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Public Reviews
Review by Stargopher
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
         Another Side of Light

A clamshell is more than a simple little purse for a living animal.

I love the opening to this story. I'm always afraid of starting out with a description like this, or even a sentence that could be a little long, but this seems so natural, and it puts me right into the narrative.

...probably the last time she’d gone much anywhere.

I'm not sure about that 'much', but maybe that's vernacular?

Good soup, some yellow Portuguese bread, a little nostalgia: the best things you could find out there.

This is one sentence I highlighted that sports a colon. Very sporty of you *Wink*, but I'm not convinced they are necessary here, or in a couple other areas of the story. I think that using an em dash (--) would make these parts flow better, or it might be better still to make new sentences out of the fragments. "The best things you could find out there" may not technically be a sentence, but it works great anyway, and fits the conversational tone of the story.

...titled in “CAML SHELL." That didn’t look quite right. But she knew from experience that when she tried to fix these things, they usually got worse. So she left it and started fussing with the light.

I wasn't sure if you meant the title of "CAML SHELL" didn't look right, or that she'd worked on the file, and that is what looked iffy. I'm thinking you mean title, and I thought of one way that might make this clear. Instead of "didn't look right" you could opt for "didn't sound right". In the sentence that follows this, you could reword slightly too. It might, in a rewrite, say, "So she kept the name and started fussing with the light."

(no lighters for her, thank you very much)

Mine is not the final word on this, but I'm a fan of parentheses in fiction. I never found them to jam me up, or to disturb my sense of suspended disbelief, which might be a reason not to use them. I should say--at least not in a story with a conversational tone. As with this tone, I like colloquial dialogue also. This story sets out to be conversational, and I enjoy this approach oftentimes. You address the reader a bit with the use of 'you', in one or two of your sentences, and the parentheses, if used sparingly, can add some humor.

As soon she got up to go back in the house...

As soon as.

That wasn’t the real Paloma at all. The real Paloma was a petite, vivid Mediterranean beauty, and the years be damned.

Nice couple of lines. *Thumbsup*

Fascinated, she fixed her mind on the little sewing light, and it guided her into a new world.

This story made me smile.

I like that it is a different sort of tale, and its ending is very fitting. Strange things happen such as Paloma (I really like that name) speaking in mixed up sentences, and, she seems to have a unique ability. I had fun watching this come about. She has a beyond-human sense of sight, and that's not something you see everyday. But I should probably tell you I didn't know she was an artist until I read your item description.

I prefer the stories that offer characters with abilities that might be seen as meager if compared to superheroes.

Nice work. I like reading your short stories, Asym!

         Opposition Research--191

The last line of the story Jonathan Livingston Seagull reads, "His race to learn had begun." I think your story has a lot of that in it, and it is highly good. It also has a character that does their own thing, and, despite all she knows, is a life-long learner. An afterlife-long learner. Paloma is too much her own woman to not enter a world--or her own idea of heaven--like the one she finds herself in at the end. On top of this, I think this was an effective story about aging. Before you mention it, the part about "52-year-old son" describes her age nicely.

See you around,
You can't go out into space.
Review of Pawn En Prise  
Review by Stargopher
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
         Hi, Silverfeathers. I'm Steven from WYRM, and I'm here to give you the in-depth review you earned as a finalist in "WYRM's Gauntlet. Congratulations again!

Pawn En Prise

This felt like a chapter to me, and somewhere along the line the idea became stuck in my head. I think it functions just fine as a short story, but I referred to it as a chapter in my review. I thought of deleting those references, but on the chance it may help you to think of this as a first chapter...

You had me visiting the dictionary once or twice in this story. I think that mainly means you chose some words true to the time-frame. I really like the title of the story, and the blurb, "Summon your family. All of your family" has such advertising value.

Overall I thought this chapter covered its bases, and did what it had to do in terms of introducing key figures, and struggles. You may have introduced a few too many characters to keep track of right away, even, but the plot doesn't waste time. The reading of it suffered somewhat from a few recurring technical issues.

What I noticed most of all was the amount of adjectives used, and the way some details seemed to jumble sentences. I like adjectives, but too many of them can interrupt the flow of the story. Sometimes in describing things I noticed the volume of adjectives and amount of description have a kind of poetic effect where you may not want it. An example I came across was,

Her father hurried past, trailing behind the soldiers like a forgotten guest in his own hall, and for a single instant, as Keira met her mother's eyes, she saw that practiced mask slip, saw the serene facade crack, saw a fear emerge that matched her own and reminded her that none of them may live to see the sunset.

A long sentence like this can be helped by nixing a couple adjectives, or even splitting up the sentence into two. It could also read less poetical that way, and more concise, which is what could make this story flow more easily.

Who, Keira realized through the haze of her confusion and fear, had not so much as paused on his way to the door of the keep.

I think you have a great opportunity in this part of the story to show the reader that confusion, that fear, instead of stating it. One way to do this could be by focusing on something in the room that scares her, or something she has heard that confuses her. That's just my example, of course, but I think the "show, don't tell" adage applies here.

And showing the scene can also help to cut down on the poetic descriptions. For those readers who enjoy concise descriptions, you can detail the character's thoughts and emotional reaction--which might help this scene--and have less of a need to worry about 'telling' us how she feels. *Bigsmile*

Because now it all made sense. The sudden bond that had sprung up between Wesley and Peyton; the resentful, brooding looks they sometimes shot at their father; the long, mysterious rides they often took into the surrounding countryside "to clear their heads;" and the times when she had seen them return, covered in mud and other dark splotches, their faces grim with stern triumph.

Here was an example of many semi-colons. I saw that most of the time you had used them correctly, but often a semi-colon in creative writing creates an unnecessary pause. They can jam up a reader, and I had some trouble with instances like this. I've seen plenty of books with semi-colons, but some writers believe all of their occurrences can be re-written to allow for a period or a comma. If not all, I do believe that most of the ones you have used could be commas or periods. It's all about the flow really. An easy fix. *Smile*

There is one other technical element that appeared a few times which were the ellipsis points (...). They really are meant for the ends of sentences, or for citing incomplete sentences, so there may be a few of them in your story you can safely cut. Mainly, they were dialogue-contained, and if you wanted to create a pause in speech you could always do that by using the 'em dash' (--) which I saw you rely on in other ways. Or, like with semi-colons, you could re-write to make a long sentence connected by "..." into a few shorter, 'clipped' sentences.

Anyway, I just wanted to get some of the technical aspects out of the way so I didn't gum up the review for you. Just to backtrack a little, I really enjoyed "Noticed" which is one of the reasons I wanted to review you, were you to be a finalist. That story seemed cleaner and had a great tone which made me think this chapter might be an early draft. I hope you don't take it the wrong way, but I can definitely understand that writing an early draft sometimes means mechanics will not be perfect.

Then, over the shoulders of the coming soldiers, she saw her mother stir, as though waking from a dream, and reach out to take her father by the arm.

Thought you might mean 'reached'.

It hurt, to see his once-proud face so haggard, see eyes that used to flash with fire or crinkle in mirth so hopeless and fearful.

Are you missing the word 'to' between 'haggard' and 'see'?

It brought a bittersweet pang to Keira's heart, to watch him gather himself and wrap his dignity around him like a cloak of impenetrable armour.

I'm not sure you need that comma.

Also, I don't know if I'm being at all clear when I mention 'poetic descriptions', but using frequent similes can create that feel as well. I did notice a few similes. If you wanted, eliminating just a couple in the story could be another way to be more concise. *Thumbsup*

She had never gotten so close to Zaszriel Morecai before, had only caught glimpses of the man during that agonizing week when the Imperials had overrun the keep as their prince "negotiated" the surrender that had stripped her country of its sovereignty.

This was just another longer sentence that caught my eye. I think splitting it up into two might help it.

Now, although the servants kept the room clean, a smell of neglect tainted the air.

That is a great use the senses there. I really liked 'neglect' having a scent.

...inwardly cursing them in a language that would have shocked her mother into speechlessness had she known of it.

Until I discovered Keira's age I didn't think it was believable that bad language would bother her mother amidst all this treason and war. *Laugh*

She look away, shaken, and unexpectedly found the gaze of the General upon her as well.


Little nine-year-old Biannca and Lysander, twins down to the last freckle...

This excerpt begins a pretty long sentence. One complete with semi colons. *Wink* Thought pointing that out might make it easier to spot. I did wanna say one useful thing about length and use of semi-colons though. I've read some stories where a sentence is deliberately long in order to create emphasis, or a sense of anxiousness. I did not get the sense that was your intent here, but sometimes a semi-colon is the only way to break up a sentence of real length.

"B-Breached, your highness?"

Hmm. Since I've gotten a rather strong sense of this man's eroding dignity, I wonder if the stuttering is necessary here, or if it overstates the matter.

Also, we seem to enter the scene as Keira's father has already succumb to the forces of the prince. Would he fold so easily, so quickly? I remember that line from a Superman movie, "One who leads so many would never kneel so quickly."

"Your highness," Verril was almost panting, "your highness, surely such isolated incidents--"

That's interesting. I don't know if I thought these were isolated incidents, but I'm glad someone spoke up, because I had a sense the prince was just making stuff up. *Bigsmile* It wouldn't surprise me if his litany of accusations were made up. I kind of thought they were, like he was trying to create a false equivalence between what he's doing, and what's--allegedly--been done to him.

Alddyn paused, and his eyes lost their look of affable storytelling, becoming sharp and piercing as a raptor's.

Out of curiosity, are there raptors? I was curious if they co-exist in your fantasy setting, or if the people have possibly studied remains. (I for one think medieval archeologists would be cool.)

There was a look in his eyes like that of a man trying to repair a leaking dam with his finger.

Now that's a great simile.

It was said that even before Mortimer DuFey had become a mage and sold his soul for power...

I wondered if this remark was overdramatic, or if I just need to remember the story's being narrated by a fifteen-year-old girl. *Smile*

...as one might view the human wreckage left behind by excessive alcohol or drug use.

Kind of like the mention of raptors, I find myself wishing to know just how much these guys know or care about alcohol and drug use. Maybe that's just because it has such an established place in modern society. What I mean is, would people in this time-frame know, or care enough about it to call it 'abuse'?

...neither men turned to follow its progress, so intent were they on each other.


Wails and cries rent the air, as Keira fought in vain against the strong grasp pinioning her arms.

No comma needed.

To me Dufey is the most interesting character as he has something to hide, it seems. There is something elusive about the man, if only because while the other lords are posturing, he's whispering and succeeds in changing the prince's policy. He seems to have been the one to insure the destruction of Keira's family, as she describes at the end of the chapter. So, I just thought I'd offer who my favorite is, so to speak.

"The feeling is mutual, lady!"

Great line!

It was a low blow, but she refused to be ashamed as the blood drained from her mother's face.

I didn't see that. How is the truth ever a low blow, especially when she's considering marriage to a murderer?

"...Let us hope to see each other again soon, to witness the, ah, joyful union of our esteemed General and Lady Keira."

Don't need the first comma.

"Good to know that at least one Rhyzenger stands to gain from cooperating with the enemy."

Ooh. That's the real low-blow.

This was a story that had something of a surprise ending. I knew it couldn't end with a basic massacre, but still, the idea of the family's long-term destruction was an emotional ending. I liked that whole feeling of defeat. I much enjoyed the emotional ending in "Time Enough."

I felt the story did have some cliches, but some are hard to avoid in the fantasy genre. The forced marriage and the mages are concepts that have been 'out there', but that doesn't mean they can't exist if something fresh is added to the mix. For that reason I'd really like to see something new, or different, added to this story. It has potential to be more than a fantasy staple, and I think the unique character of Dufey, for example, touched upon that. Perhaps expanding on his unique plan for Keira's family, or giving us some of his POV could add some spice.

Alddyn can be funny at times, but he does fill that role of a mean-spirited monarch. Keira is dealing with extreme situations, and I'm sort of glad she didn't get a happy ending. (Mean-spirited). But anything to underscore that eventual destruction of the Rhyzenger family is good reading.

         Opposition Research--172

There's a book by M. Coleman Easton I started to think about as I read this story. Swimmers Beneath the Bright was about a fantasy world complete with monarchs and rebels, but it had a very unique concept that included aliens who had engineered the population in the past. You don’t need to implement anything so drastic, but I guess, to me, it's an example of how a fantasy setting can be enhanced to attract more readers of the genre, and newcomers who just enjoy interesting material.

Good going in the Gaunlet, and peace,

Rodent of celestial wills!
Review by Stargopher
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
         *Bullet*Another Sad Comedy

Before I get started I wanted to point out that I may confuse you with what may seem like a useless comment from time to time. I had done the review for this preface before the 5th of January, which I noticed was when you did some revising. I then began a new review until I discovered things were edited again on the 6th, and alas, edited on the 7th. *Laugh* I believe I've gotten rid of comments that do not apply to the story anymore, but I've decided to leave some of them that may still help, on the off-chance that they might be useful in some way, or if you decide that some of the things you had beforehand you want to stick with after all. Of course, I have added comments to the review based on your most recent updates.

Shouldn't a thriller begin with an earthquake? Most likely yes...

Though not present anymore, I thought this was a very good opening line. It was more of an author's note, but it still set tone well, and prepared me for your 'voice.' I liked it for that. While quite a few books have unnecessary introductions, there are some that take full advantage of them to make an effective statement. For what it's worth, I thought you had done so.

What is 'the home-bar?' I'm just curious. It may be a saying in British English, or in the UK I'm not familiar with. I did think at one point you just meant that the kitchen had a bar in it. Anyhow since it's been changed, maybe it was just a mistake.

...counting down the seconds remaining till her mother's comeback.

Saying 'her mother's comeback' like this would actually mean that her mother was, for instance, losing in a competition and then beginning to do a lot better. Or if she was a celebrity, had disappeared for some time, and then came back into the public eye. I hope that isn't too strange an explanation. The word that would really fit here in your sentence is 'return.'

The great lawyer Irma Malinowska stormed into a flat.

Good job with the introduction of Irma as 'the great lawyer.'It gives her an air of importance, whether she derserves it or not. I also think it is smart to call her 'Irma' in Nathii's point-of-view, because it shows the tension of their relationship in a clever way.

But, be careful in this sentence to call Irma's home 'a flat.' It's 'her flat' after all, eh? Another reason to use 'the' is because the introduction you have now makes it seem more like a play's stage directions than the start to a novel. Something to watch out for, but definitely an easy fix.


Nathii answered with an ironic smile; one would think she was proud of her great achievement of procrastinating.

You seem to use the semi-colon quite often, but most of the time it's uneccesary. Even when used correctly, semi-colons and colons cause frequent stops for the reader, and most of the time you can get by with commas or with the creation of two separate sentences.

For example, this sentence can become two simply by replacing the semi-colon with a period. I don't want to cram this review with punctuation highlights. I know that's a drag for the author to read. But generally, I can offer to just keep an eye out for the semi-colon, and treat is as something to use sparringly.

