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26
26
Review of Best Served Cold  
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: 18+ | (3.0)
I was looking for a Steampunk story, but I'm glad I came across yours. I like the tone and feel of the story from the start. You paint a very foreboding picture and there is a good feeling of threat for the characters we encounter. It seems that Morgana's motivation is the revenge she seeks from 'him". However that does not seem to be the focus of the section, it seemed incidental to the action and the interests of the characters, but how can that be? I wonder if you should focus less on character development and more on the revenge. Perhaps what I need is the focus of a single point of view. We DO learn about the characters when they are the focus, but it makes things somewhat confusing. (imo)

Observations:

It is little wonder that the crossbow is damaged if it is carried around in a bag with all manner of other things. A weapon is of no use if it is not readily at hand. I think Renette might be carrying a bandoleer of extra silver bolts in the pack, but she or her master would have that or another weapon readily at hand. (imo)

It occurs to me that spring-loaded is a mechanism, is the mechanized one repeating?

I'm not sure why you mention a different crossbow, but if it is important to the story you could have Renette give her the spring-loaded one and have her asked why it isn't the mech one, answer, still being repaired.

Sorry to keep going on about weapons, but here, "Renette possessed a miniature version of the crossbow Jane had seen her hand off to her precious mistress earlier.",we find out from Jane about Renette's weapon... I think we should have known this from the first.

Morgana seems awfully concerned for her servants, too much for my taste, and I think in contradiction to what you said earlier about her lust for revenge. To this point, Morgana and Renetta surrounded and about to be torn to shreds, it seems a VERY poor plan, or rather no plan at all. It seems unlikely to me that this plan took any time to formulate, but we shall see how things progress at the end of this section.

Confusing... who's is the hunting knife? A stab in the guts is not a good killing blow, even with a twist, It would be impossible to get to the belly of a wounded animal, unless it is totally incapacitated. Did Jane break its spine? Is this the one Morgana shot? How does she have time to shoot, get out knife and stab.... All confusing. I think you should do some work here.

Paul: A forearm was a regrettable substitute for body armor that he hadn't thought of adorning. Unless he wants to decorate the body armor he isn't wearing the word you want is donning; 1. to put on.

Paul thinks too much, there should be less evaluation and more stabbing, stabbing, stabbing!!!!

So enough of the criticism. I liked this story in general. I like the characters, even appreciating Morgana though in my comments above I didn't agree with your characterization. I like this sort'a island of doctor Moreau meets Vampires vs. Werewolves in Underworld. If this is to be a longer piece perhaps you can spread out the character revelations so we can learn about them more individually than this all at once approach seems to allow. Consider reducing the number of perspectives or even reducing it to one.

I am curious as to how this story will proceed from here. You've got a good idea, good work, but you've got some more work to do I think.

Rating this somewhat low because I think it has potential but a lot of work to be done.








27
27
Review of Red Tide  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
Interesting, and not only because I'm scouting steampunk at the moment. There is certainly a story here with some interesting characters. The style, over all, is a bit choppy for my taste, I wonder if this is a very early draft set aside.

Perhaps this offering is a chapter in a more extensive work, but standing on its own it seems to miss some opportunities both to paint a clearer steampunk picture and better develop character. We get the sense of our heroes, daring girl adventure, boy genius aided by the token useful adult, but we don't see them clearly. They seem in the dark in more ways than one.

I liked the establishing scene of the sub rising from the murk. I wished for a bit more. hull dotted with rivets and barnacles, an echoing clank after the screech of the hatch opening, what Lillian looks like in the lurid chemical light. Perhaps this sort of thing is my own vice, and not good advise, but I could have done with more of that sort of thing.

And back to the choppy thing.

I liked much of the dialogue, and felt it did a good job of revealing the characters, but could have used more narration, scene around the words. I wonder if you could have left Gil on the sub and afforded yourself more opportunity to paint that lighted part of your world, revealing their home. Something was going on between the Professor and Lil, but that seemed a story stub that didn't amount to anything.

I hope my perspective helps. I think you have an interesting story idea, very complete in its science, that needs some color.



28
28
Review of Mock Epic  
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: ASR | (1.5)
I think you have an interesting idea which might fit well with a Steampunk genre story. Because I think the technical trappings of a Steampunk world are essential to the genre I think you have a ways to go with your story.

