBT Writing Contest. I'm reviewing your entry, "The Blind Date, in my role as the judge for this round.


The Prompt
This contest requires two main things from an entry. Clearly identifiable LGBT characters and the plot written to a prompt. I think you’ve made it nicely clear from the beginning that the two main characters are LGBT. And having half of the story plotted around a date and situated in a gay bar (hmm, it might just be me presuming that based on Laura’s meat-market comment) helped reinforce the LGBT theme. I liked that you further highlighted this – and thickened the tension/conflict – through the arrival of a drunk man who thinks he’s god’s gift and can turn any woman ‘straight’, giving the story a darker side. Laura shouldn’t have to defend herself against him, verbally or otherwise, yet I’m sure that goes on all the time, and it should make the reader feel just a little bit uncomfortable that we can still marginalise people who we think aren’t like ‘us’. I felt angry for Laura and was totally rooting for Elizabeth later on!

The single-word prompt “fear” was, I thought, pretty open, and I thought you worked it in well with this story. You started off light, though we already get a sense of Laura being uneasy about going to The Club. We almost get the feeling she’s not had a good time there in the past. And when she and Arlene get to the bar and are up on the balcony we get that sense again, so I was beginning to think that something was going to happen. I did not expect the man’s arrival, funnily enough, so I liked that hook. And… you made it an unpleasant encounter but we weren’t really freaking out so we got lulled in a sense of ‘okay’ and with Elizabeth’s arrival we were back on track with the plot – the blind date. and then you whammied us with the fear again, and I’m sure everyone’s experienced the ‘am I being followed’ feeling so we could all relate. You gave us physical and emotional fear, and both fitted in with the story, didn’t feel forced. The outcome was just as smooth and realistic. I liked how you portrayed Elizabeth as the shaky one in the aftermath. She didn’t show fear during, but afterwards she’s the one with the tears in her eyes as she lets that fear out. That felt real; once the adrenalin’s gone, shock gets in and we realise how damn scared we were.


Overall Impressions
I thought this story was a well-rounded whole, provided plenty of conflict and action (physical and emotional), and also gave us a happy ending (yes, I do love my happy endings!) Laura’s supporting her friend as she goes on a blind date, which turns out to be someone Laura knew (and later we find out had a crush on) a long time ago. A part of me was very satisfied at the whole ‘love will win out’ feeling I got from this story, and of course the satisfaction of a total twit being put in his place! I found myself a little bit upset for Arlene who ended up the third wheel, because that’s always a bit uncomfortable, though she sounds as if she had a better time afterwards, anyway!

The conflicts within the story were pretty much the plot, and I felt they worked together really well, moving seamlessly from one to another. It kept me engaged right to the very end. And I really liked how the ending brought us back to a calm moment – Laura learning how Elizabeth came to her rescue and the pair discussing their feelings, with a little bit of backstory. Of course, it does make me wonder how the pair went separate ways after high school since they were both sweet on each other! I also enjoyed how you brought the blind date back into the story, albeit totally different from that one at the beginning *Smile*.


The Characters
Laura’s our heroine in this story but about the only thing we ‘see’ of her is that she’s wearing a red dress. We’ve no idea what she looks like, or the other two girls for that matter. There is a rather distinct lack of description of them. I’m not expecting screeds of info but there are places you can drop it in – hair colour, hair length, flashes of memory from Laura over Elizabeth even (maybe what she remembered from graduation day). Rick calls Laura beautiful but show us that. For that matter, Laura calls the man ‘nice looking’ – show us that too. What’s nice looking about him? The more we can ‘see’ of the characters the more the reader can get to know them and feel for them.


The Technical Things
Just a few odds and ends I picked up. It looks worse than it actually is!

You have a tendency to have a dialogue tag at the end of very long moments of dialogue, which ends up reading a little awkwardly. An example is this one: “Hey beautiful. I thought that was you. I’ve been trying to catch up. I guess I missed a turn,” said the guy from the bar. One possible way for the above is “Hey beautiful,” said the guy from the bar. “I thought that was you. I’ve been trying to catch up. I guess I missed a turn.” The follow-on from this – Laura’s and Rick’s again – both also suffer from this late speaker identification. And in some cases you don’t need the dialogue tag. You’ve got action straight after that highlights the speaker. So when Laura responds to the above she does a lot of talking before you get to the ‘said’ part and noting that she’s backing away. Laura backed away would work as a speech-splitter, without the need for ‘said’. Eek, that’s a ramble. Something like this… “Hey, uh, listen. Like I told you, I’m not into guys and, yes, I’ve been with a guy before.” Laura backed away. “Doesn’t do anything for me, sorry. I’m really tired so I’m going to go.”

deep bass that could be felt in your chest – the ‘could’ makes this very passive. We’re in Arlene’s POV moments before and after so make this a feeling of hers. Or of Laura’s, since it’s quite clear she doesn’t like being there. Something like (but better, of course) The music’s beat was fast with a deep bass that Laura was sure would thump her heart right out of its regular rhythm. I’ve just been reading a book on settings – and involving the senses and this club is a prime example of where you could go to town with such things – sound, sight, smell.