"Why?" the mother ruckled.

I was not able to find this word in my dictionary, and that's a shame because it's a very cool word. Maybe I just could not find it, and it exists. Of course, you can create your own words as a writer...*Wink*

I could swear I scribbled the necessity of getting one into my agenda somewhere around these days..."

This reads awkward, so I'm suggesting 'one of these days.'

She threw a majority of the never-to-be-consumed dinner to the dust bin.

Again, perhaps a term I'm not used to. If 'dust-bin' is the 'trash-bin', that's cool. But would you mind letting me know? I'm curious now.

"Ouch, as far as I'm concerned, it's you who doesn't have a clue who my father is...

I know you have requested to leave the punctuation alone in Irma's speech, but I still wanted to tell you that the comma after 'ouch', instead of a period, makes it seem as though Irma is referring to her daughter as 'Ouch.' *Laugh* But we all know that is not her name...Hee hee.

"Twenty-four hours. Dammit; longer than usual."

One of Nathii's remarks in this banter that I found especially funny. Oh yeah. I'm going to try and not notice the semi-colon though. *Wink*

Oh, these were the times, past times, crazy times: last year.

[eyes colon]

But, excellent ending sentence and segue into chapter 1.

         Beginning nouns with 'the'

In certain places you do not require the need of 'the' before nouns. (I thought I'd just highlight these sentences so you can find them better. It's easy to fix--just one word to delete--but it can create humor unintentionally. *Wink*)

Yes, some characters and the scenes are inspired by the real life.

Yeah, I even snuck into the folder description for this one.

"This is no good, relationships need the contact..."

Oh look, you already changed this one!

I'm enjoying this, Nathii. In a lot of comedies these days you will not have this level of intelligent writing. Nathii's problems are legitimate, and she has an irreverent personality which is very refreshing. I felt yours was, and will continue to be quite smart because of how Nathii deals with her day-to-day, or how she remembers the past. It promises to be funny as well. It's more of a satire, and I kinda prefer those anyway. *Thumbsup*

I definitely look forward to the points of discussion your story will raise for becoming a writer versus becoming a lawyer, as that seems to be where the story is headed. And--I like that this preface had a theme, as it was a discussion between mother and daughter. It lends more weight to the idea of having a preface, because oftentimes, as I pointed out, they strike readers as unnecessary.

I'm aware of the awkwardness in the writing, as you have pointed out in a couple of your own items. But, even so, I think you have done very well. It's just a matter of these few things: controling your colons, controling your semi-colons, getting down some of the English phraseology, and, last but not least, me figuring out that some of this is British colloqualism.

If, in all seriousness, you have further questions about where best to use some of the more outgoing of English punctuation, feel free to ask. I have a useful textbook.

Your punctuation note in red at the bottom of this is a worthy idea, but I'm still going to feel the need to point things out because I notice similar mistakes in places outside of Irma's dialogue. Is that cool?

That's all for the preface. I wanted to be getting reviews out to you sooner. My apologies for that not being the case. See you in chapter one.

Review of Sparks  
Review by Stargopher
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hey, Anne. I want to tell you right out of the shoot that I was very impressed with this story. I will talk about some issues I had with it, maybe a few errors, but still it was a story that stuck with me. It was dark, Orwellian in a sense, and its elements of consumerism make it serious, and substantial. As far as that went, I thought it was interesting that both the government and corporations were ugly. Police are using the products, and on the people.

A tidbit you may find interesting is that I just put this story together for myself. Another Gauntlet associate and I had a pretty rough time of it, understanding all the story was meaning to convey.

I'm going to review this story a little bit differently, in little sub-sections, because I find it better to say all I want to say while considering it as a whole. I hope it works.

So, here is the review "WYRM's Gauntlet people promised you. *Thumbsup*

         *Note* Sparks.

I liked this aspect.
(Speaks for itself, yeah?)

I think your item description is the best. There's just so much "little things" can mean. Sparks, and little problems. A good metaphor too, I realize.

A sterile smile filled the screen.

This was a very effective opening line. While "sterile" means clean, it also gives us images of blankness, and a mechanical feeling. I thought it set up the atmosphere of this story well.

He had put INTICLES on the list of "Least Favorites".

Nice touch.

He liked the smell of her shampoo, didn't know what it was.

Great, subtle way to show just how involved with the commercial brands Connor is.

I think it's nice. They know what we like, mostly, and we can put the rest back."

What a thought-provoking aspect. The idea that a company could anticipate your shopping preferences. It is as scary as it is interesting.

"I happen to like it."

It is so icky living with someone who doesn't know they're in a dystopia. *Wink*

"He doesn't make us do things, and there's no evidence Sparks killed the babies. Their parents smoked."

Riiight, keep telling yourself that. Seriously, though. Imagining this was a pretty crazy experience. I did have the idea that Mina meant their own babies, but I guess this is incorrect.

Every day it became harder to reach her.

Good who-really-needs-reaching sentence.

He grabbed a handful of the metallic dust.

Nice to get the picture of these. I had thought they were almost like germs.

Sparks automatized your day.

And perhaps even worse than having products forced on you, is being treated like a cat who is carried around so often, he forgets to walk. Nice.

You trod on them, washed them down the sink, or inhaled them without knowing. But there were always fresh ones.

Good line that builds toward the ending.

Your clarity, or mine?
(Because it took me some time to grasp this story, and I'm not sure you had too much to do with it, now. I'm taking you through my thought process more than anything.)

"Toothpaste," he said...."I got it on Monday."..."And how many people have been there, today? You could catch anything."

I thought a few different things about these sentences. It could mean:

1- Right at the beginning there is really a message sent to the reader about the effect so many consecutive commercials has on the consumer. People need things they don't actually need.

2- Also, as we read on and begin to grasp more, we find that Connor may be a little paranoid. Well, I didn't think that--I thought of him as a futuristic Robin Hood--but I could tell that may have been the idea. And so, maybe Connor is being snide, and scoffing at the commercial.

3- And, as I have deduced, Connor is hip to this information about worm, nanite-like "sparks", that see everything, and hear everything. And, he is shouting at them here: "I'm brushing my teeth," he yelled. "With Crest. Fresh tube."

You would not believe how long that took me to figure out. Before, I thought he was just a brainwashed toothpaste lover, so proud that he's screaming it. And I'm mad at myself because this is the style of writing I most enjoy and aspire to also. It's a "leave it up to the reader" sensibility. I admit I had a hard time understanding much of this until long after the judging of rd 2. I do attribute this to the busy-ness of the contest though,and myself, and not your wrting.

"I've done a reset this morning. There's only one place where it can actually be."

In context, I had the feeling of not having enough breadcrumbs to get home after I read this one. What does he mean, a reset? If it's electronic, I was not entirely sure a power reset would even effect those little devils. You also made me really try there in figuring out the officer was picking spark particles out of the towel. I'm not sure the fact that they are "everywhere" is pointed out at this stage, and this may account for some of my confusion. Lines like "it's the worms" are in there, but, sometimes in futurism, it has the potential of meaning any number of things. At first read, anyway.

You certainly have a "show, don't tell" mentality in your writing.

I really had to comit myself to grasp all of what was happening in this story. So, after all this, maybe I'm a step slower than you. Or maybe you've left a little too much up to the reader. *Bigsmile* I'm leaning toward the former, and that isn't sarcasm. But I thought you might like to know.

Problems and technicalities.

He grimaced at his contemptuous face, stuck the toothbrush in his mouth and shrubbed.

Do you mean "scrubbed?"

In order to change the commands, you had to reach a minimum of units. In order not to get caught, you had to do it quickly.

One part of the terminology I had a lot of trouble with. I don't know what you mean by units. Units of product? And how can changing the amount change computer commands? Units of "worms", I take it. And how exactly is that possible? Because he hacked into controling it?

Six identifiers were now on the visualizer. Jeez. Where was the command?

I can do Identifiers. But grouped together with "visualizer", and an unknown "command", and my brain marks this sentence as some techno-babble. *Bigsmile*


I have some reservations about the ending."God," she whispered, "what will happen to us?"

First of all, for a story largely centered around an idea (the precognitive nanites) you have created a realistic relationship, with workable tension, and a true-to-life couple. Mina can frustrate Connor and the reader for basically not caring, and placing convenience before privacy...and Connor can just be downright annoying to the reader and Mina, because of his sorry-about-spying-on-you-just-wait-here-are-some-meatballs attitude. In an effective way, though. *Wink*

As for the ending...I'm not saying that I need a big, huge explosive ending. I did want one that had a little more resolution though, because I have a bias against stories that set-up sequels. I don't need to see what happens to sparks in the end, I don't even need to see if they stay together. I did want something more about if the screen stayed dead (it was really cool how it went black). Some speculation about it would be nice, just a little extra. Or, hey, did it come back on, and they realize the crushing power of the world they are really in? That could be a clever character development for Mina, as she'd come to find, with that sort of ending, that she really does live in a dystopia. Or, maybe INTICLES was really a front for Sparks, or something. That could make my first opinion of bringing them down (what I'm about to talk about) more realistic.

As for the content of the story...I'm a big fan of dystopias. And, at first read, I thought the attempt to "bring down" the network was a little rushed, and maybe a bit unrealistic. I don't think it necessarily is anymore. (But if it was a trick by INTICLES, it definitely would be realistic.) I've settled into the story, and while I still have difficulty with some of the storytelling clarity, I am quite happy to have read it. Polish it up, and put it in the shoebox.

         *Note* Opposition Research.

Philip K Dick had the short story "The Minority Report" which the movie was based on, and in your story there is an element of precognition. It is, as I say, a very thought-provoking idea, and one of the scariest. While Pre-crime was the concept in that story, yours could be just as sinister, as it is pre-advertising. An advance in the field of targeting audiences. And they don't even need psychics, or think-tanks (if you would) to do it. They have the technology. There are a few times I have watched or read something, and got the feeling of there being no shelter, and nearly no way to stop some kind of omnipotent force. The borg come to mind, as does "the Phalanx" from X-Men. Also, in a lot of cautionary science fiction. It is an awful, depressing, desperate, and altogether bad feeling to have. And, I am very glad you shared yours, in short, with me. *Bigsmile*

I hope to see you around,
Steven. (of WYRM.)
Review of A Matter of Time  
Review by Stargopher
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
*Note2* Greetings, Kotaro.

I very much enjoyed your story, and the blurb about RNA, the reading recommendation. And I have some suggestions for you.

Flying at the point of the vee, he’s the first to see the jade green haven.

I enjoy how you opened this story with the flight of the birds. It kind of reminded me of how "2001" began with the ape-creature Moon-Watcher--the animal is important to the rest of the story, like these birds. Anyway, in this openning, wasn't it a 'she' bird you introduced to us first? Who is the 'he?' Is it another bird of the same flock?

Professor Roy Grist turns to his lovely Japanese assistant...

While I have nothing against lovely assistants, does it not seem that there is sure a lot of them is stories and movies? I've encountered many proffesors with similar intellegent and beautiful assistants. I'm only keen on this now because I'm reading "Fantastic Voyage" and the lovely Cora Peterson is the assistant of another doctor, and their interaction can be a little formulaic. There is just something about lovely female assistant that jump out at me in a negative way. Although, I wouldn't mind reading about a fiery, overweight assistant who is equally intelligent.
[shrugs]...okay, maybe there isn't much to that suggestion, but it would be entertaining.

"...I think it’s too risky.”

I felt that Maiko could have come up with a more natural sort of remark--perhaps a reason why she thought it was too risky.

“Don’t worry, Gorgeous, I know what I’m doing.”

While I may have come out against the whole gorgeous assistant relationship a moment ago, I'm glad that this remark is in jest. It adds some realism. If this had been a serious remark, I may feel differently. Yet, would 'Gorgeous' be capitalized?

Although he knows that antibiotics has no effect on viruses, he lies to calm her fears, “I’ve taken a ton of antibiotics. No viruses are going to get past my defenses.”

I object to this because, as his assistant in practice, wouldn't Maiko too be aware that antibiotics will have no effect on this virus?

“Sweetie, I’ve told you.

Aw, man, does he have to call her 'Sweetie?'

I have an overall suggestion for the way your story is set up. I think, first off, that it can be expanded a good deal. The story, in my opinion, is good enough to be novel/novella-length and the chapters larger. However, in this existing version, it might help a reader (well, me) to forego the chapters altogether, and separate this thing with the dates you have included already. For example, 'Chapter 3' might become 'Sept. 30, 1918.' Then, some of the chapters within the same time period could be eliminated for scene breaks (* * *) instead. It may flow even better. I write stories set up sort of like this, and I've been told this may help it flow better.

I think you do a good job of writing in the present tense, but chapter 3 and others are written in the past tense. I'm not sure this switch overly affects or interrupts the reader. It did not interrupt me. But, because I enjoy how you write in the present, I'm going to suggest this chapter, and the story remains in present tense. I just like it better that way for some reason. It feels better and can express more in my opinion. Yet, if you are writing present tense for the present-day scenes, and past tense for historical scenes...then I think this also makes sense.

He reckoned it was a four hour walk away.

He reckoned, eh? Is a professor from the future the type to reckon something?

A sign was on the front: SPIT SPREADS DEATH.

This was a nice touch.

“What is it, Lau...”, his voice froze as he saw the gauze placed over her mouth. “Where’s Danny?”

Feel free to toss this idea out, but when he first gets home and askes Laura--maybe he notices first that her voice is muffled?

...covering his weeping face with his huge hands...

This creates an odd image for me, is it important that his hands are 'huge?'

“I’m sorry, there ain’t no coffins. Too many dead.”

I thought this was good dialogue that seemed to fit the time period. I also liked the added sense of atmosphere by having Laura insist for the box.

I think you wrote a clever fight scene.

He typed, “Where am I, partner? What year is this?” No response.

He typed? Was it at his watch or a computer in his machine?

Well, Kotaro, a very clever ending using time travel well. I never would have thought at the outset you would kill Roy, him having been the man in the ice that the birds pecked at in the beginning. I thought this was very well done. I enjoy the entire concept, in Doctor Who fashion, of a time traveling hero having to visit the past to protect the future. In your story, it was interesting because this man was a medical doctor. I liked it too because it did not have a happy ending. Look out, Maiko...looks like the future is in your hands now. That is to say, of course, that you could have serial adventures with these two. You've written well.


Review by Stargopher
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
         Hey, AMW. What's up? I read and liked your story "St. Mary Jones Death Day." Has a pretty cool title too. I noticed a few things that I'll mention in this review...mostly some tense confusion, punctuation and some other things. Hope that's alright. Here we go...

--Soon Dave and Marissa come out of their tents, but there is no sign of Amanda.

This sentence, and a few others are in the present tense. I'm not sure if you're going for present or past, but I know from my stories being reveiwed that you should keep it in one tense. So, if it's past, it would be: "Soon Dave and Marissa came out of their tents, but there was no sign of Amanda." It's a pretty easy fix.

