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406 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
If you're really desperate for a review, feel free to email me. Just don't expect a very quick turnaround. NB: I'm happy to review novels. I tend to review from the point of view of a reader rather than an editor. I 'nitpick' on anything that interrupts my reading flow. If you want me to go all out with nitpicking in general, ask me to do a line-by-line. Quite happy to do so - as a copied static or email.
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Getting into the story from the reader's perspective.
Favorite Genres
M/M, romance, horror, western
Public Reviews
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101
101
Review of Teamwork  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi ☮ The Grum Of Grums

The awesome "Red Wedding updating is in full swing and you’ve been chosen as a recipient of a review raid. This review of "Teamwork comes from fabulous House Stark.


*Crown* Reader Impressions
Teamwork, huh? Rather a hot topic right now, I’m sure, among the Houses of "Game of Thrones. I note that this item was written during last year’s GOT and was probably totally apt then as it is now. And it is, of course, apt outside of Game of Thrones too *Smile*; too often we see people not pulling their weight in many aspects of their lives, and not seeing how teamwork is a way to be desired. I live with this at work; I have a team of three who sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees and help each other out. And they probably do so because, as with the case with Lisa, I haven’t yet managed to instil in them that there is no ‘I’ in team and that if one falls/fails we all do. However, simply telling someone this won’t work; you have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Sam walks the walk. He’s the one in total frustration, who can see the family dynamic collapsing because of a particular family member. He reacts like anyone would – a sort of tit-for-tat that nobody would deny him – but beyond that he knows the value of working together and he’s willing to do whatever to ensure it happens. Of course, a lot of this is self-help so that he’s not doubled up with chores but mostly it’s to try and save his mum from her massive burden. His sense of family is deep and it’s nice to see him striving to keep it so.

It isn’t surprising that Sam makes a deal with his sister, however. Clearly direct attack and tit-for-tat don’t work with Lisa, but a deal to help her out is a better dangling carrot. It sometimes comes down to what we want most and what we’re willing to do to attain/maintain it. It’s a pity people have to almost be threatened or bribed into action but that’s often how things go. You’ve hit that nail on the head here!

We don’t get to see Lisa’s side of the story at all, don’t see any good light around her; she’s just a me-me-me teenager. So I thought it quite intriguing she was worried that Sam might not hold up his end of the deal and, to me, She just had to accept her brother’s willingness to help, something she probably imagined had never happened before. was quite telling. In reality, what has Sam done to instil a sense of trust and reliability? It doesn’t sound like he’s done anything and I can understand why she might query his motives now and his stability. Her come-backs to him about his jealousy etc actually make sense when you look at the story this way! (I found this a funny little hook; would love to see this story from Lisa’s point of view.)

I do follow the moral of this tale – teamwork helps!! At the end we’ve got better grades (than expected) from Lisa and a vote of thanks to Sam from his previously-quiet father. The family has pulled together into a sense of something stronger and tighter knit. Adversity, in any form, can destroy a team and so everyone must come together to mend the cracks and holes. And we can never think that someone else is going to pick up the slack. When I was reading this I was reminded of a ‘nobody’ story that I’d read years ago in a cookbook (of all places!!!). I googled it and here’s a link: http://www.columbia.edu/~sss31/rainbow/whose.job.h... Your story at least shows people taking responsibility!


*Crown* Suggestions
I liked that Sam had a strong sense of family and what was right, etc, but in his speech to Lisa I found him quite patronising (rather like Lisa did). He comes across stiff and adult-like. He’s only a few years older than Lisa and (I’m presuming) a teen-ager himself, yet he doesn’t really sound like one. He didn’t come across colloquial enough, if that makes sense. I’ll give two examples below that hopefully illustrate what I mean.

You know, or you damn well ought to, how much she.. – ‘damn well ought’ is what I see as the culprit here. I’d remove this; make it a straight-out statement here: You know how much… Give no option for an ‘out’; put the onus back on Lisa knowing what she’s doing rather than have Sam act out a ‘high horse’ moment.

If you’re prepared to do your own chores, and heaven knows, they’re not excessive, and show a little more… – I think Sam is trying to point a point here about his sister not even managing a very little amount of chores but it’s too waffly. Make the deal crystal clear: If you do your chores and show mum more respect, I’ll help you with your maths. That has a far more ‘take it or leave it’ impetus.

…made me realise I’d pushed a button. – this is when Lisa’s found the mess dumped on her bed. I’m picking on it only because when Sam dumped the mess on her bed he knew it would cause an angry response… so he doesn’t need to realise he’s pushed a button here; he knew it would. I think you could turn this sentence around a little to something like Bullseye, I thought when I heard her shriek of anger. We’re reminded of the earlier moment and you’re not doubling-up on telling us about the mess either. (By the way, his response when she comes out to confront him is just perfect!!)

white-anting – only querying what this actually means? Is it something like ‘dumbing down’ or ‘negating’?


*Crown* Closing Comments
This is the kind of tale that everyone needs to read, no matter their environment. People have to learn to work together and then work together. Sometimes that’s a difficult thing to achiever but as your story shows – the outcome/benefits often far outweigh the difficulties.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
102
102
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h

I’m back with another review on behalf of House Stark. This time for "Terminology and Resources; and, as usual, associated with "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
Well, you might think me totally weird for reviewing this piece about poetry, because I’m barely a poet and I rarely review poetry. I do, however, like to read poetry; just can’t make my brain act magically enough to write, outside of basic syllabic forms (like the tetractys and cinquain)!

And so when I saw this in your port, I had to read it and I found it very informative. I learned a lot of these terms in various English Lit classes and in fact I’ve kept my ‘Glossary of Terms’ from one of my classes, and refer to it now and then. However, when I read or write or review poetry all of that goes out the window, and I don’t feel qualified to do any of the three. This item sheds light on poetry mechanics, and provides extra resources at the bottom (to external webpages and to WDC members). I have made it a favourite so that it will be on hand whenever I make a foray into reviewing poetry.


*Crown* Suggestions
I did have issues with some of the formatting.

I’m by no means a digital person but when I’m on the web I’ve come to expect that something underlined – unless it is clearly just a heading – will be a hyperlink to more data. None of your underlined sections are links. The green headings look perfectly like headings but those in black could be confused for links. There are only so many ways one can individualise a heading and make it clear that it’s a heading but the colour you use helps with that and even a change in font size implies a heading. Basically, make it plain (or as plain as possible) to the reader what they’re seeing and can do.

Aside from the underlining of your first-section terms making me think they were links, I also thought they were highlighted too similarly to the real headings. The use of bold makes them visible enough (If not, then ‘consonance’ in the first section needs to be underlined to bring it in line with the others there. And why is the first section underlined and the second section not?), You’re probably trying to save space in this item, but I’d also recommend putting a space between each term. The centring of the information does make it visually appealing but a gap between the terms will generally make things easier to read, easier to skim down the list to find the term we’re after.


*Crown* Closing Comments
Well, for me, this was a quite a find. Normally I focus on reviewing novels or short stories but like to break out of my mould now and then to review out of my comfort zone – such as poetry or even forums. This little item of yours is going to go a long way in (re)educating me so that my poetry reviews are stronger and more informed. I often babble about how the poem made me feel, but with Terminology and Resources at my fingertips I can delve deeper into the mechanics and not feel quite like a dolt for doing so.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
103
103
Review of Being First  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h

I’m back with another review on behalf of House Stark. This time for "Being First; and, as usual, associated with "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
This strikes a chord, as I’m sure all of the reviewers have said, and I think you’ve got it right. When we know someone personally the affect is much harder on us. This is a very sad tale, and reading this now it still sounds like you are in shock over the event. I think that should be absolutely no surprise at all. Some things are burned into our psyche.

But even when someone famous dies before their time (car accident or something like that) that is also a major shock. You might not know them personally but often they were such a big part of your exterior life that it’s hard to believe/come to terms with. It’s almost ‘but they’re famous! How did that happen?’ Almost like we expect them to be immortal. I don’t recall seeing the Challenger tragedy live, but even though I was just eleven I knew all about it because it had such a worldwide audience/interest. However, I watched with shock when Columbia blew up. I really hate watching live events like this now because of that minute possibility that something utterly horrible will go wrong. There’s a little bit of me that just can’t cope with that possibility. I live behind my eye-covering fingers.

You have put a very human front on this tragedy, reminding the reader that the astronauts aboard Challenger had lives and families and plans. It’s a very sad but moving tribute, and brought tears to my eyes – not just because of Christa’s loss but because of the loss felt by her friends and by the children, the not knowing what happened but knowing things would be different. It’s heart-wrenching. And it made me recall my visit to the Johnson Space Centre last year. We went on a tour of the site and stopped at a little park where there were two circles of trees – one commemorating those lost in the Challenger disaster and one for those lost with Columbia. Just trees, but I had to wipe tears away. It is heart-warming to know they will never be forgotten.


*Crown* Suggestions
You know what my only suggestion is? If these are your memories of that day, then write them as that. Don’t say it’s fiction based on fact or you’ll get people trying to tell you how to write it; and this piece shouldn’t really be subject to that sort of critique (beyond any spelling errors).


*Crown* Closing Comments
This is a beautiful piece of heart-felt writing. And for someone who likes history, this is also a fascinating read. I am distanced from the event so to get closer through first-hand accounts and memories means a lot; it makes Christa more than just a name and for that I am really glad.


Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
104
104
Review of Framing  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h

I’m back with another review on behalf of House Stark. This time for "Framing; and, as usual, associated with "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
This is a lovely story of someone trying to turn their life around and not going into meltdown when it’s not a smooth road. I think that’s a measure of a person – how they react to adversity.

Your Tommy is the kind of person we’d all like to know, full of humility, strength, loyalty, honesty. Even without Jimmy being portrayed perfectly as a pompous prat we’d be on Tommy’s side; we want the underdog to win. That you’ve made him worthy of winning just makes us like him more. It’s a really strong portrayal of a character, with appropriate backstory threaded through. Thought there seemed a speck of jealousy on Tommy’s part as we learned of Jimmy’s prowess, but that that was quite natural, and Jimmy’s actions make him a complete bozo in the end.

I like how this story is told. We open with Jimmy going to screw up Tommy’s opportunity before a short instance of back-story to set the scene. The whole fixing the barn section is a bit of a waffle and might not be overly understandable to the common reader but it does provide the basis for Tommy’s dedication and his value to Mrs Bennett. We’ve got him on his feet after this and thinking that all is going to be fine before he takes a second hit; and it’s now that we hear about his family and his drive to prove himself better than that, even with a broken arm.

Jimmy is a massive spanner in the works but Tommy refuses to lash out. He acts honourably, even in the supermarket. Well, that bit almost had tears come to my eyes. It’s horrible to think of the humiliation he must have felt even though he’d done nothing wrong. I just wanted to punch that rotten Jimmy’s face. (By the way, making a reader feel for a character scores big points with me *Smile*) And when Mr Thompson comes around with Gina we see more of that humility and quiet strength; Tommy is all about apology and honesty.