Looking back, our person of interest (hero?) is "Slowly, as he grabbed the solid railing, his mind, like a fragile glass sphere, shattered. He was broken inside, and left staring off into the thousands of pieces of his dreams." lets say deeply effected. But later on he seems able enough to talk about it, surprisingly loquatious in my opinion or for my taste.

I think from this example as well as others that you are able to write some very interesting imagery, but sometimes you undermine the image with some of your narrative. I feel that Slowly, grabbed, and shattered didn't work well in the sentence together. Think about it.

In the beginning part of this story, that I found searching Steampunk, I encountered some problems that I found jarring. Among them were:

"Putting a quarter into one of the telescopes" They use quarters in Larkwood England?

"Yet, the newcomer could tell that something was aloof in the air." Aloof? Distant or standoffish? And air of reserve? I'm not sure what word you were thinking of but I'm pretty sure aloof isn't it.

"He could feel a mild sensation overwhelming his entire being" That is some kind of mild sensation. Perhaps a mild sensation could envelope ones entire being or rise from mild to overwhelming over time. Which did you mean to convey or was there something else you meant to say?

Don't need the second "replied the man"

I'm not sure where Larkwood is but it seems ill placed in a Steampunk story that England would be anywhere but at the center of the world. I like your idea of a strange reality where the world really might not be round, but I'm not sure that this piece does a good job of executing, or perhaps illustrating is a better word, the idea you lay out in the last paragraph.

Well, to sum up, I think you have the beginning of an interesting idea here at the end of your Prologue. Perhaps you could dispense with the prologue and just begin your story now that you've come to that idea at the end.

I hope my observations were helpful. I wouldn't want to slowly shatter you or whatever (sorry, I felt I needed to say that).

Keep writing. Even a bad review is but an opportunity to rub success in the face of your detractors. I eagerly await the rug burn.

Ta,

LSO
29
29
Review of Beltane  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Dear Ali,

I think this is a pretty good start at a story, but much of it lies ahead. I think you do a very creditable job of describing a Beltaine festival, fertility rites, and the purification of the fires. Well done, but I think you could give people even more hints that lead them to feel the Spring.

I am interested by your invoking of both a fairly modern cultural construct (or at least the naming of it), a commune, and comfortable acceptance of faeries. I think by establishing those very disparate facts of your world we are warned that we can't take things for granted. Your story is like things we know, but there is promise of much we don't, and can't expect. I think that might be what I liked the most.

On the subject of what I liked most, I have to say that though I didn't feel this was a very good stand alone story, I did really like how you introduced the main character, Kieran, with friends urging him to jump the fire, and then how you close with him doing (as he promised) but for the purpose of leaving.

Later on, not very far, I go on about how I don't like Kiernan, at least the character that he presents in this initial piece. I don't really remember being 21and so my idea of the heroic might be a bit scewed by my decrepitude. A warning.

Might I suggest before I mention what I didn't like, that you put more of your wonderful description and scene setting at the front, have Kiernan experience some of it, observe it for us, so that we have more affinity for him if for no other reason then because he is our eyes to your world. Just a thought.

Things I didn't like as much:

I didn't get any sense of what Kiernan felt he had to do. There is certainly a sense of needing to escape the expectations that are forming for a leader's son in the commune, but that hardly seems something to flee. He must have a plan beyond just getting away. (but even if it is only that, to get away, there must be some direction, some steps that will lead him away.) Perhaps that will come with the rest of the story, but when you have some of it I think you should have him lay out a bit of it here so we see him as driven not just feckless.

His use of his girl-friend doesn't seem kind. Perhaps that is his character, but it doesn't lend itself to building a hero. I imagine she will be angry in the morning. He has promised that he will return, but not knowing his mission, (I think he is lying. Why would I think that?) I can't even evaluate if he is likely to want to fulfill that promise, be capable of returning, and err, umm, well it would be nice to have a third thing here but I can't think of what I was going to add. (fumes)

In the second paragraph you present Janelle, who is captivating. I mean you present her that way, not as annoying, not as scheming, not as begging. And the next you have him noticing the other girls dancing. I think, perhaps, that this belongs before he has his attention drawn to his paramour.

I noticed no major grammatical problems. I enjoyed the read and it was only on reflection and to be helpful (honest, I try) that I told you of the things I liked less.

I wish I was writing this well at 21. (That is if I wasn't and have just forgotten it)

Keep writing Ali. Never stop writing.