--"Bobby will you please go get Amanda." Zach said frustrated

Couple things here: a question mark after Amanda, because Zach's asking. I'd also put a comma just before frustrated for the pause there. And a period to end the second sentence.

--"Yeah, knowing her shes probably writing." Bobby said as he went to get her

Couple things: I'd put an apostrophe in (she's)...and because you have "Bobby said" following the dialogue, you need a comma, not a period inside the closing quote(since it's the same sentence.) And...another period to end the sentence after "her."

--"Amanda come on the story is about to start."

A couple commas are needed after "Amanda" and "on."..."Amanda, come one, the story is about to start."

--"Ok Bobs."

Here "Bobs" is a "direct address" so a comma is needed before the name.

--"Ok since every one's here, we can begin." Zach said in a smart way

Just punctuation again: a period to end your second sentnece, and a comma instead of a period inside the quote. I noticed this lil' combo mistake in your dialogue a few times. Again, an easy fix as long as you watch for it.

One other thing is how you say 'in a smart way.' I like the usage of 'smart' over 'sarcastic' and words like that, but saying 'in a smart way' sounds a little odd when I say it out loud, or reread it. Maybe, "Being smart, Zach added, 'OK, since everyone's here, we can begin.'" To me, that just feels a little more smooth.

--"Amanda don't bother to start," Dave said.

The direct address again...comma needed after 'Amanda.' (Also the dialogue punctuation here I cleaned up too *Wink*)

When Zach goes into his story, first, I'm not sure if it's Zach telling it. For some reason I thought Dave could have slipped into telling it right there, so I'd make this clear. Also, right here, there is a comical effect: ...One autumn morning she was mourning... *Smirk*

--About three or four years ago the camp turned the house over to the Ycamp, they didn’t take care of it at all.

At your comma, a new sentence is started, so this should be a period...or it might actually be a '--' which leads into the "they didn't take care of it at all."

In the story Zach tells, there are some little things you can do, or add to help it flow. For example, I'd maybe mention the reactions of his friends a little more as he tells this spooky tale. Or, while he's telling it, does a crack of thunder or loud noise suddenly startle them all?
Y'know, little stuff you come up with. Subtle, but sometimes the subtleties of writing are the things that make it good. *Thumbsup*

--Amanda looked kinda worried.

Ha, I like that little touch there.

--...if it is to be said the most terrifying night...

Just a word jumble here. Think you mean: 'if it is said to be the most terrifying night...'

--Everyone loaded into the two golf carts and headed down to Vandy.

I don't know why this seemed so funny to me, but I was just not expecting golf carts. I'd mention that they had golf carts before we get to this point in the story.

--When they got down to the mess hall, Dave unlocked the door and turned off the security system.

Ooh, this is a prime opportunity to give us some detail and scenery. I'm not much for a lot of detail, but some scenery just some details would be very good here. Also, I seem to be a bit lost on the idea of 'Vandy.' Could you explain what it is in the writing a bit?

--“Amanda, go get some plates, cups, bowls, a few platters and some utensils.” Dave said hoping to take charge

Ha, I like how you say, "hoping to take charge.' However, would Amanda really just agree like that? It's quite a list of stuff to get. Mm...maybe. But, maybe... "Amanda said, 'ok,' with a shrug. 'Whatever.'" This might make it more real between the friends.

--They all head St. Mary Jones speak:

Typo: heard.

--“HA HA HA- You come invade me- Now come to invade YOU!”

That's a pretty good line for a ghost, in my opinion. You're missing an 'I' after 'Now'.

--Two seconds, later they all ran out of the mess hall, jumped in the two golf carts...

You don't need the first comma. And, by the way--yes, I'm growing quite attached to the 2 golf carts. *Laugh* *Thumbsup*

--“Are we still going up there at three am like we planned to?”

Oh no, I'm out of the loop...when did they plan for 3am?

--When they got to the field where Hillside was, they saw Indians, St. Mary Jones, and her husband.

First, do you mean actual Indians, or Native Americans? And...what did these ghosts do? I wonder, what they are like? You gotta let me know! I'd add some length to this for sure...it's an exciting part to the tale, and writing a more detailed scene would help you out hugely.

--They found out that St. Mary Jones Death Day was not anything in horror; it was what the land was 55-100 years ago; peaceful; and happy.

Excellent line. Couple things though: the last 2 semi-colons ought to be commas. And...if it's peaceful and happy, why did St Mary throw a platter at Amanda earlier? was she kind of kidding around? Was this to sort of test them? to see if they'd come back and see what the ghosts were really about? Anyway, I enjoyed this part, as you turned a typical horror story into something real and something people can relate to: just some people (only ghosts) sort of reliving some good old days. If you showed us this a little more...the peaceful good time they were having, it would make it better too.

--Zach took pictures hoping that their images could come out in the final images.

You repeat the word 'images' in this sentence, so I'd just use a like word one of the times.

--“That story that you told us was the total opposite what we just saw.”

Missing word 'of' before 'what.'

Hey, I liked this ending. Sentimental. I also enjoyed the last bit of dialogue between the 2 boys. It was very real.

There are some things (apart from making sure your punctuation is squared away) that can help the next version of this story:

1- give us some more dialogue. It would be a great way to help us get to know the other friends a little better, and to put the reader in the scene. I as a reader might say, "as Amanda said '___', I was thinking the same thing..."

2- give us some more scenery. I know this is not essential to a story this size, (nor is getting to know ALL the other characters) but, this could help you paint more details of the action...like when all the ghosts appear at the end of the story.

3- slow it down some. Take your time...it's the best way to make sure you say everything you want to say without blowwing over an important, or semi-important detail. The golf carts, and the plan for 3am, for example, may have been the product of rushing to get to the end. I feel that to (if I could only GET to the end.) *Wink*

I hope my review is helping you, AMW. I did enjoy reading.

Remember your periods, and have a good one!
Review of The Farm  
Review by Stargopher
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
The Farm Begins...

Your opening is good for imagery and is a nice picture you give to us. This line, also, is great for characterization: She swung open the wooden gate with her hip causing water to splash over the sides of the pail leaving a dark splotch on her dress; this made her giggle.

-- She had a smile that could melt a snowman on the coldest day of the year. I don’t know if I like this sentence or think it is a bit too heavy. You describe her beauty is so many similar ways, that maybe her smile can be ‘dazzling’ instead. Yet, the genres of this story are really not my forte, so I’m thinking these work perfectly. *Laugh* I guess I’ve always had a quibble with characters that are so gorgeous since there are so many of them in stories. But since her beauty and this odd perfection is integral to the plot I sure don‘t mind.

I do like the idea of her looking like she came from the 1900’s. Thad adds a strange and unique element to her. *Thumbsup*

-- “It’s me mom, I got the water, well one bucket anyways” Missing a period.

-- I have the stove lit, I’m gonna go grab some more wood. You have a comma-splice here, so you’ve really got 2 sentences but separated by a comma. Begin a new one at ’I’m.’

-- At the time this did not ease Sam and Helens suffering... Missing apostrophe in ’Helens.’

-- She was a tall lady, brown hair. This sounds a little awkward as written. I wrote: ‘She was a tall lady, brown hair and that same, warm smile. When she wanted to smile.’ Could this work? It tells us a bit more. Another small note on sentences. Not that this is a glaring thing, but I noticed some choppiness that may only prove to be me adjusting to your style. You have 3 sentences beginning: Sam’s father’s horse went wild...Stephen was thrown from his horse...The horse ran off... Notice the word ‘horse’ repeated, and the similar structure of the sentences. Just an easy touch up if you used another word for horse (charger? Give the horse a name?) and perhaps combine two of these sentences to make it a bit more complex. Like a said though, not very glaring at all.

-- She wore mostly dresses that formed to her body; this made it easier to do her daily shores. Typo: ‘chores’ for ‘shores.’

-- “Dear me, you startled me, I didn’t see you come up” Missing a comma before the close of this quote.

-- “I’m terribly sorry ma'am, here allow me.” Comma-splice, though it is in dialogue so you may get away with it. A new sentence starts at ‘here.’

- I’m Helen, say Why don’t you come join my daughter and I for a cup of tea and you can tell us what brings you way up here to our little farm?” Comma-splice. New one starts at ‘say.’ This also got a bit wordy and strange. Well, there is a good kind of strange, but here I instantly wondered (and especially after their ordeal) why Helen was not suspicious of a man away from civilization, and how he happened on their Farm. Also, wasn’t she doing laundry? Why fetching wood now? The scene just kinda sprung out at me is all. Should she be more tentative, afraid? For the wordiness, I think fixing the comma-splice does the trick.

-- He paused, then followed Helen Missing period.

-- “Oh dear no, the wood is for the stove, how else will we warm the water for the tea silly” she replied. Few things here. I noticed you are using the dbl space formatting. If so, this line needs another break. Also, a comma-splice; a new sentence should begin at ‘how.’ And a comma before ‘silly’ since that is being used to address Gavin. And a question mark goes at the end of the dialogue. Finally, for better fluidity, I would cut the ‘she replied.’ Just my feeling.

-- Oh heavens no, even if they could get electricity all the way up here, who could afford it! Comma-splice at the first comma. ’Even’ would begin a new sentence.

-- “I suppose your right” Gavin agreed. Missing comma before the close of the quote.

-- I filled the sink with the pail... Kinda curious, but is this regional dialect? Did she fill the sink with water, or did she put the pale in the sink?

-- ...she stopped as she pushed through the screen, obviously not having heard her mothers comment. Missing apostrophe on ‘mothers.’

-- “Oh, oops, sorry how clumsy of me, let me…” Need some punctuation in here. I’d go: period after ‘oops.’ Comma after ‘sorry’ and period after ‘me.’

-- Helen, noticing the obvious connection between her daughter and Gavin broke the silence “Sam this is Gavin, Gavin, this is my daughter, Samantha.” Samantha giggled. Need an extra space in paras. here for dbl spacing it out. Also need a comma, or maybe a period before you begin her dialogue. And, is this a ‘connection’ or just more of a ‘moment’ so to speak?

-- “Sam why don’t you take Gavin down to the stream and get some water for tea?” Helen suggested Missing period.

-- “Sure thing momma!” she exclaimed. Hey, I like how this is like her pet expression. Nice.

-- Only the man from church was not anything like Gavin, The man from church was old, and ugly. Nice sentence that really gets inside the head of young Sam. And a comma-splice that I think you knew about because you capitalize ‘The’...which should begin the next sentence: ‘The man from church...’

-- His long golden hair and rough, stubble covered face masked the gentle kindness that showed through in his smile. Don’t need the comma, and can put a hyphen in ‘stubble-covered.’ You are very good with descriptions throughout.

-- “Well that depends” Gavin said. Missing comma before close quote.

-- Now I’m from wherever I am at the time.” He stated. comma instead of a period in the quote. This is not the end of the sentence, so a period will be a comma before any speech tag in dialogue. *Thumbsup*

-- Sam replied “Oh, I see” Punctuation. Comma after ‘replied’ and a period after ‘see.’ I noticed the missing commas before dialogue and before the close of dialogue throughout. So, remember, the rule is that a comma will introduce the dialogue before the first quote: Example -- “Sam said[comma] ‘I don’t know.’”...And that a comma will introduce who said what if this comes after the dialogue: Example -- “’I don’t know[comma] ’ Sam said.” Watch for it is all.

-- I spend days wandering, seeing new places experiencing new things, meeting new people, and then at night I sleep either under the stars, or wherever hospitality is offered. Missing comma after ‘places’ I believe. And nice line.

-- ...but I can’t see it bein a problem... I know it’s dialect, but usually an apostrophe in place of the missing letter is used. So...bein’

-- “Well I would like that, you’re very kind.” Gavin replied. Comma-splice. I would also use a different speech tag since ‘replied’ is used quite often.

-- Helen watched them leave from the house, although she didn’t know much about him, she knew he was a good man. Comma-splice with first comma.

-- It was one of her gifts, she could tell instantly about a person’s character by their mannerisms and voice. A dash would be better in place of the comma.

-- They had tea when they returned, and chatted for several hours, Gavin telling stories of his travels, while Sam and Helen reminisced about their life in the mountains. Second coma would be better as a semi-colon.

-- He sat upright in bed and listened; silence. Just being picky, but since you frequent the semi-colon, I’d put ‘silence’ in its own sentence.

-- They don’t even have electricity, how can it be this hot he thought to himself. Like with dialogue, a comma should go before ‘he thought to himself.’

-- After he calmed down he realized that the house was no longer as hot as it had been only a few seconds earlier. Oh, you forget to tell us that he went back inside.

-- “perhaps we should open a window in your room?” She suggested. Capital letters of doom! First, ‘perhaps’ needs to be capitalized as it begins the sentence. And, like I’m learning, ‘She’ should actually be in lowercase because, although it follows the ?, it is still a tag and not the end of this sentence.

-- Samantha led the way to the guest room with her candle, she set it on the night table and released the lever that held the window shut. Comma-splice.

-- he looked back, several moments passed as they stood there lost in each others eyes. Comma-splice, and a missing apostrophe in ‘others.’

*Smirk* Is it just me, or is ‘Gavin Lockheart’ just the perfect heart throb name? I don’t know...*Wink*

One thing I would like to point out is that this story reads more like a novella section than a short. It gets, briefly, into summing up days at a time, and is paced more like a novella. For example, the beginning reads slower than one might expect, as it opens with day-to-day life, and not something grabbing. The way you put words together makes the story easier to follow, but I arrived at the third section and felt a little bit lost somehow. We have the strangeness that remains under the surface which is very good, and the one clue about the room becoming really hot (like hellfire? I guessed) but a little more to go on at this point would be helpful I think. In a longer story, it’d be quite good, so if you ever expanded it, it would surely be good set in that novella format. Just things to think over, and my thoughts.

-- It was meant more to kill the silence that had come between them as the sat on the rock. Typo: ‘the’ should be ‘they.’ ’...as they sat on the rock.’

-- She looked up, they gazed into each others eyes both anticipating the inevitable kiss that was to follow. Comma-splice. Though I’m admittedly not well-read in the romance genre, I would suggest that the opening paragraph, where you say they shared their first kiss, that this should stand alone. It is eloquent and effective that way, and if you are looking to cut any length off of this, maybe that is an area? You’d know better than I would though!

-- Gavin saw one last sparkle in Samantha’s eyes before she closed them; his eyes followed. I’d go with a period instead of a semi-colon.

-- Helen was happy for her daughter... I am a little confused here. I take the family to from the 1900’s almost, and certainly for the mother to be old school. Now I would think of her to almost reject her daughter openly having relations with Gavin. Would Helen condone that sort of thing with a smile, or is that more like wishful thinking? *Laugh*

-- It didn’t matter that the stock markets were low today or that six-hundred employees were laid off from a huge corporation, all that mattered was that they had each other. Comma-splice.

