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Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: E | (4.5)
Greetings Ruwth,

I favorited (I am a fan I see) your site a long time ago and saw that there has been a change. I'm not sure what happened, but it gives me an opportunity to review this page. As a Christian I'm very much in support of your goals and appreciate your testimony as expressed here on WdC.

The service you provide is valuable. We all need pray. I was personally blessed by all the people who prayed for my daughter when she had a very serious health challenge. I do not doubt that those prayers made a difference, but in another way, those prayers from God's people are an expression of his love and concern for her and for me and a kindness in dark days, a fellowship.

So I can not commend your goals enough. Here are things that could be better to my mind: In the first sentence of the second paragraph your write: "In the real world, many of us have learned the important of seeking out fellowship with other believers." I believe it should read "many of us have learned the <b>importance</b> of seeking fellowship..."

I also don't find a way to join your group. It may be that this is intentional. Thinking about a confidential prayer group it occurs to me that you can't just let anybody in so it may be that you select the members from your own personal WdC associations. Probably this is the case, but if you are interested in fostering more participation you could provide some means of entry. Again, it might be that the character of what you do precludes expansion beyond those you can personally vouch for. That's a very valid point, so maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way. Just a thought though.

So I don't want to lower your perfect rating, but I've got to mark down for the grammar error. Of COURSE I'll remove the .5 deduction when the grammar error is corrected.

Yours in Christ,

Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
I think it best, at this point, to get something out. Time is slipping away and I want to keep on top of this. There will be more time to refine things as we go along.

First, let me say that I love Steampunk so working on your project with you will be fun. Of course this is a "work in progress" as you said so I won't spend very much time talking about the grammar, I'm looking at this story in the larger sense.

You have steampunk style presented, you have airships, your "mcguffin" (noun
an object or device in a movie or a book that serves merely as a trigger for the plot.) is Steam Goggles which seems very steampunky on the surface, but I think that Steampunk is a bit more than just the trappings. To that end, if you haven't had a chance to look at them, here are some resources gathered for you:
I don't know what research you've already done as regards the steampunk genre, but let me direct you to a few things that might be of help:

A List of Steampunk Themes, Settings, and Devices{b/}
SteamPunk: A List of Themes  (E)
The Themes, Settings and Devices of the Sci-fi Sub-genre, SteamPunk
#1249132 by EvilEgg

A List of Steampunk Works{b/}
"List of Steampunk Literature

A Very Good Steampunk Short Story{b/}
"The Swift

All this and more is available at:{b/}
"The Steampunk Boiler Room

Speaking of the mcguffin, the steamgoggles. It seems this item is something that has been sought for a long time, and that it may have been developed thousands of years ago. I think this item needs to be examined. At first I thought you were going to go with a sort of post-post-apocalyptic where steam power was developed and then lost only to be gained again so that some things are being rediscovered from ancient artifacts. Is this what you are going for? While ancient artifacts are a steampunk trope, the steam tech AS the ancient artifact presents some problems. Why is this old steam item the best that has, to this point, been developed? One of the things that Steampunk as a genre usually follows is the rapid industrialization of the 19th century. It was an era of rapid change in history that the Steampunk genre excellerates still more.

Speaking to your story elements:{b/}

Jetta Danforth: There is a large descriptive section on Jetta which details her looks and her dress. I feel that this steampunk flavor needs to be spread a bit more widely through the story. Also, some of it seems posed, something to look at but not very active. I think you need to up the action.

Star: Jetta's right-hand woman. In steampunk terms she might be a tinker. She seems to be talented with technology, she has a computer which isn't a very Steampunk compliant piece of equipment. Some steampunk authors have created clockwork computing machines, "difference engines" and though this is a way to get advanced computation for navigation and engineering it isn't visual in the same way that we use computers.

Slade: Not really a big part so far, but this seems to be the classic grease monkey engineer type. These kind of characters offer opportunities to look under the Steampunk hood so to speak and see how your steampunk world works.

Jetta's Dad (Mr. Danforth?): There seems to be conflict. He advised against looking for the Steamgoggles although he did himself and failed. I'm not sure of their current relationship.

JP: Seems to be Jetta's love interest. I thought his information supplied a bit of a "Deus ex machina" ending. It is odd that everyone who hunts these steam relics have been looking for it and boom, JP knows the guy who can find it.

Darius (Mongabay): cog that leads JP and so everyone to Julius Bottombum.

Annihilation Squad: I think the Annihilation Squad might have some potential. I do think you have some work to do to justify it in your world. Are they a police force? Are they rival, more organized, corporate spies?

Julius Bottombum: currently a Deus ex machina" cog leading all to the steam goggles.

the Steam Goggles: Though they seem very genre specific, what do these goggles do that is so great? Jetta herself has invented goggles that magnify, of what use is this mcguffin? It may be that they are called steam goggles because they are powered by steam. How that would work is hard to imagine. At one point I thought, perhaps, they were infrared sensing i.e. you could see steam power-sources, thus the name, but also see the heat signatures of living people and animals. That would provide a pretty significant advantage. The letter hints at more, but how could goggles (steam-powered or otherwise) "have the greatest knowledge of all time?" I don't feel you've given me, as a reader, any reason to believe that they could. If so how would that work in steam terms?

Perhaps you intend that after finding the goggles they would be key to overcoming some last challenge. That would afford you an opportunity to explain what the goggles are and what they can do.

The Implications of the legendary Steam Goggles and Invention Seekers in general{b/}

We know a very few things about this world. There are airships, a Steampunky style, some sort of organization that supplies or afflicts the world with Annihilation Squads. We know that there have been at least two generations of "Invention Seekers" which seem like they are finding long lost artifacts at times and at others are simply engaged in corporate espionage. I think you have some world-building to do to justify these things.

One thing that occurred to me as I read some very brief suggestion of a dominant religion which Jetta rejects and later the "prophetic word in the letter about the couple and peace and love bla bla bla (not my thing but a possible way to make this make more sense), was that perhaps the reason steampunk like people are searching for and finding steampunk gadgets is that a very spiritual culture came up after a cataclysm that destroyed a steampunk society. This society might use a sort of magic etc. to gain a higher tech society but without a lot of materialistic devices. Now, at this later time, a materialist resurgence is using found ancient technology and developing their own industrial society. Does that make sense? If not I can try to explain my idea further if it seems to you to have some merit.

I see Steampunk as a kind of retro-futurism. Imagine recreating the science fiction of Jules Verne re-imagined with what we know now about where technology has taken us. It would certainly be breaking new ground if you imagined a post industrial society that seeks out old tech as it advances again into a new industrial revolution.