LSO

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30
30
Review of Facility  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Dear J.R. King,

I wasn't ready for the twist. Good surprise! I think too, that the idea of it rings true. How often in sports does the reactor draw the penalty? How often do we trust the expert even though we wonder if they might be wrong? Here too, you are the expert, and I trust that a little girl could so manipulate her father. It was very nicely done. Best not to think too much on it.

Here are some inconsequential things that I noticed:

You wrote: Beth watched her son David through the two-way mirror, allowing her to observe his therapy without being seen by him. He was adorable. 1) I'm not positive, but isn't that sort of thing called one-way glass? It would be good to know for sure and not to have to modify it with the "allowing her to observe his therapy without being seen by him." 2) I think she might refer to it as "Police glass" foreshadowing and setting up her internal conflict, "he's my little boy, but he's a monster." 3) I didn't notice a lot of grammar that was jarring, that was awkward, this seemed to be and it was the first sentence. hmmm, did you have something in mind that I'm missing here?

You wrote: The social worker was attempting to offer her support in Beth’s tough decision. Beth knew this, but the truth was nothing was going to make this decision easy. ) wouldn't this be better? Beth knew the social worker was trying to offer her support, but nothing was going to make this decision any easier.

I really liked the scene with the therapist. The little boy is nonchalant about the horror. We think he must have done it. I thought that was deftly done, even when I thought he was the one that did it.

This little bit was very revealing, and yet I didn't get it until I read back through. Very nice: Her husband Rob had not said a word, obviously in shock; (obviously, smirk) he just quietly started to clean up the mess. David had stared at Allison. Hate had filled his eyes. He had done this to scare her somehow. To show her something, perhaps. Something threatening. Something wicked. (yep, it was bad bad stuff, poor woman, is there going to be more than this?)

You wrote: “He needs to be placed,” I like the way you have the mother resort to what I imagine would be insider technical terminology instead of dealing with it in mommy terms, "yeah, lock up my little boy."

I don't know, I think this is a pretty good story. I think you can tighten up the language, though I'm probably not the one to help with that. I think the bones of this story are VERY strong. I think we a little bit of polishing it could be a great story.

Sometimes people just throw something totally bizarre in at the end of a story and call it a surprise ending, but you didn't do that at all. Everything seemed very well founded and though we (or at least I) make the same assumptions that Beth and the professionals do, I think there isn't anything that isn't reliably reported. It is a twist because it flows from the true things you said and we misunderstood.

Great job JR. Keep up the good work.

LSO

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31
31
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Dear Arosis,

This is not at all the sort of thing I'd normally pick up and read. That being said, I really liked some of it. I mention what I would normally read because I may be missing things that someone more familiar with the genre would key in on and appreciate. So there it is.

I think the first best thing was that you wait to reveal that the young woman is a witch in training until the very last thing. I hated the last paragraph, I found it confusing, but the idea is cool. I like that way you saved that, hinting, but telling it clearly at the end.

I think I tend to the morose. Therefore, I prefer the manic to balance my tendency. I know the loss of her friend must have been awful, but I felt it way too much in this. I jest. But perhaps you get my meaning. In your first chance to grab my attention, I sorta had to wade through stuff I really don't like to think about.

The Aunt is central and yet we don't see her, being dead, but the hard part of loosing someone is the remembering, followed immediately by the . . . and I will never see her again. I think you could do with a bigger dose of the wonderful Aunt and less of the Morose. I'm sure we'll get there at the funeral, no need to get their too soon.

I think this needs a hook. I think you need to establish her writing beyond a compulsion to correct, which I, a horrible speller and grammarian, think is more than exact English. AND I think the culminating paragraph needs to be simpler, more direct, and include the surprise that she is a witch in training.

I think you did well enough, but good isn't good enough, is it? If not you've got some rewriting to do in my opinion.

Keep writing. Never stop writing.

LSO

OH! welcome to the Coffee Shop. I hope you find a nice seat by the fire. Welcome!

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32
32
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: GC | (3.5)
Dear Mr. Duff,

I read your first chapter despite the warnings. There was a fair amount of what you warned there would be. I guess my first comment is that romance didn't seem the right word for what happened. Lily's first condition, and what she is forced to do to escape, seemed a bit gratuitious when confronted with the, err, romance to follow. Much of it seemed contrived to deprive her of clothing and that too seemed gratuitous.