-- Aside from the odd recurring nightmare that occasionally left Gavin sweating in his bed, life was perfect. Ah, and that is a perfect line to close your section. Nice going.

-- The chores were complete for the day—it never took long now with three of them helping out—Gavin and Sam decided to go climbing in the hills behind the house, something they did quite often. I think you’re missing the word ‘and’ after you come out of the section within dashes.

-- The tree let out a thunderous CRACK and shifted in the earth bringing a large root to the surface. Great imagery!

-- “Its ok just slide down the trunk, I’ll catch you.” Missing period after ‘ok.’ And, a comma-splice after.

-- she turned to face him, the tree shifted another couple inches. Comma-splice.

-- “Gavin!!” she was too afraid to move, by this time she had started to cry. I’ve heard that only one ! should be used in writing, and more than one punctuation mark in this form isn’t correct. Who knows...

-- “I can’t, Gavin I can’t, I’m too scared, I can’t move.” Bunch o’ little comma-splices. Can all be periods.

-- “Ok hold on I’m coming to get you.” Comma goes after ’ok,’ For the word ‘ok’ I think either ‘okay’ or ‘OK’ is best.

-- “NO, Gavin you can’t” Sam pleaded. Typo in that the ‘NO’ is all capitals.

-- “SAM?” no reply. The ‘no’ needs to be capitalized. Also, I’d be mindful not to make too many words in all caps, as this might be taken as a beginner’s move or something. Or, at least that’s what people tell me.

-- “SAM, oh God please God, not Sam.” Period after first ’God.’

-- A pulse, oh my god she has a pulse! She was alive, but unconscious. Let us know he is thinking here.

-- He tore his shirt off and wrapped it tightly above the broken leg to stop the bleeding. Perhaps he only ‘tries’ to stop the bleeding, because wouldn’t stopping it like that in an injury that bad be quite hard?

-- He broke two branches off of the bush and tied them into his shirt to keep the leg from moving... Here, I would make a note of how it is the one wrapped around her leg as it can be interpretted as being just on his torso. But I got it though.

-- He carried her two miles down the path, reassuring her all the way. Little logic thing. Would Gavin take notice of the exact 2 miles in such a state of mind?

-- “You’re gonna be ok, we’ll fix you up, just hold on.” I’d make that last comma a period.

-- ...as Gavin cut open her jeans... Her jeans? Eh? Doesn’t Sam wear those puffy dresses and things from long ago?

-- MacCalum’s home-made Whiskey Brand name or do you mean Mrs. McClaran’s?

-- Sam woke once, but only briefly than passed back out, which was a good thing. Typo: ‘then’ instead of ‘than.’

-- One…Two… I’d amend that ‘he counted in his head.’

-- Sam screamed; Gavin had placed a piece of kindling in her mouth to prevent her from biting her tongue off—it snapped. First, I’d lose the semi-colon, and make it a period. And, effective description!

-- The wound started bleeding again; Gavin had to work quickly to tighten the shirt that he had tied above the wound. Some of repitition with the word ‘wound.’

-- Gavin was silent; he couldn’t tell her that he wasn’t sure. An extra space for dbl breaks format, and I’d change that semi-colon around to a period again.

-- Neither Gavin nor Helen slept that night, they sat in the living room drinking tea and waiting, hoping, praying. Comma-splice at the first comma.

-- “Sam…Oh my God Sam!!” he began to cry. “ I was so
scared Sam, so scared that you wouldn’t…” he couldn’t finish.
Just an overactive ‘enter’ key. *Wink*

-- “I’ll get her, wait here” he winked at her and
began to stand up, then turned around and took her face in his hands kissing her lips...
Same thingy here.

-- He left her side and ran to the kitchen to get Helen, she wasn’t there. Needs to be in its own para., right?

-- He dashed out the door looking around, she was nowhere in site. Comma-splice.

-- “I think I may sleep in here tonight, on the chair, that is if it’s alright with you?” Comma-splice at last comma.

-- “Fine by me child, you won’t be very comfortable, but it’s fine by me.” Another comma needed to isolate ‘child.’ Child is being addressed. *Thumbsup*

-- Sam smiled, a tear rolled down her cheek, not a tear of joy, but of pain.Technical. ‘Rolled’ should become ‘rolling.’

-- Helen went to bed. Gavin sat on the floor beside Sam holding her hand, gazing into her eyes. Extra space needed for formatting in this para. Also...I thought he was going for the chair?

-- “It was an accident, it happens.” He told her. “I
try not to think about it but it could have been a lot worse.”
Ya hit ’enter’ again. *Wink*

-- “Yeah, your rig…right.” Not sure I’d go with thatas it sounds different than the word ’right’ itself.

-- The sun was already high in the sky, I must have been tired to sleep sitting up like this, he thought. Comma-splice at first comma.

-- “uuuuhhg” Well, these types of sounds are always perceived as rough. I know. I’d cut it down to ’Ugh.’ Needs capitalizing.

-- I’ll get you a cloth, hold on. comma-splice.

-- “She’s sweating pretty bad, she feels very warm, I’m gonna get her a cloth for her forehead.” I’d make second comma a period.

-- There was a little bit of water left in the bucket from the day before, Gavin dipped a cloth in it and wrung it out. I’d ammend that ‘There was a little bit of water left in the bucket from yesterday’s chores.’

-- They looked at each other confirming one another’s worry and went to the living room. Kinda awkward. I wrote: ‘They looked to each other and chared the same worry.’ Could that work?

-- “I’m here baby, don’t worry.” Another comma needed to isolate ‘baby.’ Address. The general rule for addresses. In a few places throughout.

-- They did everything they could, but the fever did not go down, several times it got worse, but never lessened. Comma-aplice on the second comma.

-- Gavin and Helen began to worry, they knew that she needed medicine, but the nearest town was over a days walk away and they didn’t know how much time she had. Comma-splice at first comma, and missing apostrophe in ‘days.’

-- She tried to move, Gavin stopped her. Comma-splice.

-- “Sam no, listen to me, I am not leaving you. Missing comma before ‘no.’ And, comma-splice at the second existing comma.

-- You need medicine, I have to go to town to get it. Comma-splice.

-- Sam looked at him, she was crying. Gavin
was crying. Helen was crying.
Hicup in the formatting of the paragraph again. And, a mino infestation of the passive voice. In the passive voice, the subject (Gavin etc.) receives the action and does not perform it. It is said that this makes things weaker. (Gavin was crying.) The ideal is for it to be the ’active’ voice. (Gavin cried.) This makes things look stronger and more concise. Keep watchful eyes. *Thumbsup* Not too many jumped out at me.

-- He placed a large nut on her finger that he had found out by the barn, on it he had scratched ‘GL + SM’. Comma-splice. And here I was thinking that the marriage proposal was a bit off somehow. It sort of comes from left field and left me curious. I think that maybe it was getting too far off track? What about the fever and the boiling house? I thought at the time.

-- “Of course it is Gavin, you make my daughter so happy, I would be honored to call you my son.” Got a splice on the second comma.

-- The sun was peaking over the horizon when he finally reached the road. A green sign told him that Dirkshire was only two kilometers down the road. Just some repitition in the word ‘road.’

-- “No problem, don’t get to many travelers out here, not much around these parts. Splice on second comma.

-- He introduced himself. well, you could actually cut that one.

-- “Yes that’s right, and Sam, there was an accident, Samantha fell she needs med—“ comma needed after ’Yes.’ You got a splice in the first existing comma and third. You need a period or an ‘and’ after ’Samantha.’

-- “I don’t give rides to liars boy, you stay away from that farm, They was good folks Helen and Sam, I knew them, your lies disrespect them.” Bunch o’ little splices, and I’d make the last an ‘and.’

-- He still couldn’t figure out what he did, but his concerns for the crazy old man were minimal compared to his concerns for Sam, he knew that she didn’t have much time. Your last comma is a splice.

-- Several bells rang as he swung open the screen door to Mort’s Drug and Variety store. I might put a small story break just before we get here. (* * *)

Oh no! It no longer allows me to cut and paste exerpts!

But... Missing apostrophe in ‘pharmacists smock.’

No need to say he ‘mispronounced Heroine’ since we follow you.

Before the newspaper exerpt you’ve got a period. Can be a comma with the excerpt in it’s own paragraph, or a colon. Excerpt should be in italics for clarity.

Since I cannot paste the exact ecerpts here toward the end, allow me to sum up a few glitched that you’ve got. First, let us know that he is thinking at the end with the ‘can this be true?’ And, as always, watch you’re comma-splices. And, I noticed ‘he crouched behind a bush and waited for them to pass. I’d make that ‘behind bushes’ plural, so that we know it happend more than once. Also...’figment’s’ needs no apostrophe in context. I also wondered how a nut shines?

Okay, then, the ‘whoever they were’ is a great ending and needs its own paragraph for emphasis.

On the whole, this was a well-told story for the most part about a family, or a taveler, stuck in time. I have always been a fan of the wayward, almost ‘hotel California’ feelings in stories. They are creepy and satisfying. It is a story that has been told before, but is one of my favorites anyhow. Fr this, I would recommend that you add some other singularity to the tale. If Gavin is your traveler type with nowhere to go, have him be someone with an affinity of somekind to the old-style 1900s or something like that. It is strange that he stays so easily. Is he under a spell? Does traveling not harden the sensibilities of a man?

Also, I think the story drags on long in the middle as well. I felt things to go off course. I would have things go quicker than this. The idea of love will be hard to express without a lot of time, but worth it. Does Gavin have a specific purpose for being there, perhaps, but falls in love unexpectedly? That would keep me hooked. Keep us inside the head of Gavin, and, when things are finally revealed, perhaps use another tool than the townsfolk. Maybe Gavin reads the newspaper himself? Maybe a terrible sensation comes over him, and he finally endeavors to solve the riddle of the Farm when he does.

My suggestions. Nice work overall. You have put a lot of time into this, and I hope there is enough time to get this all nice and shiny for Reader’s Digest!

The Farm Ends...

Later and best of luck to you,
Review by Stargopher
Rated: E | (4.0)
Okay, Jaoli, gear up for 15 pulse-pounding rounds of reviewing action!

I: Death of a True Man

First, I’d like to say that I admire the approach of a fantasy set in historical times, and how you seemed to know your stuff (I really don't). Your descriptive style is very pleasant, save a few instances of confusion which I’ll highlight. I’ll try to cover both story strength, likeability of characters, any logic flaws, and technical stuff too. I also saw in your folder description that you were influenced by another, favorite storyline and author. We all are, aren‘t we? I’ve never read Ivanhoe, but remember that sometimes the best thing one can do is be different! I’m sure that this is. Remember that I’m just full of suggestions, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to any of them...or any of my jawing.

Are you ready? I’m ready! Get your mouthpiece in!

I enjoyed how you opened with the narration. It read like an inviting fairy tale. *Smile* Your eloquent voice in the story is a noticeable strength.

-- ...and their red plumes, no longer bushy and grand... Not sure what this means. Their beards? Oh...probably part of the hauberk (never really knew what one of those was). But, there was a bit of a question involved there for me because of the description of yellow pools of light. No biggie. Description’s very nice, though all the poetic-like words did catch me off guard a bit at first. *Wink*

-- ...on their well-used armor.... I think this description is a little weak here in battle. What about: “on battered armor”?

-- Even his beaten opponents had to admit that he was full of courage, though they had rather die before they would openly say it. Couple things here...the second “had” should be “would.” And, I’m wondering if his courage would not already be obvious, even to the Saracens. Or, in other words, instead of them having to admit he was courageous, might they admit that he was perhaps one of the “most-skilled” warriors? Another reason to do this is because you mention his courage twice more in this paragraph in reference to Henry VII.

-- ...Freedom’s... Not catastrophic, but you don’t have to capitalize freedom, as it is already such a powerful idea. Also, you don’t capitalize it throughout.

Hey, I’m a fan of your having the relatives of all the famous knights at the battle! I just love it that the Black Knight’s Dad is in the trenches! Great imagination, great going!

-- There was another knight, called Henry of the Oaks, ... I believe you can omit that first comma, but I am so shaky on comma rules that it’s just not funny anymore.

-- ...the pain of hunger plainly engraved on his pallid countenance. Vainly trying to stop his groans, he managed to sit up, only to fall back down again with an anguished cry of pain. Finally he sank down, overcome by extreme pain and burning thirst. Few things here...why is he so hungry and thirsty? Is this hunger and thirst for something more than mere food or water? Probably the extreme length of the battle? Next, notice the word “pain” in the green excerpt; it is used often in close to itself, so I may cut a couple or choose a synonym. And, (and this is just “nitpick” more than “valid point”) how does the man fall as so with a sheer spear run through him?! Would that not be difficult? Oh...you know, I bet the Sarecen took it out...you might wanna tell us so, but still a small judgment call.

-- Turning back to Sir Henry of the Oaks, we find him vainly trying to stop his groans. I wouldn’t repeat the phrase of “vainly trying to stop his groans” only because it stays with a reader and is used I think just a paragraph beforehand. Plus, it confuses me that you say it again, since it is for the same person. Hmm...are you trying to give us Philip’s view point now? If that’s the case, I might actually just start it out that way, because switching character viewpoints has confused a multitude of my readers and reviewers. It may be stronger to stay in the head of one character. (Weren’t they nice to teach me right?) So, to put it another way you could always write it: “Another of the knights was Sir Henry of Oaks. Philip found him as he winded through the dead warriors, seeing him vainly trying to stop his groans.”

Also...you’ve got the present-tense narrator syndrome like me! “We find” is a phrase, I’m told, generally limited to a more traditional narration, or even verbal story if I understand it correctly. It is also present tense, and the rest of your story is in the past. Keep a watchful eye on maintaining one tense throughout your story. *Thumbsup*

-- Slowly Sir Henry raised his arm. The champion clad in bespattered silver saw Sir Henry’s... Just a bit of repetition again. “Sir Henry,” said again, could just as easily be “his comrade” or “the fallen knight.” *Smile*

-- After a searching look around him for any wandering Saracens, who were most known for their treacherous acts... Well, you don’t really have to come out and say that they are treacherous again. You could say instead that they: “Wouldn’t think twice of striking an opponent from behind”?

Did I mention I love how gritty this is? You really get in close on the gore...which is a relief since so many tales conveniently omit that or forget it for a fairy tale romance. Nice.

-- ...but his companion would not hear of it. A little repetition again with the word “companion” here. *Wink*

-- Now shall I go.” Is that a question? Anyway, good job on the old-style dialogue. And it is also believable.

-- Both knights did not observe as a silent Saracen warrior crept up to the back of Philip’s horse and, unobserved... Repetition here with the word “observed.” Small re-work, easy fix. Might actually be able leave it out since we know he’s going unseen.

