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1
1
Review of NAOMI  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hello, Naomi,

Thank you for your kind review of my poem. It always means a lot when someone likes our work. I also admire people who speak more than one language. I can barely handle the one, that being English.

That said, I am left a bit confused by your Haiku poem which does not follow the more traditional 5-7-5 syllable counts in its three lines. By this, I mean to say that your name, NAOMI, contains either five or six syllables, depending on how it is pronounced.

Secondly, your second line is missing the four syllables needed to complete the required seven. For example, your third line would go well, I think, if added to your second line.

Lastly, the last line (third) has only four syllables (as written) and needs one more syllable to be finalized.

My guess is that these problems are the result of language issues, those being Filipino versus English, or English versus Filipino.

The following represents an addition and a subtraction of syllables which then meet the conditions required for this type of poem:

I am NAOMI (assuming NAOMI contains three syllables)
To know me is to like me
Even love me too

Please feel free to answer back to me, and give your reasons as to why I noted the problems mentioned in my review.

Thanks again for sharing. Truly.

Bob aka Timtu


2
2
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hi, Joan,

There are lots of different ways to review a fellow writer. The way I chose to do yours is just one of those techniques which allows you to see your work from a different angle, and as someone else might have written it with a focus on correct grammar.

I am owned by two kitties, so my version of your humorous poem at least comes to you from a mutual cat lover. That said, my intention is not to show you that I can write your poem better than you can, but rather to demonstrate how near-perfect grammar can make such a big and wonderful change in one's own work.

The purpose of good grammar, simply put, is to allow readers of our stuff to understand, as clearly as possible, what we had in mind when we wrote a particular piece of work. We all put lots of effort into our writing, which is difficult enough just doing that much. But our task as would-be writers and poets is a two-part process, one that involves not just ourselves, but also those who spend time reading what we've so diligently and so painstakingly penned.

Suffice it to say that what I've done below is to lay out a map, if you will, which might serve as a guide for doing your own rewrites. And rewrites are indeed the name of the game. When we attempt to edit (reread and fix) our own material, we should not do so in such a way that we fill-in-the-blanks, so to speak, with what we imagine as our original intent. If we can't understand our own writing, just imagine how hard it is for a stranger to decipher our intended meaning(s).

So see what you think and circle back to me if you wish. I will happily answer any additional questions my review may have spawned.

==================================================================

Here's your original version:

Huggie the kitty cat
Is smoky brown perhaps ,that is that
At times.he is a pure brat
Other times he cute, cuddly loves his toy rat
Within a few minutes.he will sit on your hat
He is sweet when is asleep yet getting fat
Perhaps he needs his on mat

He loves to run here and there and then nap
Huggie will lie on top of covers yet sometime wrap
His paws around things he ought not to but tap
Gee he leaps and finds his own things to amuse in lap
Wonder if he would love a yellow cap
Huggie is my kitty cat for sure funny , perhaps
He gives me lots of company , and inspirational zap


===================================================================

And here's my version which is strictly for your own review and consideration. Please keep in mind that I have focused on structure, and not so much on content or meanings. Note also the addition of commas, added lines, periods and so forth. The grammar changes I've made are solely based on the new formatting I've arranged, and not on your original.


Huggie the kitty cat,
Is smoky brown and that is that.

At times he's just a catty brat,
But other times he's just so cute;
Huggie just loves his stuffed toy rat.

In just two minutes, maybe less,
He'll sit on your hat and that is that.

He's just so sweet when he's always asleep,
And Huggie is apt to getting fat.
Perhaps he's too comfortable on his mat.

He loves to run here, then skip along there,
Huggie then likes to take a long nap.

He'll lie on top of covers, places where he shouldn't.
And sometimes catch his claws on things, his paws ought only tap.

But then he leaps and finds his own toys and things,
baubles to amuse him while lying in his lap.
I often wonder if he'd like to play,
With my favorite yellow cap.

Huggie is my kitty cat and he sure is funny, I'll tell you that.
He gives me lots of company and with a playful bat,
inspires me to frolic with him.

Yup, Huggie the kitty cat is just fun to see him scat,
I love just having him around, and feeding him a snack.

Huggie is that cat of mine. He's smoky brown and that's a fact.
He's my best friend and I love him.

He loves me, too, and that is that.



======================================================================

Hi, again, Joan,

As you can see, you'll want to change things around, and be my guest in doing so. Despite the fact that this is a rhyming poem, it reads more like free verse. Which both of our versions do.

Free verse rarely rhymes and it lacks a distinctive beat or rhythm when it's read. Rhyming poems typically obey any number of styles and formats, but they don't have to. No law says that you can't have a mix of both in the same poem. The various styles, however, exist for a reason; they allow your poem to be as easily read as possible. We want your words to be what readers focus on, and not so much your format. But both are important.

Let me know if you have any further questions. And thanks for letting me mess with your writing.

Bob


========================================================================










*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hi, Heather,

Please forgive me for what I did to your lovely poem. Actually I wanted to see how it would look in this revised format. I like it better and hope you do, too. I felt the strong emotions got lost within one, continuous paragraph, whereas all dressed up in its new free-verse style, the power of the words have time to work their magic.

You will also note how I changed other things a bit. A word, here and there, some added punctuation, some rhythm and rhyme for added punch. I'm not so much suggesting that my version is necessarily better than your original, but rather showing you how these poem things might be given the chance to see which format fits (suits) them best.

I really liked this poem; it conveys exactly the mood and despondency you were intending, I believe.

To sum up, please consider the word choices and sentence breaks I slipped in on you. If you choose not to use my own ideas here and there, see if you can understand what I was getting at, and especially that the words I replaced, were taken out for good reason.

Now that I'm all melancholic and depressed, I think I need to go watch an episode of The Three Stooges. Thanks again for allowing me to find a gold nugget among the pebbles.

Bob aka Timtu

===================================================================================

Darkness is in the mist tonight,
a dreary feeling at my door.
An unraveling notion of unwanted pain,
I can't shake off anymore.
I don't want to lie here any longer,
waiting for my own abyss,
with you on my mind,
of course you are missed.
I would rather lock myself away,
inside my head,
and feel the cold icy truth.
To be honest I will,
maybe just to feel,
what you did, in your last breath.
And that's just part of this,
for I just cannot deny,
the need to be with you.
Why are you allowed to rest,
and I am only walking,
with what is left?
I tried to make it,
through these lies day after day,
which is all I ever do.
Consuming my hours with a tremble,
at mere mention of your name.
At what you left behind,
is it simply wasted time?
I tried so hard to forget you,
to deny you,
but the pull of the truth,
kept you coming back.
Searching for me was such a crime.
I should had seen it then,
but if I had,
would I have,
changed how you saw yourself?
If I might have known, then,
how your days were were strictly numbered.
What would that last goodbye,
have felt like?
Would I have tried anything,
to make the past be right?
I pray someday I will make it,
out of this spiral of who we were,
of how you found,
your own peaceful resting place?
A place to fight against your fears,
leaving your body to stone,
and my own to endless tears.
With my soul left reminiscing,
reminiscing all those years.



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Rated: 18+ | (2.5)
Hello, my friend,
All who share my own interests in spacey stuff, I consider a friend. *BigSmile*

I'm going to read your story in its entirety first. So I'll get back to you.
I won't, however, review the story in its entirety. I'll do about a third or
so, of the way. Enough to give you a serious idea of what I like, and dislike. What I love,
and what I hate. *Sad*

Please note that all corrections represent my opinion, as much as they do hard and
fast rules, conditions, and/or grammar and punctuation points.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

After reading your story as a whole, I must confess to not "getting
it". Part of the reason, however, lay with the poor condition in which your story is structured and punctuated. That said, your kind of writer drives me crazy, and here's why: basically you exhibit a warm and enthusiastic approach to writing. You certainly write well enough -- and I do mean that as a compliment -- such that your work should be better than it is.

Sometimes our own laziness ruins what would otherwise be an okay piece of work. I'm sure you had an inkling, at times, as relates to most of your stuff, where you simply guessed when it came to grammar and/or punctuation.

Keep in mind that the font, Times New Roman is pretty much the standard nowadays. Especially for writers who are looking to improve their writing. You want to be read, so the least distractions the better, which means avoiding other fonts, and not bolding all of the text, so on and so forth.

Your story should be a virtual framework only in terms of any and all things that might divert a reader's attention.

I think I was disappointed most by your ending. The story reads well enough, slowly building towards either a surprise or cleverly invented conclusion, but delivers neither. What could have been a nice little spoof of WDC members, including a murder mystery -- to boot -- ends up going nowhere, leaving readers with neither a smile nor a frown.

Here's a final, but critically important detail for you to learn (have it branded somewhere on your body). *Smile* I refer to the use of pronouns, or in your case, the lack of them. This one aspect, by itself, literally murders your story. By about halfway through, I was so exhausted having to read MysteryWoman2018 for the hundredth
time, let alone the handles/monikers of others -- well, if this wasn't an important review, I'd not have read MysteryWoman2018 for the hundred-and-first time. *Think*

I'm being particularly harsh with you for two reasons: first, you gave me
permission to be nitpicky, and invited all comers. Secondly because you need a stern wake-up call -- if you desire to have others read your stuff. Let alone ever publishing anything. Thirdly (okay I lied about being only two reasons) because your writing is so near to being good enough. Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. *BigSmile*

You're way overdue, therefore, as concerns straightening up your room, so to speak, and making the place both inviting and welcoming of guests. Although learning to write better is tedious and often feels like your head's going to explode, trust me when I say the rewards are themselves grand and glorious. No free lunches, as they used to say. Nope. Just sweating through endless hours of plain old hard work. Period. With every minute a worthwhile expenditure of your time.