Anyhow. I hope my thoughts have been helpful. Let me know if you need me to elaborate on anything that I've said above.


OH! Here's another good article on Steampunk:https:////http://www.gdfalksen.com/Steampunk

Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
Dear Kat,

I don't know if this initial delving into what you said about Heaven and Hell is at all a review. I do have an opinion though, both on how you wrote this and on the subject matter itself. If it goes well I might want to continue the discussion. Do tell me if you are done and I should shut-up.

Then too, do I want you to improve this, express this sentiment more convincingly? Hmmmm. I think I've pretty much disqualified myself as a reviewer, but lack of standing aside, I will proceed.

I believe in Heaven and Hell without having any direct experiential reasons for doing so. Death, for the most part, is a one way door. The prerequisite for a true fact finding tour is physical death, removal from this current plane of existence, and a sorting. I don't believe that, short of the actual sorting and assignment to one or the other, a person can experience either.

So is this a strictly faith based belief that is totally unanchored to reality? I don't think so. My beliefs are anchored to a revelation given by one who knows, who will make the assignments, and who has taken prudent and organized steps to reveal both the existence of Heaven and Hell, what qualifies one for each, and some information clarifying the hows and whys of the whole thing. I am a Christian. I am not unaware that among those who claim that label, Christian, opinions diverge for reasons that I know much less about. I might venture there; I would like to.

But first I'd like to "play" the disinterested reviewer.

The first paragraph presents an opinion of a view not held by the writer. It is clearly stated as such, and yet, despite the apparent honest, the misstatement of the Christian view is a straw-man argument that can't and won't be answered from knowledge. The straw-man is a time-honored rhetorical device, but I will not give you extra points for resorting to a trick, effective though it may be.

The second paragraph is a very strong and definitive statement, perhaps more strident than strong. It is an assertion undiluted by equivocation. At least I believe so as I am sure your use of "folly" was not in the sense of a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose or glamorous theatrical revue with lots of pretty girls. Is there really such a down-side to this particular religious belief? It does, as you noted before, have a civilizing effect and has throughout the ages. Perhaps it IS just ancient mind-control, but folly?

Interesting, to me, is the thought that comparatively the strict materialist and the true believer in a blissful after-life are in very different places. If the materialist who believe the mind dies with the brain is wrong, there is perdition to look forward to. If he is right, but not totally convinced, or even if he is he might dread it, his last perception before his brain and mind cease will be fear. On the other hand the Christian, if wrong and confident of eternal bliss, will meet death, the same annihilation, with happy hope his last perception.

BUT, the real point is that, streets of gold or fire and brimstone, an adaptive human will get used to the one and get bored with the other.

I think that you may be arguing the individual from the general and though we are I'm not sure that is a valid point. Granted humans are able to adapt surprisingly well, but what you cite is the effect of organized society to changing conditions and not that of the individual to deal with the same change.

If I were placed in the arctic I would die. If I were placed in the rainforest I would die. Dropped in the desert alone I would die. If I were placed in a different city, even one that I didn't speak the dominant tongue, I think I might be able to manage. To that I might adapt. Given generations my progeny might make the adaptation to the others but not me all at once, I'm human, but my adaptive abilities do not even extend to these changes of physical situation much less to Heaven or Hell.

So, I think you have an interesting thesis. You argue it strongly if not fairly. But in the end I do not think your reasoning in this is valid.

Sorry to say I'm out of time and have to close before I really feel finished, but my work calls. I will follow up with you about this later.


Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Greetings Team Contract,

It seems to me that you have a pretty good tale here and a pretty good start to it. I read some of the Second Chapter and the Prologue to get more of a sense of the thing as a whole. It is difficult to gauge the whole of a work from a small portion, but Vol 1. - The Size Queen, is a good chunk. (I do apologize for the generalness of my review as it involved reading over several sittings and some weeks. My time on WdC is limited by my access on breaks and lunch and more so, of late, by the fact that I haven't been getting them reliably)

We are presented with a protagonist who is interesting and sympathetic. Tina, cognate with tiny, amusing as she is an 8' female wrestler, seems somewhat childlike, despite her tough situation and being a heel in wrestling terminalogy.

I particularily liked your scenes with Gwen as we see Tina's morality defined. She has been forced (though she chooses it ultimately) into being a criminal enforcer and recently killer and yet is not willing to prostitute herself like Gwen has chosen. I think this and her interactions with the rickshaw boy define her well as a sympathetic character and as a true good guy. In the second chapter she proves it even more when she feels protective of the child warriors even though they insult and then actually try to kill her.

If I'd read the whole Prologue I imagine I'd have justification for the sabotage that Doc recruits her to assist him in. So, perhaps, I am not qualified to say that I felt that you may have resolved Doc and the mission too soon as being a good thing.

Somethings were good, but seem to me to be in need of polish.

I particularily like the idea of super soldier technology used for a special wrestling league. Two things trouble me: 1) The set up seems pretty simple, too simple. There is a lot more going on in the wrestling that I have opportunity to watch and have watched. Perhaps it doesn't warrant any more attention as it is just her origin tale, but I can imagine a lot of potential for other girls turning up in the employ of other forces bringing the reality of Tina's situation to what was a comic entertainment. Particularily the dead girls might be dead in the sense that black ops soldiers often are and with the biomechanical stuff who knows what kind of biological horrors might be visited on (and threatened against our heroine)one of the sisterhood who fell in the past.

...but the biomechanics of the thing seemed kind of sketchy and unclear. There are nanites and synthesised organs and even multiple hearts mentioned at one point? This is not an area that I've spent a lot of time researching and so perhaps I should bend to your expertise, but as a reader it seemed unclear what her powers were, how they were initially developed, and how they might change for the better over time.

She is large, somehow it seems she can be larger and by larger I mean taller? How is that possible? If this isn't a necessary ability perhaps it should be explained or abandoned.

The mentions of organs suggest something that her changed body can draw on naturally after her augmentation, but then the nanites come into it... I didn't get the sense that you had determined exactly what happened, is happening, and will happen in Size Queen's situation as she works with Doc and perhaps others. Am I incorrect in this? Why do you think I got that impression?

So I've covered two things, the league and the biotech that I think are super cool ideas that I believe could be greatly improved. One isn't really important, the league, though I can imagine that having a fleshed out understanding might provide more, as with Gwen and Tina's morality definition, in later installments of the Size Queen. The other, I think, is critical. Perhaps it is my fragmented reading, my failure to understand, but please entertain the thought that you may not have presented it well enough.

To a point, I believe, that less is far more if you, as the writers, know the whole of it and the fewer details are consistant and not contradictory. To my reading there was too much detail and some of it didn't match up. This is a critical plot point, but it isn't really a character point. It is necessary for Tina to be 8 feet tall, but it is situational, not as much a part of the decisions that reveal her character.