-- ...an evil-looking Saracen spearman... I tend to think (and running all the risks of a philosophical discussion) that “evil-looking” is a description one might wish to shy away from. It kinda implies a lot! Though I do see it from the knights’ point of view. I have a few options here that may or may not help you: hard-looking, ravenous, venomous, sinister, shark-eyed? (though, would any of them ever have seen sharks?)

But I think the scene where Philip comes to Henry of Oak’s (a great name, I love that name) aid is effective in showing us not just his courage, but his compassion too. And I like the fact that even though he was the “best of the best” (to use my term) that he “hit and got hit.” He even dies. I applaud his vulnerability.

-- Meanwhile, Sir Philip was staring at his friend in surprise. You could cut the “meanwhile” here as it’s not really needed. And, in this sentence you have what is referred to as “passive voice.” It’s a harsh dimension of the writing universe, but when learned and overcome, it ain’t so bad. *Smile* All it means is that your subject receives your action instead of your subject performing the action. Here are some examples of passive voice: He will be fighting, he was fighting, he had been fighting. The prevailing opinion in this shindig is that passive voice weakens the content of a story and makes it less exciting. The ideal is for it to be “active” and thus more concise. And here goes the list of active voice examples: He fought, he will fight, he had fought. (And, Sir Philip stared at his friend in surprise.) It’s something for every writer to keep an eye out for. One should try to use the least amount of passive voice as they can. *Thumbsup* Your story is not “full of” the passive voice, but there are a few instances. Easily found and fixed, though. (Oh, and sorry if you’ve already been formally introduced with the passive voice before, and/or already lectured about it)

-- ...groaning on the field... “Groaning” would be a bit of repetition again, and a bit humorous as Henry says see them groaning, and not hear them. I think a stronger substitute could possibly be used: “Hear all the knights dying...”

-- “Sir Philip! —” Short stop for punctuation. The dash may need to be inside the exclamation mark, but you’d do well to seek a more confident opinion on that.

-- Many of Philip’s comrades-in-arms were there, their wives hanging onto their arms... * shy laugh * The word “arms” is repeated and the two different meanings make it funny!

-- ...and their children shyly peeping out from beneath them. I love this line. Way to be a wordsmith!

-- ...young Gadahin Elziver, destined to eclipse the fame and glory of even his heroic father. I’m trying to decide on a single opinion of this sentence. On the one hand, it is eloquent and very appropriate considering the gathering and atmosphere at the funeral. On the other, it kind of gives away the following chapters of the story, eh? Well, maybe a little.

Hey! “Venerable!” One of my favs. Oh, and this paragraph will need another little break for the dbl space formatting.

-- ...ancient white-bearded... Just a comma to separate your adjectives. *Smile*

-- Hearken, you whose lance hath brought victory, you whose hand hath brought death to fierce enemies, what have you to be proud of? Nay, you have no cause to boast. Ooh...nice way to take the sheen of glory out of war. I like that the minister put some harsh truth into this: yes, both sides were killing that day.

-- ...old book, the revered Holy Scripture. Instead of a comma, a dash would be a better pause for this.

-- The scene we enter so suddenly... I’d place the minister’s eulogy in italics to set it apart. And here: For this ultimate sacrifice, the Saracen war was won for the English... I thought it had only been a week. This sounds as though the minister is recalling a distant past.

-- Sir Philip had been renowned in battle; he had fought twice, and in the first battle, he had come home triumphant, borne on the shoulders of his merry friends. But in the second, he was borne home in a white litter, his sword lying, still and cold, at his side. A real nice job here. I didn’t realize (though I guess it makes a lot of sense) that a knight may only fight once or twice in their life. Anyway, good going.

-- ...and no man would ever forget the supreme sacrifice he had made for his homeland. A bit repetitive in the idea of “sacrifice” so you can actually cut out this line. “Less is more” is some good advice I got once...* brings a hand to his chin and takes a trip down memory lane *

-- His wife was named Evangeline, and his son, hardly past two years of age, was called Gadahin. Mm, it’s always hard to introduce characters and organize their back story. For example, you have already introduced us to Evangeline (nice name) and Gadahin (sorta like Galahad.) So, I think one way to avoid “re-introducing” us to them, is to start out in this green sentence by saying: “The dear family he had left behind mourned a bit harder than the others that day. Evaneline and Gadahin were...”

-- its’ cold, deathly hand. Apostrophe needs to be removed; possessive.

I’m not sure the story of this mark....

-- After graciously hearing... This paragraph needs another space for formatting.

-- As a result, she was heir to an immense fortune... This idea could be better expressed, not by the narrator, I think, but by having some dialogue. There are lousy men everywhere, even at a funeral, and Evangelive might here them “whispering about the fortune she’d inherited.” *Thumbsup*

-- ...that were so generously bestowed upon her, she had gone home from the funeral with a heavy heart. I’d rework this one a little. The first part struck me as a little over kill, unless it’s for sarcasm. And the heavy heart part of the sentence can be in its own, short sentence. Shorter sentences usually imply more punch or emotion.

So you know, I’m really not a detail junkie, but a brief scenery of the funeral mass could help you out some.

-- ...if only to remember the great knight who had died in the Saracen battle. Small logic type-thing here. If she had vowed this a long time ago, then how was she to know Philip would die in this Sarecen battle? But I know what you’re saying. Clarify it is all. *Wink*

-- In the years to come, Lady Evangeline found young Gadahin her source of comfort and solace. He was a prop, although young, upon which she could lean; for already he had the quiet and thoughtful ways of his father, and his mind was set upon becoming a great knight. Okay, you’ve got a great passage here and concept, and there are just a few things that I think could help improve on it:

First, that first time when Evangeline returns to the empty house -- describe that and show us what it’s like. The cold drafts, quiet oak and empty rooms, perhaps?

Then, when you get to this scene, have it separated by a star break again, so that we know you are recalling a span of time once more.

Then, well, you probably know that prologues, generally speaking, need to be short and designed to hook the reader in. Yours is a liiiiitle bit long for a prologue...so I’d suggest making that battle scene and the funeral service into the prologue -- they are very exciting and alluring and would do the job well. Beginning with the green passage here may make a good first chapter, (you would have opened with a good narration, and other exciting facts) though this is of course all your decision to make. *Laugh*

-- It was one of his ambitions to shoot as well as the renowned Robin Hood, who was just starting to become famous; and at the rate he was going, that would be quite soon. Great idea! I love this, however I have one very tiny question. If Robin of Loxley was just starting to get famous, then how is he already renowned? Hmm...curiouser and curiouser. *Wink*

-- On his belt the young squire always carried a sword... The paragraph that contains this line is quite large, so you could begin a new one here.

-- He could whip it out and do wonders with it, so skillfully did he use it. This sounds a bit awkward to me. I think it’s just because the word “it” is repeated a couple times.

-- Never a day would pass but he would spend... Should this say: “Never a day passed that he wouldn’t spend...”?

-- handsome-liveried... Say what?

-- His eyes were dark jade green pools of mystery, always thoughtful-looking and full of serene contemplation. When they were turned upon another person, they sometimes seemed to penetrate to the very heart of that forenamed person. I’m not sure I would say this. It may be too poetic, and a lot of writers' characters seem to have a variation on the green eyes. But this is not huge. Also, instead of saying “forenamed person” just saying “them” might actually read smoother. And as a side-note, if you feel that there’s ever an overdose of poetic descriptions, a reader won’t hold it against you to be plain. I did not come to this conclusion very often, as your style this way adds something wistful and pleasing about the story. A nice job overall. Here though I did think it was a little much. I came up with one idea: “His sharp, green eyes always looked purposeful -- when contemplative, or when studying a person; the child retaining some air of mystery.”

-- He was a thoughtful, quiet, and diligent youth, taking care to keep to his studies and please his mother. Just a bit of repetition again (get the joke? Get the joke?). Because you say his is quiet and thoughtful before, you could leave this mention of it out. I also think you should insert the word “to” before “please.” *Smile*

I was just curious, but why did his mother want him to learn the Greek language, as apposed to another?

-- wherein died Sir Philip, Gadahin’s father. You cut it off at “Sir Philip” ‘cause we know who he is!

-- “but when he was bad, he was horrid.” Should probably take this out of quotes, as such a sentence has emphasis already. *Thumbsup*

-- companion-ship. This is actually one word, so, don’t need the hyphen.

-- Many times Lady Evangeline was concerned for the future of her son. dbl space formatting for this paragraph.

-- for Philip had been killed when Gadahin was only three. Can cut it. *Smile* We remember!

Hey, I liked that warm ending of yours. *Delight* The sentence was slightly difficult to follow, but, after the mere addition of a period after one of those fragments, it is quite an excellent thought, and great end. I like Gadahin as he seems pure of heart.

Some things here at the end...when you mention the Truros, I would try to link some of the thoughts together. For example -- they are at the interior hall of the manor, and you say how she is worried about him never having a father...a way to link these two thoughts would be to have Evangeline ask the Truro mother about it like a concerned parent.

When you say that Percert acts like a coward and bully, and how Gadahin enjoys bird-watching with Pricilla...you could have Percert pitch a fit about Gadahin not playing with him instead. Just little things like that can really make a difference. *Thumbsup*

One other thing is that you come to describe Gadahin growing up to be a man. Then, you tell us about the past when he was a child at the manor. I would give the reader the manor scenes first, and then cover his manhood, so it’s a bit more linear.

So, on the whole -- wow. At 15, that makes you some kind of virtuoso wunderkind, eh? I really enjoyed the story and was impressed with the amount of professionalism, and talented way with words. Watch your tenses, keep a sharp eye out for the passive voice and other technicalities, handle your character viewpoints and narration smartly, and never lose your imaginative flare; and especially not in the name of “maturing” as a writer.

*Delight* Hope to see you soon,
Review by Stargopher
Rated: E | (2.5)
How’s it going BABYGIRL? I will be submitting this review of your story to the "We luv in depth reviews! Contest. (Must be a pretty interesting process hearing from all us jackals, eh?) Anyway, this jackal would like to say that he thinks the story expresses the emotion very well. The relationship between Jake and Mary is clear, and the warm yet unsettling ending is a real keeper and could be expanded on.

Reading the story itself can be helped by a lot of line-by-line editing, and a lot more scrutiny toward believability and making us care about characters like Henry and Kelly. I’d use double paragraph breaks instead of single, or the writing ML to indent where new paragraphs begin. Though, the double spaces are only true for online posting. I’m sure the piece has normal breaks/indents etc. offline. Technically, you had problems with punctuation in dialogue, and left out some spaces and pesky apostrophes and things. I’ll point out and go over these without trying to clutter things up too bad. Story-wise, I think, there are a lot of little things that can be done to improve scenes, characterization and to help with flow, to make it more complete. On the whole things seemed realistic, but I go through quite a few sentences and offer suggestions on how to make the dialogue more believable, the plot fuller, or the flow smoother.

I liked how it opened and how it ended. I hope you‘ll understand if I critique you on some things in here that are actually taken from your personal experience or real life that I mistake for a fictional plot (I‘ve done this before).

“Against the Cold Montana Wind”
[to lead off, a discussion of the story and some English teacher-esque technical stuff too]

--- It had taken years of hard work and saving the money to build their dream home and horse ranch. I think a typo: “the” should be “their.“

--- Their love had grown over the years into something very special and rare. It’s possible that you might run into some trouble by saying “rare” by itself. After some thought, I actually think it’s okay in the idea being expressed, but if you look at it, one could say “rare” is a little vague. You could always compare their love to that of the other couples their age; do those couples have dwindling love? To other, younger couples who may not know such love? Your call.

--- ...so Jake and Mary had gone full circle and were alone once more. I’d take this thought and put it into its own sentence. I like the idea of coming full circle. If you want, you could expand this idea by having Mary mention how they have not been alone in the house since their younger years.

--- “Whats wrong sweetheart?” An apostrophe belongs in “what’s” since it’s a contraction; what is. Comma before “sweetheart” since sweetheart is being addressed. I noticed commas and apostrophes needed in several places, so remember that a comma usually goes before each address, and stands for a natural pause. Apostrophes go for contractions/possessives and I’ll be pointing ‘em out. *Smile*

--- “How could I forget a thing like that, those kids are my world. Oh God, Mary what is happening to me?” Couple of things here. You have two sentences in one separated by a comma instead of ending punctuation. End your first sentence with a question mark at “that.” Make your second sentence: “Those kids are my world.“ I think a comma should belong after “Mary” as well in your next sentence. These rules pretty much hold true for all sentences, but everybody’s going to have trouble with commas. Once a writer learns to hammer out the kinks with mechanics, it’s really a relief! And the piece will be much stronger.

--- By the time he was finished they both were crying openly. The placement of the crying struck me as a little too early, maybe a bit dramatic, and I couldn’t quite picture them doing it so fast. I suggest putting it after this conversation is over, and after Mary finishes her dialogue as well. Not because I think it’s ‘too’ dramatic, but because these two -- as close as they are -- probably know each other‘s breaking point, and probably wouldn’t want to breakdown, causing the other to breakdown...would they, at first, try to show strength to support one another? Jake seems more “tough” than this to cry right away. Also, I’d recommend the change because this would give the crying scene more power, if you built it up over their entire conversation, and then hit us with it at the end. *Thumbsup*

Also, a small thing: in conversation that is emotional like this, you can add to the feeling by describing Mary and Jake better. One way to do this without getting overzealous with detail, is keeping your speech tags fresh. You use this one a lot: Jake said...Jake sadly said. You can use other speech tags that are sad or suspenseful by nature without having to ‘tell us‘ he is sad, (“Jake tried to whisper...“Mary swallowed“), and these can be used to better express what they feel. Plus, you’d avoid repeating the phrases “he said, she said.” In many cases, you can cut the “she said” altogether.

--- Mary held her husband close to her and said, “You know it could be something medical that’s making you forget things, please let me call Dr.Davis and get an appointment.” Technical things: A new paragraph is needed when the new speaker, Mary, starts her dialogue (remember as you go along editing that a new paragraph is always begun with a new speaker...I think I saw this in a few places). You have two sentences here...make that comma a period. Also, a space is needed between “Dr.” and “Davis.” One more note: I think it is a common rule to spell out “Doctor,” though I’m not positive.

--- “Oh, please Mary don’t ever tell the kids I forgot them, it would devastate them.” Jake cried. Punctuation...commas to isolate the address “Mary.” This line is actually two sentences again or “independent clauses.“ “It would devestate them” is it’s own thought. The existing period needs to be a comma since the tag “Jake cried” follows it to actually finish the sentence. Also, “devastate” is misspelled.

--- “You don’t have to worry, I won’t tell them that and I will be right here for you no matter what.” 2 sentences here again; between “worry” and “I.” Also, this line struck me as a bit forced. I suggest a rewrite that could perhaps make it more believable: “I won’t tell them that. And you know I’ll be right here. Right by your side.” Obviously you can, and should, play with the language on that.