The attraction between Tommy and Gina felt a little out of the blue. Had he noticed her before, maybe, and thought her out of his ‘league’? Or did their attraction really only stem from the hours talking? I love it being here (I am a romance writer) but I’d like a little bit more reason for it.

Great closing lines! We get the feeling that Jimmy Rodgers is not going to win, and we’ve got proof again that Tommy is hardworking, loyal, determined. He’s supposed to start the next night but will show up straight away. I think Mr Thompson is about to find he has the best employee ever!


*Crown* Suggestions
Just some typos that need to be tidied up, along with a request for clarification.

I had busted trough… – I think you’re after ‘through’ here?

I took a dive off one of a roof truss… – I think this would read better if ‘one of’ were removed. We know there’s more than one truss, so you don’t need to state that he dives off ‘one of’ them.

they made poor choices… – capitalise ‘they’. By the way, this section dealing with Tommy’s father and grandfather is brilliantly told. We hear of hard times and stubbornness (it’s understandable how upset the grandfather is) and how things deteriorated to the point where Tommy’s father tries to drown his issues. It’s crystal clear Tommy is headed down this route too (and he says it later on with regards to being a bar fixture). We understand the strength Tommy has to muster to raise himself above this family history.

I addition to my work… – ‘In’ rather than ‘I’.

What are looking at? – sounds like a classic Jimmy-the-bully moment!! But you’re missing ‘you’ I think.

My son will be there to let you in. – love this piece from Mr Thompson – giving Tommy a job and a lifeline – but put a closing speech mark at the end.

Will he be there tonight?... – who is ‘he’? I thought maybe he meant Mr Thompson’s son but since he is going to be letting Tommy in, it can’t be him. Because of that, this is quite out odd.

…small packet of hamburg… – I am presuming this should be ‘hamburger’, since that’s how it was written early.

… we managed to bun away an hour or so… – ‘burn’ rather than ‘bun’.


*Crown* Closing Comments
This is a great story, and the title fits all aspects of it too; from the actual framing of the barn to Tommy framing his life with back-story snapshots. I also expected to see a little bit of Jimmy framing Tommy for something. We don’t see that but Jimmy does have Tommy in the frame for his needling! Can’t say I’ve seen a more apt title in ages. The typos don’t really distract from the reading because Tommy is such a strong character and the story is told so well, but they do need to be fixed, just to make this more perfect.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
105
105
Review of River Run  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h

I’m back with another review on behalf of House Stark. This time for "River Run; and, as usual, associated with "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
I chose this story because I remember when I did this PDG contest, and how I was hoping a flash of inspiration would hit me as I perused the photos. It did – eventually! I wish you’d been able to keep the photo that you wrote this story to. Was it rain? A river? People in canoes?

I loved the humour that’s apparent in this story! With the character not wanting his partner to show him up and Gabby cracking a joke about not wanting to break in a new partner. It was nice banter in a serious moment. The general conversation was also very natural. And the scary occurrence sounds like a ‘day in the life’ sort of thing that’s not so serious after all.

I was confused a little about what the pair were out to do, beyond taking the measurements, so I probably fuddled my way through the story, relying on you being able to describe events for my understanding. I think in the most part you did this okay, and you did describe the flash flood part well, right down to the character’s reaction. Man, it’s a job I’d never sign up for!!! I also liked how they made use of the natural resources afterward – using the water to get around taking photos of things that people wouldn’t normally see.

The ending was quite nice – that moment of ‘things didn’t quite go to plan but, hey, we’re alive so who cares?’ And, as I mentioned above, they benefited from the change of plan!


*Crown* Suggestions
This story vacillates between simple past tense and present tense, and I found that a bit jarring. This is most apparent in the paragraph beginning We were setting up at the bottle neck… I think you need to stick with the simple past tense here so that flow is steady. The constant swapping feels a bit like we’re being bashed by the wall of water.

Also watch out for repetitive statements. When the water is rushing down towards our two characters we actually get three instances of it and their reactions: Before we had a chance to register what was going on, we were under a wall of water…, followed in the next paragraph by The advancing wall of water hit like a freight train. Before we had time to react… which is followed in the next paragraph by My world had changed before I could register what was going on. I love the ‘freight train’ analogy but it’s buried by the repetition. I recommend merging these three paragraphs – explain the shock, explain the wall of water and what it does/sounds like, explain the reaction, explain the outcome (from the preparations) but don’t repeat anything.

The opening sentences made it sound like we’d get straight into what the character had never seen, but we don’t. It’s not until half way into the story (and the next day) that we understand what this statement means and I think that’s too late. You could still use both sentences; they’d fit with Gabby’s comment about the flash flood warning. The character’s thoughts could be in response to that news.

My stomach reached… – ‘reacted’ rather than ‘reached’ and this sentence also contains more repetition about registering what happened.

… surges tend to loose their force. – ‘lose’ rather than ‘loose’.

With the rest of the day a bust […] to enjoy the rest of the day. – another moment where you’re a bit repetitive. And, obviously, the rest of the day isn’t really a bust. You could do something like Unable to carry on with taking measurements, we did…

It’s Beautiful. – a little b here.

… and some times that’s all that counts. – ‘sometimes’ rather than ‘some times’.


*Crown* Closing Comments
This is an intriguing, suspenseful, and not a little bit scary, story. However it’s let down somewhat by the repetition and tense issues that keep the reader from finding an easy flow and understanding. I’ve got some suggestions up above but I’d also recommend reading the story out loud. Sometimes we don’t see issues but we hear them.


Don't hesitate to let me know if I need to clarify anything.

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
106
106
Review of Jolene!  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h

I’m back with another review on behalf of House Stark. This time for "Jolene!; and, as usual, associated with "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
A tough story to read. A lifetime of abuse only has a few outcomes when ‘too much’ has finally been reached. One might have expected suicide but Jolene is in fact a strong woman. She’s not had a great life but even so she won’t give it up, preferring to get rid of the cause of the bad life. It’s somewhat amazing that it doesn’t appear she has even thought along these lines before, but then again she’s probably been so busy trying to keep out of Ed’s way to have that cross her mind. And I guess she has her pride and sometimes that’s harder to break free from than anything else. The people at the hospital all but know something is going on and yet she won’t tell them, or can’t tell them. Some might say then that she has herself to blame for the continuing abuse but that’s harsh. You do what you do, and you’re the only one who knows.

We don’t see a lot of Jolene physically (hair, height, build etc), if at all, and that kind of helps portray her as simply a punching bag, unhuman, just a tool. It would have been interesting to have these things start to be revealed as she began to follow her plan. She is becoming a ‘real’ person rather than just a beer-deliverer and punching bag, fleshing out into someone who can live. Sounds like I’m being overdramatic here, I’m sure, but that’s just how I see what this decision does for her, and I’d have like to have seen it actually portrayed too.

I like how we start at the ‘end’ but get the backstory. We know how Jolene and Ed have reached this point in time, and understand how she has reached her limit. For a speck, I felt momentarily sorry for Ed. He’s not helped himself but it must be a hell of a shock to suddenly be cut off from work, no matter how it happens. I had thought, originally, that a lot of his brutality might have stemmed from his time in Vietnam (PTSD etc) but you don’t mention that at all, nor how he might be bitter over the loss of his sporting future. Mind you, it’s easier to blame atrocious behaviour on someone else and Jolene is right there.

By the end of the story I think most people would be on Jolene’s side. She does come across calm and cool but this can be attributed, I expect, to her finally reaching a way out for herself rather than cold-bloodness.


*Crown* Suggestions
I’m one of those readers who takes particular note of dates, times and timeframes. Getting things out of line is amazingly easy to do but not always easy to pick up. I know what dates should be when I’m writing but sometimes I get it wrong and don’t ‘see’ it. Your section about the pregnancy pricked at me, and it all comes down to the fact that it’s only a few weeks since Ed’s return that Jolene finds out she’s pregnant. Can someone know in that short amount of time, or is ‘a few weeks’ longer that I think that denotes (no more than three)? Because of that short timeframe I automatically read it as Jolene being pregnant to someone else! Guess I’d like a bit of clarification here. And later in the story, when Jolene is taking her pain pills, we learn that 2.5 weeks ago she had cracked ribs and a fractured arm. Is the arm still in a cast (or in whatever they brace arms with these days)? I’d have expected so but she’s not acting like she has issues (with the ribs either). If she’s still in pain she doesn’t really show it. The pills could just be going down without ‘reason’ now but if she’s still got the injury issues, illustrate them. Ram home how she’s come to this moment in time when she decides to use the pills on Ed. Perhaps she wavers and then looks at the cast, or feels a twinge, and that steels her mind?

There’s a couple of places where we’re suddenly in Ed’s POV (where we learn that he thinks everything is her fault and near the end when he figures she’s learned her lesson about beer delivery). It’s intriguing to get his side but there’s no clear swap between Jolene’s general POV and his, and it jars a little as we try to figure out where we are. I’d recommend you turn the few moments of Ed’s POV back into Jolene’s; it’s her story, after all. This is just one way you might re-do the latter: Cans ten and eleven were delivered on time, and Jolene was sure Ed simply figured she’d learned her lesson after the kitchen incident.

His voice carried through the house, and sent shivers up and down her spine every time he would yell. – I think you could remove ‘every time he would yell’. That’s expected, in any case, but I think the sentence packs a bigger punch without it.

The front of his paints were stained… – ‘pants’ rather than ‘paints’.


*Crown* Closing Comments
A difficult story, well told. We’re left without doubt about Jolene’s life and her final actions, and I think everyone probably mostly wonders how she has managed to hang on thus far! You know what I’d like to see? A sort of sequel, a ‘life after Ed’ kind of thing. Does Jolene cope (with what she has done and with the sudden freedom?) What does she do? Just a thought *Smile*


Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
107
107
Review of Coffee Shop  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h

"Red Wedding updating is in full swing and you’ve been chosen as a recipient of a review raid. This review of "Coffee Shop comes from the Paper Doll Gang’s House Stark.


*Crown* Reader Impressions
This is a lovely little story, but one that leaves many things unanswered (well, for inquisitive readers such as I). We often see people off in their own world but I don’t think many of us actually contemplate what that ‘world’ might be like. Do we even contemplate it when we’re in that world ourselves??? For me, I’m usually in my writing world, walking along with characters or trying to find the wording that will make a sentence shine. Occasionally, that world is as described here – whirling thoughts going round and round in space, trying to latch onto something that’s just there. It’s like something caught out of peripheral vision but when you turn to look, nothing’s there.

Drawing the woman into this extra world via the swirls in her drink is just the sort of natural way this might happen. How many of us have stared at those or even rain running down a window and entered the ‘portal’ that way? It’s beautifully written and very easy to ‘see’. The reader becomes a bit like her – intent on her world, yet feeling the mug and hearing the occasional chink of cutlery etc. We can feel/imagine/see this all very easily. And I think we can connect so easily with the woman because we’ve all done what she is doing, including in public.