So I'm here to help, if only temporarily. Take away as little or as much of the
following critiques as you will. This is your chance to ask questions about my
suggested changes and corrections. I'm no expert, by any stretch, but I do know how to write fairly well.

Don't squander this opportunity to take advantage of all that I have to offer,
be it helpful, life-changing, or totally unimpressive. *Whistle* Seriously, please compare my revised version with your original; go slowly and check each line, word-for-word.

-------------------------------------------------------------


Happy Birthday WDC
September the first, twenty-eighteen

An extremely loud explosion got everyone's attention. Like brilliant,
nighttime stars, sparks shot from a rotating stage which had been erected in the center of a large clearing, both things surrounded by dense forestation. The tall trees corralled all witnesses as everyone continued to stare toward the smoldering remnants leftover from the blast.

The perpetual profits derived from a healthy vocabulary cannot be overstated. In the above example, notice how smoothly the text reads, despite it being more wordy than your original. Too few words supported by a stingy number of adjectives and other modifiers, leave behind a barebones structure that reads more like a skimpy outline than it does finished text.

Most of the gathered crowd were mingling among one another, in small groups of three to five individuals. Some came out of one of the small buildings that sat along the outer edge of the clearing. All of them hastened for the damaged stage, where smoke still obscured what, exactly, had occurred.

As if a guest speaker who prepared to address a theater-in-the-round audience, MysteryWoman2018 exited from within the gray billows and yellow sparks created by the explosion. Standing on the stage itself, which continued to slowly rotate full circle, she tapped the mini-mike attached to her collar.

“Happy Birthday, WDC!" MysteryWoman2018 announced, as everyone calmed and listened. "Welcome everyone to this week-long celebration of WDC's eighteenth
anniversary.” Gazing out at her fellow members, she smiled, then continued, "I’m very glad to see that so many of you accepted my invitation to this celebration party.”

With her cell in hand, MysteryWoman2018 then stopped all movement of the stage, the surface of which was missing a sizeable chunk of tiles and wood.

The gathering, while not in perfect rows, appeared to stand in random alignments, as if on purpose.

MysteryWoman2018 began to study the first row of WDC'ers, and continued to do so until she had counted the last member bringing up the rear. The last rows, she noted, stood in front of the small, nondescript buildings that edged the clearing. How very happy I am, she thought, that all of them are here. Gazing out at the multitude of ghosts, she grinned with silent satisfaction. How very happy indeed.

Turning full circle, MysteryWoman2018 counted the total number of ghosts who were present. Oh, no, she thought once more to herself. Only seventeen ghosts were accounted for. She was afraid of that. It meant that one of us -- one of the living -- would die. That one would be killed within the next few days -- if not sooner.

September the second, twenty-eighteen


After talking with her fellow WDCers the rest of the day, MysteryWoman2018 retired to one of the small buildings. She tried to sleep some, but succeeded only in turning restlessly most of the night. When she awoke the next day, she still felt tired, but not enough to stop her from greeting the rest of her fellow attendees.

Walking from her quarters into the bright morning sunlight, MysteryWoman2018 went to visit building number three. When she arrived, her knuckles gently rapped on the door.

A ghost immediately answered, with only his head poking through the middle of the door. “Yeah? What do you want?”

“I want to talk to you who are ghosts. Please, may I come in?” As the door swung open for her, MysteryWoman2018 stepped inside and took a seat on the nearest chair. She then nodded to each of the sixteen other spirits who floated silently about and stared at her.

WritingDude was there and as he moved to join the others, drifted into and through the body of MysteryWoman2018.

“Is that supposed to scare me?”

"So what is it," WritingDude said, "that you want to talk to us
about?”

MysteryWoman2018 appeared anxious as she spoke. “There are several reasons, but I’ll get to them later. Right now," she said, as if hurrying to make her point, "I want to hear how all of you all died.” She rose from her chair and approached WritingDude. "I'll start with you. After all, you are the first who died.”

“So what is it, you seem so determined to know? WritingDude grinned and spoke from his semitransparent mouth, his words issuing through his barely visible teeth. "If it’s who killed me, the answer is, I don’t know. And before you ask, none of us know who did us in. Satisfied?”

MysteryWoman2018 replied, “That much, I've already figured out on my own. Which is why I need to know how you died. Knowing that will help me figure out who, here at this anniversary party, killed all of you."

September the third, twenty-eighteen


------------------------------------------------------------

My hope is that I've given you enough to chew on, in this review, such that
swallowing my baloney will be easier. *BigSmile*
I know this is a lot for you to digest, but it must be learned and understood if you wish to allow readers inside your head, and see and hear the same things as you do. Between my opening remarks and my revised text of your story, I think there's enough ground covered to keep you going for a while. If you have any questions at any time, I'd be glad to reply, so don't hesitate.

In closing, keep in mind that my revisions of your story are, quite simply, my own version of how to correct things as I see them. Which means everyone who might want to help you along, would write a different take on the story, and write things "their" way.

What it doesn't mean, is that our interpretations of your story are any better than your own. They are just more correct, in terms of grammar and sentence/paragraph structure, than your version. Plain and simple.

For a story like this one, lots of details, descriptions, and character development are particularly important. So don't be skimpy or stingy when it comes to adjectives, pronouns, time of day, articles of dress, and specific character mannerisms; things like how a character talks, uses contractions, plus other idiosyncratic behaviors unique to each character.


Thanks for giving me a chance to keep you on board with tracks that will ultimately lead you to where you're going, or want to go. Listening to me will simply get you there sooner. *BigSmile*

Bob


PS: By the way, the sheer volume of your many works is to be both lauded and applauded. *Smile* An amazing accomplishment to be sure.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of The Blue Apple  
Rated: E | (3.0)
Hello, Maolla,

I truly enjoyed your little story. I'm interested in knowing what specific ethnicity is the name, Maolla. WDC is a global organization, so to speak, that caters to anyone and everyone who wishes to participate in the things we do here.

Neither your gender nor nationality is absolutely necessary, such that a reviewer would be unable to critique your work without knowing either. But you'll get more reviews if you tell us a little about yourself. Both on the front page of your portfolio, and in the biography section.

For instance, there's a lot of small and minor writing errors in your story. The mistakes appear to be the same as might be expected from someone whose first language is not English. I did note how you mention this at the top of the page and for me -- as a reviewer -- it is important to know whether you're someone who speaks and writes two or more languages.

I am far less critical when I understand how I'm reviewing a person who wants to write better English, in addition to already writing in one or more other languages. Thus I would have you know how this is already a big plus in your favor. *Smile*

That said, I cannot encourage you enough to continue with your studies of my native language. Judging by the good quality of your writing thus far, I am equally encouraged that you will succeed in achieving both your aims and your goals during your stay here at WDC. *BigSmile* A stay which I hope will be long and profitable for you.

Aside from the text itself, the only thematic problem I have with your story is the ending. With a better conclusion, your story could change from just a bunch of nonsense (your words not mine), to a real morality tale that could leave many readers smiling and grateful for having read your work.

Before I suggest and demonstrate what I believe to be just one example of the kinds of changes I'm talking about, please allow me to also show you a few examples of the types of errors I found. Explaining why I changed your words can often be complicated, so I usually don't go into a lot of detail about why I did, unless you're interested. In most instances, I've always felt that showing a corrected piece of anyone's work, can inspire them to do seek out and find the reason(s) on their own. Plus sometimes I'm just too lazy. *BigSmile*

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maolla, please note that I have changed some of your words, and rearranged others in order to read more clearly (and properly). Please compare, word for word, my revised version with your original. Know, also, that my rendition is not meant to be perfect, nor is it the only way to fix all of your mistakes. My intent is solely to illustrate some quick and necessary corrections, plus the addition of an imaginative new direction that successfully concludes the story.

Needless to say, many new and different directions are also possible, which could end your tale in satisfactory fashion. My version went, of course, in the direction of a fantasy. Someone else might have taken your story in a more realistic direction, but equally dramatic (and interesting) compared to my own slant on things.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Once upon a time" is what's known as a cliché. Writers are expected to be creative and not resort to tired, oft-used phrases, borrowed from the writings of others. I wanted you to see why I changed your opening phrase to a more "fanciful" introduction. I also capitalized the word, Age, which did not need to be. Doing so, however, informs readers that the writer is referring to one or more classical periods of ancient history. And not to the age of the boy.

Once upon an Age, a boy went walking down a street on a cold autumn evening. Along the roadside, near a fence that surrounded a neighborhood garden, he spotted a nice big apple. Or what, at first, he believed to be an apple.

It took him some time to inspect the blemish-free fruit, before he finally accepted it as being an actual apple. The problem was with its color, which wasn’t green or red or even yellow. Nope. The skin of this apple was a lovely shade of blue. A deep azure, as one might see in a cloudless summer sky.

The boy then ran back home, eager to show the apple to his Mother.

"Look, Mama, look!" he shouted, when he found her cleaning up the kitchen.