--- “Alright, make the call.” Jake sadly said. A comma instead of a period before you close the quote, and, again, I’d change “Jake sadly said” to a fresher description. And this line: They held each other close for a few more minutes. It’s simple, but it paints the picture well.

One thing I liked about the style is how it doesn’t get very stale. You moved from the conversation, then to the hospital exam...then to the next scene etc. without much boring info about driving there and things the reader would not be interested in. When she made the call the nurse told her to have him there the next day. *Thumbsup* That’s slick. But a lot of it is choppy elsewhere in the story, and the transition can be better helped by spending a little more time on what you say. Through the characters of course. Intersperse brief descriptions of characters, setting and emotion wherever you can, and cut down on the explaining.

--- The doctor did a thorough exam and then a verbal Alzheimer’s test. Is the first a normal physical exam? And, what does a verbal Alzheimer’s test include? I tend to think going through the test, even briefly, would be a good opportunity to make the reader feel what Jake feels. The reader could feel horror as Jake cannot remember, cannot answer the questions, as he feels horror. Just me speculating, but imagine for a second the two of them going through the test: “All right, Jake, the name of the hospital you were born?” The weary man fumbled over the incredible question; the onslaught Doctor Davis put together. Where? He didn’t know. Finally he offered a name, but it didn’t sound right to him. It didn’t sound right to Davis either; the man in pure white shook his head, hurting for Jake. Then the harder questions came.” That could really put a chill into the reader. (But now imagine that I am a dark Sci-Fi fan looking to be chilled anyway! *Laugh*) I think this does need to be fleshed out though, and that this possible scene could help your audience as well, to get inside the head of Jake, and add likeability to him too. Intersperse some of the medical setting too. And remember that no one feels quite right at the doctor’s office.

--- ...and be back here in the morning for me to give you the results.”Dr.Davis said. I would make this fragment of the sentence into it’s own sentence. (you can start it with “and” even if some say not to.) Then, a space after the quote, a comma instead of a period there, and a space between “Doctor” and “Davis.” (For the commas instead of periods in dialogue, you get the idea. A comma if there is a tag, a period if there isn’t. Watch for this throughout.)

--- ...but he already knew what the outcome was. Possible addition: “...but he already knew what the outcome was going to be.”

--- He knew in his heart that he has Alzheimer’s. Okay, for a brief moment I was wondering whether you wrote the present tense on purpose...“has” instead of “had” because that would be creepy! It would almost put the reader in the story and show us how Jake’s concept of time is going with his memory. If I’m wrong to be going out on a limb here, make “has” into the correct past tense of “had,” because, as people have lectured me, the story should almost always remain in one tense. But if you wanted a devious little hook for your story, you could make all of Jake’s thoughts, or “internal dialogue” in the present tense; different than anyone else’s. For example, an event in the past could be right in front of him one moment, gone the next: The kids are here. Maybe I should ask them what birthday this is for one of them. The youngest. Oh wait -- here comes the Doctor and Mary. That could give the reader something to ponder over, and even have them feel a little of what Jake is feeling. *Shock* That’s just a suggestion if you wanted Jake going through his own story inside his mind...within this existing story. But, before that, you need to better explain the Alzheimer’s. Use some internal dialogue.

--- Jake was in such a state of shock that Mary had to lead him to the car and put him in it. He felt like he was walking through a thick fog and couldn’t find a way out. A nice bit of description.

---When they got home Mary got online to look up Alzheimer’s and any helpful information she could find. Jake looked at the info with her but when he saw a statistic on death rate he panicked. Try to make the first sentence sound more polished or clear: a comma after “home” and I’d change the word “got” to “went.” The last sentence in here I think is great. However I believe it should begin in a new paragraph.

--- After he was done ranting and raving he got his act together and started cleaning up the barn. This sentence and scene is a little weak. I see another opportunity for you to show us what Jake’s going through, by perhaps saying that he “gave up shouting at ghosts” or “finally sat on a workbench, trembling.” Instead of “got his act together” you could say “he, at last, collected himself to start cleaning up the barn.” You’ve used a plain language for Jake which can be effective, but be sure we can picture the things he is doing. I’d add a little more to this scene -- does he throw anything against a wall? Hold his head in his hands? In other words, don’t say he rants, show us how he does it, or even what he says.

--- She made herself calm down and went to the barn to check on him. I see the possible adjustment: “She made herself calm down. She decided one of them needed to keep a level head when she went out to check on him.” Stand alone, the sentence is good, but in context it kinda gets choppy transition-wise. Also be careful not to repeat the word “barn” as the reader knows where she is going.

--- She took fresh linens for the beds so it wouldn’t look like she was just checking up on him. Very believable. *Thumbsup* But choose different words than “check up on” because it would be repeated since you used it earlier.

--- He was cleaning up a mess he had made when she walked in. “the mess” instead of “a mess.”

--- He could see she had been crying also and held her in his arms like it was the last time he would ever hold her. This struck me as a little choppy and overdramatic. I’d rewrite this one to say: “he was afraid by letting go, he may forget her.”

--- When they got back to the house he took a shower and lie down on the bed and cried. “lie” for past tense should be “lay.” That’s always a tricky one.

--- “Lets go get something to eat and get back online again. I need to learn more about this so that I can deal with it a little better.” I’d look over this dialogue to make it more believable. Something like: “Let’s go get something to eat,” he started slowly, “and let’s get back online again. I need to learn more about this thing I have,” he sighed and looked at her, “so I can deal with it better.” This could help the scene more, as it would be better described. It’s a breath of fresh air that they would go on the internet, though, should they not rely on more of what Davis said than the internet? I don’t see a problem with the internet, but that is what would be running through my head if I was diagnosed. I’m sure they would trust Davis more than the computer at their age. Old school and all.

--- Promise me that you wont shut me out again. An apostrophe is needed in “won’t.” “...This affects me also. What hurts you also hurts me.” Mary said softly. I’m not sure that someone would actually come out and say this. This is more of an unspoken understanding, isn‘t it? Is she speaking deliberately like this so he can understand her? You could express the idea in silence, another way: “Jake admitted that this affected her as much as it did him. What hurt him also hurt her.”

It is unnecessary, to me, to say that they had roast beef sandwiches. Unless the smell/taste rekindles some memory, or they remember it as their favorite food. As a little moment together, and something they have in common, it works well, but show us this. Show us why “roast beef” is important!

--- Knowledge is power. Unless it’s done on purpose, this is present tense again that should be the past: “Knowledge was power.” ...that deals with it. Present again. Should be: “dealt with it.”

--- ...and also found a doctor about a hundred miles away... For this part of the sentence, I’d replace it with: “They were even able to locate a doctor, only about a hundred miles away.” It’s a drag for the writer to have an editor going thru line by line, but, for this particular story, I see the basic fundamentals and little things as being what could really make it improve. Also, with more experience, these types of things will be old hat.

--- ...doctors office... Apostrophe, doctor’s.

---They had room reservations at a nice hotel in that city because it would be too late to try to drive home in the snow. Decide for yourself if this aspect is really necessary. If you decide to keep it, make the idea sharper. The snow is cold and can be depressing, much like Jake and Mary feel on the inside. The weather conditions will describe their feelings (some people call it “pathetic fallacy”) and helps here without having to say they are cold inside. With that and the idea of being away from home, I’d make the most of it. My suggestion: “The snow thundered down now. Heavy. Because of the storm, driving back and forth was made too dangerous. They were able to get room reservations at a nice hotel in that city, but, of course, it was foreign and Jake was unable to enjoy it much.” One other question: you say “reservations.” Would they get a one room reservation, or separate ones? *Laugh*

--- ...and told them everything that had happened so far... In general I think this is a phrase that a writer should stay away from. It hurts the reader’s suspended belief, and will often sound choppy, or like the sign of an amateur. Instead, you could have a bit of dialogue here: “’You were unable to pass an Alzheimer’s test, hm?’ ... ‘That’s right. And we’re looking for a second opinion, if you can give us one.’ ... ’Hm, all right, we’ll make the appointment for this afternoon, then.’ It was happening right away.”

--- ...the same conclusion as his hometown doctor. Say it was Dr. Davis since we knew him for a while and I think he should be featured a little more.

--- ...in the coming months to years. I’m not sure if this phrase should stay the way is or if you should say “and“ “...in the coming months and years.”

--- It was painful for them both to listen to but they would face this demon head on together. Well, “Demon” is a bit forced to me. I’d just say “it.“ Other small things. I would substitute the words “decided to” for “would,” as it seems a better fit, and is telling of their action. A note on commas again...it is common to put one before the word “but” and other words that join two thoughts. An example: “He would get there. He would be late” ... “He would get there, but he would be late.” The two thoughts are joined by “but,” and there is the comma before to give the natural pause.

--- Jake said, “Ok Doc, what you are telling me is that I will forget everybody I love and everything that I have ever done. Also that I can be a serious danger to myself and those around me.” You are able to cut the “Jake said” since we know he’s the one with the disease. Jake seems down to earth, and straightforward, so I think playing with his dialogue to fit this type of realistic guy could be a real help: “Ok, Doc, what you’re telling me is that I will forget everybody I love and everything I’ve ever done? That I can be a serious danger to myself and the people around me? To Mary? My kids even?” A mention of the kids would help here, as well as Mary. It would help put us in Jake’s shoes.

--- I am terribly sorry Jake but there’s no cure for Alzheimers, the outcome is always the same. Independent clauses. Two sentences instead of one. Plus, show us what Jake thinks about the doctor. He doesn’t seem to be very considerate.

--- I am really sorry Jake. Remember a comma before “Jake” the address.

--- “Mary, we need to make some big decisions before I forget everything, chances are I could forget I even have Alzheimer’s.” That’s a chiller. Nice one. Like this, expand on what Alzheimer’s does to a person. More of the horror. A lot worse than mere death.

--- ”...till after Thanksgiving?” Since this is the shortened “until,” it is spelled with one “L” (two would make it plowing dirt!) and an apostrophe goes on the side where you remove the letters. “’til.”

--- ...as if it were out last... Typo: “out” should be “our.”

--- ”...every moment of this lifetime...” I can’t picture him really saying this. How about just “life?”

Oh! I did like the scene where they danced and ate, and Jake even tipped the waiter...*Laugh*...that was quite good and touching. They went back to the times when they were younger and happier.

--- ...out the restaurant. “Out of the restaurant.”

--- When they got back to the room Jake asked her what she thought about getting their children and grandchildren a special gift just from him to open on Thanksgiving, because they didn’t know what condition he’s going to be in for Christmas. A run-on sentence that could be sharper. Suggestion: just divide the sentence, and begin a new one with “Because.” “He’s” not really a correct contraction written like this. It looks like present tense “he is.” I’d spell out “he was.”

--- ...about several of them and helped him pick out something special for each of them... You repeat the word “them” so I’d make the second one, well, “one.” *Smile* “...for each one.”

--- ...how much he loves her. Tenses. Loved.

--- They took long walks along the countryside... Begin a new paragraph at this line because, as of now, they are lying in bed!

--- In those days he decided that this is where he wanted to die. Tenses. “Is” becomes “was.“ Powerful line. Yet, I’m not sure if you mention that the ranch is on the same countryside. Wasn’t the hotel in a city? Do you intend for his thoughts to be cloudy? If not, better describe the scenery.

--- All of the kids and their kids got there on the same day and once Jake saw them he remembered them all. Rough sentence. I’d say that they “arrived at the ranch.” A comma may go before that “and.”

--- When he said the blessings over the Thanksgiving meal there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. He thanked the Lord for all of them there and asked the Lord to watch over each of them always. Here in the story you become more of a narrator instead of letting the story occur through dialogue or action, (and by action I mean interaction, thoughts or even the whistling Mary did at the open.) It is considered being passive by using words like “was” and here is a useful link to help “tame” this problem. "Invalid Item (Since I have the same problem I’m there quite a bit.) But, in general, consider scenes as a better/more effective way to tell your story than narrating it. You have also used crying quite a bit in the story. It kind of wore on me. Is there another way you can tell us that the blessings he asks for are touching?

Also, at the Thanksgiving table perhaps some smells of the food flood back memories for Jake? Painful, or pleasant? Can he or can he not remember why the smells are important to him?

--- Daniel had been sitting in the living room talking to Jake about some old horse that was special to Jake when he noticed that his dad didn’t remember the horse. You don’t have to elaborate too much, but do tell us why the old horse was special to Daniel. “Some old horse” I think is much too vague. Reserve that kind of language for when Jake thinks to himself.

--- Kara came out and said she had a similar experience with Jake also. Again, same thing here. What experience? Show us the scene and make us feel what Jake feels. And perhaps he could watch the two of them talking about him, and this makes him feel afraid?

--- Mary called everyone inside as Jake handed each of them his special gift. This should start a new paragraph. New idea.

--- ...his special gift. I like the idea of the gifts. But, hey, we need to know what they got! You could give the kids a sense of individuality here and how each relationship with their Dad is special and different by letting us know what gifts he chose. And this is a short story, with a quite a bit of secondary characters: The 5 children, the several grandchildren, the 5 spouses. (By the way, should they all be married? Happily?) I would actually make a sort of radical suggestion and cut down on a few of the children. 5 is a lot to keep track of. Maybe there are three kids? At the open, Jake could forget merely about the third?

--- Jake asked that after they got the kids down for the night that they needed a family meeting. This sentence was kind of rough and confused me a little. Maybe say: “After Jake got the kids down for the night, he decided that he needed to call a family meeting.” Also, maybe clarify that these are the grandchildren. And, at the party itself, an offhanded remark about the grandkids milling or running around can really help us remember they‘re there. Can really help the “coming full circle” idea.

--- That made everyone of the siblings nervous along with his odd behavior today. Substitute the words “as did” for “along with” to make this sound more correct.

--- Daniel said,“Ok Dad tell us what’s wrong.” Commas to isolate the address “Dad.” Remember that a space goes between the comma and the quote itself.

--- ...so I wont keep this from all of you but I don’t know how to tell you this.” An apostrophe in “won’t.” A comma before “but.”

--- ...and its in its... Every writer’s most dreaded word! The first “it’s” needs an apostrophe ‘cause it’s a contraction. But the second actually doesn’t because it is possessive! It’s in a world all its own. *Wink*

--- By the time he got through everyone in the room... I might substitute “to” for “through” but the way it is written makes it sound like he is struggling, so that also helps.

--- ...crying and in total shock. I tend to think “total” shock would mean he is near paralyzed, or in an even worse way medically. Perhaps the word “utter” can be used. Or you could simply describe what it is he is doing to be in shock. Is he biting his lip? Are his palms sweaty, clutching the sofa cushions?

--- Not a death sentence of Alzheimers.They... Great line, but maybe tell us that it is “killing his mind.” Here, you’re missing a space between the period and “they.”

--- ...their fathers feet... Apostrophe, possessive. Father’s.