Why did you choose to begin in Brazil but have the initial mission in Africa? I ask because it seems odd that Doc's compatriots would get wiped out in Brazil so Size Queen has to help Doc, but they travel to Africa, wouldn't they be able to pick up other soldiers if they travelled, and what the hell were they doing in Brazil? It seems that you wanted to take advantage of the wrestling sub-culture in Latin America and then have Tina involved in wider things, but it just doesn't track for me. Well and good, but it just seems to strain credulity.

Along with my criticism of Doc too quickly becoming a clear good guy, perhaps there should be a Size Queen 1.5. I liked Tina's interaction with the rickshaw boy, perhaps you are too quickly dispensing with Brazil. Off the top of my head it might be good if the realizations gained with her interaction with Gwen could be cemented with action that preceeds her going off to Africa. To the point, what was Doc and his crew even doing in Brazil? If you can imagine the reason for their visit to Sao Paulo it might provide an opportunity for her to impress Doc, but also justify his reasons for enlisting her when the op is far away in Africa as things stand now. Then too, it might afford a tightening of the schedule to the point that reinforcements are really impossible, ie after getting the macguffin they see a report that the starship is going to launch in hours.

Just a note: I believe that it would be much more practical for a starship to be assembled in orbit, in space anyhow, not launch from the surface of a deep gravity well like Earth's. Obviously it would not be available to be blown up on the ground, but that is just another potential complication. OR, have you thought it far enough ahead and Doc's mission to blow up a Starship is actually to assassinate the crew which would be a strain on Tina's largely innocent conscience?

I noticed some grammar and word choice things that I might pick at, but on the whole it seemed competently written. Considering what I've inflicted on you in my review, any advice in that area might be viewed with suspicion.

I hope this review was helpful. I really like your story. It is a good one, but I think it has a way to go to be great. If you are just going for good then perhaps you've hit it, except for the few typos I saw, and if you like I can search them out and pass them along.



Review of Fade Away  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: ASR | (3.0)
Greetings Lightbringer,

I think I came across this story off of a comment in a newsletter and it was the featured item in your portfolio. I think I have trouble with the catagory functions as I would say you did when you called this suspense/thriller. Death and perhaps Tragedy apply, but I think perhaps Horror might be a better fit.

I think the way the piece read for me I quickly got the idea that this guy wasn't interacting with people. They weren't really seeing him. My mind leapt to "Oh, this is like 6th Sense," but, unlike that movie, I wasn't fooled so suspense was gone and with it any thrill.

Fading Away is apt. It supplies what the reader should expect from the title, but it isn't much more than an adequate story. I should allow that this is, of course, only my opinion to be taken, after consideration, with a grain of salt, bla bla bla bla.

Why am I being so mean? From gradeschool on, I'm sure you are aware, of the retorical device of being the first to accuse your opponent of "whining." Usually, when this gambit is played, regardless of the merits of the two positions, the argument is won. Rock does beat scissors, scissors DO cut paper.

Your lead character is a whiner. I don't like him. I have no empathy for him and he presents no redeeming characteristics except for generousity to street musicians which, after contemplating his wallet, he abandons. I can not be nearly as sorry for him as he is for himself. "help me, somebody help me." This might be horrifying if you can develop some empathy for him, but as it is, I would wish that he would fade faster.

Sorry that I'm having so much fun ripping on the whining thing, but I think it is an important point. If you have a sympathetic person who slowly comes to realize he is fading and can't engage with humanity anymore there is horror. If you can enoble him and give him a dying, or fading, good deed that we know about as he fades and he achieves it before going away, well then you might have a thriller. Again, in my opinion.

For the most part your story is competently written. I noticed a few things which I would be happy to relate to you via email if you would like to hear specifics.

Do let me know,


Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)
Dear Brom,

I've had another look at your Gate of Urns first chapter. To start out with a positive I think the title (or phrase outside of being a title) Gate of Urns is very evocative. I get associations with the Urnfield culture who buried their dead's cremated remains in urns. It seems the Gate of Urns IS associated with the next life. So, I think that is a good place to start your idea.

Not as dense with meaning and potential is Thalus and his desperate race against a very firm and specific deadline. I think my summation states it better than it appears in print. We have much hair tearing etc. but what we do not have is the prophecy, why everyone knows that a particular day is "the end", and a lot of other things that this chapter might have been about. In the second chapter we find that it wasn't so important after all as we abandon Thalus for Galgion.

Fortunately you are going into a rewrite so it is a good time to think about how you want to tell your story. One way to focus your overall story is to figure out how you might write the description on the back jacket of your published book. Then all you have to do is fill in everything behind that.

Another way to do it is to think about how the book is going to end. What is your knock out ending? Everything else is a foundation that needs to lead logically to that.

Bell talks about his LOCK system for novel writing. I think it is good advise.

L-Lead. Bron, who is your lead character and why should we care about him/her?

O-Objective. What does the lead NEED, what in the story can thay not live without? Some people call this the McGuffin I think.

C-Conflict. What is keeping the lead from their Objective?

K-Knock Out. The slam-bang mindbending ending that makes it worth reading the rest of the book. What's going to happen in that final battle?

Last, are there over arching themes that you want to have in your story? I can best help if I know about those things. For example, the idea from the second chapter that everyone needs to reject the old gods in favor of a son sent by a father... this seems to be a Christian reference. Is it your intention to do a Christian allegory?

I know this isn't very specific, I DID notice lots of things that I would point out with more time if you were sticking with this chapter as is with corrections, but you are talking rewrite and I think that's a good idea.
Review of The Steel Dragon  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Dear Panda,

I think this is a pretty good poem. I don't know the Rondeau, but I think that you do. It is full up of dragons gone down and the knight's courage. Of those words said, repeated, heard but unseen. Not enough of the act of it, feel of it is what I mean. Not howling of wind, nor the shout of the crew in their fear. A statue, a hall, and yet never a tear. The lakes are fresh but of a size with a sea, still the taste of salt water from eyes, I think, needs be.

If I'd heard the old tales the storytellers tell, then worse was a measure that I would know well. Perhaps fall, is a time when the lake dwellers fear, would be better than "aren't infrequent" to tell. Tell of the worry, tell of the pain if you can, so that a tale of dragons and knights means much more to a man.

I hope that my council, in addle-pate verse, makes the medicine served a bit better, not unbearably worse. For I meant it most kindly, I meant to make sense, that a poem is for showing the feeling and hence, with a word lay to wring the salt tears from an eye, I think meet that the word lay bespeak how men die.