I was also a bit confused or at least concerned that I wasn't correctly identifying the army of the invasion. Is it the same as the forager goblins? This D&D world has lots of humanoids, so many that it can be confusing. If the goblins, one hour away, are other than foragers of a goblin army you should explain how that can be, I think. I also think that her fleeing in shirt and slippers might need explaining, but that the interlude with the hiding out, then escape, and guard should have left her much better provisioned for the trip and so it seemed ill placed. You start with some good action, but with the goblins steps behind (after depriving her of another piece of clothing) it seems an unfortunate time to break in with that bit about the rest.

. . . and speaking romantically, I don't know where you go from the end of the chapter. There are few secrets, their carnal knowledge being full. I wonder if the huddling together for warmth and thereby the removal of all clothing couldn't be effected by a fall through ice and more goblin incursions necessitating flight.

Escaping an army and meeting a human (?) of extraordinary powers might be more exciting than tittilating. And you might build more sexual tension with less sex even with a magic collar.

If you want shock, I think you have opportunity for it. You mention, off hand, how Lily sees the horrible things that happen to her sister flower-girls. I think seeing something horrible could leave us with a less jaded view of our heroine. I'm not necessarily saying that you need to have sadistic sex and snuff aspects added to your repetoire here in the first chapter, but I would happily exchange it (well, perhaps not happily) for a little less exposure of our little Lily.

At least that's how it seems to me. I love the battle stuff though, you know? I'd rather see that.

Keep writing. You've got an interesting start here in chapter 1. We don't want your head to explode either. Let me know if any of this strikes a chord with you?

Sincerely,

LSO

Keep writing. Don't stop writing.


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33
33
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Dear Benjamin,

This is a fairly short piece, but I really liked the beginning of an idea that you present here. I think you did a good job showing the novelty of their observations, particularily when they are in the clearing and notice that they appear different, have hair, etc. Well done.

Maybe because it is short and maybe because I wasn't careful enough reading, I didn't really have a sense of who was who. There are two beings, Penn and Terol, but I think for me at least there needs to be something that differentiates them besides hair color when that isn't real, or at least not durable.

Perhaps differentiation will grow with time, but I think destinctiveness of personality is something you can establish pretty quickly and should.

I'm wondering if you've thought about when we should first realize that they are visiting, perhaps skin-walking, in other forms as they travel in this world? What purpose does it serve to keep us in the dark about what they are doing? Could this information also provide opportunity to exhibit their individual personalities? I wonder if it would be better to experience the technological nature of the situation at first to provide clarity. Perhaps you have your reasons, but think about it if you haven't already and rejected the idea.

I have one technical thing that I wanted to ask you about. You wrote: "Penn opened his mouth in surprise and accidentally took in a breath of water. Panic washed over him and he kicked off the bottom and made for the surface, but not before grabbing the object."

You want him to grab the item, perhaps his shock that causes the intake of water is caused by grabbing the thing. I don't think you can panic AND remember to get something off the bottom. They seem mutually exclusive and I think just reordering things could obviate the dissonance.

Anyway, I liked the idea. I think you have a pretty good start. I think too, you have an idea about what each character is like. I'd try to show that earlier.

Keep up the good work.

LSO

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34
34
for entry "Prologue
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Dear Todd PH,

I feel a bit odd reviewing a published work. In my own case I'm a long way from done with anything I bring. This seemed the sort of thing I would like to read and so I decided to start here.

I did not allow myself a peek at the first chapter so all I have is your prologue. I think you clearly present the situation, a mortal reporting on the elvish reintigrating themselves into our world after 3,000 years. That is the sort of thing I would be interested in reading so I'm hooked.

I particularily like the Celtic names. That is the milieu I intend to feature in my own work, so I'm more hooked.

Anyway, I'll give a more complete review when I have a look at chapter 1, but my only comment is that this beginning seems a bit static if I weren't an elf loving Celtophile. It is a reception after big events and a 3,000 year excile and before the reintigration of Avalon with Earth which seems a big project. Perhaps it is a necessary calm before the storm.

I also wonder why you didn't at all mention who the other mortal was. I assume this is intended.

All in all much fun.

Regards

LSO

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35
Review of End of ORION  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Dear Duchess,

I think you did a great job working the prompts into this item. Good going. It seems like it was a lot of fun to write.