We have no idea what this woman is searching for in her interstellar world but know that she has found it once. That’s how she knows it’s out there to be found. Our question is ‘what is she after?’ Hers is ‘where did I find it last time?’ We never find out what ‘it’ is but I expect most people will not find that an issue. Lots of times we’re searching for things we can’t put a name to.

I think you describe her world and her reactions just perfectly. Interruptions do filter in and we try to push them back, resent their intrusion, while struggling to keep a grasp on our other world (and usually an interruption is just when we’re about to grab whatever it is we’ve been after). Her response that she’s okay, was just…. Well, that’s what we all say and often trail off. How do you describe what you were doing? We try to keep it to ourselves, I think. Her companion’s concern is rather typical too, though I expect he’s probably used to it.

You added a twist, though, which I thought was really neat. A twist to me anyway. One might expect that the woman simply assimilates back into the ‘real’ world and converses with her partner like nothing has been going on. But she doesn’t. Even if she has shrugged off her other world, what was bothering her within it is still bothering her now. It’s quite a cliff-hanger ending, if you ask me, and unexpected but nice.


*Crown* Suggestions
I found a couple of sections that puzzled me and they’re really just here to ask for clarification.

She was still lost in time, but place was returning… – ‘place’ puzzled me. I had thought this sentence might be a bit of a play on ‘time and place’ but it still doesn’t make sense to me even so. I presume ‘place’ simply denotes that reality (including a physical placement) is kicking in. If so, then I would suggest using ‘reality’ instead just so the reader understands.

The voice was familiar, in more than one sense of the world. – did you mean ‘world’ here or ‘word’? The reader would be expecting ‘word’, generally, and when I read this sentence that’s how I’d been starting to read it. Reaching ‘world’ made me go back and re-read the sentence to see if I missed something. In actual fact I think ‘world’ works too, sort of sends the reader off into thinking of other worlds and other sorts of senses but I’m not sure that’s what you were after??

A left hand shifted from the mug… – the woman has one left hand. Using the indefinite article makes it sound a bit like she’d lifted one hand and had two more left hands still holding the mug. You could keep the indefinite ‘A’ if you removed ‘left’. Do we need to know which hand moved? If it’s a bit vague and still sort of sleepy then ‘a hand’ might convey that more appropriately.


*Crown* Closing Comments
I liked this story. You did a great job of showing that world within a world that we all have, and how we react when we’re drawn out it. The ending provides a little more intrigue, makes the reader wonder what is going on with the woman that it affects her outside of the inner world. Also makes the reader go ‘what is the question?’, so you keep us engaged with the story too.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
108
108
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Turtle ~ KanyáthƐko:wa:h

The awesome "Red Wedding updating is in full swing and you’ve been chosen as a recipient of a review raid. This review of "Rethinking Technology comes from fabulous House Stark (aka Paper Doll Gang).


*Crown* Reader Impressions
I was rather surprised to see that this article had not received any reviews! Maybe the youthful are scared of what you say. And perhaps they should be; they have grown up in a technical, digital world and rely on that to live their lives. I remember when we were happy with two TV channels, when us kids played out on the street with the neighbourhood kids (wow, back when it was normal to know our neighbours!). We got a Commodore 64 in the mid-eighties, that played games either on a giant floppy disk or through a tape deck and cell phones were WAAAYYY in the future. We knew how to write by hand, we knew how to spell, and we knew how to actually talk with people. Technologies back then helped people – the spinning washing machine verses the wringer, for example, but today they’re making us robots. Homo sapiens is the most clever of all living things? I doubt it, and the problem is with each year we’re making it worse. OMG, I’m going into my own rant.

Sorry, right, your last paragraph lists two of the main issues surrounding technology. The first is the cost of keeping up. I hear people with I Phones have to keep upgrading to the newest phone because updates can’t be loaded onto ‘older’ models, even if that model is only a year old. And the models are not cheap. You point out the astronomical price of ovens and other appliances that now have ‘old fashioned’ technologies that are brilliant, but that we have to pay extra for. How is that reasonable? And, it’s not like we’re earning more in order to cover the cost of these technologies that we once had or that we don’t really need. As you rightly ask: … is this growth sustainable? (I didn’t really see your opinion stated clearly on this question, though.)

Your second point is more valid and far more serious, in my opinion. Technology is making us dumb, and putting us out of a job! I work for a university and we have third year students (early twenties) who can’t spell or string sentences together. Twitter, texting – these things don’t care about normal speech and their very format forces you to dumb yourself down. While I might write L8 for ‘late’ I pedantically write out everything else. I’m educated, I’m intelligent; I kind of want people to know it!! I do admit that I am being dumbed down by my computer. I lost the ability to use my mouse one day and I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember the keyboard shortcuts to do the most simple things when, once, that was all I had! Job losses come with technology too. They’re supposed to make our lives easier but they’re there to increase production. More production = more sales = more profit. Except it also puts people out of work, and then they’re no longer able to help boost those sales. It’s a bit of vicious circle, and there’s nobody to blame but ourselves – we drive the technology advances without the means to take any sort of control and have nothing in place for when it goes pear-shaped.

I’m not adverse to technology: I love my cell phone because it provides a sense of security for me whenever I’m out and about. It has internet and all that jazz but I use it for phone calls, texting (cause it’s cheaper in most cases than ringing) and taking photos because I don’t carry my camera around with me. I do appreciate Facebook because it has put me back in touch with old friends and of course I love the internet because I can now access things for my study that I could never hope to otherwise. But I have my limits. That is probably because I’m a seventies child and lived with less technology (quite successfully in fact). I can see where we’re going wrong, but the younger set don’t know any different. If we want to change the world, we have to change them first. Get the point across that they need to be able to live without technology; if for no other reason than what you’ve already mentioned: Technology is great … until the day it no longer works.


*Crown* Suggestions
I spotted a couple of typos, but otherwise I have no problem with the structure of this article. When you’re writing your own opinion/thoughts, who can quibble about how you write it?

… even though they have not used in in three or four years. – first ‘in’ needs to be ‘it’.

… only encourages us to through them away. – ‘throw’ rather than ‘through’.

I did wonder about ‘teeter tauter’ as I’d expect to see ‘teeter totter’ but that just may be the difference in country spelling!!


*Crown* Closing Comments
This is an article that more people should read; it really gets the blood pumping and thoughts flowing. World focus is often on war and poverty, as it should, but technology is another thing that is becoming a blight. And it links with war and poverty in many ways. I loved reading this article, Turtle, loved finding someone else who thinks there’s an issue!! It’s certainly not drivel, and I would like to see if you’ve got any further opinions now that we’re almost three years from the date of creation, whether or not your opinion has changed over time, or if your writing group is now using Twitter!


Many kind regards,
Osirantinous


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Review of The Bridge  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Fangus

It is my pleasure to be spoiling you on your birthday with a House Stark review of "The Bridge. It is, as usual, for "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
This has to be one of the creepiest stories I’ve read and there’s not even any out and out blood, guts, gore, ghosts or anything that would send a shiver up a spine in the usual fashion. No, this is much worse; it’s all about premeditation and out-in-the-open premeditation at that! Joey is all but told that if he crosses the bridge he’s gonna get eaten (a plot as openly revealed as I’ve ever seen), but he’s told so innocently he thinks nothing of it. The best evil plans are those laid in plain sight!!

And the reader got as much of a shock as poor Joey did with the ending. We might have suspected the troll story was true but I’m not sure anyone would quite think Tim has such a major role in it! Well, this reader didn’t, and the surprise made Tim’s apology for the lack of a ‘fat feed’ extra creepy and callous.


*Crown* Suggestions
I’m not entirely sure why Joey asks ‘What’s that over there?’ when he’s pointing to the brick path. It’s a brick path; what more is there to it? Maybe he should ask ‘Where does that lead?’?

I know a logical reader would be able to identify who is saying what but I was minutely puzzled with the ‘See?’ If we’re going in Joey, Tim, Joey, Tim, Joey, Tim order then that ‘See?’ looks, in the first instance, as if it belongs to Tim because the previous section is about Joey. Long ramble… but I’d like to have ‘See?’ stuck up on the same line as Joey’s hesitant steps.

... and dragged the screaming child back under the bridge. – I’m probably not going to explain this too well but this sentence starts off with Joey as the subject (as ‘he’ and ‘him’) and ends with him as the object (the ‘screaming child’); it makes the whole thing read a little awkwardly. I’m including a re-write suggestion only because I hate saying that something seems wrong without offering a solution: But as soon as he reached the middle, the troll jumped out, grabbed him around the waist and dragged him, screaming, back under the bridge. The troll remains secondary through-out.


*Crown* Closing Comments
Well, I can see why this won The Daily Flash Fiction when it was entered! It’s a wickedly neat story, with a stunning ending. Though I do have some queries they didn’t really stop my reading enjoyment and certainly didn’t prevent my appreciation of how well you spin a tale.


Best wishes,
Osirantinous


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Review of A Sandy Funeral  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi Fangus

It is my pleasure to be spoiling you on your birthday with a House Stark review of "A Sandy Funeral. It is, of course, for "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
Love to see that not all of your short stories have a horror bent to them, and I’m not at all surprised that you write non-horror just as well as that genre! Though… this one has a possible ‘what’s going on here? Is he really innocent?’ sort of feel to it. You keep up that suspense right to the end when the reader realises that the buried Sandy is a dog.

Angus, I love that you give your all to every story no matter the size of it. Each story is complete, and this littlie is no different; it has a full arc. You’ve got fabulous opening lines that catch the reader’s attention, a great middle with some back-story and conflict (mostly on the reader’s part as to your innocence), and a perfect ending that ties the story together. I like how you take us on a ride through several different emotions and involve us directly in the plot, correcting our thoughts (because we’ve all pretty much been thinking them, even if the tag line of the story says the narrator is not the killer!).


*Crown* Suggestions
This is probably not something you can do easily without giving away the sneaky plot, but I would have liked to read why Sandy’s eyes were beautiful. If they melted the narrator’s heart then they should take more of a role in the story.

I also wonder how it took three hours to dig a grave in sand. I know the duration adds strength to the suspense, but I didn’t think sand was that difficult to dig so it reads just a little iffy.


*Crown* Closing Comments
Besides my queries/suggestions above, I still think this is a wonderful little story and a great example of how you can pack so much plot and suspense in just a few hundred words!


Happy Birthday *Cake*!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


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Review of The Deal  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hi Fangus

It is my total pleasure to be spoiling you on your birthday with a House Stark review of "The Deal. It is, of course, for "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
When I read your opening lines I was reminded of a couple of comments in both The Daily Slice and Screams contest forums on how ‘surprising’ it was that an open prompt always garnered more entries. Difficult, I think, for the judges to base a coherent ‘best’ judgement on very random pieces but good for the contestants. Sometimes!! You’ve hit the nail on the head. As much as we like to think an open prompt will open the flood gates, sometimes all that floods is in nothingness, followed by panic.