Review of Almost  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Greetings Cheri,

Thanks for the kind review of Sir Gawain and the Ghost Knight. I thought I'd reciprocate and could not resist the tease of turning shorts into novellas. I'm sort'a famous, at least in my own mind, for taking a scene and turning it into a novel start. I need to get better at finishing things, sad to say.

Be that as it may, I think I may be able to be of help.

First, let me say that you have a pretty good start, though I noticed a little uneveness and grammatical troubles that I don't think I'm going to detail as they might come out in the rewrite naturally without me pointing a bunch of things out. If you DO want some of that sort of help you can let me know and I'll spend some time fine tooth combing it if you like.

I've been studying PLOT lately, as I think it is a weakness in my writing, and I came across the idea of LOCK. Lead stands for your main character. It seems to me that Mindy is your lead. Objective which is the main story question which seems like it might be "Will Mindy find love?" OR "Is Tony an axe-murderer?" OR "?" Conflict is what stands in the way of our Lead and her Objective. I have some ideas, but I think this is very dependant on who Mindy is and what her Objective is. Lastly, Knockout is for the slambang ending that leaves your readers dizzy, happy, and satisfied (or something like that).

So I'm not sure if my excitement is for the plot that leaped into my mind or because I like how you started with Mindy. I imagined Mindy deciding that she is going to find Tony, that being our Objective (or is it?) making initial inquireries but failing and then engaging the services of a tall taciturn cowboy type PI to help her. Likely you see where this is headed. Mindy and our PI try to find Tony and perhaps figure out if he is really someone that she should be pursuing, perhaps that's just the PI, but it gets looked into. Perhaps in our slam-bang-boom Knock-out ending we discover that Tony is bad news and Mindy is threatened, saved by our PI who ends up looking pretty damn good for the "Will Mindy find love?" objective which she realizes is what she REALLY wanted all along.

Obviously the "Jesse Stone" like PI isn't anywhere in your start here, so I'm way out of line, but that seems to me to be a pretty good "romance" plot without really having read any to tell the truth.

Upon re-examination I see something rather different. Or, perhaps I should say, that I don't see. Mindy seems to have trouble with the opposite sex, perhaps this is just a plot device, but I really don't know. I don't feel like you describe her adequately. There seems to be some reason that, among her group, she is the last one asked to dance. Is this an "ugly duckling into a swan" story?

I think, despite the roughness of the first scene, that I like Mindy much more after meeting her grandfather/boss and seeing their interaction. Perhaps THIS is the source of the story (and too, after her initial failure, the source of our hunky PI). I thought for a moment that she might be viewed as a mark by a nefarious Tony looking to grab the golden goose who is likely to inherit if Gpaw croaks, but I remember that you said that country music and large families were the stated things that she and Tony have in common.

Still, I'm a fool for complication so my initial thoughts are likely making Tolstoy out of Teen magazine shorts. Perhaps things are as they appear and the kiss and Mindy's feelings about it, that (let me quote) "This is when Mindy realized that no other man would make her feel the way this one did." is the promise that you have to fulfill. Then the conflict becomes how she decides that she is really going to try to find him and then of course how she does or doesn't succeed. (this could be the first doorway that Bell talks about in a basic three act structure. Mindy seemed happy enough with her friends and family, but when she decides that she has to find Tony she is thrust through that door and can't go back until she finds him for good or ill.

Having commited to finding Tony she can experience everything from family resistance, to trouble with her girl friends, to difficulty finding Tony because of lack of info, to Tony not even being Tony, making it impossible to track down the guy, hey, what is he in witness protection? and if so why and how the heck can she trust a man who lied right out of the gate, but that kiss didn't lie...

All of these possibilities will likely lead to something really big, really bad, or really good.

Well, I've blathered on at length. I hope I've fueled your desire to see this story developed into more than it is. When it comes down to it, though, I think you have some questions that you need to answer.

Who is Mindy and why are we interested in her? Is she beautiful, but there is some reason men shun her? Is she the ugly friend in a posse of foxes? Is she a particular kind of pretty that needs just the right match to it and is Tony that match? Damn, should have got his digits.

Is there something about her family relationships that is sabotaging her love life? I like her Gpaw, what's the rest like? Is she the baby who has always labored in the shadow of her older sibs? Is she the oldest who had to put aside her needs to serve her family because of some tragedy, death of mother or some such? Is she a middle child with nothing to set her appart, at least in her own eyes, and how is that going to work out in the end?

Is this Romance or Tragedy? This question, I think, is about Tony. Who is Tony and does what he wants run contrary to what Mindy wants? Is her initial, kiss fuelled, feeling correct? Is Tony "the" one? Is Tony and Mindy's attraction a fatal one? Is her desire to find him going to destroy her?

I'm curious what in particular you found compelling and what ideas your mind springs to from your start here. What do you wonder about? Who is important to you in this? Who is your lead. What does she want? What is she going to have to do to get what she wants? What is in the way of happiness? What explosive final battle or amazing twist will these factors lead to and how can you build your story to that end?

I hope all this has been helpful. Write-on.


Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: ASR | (2.5)

I'm checking this out so I can vote. I just jotted objections down as I went, but here's what I have so far. Oh yeah, and write on and stuff. This is just my opinion, take it or leave it, you know the drill.

Alpha Centauri is a southern constellation and so you can not observe it from Boston. "OH NO! I can't see Alpha Centauri.... ... never mind. I'm in Boston..."

Black-holes don't implode from dwarf stars like the ones in Alpha Centauri. Also, I think the supposed lifecycle of stars is for them to enlarge and enlarge into Giants and super-giants before going through the quick changes from carbon burning, to iron burning, etc. and then exploding leaving a dense core that, if it is large enough after burning off its fuel, might collapse into a black-hole. Perhaps that is just their first, though least likely, hypothesis.

I would say a more likely hypothesis that would come up is that there is some sort of body that is blocking the light from the stars... there is a crap load of space between stars and us. (crap load being a technical term meaning alot.)

You write: "“NASA claims it is when a large black hole disperses moving smaller black holes that devour stars. They said they saw the catalyst black hole a few light years beyond our telescope’s range and that the problem will abate within a few days.”"

Hmmmm, well if there were lots of black-holes flying around this might.... no. I think a "small" black-hole could pass through a star, or even a planet and not suck it into itself. You even have a black-hole flying apart into little ones to start with. If the black-hole can't stay together then it isn't going to suck up everything around it, certainly not a star, blip, just like that.

The scientists know this for crap, but their earlier hypothesis was just as crappy. (imo)

“The object of destruction had an even MORE FAR reaching effect...

" called tetro sapiens... interesting that they have a earth science designation. I mean I think it is a mistake.