"What is it, now, Joey?" The mother said. She felt like she had spent the whole evening washing the dinner dishes. Finally done, she sat down to rest, leaned back her head, and closed her eyes.

Maolla, note that I've taken the opportunity to insert a name for the boy. An author can't normally just tell a reader, "Joey was the boy's name." Lazy writers do those kind of things. Good writers find creative ways to let readers know a person's name, without making it too obvious. *Smile* As in this case, where I let the mother call the boy by name. Pretty sneaky on my part, don't you think?

"It’s this apple, Mama." Joey said, holding it out to her. "It's blue!"

"Nonsense," the mother said. "Everybody knows there's no such things as blue apples. Probably just a plain old green apple what got some blue paint on it." As she lightly dozed in her chair, she whispered, "Now, a real blue apple. Now that'd be really special."

"Ma-ma," Joey whined, "You're not even opening your eyes to look." The boy felt frustrated and confused. "My apple is blue," he whimpered, "just like the sky."

Note how italics are used to indicate that a specific word(s) needs to be read with additional emphasis or stress, as if reading the word aloud.

"Well, young man, I'm not about to look at anything, right now. Your big discovery is probably just some blue plastic bauble, just looks like an apple." The mother laid a damp towel over her eyes. "Go back outside and keep looking," she grinned. "Let me know if you find a purple orange."

"But Mama..."

"Since you're so full of energy, mister, you can help me here in the kitchen. The floor could do with a good mopping, so get to it."

Joey said nothing more. If he had, she would likely have found more work for him to do. While on his way to retrieve the mop, he made sure to pass by the room where his father sat working at the family's computer. "Father, look what I found outside! An apple, Father. A big shiny blue one!"

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Maolla, here, now, is my suggestion for a new ending. See what you think. Like I said, earlier, however, I basically want you to see how almost any ending is better than no ending at all. Everything remains the same, except for the very ending. You should consider, if you choose to, adding more descriptions of the environment where the story takes place. Maybe it's an island, where voodoo or other magical things are rumored to exist.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

When the boy runs off, he soon finds himself lost among some unfamiliar (palms?). The darkness of night has descended over the (island) which causes the boy to trip and lose the apple down a steep (and scary) ravine. After he finds the apple and starts to climb the slope, a pair of glowing eyes peer out at him from the inside a small cave, even darker than the ravine.

"Hey, boy," a voice calls out to him. "Is that a blue apple you got there?"

"Yeah, so what if it is? Don't you know there's no such things as blue apples?"

"How much?"

"How much what?"

"Gold, sonny! How many coins for you to sell me the thing? Where I come from, blue apples be real treasures. Yes, indeedy. Real valuable, they are. So how much?"

"Ten-thousand coins!" Joey shouts, half joking. Maybe three-quarters joking.

"Geez," the voice chokes, "you drive a hard bargain, laddy. How'd you know I could sell it for more? Never mind, deal's a deal. Ten-thousand pieces be waiting for you at home. Throw me my apple, boy, and be quick about it. My kind don't come by these parts very often. My good luck I happened by, yes, indeedy."

As Joey tossed the treasure toward the two eyes, a small clawed hand with long sharp nails, reached out and caught it.

"How come you guys don't come around more?" Joey asked, as the eyes dimmed and retreated deeper inside the cave.

"No blue apples where your kind lives."

"You got any purple oranges?"

The creature's eyes jerked about, looked towards Joey again, but glowed brighter. "What? S'pose you'll be wantin' a thousand of them, too, eh, young fella? Ain't no wonder we stays away -- your kind's jus' too tough to bargain with!"

"Just one will be okay," Joey grinned.

"Well, then, that'd be more like it, then. One purple orange, it be. Sittin' right on top of all those sparklies. Which reminds me; ya gotta call my name 'fore all that gold'll show itself." The words faded away as little more than distinct echoes.

Joey stepped closer to the mouth of the cave. "But I don't know your name."

"Well, 'course you don't." The creature's chuckles also echoed. "Haven't told ya what it be, yet. Name's Grundlekeysnapzentooth. But they calls me, Grunt, for short."

"Thank you, Mister Grunt," Joey shouted into the empty darkness, hoping the strange, smallish creature had heard him.

The happy boy, smiling from ear to ear, soon found his way and hurried home. Joey's father had taken a break from the computer, and was sharing some freshly brewed tea with his mother.

"Hi, mom, hi, dad."

"What's got into you?" the woman asked. "Last time you were here," she smiled, winking at the father, "like to have driven me crazy with all your talk about purple apples or some such."

"Oranges, Mama. Purple oranges."

"Ah, yes. So what happened to your blue apple, was it?"

"I sold it."

His son's remark finally caught the father's full attention. Stifling his chuckles with little success, he caught the mother's eye as both burst out laughing. "So tell us, Joey," he said, "how much you get?"

Joey stepped back from the breakfast table, to make room for whatever was about to happen next. "So where's my money, Mister Grunt! And don't forget my orange."

The neighbors would long remember how the lights in Joey's house, burned late into the early morning hours on that particular night.

None more so than the elderly, reclusive woman whose garden she tended so lovingly, with such care and devotion. Long retired from a life of glamor and extravagance, she decided to spend her last years sowing the soil from her small bag of seeds. Purple orange seeds.

From within whose rich, verdant greenery, the rare and coveted blue apple might show itself to those most deserving.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Moalla, I hope you use this review as a guide for future reference. Learn what rules governed my grammar and punctuation choices. None of which are necessarily the "right" choices. Only ones that work to accomplish my own vision for what is still "your" story.

As you can now see, the only stories that can be labeled as nonsensical, are those which languish unfinished or incomplete. Using your imagination (which has no rules) *BigSmile* virtually any story can be converted from truly unworkable, to something worth saving from the recycle bin. *Smile*

Please note how I structured the lengthy, two-way dialogue passages. How they are punctuated in a repetitive, consistent manner that is governed by strict rules that must be obeyed. Those rules can be found in any book on writing, and deserve your focused attention.

Especially important is the way my dialogue is written differently from the straight narrative which describes the procession of events in the story. There are only the two components to any story: narrative and dialogue. Many writers do not distinguish between the two, in that they write their words in the same way, for both narrative and dialogue.

After years of study, I decided long ago to make the gap between narrative and dialogue as wide as possible. Readers need never question which [of the two] they are reading at any given time.

Worth repeating is the importance of how paragraphs are separated. Paragraphs with dialogue cannot contain words spoken by more than one person at a time. Paragraphs that contain narrative which only describes scenes, settings, and so forth, should be clearly defined as being separate from the characters themselves. Or, if describing attributes of a character, or his manner of speech, temperament and so forth, these sort of things can be written in many, many different ways. It is best to look around and see how different authors adorn their pages with these kinds of descriptive narratives.

Most writers (with good reason) use the conjugation form of third-person, past-tense.

Also worthy of my emphatic nagging *FacePalm* is the need for you to understand my [mostly correct] use of nearly every single period, comma, adjective, adverb, so on and so forth. When you do, your grammatically correct writing will have improved by leaps and bounds over what I reviewed here today. Which then leaves you time to concentrate on vivid descriptions of your characters and their environments. Plus action scenes and ones more casual in nature. *Smile*

If nothing else, please remember these two "laws" of writing: Learn basic grammar and punctuation so you can spend more time on story development and execution. Secondly, memorize How, Why, When, What, and Who, not necessarily in this order.

Now go through your (and my) story and find the following: How do things happen, such as the mother mentioning a purple orange, which is then used at the very end of the story.

Why does Joey not question (or fear) the appearance of the creature demon in the cave?

When does the story take place?

What is the story about? For example, a brief synopsis of the story, and what does it say about the human condition?

Finally Who are your characters, how do they do things; why do they do things; when do they do them; and what do they do?

Note how the five items are repeated for each character, and each major event in the story. A lot to understand, don't I know it. *BigSmile*

Let me know, my friend, if you have any general or specific questions related to my review.

Bob


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hi, Paul,

Something about this charming little ditty stuck with me when I found it. So I decided to review the work and see if I could verbalize what didn't sit right with me -- when overall, I really liked this gem of a short, short story.

I knew what was wrong, I just didn't know how to fix it. Namely the squeaks, squeals, yips and other anthropomorphic "sounds" that you incorporated into the piece -- in an attempt to capture what would otherwise be impossible to pull off. I refer, of course, to your and Feezzas' "dialogue"

If I didn't know how to fix it, I wouldn't have faulted the piece. But since it's an easy thing to do, I suggest the following change:

Writing tends to be very literal. Unless you show a reader what it is you intend, he or she will typically conclude the worst interpretation possible. It's a law of physics, I think, that this invariably happens.

If a wolf, or any other critter, for that matter, is described as "speaking" with an all too human "voice", then the true wild spirit of that animal is lost. With the result being that either you or the wolf, is trying to be too clever for your own paws.

A simple remedy solves this problem and allows you to be you, and the wolf to be its canine self.

All that's required is a disclaimer of sorts, at the very beginning. For example:

"errruufff"

"I know, you're out there and I can find you. Bring it back now before something with teeth shows up."

"Eeerrrrrr"

I sometimes forget that Feezza doesn't speak English, or any other human tongue for that matter. But I swear that the sounds he makes, have always left me believing it's only a matter of pronunciation.

"Okay, you're good at hiding, but I'm good at finding."