I liked the hints that the president got there thanks to Orion and that Edward Grant was going to get his revenge. SO, it seems to me to be a super great start and I find I'm left wanting an ending.

This brings the question to my mind. If he burns the letter, if Jan swears that she never saw it or even knew Edward Grant how is it shut down? Or perhaps more properly, why erase that if he is just going to take the notebook and go plot revenge?

Anyway, I thought you did a really good job. I didn't notice anything grammatically wrong or even off putting. I'm looking forward to getting to see more of your stuff. It seems that you can come up with a good tale and do it very quickly.

Regards,

LSO

Again, welcome to the Coffee Shop. I hope you like it here.

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36
Review of Wall of Death  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Dear Finn,

This was a surprising story in three paragraphs. If your intent was simply to shock, you succeeded in shocking me. I'm not, however, a horror buff, it's not really my cup of tea (or coffee) so take my observations with that in mind.

"If you throw that orange at me again. . ." as a parent your kids learn quickly what they can get away with doing. They smell weakness. "Again" weakens the threat. "Throw that orange at me and I will put a nail through your head."

ALSO Has she thrown the same orange before? Perhaps his concern is that she not throw squishy fruit at him, is it the same orange? Can she risk it? I think thought she could.

Nose nailed to the wall. There is some fear, I think more is warranted. YOU SHOT MY NOSE! explitives follow.

In the second paragraph our victim, in an odd position, is drinking to kill the pain. We find out about some of the difficulty in actually drinking, but I'm wondering how she would even think to do it. There is a process there. This middle paragraph was the longest, but to me it seemed to supply nothing of consequence when we consider the final act.

Lastly, someone finishes her. Ah well, she was dancer enough to catch a bottle, but is she someone to care about? How horrible was it? Shocking certainly.

I think you have a very quirky idea of an absurd situation and a shocking conclusion. I think holding on to those ideas you could construct a much better setting to house those good ideas.

Do you have any plans to rework this? Let me know.

LSO

PS. Technical question. With the exception of powder fired anchoring nails (and I'm not sure about them) can you get a nine inch nail in a nail gun? I don't think so.

37
37
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Dear David,

From a brief glance at your port it seems that your favorite mode of storytelling is correspondence. It is an interesting method. Since it is your style I can't really speak authoritatively about this one in particular, and so I will confine myself to my own impressions.

I read quickly for general sense and I noticed no grammatical or spelling errors. It flowed and was always understandable.

I think you did a good job establishing a different, futuristic, reference with the use of zone 3 and zone 6. We learn that zone 3 is a water-front, and that people gamble in 6, but I think the opportunity you missed is relating more information about zone 3 with comparisons to "home" (zone 1?) I know it is a different beach, but not much more, you could tell us about both important places with, for example, "you know how the clouds hang low over the beach in the morning? Well, the mist here seems golden and the sun fairly jumps into the sky." or something like that, you know, comparisons that tell us about both places.

Much of the middle seemed what you might expect in a letter. I wish there had been more relational information about his relationship to Bright Eyes.

I liked the tease at the end about the table and Bright Eyes needing to resort to flirting though he hopes not, VERY revealing I think. I'd like more such. . . . . . or at least clues like that one that I could catch. If there are others in the middle I missed them.

So, all in all, though it isn't something I've read normaly I thought you did a pretty good job, especially with the zones and the hoping she doesn't have to flirt.

LSO

PS by the way, welcome to the Shop. I hope you enjoy us.

38
38
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Dear Kim,

That was a delightful tale in a wrapping of wonderful description. Story telling is lovely, and your story-teller was too. I naturally fall into this sort of thing, story with a story-teller and young ears. I feel a bit unqualified to comment on whether it is a good or bad thing because I so readily turn to it. It is like you are giving two stories in one.

I thought you painted Anishinabe wonderfully. I liked details like: "Anishinabe grasped the arms of her rocker and pushed herself to her feet", "She turned and walked slowly to the door and put on a worn hand-knit sweater and beckoned for us to come outside with her", and especially "She used the cabin wall for balance and support." I think all of these were keen observations that painted a wonderful picture.

I noticed one word choice thing that I thought I'd bring to your attention. You wrote: "others were malevolent and inflicted the people with many hardships." I would suggest order "others were malevolent and inflicted many hardships on the people" or word change "others were malevolent and afflicted the people with many hardships." (afflicted: To inflict grievous physical or mental suffering on.)