I am rather of the opinion, having read this funny little tale, that when my muses are absent I should not call them back, and I certainly should not make bargains with them. I so loved how you managed to combine ‘supernatural’ (the muse part) with reality (the panicked writer doing what they must in order to write) into a scary, funny and moral tale! I also think you’ve done the most perfect job of illustrating the bargain! I’m kind of reminded of those poems that are written in the shape of the thing they’re about. This story works on that same premise with the spelling and typing faltering as the digits reduce in number and the amount of blood flows quicker. A muse can be a hard taskmaster, as you found out!

Interestingly, you never actually mention the exact details of the deal that you’ve made, so the reader must presume that the muse is giving ideas in return for blood in a sort of ‘no pain, no gain’ deal. At 212 and two fingers down, it’s a pretty bum deal and you are beginning to regret. I kind of like the fact that you’re obviously honourable enough to soldier on *Smile*

I loved Hey, you can always take a toe, Angus. in response to Angus’ ‘complaint’ his loss of fingers is going to hinder him. And the final condescending-yet-caring comment from the muse is just a perfect ending to the story.


*Crown* Suggestions
Well, you’re quite sneaky here, you know. The spelling errors that creep in early could be part of the plot or could be straight out spelling errors! The reader is probably ready to nit-pick and then, wham, they see what the problem is. And you know what? The story is still perfectly readable, so who cares about spelling! We can’t see the blood, can’t smell it, can’t see the gruesome line-up of digits but we can see the result and it’s brilliant.


*Crown* Closing Comments
This is a wonderful little story, one of truckloads in your port. It’s amusing and horrible all in one, with the very way the story is told illustrating the plot so much better than straight out description can. You don’t say, but I hope this won that particular round. I’d hate to see what your muse did if you didn’t!!

Happy Birthday!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


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Review of Sock It To Me  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: GC | (4.0)
Hi Elle

Thanks for giving me the link to your LGBT story: "Sock It To Me. This is a House of Stark review for "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
You know what my first reaction was? Thank god, she forgot to enter the contest!! *Bigsmile* You write really lovely LGBT stories and this one is no exception. The prompt was ‘socks’ and I think you wrote to it absolutely perfectly (with brilliant title). I went down the route of ‘lucky socks’ in my entry, such a cliché, but I love that you made yours a message. I liked that Gabe, who is still keeping the secret close to his chest, works methodically through the sock deliveries trying to discover why they’re being delivered and by whom. The ‘who, what, why’ is very important because it informs how Gabe’s going to react once he figures it out.

Gabe comes across as a pretty level-headed college kid, not prone to panic (beyond that little moment when he’s unable to initially find the list of team phone numbers), and with courage. Even if his text message allows a certain amount of ‘get out of jail free’, it must still take some courage to send in the first place. I find it somewhat amusing that he’s focused on Tony as the one who needs to come out of the closet and talk, all predicated on the fact he thinks if someone knew about him he’d have been outed. I guess that ‘it’s not about me’ sort of feeling gives him that courage to reach out. And it’s a win/win for him if he’s guessed right.

The ending is definitely abrupt, and I actually thought ‘man, he’s going to meet Tony a few hours later????’ before realising this last paragraph is after the meeting. If you were at a loss for an ending, leaving the story at Tony’s texted reply would have been a decent enough end. I’d like to have seen them meet (and you have knack for dialogue so it would have been a joy to read), but it’s enough to simply have Gabe’s questioning text responded to in this manner. Maybe we don’t quite get the questions answered in quite the manner we’d like but the response does in fact answer one of them – it is Tony who has been delivering the socks. No real indication of Tony being gay, though, but I don’t think that matters; it provides a little bit of a hook and starts the reader’s imagination off into thinking about the story after it’s been read. If you wanted to extend the story, then flesh out that meeting.

I liked the colloquial way this story was told. I’m sure some will mention sentence fragments but they didn’t bother me. This is Gabe’s story and his voice, and I had no issue with understanding his thought processes. I liked the swearing too, designating shock more than panic I think and each instance appropriate.


*Crown* Suggestions
In the third paragraph you’ve got a whole bunch of ‘its’. In some cases you mean the sock and in others you don’t; I normally don’t have much bother over ‘it’ but because the sock comes back into focus at the end of this paragraph I’d like to see ‘sock’ replace the first ‘it’ in this sentence: Someone had placed it where it couldn’t…

The little blonde thing that laughed easily and seemed to be friends with everyone. Surely it wasn’t him. – you’ve just been talking about Tony and his girlfriend. I took the first sentence as a description of the girlfriend, but the final one made me rethink that. Is Tony the ‘little blonde thing’? If not, as much as I like ‘thing’ I think you need to put ‘girl’ or some other indicator here.

Gabe wasn’t out for a reason, he sure as shit wasn’t going to get himself a boyfriend. – I didn’t really get the gist here. Gabe’s not out and I took the first part of this as there being a reason he’s not out, but the rest of the sentence doesn’t seem to match. If he is out, then the rest of the sentence kind of does match – he hasn’t come out just to get a boyfriend. But otherwise I’m a bit puzzled as to what this sentence is about.

Gabe glanced around the room, then stood up and walked back into his bedroom. – there’s no indication Gabe has previously been in his bedroom so you should remove ‘back’.


*Crown* Closing Comments
This is a nice story, and you worked that prompt in perfectly. The ending is a bit flat as it stands because you’ve got an entire intriguing meeting between two young guys holding secrets in the space of one little paragraph. Cutting it out won’t, I think, be detrimental to the story but if you leave it in, you do need to expand it. Write the meeting between the two and remind us how good you are at dialogue and character development.

And – next time don’t forget the deadline *Wink*

Best wishes,
Os


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Review of The Vortex  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: XGC | (3.0)
Hi Sunny

I've just read "The Vortex, and am pleased to offer this review. It’s in association with House Stark for the wonderful contest: "Red Wedding updating . I spotted it in a newsfeed post by pinkbarbie.


*Crown* Reader Impressions
My overall impression was that this was a story of a man who’d got his just desserts! At no time whatsoever did I feel any sympathy with him, beyond the possibility that he’d lose his tulips to the storm. Having grown a garden from scratch, I live in fear of a big storm or flood or fire destroying it, so I could relate to that.

Carlisle… here’s a man without scruples, without ethics, probably the sort to shoot trick-or-treaters rather than give them treats (no matter that there’s some sweets in this story!). This is, of course, my opinion!! That whole ‘money is everything, gets you everything’ gets my goat! *Smile* But beyond that, he’s obviously got a sordid past. An ex-wife is dead and there was an incident. Because we don’t get any real ‘reason’, we need to read between the lines: Carlisle thinks, because he has purchased the women, can do what he likes and someone, Salma we expect, fought back. By the way, I do like how Carlisle admitted early on how the storm clouds were beautiful. Kind of ironic that they were a means to his downfall later on!!

Throughout the story there is not a lot of background as to why Salma might come back or what she was subject to while alive. Carlisle’s definitely got vices but make them clear (I’ve mentioned this more below). I had no sympathy for Carlisle but that wasn’t necessarily because of what he’d done to Salma. It’s only right at the end that we realise why she has come back. It really is poetic justice what happens to Carlisle on that basis and to see that he’s suddenly afraid and hurting; presumably he enjoyed doing this to the women/girls he’d purchased. The descriptions in this part of the story are nice and gory and heighten the tension. I also liked the moment we see that she has tulip remnants in her hair; one guesses where she’s come from!!

Salma’s final words are a great end to the story and signal that revenge is hers, and forever. I would like to think that he’s going to be repeating his hell over and over and over. PS: I like the way Lana’s sort of forgotten about in these final scenes. I had originally been meaning to say ‘don’t forget about Lana’ but that she’s not really mentioned kind of makes the story more horrifying. She’s not at fault at all and now she’s dead and forgotten.


*Crown* Suggestions
This story had good elements of horror in it but it didn’t really come across too scary. I think that’s because there were some moments where you missed the opportunity to really freak the reader out. I’ve got a couple of examples below, just to explain what I mean.

When Carlisle hears the creaking of the steps… honestly, when you’re alone in a house and you hear creaking steps, there can’t be anything more scary. Play on it as much as possible. Is there an extra loud creaky step near the top of the stairs that means the creeper is getting closer? Is it a certain tread that Carlisle doesn’t know? Presumably he’s used to hearing Lana go up and down the stairs; does the tread sound like her? Draw it out for suspense.

Another example is when Carlisle realises that his dead ex-wife has resurrected and is somehow wearing Lana’s face. And then the face of the dead woman broke into a smile. is totally awesome. God, it would be horrifying, and this simple little sentence packs a punch. But don’t be afraid to give it more. Does Lana’s face fit on Salma’s nicely? Is it slipping about a bit? How doesn’t Salma’s tongue work through the lips? What would really heighten this freaky piece is if Carlisle is actually aroused by Salma/Lana. He doesn’t seem quite the guy who would, so if he was then that might just freak him out all the more, make things more horrifying for him and probably more satisfying for Salma. She’s really getting her revenge here. (You rated this XGC but at the moment it’s really just borderline GC/XGC. Go for broke and make this as big and bad as you can. You’ve got great bones here to work with.)

You can up the scary ante in plain description too. The storm was getting nearer. and The whistles of the wind grew louder. – show these things, rather than tell. Was the house creaking more? Were curtains sucking in and out? Could he hear nothing but the whistles? Were they like a freight train whistle, or nails on a chalkboard etc. Your line about the shadows moving just out of sight is totally perfect – heightening descriptions of the storm, the wind, the footsteps will illustrate and add weight to the power of these shadows.

And since we’re XGC you could give a little more insight into the ‘dirty perversions’ that Salma speaks of. When Carlisle’s thinking about her earlier we don’t really get an idea. With Lana, dressed in what I think is a school girl’s outfit (????), we start to get a sense that maybe he went after the very young (though, in fact, we have no idea how old Lana is…) and Salma’s own I was just a girl seems to cement that. But how young? Ram it home, because otherwise Salma is coming across as a murdered ex-wife who is after her husband simply because of that murder and that he found a replacement. You could even have her mention Lana – why did she kill her? Why is she wearing Lana’s face (possibly because hers has rotted away??)

Ass, to me, is a donkey. If you’re meaning someone’s backside use arse – especially in an X-rated story.


*Crown* Closing Comments
Okay, you have a horror story here that you could just go nuts on and make the most terrifying read ever. Carlisle, right now, is just a grotty old man so make him perverted, show it even. And at the end, when Salma is back, put him in the hot seat, have Salma turn the tables on him. I’m sure she could make his horror and fear hold out for quite some time before she drags him off into the vortex. Also make use of the storm to add to the terror (or even the sexy part – ie do the pink/purple colours remind him of Lana’s nipples that came out of the blue in the second paragraph? Does the screaming wind remind him of the girls he’s had?). Of course, you might not be intending to make Carlisle so hated and twisted, but you do have excellent scope to make him so and to make this story even bigger and better than it currently is.