“To put it bluntly, the disappearing of stars will continue to escalate. About twenty million stars in the observable universe have gone,” the man said." If we are observing stars then they are in our galaxy. If galaxies are disappearing that's probably from a lot longer ago, but you won't be able to differentiate individual stars.

All in all I don't think this is your best work Brom. Ultimately the Nix have the power to move between galaxys but still have ships and soldiers. I don't think this is very well thought out. I also didn't like the characters or feel a connection with them even as more of them kept popping up.

I'm getting more interested in Plot and Structure. It is a weakness in my own writing and so I'm seeing it most places I look. I'm guessing you sat down and started writing this up without thought to a middle and an end. It might also be true that you didn't even think much about the beginning in the sense of giving your characters some sort of quest or problem they have to solve, and you need to resolve. These guys just get dragged along for the ride. (imo)

Still, we only get better by writing, so, write on.


Review of The Young Jester  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Dear Beastmaster,

I like poetry and I like to write poetry. I don't know if that confers on me expertise, but it does give me confidence to comment on your poem, Young Jester as part of the "Invalid Item for my house, House Targaryen (in association with "Fantasy and Science Fiction Society

First, I have to say that it is an interesting idea, a poem about a type of Patch Adams like character. As with all things like this, especially when tagged emotional, this may be autobiographical, if it is any advise I give may seem personal when it is meant to be technical or simply subjective as to my taste. I hope you will forgive me if helpful comments come off wrong.

Here are some thoughts: I feel the second couplet of the second quatrain is a weak rhyme, win and end, as is the second couplet of the third quatrain, needs and knee. It happens also in 4th, friends and again, and the 8th, perform and forlorn. I think what might be happening is what I call in my own poetry "The desperate rhyme." In most of these the first couplet has a strong rhyme, perhaps one of two strategies could be employed:

1) Change the order to put your best foot backward. Sometimes you can sneak things in early and it isn't as jarring as late. Also, the thought you are trying to carry is often sacrificed to "The desperate rhyme" so put the strong stuff last so it doesn't seem like you wander just to get the rhyme.

2) Big surprise here, figure out a better rhyme either by reordering your thought or by breaking new ground. In combination with the above advice of putting your best couplet later, see if the time is well spent on this couplet and consider moving a successful couplet from another failed quatrain in with a good one and eliminate the bad. Radical, I know, but sometimes you can achieve addition by subtraction.

Another example of couplet order shows up to me in the last quatrain. I like the line Backstage she hugs him close, and whispers, "I Love You!" This is strong feeling and I think a much better ending, especially since it is underminded, to my way of thinking by the following, "Then tells him how proud she is, and for him to continue." I think a bit of a desperate rhyme.

And you close with:

For though she wants him home where she feels he should be
She knows that others need him more, with that she does agree.

I think you are going over the same emotional and even factual ground. The preceeding quatrain sets up that mom knows he needs to do this.

"Tears flood her eyes as she sees why he does perform (I think: why he MUST perform)
She stands and cheers with the crowd, looking no more forlorn"

Conflicted agreement doesn't seem the strongest finish. What if you messed it around

For though she wants him home where she feels that he should be
She knows that others need him more. They need him more than me
Backstage she tells how proud she is and that he must continue
Then hugs him close, and breathes his hair, and whispers, “I Love You.”

There are probably many more opportunities like that. I saw some ackward rhythms too, but since you didn't have a consistent rhythmic format I didn't want to open that can of worms. Some of that just comes down to a readers sense in reading poetry and it is even more a matter of taste than is rhyme, in my opinion.

I hope this helped and let me know if I can help out any more, or if what I gave you here isn't clear. I would offer good luck for House Martell, but dog gone it, you guys are WAY ahead of us.

Fire and Blood!


Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Dear Joto-Kai,

I do like your Urgan stories. They are certainly consistent, at least as far as the Urgan go. This tale involves them, and I think they come off as good antagonists.

The young girl is interesting too. I'm a little less certain of her. While I've never been a piggy warrior I've never been a young girl either, so I can make no claims to inside knowledge in either case, but the Urgan's motivations, simpler, seem truer. I do not find the girl's motivations as believable.

Still, this is a very good start. The girl obeys like a good soldier. I think this presages that she will be a fighter. That seemed good. What she saw, through a knot hole, and THAT she could see through a hole in the floor and yet hid under it seemed a flaw. It might be that you just need to explain how this is possible. Perhaps the hidy hole is in a cupboard thus supplying space under the floor which one can see through. This would also mean that she need not use the stairs, being able, perhaps, to escape to the first floor through from her cupboard hiding place.

Regardless. I small hole in a floor that isn't easily visible likely would not afford a very good view. Perhaps there is a better view from the cupboard hiding place.

I'm also wondering about the bowing hiding place board. I think if it ACTUALLY gave like that the Urgan would realize what it was. However, I think you could maintain the tension with something FEELING to her like it might crush her at any moment... Perhaps that was what you were getting at, but it read to me like it really did bow in and she effected it by pushing.

I'm sure that her seeing the magic of the shaman and seeing the ghost of her dead uncle are critical to the way your character develops. I just felt like she dithered in effect. I could look for specific suggestions if it is something that you've heard others comment on OR if they haven't but you are concerned.

I like the characters that rescue the girl. It seemed in this first part that their promise is thrown away when she leaves them as soon as she makes it safely to the town. Perhaps she has more allies to be assembled (though it seems the point is that she is alone for everyone's safety) but it seems a less than optimum use of a good deal of story to introduce and then abandon them.

AGAIN. I have to say that the girl's motivation is the problem here. She essentially saves them with her bluff born of her knowledge of the Urgan. I'm not sure how she is keeping them safe, or would imagine from that experience that she was keeping them safe from the information that I have so far.

I think you have a very good start here. I do not agree with some of the motivation expressed at critical times. It is very good, but the confusion engendered by what I see as a lack undermines things to my mind.

I also wonder if it is important to you that the reader not know the girls name. Writing about her makes me regret the lack. Is there a point to that?

So good job on the story idea and much of the execution. I am concerned about some of the main characters motivations which weakened the otherwise excellent whole in my opinion.



Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Dear Joto-Kai,

This is not the first story of yours I have read. It seems to me that you have a very clear idea of the world in which you are writing. That always makes stories, even short ones, more compelling. I think this is a pretty good tale, though I'm curious to know if you think it stands up to other stories you've written in this world of orc (?) and human interaction.