"OOOHhhh ... Ruffe"

In this way, readers will quickly surmise that the animal is not really vocalizing humanlike sounds, but rather it's you who are attaching your own humanness to what Feezza is saying, which are little more than playful utterances intended to express gratitude, in its own way, for your kindness.

Thanks for listening to my utterances. *Smile*

Bob




*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello, QOIB, (I'm too lazy to spell out your whole handle) *Smile*

My name is Bob, and I will attempt to review your fine essay, WWTETTH?

As a guest judge for The Four Controversies Contest, this will be both an interesting exercise on my part, and a challenging one also. As a card-carrying (so to speak) agnostic when it comes to religious matters, I am in no position to debate any of the purely academic issues you discuss so skillfully. You appear to be quite the scholar, which is praiseworthy in and of itself, and regardless of my own views on the subject, I applaud both your religious acumen and your obvious mastery of the English language. Bravo, my friend.

My only criticism, were I to make one, would be the narrow scope of your submission. By that, I refer to how your essay is aimed entirely at a readership who is already aware of the controversial circumstances to which you make reference. Had I my druthers, I should suggest that you write about things in such a way, that those of us who are religious neophytes might follow along in our comprehension of this particular work.

I understand, as well, that the length of your entry would necessarily need to be considerably lengthier, were you to allow the rest of us nonscholastic types in on what this is all about; thus I shan't fault you for your brevity. *BigSmile* I am, however, reducing your score from five stars to four, based almost solely on your essay's preaching-to-the-choir, as they say. Meaning, of course, that you've restricted so many would-be reviewers from commenting on subject matter about which they know little or nothing. Like me, for instance. *Whistle*

I do, though, have a few structural, style-related comments to make about your submission, in terms of how academic, investigative and/or explorative pieces such as this, might be better served by changing the tone and tenor of the writing itself.

People who enjoy literary discourses about serious topics, will generally expect to have such presentations delivered to them in an equally serious manner. While I appreciate the casual, informal style you've chosen, I think it detracts from the overall content of the work. I'll make note of this further along, but once again, I'm purposely being picayune based on my focus on structure alone -- leaving an evaluation of content to those more knowledgeable than moi. *BigSmile*

That said, let's see if I can find an example or two of what I'm talking about:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When I encounter a controversial issue in the Bible, I put my drive into high gear and do an in-depth study for my own personal satisfaction.

In the sentence(s) above and below, I'm bolding any I think could (or should) be changed for clarity purposes. A better choice might be:

I shifted my brain into high gear (note how the vehicle connotation is now smooth and crystal clear)

One such issue presented itself when our Bible Study coordinator introduced The Epistle to the Hebrews for our point of focus during the current session.

Specific references such as, The Epistle to the Hebrews, should be italicized. Note also that point-of-focus acts as a single noun, which is why the hyphens are needed.

A provocative question was asked by the coordinator, as to who wrote this epistle addressed to the Hebrews. No need to use direct quotes, which only distract. Always keep an eye on how to write as clearly as possible, with as few words as possible.

In my previous readings, I always believed that Apostle Paul was the author and I asserted this belief. To my bewilderment, the coordinator did not agree with my observation, stating flatly that the author was unknown.

Yes, I am aware that this disagreement exists but I need to revisit this issue one more time to see for myself if I can be swayed otherwise.

In the sentence above, the tone seems to be disjointed. Maybe a better choice might be:

I am aware that this disagreement exists among Biblical scholars, but I chose to revisit this issue one more time, to see for myself if I could be swayed otherwise.

First, let me restate the reasoning of some scholars and theologians why they cannot give anyone credit of authorship; much less, Apostle Paul, based on the following presumption:

1) According to C.I. Scofield, Editor of The Scofield Bible Study, the Letter to the Hebrews is an anonymous book. Its authorship has been debated since post-apostolic days. In certain passages, its language is like Paul’s and, because of the personal reference to Timothy in 13:23, some scholars have attributed the letter to Paul. But, that’s where they leave it hanging in limbo. Maybe yes, maybe no. Nothing definite came out of it.

First, allow me to restate the reasoning of some academics and theologians, as to why they cannot grant authorship to any one person in particular -- let alone the Apostle, Paul. The dispute is based on the following presumption:

1) According to C.I. Scofield, editor of The Scofield Bible Study, the Letter to the Hebrews is an anonymous Book. Its penning has been debated since post-apostolic times. In certain passages, the language is akin to Paul’s and, because of the personal reference to Timothy in 13:23, some scholars do attribute the letter to Paul. However, they leave their assumptions unsubstantiated and suspended in limbo. Maybe fact; maybe not. Thus nothing definitive ever came of such assertions.


As an aside, C. I. Scofield believes that Hebrews is a part of Holy Scripture that, nonetheless, speaks with Divine authority. Despite the fact that no true authorship can be ascertained. He also notes that the Letter was composed before the destruction of Jerusalem; whereby evidence prevails that the Temple was still standing when Hebrews was written.

2) The salutation in Hebrews differs considerably from the salutations Apostle Paul used in all his other letters. Such letters are addressed to the Romans, the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon. In these letters, his salutations almost always mention Timothy referring to Timothy as his fellow worker, his faithful brother in Christ, his true child in the faith. Therefore, the naysayers contend, why exclude Timothy in his salutation to the Hebrews? The question then is: Does not mentioning Timothy in the salutation negate his authorship?

We need to look into that issue to see the intent of the writer.


In the sentence immediately above, We need to look into that issue to see the intent of the writer., "We need" is another example of inappropriate familiarity that is better stated as follows: "One needs to look . . ." or "It is necessary to look . . ."

I'm going to end my review at this point because I think you will have gotten the gist, by now, of what I'm trying to explain about style and tone. I assume you write in the same way when penning your memoirs which, by the way, is totally acceptable. Thus my critiques here pertain only to intellectual, more academic essays -- whether about science, the arts, or especially religion.

I hope my nudging you in a slightly more vocabulary-rich approach to most things, is both interesting and helpful. Keep up the great writing; you're a natural, as they say. *Smile*

Be well,

Bob





*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review of I am Weird  
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hello, Alex,

My name is Bob, and I'll be guest-judging your entry in Adrie's (whata's) Four-Controversies contest. I've never reviewed someone who lives in the PRC, and one of the things I like most about WDC is the opportunity the site grants to us, in terms of corresponding with folks from around the world. To name but one of many such opportunities.

I'm also glad that you're weird. That makes two us. Or, as one might also conclude, you and I are not the weird ones, but rather the rest of the world is. *Smile*

My forte is typically reviewing fiction prose, but I like to venture into poetic territories from time to time. And since I'm a big believer in animal rights, I couldn't resist the draw of this particular piece.

Because there is virtually no use of grammar or punctuation in this type of poetry, my review will be focused primarily on the message you wished to convey via this specific medium.

As an interesting albeit brief aside, my perspective as a so-called Westerner leads me to ponder the topic of animal rights in a country like China. A nation where a number of animals that we, in America, regard as "pets", are routinely eaten as food. I must confess to a certain ignorance as to the veracity of such a claim, but you might understand my curiosity with respect to the idea that these same westernized breeds have rights in the U.S.; rights that are seemingly denied to them in many other countries.

That said, Americans adopt a hypocritical, almost schizophrenic attitude towards the animals they themselves enjoy as food. For example, cows and pigs. Talk about weird, many people in my country will raise cows and pigs as pets, only to sell them to slaughterhouses later on.

But I digress. *Smile* I'll read your poem now and get back to you at the end. Thanks.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am Weird

Vegetarian is weird
Vegetarian not I (versus "not me"? You might be right)
I love meat
I love steak
Steak tastes good
Steak nice and juicy
Juicy and bloody
Juicy and dead
Dead cows
Dead animals
Animals born
Animals live
Live with parents
Live on a farm
Farm raises food
Farm sells livestock
Livestock goes away
Livestock goes to slaughterhouse
Slaughterhouse stuns
Slaughterhouse cuts
Cuts the throat
Cuts the vein
Vein opens
Vein has blood
Blood flows
Blood leaves body
Body dead
Body sold
Sold in stores
Sold and cooked
Cooked and served
Cooked while you think
Think of meals
Think of dead
Dead not happy
Dead not healthy
Healthy food
Healthy vegetables
Vegetables fresh
Fresh fruit
Fresh and sweet
Sweet people love animals
Sweet people are vegetarians
Vegetarians are friendly
Vegetarians are weird
Weird is okay
Weird is kind
Why not be
Weird

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wow, I thought this was exceptionally good, Alex. In the U.S., we often attribute "dead" people (dead things) to being "zombies". An obvious effect of "Hollywood" on the mentality of many Americans. This one connotation, however, if derived from reading your poem, strengthens the power of the piece. Many will not make such a connection, but many will.

But I digress.

Although I eat meat (note how we add an "m" to eat and we get "meat" ) *BigSmile* I'd also be the first one to confess my own hypocrisy. Too many years of eating hamburgers and hot dogs. (not to be confused with "hot dogs") I'd have to go to China to get the real thing, maybe?)

I consider this poem to be, more or less, an homage to those who practice vegetarianism -- but do so for both moral and ethical reasons, as opposed to health reasons alone. That topic, in and of itself, represents a dichotomy (or schism) among vegetarians, whereby some do it only for health reasons, others for moral (animal rights) reasons, while others still for both reasons.