She started walking toward home as she didn’t…. – though I’d use ‘because’ instead of ‘as’ here I’m not mentioning this sentence wholly because of that. More because I got confused about what Laura was doing. The sentence before she’s waiting for a cab, now she’s walking, next para she’s back to thinking about the cab. It’s just a little confusing, and I wonder if that’s all caused by the very first sentence starting She closed out her tab… – it sounds like she’s also waiting for a cab, though a re-read makes me think she’s just outside and it’s others who’re waiting. Just needs a little focusing, I think.

Bent over the curb, she thought, maybe it is that creepy guy. – the way you have this written, it makes the whole thing read like a thought, rather than just the last half being the thought. And the very next sentence is a real thought (italics) so it was a little puzzling. Perhaps lead off with something like Bending over the curb, Laura wondered if it was that creepy guy.

She could only make it a few yards before she would think… – it’s the ‘could’ again that makes this awkward, followed by the double use of ‘would’. Make this sentence a little more active/real-time. Let the reader feel Laura’s fear, so don’t just say she was frightened, show us (the throwing up does this well, but show us more).

…took her hand is his and shook it – ‘in’ rather than ‘is’.

Where does Susan come from? It’s been, what, perhaps an hour from Laura starting to walk and the police taking Rick away. Now, we know that characters have lives ‘off screen’ but she does kind of come out of the blue with Arlene, especially since Arlene was initially on the date with Elizabeth (though I presume these two had clarifying words!) The timing felt a little odd again when Laura asks Elizabeth if she wants to go for dinner. If all the bars are closing, I’m presuming it’s fairly late at night. Would they really be going to dinner then?

Two final things. I don’t think this needs to be GC rated at all. 18+ is fine, and think about your genres. You’ve got two ‘other’. They won’t sell your story. Drama and Emotional or even Gay/Lesbian or Romance would be just as good fits (make Contest Entry your third genre).


Closing Comments
A nicely told story, Meduf, from end to end. I thought the LGBT characters tied in with the prompt really well, giving us several aspects of fear but keeping them under control and believable. This is the kind of story that I’d like to read more of – backstory for Laura and Arlene’s friendship and what happens next with Laura and Elizabeth.

Thank you so much for entering "The LGBT Writing Contest, and we hope you come back again! And - if you have any queries about anything above, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,
Osirantinous


My member sig
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Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi Dat Bear


I've just read "Beastly Feast Sonnet, and this is a House of Stark review for "Game of Thrones.


*Crown* Reader Impressions

I am somewhat amazed that of the four items you have in your port, this little one has not received a review. I think it's a great poem and when I think how young you were when you wrote it I'm just amazed. I'd blind people if I ever showed them poetry from way back then, but here you are muscling up with a sonnet!

The narrator here could be a wild animal, a bear, or a monster of sorts (Blood automatically makes me think of vampires these days), and as we get snippets of the 'human' thoughts around humanity, regret etc that does lead me more toward perhaps a shapeshifter - someone who must kill for sustenance but whose human side hates it all. I wonder if people have steered clear of a review simply because of all the bloodiness and they don't quite know how to express their thoughts? It's definitely bloody and gory, but at the same time that is magic. It highlights that split in the narrator - when they're feasting they're all beast, and ripping up carcasses and revelling in blood is what, one presumes, happens. The glee felt by the beast makes the regret more powerful. Though you don't mention it, I really felt a sense of shame in the narrator.

Intriguingly, as if I am beast makes us rethink what our narrator is. Perhaps he is not a bear, nor a shapeshifter. Perhaps he's just some deranged serial killer who kills in this beastly sort of fantasy? A killer would, I guess, have some sort of regret that after all their fun and games, they're alone again. Until, that is, they find their next target.

Anyway... the final rhyming lines bring out the sympathy in me and so I will continue to think of the narrator as an unfortunate shapeshifter who kills because he has to, continually regretting it but not able to stop. I suspect he's felt the last line several times over.

Though I felt at times you got a bit desperate for words that fit the theme and the syllables, it's possible too that these are just words of a young writer. You write what you know here; you haven't gotten out a silly thesaurus and looked up more lyrical words. That, I like. Don't be pretty in a poem that doesn't deal with a pretty subject. Plain words work! And, believe me, they're fully visual. You don't have the narrator licking his fingers/claws clean, but I can see him doing it even as he starts to have that sense of loss and regret.