I do seem to have waffled (sorry) but I hope you can still tell I enjoyed reading this piece and will hopefully get back to your port to see what other gems you have. By the way, if you like horror/scary do check out "Weekly SCREAMS!!! I reckon you'd be brilliant!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


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Review of 12 years asleep  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hi JosieGitsune

I've just read " 12 years asleep, and am pleased to offer this review. It’s in association with House Stark for the wonderful contest: "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
One of my House Stark teammates actually sent me the link because I’m a fan of stories that combine real/fantasy. I must admit I did spend a bit of time puzzled about what was going on and just who (or what) the female character since it is not really until the final few sentences of the first half of the story that you mention she is a cloud-drifter. I had thought briefly if she was a sort of ‘spirit’ type, and I guess she is sort of that.

The second half of the story purports to give an insight into her world and it does. This cloud-drifter can obviously take on a (solid) human form and delights (with a disarming childlike nature) in human things, events, senses. However, she also seems to be part of the weather herself, or rather a cloud. And in this way, she is – as the narrator points out – living a pretty unstable life. I get the feeling she is also misunderstood a lot and never really taken seriously. She’s powerful in her own right and fickle – accepting people and then pushing them away very quickly. When she talks about attitude, that’s when she explains some of her fickle nature. And this sort of to/fro nature explains the ‘lonely’ mentioned at the beginning of this half of the story.

I really liked the colloquial way this story was told (I love first person narrators anyway!), especially with those little aside moments when you brought in the reader (‘you’); it felt like I was being let into a secret of sorts. And being a dreamer, I understood that whole thing about ‘don’t wake her up’. Waking a deep dreamer can be disastrous, as you pointed out.

You know, when reading this, I kept thinking of the poem ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, and had to go look it up as the title seemed to convey both the cloud-drifter and the narrator who also seems a bit lonely. The poem is very nature-oriented and also about, I think, how we take things for granted and never give them the time of day. In my more fantastical mood, I think it fits well with your story. Here’s one link I found: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174790

She was still sleeping when I met her again – this is a fabulously catchy opening sentence!! It brings up all the right questions – who, why, how long etc, and hooks the reader in. And in actual fact the final words of the story act as a hook too. A sort of ‘lie’ told by the narrator to appease the cloud-drifter, a flash of magic even that he’s seeing the leaf colours in her eyes as if she is the one bringing life to the leaves.


*Crown* Suggestions
I really like the idea of a personified cloud/dream sort of character, but don’t forget to be a bit more clear on where the ‘real’ human (in this case, the narrator) comes into it. Give a little bit of his background – how is he able to wake the drifter, talk to her, be with her? Has he got special skills? Is he sort of like a wrangler, a kind of controller? (For the record, he comes across rather in love!)

Also, as the beginning of a short story this is really catchy but I’m intrigued to see how it grows into that short story, with a beginning, middle, end. At the moment, this little piece feels a bit haphazard and I’m not sure I can see a plot within it, or rather how a plot will grow out of it. Is the narrator her guardian, he is trying to control her, is he just in love with her and that’s why he keeps coming back, does she have a purpose etc. You don’t need those things in this ‘beginning’ but if you’re going to continue it (and I hope you do) then start thinking about where you’ll go with it (and do let me know when you’re there because I’d love to read a longer version!)

I would suggest putting spaces between your paragraphs, just to make reading easier, and I had wondered whether Hazy eyes. should be ‘hazel eyes’? I think I expected a colour here even though I would also expect she has hazy eyes, so am just after some clarification.


*Crown* Closing Comments
This was quite a refreshing change from other fantastical stories I’ve read, and probably quite unique. I would love to see where you take it and do hope you continue writing it. I also can’t wait to see what you name the cloud-drifter (if indeed you do) because it looks to me as if she’ll only accept a name that is just perfectly right!


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


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Review of The Terrible Gift  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Hi GeminiGem💎

It is my total pleasure to offer you this House Stark review of "The Terrible Gift to celebrate your birthday *Cake2* I hope you have a wonderful day. The review is, of course, for "Red Wedding updating


*Crown* Reader Impressions
I only have a half personal connection with cancer – my mum had a mastectomy in July of 2013, and I am fortunate that it wasn’t a genetic instance. I wrote two poems on how I felt because poetry was the only format I could find that enabled me to express my feelings (which was a revelation since I’m not a poet). Your poem is sadly a first-hand experience but, you know, the thoughts and feelings, questions and puzzlement that you have written reminded me of how I felt and I draw strength from this. Cancer was once a very ‘alone’ thing but we no longer let it be like that. By writing down your thoughts and feelings you’re giving the disease a kick in the face that it won’t beat you.

The Terrible Gift is a very simple poem, written straight from the heart; powerful and sad and hopeful all in one. And angry too in that you’ve been given something you didn’t want and that you can’t give back. Your life was turned upside down out of the blue and your second stanza very clearly describes what the ‘gift’ has done. You know, it’s odd that people don’t seem to think in terms of money but you’re totally right that there is a heavy financial burden that comes with this disease. I appreciate that you don’t gloss over that, or any of the other facts that result from the gift.

The pairs of statements are superb, Leah, superb! I am sure so many readers have nodded to them and even if they have not experienced cancer they will know someone who has dealt with these feelings, or have even dealt with them resulting from another sort of tragedy. It’s flight or fight; we want to do both and are torn over what to do and what people will think. We shouldn’t hide that, and I hope people reading this poem get that message.


*Crown* Suggestions
Man, who could make a suggestion on a poem written so from the heart like this one is? Hang on, I do have a suggestion – write more poetry. You’re amazing at it!


*Crown* Closing Comments
Leah, this is a beautiful poem about the shock and struggles and fights when one has been given cancer. Gosh, that sounded slightly off but I mean that I love and appreciate how you haven’t shied away from the shitty side of the disease, all those behind-the-scenes things that your friends and neighbours, sometimes even family, don’t get to see and don’t understand. It’s inspiring. *Ribbonp*


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


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Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello Amalie Cantor - We Got This!

Back again, this time with a review of "That the Blind Might See, which is the companion piece to The Choice so I couldn’t not review! It’s a House Stark review (surprise!) for "Red Wedding updating and I once again wish you the happiest anniversary.


*Crown* Reader Impressions
This story begs for a sequel! Not just to tell the story of Binda and Skie as they attempt to make a new life, but also to tell the story of the sprites and the Unseeing and how it all came about. It’s a fascinating premise that could become so much more.

Quite aside from that, this short story stands fully on its own. It’s a well-fleshed plot – we learn about Binda and her life and beliefs, we learn about the Unseeing and see that perhaps they’re not all as unseeing as the world would have us believe, we learn about prejudice and hope, and that sometimes doing what is right is against the rules. Binda is a strong character, dedicated and loyal but also willing to trust her instincts. Yes, part of that seems to be a budding love, but that’s a powerful emotion and needs to be trusted in its own right. (Okay, I’m a romantic; her and Skie’s ‘bond’ hooks me in!). Skie is vulnerable and really at Binda’s mercy. We don’t get to visualise Skie much but that kind of works. If she can’t see colours and beauty it stands to reason that she is a sort of grey-scale to readers and barely there

I found it interesting that in this story Binda has a choice to make, just as Skie does in her side to the story. It is almost the same choice, with the same sort of consequences, and this ties the pair together even more strongly (though, of course, they don’t know it).


*Crown* Suggestions

Binda had been watching her for weeks… – I know who ‘her’ is but since the previous paragraphs are all about the colours and wonders of the world I think when you suddenly get back to Binda and her ‘companion’, you need, in the first instance, to replace ‘her’ with something more definitive – ‘the creature’ or ‘the Unseeing’ for example.

All this had led Binda here, taking aim at the woman as she overlooked a large waterfall. And Binda sat near the now unconscious woman… – nothing wrong with the sentences but they left me confused with the timing. They begin sequential paragraphs and the latter sentence sounds ‘happening right now’ to me, which made me re-read the previous half of the story to see if I’d been reading something of a ‘back-story’. I don’t think I was. It’s possibly the ‘had’ you use that made me think this way. But also, you go from training an arrow to descriptions of beauty to Binda’s feelings about the unseeing and suddenly back to the ‘present’ when they’re on the edge of a waterfall. It’s probably just me but I think a little repositioning of the information would help the reader make sense (if they’re all as easily confused as me, of course!).

This is some serious nit-picking but you have Binda whispering the incantation and the very next thing is her saying ‘You’re alive.’ I did, for a moment, think that that was the incantation. Since I presume it isn’t, I’d recommend that Skie’s relieved comment comes after she’s witnessed Skie’s eyes fluttering open.

"I am that which you long for every night as you fall asleep, that which you see in all your dreams but forget come morning, that for which you yearn so greatly that you longed to abandon life rather than live it without." – more a query here. How does Binda know how much Skie has yearned for her? Does she pick it up from Skie’s dreams? Did Skie speak at the top of the waterfall? Or is the sprite omniscient?


*Crown* Closing Comments
Another wonderful story and really something that could be continued. Especially since there was that tiny reveal that an Unseeing can be cured of the affliction, but it’s forbidden. Little hooks throughout this story to make a reader want more! As already seen in The Choice you have a wonderful knack for description; it allows the reader to ‘see’ the story as if it’s acting out in front of them and that’s a wonderful experience. I look forward to more of them.


Happy two years!! May there be many, many more to come!!
Os


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
117
117
Review of A Choice  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Hello Amalie Cantor - We Got This!

It is my total pleasure to offer you this House Stark review of "A Choice to celebrate your two-year anniversary. It is, of course, for "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
This little story is both heart-wrenching and hopeful. Skie’s life has obviously been difficult, though we don’t get to see much of the ‘why’ beyond knowing there are demons, voices in her head, and the most difficult thing to live with – wanting something that you can’t have. The decision to leave life pulls at the reader’s emotions and makes us wonder about that life and how long Skie toiled before making this decision. Hopeful because, firstly, Skie hasn’t died and, secondly, because a whole new world appears to have opened up for her to accept if she has the courage and the desire.

The Choice, tiny as it is, followed an expected story arc of beginning, middle and end, and contained conflict and a cliff-hanger (the choice) to really grab the reader’s attention. Personally, I was also totally pleased it contained a speck of romance mingled with the hope and fresh start.

The writing was beautiful on its own, with rich descriptions that allowed me to visualise Skie’s surroundings and the mystery woman. Was intrigued though that the waterfall didn’t rate a mention in that description of the ‘new’ scenery, nor even its sound.