I liked your story within a story. It seems like a wonderful way to tell a story, particularily when the wrapping is even nicer than the present.

Keep up the great work.

LSO

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Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Dear Airila,

I read your slice of life about growing up in India. I enjoyed the wonderful detail and a sense of experiencing something alien, at least alien to my experience.

I thought that your point of view character was an effective and interesting observer of the events that you record here. If anything, your character is too real, her observations assume a lot as regards her normal enviornment and her relationships that seemed to be teased but never fleshed out. You can tell this is real because what is related begs so many questions.

I'm not sure where you plan to go with this little story. Was it a writing exercise? If you plan to leave it be, I think it is interesting for the experience. If you want to make a stronger short-story I think you might want to focus on getting your observer more quickly to the fence-line and linger longer on the parade. If this is part of a larger whole that you intend to write in the future you might have already written or plan to write material that explains or contextualizes the things other than the parade that were hinted at in your story.

Clearly there are problems. Why does she feel she needs to hide, to sneak? Why do her parents feel they need to restrict her, is there danger? What is the family dynamic when a child on a lark functions sort of like mid management in a household, is that part of the emotional detachment? I gleaned, perhaps in error, all these things that don't focus me on the spectacle.

Perhaps I'm overly sensative to the emotional, but I think if you want to improve this story it needs to be more focused, if you intend to go into more detail about the girl's life you need to let us experience more than the fact that she carries water for her shower. (which is a very interesting idea that you passed along off handidly) I was very interested in more about the life so perhaps you have two stories in this one. Which way will you go with it?

Fascinated,

LSO

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40
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Review of Guardian angel...  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Dear SNM,

Because I read this, liked it, and wanted to review it, I'm going to try to remember what I most wanted to say.

First and foremost I think that you have a keen eye for a good idea. I love the idea of meeting your guardian angel, falling for her is a real wild idea and saving someone from a cold only to break their heart might not be the angelic course I'd choose.

As I read, I didn't get that he was depressed. I knew he was supposed to be, but it didn't scan that way for me even though I believe that I might very well appear just as your character did if I was depressed. Does that make sense? Let me try again. This is one of those information things. You have to spell it out, he can look like you showed him, laughing in the rain, but we need more context then the blurb by the title. At least I think so. (oops, called him Ryan in the other review, why did I do that?)

I think that's the most important point. I think a writer needs to pick his details. Sometimes the truest details have to be sacrificed to help the reader understand what you are trying to say. Sometimes, if the truest, most expressive details aren't working, there are bigger problems that need to be addressed.

I said you have an eye for a good idea. I'm guessing that if you apply that knack to all parts of your writing, the micro as well as the macro, you'll start hitting way more than you miss.

Sincerely,

LSO (paranthetical elipse guy. . .)

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Review of She Was...  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Dear SNM,

I've read two of your stories, the laptop I was using when I reviewed the first one died before my review was sent. Too tired to contemplate going back over it, I have moved on to "She Was..."

Let me say at the start that I am an elipse guy, love'm, use 'em, can't help myself. . .
. . .I suspect it is a flaw. But I can say no more on that subject.

If I were to sketch out your story in very short terms I'd say it was a basic boy meets girl, boy falls hard for girl, boy crosses the line of obsession (but fortunately in a way that doesn't get him arrested,) and boy looses girl.

But you, being better than the average bear, added in the twist of loosing the best friend who has disappointed him, disappointment on double loss. (by the way, if I read this of Damon before I read about Ryan and the Angel and Ryan's name was Damon, I'd have totally got that he was depressed on the bench, but that's another story.)(I'm also a parenthetical statement guy, and a veritable tapestry of flaws.)

SO, I do think you have a good idea for a story. This is a thick emotional stew, or could be.

. . . or could be. I say that because I think you took a real good shot but missed a little.

1st recommendation: I love the quote, but I think it belongs at the end. It's like you are giving a main plot line away.

2nd recommendation: I think the Damon/Claude relationship is important, but I do think it is secondary. At least, that is what is suggested by the quote at the beginning.

Should it be secondary to the romance? That's really a question you have to answer. In your story there is much more interaction between Damon and Claude. If they were real and not just characters they'd have a history a bit more significant than an aborted romance.

In the narrative Brenna gets short shrift. so. . .