*Crown* Suggestions

Being pedantic I counted out the syllables (well I like to see how people do!) and you're missing one with the line beginning Tearing, ripping... This one's just got nine, when all others have ten. Frankly, I don't think it affects reading flow at all, but if you were going to the correct ten then I think you could replace 'filled' with 'fulfilled' to get the ten syllables and retain the general meaning.

Also, I think this really needs to be at least 18+ in rating, because it is so gory.


*Crown* Closing Comments

I liked this poem! There, I've said it. It's gory and bloody, and sad all in one. It's also very visual. I would, of course, love to know 'what' the narrator is as I rather suspect I'm totally off the charts with what I think. Frankly, I like that - you've made me bring my imagination to play as well as yours.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


House Stark image for G.o.T.
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Review of Tomorrow...  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Hi Gwyneth

I've just read "Tomorrow..., and this is a House of Stark review for "Game of Thrones.


*Crown* Reader Impressions
The log-line intrigued me and so I opened this to read, wondering how someone else viewed a forthcoming 'milestone' birthday.

And this milestone birthday is quite something, as you say; the moment you are officially classed as an adult in your society. I think back on my own 18th birthday and realise I never had such thoughts. Eighteen in my country, back then anyway, didn't carry the same weight. Much of our legal rules apply when we're seventeen and I guess since I was still going to school (a year on exchange after I'd finished my own highschool and then onto university) I wonder if that's why I didn't feel the adultness of the age. I didn't have to get a job, I wasn't really paying bills...

Interestingly, you've not so much focused on those things but rather on the possibly requirement that you totally shut off the things you loved back when you were a 'child'. I can definitely understand the sense of rebellion here, and I'm of the opinion that it's not until you hit at least the mid-twenties when you really have to start doing adult things (well, more of them and more often). But, having said that, I'm (mumble mumble) forty-one now and I still do things I did as a kid, read those books, laugh at those TV shows. Occasionally I think 'what the heck am I doing? I'm an adult' and then I don't care. If it makes me happy, then I do it.

I suspect you've found out that you didn't really need to rebel, since we're fourteen years on from the moment of this writing, or at least, I hope that you did! Our age may grow each year but we're still just children. Why shouldn't we delight in the funny things bees do, just because we're 'ancient'?

I love your final challenge: Tomorrow, I will not let you change me. It's a good mantra, especially as you get older and start slipping up the age brackets in those questionnaires. Be yourself always. Time goes on anyway, we can't fight it but we don't have to change for it either. I guess, not until we actually can't do things anymore!

PS: what are grr socks?


*Crown* Suggestions
The one thing I'd suggest is to swap the ordering of ...brings with it a new beginning and an ending. Let the ending happen before the beginning (which you do in the next sentence) just to keep chronological sense.


*Crown* Closing Comments
This was a great little read, and I hope you come back to it from time to time to remember how you felt and reflect on how you are now. I'd love to see your thoughts on when you're sitting there on the eve of your fortieth *Smile*; that one's more of a shock than turning eighteen even if it brings no new 'rules/changes'.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Cheers,
Osirantinous


House Stark image for G.o.T.
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Review of Timmy  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hi Scifiwizard

I've just read the prologue of "Timmy, and this is a House of Stark review for "Game of Thrones.


*Crown* Reader Impressions
This prologue hits all the right notes in encouraging people to carry on with the story. It has mystery in several forms - a man who seems unpleased at publicity, a ghost child, a couple of buy and restore a theatre and then run a show, and a sinister man wanting to get rid of the ghost. Although.... this later moment (at the end of the prologue) could also be talking about a real child. That's the catch. We automatically presume Timmy and the 'ghostly child' are one and the same, and Timmy sort of hints at this himself - when he says he's been in the theatre a long time. And yet, when he hides in a secret part of the wall - that almost makes him seem physically real. Sneaky, sneaky... the reader has to read on to find out what's going on.

Though, no matter who/what Timmy is we know he's lonely and we know he's likely to be in danger. He's a good Samaritan, and seems entirely responsible for the theatre being restored, the play being written and the children being adopted. Yet he's also no more than a 'legend'. Finding out what happened to him and what secret he has to reveal is a great hook to keep reader interest. I want to know who the 'gangster' man is, and what secret he wants kept dead. I want to know what happened to Timmy, and I want to know what happens when people come to meet him face to fact (well, I'm just hoping this latter happens!).