--- Everyone was openly sobbing... Here is another image I can’t quite imagine, and it is also kind of a repeated phrase and tired scene. Sobbing seems to strong for me for everyone to be doing at the same time. In a situation like this, I’ve seen several cry, others not want to believe it, and still others staring off into space. I don’t know why, but where I can picture Jake and Mary having a crying moment together, I couldn’t see this one. Maybe, instead of all the sobbing, some might only have wet eyes, or a standing tear in their eye? Gaping eyes? Mouths hanging open?

--- ...so devastated and shocked... I’d use another word for “shock” since the word is used a bit earlier. The paragraph we’re in appears to be a pretty large one. I think a new one can actually begin at the sentence that starts: Henry was the first to speak...

--- “Dad, is that why you gave us all a special gift early?” Kara asked. To me this sounds like something more a young child would say instead of an adult daughter. A possible change: “Dad, so that’s why you gave us all a Christmas gift early? Oh Dad--”

--- “...You know tomorrow I could forget today and all that is precious to me so I wanted to give you something just from me.” Commas needed in this sentence: after “today,” and after “me.” “Precious” is used a lot, and he says this same line too much. Maybe say instead: “I could forget anyone of you....”

--- ...husbands loving arms. Apostrophe. Husband’s. I have another comment about the children. I think because we know so little about them, they all strike me as a little too perfect. The family is close, but sometimes they appear to be ‘too’ close and are all getting along ‘too’ well. Who is the oldest? The youngest? Do they fight? Even close families fight. I know that sometimes fights break out over Thanksgiving! Between sisters and brothers in law, and siblings too! I liked the part about the spouses staying out of the meeting for respect. Maybe, in just a small way because it is a short story, Jake could be “watching Kara and Henry argue over the candied yams. It was funny to him.” Or “Dan and Ben were watching the Thanksgiving day football game, bantering over the defense of the Detroit Lions.“ I think just small stuff like that is needed and could give us a better atmosphere to the visit. *Thumbsup*

--- ...and discussed the situation. Since you want kind of a homey feeling, and since this is more of an overview, I’d simply say: “and talked about it.” Or, just cut the line and go right into your dialogue.

--- I say we because where dad is, I am. I like how strong Mary appears in this scene and her dialogue.

--- It’s not the safest... You repeat the word “safest” in this dialogue.

--- That’s all the kids needed to hear to let them know they would do whatever Jake and Mary wanted them to. Rough sentence. I would just say it like this: “That was all the kids needed to hear.” Because they already said in the living room that they would do whatever it is Jake and Mary wanted. I also like the fact that the kids don’t try to suggest a nursing home to his face. ‘Cause I hear-tell that’s just very arrogant.

--- I would rather have you here and enjoy the time I have with you than for you to be up all night and sleep all day. You understand. You convey this information already. So, here is a chance to add in some heated, gritty dialogue if you wanted. Since Dan seems to be the oldest he might keep insisting on taking some of the burden. Jake could snap back and say: ”Look, I’m not going to have you all coddling me for the rest of your lives! You understand?” I, as a reader, would react to that.

--- ...to live here till its his time... Apostrophes and company. “Till” should be “’til.” “Its” should be it’s.” Always watch for ‘til and it’s.

--- ...we need to coordinate our work schedule... Shouldn’t it be “schedules?”

--- You know I’m in healthcare... I think this sounds like she’s telling them for the very first time. Since they know this, she might say: “You know I can call around at the hospital, and help in setting all this up. I could take a week off from there -- just get the ball rolling.” Also this conversation is heavy in the way of the “he said”, “she said.” Easily fixed with some being cut, and others just replaced.

--- ...and do the rest of the night.” Missing word “it” before “the rest of the night.”

--- Henrys wife Lacey said she was used to being up at night because of her job and would stay up. First, Apostrophe in “Henry’s.“ Tell us what the job is, make this idea sharper. Possible rewrite: “Lacey, Henry’s wife, had been a night shift detective used to keeping those hours in Great Falls. She said she’d stay up tonight.” I just offered a few extra details. And, you skip over the entire scene at night. Does anything happen? Something ought to, or ought to be alluded to with this much build up. At least, I expected something to go on.

--- It was really hard for anyone to get any rest because they had too much on their minds. Very real. That indeed would be a restless night.

--- ...saddle up several horses.Mary,Jake,Henry,Kelly You’ll need a space after the period and each one of those commas.

--- Jake had long since hired a man named Joseph to tend to the horses he had left and keep the ranch up. After breakfast Jake said he wanted to go for a ride on his favorite horse so Henry went down to the barn and helped Joseph saddle up several horses.
This appears to be a big jump in time but really is not. I don’t understand what you mean by: “he had left.“ And you repeat “horse”, “horses.” I’d, again, just tweak a few things: “Joseph was a man Jake had hired a while back to tend the horses, and the next morning, he and Henry helped saddle a few up. Jake wanted to go riding.” However, it is unnecessary to even have Joseph. Henry could do it himself, couldn’t he? But, now that he’s got a name, we’ll be wanting to know more about him. But, he’s just a background guy, and the last think I think you need is more characters that are names without faces to go with them.

--- He cherished every moment this life was giving to him with his family. Confusing. How about: “He cherished every moment his family and this life was giving to him.” Also, the horseback riding scene is kind of just thrown in there. It is an important scene. I would either explain it, or cut it since it is so fleeting, and find another way to show us this sort of “last perfect day” kind of idea.

--- They next day when everyone left Kelly and Dana... Comma after “left.”

--- ...stayed on to help get things ready and safe. This sentence is too simple, especially if your target audience is adults or young adults. I’d just bypass telling us what they were there to do and show us what they actually did. Did they lock a gate to make things safe? Did they gather the numbers of Home Health Aids?

--- Jake spent a few minutes with each of his children. He told them each how proud he is of them and how special they are in his heart. Sorry, but I see this as overdramatic wording too. I’d make the change: “Jake took a few minutes to talk to each of his children. For maybe the last time he told them how proud he was of each of them; the careers they were able to attain, their spouses and their own children. He, Mary and these five -- no matter what the future brought, would remain together.”

--- Jake needed them to know how he felt about them. I’d just cut this line, since we’re kind of bursting at the seems with him telling them this already. *Wink*

--- Jake spent a lot of time in the barn that day. This should begin a new paragraph. And I also forgot about the barn during the visit. Make a mention of it.

--- “I thought that you would never settle down but look at you now.” Ha! That’s funny, but I thought he’d already said his goodbyes to them. Come to think of it, how could he have said his goodbyes to each of them if Kelly and Dana are still there? Clarify who his goodbyes are said to.

--- “Daddy, I love you so much and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without your strong guidance and love.” I can’t picture this being how someone would really talk either. I’d cut the “guidance and love” and say: “Daddy, I wouldn’t be the person I am without you. You know that.”

--- ...needed to get done during this week... Rough and a little vague. If it is a list of contact numbers, or them working out their schedules, say so. And cut the words “get done” as it’s not exactly correct, and dive right into what the list actually is.

--- “I’m making a list of things to do.” No need to repeat yourself, we know what she is doing. Start her reply with: “To be honest...”

--- “Listen pumpkin...” Calling her “pumpkin” is starting to wear on me some. I’d just forget about the “pumpkin,” and have them talk. And remember to isolate your addresses with commas. In this example: “Listen, Pumpkin,”

--- Kelly said as she started to tear up. Alright, there’s just way too much crying, LOL. If you cut most of the crying scenes beforehand and saved it here, it would be understandable, and I wouldn’t mind as much.

--- “Of all my children you are the most responsible.” A parent should never take sides, should they. Maybe, instead of putting her on such a pedestal, he should tell her: “Kelly, you’ve always been very responsible, and you know I’ve always admired you for that.”

--- “...you are very precious to me.” Sorry to sound mean, but we get the idea. He doesn’t have to say this line again.

--- They were both crying when he was done. LOL, too much. Get rid of this scene.

--- We have a boatload of insurance on me and that long-term care insurance. We can hire some people and not have to pay out a whole lot because we got the long-term care insurance. We have stocks, bonds and so many investments that I can’t keep track of them all. You repeat “long-term insurance” and I find this to be way too convenient. It’s realistic for Mary to not want to deal with the money aspect, but still a little too good to be true. There are problems with sentence structure: ...all.Kelly,you... You need three spaces. ...assetts,insurance...Missing space.

--- let me know and I will sign the necessary papers. You don’t have to tell us this. We can infer that he would sign the papers so it is unnecessary.

--- ...either.ok.” Missing space. Also, “Ok” needs to be capitalized, and that is a question mark so: “Ok?”

--- “Yes sir I understand, I can handle all of that.” Commas...isolate the “sir.”

--- He wanted to make sure that everything would be ok for his wife and children after he was gone and she understood that. Kind of unnecessary to say so...you have alredy made this point.

--- “Are you telling me that you and Ben are having a baby?” For some reason this seemed out of place. I may cut it out because I saw this aspect as getting in the way of the story. If you want to continue to portray how close this family is, have it more realistic. Have them crack jokes. Have them pull together even if they are separated by miles and years. Wouldn’t Kelly want everyone to know around the dinner table, perhaps? And I figured they all had kids since you say that the kids had kids. Clarification is all.

--- ...everything got done for their dads care. Rough. Suggestion: “Everything was taken care of.” Also missing apostrophe in Dad’s.

--- ...when it was done they felt proud of themselves as did their parents... This struck me as too simplistic for the adult daughters to think or to feel. Perhaps they: “were amazed at what they could do, and Jake and Mary told them so.”

--- stocks, bonds,IRAs Missing space.

--- Mary never knew what they had only that they were doing alright.Jake... A hyphen (--) is needed here before the word “only” since it is a greater “set up” pause. Missing space at the start of the next sentence. This entire paragraph is heavy in the “narrator voice.” As a reader, I can say that a quick scene or bit of dialogue would be better. It’ also is very large so that would break things up.

--- ...he could trust Kelly to carry out his wishes and handle everything like he wanted. Unnecessary. We understand this already.

--- Kara and her daughter Danielle flew in from California and would be there for a week. Give yourself a larger story break before this part. And, if you are going to name names, they should be involved somewhat, and have a face to go with the name.

--- Kara called Kelly two days later to tell her that dad had a bad incident the night before. Kara said that Jake had woke up in the middle of the night, came out to the living room where the sitter was and didn’t have a clue where he was. Here, you really need to have a scene of suspense and fright. Don’t tell us what happened, show us what happened.

--- Days turned into weeks and Jake was going downhill quicker than anyone had thought that he would. I like this sentence, but you can cut the last “that.”

--- The last one he had Henry was there with him... Insert the word “when” before “Henry.” And, again, write a scene instead of an overview.

--- ...could be Jakes... Apostrophe. Jakes.

--- ...with all them made it more loving and emotional than normal.Switch around these words to: “them all.” And, we’re kind of heavy on emotion and love by now. It would not be possible to get more so, LOL. And, I’m wondering, if it is a subdued atmosphere, can it be emotional or loving?

--- Meanwhile Jake woke up to find himself alone in a strange place. This sentence should begin a new paragraph. And, you have kind of abandoned scenes and action writing here and gone into total narrator mode. I suggest replacing the remaining paragraphs of explaining with scenes, dialogue, and suspense. You have proved you can do this in the story, so go with what works. As you get more used to writing, things will all get sharper, you will know where to place the scene, and where to explain the scene. And this is a bit rich coming from me, but just be patient with the story and put in some hard work.

--- ..to find his father missing... TeeHee, you cannot find someone if they are missing...aw, just a little contradiction in sentence.

--- ...on the intercom to alert them that Jake was missing. Alright, this one struck me to be a little silly. LOL, You cannot use an intercom...you just can’t. I won’t allow you to. Suggestion: “When they all gathered outside...”

--- ...into the woods to look for Jake. Use a synonym like “forest” since you use woods a few words earlier.

--- ...without the right protection, so they had to find him fast. Mm, a dicey way of saying he needed his jacket, if you know what I mean! I’d say: “Without the right protection against the cold.” But, in this case, far worse worries would be going through my head than him in the elements. Why, so much can go wrong here...I want to know what worries would be running through your head at a time like this.

--- Meanwhile Jake... I’d stay away from the word “meanwhile,” partially because it is used before, and also because it is more like a crutch for comic book writers than story writers. Use the word “but.”

--- ...all of the sudden... I hear that this, too, is a phrase writers ought to avoid.

--- ...Jakes name... Apostrophe.

--- ...and was deep into the forest... You need “were” in place of was. Agreement.

--- ...everybody else got there about that time... I’d just say instead that: “By the time everyone else arrived...”

--- Daniels arms... Apostrophe.

--- Everyone there was almost hysterical in their grief and didn’t know what to do except hold each other and cry. Mary is enough in the way of crying. Having so many group crying scenes becomes unbelievable for me. I’d just leave it out, and say there was a sense of finality. This kind of thing was expected...and not everyone reacts to death the same way. You know...the stages: denial, guilt and so forth.

--- ...in his arms. Cut this part of the sentence.

--- ...jakes body...Apostrophe and capitalization.

--- They got their mom... We’re still talking about the paramedics here. Say who did what with Mary.

--- ...in the house paying their respects... Would they pay their respects in the house?

--- Mary had a nervous breakdown. Too...expected? One of these is a build up type of thing...I’d say that she broke down in an attack of depression or anxiety, but you have it a little vague.

--- Jakes spirit Apostrophe.

--- Jakes spirit... Apostrophe.

--- ...to hear her... Cut the word “her” to sharpen it.

Okay, the ending helps bring the idea of coming full circle...and we’re left with the feeling that maybe Mary is losing her mind too. That, I really enjoyed. It is an uncertain ending.

Theme Spotting
“Knowledge is Power“ [in this section I will offer my opinion on how to strengthen and better define what I saw as the message of your story]

I see the “knowledge is power” idea as a strong concept to your story. Of course, the close bond between Jake and Mary holding/lasting through the hard times may be the most significant and moving element here, but, to me, you’ve been fairly clear and good with that one, and with more polish, it can be very good. But, the whole feeling of having no knowledge, oftentimes no memory, and thus having no power can really be a powerful thing to tell the reader. I think you could stir such a message within us a little better if you did a few things: Explain the disease of Alzheimer’s and how it effects Jake and makes him feel. Utilize the doctors; spend more time in the hospital -- this is under the Medical genre after all. They would be good in educating us on the disease itself, and how one loses their memory function, executive function and so forth. Above all, include scenes instead of an overview of how Jake deteriorates. I want to really care about Henry having to take his father’s place, and feel like the story can just be repeating the cycle. I liked the change and continuity, and there is potential for it being quite good.

Opposition Research
“The Humanoids“ by Jack Williamson [in this section of your review, I will draw comparisons to another story and offer other ways in which to approach your main character.]