They resembled nothing so much as a cloud of green smoke, gently shifting to and fro in the breeze, vaguely coalescing in the shape of wings. – just want to point out one of the best descriptions I’ve read in ages. It’s really visual and ethereal.

You ended this story with so much promise I just have to say that I’d love to see a sequel. If you’ve already got it, do point it out!


*Crown* Suggestions
This is more a query than a suggestion and arises from the companion piece That the Blind Might See. Is Skie fully blind and in darkness or can she see but just not see the beauty and colours? I ask because of this sentence:

Day had long since fallen to night when she’d leapt from the dam’s edge; she’d not intended to see daylight again. – it sounds like Skie can physically see, yet I got the feeling from the companion piece that she couldn’t (until Binda had worked her magic). So I’m just after clarification about what form her blindness takes. Of course, if a reader has only read this story the question is moot, but you have linked it to That the Blind Might See and they may end up wondering the same thing.


*Crown* Closing Comments
A lovely little story that starts out with pain and grief and ends with hope and a fresh start.

Since I have read the companion I must admit that I really enjoy reading two sides to a story. I think it takes decent skill to tell two different POVs all the while keeping the speech 100% same. It’s always fascinating to read how one character views another’s reactions and then to see those same reactions from their point of view.


You write beautifully, Amalie. I look forward to reading more now that I’ve finally found my way back to your port.

Best wishes and happy anniversary,
Os


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
118
118
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hi Cale Fast

I found your item on the Review Request page and the title totally intrigued me so I checked it out. I’m offering a review of "The Days We Won't Complete on behalf of the House of Stark for "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
To be honest, when I first saw that the format was one giant paragraph I sat back and went ‘yikes’. These days we’re all about trying to present our work in a fashion that encourages people to read. However, despite that, we also need to tell the story in a format that works for the story. Once I’d read this one, I came to the conclusion that this one giant paragraph is just right. It’s chaotic, frantic, frightened, determined, rushed and final.

The title is one of the most hard-hitting and heart-wrenching I’ve seen, and, as odd as this sounds, it’s really beautiful that the title was part of the story; that the young man thinks of these days he’ll never complete and the life ahead that he will miss. I know you’re probably thinking ‘beautiful? Did you read this story?’ but that’s how it came across to me, how it hit me. This narrator has done nothing wrong bar needing to cross ‘bad’ territory to get home, he has his whole life ahead of him and some bastard has put paid to that. His thoughts as he’s falling reveal a beautiful mind – he thinks of a wife and child, and of his mother. As you say in your description, this is a story of tragedy. And it is. I have never really thought about an early death in terms of not being able to complete the days one is entitled to (and, surely, all of us expect at least 90 years’ worth), so I found the title particularly hard-hitting.

Okay, so going to stop on that subject before I get some tears in the eyes!

As for the story itself… it’s about a young man wanting to do something lovely for his mother on her birthday. He achieves this and heads home. The problem is that heading home puts him on a bad street and that’s when things turn nasty. The narrator is fairly level-headed; he knows he has to run and how to run. Unfortunately, he ends up with just one way to escape. It’s a little bit ironic that he doesn’t want to die and yet as he jumps from the roof he pretty much knows that’s what’s going to happen. Except… this is by his own hand and perhaps that’s the lesser of the evils.

I liked how you wove the narrator’s history/life into this ‘happening right now’ moment – about the things he does for fun with his friends, about his relationship with his mum and how his dad up and left, even how the cops are no longer on the street. You could have got yourself mired in a whole lot of ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’ but you didn’t; these little moments slotted right into the story very easily and at perfect times, giving the character depth and revealing him as a rounded figure. I would not ask you to change any of that, but I would love to know what ‘parkour’ is/means?

The final sentence is perfect. Some might ask ‘how does a drowning/drowned first person narrator know this’ but who cares? This story is all about the dress – it’s what starts off our narrator’s journey and it’s sadly apt to be the thing that survives the night. Especially since this has come immediately after thinking about the days that will never be completed. The bag will float somewhere to be grabbed up by someone, and the dress will be used or sold without knowing the tragedy behind it.


*Crown* Suggestions
You may find that other reviewers pull you up on sentence fragments (such as And pulled out a switchblade, where there’s no actual subject, or I found a pipe. About 2 feet long. Thin but dense., where these could make one sentence) but for the most part their jarring nature worked with how the story unfolds so I’m not going to rush in here and make you rework things. The fragments help shape the story just as must as the one giant paragraph does.

There were two main things that hindered my reading flow a bit –typos and the speech moments that didn’t have speech marks or which weren’t italicised to indicate internal speech. In a massive one-paragraph setting, I think you do need to be quite careful in off-setting speech and thought for the reader’s understanding. Most of those issues came in the last quarter of the story, such as s***, I muttered to myself. Breath. Don’t cry, I said to myself…. Even though the narrator is talking to himself he’s still talking and you need speech marks around s*** and Don’t cry. If these were thoughts… then you could put them in italics, and actually leave off the dialogue tags because italics will normally indicate to any reader that we’re in thought mode.

Breath. – you have this twice, when the narrator is trying to calm himself. You need ‘breathe’ here as that’s the verb while ‘breath’ is the noun.

… looking peculiarly at my Air Jordans… – I just wondered if you meant ‘particularly’ as this would mean the lady was looking specifically at the shoes. ‘Peculiarly’ sounds like she was looking at them with her eyes crossed or something.

You’ll be fine. Your tough. – I loved these pep talks, very natural and human. However, ‘your’ needs, really, to be ‘you’re’. You’ve got ‘your’ at the end, too, when the man is taunting the youngster on the roof.

I could here his breathing. Labored. But calm. He had a sick calmness. – ‘here’ needs to be ‘hear’ and I just wondered if it was possible that labored breathing could be calm. I understand what you mean in the final sentence but ‘labored’ seems too puffy to ever be calm. Perhaps something like ‘steady’? That would show that the man is breathing hard but still calm. Does that make sense?

It caught be in the cheek. – ‘me’ rather than ‘be’.


*Crown* Closing Comments
It sounds odd to say that I really liked a story of tragedy and gang violence, but I did. This is a powerful piece. It’s heart-warming and heart-wrenching all in one, and, as I’ve said, that title is just amazing. Definitely needs some tidying up in terms of typos (and even just consistency – such as with the various ways you write out the money) but that’s superficial. You ought to be very proud of this and I hope you get lots of readers and reviews for it.


Kindest regards,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
119
119
Review of Crooked House  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi Choconut

I spotted your flash fiction in the Read a Newbie column, so I did. And now I’m reviewing "Crooked House on behalf of House Stark for the highly frantic "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
I very much like that this didn’t go anywhere where I thought it would!! I was thinking all manner of evil things about to happen to the narrator, and you let nothing slip until the mention of the revered chocolate *Smile*. But even then I wasn’t sure where the story would end up because the narrator is still showing signs of fear and we meet the old, witchy lady. The ending could still be fatal!

In such a tiny piece you have spun a story full of suspense, keeping the reader engaged until the end. Any lover of chocolate will probably understand the pull exerted upon the narrator, and you’ve made it clear why the chocolate is so special and why the narrator’s friend has raved about it. This story was written purposefully short, but you manage to give a wonderful amount of description; I can ‘see’ the cottage quite clearly and I can imagine the witchy woman and her chocolate.

I also thought that writing this piece in first person present was really clever; it heightened the emotions and suspense.


*Crown* Suggestions
I did have a couple of suggestions, with the biggest one being a possible alteration of the title. Now, I normally steer clear of that sort of suggestion but you’ve called this story Crooked House. That’s all fine, but the sign on the gate says “Crooked Cottage”. Semantics, maybe, but to me a house and a cottage are different and they felt like they were clashing here – especially if you’ve titled the story based on the cottage. Hope I’m making sense here, and maybe I’m just nit-picking; probably if you hadn’t used ‘crooked’ in both the title and the sign I wouldn’t really have noticed it.

“Do no knock. I will see you.” – I think you meant ‘not’ here instead of ‘no’

The woman’s description of the chocolate (physical and mystical) is well done; however, I’d like to have seen this complemented a little more by the narrator’s eating of said chocolate. The chocolate appears to promise anything you want, but we don’t get any real sense of this from the narrator. She understands, but what is she understanding? I think this needs to be fleshed out. Of course, a flash fiction piece is short but the narrator has overcome her fears and ignored her instinct for this chocolate, and we only get a couple of tiny sentences about what it’s like to eat. Even though the narrator wants to come back, her reaction just doesn’t seem to balance out the earlier part of the story; there’s no massive savouring of the taste, smell, colour etc etc. Basically, describe the sensations so well that everyone, after reading this story, heads off to get some of their own!


*Crown* Closing Comments
A great little story, full of suspense, and complete too (start, middle, finish; you didn’t leave us dangling with a story going nowhere). I think chocolate lovers would probably relate to the conquering of fear or anything else that might prevent getting one’s hand on the stuff just for a taste. Silky, sweet, magical? For me, that’s Lindt. Yum.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
120
120
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi blue jellybaby

Back with another Anniversary review!! When I saw what ‘your’ irrational fear was I just had to review "My Irrational Fear. It is, of course, in association with House Stark and "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
Fear of toilets is a real fear for some, but having grown up camping and using all manner of toilets and non-toilets, it’s fortunately not for me. But, whether you’re telling a true story or just a story, there’s many ways to go about it and I really didn’t know where you were going with this one! I liked that. I think it’s a measure of a short-story writer when a story carries its plot right to the end, keeping the reader guessing, especially when a plot could go several ways. If you’d rocked out with the monster at the beginning and then told how it came about, I wouldn’t have bothered to read the full story.

I love first person narrators; you can be so much more colloquial with them (when writing) and they draw the reader in. Your character ‘talks’ directly to the reader, invoking their support (or laughter), making them feel almost like a conspirator here. This particular sentence helps with that feeling: I know you’ve been nodding the whole way, agreeing with me. I know you know. Even without a fear of toilets, every single thing you mentioned in the paragraph above this sentence is what I think about. How about no toilet paper? And I once used one that was being cleaned. Shouldn’t have been a problem but they were using gallons of pure bleach and that chokes the air right out of you!

The thing I found quite interesting when I read this story is the fact that the monster didn’t really seem all that far-fetched. I’m not sure if it was because of the first person narrator being so sincere, the fact that most people will have some reservations about public loos or the fact that the monster isn’t convoluted. Besides the teeth, the monster pretty much takes the form of the toilet. You’re not adding arms or eyes. The toilet itself is the monster, right down to the noise it makes as it sucks down the waste, and then lurks around for the next victim. We might, at the very end, think the narrator is straight out crazy but on a certain level – because of her fear of public toilets – we can’t be categorical about that. Yeah, there may be no teeth but some of those toilets do seem to try to suck you into them or pinch or spit water at you as they flush.