Aside from the mystery, we obviously also have the conflict. You allude to this right at the beginning when you mention the secrets; we're obviously going to be treated to danger and drama as this novel works through and I expect that the pace will be hot. Oddly, I can almost feel it running to time like a musical itself!

I'm intrigued to see where Angel comes into the story. Is her role only within the play itself or will she be a strong character 'outside' as well? Will Mae get her story, will she even persist? I imagine she might come to loggerheads with the sinister man in the car - he wants things quiet, she wants things reveals. You've got the bones of some very good characters here, all with their finger in the pie so to speak, and I look forward to seeing how they develop.

The prologue itself works as a hook for readers, but the final lines make it more barbed. We just have to find out what's going on. (And, to be honest, if Timmy is a ghost, then I look forward to seeing how they think they're going to capture him!!!)


*Crown* Suggestions
One thing I'd suggest is change up the characters' descriptions a bit. Don't just give us a list of what they look like and what they're wearing. Bring that into the story through active description. Something like this (but better): Beside her Mae checked her hair in her pocket mirror. Yes, the brown locks remained intact in their barrettes and her lipstick proved the curve of her lips. Basically, don't bullet-point. You do it three times in the second paragraph and it's quite distracting. (Also, what does a gangster style suit look like? Show rather than tell.)

I find your dialogue tags/adjectives a little odd. I noted you do these in your interactives too, so I know it's just how you write but to have the adjective in front of the 'said' felt mostly wrong. Which shows I'm not thinking outside the box! However, when I see something like Smiling, Angel said I actually expect this tag to be attached to the speech that comes directly after it, not to the one before it like yours do. I'm not going to suggestion you wholesale change, but do keep in mind how readable/understandable it is for the reader.

I would love to interview this child to see what the 'Broadway Specter'... - I'd probably cut out the child part of this sentence because it feels somewhat repetitive since the child and the Specter are the same. I would love to interview the 'Broadway Specter and get his thoughts... is a possible why you could re-write that.

boss wants us on sight - 'site' rather than 'sight'.

from inside the dark hall Timmy was in - I'd remove 'Timmy was in' because it's not really needed and it makes it sound like he and the two men are there together, and they're not actually.


*Crown* Closing Comments
Prologues need to capture the reader's interest, give details about the plot, the characters, the setting. Yours does this and it acts very well as a hook for continued reading. I did notice a few things that need some checking over but they're not catastrophic show-stoppers. I'll hopefully be back with more reviews one day.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


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Review of Writing  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi penshadow

I've just read "Writing, and this is a House of Stark review for "Game of Thrones.


*Crown* Reader Impressions
You have some lovely poetry in your port, but this one really called to me. It probably calls to all writers since I'm sure we all feel this way to a certain extent - that writing sets us free.

I thought it interesting though that your opening lines and your closing lines seem to contradict just a little. You open with feeling like your writing is a mask of sorts, as if it hides you. And then at the end you indicate that words let you reveal who you are. Or at least, that's how I read them. I think there's quite a duality there and that writers are a bit of both - using words to hide and using words to reveal.

This poem is so filled with metaphors that I'm totally jealous. I'm not very imaginative in my descriptions and though I felt all of these things that you wrote, I would never have been able to come up with them myself. I loved Bound there by fear with the ability to escape, but not the courage to dare. How true is this? Our fear is often so strong that we don't see that we can escape or if we do then we're too afraid too, too afraid to make things worse (or, worse, afraid that we'll fail).

The poem is, mostly, sad. Knowing what you're doing but unable to stop is somewhat heart-breaking, knowing that you can be passionate all you like but you won't actually finish what you want to finish. I'm a bit like that, though if time smothers my writing it's more because I simply lack the drive. And yet, nothing pricks at me to get a move on. Writers are their own worst enemies.

I loved the memory at the end - a time when you were free and without duress and stress, and the indication that writing lets you be that way again - makes you strong, makes your courageous, makes you real. It's a poignant ending to a beautiful but sombre tale, and I feel that this poem was so definitely written from the heart. It's now eleven years old, I wonder if you would still write it now or if you have escaped the fears?


*Crown* Suggestions
My only real suggestion is - if this poem fulfill's a poetic form, then perhaps state that. It read pretty free-form to me, beyond the rhyming pairs of lines, but probably I missed something. I don't really mind if you don't mention the form (a lot of your other poetry is styled this way too); but it's just something that might help the reader 'read' more, and appreciate the extra hard work in writing an awesome poem within stylistic boundaries.


*Crown* Closing Comments
A very personal poem, in which you really have revealed yourself. And, I think given words to how other writers feel but who don't know the words with which to speak them. Beautiful imagery, and I'm imagining a library in my head now with all my chaotic works haphazard on the dusty shelves.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


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