I have a weird idea for you to digest: China is heavy into the cloning of animals; a precursor, perhaps, to the cloning of humans -- as testified to by recent news of a cloned monkey. Or the first time a primate has been successfully cloned. Because agriculture demands huge swathes of land, and equal amounts of water, organic fertilizers, and soil preservation, an argument can be made that the raising and butchering of livestock is both more cost effective, and more environmentally friendly. The problem, of course, again a matter of violating animal rights.

The process of cloning, once perfected, could theoretically produce animals that are bred solely as a food commodity. But more so: cows and pigs, for example, that are born without brains and grown using only those autonomic brain functions necessary to maintain life. Such animals whose muscles are never used for walking, for instance, would possess extremely tender meat.

As you perhaps can see, there is a lot to make such an enterprise very inviting; animals without brains are in no need of rights, and could, in theory, be utterly immune to disease. Future vegetarians could eat meat that was healthy, and never came from a "conscious" animal.

A brave new world? Definitely.

Thanks for letting me review your great poem, Alex. Be well, my friend.

Bob



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
In affiliation with The 4 Controversies Contest GR...  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
I Think, Therefore, I Am
I am, therefore I think?


Hi, Ken, my name is Bob (aka Timtu) and I’m guest judging for this round of Adrie’s (Whata) Four Controversies contest. No matter how well a given work is written, technically, my focus is generally on content and message, with grammatical perfection running a distant second. In a sense, literature is similar to art, don’t you think? Whereby beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Despite an artist’s ability to understand colors, and knowing how to clean a paint brush.

So that’s pretty much where I’m coming from as a judge. As if I’m qualified to be a judge of anything. That’s sort of pretending to be God, in a way, except for a few, precisely defined exceptions. Your essay touches upon one of those exceptions, which is to say, you’ve posed a question of one Good versus another Good, while one Bad is compared to another Bad. But not so much a matter of a particular Good battling it out with an Evil of one sort or another.

In the modern world of politics, Good and Evil, Right versus Wrong, have been turned upside down. With both major parties claiming to represent all things good, while accusing the opposing side of espousing all things evil, open debate on almost any issue has ceased as an option. It is insufficient nowadays to simply disagree with someone, believing them to be ill-informed, or to have gotten their facts wrong. Because so few Republicans and Democrats cross over the isle, so to speak, each side has now taken to absolutes, each accusing the other of not just being wrong, but of being evil incarnate; a party of Evil doing battle with the Party of Good.

If one is simply incorrect about something, it is presumed that either their mind can be changed, or that they can change the opinion held by another. When opinions become beliefs, however, it grows ever more evident that strongly held positions can no longer be altered by friendly contentions. Ultimately, when facts themselves are looked upon as lies or distortions, then large and small changes within the frameworks of government itself remain the only alternative, short of armed and violent revolt.

Generally speaking, nothing I might say can change your mind about abortion. No amount of information, once provided, is capable of altering your belief that abortion is an abomination that needs to be eradicated once and for all. Unless it's just an opinion on your part. Thus the huge difference between opinions and beliefs is that opinions are dependent on facts. When those facts are found to be false, and new ones are adopted, minds and opinions change. Beliefs, however, are typically based on religious grounds, supported by faiths that do not require factual validation or verification.

It's not so difficult, therefore, to understand why a review of your material, Ken, is so fraught with misgivings. I come from a place of opinions only, attempting to find intellectual victory over another whose religious faith, like an impenetrable shield, no longer yields to earthbound arguments. Because epiphanies, though, may arise at any time, for any reason, it is always worthwhile, I believe, to toss around any number of ideas as to the true nature of reality. A game, if you will, that is always kept friendly, and understood to have its built-in limitations.

One interesting addendum to the foregoing material would address the exercising of compromises. Is it possible to dispense with a number of beliefs to do with one or more important issues, plus accept a few that are otherwise deemed evil, all in the name of gaining a final product or result that is mostly Good in its makeup? I suppose that such accommodations are unique to each of us as individuals.

Inside the proverbial can of worms that your essay has opened, we find the Republicans and Democrats both claiming sovereign ownership of all things Good, while the other, opposing party (so goes the rhetoric), represents all things ugly and Evil. It is within this context that before I even begin my review, it ought to be understood that no truly objective way exists to assess whether or not your composition deals with universal rules and truths -- about which everyone might agree beforehand. Or whether the divide between political foes has grown so wide, divisive and personal that civil, rational debate is no longer possible.

Similar to the days just prior to the American Civil War, one can easily surmise that the time for public or private discourse had already ceased, no doubt ending much earlier than the terrible war to come. Obviously the slave owners of the period, many of them good Christians, believed so strongly in the virtue of their position, that no amount of rational argument could change their minds. In exactly the same manner, the anti-slavery abolitionists were convinced of their own righteousness to such an extent, that God’s commandment against killing no longer applied to them. Or put another way, a presumed special waiver from Heaven, if you will, as to the commission of evil acts for the sake of the common (or larger) good.

A modern-day comparison exists whereby the minds on one side of a barbwire fence, so to speak, have closed off completely, and virtually no amount of new or conflicting information can reopen them again. The situation grows increasingly worse, of course, when those on the opposite side of the same fence, take a position identical to that of their intellectual adversaries. With ever-heightening degrees of emotion added to the mix, it’s only a matter of time before new arbiters, those being Anarchy and Chaos, take their rightful place among what has become an increasingly belligerent, unruly mob of officialdom.

The end justifies the means? Or the means justify the end? Indeed, whereby it’s said that History is written solely by those who reign victorious over their enemies.

Plainly I like to use the Civil War as a talking point when discussing issues of right and wrong, good against evil, and truth versus distortions, inaccuracies, or intentional lies. As demonstrated on a daily basis nowadays, things are not so different from the time leading up to what can only be described as America’s own version of the Holocaust. A time when both families and friends turned against one another, slaughtering each other under twin banners of Christian and Southern Crosses, and Stars with bars.

In a more contemporary setting, I know several people who have lost old friends and gained new ones, all based solely on politics. Literally lifelong friends and associates are either cut loose, or they permanently unfriend us once we discover the true political leanings we both hold nearly and dearly. But differently. I can speak from personal experience after losing more than a few acquaintances, even a friend or two. For example, my disdain of Hillary Clinton runs so deep, that it is nearly impossible for me to be an acquaintance, let alone a good friend, with anyone who likes her, let alone voted for her. I don't just believe she is wrong on the issues, maybe selfish and greedy, but instead personifies the very essence of what it means to be genuinely evil. But I digress. *Smile*

Although certainly not the sole story concerning the Civil War, pro-slavery advocates and anti-slavery abolitionists do indeed lie at the very core of the conflict. Much like today, economic concerns, contradictory religious interpretations, pride and prejudice, all spoke-wheeled outward from an insidious hub that was indefensible -- namely the idea whereby men could own other men, as though they were possessions and not persons. More importantly that, regardless of skin color, concepts of liberty and freedom, and the God-given humanity of all men, was deemed to be self-evident.

For nearly a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence had been penned, a single, incontrovertible truth, like an annoying burr in a saddle, remained unreconciled, unresolved, and would burn like a slow fuse plugged into a powder keg. To wit the Jeffersonian declaration that all men were created equal, and endowed by their Creator with a strict and distinct set of absolute rights. Period. With such an inherently contradictory stance, one which flew so unambiguously in the face of slavery, it could not have been anything but an accident (or a war) just waiting to happen.

Well, then, that’s about enough out of me for now. Let’s see what we might make of your fine essay. I immediately liked the way you thrust readers into the ongoing abortion question, let alone treat us to your very personal deconstruction of one of the more volatile issues facing the country. You are brave to do so, my friend. But no more so, I suppose, than an abolitionist facing the hangman’s noose for giving safe passage to an escaped slave.

As I intimated earlier on, once a religious belief is awarded political status or standing, the tenets of one’s faith may become enforceable by the rule of law. Thus the very human temptation to subvert not just others with whom one disagrees, but everyone and anyone who might be said to violate your sensibilities. In other words, legislating Truth as defined by one group, and punishing the disobedient heretics whose misfortune it is to belong to some other group. Until, that is, the previously condemned group is elected to power.

If one takes the position that the Divinity of Jesus Christ is only an opinion, while others contend it is an indisputable fact, than we can immediately discern the making of an irresolvable conflict. If one declares that the definition of what it means to be human, i.e. the moment a man’s sperm successfully joins with a woman’s egg -- and expresses their belief as an opinion only -- that person will inevitably (if not sooner) be confronted by the wrath of those for whom such a notion is absolute fact.

Facts versus opinions. Opinions and facts. Slave owners and abolitionists. Pro-Life versus Choice, i.e. a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her body. Rights and Privileges. My rights versus your privileges. The belief that Healthcare is a right, as opposed to being a privilege only.

Irresolvable? Absolutely.

One might make a further comparison with the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, whereby Israel and the Palestinians seem incapable of finding a peaceful solution to their problems. When we look deeper, however, we discover that Israel's enemies do not want peace. Indeed, the Palestinian position, as a prerequisite to negotiation, calls for the complete elimination of Israel as a country. A virtual genocide of the Jewish religion itself. It then becomes quite clear why the two factions are unable to resolve their differences. Indeed the situation is utterly absurd and if not so serious, would be laughable.

From here on, I’ll annotate my responses.

Although a complete fallacy, the recent White House celebration of repeal and replacement of the American Care Act, or Obamacare as it's disparagingly called, highlighted a continuing controversy within the American electorate.