3rd recommendation: I think you need to justify the value that Damon places on the loss of the potential girl-friend. Don't you? I think you are a romantic guy, I think, even without much effort, you can build that reciprical feeling so that when Brenna pulls away it is more devistating, justifying the stalking. (I could have done with a lot less of that. I don't think his effort to get back in touch with her worked, he can cut a few classes when the problem comes but I don't think you need to relate much of that.)

4th recommendation: Do some reviews of stuff you like. You can look at other peoples stuff much more critically. You'll see what works and what doesn't in stuff you in which you are not invested.

5th recommendation: With some reviews under your belt, take a look at your story. You've probably seen the same flaws in other's work, you may have seen solutions. I would say polish, but that usually suggests a removing of excess. In both stories I read I felt you passed up important emotional detail. I think you need to write more or at the very least add some as you remove what doesn't pass muster.

I think you have very good ideas. Keep writing them, and rewriting, and. . . (I'm not sure I'm going to kick this habit.)

LSO

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Review of Awkward Silence  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Dear Tashina,

This is the second of your poems I read. I didn't feel like I could do a good job reviewing the lyric as music is so subjective, and words and the tune can really work together to totally change what you hear.

This poem is sad, like the song, but I think the ideas you express in this poem are more developed. I was very touched by:

"Two unoccupied chairs sit
in the middle
Where we're sitting"

I think that is a very fitting description of relationship which has failed, not necessarily because of fault on one of the partners, but instead, perhaps, because of the condition of both.

I like my poetry like the bard, iambic and rhymed, but I really liked the first stanza. I feel like the idea you hit on was very insightful.

Two empty people, alone together, what could they share? Why would they care? It is sad and beautiful.

I don't think the second stanza added to what you started in the first. It isn't the insightful inditement of narcissism, and it doesn't effectively follow the idea of empty people in the first, in my opinion. I also think it squanders awkward silences.

I notice, looking back through my review, that I didn't mention awkward silences, which is the title and a very interesting idea. I think that is because it doesn't have the impact it should.

SO, to sum up. I think you hit on something very very good with your initial idea and your first stanza and, like I have in a hundred poems I won't share, you panicked. It is hard to follow up when you come up with something that kinda surprises you with how good it is.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could tell you what to do next?

Just keep on trying, and if you figure it out, please tell me about it too.

LSO

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Review of Aftermath intro  
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: E | (3.5)
Dear Artaqstar,

It would certainly be hard for me to imagine a more frightening villian than Lucifer. Why is his face scarred?

It seemed strange to me to mention the people's world being turned to dust and then destroy it by fire in the next paragraph. It was a little hard for me to get orientated, hard to imagine anyone surviving, hard to feel bad about the suffering involved in war and a world turned to dust that is burned up the next moment.

And so I wonder if it might be more impactful if he gets more pleasure from people's suffering than the momentary pleasure of destruction. But then, I guess, you'd find it hard for him to sense her... Perhaps he senses her specialness amongst all the suffering.

I liked his rage and his cruelty to his minions.

I didn't understand: "Reviling in his victory" Did you mean reveling: To take great pleasure or delight?

You wrote: "he would be sent to his cadge once more." I'm pretty sure you meant cage.

Having him know that he has to kill her or be caged is convenient for him. How does he know that and not know exactly where she is, and knowing that be able to destroy her like he did the entire world?

I think you have an interesting start here. But, for me, there are some details that could be sharper and some that could be left to be discovered in chapters to come. It seems pretty much wrapped up, we don't know much about the girl except that she is and how bad her opposition is. I'm not compelled to keep reading.

Have you thought of some improvements already?

I'd like to take a look at it when you do.

LSO

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Review of The Pixies' Tale  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Dear Lee,

I think you have the beginnings of a very interesting tale. Is it elves? I read someone's Christmas elf story that was their second and I felt at a loss wondering if detail I would like to see has been supplied in an earlier story. Perhaps that has happened here with your (a whole other story) comment.

Anyhow, I feel like I could use more detail. To be more specific, I think, if this is a stand alone story, you could do with less of the history and more detailing of what's there immediately before the pixies arrive. Mind you, this is just a feeling, I couldn't say what you might try, unless it involved the first few paragraphs that don't center around the big three leaders, leading up to the return of the pixies.

Beyond that, I'm eager for the story that you haven't written yet.

Even the little bit of their banter left me wanting more. Pixies are fun.

I hope to read more of this Lee. Is it coming in the near future? Let me know.