I was interested in the interactions between the two (I'm going to call them orcs for ease) orcs. It is a very rough and tough blustery abusive social structure. I think it is interesting to think of how a human and an orc might get together and I think you explore that. I think you are aware of the problems, and again I wonder what you think about how successfully you were able to do that in such a short story length? Did it seem plausible to you? While fully acknowledging the excellent work you've done on creating the orc culture that you present, in my opinion, it doesn't come off. I fully realize that this may mark me as a bigot, an orc hater, perhaps worse, but there it is ;)

Actually, I very much like the heroine character. I guess I was hoping the R&J interaction might be between Orc bands when I started the story. I think I'm going on a bit too much about that so I'll sum up.

Technically very good.

Very strong world building (I particularily liked the way you explained magic in orcish terms as changing the rules.)

I'm... ...I guess I have to say I was disappointed with the ending. It seems like it could have ended tragically and been a fitting exploration of interspecies love, again my bigotry. SO, while I loved the orc explaination of rule changes for magic I felt saving the two with a magic knife that the antagonist uses aparrently intentionally but why would he... That lost me.

Its hard to fit so much good in so short a story. Perhaps some of what connected everything and tied it in a bow leaked out.

So for me it was just short of perfect. Good going.


Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Dear Jenn,

I read your story over a couple of instances, but I feel I have a sense of it. Generally I would say it is well written and though I found a few places where I found the wording tricky, forcing me to go back and reread to get it right, I believe that is due to my reading and not any flaw in your writing. I mention it because I know it is a weakness of my own. I do love long convoluted sentences. (at least I love to write them.)

My second observation is really another observation from my own experience. You spent ample time building your story at the beginning only to be rushed at the end, in my opinion. In my opinion you ran out of words at the end of your story and had to wrap it up too quickly. Again, this is only my opinion, and a frustration with which I've dealt as I try to write short fiction. Sometimes I wonder if I might not have more success to write the ending first. I may try that strategy in the future.

Another observation is something of an extention of the second. It seemed to me that the Morgan character, someone who, for thousands of years, has been trying to remove the curse from the lovers is not properly established. It is a critical part of the resolution, but seems to me, to come out of nowhere. I know the first paragraph mentions the Mage, but I don't understand the mechanism that allowed the magician to follow them through time much less the motivation.

Lastly, I was not convinced of love, Matrim seems a bit like a drunk abuser, not a love that spans centuries. She, Gwen, can accuse him of drunkeness, if he is obviously sincere, but sincerely drunk... well maybe drunk and sincere is better, but either way I think it cheapens his commitment.

Overall an interesting story that is well written. In my opinion some work developing and sharpening the motivations and the mechanism that leads to Morgan breaking the curse in the present day might help. Also, if you look at the story as a whole and now that there are no length restrictions, perhaps some work on pacing can make the vision you present even more compelling.

I hope this helps,

Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Dear Matt,

I think you've done a spectacular job on the new organizational site. The graphics are superb, intricate and elegant. I think the organization of the available items is simple and direct. I think the over all impression is unified, tidy, and efficient.

The site is extremely navigable. You can get to what is here easily. I also think that the subtopics are well thought out and extremely useful. I'm sure, if people will take the time to explore, they will find a wonderful place to learn, be encouraged, and interact with others writing science fiction and fantasy.

My first explorations have been overwhelmingly positive. I suspect that a lot of thought and some actual organization has gone into the people you've asked to help you with those and that is a mark of excellent leadership.


Congratulations! You've done very well.

Review of Our Only Kiss  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with Fantasy and Science Fiction So...  
Rated: E | (3.0)

For me, this poem's subject matter has potential. In my opinion it would move (emotionally) the most if it focused on potenial as well.

It might have been. Isn't that the jist of it? To that end I think you could do with a bit less plot and a bit more emotion. For me the most uncomfortable part of the mating dance is the tension between hope and potential humiliation. In potential there is a wider range of possibility than in what has been. Regret is not so hard to shoulder if it never really could have been.

So I think your poem was the best at the very first and the very last, though I think the last is undermined by the middle. But as I said, what was this to her? Do you know? Can you tell us? Was this truly an offer of intimacy, does she remember this secret?

We are all alone in our own heads. She followed you upstairs. She kissed you. These were her actions. You seemed to reject her, even if that wasn't your intent, couldn't she have seen it that way? Why did you leave? What were you thinking? Did social pressure force you to make a choice you'd rather take back?

Is it proper to regret the first kiss or more poignant to always regret the second that will never ever come?

These are questions that I think could find their way into your poem instead of bare fact.

What do you think?

Review of Oak  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Lords of High Fantasy  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello John,

I tried to review this short story before and had a computer glitch erase my thoughts. Hopefully I can remember some of what I wrote and maybe write it more helpfully.

I guess the first thing I would say is that this story has a flaw that I see in my own writing: it starts out fairly detailed, and then rushes to the conclusion. When viewed by the relative time of the oak's life, the sprouting and seedling stages are incredibly brief. I wonder too if the storm is really so singular as well. True it causes the older tree to fall (sacrifice itself?) but wouldn't there be other storms even that same year? It adds conflict/tension, but I wonder if that couldn't be employed better in a later stage of life to punctuate other important milestones in a long life.

Windstorms aren't the most likely enemy of small trees. You mention squirrels who are likely to be the best candidate for initial nursemaid or farmer who plants the acorn, but other animals are a threat. Deer could eat young sprouts especially in winter, perhaps a desperate winter deer could nibble it but survivably while other young trees are not so fortunate, succuming to deer or simply the bitter cold that drives the deer.

The oak is a long lived plant, but it is still a plant. Competition for light seems to be a most important early preoccupation for plants and I've seen (and likely you too) the slow motion battle that goes on between plants fighting for light. You made a point of having the tree see the stars, perhaps after its first few days. I wonder if that might not be better saved for after the storm clears a path for a little tree that suffers for lack of sunlight, eclipsed by its parents, aunts, and uncles. Perhaps a lightning strike could cause a neighbor to be maimed, letting in light, and the young tree exploit the new access and also watch as disease finally claims the wounded tree that survived the initial maiming by the lightning bolt.

The idea here is to spread out our view of the tree's experience.

Last, regarding the last, you reference God. I commend you for that, but it seems prefunctory and perhaps a bit forced. Isn't God present and formative at every stage? For example the Bible tells us that "the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork." Perhaps that isn't what you meant to say at all though, you said it was a testimony OF God and not TO God. Perhaps instead of a Christian God you are referencing a more animistic conception, but in any case it I think you should establish that earlier in any case.

What do you think?

I hope my thoughts were helpful, but if any of it was confusing or incomplete I would be glad to try to clarify or expand on my recommendations and thoughts. Thanks for writing it and do keep on writing.