I liked the little cliff-hanger near the end – the character had to get closer to the loo in order to get out! The way the fingers gingerly reach out, slide off and press forward again has the hallmarks of someone in a big panic who would jump a mile and freak out if a gurgle so much as burped up in the toilet. It’s a very natural jumpy state for anyone dealing with a fear and I thought you portrayed it really well.


*Crown* Suggestions
This story is a bit of a jumbled mix of short sentences and long, involved ones. I thought they read very much like the thoughts of someone in a bit of a panic, however, so I’m not going to suggest tidying them up in any fashion. (I might normally have talked about some sentence fragments or missing full stops otherwise). But there are two instances that need a fix:

Anyway, I know it had to be done so I forced… – the tense through the entire story is simple past, so your ‘know’ really stands out here. Needs to be ‘knew’.

One of those big toilets that placed outside… – I think you’re missing ‘were’ after ‘that’. If not, remove ‘that’ as it doesn’t read smoothly here.


*Crown* Closing Comments
This story is a good mix of funny and freaky, and the first person narrator really hooks the reader in. I liked that you brought the story full circle – you started out with ‘let me tell you about…’ and ended with ‘that’s why I don’t…’ You didn’t leave anything dangling for the reader to question.

And I have this feeling that next time I use a public loo I’ll be a little more careful about it!

Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
121
121
Review of Darkened Muse  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hi blue jellybaby

I’ve been delving into your port for items to review on your anniversary, and I’ve discovered you’ve got some great short stories in there! I’ve read "Darkened Muse, and this is a House of Stark review for "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
Quite aside from this being a wonderful spine-tingling short story, I really liked that you laid out the prompt that you wrote to. I’ve read so many contest entries where I had no idea what the prompt was and therefore couldn’t make much comment about how well the prompt was met or how the author cleverly interpreted it. I love seeing how someone’s mind works when they write, and as I read your story I fancied I could see your thought processes as you started off with two separate plots and entwined them and brought them to a freaky end.

The thought that what we write comes to life (in our minds, always!) is both really neat and also terrifying. What if somewhere lives were taking shape as we committed them to paper in our safe little world? This story shows how dangerous that might be, how fertile the human imagination is. You could write a whole series of little stories where someone’s magic pen is creating lives and probably total havoc somewhere else. I thought this especially with your last sentence. It’s a great ending all on its own – proof of the worlds combined but also a ‘oh my god, what did he write?’ moment where the reader desperately wants to know. You’ve drawn the reader in and made us want more.

One of the sections I loved the most was one of the most simple – where you had Jeff rotating his wrist while holding it with the other hand. It’s what every pen/pencil-writing author does!! That combined with his distress about not being able to write so fast and furious any more is also something close to a writer’s heart. I’m a hand-writer, like Jeff, and I worry all the time what I’d do if I broke my right hand/arm and couldn’t write. One-hand type, probably, but writing is the key for me. In any case…. These very natural and very common moments brings your reader into Jeff’s world, make us sympathise with him and nod along to his frustrated thoughts.


*Crown* Suggestions
Knowing Screams!! Myself, I know you wrote to tight word limit and that always plays a part in how we write, but I actually thought there were moments were you could have cut some words out; for that limit but also to make things flow a little more natural or actively.

“I feel it,” Shelly agreed with her… – you don’t really the ‘with her’ here because she’s on the phone to her mum; who else is she going to agree with?

… a terrified look on her small features… – what does a ‘terrified look’ look like? On the one hand I’d say show us this rather than tell, but my other suggestion (thought of first, actually) is simply to replace ‘a terrified look’ with ‘terror’. Not really ‘show’ but it’s probably more imaginable by readers.

… the sight that met them was sickening… – you’re about to give us a really gory scene but this sentence doesn’t lead us in with a punch because of the passive format. You could swap that sentence out for something like ‘a sickening sight met them’. Yeah, not exciting, I know, but it’s active and a bit more snappy.


*Crown* Closing Comments
Well, if I was judging this short story for SCREAMS!!! I also would have given you first place. I think you wrote to the prompt incredibly well, while remaining quite unique. I’d originally thought Jeff would be writing about a daughter who was always pulling a sickie etc and going down that ‘annoying family’ route so I was pleased with the sharp right turn the story made into true horror (though there were hints – the headache at the beginning, for example). The ending paragraphs were perfectly gory for the contest and descriptive and, as I’ve said already, the final sentence is great. It’s both a tidy end to the story as well as a ‘I want to read more’ hook.


Thanks for the opportunity to read and review your writing! And Happy Anniversary!!!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
122
122
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi DJF

Your port is full of very funny things! This time I’m reviewing "The Man of her Dreams, again for House Stark in relation to "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
When this first caught my eye, I thought it’d be told from a female point of view because of the title; a sort of wish list a girl might write about her future husband. It was quite a surprise to find it’s actually from the male point of view. Still a wish list of sorts since our narrator is outlining his plan to get himself a girlfriend.

I loved the total ‘I’m god’s gift to women’ attitude; it made me roll my eyes and half hope that the plans comes to reality. The latter because the diarist doesn’t come across as a complete twat! He’s a young man with big dreams, a tad idiotic, but the way he plans everything is quite endearing. He has faith in himself (and in the girl!). The humour (to him, of course, it’s all serious) is at a perfect level for the reader, and I especially loved how his ‘plans’ took off into the realm of being attractive to his prospective girlfriend’s mother! It was a trail of ‘what ifs’ that just kept spiralling ever larger. Priceless.

I must just admit here – I own the full DVD set of the original Battlestar Galactica. That might have been a tongue in cheek mention for you, but the original series was awesome back in the 80s!


*Crown* Suggestions
I have no qualms about how this ‘diary’ is written. Because it’s a diary it needs to be colloquial and rambling and full of odd pieces of syntax we might grumble about in a short story. The first person narrator is expected and so is the mix of past and present tense, as our young man tells his tale and predicts his future.

Nothing in the telling that is difficult to understand, apart from the very last sentence: don’t get your hopes up too high or anything. Because our narrator has cockily said he expects everything to turn out just as he has laid out (ie he’s going to have a girlfriend by Thursday), this final sentence makes it sound a little like the diary might have hopes that everything is going to go belly up. And that’s odd. Is it what you meant? If not, then I’d say the diary would end quite perfectly just with I can’t imagine it’ll be much different than what I’ve laid out.. That would be the ultimate in cockiness and simply cements everything else we read.


*Crown* Closing Comments
You have a wonderfully natural way of writing. This piece flows just like human thought, rambling and jumbled but perfectly understandable. The humour in it is just as natural; and there’s probably many a diary entry out there that bears close resemblance to this one. I would love to see the follow-up Thursday entry!!!

I very much liked this and think you have a knack for understated comedy.

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
123
123
Review of Ronnie and Larry  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Hi DJF

I found "Ronnie and Larry on the 'Read a Newbie' link today. Being partial to westerns, I took a peak and am now reviewing it for House Stark in association with "Red Wedding updating .


*Crown* Reader Impressions
This was one of the funniest items I've read here on WDC! I really don't know what I was expecting when I picked it up, even though it was classed as comedy, but it was brilliant. And it all came from the way the story was told - a ramble of random thoughts and vocal projections from a first person narrator. I think much of the humour would have been lost if your narrator had been third person. Ronnie was the perfect foil (calm, straight-up, serious even) and I could just imagine him wondering what he'd done to deserve such a comrade. His "I sincerely doubt it" response to Larry's question about being neighbours is laid back and perfect, but I'm sure we all hear Ronnie's 'other answer' - no way, no hell, not on this planet, hell will freeze first, etc etc.

I thought it was also very clever how you had a faint attraction thing going on, which was probably what Ronnie was worried about, and right at the end came the punch line - Larry was all about having a best friend! The story had a Brokeback Mountain feel to it, though one-sided, and I did wonder where it would end up. Larry's quip was a blind-side and quite a perfect end to his ramble; it was about the clearest thing he'd said through the whole trip!


*Crown* Suggestions & Technical Things
This story is told in such a colloquial manner that I'm not at all bothered that there are commas where I'd normally see full stops, and sentences that seem to combine two or three into one long ramble. These things help give the story character, and help display Larry's character. He really can't 'shut the F up'!! But there's two things I will mention because they disrupted my reading flow.

"What?" Ronnie would often say. - This particular 'what?' is answering a specific question, so the 'would often say' didn't feel like it matched here. There is no 'often' to be seen, if that makes sense. I think you just need to add 'that' to the end. It,to me at least, makes it seem more like a thought of Larry's than a direct connect (like a speech tag) to 'what?'

pretty nasty spill and my leg pretty bad - the double 'pretty' was quite jarring. Yes, it is keeping in line with Larry's babbling type of speech but it still stands out to the reader. I would suggest either getting rid of the first iteration entirely or swapping it out for another adjective. The second placement works as the focus is on the leg and what might result from 'pretty bad' damage (and Larry's imagination running off into wedding territory is a hoot. I almost get the feeling that if his leg had been broken Ronnie just might have shot him like he would a horse!)


*Crown* Closing Comments
You certainly know how to write comedy. I really liked this piece; it was easy to read and understand, understated (Ronnie's long-suffering, stoic reactions), and very funny. Larry sounds like he'd be a solid friend, if he didn't drive you to throw him over a cliff with his philosophizing babble!


I hope you keep writing more gems like this.

Best wishes,
Osirantinous


Os - Master Dungeon Keeper - House Stark
124
124
Review of The Phoenix  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: GC | (4.0)
Hi Elle

Thank you for participating in February’s round of "The LGBT Writing Contest. I'm reviewing your entry, "The Phoenix, in my role as the judge of that round.


The Prompt
This is a really nice story but, besides the mention of the prompt in your forum post, I almost came to the conclusion you’d forgotten to add the prompt in! Pink was only mentioned in the very last paragraph, which I felt came a bit too late. Up until then I wouldn’t have realised you’d had a prompt to write to.

I really liked how you coordinated the prompt in – in a gentle teasing manner that worked with the general vibe – but I needed to see it a bit earlier in the story so that it was clearly a contest entry to a prompt. Even if there were just hints first up – such as the youngster sneering at a pink design on the wall or something. That would have laid the foundation for making pink such a bright moment at the end of the story, as well as, of course, making your narrator’s tease even stronger.


The Plot
You combine a serious topic (gay hatred) with humour and kindness in this story, making it clear that the hatred has no place. It’s a story that everyone should read. I liked how – even though the hatred is the sole reason the youngster’s in the shop – the story mostly revolved around the tattooist drawing his customer out of his shell. A tattooist who talks to you about what you want and why and shows an interest is the best kind. I have two tattoos myself so can vouch for that.

I love first person narrators and I really enjoy when they’re telling their story in the present tense. It’s not easy to write a whole story that way but you did a fabulous job of staying in tense. And I think this particular tense made your story ‘pop’, for want of a better word. It’s massively ‘here and now’ and made me feel like I was sitting in the waiting room as a customer myself, watching the interaction.