Warm Regards,

LSO

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Review of The Home Visit  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Dear Michael,

Horror is usually not my thing at all, but I think flash horror might be. At least this story commends the genre.

My limited experience doesn't really extend to much Flash Fiction either but I have to say, this was good. Flash Fiction I've run across in the past often reads very very choppy, your narrative was very pleasing to me. Your story telling was unhurried.

I don't know if it is a requirement, but Flash mostly seems to have a twist at the end. I felt your unhurried pace lent real shock to the horror twist at the end of your story, much of the other stories I've read seem contrived. Your's, superb.

I've never given a 5 rating, never thought I would, but I really can't think of a way to make this better so you deserve it.

Lastly, I just want to complement your last line. You completed this story. The little boy closing the door. I loved it.

Very Highest Regards

LSO
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Review of And She Blushed  
Review by L. Stephen O...
In affiliation with The Coffee Shop for the Fantas...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Dear Athena,

I really liked your story about madness observed from inside and outside. As I began the story it seemed that the "love" was a bit static. That hardly seems an appropriate criticism when I discover that the "love" is, in fact, a wall. I mention my confusion for your amusement.

I also thought it was deft, as the professionals discuss their work, that John, though he doesn't share the Wesley's perspective is compassionate and observant enough to help by: try to bring him at exactly the time where the sun comes out and “puts color on her pale face” as he says.

So, to sum up. I loved the idea you exploited in this story and appreciated your storytelling as well. I hope to read more of your work in the future. Keep writing, and keep finishing. I loved the results so far.

LSO



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Review of Just a Scratch  
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Dear Elisabeth,

Needed or no, here comes.

This is just the sort of story that I love, action, adventure, emotion. I'm eager to read other stories that you have written based on this one.

A continuity thought: He shouldn't know it is "the very scout who shot him," he turned and was shot, no? Also he is looking at his wound, falling, crashing.

There is a lot going on in this second paragraph, perhaps it could be divided.

Okay, the man is trying to rise. Doesn't he have weapons, training, wouldn't he intend to fight? Small picky things, disregard if you don't agree.

I am confused at the beginning of the third paragraph. Did he get up and walk away with whoever belonged to the sword point, not know it, and fall down?

AH, good clarity. She is Quinn, he is Adam.

Anatomy comment here: Adam is shot in the guts (abdomen), if you want asperating blood, then it should be in the chest, a lung pierced.

Her shirt might get soaked with his blood when she hugs him but not before.

Last comment, I promise, I wonder if you should start with this from Quinn's perspective since you are forced to end with it. She can see him fight and turn and be hit.

Good going. I like your subject matter. Have you written anything else about Quinn?

Keep writing and I think you will be pleased with the result.

LSO










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Review of The Journey  
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Thanks Dawg,

I really like your story.

In a sense it is a hero's journey without the pathos. I don't believe that you intend to answer the questions raised by this story and so I wasn't disappointed that they weren't.

Often fiction turns on conflict though there wasn't much that was overt. Samantha is a co-victim and yet antagonist, she gets hers. Did she deserve that? Perhaps I would be more satisfied if she was more than just a bit contrary. I confess to having a bit of sympathy for her and empathy and self identification.

BUT she did not have the strength of her convictions. If she REALLY didn't want to leave, she should not have done so. Was she the reason for the others doom?

In the end, our hero chooses and in choosing wins. I think that is a good moral if one is intended.

All in all a very interesting story as is. Do you have plans to rewrite? Have you already thought of improvements?

Thanks again,

LSO

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Review of Talosian  
Review by L. Stephen O...
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hey Bob,

I really liked the idea you presented in your piece. I have to admit I've wondered about Ms. Jolie, so extra points for believability.

I noticed a couple of things: 1) you wrote "I maybe I'm bipolar," did you mean I may be bipolar or Maybe I'm bipolar? 2) In the second paragraph you write ""Mashing." accept the bodies," did you mean "Mashing," except the bodies,?

Generally I like where this went. The idea of Mashing into another lifeform and being through them is brilliant. It doesn't seem like travel to me, however, more like vacation after travel. I like the introduction of mind power, but wonder if you can swap the idea of travel for something more descriptive of the Mashing process and the being that can lead to confusion and being lost in another person (ie Jolie and Billy Bob, what was she thinking?) as with Betty.

I hope this helps.

LSO

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