I gotta say I love earthy characters like your Jake who are normal, struggling characters going through an extreme situation; sometimes stubborn or tenacious. Because of that, I’d like to get more of how he feels and what it is like inside his head. We really need to know more about him, and it would be a shame for him to become secondary to the ending you use. In “The Humanoids” there is a character much like your Jake in Clay Forrester. As the world changes around him, he becomes alienated by friends, co-workers and even his wife. These near-perfect androids from space have come and turn everything upside down, and Clay feels inferior. When I read this story I was put in Forrester’s shoes, I felt like he did; sick, hurt, overcome with fear and worry. I think your Jake is a character with the potential to be that strong and close to us readers, if the story was seen mostly through his eyes. We would feel what Jake feels. And when we get to the end, we will care more about the ending because a character we loved is involved. Because he really has something to offer, and his personal story is a story worth telling, I would make Jake more of a “major viewpoint character.” In other words, you don’t have to have Jake tell us the story in the first person (I felt this way; I failed the Alzheimer‘s test etc.), but you could write most of the scenes with an angle on how Jake sees this world, this disease, these fleeting memories, and even educate the reader on the disease. I made a little example: “When Mary came over to him at last, he shuddered away from her, embarrassed. He never liked this feeling of helplessness. Now he had no choice in the matter. He tried to recall what she had said, but knew he just looked like a vegetable to her.” First person is always something to consider too, but either way, if we knew him a little better, then we would all be able to identify with his personality, his relationships toward his kids and grandkids, and I’m sure we would all get to like him even more. Obviously, in your story, Jake’s wife is always by his side, unlike Forrester‘s wife. She adds more to Jake’s story as well. In the same spirit, she could be the major viewpoint character, and the reader would feel for her situation plus Jake’s. It would be interesting either way: someone who has the disease and deals with it, someone who doesn’t and deals with the person who does. But as far as major viewpoint characters go, I’d choose Jake.

Comparing and analyzing Jake and Forrester a little more...the Humanoids was also strong in bringing home the point of “murder of the mind.” We need more emphasis on this in your story I believe. What can the reader learn from Jake’s experience? Do we truly lose everything if we lose our ability to think, or, as in both your story and Williamson‘s, our ability to remember? In his story, Forrester has a great fear of forgetting who he is, for the androids will take his painful memories away for a time. But, there is more to Forrester than that, and his particular unsettling, unsettled ending leaves us wondering what Forrester has really become. I heard in a movie once that a man “is defined by their actions, not his memory.” If this is what you believe, show us; spend more time on that aspect than the family bond even. What do you believe? Do you think that’s really the end of Jake? Or is there more to a person’s mind than what we, as watchers of someone with Alzheimer’s, can see? You only touched on this, and you wouldn’t want to over do it. But as the most pleasing part to this story -- I think you should make it central. Don’t be afraid to add some philosophy to “Against the Cold Montana Wind” so it will be excellent, or even seminal.

And so, to bring this surreal encounter of ours to an end, “Alzheimers” has been written with an apostrophe, and sometimes with no apostrophe in your story, (also in the item description.) I’ve seen it with or without one when I ran a search on it on-line (like Mary herself!) It is possessive, so, If you wanna get technical -- and you’d definitely want to be consistent with it -- it may be more correct to spell it: “Alzheimer’s.” (It also may be more correct for the reviewer to spell “wanna” as “want to.” *Wink*)

Bye now, and good luck with your story! I did think it was a nice one with much effort and relevance. It even shivered back some memories of my own family dealing with death. That is the underlying strength of the story -- the reader connection. Just remember to work on it, work on it, work on it! And when you get done with that, work on it some more!

I read on your bio-block that you were new to the game, so I honestly hope I didn‘t come on too strong. I’d be happy to discuss any questions you may have about anything I said. Or didn’t.


Review by Stargopher
Rated: E | (3.5)
*Exclaim* Let's do it by the numbers, Fyn!


> She liked this spot in the house as it caught the afternoon sun, yet wasn’t blinding and she could watch out the window and see what was going on. It's a long sentence, maybe some extra words here.

> “Jimmy, did you see this…..” Question mark?

> Too many colons and semi-colons, I think. They could be (--)s or periods. Example: Topping it off, it had been Rose’s birthday. Harriet had paid for lunch and Betty had gifted her with a certificate to the beauty shop. I replaced the colon with a period.

> When you go to the post-birthday dinner scene... I think you could have given a break of some kind. A triple space?

-Talking Points-

>>> I like the idea that this is centered around a character who is of senior citizen age. 85-ers are Refreshing!

>> Good line... You’re what? You’re giving me a message alright. Muddy tracks on my kitchen floor no doubt. You are too old for this, old man,” Humanist and humurous!

>> The flow is kind of fast, but I noticed you had to pull this under the 2K limit as well! No knocking you there!

>> Jimmy's death scene may have helped. Was it similar in any way to Rose's? Still, while helping parellelism, that might nix the gentle ambiance this story has.

>>> It was a great ending. Very well done with the symbolism and the death.

> You may be served, however, to mention the Spring season in here at the end somewhere. Maybe the death, the daffodills AND the Spring time could corrolate at the end? Just some thoughts!

-Opposition Research-

The Mustache

It was another short story where the protagonist was an elderly female longing over the death of a Husband. Now, I bring it up because of another similar factor-- the daughter. She seems like she could play a role if you wanted her to. In the other story, the child-- a son-- speaks to his mother (grandmother?) while she lies on her death bed. She actually takes it to BE her husband because he's sporting a new mustache! Her late love wore a similar one! Cryptic. Anyway... if you're in the mood for a literary chore, you could always have the daughter trigger some mysticism to do with either of the deaths. Have her be the one who found both of her parents dead... have her name be Lilly... stories of how she claims some dead family member every Spring... or every time she utters the word daffodil, a parent dies and really blow the critics away!!!

(When you reviewed me, THANK YOU for looking at two of my favorite stories! And the Dragon's Gold still HAS to be 2K or less... unless I become a rule-breaking Stargopher...?)

>> Solid, heart-felt stuff, Fyn!

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Review of Freddy's Friends  
Review by Stargopher
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
*Exclaim* Time for a friendly neighborhood review!


> His parents were becoming more and more fussy about the friends he chooses. I think you slip into the present tense here inadvertently. Chose? You do it in at least one other case... [he bellows... ]

> Spelling nitpick... is it “Westlin” or “Weslin?”

> Just learned this myself, but when an ellipse is used (...) With only 3 dots, you must keep the word that follows a... lowercase. If you use 4 dots though, must be.... Uppercase. *I hate technical nonsense*

-Talking Points-

>>> I really enjoyed the story! Seriously. The blamed parents are sickos! By God, they cook the kids for dinner! They have to be healthy! Yikes! I like it!

>> I would have like the witchcraft thing to tie in somewhere though. For instance, Freddy’s Mom is a witch? Or maybe the witch in the old house was working against his parents?

>> Kinda’ curious, but if Freddy is the new guy... than why has he had time to already get the inside scoop on Suzanne and Ray? His parents? How would he have time to explore the old witch house? A fabrication? Small things, but it didn’t add up.

>>> I truly had a good read with this one, Prier. The flow was great and easy to follow. You did a great job of leading the reader cryptically!

-Opposition Research-

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Of course, the scene that reminds me of this twisted classic, is the ending. Finding out that Freddy and folks were eating his friends! Holy Cats! When they all partake of the MeatLoaf character, Eddie, all our stomachs begin to turn as we watched the film... it is only after some consumption had taken place that we realize it his him– all cooked up and carved. You pulled off the suspense thing well!

>> I would recommend this short story to anyone looking for a creepy, but good, read!

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Review of Army Man  
Review by Stargopher
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hi Steiner,

*Star* My first military read on this site.


(+) Title works! It kind of makes you think of children's toys and then sharply contrasts with a violent death of a hero.

(-) "He knew that under no circumstances could he be seen because the Pentagon had sent him on a top-secret mission.

I thought that this line, since it was integral to the story, could have carried more of an impact. I think this can easily be made stronger by separating the two thoughts;

"He knew that under no cicumstances could he be seen. This was his mission from the Pentagon. 'Top-secret.'"

You could have also have made the mission's explanation longer, though this make take away from the suspenseful scene. I actually prefer your choice in explaining the mission later in the scene. The strength of it could still be heightened in my view with out adding length.

(+) "Like the swaying trees in the slight breeze."

"..., unmistakeable in the still jungle air."

-Nice lines!

(-) "The beating of the rotors faded away, and he came to the surface, coughing his lungs up. I have to be quiet. They could hear me."

You shifted from third person to first person style here. Also throughout the story. To fix this, you could easily put Colonel Marsh's thoughts in italics. Or you could simply say;

"'I have to be quiet,' the Colonel thought. Or "'They could hear me,' he knew." But you have your choice of words and styles...

(-) "Paul moved across the bridge and crouched in some bushes, on the east side of the road."

The comma isn't needed but I understand wanting to make a pause there. I'm sure you coud use a period, semi-colon(;) or double dash(--). The same is true for similar sentences in the story.

(+) I really enjoyed your bit-by-bit descriptions of the Colonel's movements. That is the marker of a promising action story!

No deduction, but double spacing between paragraphs could make the story slightly easier to read.

Talking Points;

(-) When you mention that Marsh was to "operate in radio silence," you mention it right after the mission spec... which was to destroy the ELF headquarters by himself. I felt that if you said the radio bit after pointing out that Marsh would have liked some back-up, it would have made more sense. I got it, but if he let's say "reached for his radio out of his desire for back-up" then it could make the line about the radio silence seem less displaced. This is just my feeling, but I also think that it could add to imagery. You did this "reaching for the radio" thing later on which was very effective.

(-) "He climbed to the eastern bank of the river and stalked toward the nearest guard. He seemed to be interested in something that was lying on the desk."

I didn't know what desk you were referring to?

(-) "Paul asked the guard a few questions about sentry positions, got the answers he was looking for, and slit the guards throat, using a down-and-out stroke, to eliminate blood splatter."

I thought this sentence was kind of a run-on with a few stray commas. It may be better to say;

"Paul asked the guard a few questions about sentry positions. He got the answers he was looking for and slit the guard's throat. He used a down-and-out stroke to avoid blood spatter."

Or you could simply get rid of the commas after "throat" and "stroke." Yeah, that might be better.

"spatter" might be a slightly better word choice than "splatter." Your story though.

(-) "Insertion complete." I'm not sure, but I think "incursion" might sound a little better.

(-) You mention the helicopter he redios but it could be an enemy one at the same time. If you said it was his air support it could help, or his helicopter. Also, obviously the chopper is nowhere near him if he's worried about being spotted by other aircraft('cause the enemy could easily spot a chopper), so just where is this helicopter that he radio'd?

*Right* In the middle of the story, you kind of gave up on paragrah format. Did you mean to? No deduction.

*Wink* It might also be a good idea to get a 13+ or an 18+ rating on this for the throat slash, that tiny little swear and the mentioning of the Playboy. You won't hear about it from me, but it might be the safest thing.

Opposition Reasearch; Stephen J Canal

*Delight* I can't tell you how much I enjoyed a Colonel, and not a lietenant or something, actually doing a covert mission. He must have been part of a pretty mean rouge unit in his day! Maybe this Paul Marsh is actually John "Hannibal" Smith from the A Team in a different disguise?!*Shock*

(+) I think that the background on Marsh made this a lot better! I would have liked it at the beginning. Or, you could have simply said after Marsh killed the enemy at the end, "Because you see, Marsh had retired years ago..."

*Star* The theme about the USA denying knowledge will never get tiresome. Any X-files kid knows that there is a real-life situation there.

*Wink* I think the theme is very important and for this reason, could be more apparent throughout the whole of the story. I think it could also have been polished some.

Can I cook, or can I cook?

-Stargopher; over and out!

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Review of I Wish I Knew  
Review by Stargopher
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi again Anne Ticipation,

*Star* Guesse I'm going for you poetry trifecta...

I liked this poem and it is clearly well-done. However, somehow I felt that this one did not flow as nicely as "Give words time" or "Ordinary Day" only because of how the story went along quickly from thought to thought.

That is to say this is not a terribly bad thing, only that I enjoyed how your other poems concentrated on one simpler idea for the duration of the piece. This one seemed to sum up an entire relationship.

Just an opinion and I could easily be off,

Review of Give Words Time  
Review by Stargopher
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Ann Ticipation,

*Cool* This is the second of your poems I have reviewed (I also did "ordinary day") and I think this one is great too!

(+)I enjoy rhyming in poetry because it keeps me interested. I enjoyed your scheme.

(-)Only thing I found, and I'm not quite clear on this, is in the line;

"May herald thoughts that leads to invention"

I think the line should read;

"May herald thoughts that lead to invention"- singular.

*Star* Meaningful poem...

Review by Stargopher
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi Sunflower,

I am also a Poetry.com person. Or at least I was. Glad I finally found writing.com. I won an "Editor's Choice Award" also. I got published 3 or four times in "anthologies" and on CDs too. It seemed too easy and like there was no competition. I was also cordially invited to their convention this past summer which was held in PA where $70,000 and a silver trophy would be awarded (Florence Henderson was the entertainment by the way, and Snodgrass was rumored to attend) They at one point even told me that they would ship the silver trophy to me based on the strength of my internet poems alone... even though I hadn't attended the convention. Trophy for not even participating? I knew I wasn't that good. (shipping cost for the cup was $140)... my pessimism began here.

From what I've heard and deduced, this company, the American Poets Society and Noble House Publishers are either one and the same, or have been involved in a somewhat devious trust between one another. I never lost any money fom them because luckily I never had it to spend at the time. However, others have paid for so-called antholigies and never recieved their books. Others allege that the company's address doesn't even exist. I tried sending them a poem and a letter through the regular mail but never heard from them.

One story I heard was from a girl who found out about this impropriety and bashed them in a poem called "Read this" on their own website! Then, and it is my belief that this is a result of dirty business practices from the CO., her computer crashed after recieving an email from them. I don't touch my poetry.com emails anymore. I got myself deleted off of the site by replacing my poems with gibberish.

If I were you, I'd check out the bad business bureau on-line (or is that the better business bureau?)They are listed there on the negative. Winningwriters.com also has a very helpful and formidable list of vanity poetry places that you may be served to look at. And a list of good links.

I would try to get my money back right away if I could... it seems like they are in the making money business and not the helping people business. As I continue to search for some body more reputable, or to self publish from the guide of writing.com, I suggest that you do the same or at least tread carefully. For your own sake.

It's your money and your works, but my acute senses tend to think that they'll never learn that crime doesn't pay.

Hope that helps ya'!

Review by Stargopher
Rated: E | (4.5)
Ann Ticipation,

I thought that this poem was very well-written. It captured the feelings of the tsunami greatly. The fisherman came off dynamic as tormented souls ought to. The last line of your poem might read slighty better if you put the comma after "For";

"For(,) all his relatives drowned in the sea(...) I'd put an ellipse there to keep the thought on going. But, that is all I noticed.

I think the meter was right-on and the simple rhyme scheme seems to work.

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