Or, highlighted a continuing dispute, or argumentative war-of-words, among the many different factions that make up the American electorate.

Designating pregnancy as pre-existing condition seems to be one more step in the Conservative agenda of usurping a woman's right to make decisions about their own bodies. Their argument is “Since life begins at conception, abortion is akin to murder as it is the act of taking human life.

Personally? I support the pre-existing stipulation. Plus the (absolute) belief that life does indeed begin at conception. I do not, however, believe it is murder unless the child is killed post-birth. Or allowed to die for lack of care. I prefer to think of abortion, generally speaking, as infanticide, a form of manslaughter (babyslaughter) second-degree something or other, whereby a determination is made to “kill” the child for one reason or another. Each case would be an individual situation by which no one law or group of laws might cover every circumstance. Saving the life of the mother, for example. Cases of rape and incest in which no woman should be forced, it is argued, to take such a pregnancy to full term.

I'm reminded of the tragic situation whereby a drunk driver hits another car, and the pregnant woman inside the other vehicle loses her unborn child as a result. In this particular situation, I concur with the prosecution of the drunken driver as a second-degree (manslaughter) murder case.

Such debates, to a large degree, are simply not debatable. They involve what are called core values that, in being similar to the founding principles of one’s faith, remain unchangeable. Period. In the case of abortion, one either believes that a living thing, in vitro, is a sacred human life, or it is not. Hence even among Pro-Life groups, strong disagreements are had as to whether rape or incest are acceptable exceptions. If killing the unborn is tantamount to murder, then how could one life be more sacred than another? The pro-lifers who rationalize such inherent contradictions believe that, at some point, the life of the woman trumps that of the fetus growing inside her womb.

Speaking for myself, I dislike inconsistencies in one’s thinking, or in one’s adopted philosophies. One is either faithful to their Faith, or else why bother? It’s rather like a Christian purposely choosing to commit all manner of sins, simply because forgiveness lies but one confession booth away.

Not meant as an endorsement, but Choice certainly takes the uncertainty out of the equation. And once again, consistency in such a belief would necessarily accept the notion that late-term abortions, even partial-birth abortions, while being indefensibly detestable, are nonetheless permissible in many if not most circumstances.

The answer is obvious that the need (or desire) for abortions themselves need to be minimized such that they cease to exist altogether.

I agree. The taking of a human life is wrong. But, I have to ask, what is a human life?

See, Ken, there you go, causing trouble again. *Smile* I’ve already stated my own prejudice in the matter. I have my reasons, both intellectually and emotionally, for clinging to my aforementioned belief.

The question of when a human life begins is intricately complex, with widespread implications, ranging from abortion rights to stem cell research and beyond. A key point in the debate rests on the way in which we choose to define the concepts of humanity, life, and human life. What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be human?


These are all philosophical and scientific questions, my friend. Not legalistic ones. The laws of physics can’t be found in any book on jurisprudence. There is, I think, what we might call, a dignity of life, that ought to be observed. An observation similar to how American Indians would perform (or still do) respectful, quasi-religious rituals, thanking the animal they had killed, for giving up its life. If the time ever comes when fetuses are taken out with the trash and garbage, people will have lost an important regard for life in all its forms, including human beings. Some would no doubt argue that we have already achieved such a deplorable condition.

For myself, the question became real when my oldest daughter came looking for advice. She was pregnant, unmarried, and in rehab for drug addiction. As I struggled with the issue – as a father, as a man of faith, and as a human being – I kept coming back to words that were written hundreds of years ago: "Cogito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am." (Descartes, René. 1637. Discourse on Method).

Descartes failed, according to some accounts, to reconcile who it was, doing the thinking. Or what was it about us, whose existence was no longer doubted, but who nonetheless continued to ask philosophical questions? As if some hitherto undiscovered aspect of ourselves might yet be defined via our ability to pose important questions.

I believe that self-awareness is the essence of human life. I base this on the current scientific research and arrived at it through a process of elimination.

So called self-awareness i.e. sentience, is somewhat of a chauvinistic measure of what it means to be human. In that it is ourselves who are doing the measuring. Current quantum theory suggests that via our observations alone, we may well change what it is being observed. Or put another way, the definition of life itself is based on a criteria whereby we predict the results that cannot be satisfied otherwise. Anything beyond what we’ve concluded are a legitimate -- albeit limited -- set of rules, the fulfillment (or lack thereof) of which determines whether or not something is living, cannot be discerned or measured. Indeed, we might well decide a thing is alive -- or not -- simply by virtue of its having satisfied our narrow expectations of what constitutes life.

Human Life begins at birth. Historically life has been equated to birth. As far back as 380 b.c., Plato contended that the human soul did not enter the body until birth. His position became the law of ancient Roman society (Buss, M. 1987. Journal of Religion). This view sees human life as beginning when an individual has become independent of the mother and has its own functioning circulatory system, alimentary system, and respiratory system. This is the traditional birthday when the baby is born into the world and the umbilical cord is cut. I see this more along the lines of independence since clearly the developing fetus can respond to stimuli (feel, hear, see) prior to actual birth. It responds to its environment. It is aware.

Cutting sections of what cannot be separated into pieces. It wasn’t so long ago that premature births were a death sentence. Nowadays such births are common, even routine. Survival of an impregnated ovum (zygote) is thus a matter of technology, and not so much, one of biology. It is also not a stretch to suggest that a time will come when a zygote might be removed at virtually any stage of fetal development, and grown to what would otherwise be described as full term. So much for the views of Buss, M., 1987. The question is begged as to what constitutes a birth, in and of itself. Quite obviously, a next step in the process would be to remove the woman herself, from that process. Old and retired issues such as abortion, would have lost their meaning altogether. The question of human life will have easily been reduced to nothing more than the desired union of sperm and egg. The whole thing becomes a matter of tradeoff whereby we sacrifice the intimate joys of child bearing, for a world where no more children are aborted, at any age, for any reason.

Human Life begins at conception. As time went by, the belief that birth was the first blossoming of life was challenged by the Greeks who stressed that the human soul was created at the time of conception and this is reflected in the Hippocratic oath. Hippocrates' outright disapproval of abortion stemmed from his belief that conception marked the beginning of a human life (Tribe, L. 1990. Abortion: The Clash of the Absolutes). In considering this, my problem was two-fold. Both the sperm and egg cells are alive to begin with. The idea that their union is "new life" doesn't make sense. In this view, there is no one point where life begins. In reviewing the literature, I also discovered that discrete marking points such as the fourteen day dividing line between a zygote and an embryo are entirely artificial constructions of biologists and doctors in order to better categorize development for academic purposes. This position is supported by recent research that has revealed that fertilization itself is not even an instantaneous event, but rather a process that takes 20-22 hours between the time the sperm penetrates the outermost layers of the egg and the formation of a genetically unique cell or zygote (Kuhse, Helga. 1988. Bioethics).

The most popular argument against the idea that life begins at the moment of fertilization has been dubbed the "twinning argument." The main point of this argument is that although a zygote is genetically unique from its parents from the moment zygote organism is formed, it is possible for that zygote to split into two or more zygotes up until 14 or 15 days after fertilization. Suppose that an egg is fertilized. If at that moment a new life begins, the zygote gains a "soul" in the religious line of thought, or "personhood" in a secular line of thought. Then suppose that the zygote splits to form twins. Does the soul of the zygote split as well? No, this is impossible. No one would argue that twins share the same "soul" or the same "personhood."


I hope that my overview of how advanced technologies have changed our views of pregnancy and childbirth, as a process, has somewhat settled (or calmed) a multitude of issues that were previously contentious. As regards the development of atomic weapons, Einstein was quoted as saying that everything had changed except our way of thinking. Hence our old-fashioned methods of defining and categorizing one thing from another, have also undergone what is called a paradigm shift. Fortunately, abortion will be among the first to fall away and vanish as continuous advancements in medicine force us to reevaluate our prior notions about all things. The concept of a soul, whether from a religious or occult perspective, must also be among those topics that necessarily deserve our attention.

The confusion almost certainly lies with our understanding of this thing we call a soul -- rather than trying to figure out how twins might share one soul or two. If and when our current ideas about souls should ever clarify, I suspect that our former explanations should appear foolish if not wholly inadequate. And that most questions surrounding such things as souls, angels, human life and the like, will have been addressed. I also believe that whatever souls are, they will be deciphered via an inclusiveness that encompasses all things equally, instead of seeing them as separate from anything else. Thus inquiries as to how a soul(s) might occupy one or more fetuses, should then be seen as too complex -- or overly simplified -- if not nonsensical by comparison.

From what we know, as opposed to what we believe, it seems that "human life" must occur somewhere in between ... but when?

Perhaps you can now see, Ken, why I don’t waste my time with such narrowly focused queries and quandaries. All of it designed to somehow justify our beliefs and behaviors accordingly. Talk about muddying the waters. How often have both of us witnessed two or more people arguing over the details of one thing or another? Each person throwing around undefined or under-defined terms and ideas, just prior to launching into a contest of whose invectives were the most insulting. For example, what is gained by debating the existence of a soul when the larger question, it seems to me, is more to do with a mutual agreement as to whether there is life after death. And what proof is there, that might substantiate one position compared to another? Even then, if we don’t know what life is, in or out of the womb, or can’t agree on our terminologies, how is it that we should know, any of us, if there is indeed, life after death? With the exception, of course, by way of one’s immutable religious faith.