I guess in all these ideas is the idea of more plot
Review of A Child’s View  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (3.0)

This is an interesting look at the disparate view of a man at two ages. A man who values, and is commited to effect, perfection on his enviornment, and a child who can see minutia and appretiate it. An interesting interplay is the effect the child's view has on the man. Unwillingly he accedes to the child's wishes.

This is a poem and yet I think you've made some choices that miss lyrical opportunities.

The father was preparing to mow
the always manicured lawn

The father prepared his mower
to trim his emaculate lawn

I prefer the second

and you wrote:
A weed! A weed had sprung up
among the orderly blades of grass.
The man reached down to extract
it so he could throw it in the trash.

To the Man the weed is an abomination, it doesn't spring, it violates the orderly blades, it infests the perfect lawn. Wouldn't he bend to rip it from the ground? Would he cast it in the trash?

These are a couple of examples of what seems to me to be a more poetic way to say the same thing. I hope my suggestions are not like periwinkle upon your blue grass lawn.

Regards, keep writing,


Review of Crazy love  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (2.5)

Welcome to WdC, a place where you can put it out there and get feedback that will improve your writing. You are not breaking new ground here. Everyone probably has these obsessive feelings, especially when they are old (though sometimes when they get old and rich.) I think, if you were honest in your poem, that what you are writing about is obsession, not true love.

That being said, I noticed some grammar things that you really should clean up.

But guess I am an addict and <b>you're</b> my <b>smokin'</b> hash

My career, life<b>,</b> everything<b>,</b> I see getting <b>sabotaged</b>

It's like I am the lock and <b>you're my key</b>

I know I am bad<b>,</b> but I can love you best

Without you<b>,</b> I am just like <b>the rest</b>

Those would certainly improve its readability in my opinion.

Because it is fairly standard, because of sloppy rhyming, because the message is confused and unorganized, not just crazy, I've got to rate you down.

Because people can identify with your sentiments. Because you can do better than your first attempt. Because there are things you already know, I think, that could improve your poem I think it has potential.

Keep on writing.


Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 18+ | N/A (Review only item.)

I noticed a few things as I read. I do not claim to be a great grammarian so you can take my word or look them up yourself, but this is what I thought should be changed.

Not positive mind, but I think schmancy is spelled with a c and certainly plain, with an i.

castrati? It is the plural of castrato.

Meantime, the fat ass cop ordered dozen donuts and one of those boxes of coffee that serve a half dozen people. ordered a dozen donuts (I know you are using a voice, but I don't think he would say it without the a, it's clearer this way too.

I read your note at the end and now I'm not as sure as I was before. I was going to say that the aside jokes were amusing, but at the end it seemed confusing. I was especially put off by the abrupt and random targets he skipped to when he suspected the hoodie. That seemed merely confusing.

I have to say "Peaches" was a bit confusing too. It was as if it was actually his name, but I read back and see it was simply a riff on the description, "Peaches and Cream" but it didn't seem to me to be a strong enough connection to make me sure enough of who you were talking about. Maybe bowtie, or donut boy, or tats, but you did say that you were going for an unreliable narrator. Trouble is, how do I know if you are succeeding or just not doing a good job? I suspect the note comes from other's observations.

I have to say that I expected something different by the end. I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that the hoodie was a cop with a glittery badge and his service weapon in his pocket. The prostitution seemed a bit odd, but I miss all sorts of things at the mall. It seemed very consistant and strong through a majority of this piece, but not at the end. If this is the unreliablity that you meant perhaps you should use it a bit more earlier so that it is consistantly inconsistant. Does that makes sense?

I hope this helps.

I am writing this review for the money, honestly, and for the "Invalid Item

And for my house, House Targaryen

Fire and Blood

Oneigon of House Targaryen
Review of Fear  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (2.5)

I have to confess that I don't really remember when I was young. As you grow up though, it seems that you worry about more people.

I noticed some grammar things

* First sentence should end in a question mark.

* Second sentence: I don't think you need the word foot, or the common saying is dared SET foot.

* You get older, but... ...can't help running to... when the light isn't on, you

* This isn't grammar, but do you need to say "Then you grow up"? It seems redundant. OR you could say: We are told "monsters are not real" as we grow up. We put away...

* Logic, We put away etc TO accept the darker realities of the world. I'm not sure how the one follows from the other.

* ... is just you being paranoid, right?

* there's nothing out there or better there is nothing...

* How about: What was that shadow... ...edge of your vision?

* ...fear of the dark. We just learned...

* There's a reason you can't

I hope these points help. Keep writing, always keep writing.

I did this review for "Invalid Item Game of Thrones contest

For House Targaryen

Oneigon of House Targaryen
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: E | (4.0)

I enjoyed your poem rendered in Sonnet form. I think you successfully and faithfully held to the form. Good job. I'm no expert, but it seemed that you did a good job of remaining in period, if not Elizabethan, at least archaic. I think wilts and the doests were a bit heavy handed at the beginning, that's just my opinion. I give it only because, speaking of the sublime, I think your beginning lines promise so very much.

"A longing I have had for quite a time" seems so whistful and sad, lost really. Then driving home the point: "I pray of thee, do not depart my dreams. As if the love is in control. Beautiful.

My quarrel begins with pond'rings (a compromise to save the meter) and a mysterious "thou weren't yet sublime-. But is it mysterious or just confusing? I think the later. That is to say that I didn't get it at all the first reading and studying, but one would wish to be swept away by the first two lines and never have to think, just feel.

They DID spend time together, carriage rides, treasure hunting, etc. This seems to me to be a bit out of period. I don't think people of courting age could be together like that without scandal. I wonder what they talked about? His soft words didn't embolden, so it is a confusing back and forth, Emboldened by soft words I did nothing, oh yet again? She failed in this potential match or others? Was that the nature of her reticence, that she had better offers before but she failed to act? Hmmmm. Her silence betrayed there and then.... and it would seem from the earlier "oh yet again" that it is a pattern.

I think what you mean is clearer in the last couplet. He asked her and left. She didn't realize that this was her last chance and she wants him back. It is unclear that she didn't know she had him until the end and so wants back what she didn't know she had.

Bravo on the form. You did a great job of maintaining meter and rhyming, but in my opinion you were not as clear in the rest of the poem as the wonderful promise set by the first two lines. To a lesser extent I think you were at least clear, or clarifying, in the last couplet, but the middle should have helped to support the beginning and the end, not muddy the beautiful clarity.

I hate how negative this review seems. I really do like what you've done with the form which I think is important and laudible. I just find in my own work the same flaw, that I sell out clarity in service to rhyme and meter. To be truly excellent I think we must not be satisfied with only form, but find the right words, not just ones that fit.

Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.0)

I was wandering through the folklore looking for something to review, (it seems of late to be mostly poetry) and I came upon your story in poem form. I'm making a point of doing lots of reviews as part of the Game of Thrones contest as I seek victory for House Targaryen. Let me begin with what I liked.

I think there are two main things I can point to as things that I liked very much. First of all I like that you've chosen to rhyme your poem. Thanks for keeping that discipline alive. Secondly I very much liked your story. At the base of it, a story of knights and dragons is always good fodder for folklore. I think you've gone above and beyond the standard by putting a twist on the story with a dragon in knight's clothing and then a savior knight who is killed just in case he might be another dragon dressed to pass as a man.

Things I think might make what is really pretty good even better.

You have chosen to write a poem in rhyming couplets. As a rhyming pattern goes this is a very basic one and something that limits the flow of your poem, I feel. This structure is necessarily choppy by its very nature and I think you made it even more so by having your lines be very short. That being said, I do think you did a very good job telling your story very quickly despite the difficulty of the form you chose. Think about whether 13 or 15 beats might be a better length than 7 or 8.

Did you intent to have a set meter? If you did you were fairly consistent but with some uneveness. If it was just natural you might consider trying to make it regular and a bit longer.

Lastly I will say that I find A B A B rhyming more pleasing than A A B B, but that might just be a personal preference. You have plenty of complexity simply telling a very nice tale with such a rigid structure. But again, if we are looking for ways to push a good poem toward great perhaps that would help. Think about it.

All in all I liked your poem a lot and loved the story that you told. I feel that the compromises in story telling that you made because of the poetry scheme weakened the story by limiting your word choice and the short lines made things even choppier. I wonder if some changes in the poems form could bring the form up to where it is an asset to your story and not a detriment.

Good Job, keep writing good stuff like this.

Oneigon of House Targaryen
Review of Jack.  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (3.5)

What a nice idea to have a bit of a mash up with all the many Jacks in folk literature.

Jack Horner lacks for a female lead, so it is good that you found Jack and Jill, perhaps it was destiny. Certainly you have laid this out as a poem, but the asides do not conform to that. Perhaps they should be in the form of commentary to carry the story but not interrupt the nursery rhyme rhyming.

But having hit on a good idea with Jacks, I wonder if you shouldn't add in some more of them to really make is fun. Jack Sprat, vegan, has a wife, is it Jill who will eat no lean? How about Jack and the Beanstalk? Surely a fall from there would be even more significant than merely tumbling down a hill. The nice thing about the Beanstalk Jack is that it introduces some conflict, a villian, a personified opponent for our heroes. I think that might add.

It was probably unkind of me to blather on about all these things you could do, I hope you will forgive me, but I find I'm getting a little excited about how things might turn out if you were able to cobble together some of these other Jacks, actually reinstate the rhyme pattern, and break up poem sections with prose action.

What do you think?

I'm going to give you 3 stars for a very good idea and a bit more for potential. Let me know if you push this little story/poem to the next level. I'd like to see what you come up with for so many Jacks.

This review brought to you by Oneigon of House Targaryen, very busy with the contest [item:1157596]
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)

I don't think "enjoyed" is the right word for my feelings when reading your story, but I do think it is a very good one. We are all heading toward this frightening place where remembered past subsumes the last few tomorrows we are allowed. I might have a few other comments, but on the whole I think you did a great job and I wouldn't change a thing.

So, I did notice a few not so important and easily fixed grammar and spelling errors. Let's see if I can pass those on to you.

... he himself had killed Joey Fingers with his bare hands. Perhaps a small quibble, but this is the only place you call him Joey Fingers instead of Barnes and so it is confusing. No need to leave us wondering, He killed Barnes.

"turned back to his sweat heart." I'm sure you meant sweet heart.

""Eat? Whose got time to eat, Curly." Clarnece said" Clarence

"When the Blazes had shown up with gun, the knights weren't ready for it." with a gun? with guns?

"He started sailing his Hail Mary's." He started saying his Hail Mary's? praying his Hail Mary's?

I said I wouldn't nit pick but sorry, I gotta wonder "We can't have your genes floating around" is a young gang member going to talk about genetics? we don't need your kind or we don't need none of your blood might be more believable. Or maybe Fingers listened in biology class.

"Benny ran over to him, pulling him off of the deceased boy." again, deceased is correct, but a bit technical in my opinion... sorry nit picking.

"Dad, for the last time, she's gone." Mom is gone?

"Clarence wept them" Clarence wept then.

"James felt Claire's hand on her shoulder" felt Claire's hand on his shoulder.

"I was a knight." Clarence said, looking up at his son. Instead of identifying James wouldn't it nail home Clarence's being lost in his memories to have him look up without any recognition?

I hope the spelling and grammar tips (and even the nitpickery) are helpful.

Good job capturing a very difficult subject.


Review of The Swift  
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Honestly, Greg, you are very good, so I'm not sure how much I can help, but I will ask a few questions to see if there's something to improve.

The scene is New York, tarpaper roofing reminds me of cheap shack construction, not a city buildings roof. Perhaps it is coming from Oregon, but roofs here, particularily flat ones DO have tarpaper as part of the roof, a first layer, but also a very good amount of tar over that and gravel on top of water-tight tar. A slanted roof might use this same system, but likely not with the gravel unless it was as part of shingles, I think.

Can you isolate the "Slowly the Swift picked himself off the..." part from the "He glanced quickly around for immediate danger..." part. Being picky, they seem a bit odd one immediately after the other.

OH! I really like the battle between the Swift and the drone. How is the drone able to track him? Have you thought of a mechanical mechanism that could do that? Is it just assumed that in this world you can make automatons that mimmick the abilities of things we have now that use electronics?

I get a VERY nice steampunk sense from this whole section especially his goggles irising and him taking flight.

I like the Steampunk realism of the flight mechanism, it seems very believable to me.

I also think it was inspired the way that Harriet, without much hope of success, one might assume, used everything at hand, even her clothing, to affect her situation. GREAT! A very modern attitude for a retro-futuristic heroine.

Again I wonder about clockwork automatons. I think this genre uses them routinely, so this isn't exactly a criticism, it is really a question from someone who plans to write some of this stuff and wonders about the parameters of these steampunk worlds. As with the excellent description of just how the Swift flys, it is possible to make things believable, but is a certain amount of willing suspension of disbelief required from some of these things. Sure it would seem impossible considering where robotics has reached only because of electronics, but is it necessary for the genre? I don't know.

A great start I think. I'm impressed by Icarus and Harriet. The Swift seems to have the ability to face Professor Delirium Tremen's level of technology, but what about that of whomever sent the automatons that used the ship? Intriguing.


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