The overall story is a tightly contained unit, following a perfect arc from beginning to end and showing character development along the way. Even though I’d like to read more, the ending is totally satisfactory; it appears to be what the tattooist was hoping for when he started to draw the youngster into talking.


The Characters
When I read this the second time I realised that neither character has a name! Not entirely unusual for a first person narrator, and actually not unusual for this situation. Unless the youngster’s made an appointment there’s actually no need for name swapping and it was not a problem when reading. You managed to build pretty strong characters without naming them.

The tattooist sounds in his thirties (he’s been around the block a little, or maybe just had a lot of experience), he’s sure about himself but didn’t have the most brilliant familial support, he knows his customers, he’s compassionate but not a sop. He sounds like the kind of guy you’d trust with a big tattoo, especially on a part of the body that you can’t see!

The freaking-out youngster displays all the physical and emotional scars of the attack and of burying his real feelings, is naturally defensive and snarly, then opens up as he realises he’s not being laughed at and maybe he’s finally found someone who can help, someone who can convince him his feelings aren’t wrong. I love that the shrug is his main form of communication upfront and that he slowly stops doing it as he becomes more comfortable with the surroundings and conversation. His reaction to the idea his tattoo might be bright pink is totally expected but we see what the tattooist sees – that he’s taken a step towards being okay.

I would really, really love read of their further interactions……


The Technical Things
Not a lot to mention here, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from you. I did have two sentences where I thought a couple of words could be taken out or changed. Definitely not something you need to do though.

… Someone did that to you on purpose?... – I thought the ‘to you’ could go, because it’s clear enough without saying it.

“You might wanna reconsider where you’re getting your tattoo from then, because I’m gay.” – I understand you’ve got ‘where’ because they’re in the tattoo shop, but I wonder if this shouldn’t be ‘who’?


Overall Impressions
A really nice story, told in a comfortable and colloquial voice which made it all the more real. The prompt definitely needed to be more visible with regards the contest, but there’s certainly little wrong with the plot and characters in their own right. I chuckled and smiled and rolled my own eyes right alongside the tattooist.


Thanks 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.

Kindest regards,
Osirantinous
125
125
for entry "Chapter 4
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
Dear EllisRosser

Back again; this time with a review of "Chapter 4 of your novel "The Gift of Revenge. This is the final of the four you originally asked me to review. I know you have other chapters up; let me know if you’d like me to continue reviewing the novel. As with the other reviews I hope you find this one helpful and informative.


General Comments
This chapter directly follows on from number three, where we’d left Klaern’s life rather in danger. The beginning of this chapter makes short work of the ‘battle’ while introducing two new characters. Most of the chapter deals with an event after the deaths of the infected, though it seems to be just a continuation of the conversation Klaern, Volodar and Ailus were having prior to the infected breaking in – the fight with Volodar’s brother and the problem with the infected.

I found the conversation in the latter half of the chapter to be confused. Both Ailus and Volodar manage to combined both topics of discussion into their speeches but these are two very different plot pieces and I think they should be kept quite separate as (to me at least) they have nothing to do with each other. They are important and should be given equal space.


The Story's Nuts and Bolts

Plot & Pace
Nothing wrong with plot and pace here, apart from my general comments about the war/infected strands. The chapter doesn’t lag in pace and isn’t a chore to read!


Characters
We meet Carlia and Ciolia, Ailus’ daughters, for the first time, but we only ‘see’ them through Volodar’s point of view and he’s pretty sparse with his description. It is always fascinating to see how one character might describe another but don’t forget that precludes what other characters think/feel/see and therefore also limits the reader.

Volodar held back a yelp. He’d wondered why he’d never seen lady Ailus, but now it was clear. – I like these two sentences in themselves but it is not clear why he’s yelping (which normally means someone’s had a fright or is grossed out) or why he hasn’t see Lady Ailus. Going by the reaction I’d have expected the girls to look like monsters but nothing in the description indicates this. The only thing is that they don’t resemble their father. That doesn’t explain Volodar’s reaction. So I’d like a bit of clarification around why he reacts as he does.


Ailus is his splendid arrogant self. He manages to be both cold-hearted and warm-hearted all in one and it’s very hard to tell if the concern for his people is real or just a put-on. You’re doing really well at keeping him in character and keeping the reader guessing at what he’s really on/after/about!

Dwarf, I can’t express my gratitude. – normally you’d see ‘enough’ after ‘gratitude’ in this sentence. I think you might just have mistakenly left it off, but you ought to keep it off because this sentence is so perfect for Ailus. It sounds like a compliment but without that ‘enough’ it also sounds like he simply isn’t going to express gratitude because he doesn’t want to or doesn’t feel it’s necessary. I know the next sentence makes him sound all grateful but the overarching effect is to make him a very sneaky fellow. It’s brilliant.

I do wonder about his continual use of calling Volodar ‘dwarf’. Even a nasty, arrogant person like Ailus should be respectful. I would expect (and Volodar should expect) the use of at least the dwarf’s name or occasionally something like ‘my fellow king.’ If Ailus treats Volodar like a king then Volodar is likely to have less occasion to be offended or to think something is up!


In the last chapter I mentioned I didn’t think Volodar was acting very heroic/king-like. It was Klaern who was rushing into the fray. For this reason I think ‘last ditch effort’ in the sentence Volodar, in a last ditch effort ran to the banquet table and picked up a knife. could be cut. What last ditch effort? He’s barely being doing anything to allow him to make a last ditch effort! I presume he really should be on the same status level as Ailus? If so, he does not come across this way and I’m beginning to think Ailus’ use of ‘dwarf’ instead of ‘king’ when addressing Volodar is quite apt, and a comment on how he’s been acting. Volodar doesn’t have to be noble or upstanding but he could at least start acting like a king.


Setting & Imagery
As with the previous chapter I feel that you’ve missed a great opportunity to really paint the surroundings. Tell us about the colours, the smells, the texture of the furnishings, the sounds. There’s a fight going on but you’d never really know it.

We get a good visual, however, of Ailus’ room. Is it the same one as in the first chapter? This one seems a lot bigger!

But the largest spectacle stood in the center of the room covered by a golden sheet. One end was crumpled and allowed Volodar to see that it was a battle map and draped over one of the cupboards there was a white gown stained with blood. – I think this set of sentences is the most important of all the descriptions of the room, but I have a little trouble with the use of ‘spectacle’. Spectacle is usually something you can actually see, and something quite amazing. In this instance you have a spectacle covered by a sheet, thereby not making much of a spectacle of it (either pertaining to what it is or what effect it has). Basically, I don’t think it can be a spectacle if you can’t see it (and Volodar being able to see a corner doesn’t change that). Change ‘spectacle’ for ‘item’ and you’re all good. I’d also recommend making the white gown part of the second sentence a sentence in its own right. The segue from the battle map to the cupboard and gown is not a particularly clear one. The gown is a huge statement so let it stand out.


Structure & Consistency
So far, the telling of your tale is quite consistent across the chapters; you’re not getting names muddled up and the characters are keeping in character nicely.

The one thing I am concerned about is the confusion between the war with Volodar’s brother and the infected. They always appear in the conversation together and I’m pretty sure they are two totally separate events and actually have nothing to do with each other. If that’s not right, then ignore the rest of this section!

Ailus combines the two together in a rather complicated manner when he asks Volodar to watch over Calenfork but by the end, I couldn’t see how they actually went together. And when Volodar replies he actually says he won’t fight against his own brother, but Ailus hasn’t actually asked him to. I would really recommend that Ailus first bring up the subject of Volodar’s brother and when that subject has closed, bring up the infected and the watch over Calenfork. These are powerful subjects and should command huge chunks of the chapter in their own right.


Writing Style & Grammar
As you’re getting more into the story it really looks like you’re becoming more comfortable in the telling. There are still sentences that would benefit from rework (a tightening up) but for the most part the story is easy to read and compelling.

Favorite Lines

“Thought I was a gonna there,” Klaern relaxed. – though I’d rather have Klaern get to his feet before he delivers this line, it’s still a great line! This youngster just seems to take things in his stride, and even with humour.

“…I know you must be dying to comfort that poor family of dwarves out there.” – not sure if you realise that the use of ‘dying’ here really plays on events that happened to the ‘poor family of dwarves’ but it really goes with Ailus’ personality! That kind-but-nasty comment; he is so good at it!


Things to Work On and Queries to Answer
I mention here a couple of sentences which would benefit from slight fixes, but also some that just didn’t make sense to me and therefore I’d love your clarification.

“Bloody hell boy, stand still,” Volodar murmured to himself. – my issue here isn’t with the sentence but with ‘bloody’. It might just be dwarf humour but it sounds a little odd coming straight after the description of Klaern slipping on the bloody floor. Likewise, the same sense of oddness when Klaern later says he needs a bloody shower.

With stern expressions on their faces, they stared at Klaern and nodded… – you could omit ‘on their faces’ here because that’s where expressions normally are. I’d also be inclined to turn this sentence a little and start it with They stared…

A female broke down in tears, closely followed by a young man who must have been his son. – not sure ‘must have’ is required. Who else would the youngster be if not the son in this sort of situation?

Before Volodar could comfort the family, Lord Ailus beckoned him. “Please... follow me,” Lord Ailus said. – because you’ve got Ailus in the first sentence I don’t think you need to have the ‘Lord Ailus said.’ But… to make it clear who is speaking you could have something like “Please… follow me, Volodar.”

But he didn’t want to disobey Lord Ailus in his home. Especially now that Lord Ailus knew that the plague wasn’t fully quarantined in the vicinity behind the wall. – just a query here. What has the second sentence got to do with Volodar not wanting to disobey Ailus? I didn’t understand this one.

“…After all, thank you for inviting us to this wonderful banquet, even if it did turn a little sour,’ – Volodar is going to send men to Calenfork as thanks for saving Klaern. Therefore this sentence is superfluous and I think it could be deleted.

But after a few seconds past he felt the golden trimmed cloth over the battle map and pulled it away unveiling his true plan. – what ‘true plan’? He’s only unveiling the map which the reader and Volodar knew was there. In the short description you don’t give any indication of what the ‘true’ plan is so I’d suggest taking that part out of the sentence. Something like: But after a few seconds Ailus grabbed the golden trimmed cloth and pulled it away, unveiling the magnificent battle map.


Conclusion
I, as much as any reader, look forward to finding out what Ailus’ true plan really is. He’s definitely aiming to set brother against brother but how far is he going to go beyond that! What is he really after? I’m also looking forward to see just how he uses his daughters here. They seem very capable types, and almost more sneaky than him! And of course the dwarves remain in the keep and are suffering the loss of one of their number so this is something else to go on with. It’s a great chapter with a lot of action and new characters to get to know.

There’s a few quirky things to fix up but I’m still really enjoying the tale. Do let me know if you want me to keep reviewing, and remember of course that what’s in here is just my opinion. You can accept, ignore or modify any suggestions!


Best wishes,
Osirantinous

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