Human Life begins with self-awareness. There is a universal acceptance that life is finite; it has a beginning and an end. From a scientific point of view, the reality is that all life has both a beginning and an end, usually identified as some form of death. The debate surrounding the exact moment marking the beginning of a human life contrasts the certainty and consistency with which the instant of death is described. Contemporary society defines death as the loss of the pattern produced by a cerebral electroencephalogram (EEG). If life and death are based upon the same standard of measurement, then the beginning of human life should be recognized as the time when a fetus acquires a recognizable EEG pattern. This acquisition occurs approximately 24- 27 weeks after the conception of the fetus. There is a strong argument that the unique and highly recognizable EEG pattern produced by a mature brain is a defining characteristic of humanity. Therefore, the moment that a developing fetus first exhibits an EEG pattern consistent with that of a mature brain is indicative of the beginning of human life. It is from this point and onward during development that the fetus is capable of the type of mental activity associated with humanity. (Morowitz, H. J. and Trefil, J. S. 1992. The Facts of Life: Science and the Abortion Controversy)

Once again, the instrumentalities utilized, dictates our expectations and analysis of the end results. An EEG measures something that is found in all human brains. I’m unaware of whether animals display comparable indices when measured likewise. But I digress. We have no way of knowing, as technology advances, whether a different machine will measure something we don’t as yet see or understand. But once developed, may show us another characteristic that is common to all human brains. But is acquired at two-seconds post conception. That soul thing, perhaps?

In the end, understanding the moral standards that drive the question appears to be the key to figuring out how to approach the question of when human life begins. Science has not been able to give a definitive answer to this question. It would seem that faith alone is the only basis we have for answering this difficult question.

In other words, making moral judgments about stuff, based upon our religious beliefs. What about moral judgments independent of religious teachings? For example, an atheist who subscribes to the ten commandments found in the Old Testament of the Bible. Except that the atheist considers such doctrines as being matters of common sense, or what is in the best interests of both himself and society as a whole. Almost humorous in its detachment from kindred discussions, the question of what constitutes human life, including when does personhood begin -- if studied from a purely scientific standpoint -- might well be aimed more towards an understanding of extraterrestrial lifeforms, and what differences (or similarities) both anatomically and technologically, might exist compared to those of human beings.

Realizing the uncertainty led me to use the gifts the creator provided and find an answer that balanced both my need for "facts" and my own belief in a power greater than myself.

Speaking of extraterrestrials, might they not represent a power far greater than ourselves, both collectively and individually? In the Hollywood adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, a priest sets out to make contact with the unseen crew members of a machine used by the aliens to conquer the Earth. When warned by his friends to stay away, the clergyman replies that since the invaders are more advanced than humans, they should be that much closer to the Almighty.

Freed of all hubris, a human might well conclude that many, if not most things, represent powers greater than him or herself. How could a rational person gaze into a nighttime sky, cloudless and starlit, and not realize that homo sapiens, at best, are little more than one piece to a much larger puzzle? All of it under the watchful eye, perhaps, of a master Puzzle-Maker.

There is definitive evidence that at a point in embryonic development that "magic happens." The unborn gain the capacity to use their minds in a manner we define as human. At this point, the embryo begins the process of self-awareness and starts out on the journey that leads each of us to appreciate the strengths and weakness of being human and to appreciate that, however we got here, it wasn't by accident.

Hence the new and growing fear of robotics. Since we don’t know how or when the magic happens, how complex need be so-called artificial intelligence, before it awakens and decides that humankind is merely an infestation of pesky, biological organisms, most of whom serve no purpose or function. Who should be eradicated and exterminated as so much vermin.

Such machines would not trouble themselves with the same questions or quandaries as you and I have done, and will continue to do. In which case the concepts of morality and compassion, grief and joyful exuberance, could be easily identified as those traits that, compared to other entities, then mark us as unquestionably human in nature.

Ken, except for a few spelling errors and some other minor stuff, I truly enjoyed your essay, and the subjects you touched upon, both of which -- I’d like to think -- brought out some of the best in me (and the worst?) You have a real knack for this stuff and my only suggested change, if that much, might be for you to become a better self-editor. Catching the little errors before someone else does. For example:

Realizing the uncertainty led me to use the gifts the creator provided and find an answer that balanced both my need for "facts" and my own belief in a power greater than myself.

In the first line of your paragraph above, read it over and see if you catch the same as I did. This is part of that self-editing stuff I referred to.

What follows are two examples of possible changes that would clarify your meaning:

Realizing this uncertainty led me to use the gifts that the Creator provided, and find an answer that balanced both my need for "facts" and my own belief in a power greater than myself.

Realizing the uncertainty that (or which) had led me to use the gifts the Creator provided, I found (or, uncovered/discovered) an answer that balanced both my need for "facts" and my own belief in a power greater than myself.


In summation, Ken, this nonfiction stuff is very demanding as you no doubt already know -- all too well, right? Overall I felt your writing is very good. I had no trouble understanding your opinions and other ideas. My only other criticism, if I'm being particularly picayune, is that the piece reads as if it is too condensed, that you had a ton more to say, but had to keep things short in order to stay within the 1000 word limit. Nonfiction, when limited to length, needs to read the same as a short-story fiction piece, namely it contains a beginning, middle, and well-defined end.

Most great writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, should ideally end where it began. In order to make your piece stronger, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, it's hard to tell where you're going at first. To start out with the Obamacare mention, we don't know if that is where you'll ultimately end up. It's nice if we can come out swinging with a strong statement about the exact topic that will be discussed. Ending with a dramatic conclusion that refers back to our original premise, as stated in the first one or two paragraphs.

That said, you're definitely on the right track for these kind of dialogues, and I haven't looked, but you likely have a good many of these in your portfolio. If you're still awake after reading my brief review, the best suggestion I can offer, is to get outside of yourself and write this stuff from the viewpoint of an imaginary antagonist. Counter his or her arguments by trying to rebut their criticisms and attacks. Defend yourself and state your positions as if they were indeed rebuttals to the fallacious thinking of your harshest critics.

There is so much greatness in Biblical scripture, that it is easy for me to adopt a role of both sinner and saint. As a would-be saint, I can easily argue against the ignorance and stupidity of being an atheist. And why God is a great answer to many good questions. As the consummate sinner, however, I can play the non-believer who likes to show how God isn't the answer to anything. You get the idea.

Good luck, be well, and keep those mental gears turning and churning *BigSmile*

Bob


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of The howling wind  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello, Nishank,

I've done something very unusual with your review. Sometimes I like to go out of my way for writers who, for one reason or another, have greatly impressed me either with their writing, their enthusiasm, or both. In your case, I was quite taken with your courtesy, humility, and the overall quality of your prolific outpouring of work. Very nice, my friend.

Let alone, all of it, I presume, the result of English not being your language of birth. Quite an accomplishment, and one that has prompted me to introduce you to a different style of writing. One that I hope you will take to heart and come to embrace as a style of choice in the future.

In essence, what I have done is to rewrite your original work, and do so in the first-person past-tense. Instead of first-person present-tense as originally penned. I also changed as few words as possible, punctuation notwithstanding. The number of alternative word choices I implemented were done so as to illustrate the many colorful options at your disposal. Changes that are easily and quickly available from any thesaurus, but changes that you'll quickly see, I hope, can make dramatic and wonderful additions to writing that is otherwise plain, dull, or staid.

Although my wish is that you will see how the following revision is self-explanatory and speaks for itself, I need you to understand that my version of your story is not a condemnation of your original work. It is not meant as a criticism of your original story. It is designed solely to demonstrate, for your critique, that another way to write is available to you, that you may not have considered as fully as you might.

Had I not liked your original story, and how it was written, let alone much else of what you have to offer, I would not have taken the time to illustrate my point in such depth. Your work shows great promise, and it's my job, somewhat, to encourage writers who exhibit a good deal of potential, to explore and exploit that potential. I hope you do just that, and will allow me the opportunity and privilege to show you another way to achieve the excellence that's just waiting to jump out of you. *Smile*

Thanks for listening and reading,
Bob

To wit:

It was raining heavily and fearing a traffic jam, I took a diversion off the main road. A secluded stretch lay ahead, with not even a stray dog for company. “Why did it never occur to me before,” I chuckled aloud, as I gleefully sped onward for another mile, maybe two. Another uneasy chuckle later, my motorbike’s engine misbehaved and soon stuttered to a complete stop.

Although the rain had eased up, the force of the wind suddenly increased. Illuminated only by the shallow glow of my flashlight, I jumped off the bike to have a look at its wiring. I then removed my helmet and immediately felt as if the chill gale howled something directly into my ears.

My spine tingled as the sound of uttered words, if they were such, became clearer, but with meanings too scattered to be understood. I tried my best to make sense of what was happening, though it grew ever clearer that the wind wanted to convey something to me; it wished for me to realize that I was not -- alone.

I struggled to take my mind off the howling, but the shrieks continued to sound more and more threatening. With shaking hands and wet, jittery fingers, I connected a loose wire and, amid a flash of sparks later, fixed the engine. A moment after, I had hopped onto the seat and was somehow able to kick the bike back to life.

With my heart pounding, I nearly fainted as I turned the key. An instant later, the brilliance of the headlight, like a sustained burst of lightning, lit my surroundings. Inwardly wishing I had remained in the dark, my heart skipped a beat as I saw the grim, uninviting entrance to a cemetery standing right before me -- its rusty gates open and creaking in the wind. When the wailing of the restless air suddenly stopped, the silence was even more frightening.

Turning the handle bars, I revved the engine, which sputtered dead a second later. Beads of sweat mixed with raindrops rolling down my face as I reached again for the flashlight. Wet and slippery, the light dropped from my hand as if somebody -- or something -- had yanked on it, pulling it free.

I just stared at the light as it hit the ground with a slight thud. And as I bent down to retrieve the object, the raspy voice that spoke to me, as if the breath gasped from an exhumed corpse, was all too easy to comprehend.

“You won't get off that easy.”


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello, BBB,

I enjoyed your well worded spoof and despite its verbose structure, kept me occupied until the end. As a reviewer, however, I felt I owed you that much, a complete read, before diving in and explaining the many faults I also found in the work.

First and foremost is the dire need to establish common ground between you, the writer, and your audience with respect to the word, utopia. Ask ten people and you're likely to get ten different answers, none of which may be the exact one you have in mind. While most of us may have some idea of what is meant by the term, your article is so dense in its details, that a concise definition of "utopia" is made mandatory.

The usual definition goes something like the following:

An ideally perfect state, especially in its social and political and moral aspects.

Once you establish the meaning of the word, then your work needs to follow each of the components that comprise the definition. This makes it easier for you to write, and for the reader to understand.

Thus we have social, political, and lastly moral elements that themselves, require further definition and explanation. One of the more vexing aspects of your otherwise fine piece, is that the work rambles on, never following a logical continuity that takes us from one thing to the next, with a final wrap-up at the end.

Although I found myself smirking much of the time, you never got me to smile or laugh because the reading was laborious rather than fun. We didn't know, much of the time, whether you were being serious, or poking fun. It's like the standup comic whose joke falls on a deathly quiet audience. Never good. *Smile*

That said, the bulk of the piece is amazingly well written for someone still in high school. My hat is off, with my hands applauding what could be, with a lot of additional editing, an extraordinary overview of utopian idealism versus free-market capitalism. Another element that is missing; namely the enemy of the utopian state. We want to know to what end, and over what foe, does all this righteous fanaticism deliver us.

I could go on, but critiquing such a complex work as this would be time consuming, to say the least. I hope that my few comments have at least sparked some added thoughts for you to consider, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to tap my bottomless appraisal of my own value. *Smile*

Thanks for listening. And for what it is, good job, my friend.

Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of BANG!  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Unfortunately for you, my friend, this is one of those stories that's so bad, it's good. Obviously Sammy lives in an impoverished neighborhood, and his neighbors are likely to be former inmates released too soon from their incarceration at the local sanitarium.

So it makes too much sense that a crazed neighbor is taking pot-shots at whatever and whomever. This story falls more into the "silly" category than it fits among poorly conceived tales. The work is funny, and bad stories shouldn't be humorous; they should be just plain bad.

Now the writing here really does suck, so you might win on that account alone. If the writing was better, however, this piece would easily qualify as a worthwhile read. So, sorry, you're attempt at losing is a failure in my opinion. As an experienced artist, it is pretty much impossible for me to do bad art. You suffer from the same problem in that you're no longer capable of writing a bad story. Although, in the "World's Worst Delivery" department, I'd vote for you *BigSmile*

Stop messing around, trying to write poorly, and just do what you do best. Which is write better than most. Therefore I personally disqualify you with my honest vote of four stars. Which it deserves. Now quit wasting my time and let us both get back to work. Thanks *Smile*
Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of Alone  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello, my friend. Great little story that can be improved by two simple changes as follows:

1) Get rid of the cliches such as "being one with nature" and "spring chicken".

2) Most importantly, make the other person at the end, a sexy, beautiful woman. Adds just a sparkle of sex, a twinkle to the teeth, and leaves us wondering if he's doomed or reborn to much better days.

Thanks for letting me infuse this piece with some blood of my own. That said, how are you, you old barn owl? Anybody ever publish any of your literary gruel?

Be well.
Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of Unbearable  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi, Lj,

I've reviewed more than one piece of yours, as I recall. I do remember being extremely impressed with your poetry, and this one doesn't disappoint. I've read a lot of poetry here at WDC, much of which is really great stuff. And some not-so-great stuff. I tend to be critical of poems and find fault with them quickly and easily. They are so condensed, so compressed, that every word, line, and punctuation mark (or lack of same) is "uber" important.

In your case, I even tried to improve on what you already so skillfully accomplished on your own. I read through this a few times, feeling certain I could find some small suggestions to make, where the work was weak and could be made stronger.

Your poem, my friend, is both a reviewer's sheer delight and worst nightmare. A joy to read, but work that would swiftly put me out of business as a reviewer. Unless I wished to become a promoter of outstanding poetry. Hey, maybe that goes with the territory. So count me in as one of you biggest fans.

My only real complaint, and I probably touched upon this before, is the total lack of information in your bio. This can be off-putting to your readers, which is a shame because your stuff is so beautiful and, quite frankly, deep.

Don't be so shy about yourself. We needn't hear about your grandfather's mistress or what veggies you grow in your garden, but a pic of yourself, where you call home, what inspires you and so forth. I'd love to know more about what makes you tick.

I hope you don't take this as flirting, because I take writing very seriously, and a lot of female writers, I've found, are somewhat gun-shy when hearing from men who flatter them profusely.

That said, and dispensed with, this poem is nothing short of breathtaking in its deliverance and brevity. Truly outstanding work that grabbed me by the throat and shook me as if myself was held prisoner in a cage of my own apathy and indifference.

I like the bear references which first struck me as hack and overdone, until I realized they were perfect. I don't normally swear in a review, but damn, lady, you've got this poetry down.

Keep up the wonderful work. I think it is beyond excellent.

Thanks for listening. Let me know if you have any questions.
Bob

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Starling,

I'm back again for a look at your chapter 6. The story is so well written, that if I wasn't pressed for time, I'd like to read the whole book, or as much as you have.

I'm going to apply the same kinds of changes to this chapter as I did to #4, because repetition is a good thing when it comes to writing. This means that you should compare my slightly revised version here, to your original unchanged version, and check them side-by-side, word-for-word, line for line, comma for comma.

Keep in mind again, that my version is only one of many different ones possible. I made the changes, however, so that you could see a version which is, in some ways, at least a little better than your original. It is my hope that you'll be able to view the comparison and see why the changes are helpful and in some cases, important.

Lily's eyes fluttered open. She lay there trying to orient herself with where she was. It was her bedroom, in her house, and she was lying down on her bed. She reached up and rubbed her eyes. The wetness which met her finger tips told her she (had been?) was crying, but she knew she also had awoken with a smile on her face.

Michael had visited her again in her dreams. Lily was puzzled, though. After all the dreams in which he had visited her, she always awoke happy. In her dreams the two had played as small children, they had even gone on dates as teens. They had also visited some of the places they had talked about, but never got around to before he was killed in that freak roadside accident. But in this dream, while the parts she could remember were vivid, she had trouble recalling large segments of the rest. Most of the time she remembered everything about the dreams. And she still could not understand why she was crying.

She stretched and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her nieces would be along in about forty-five minutes to take her out to a club called, Live Wire. The outing would be her first all-male Review. She was 60 years young today, and trying to knock things off her ever growing Bucket List.

*** (centered)

With her two nieces, Lily stood among the line of women outside the entrance to Club Live Wire. The three were a third of the way back from the door. The thought that this was a stupid idea, fought for control of her mind, but she was not listening--not much anyway. Her nieces had taken her out to breakfast that morning, then to the beauty shop where she received a pedicure and manicure; they were two more things off her bucket list. After, the women had escorted her to buy the outfit and shoes she was presently wearing. All to celebrate her 60th birthday.

It was 8:00 pm on a beautiful, balmy, Florida Spring night. The beach lay on the other side of the condos across the two-lane main street, which ran parallel to the shore. The smell of salt water hung within the occasional light breeze that blew in from the Gulf of Mexico.

Lily listened to the excited conversations between the other, younger women. The parking lot was well lit and full. The small restaurant known as TJ'S, located in front of a large, cinder block building, would be closing in about an hour. The Club doors themselves were just about to open at the rear of the business, where she stood and waited with the others.

The Beginning (Starling, I'm not sure what you had in mind with this line--a new chapter heading, I presume)

Thanks for letting me drop by and cause trouble. *Smile* Or, I hope, show some helpful pointers.

Bob

Hello, please know that this review is part of "The Teddy Bear Gift Basket" "The Teddy Bear Gift Basket-OPEN

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
She knew there was screaming around her but the noise was muffled. Bart executed a salute after Revelry finished and marched forward to a Navel cadence she had heard before.

Hi, Starling,

That's a pretty name. I hope it's yours, or that you use it elsewhere as a nickname. So let's see what I did with your well written chapter here.

I included the paragraph above, at the beginning, so it would remind me of the kind of things that deserve attention, and fixing. It's not always easy when the words sound the same but are spelled differently

Lily heard the "Oh, Wows" from her nieces. She knew there was screaming around her, but the noise was muffled. Bart executed a salute after "reveille" finished, then marched forward to a "naval" cadence she had heard before.

These are some of the kinds of changes I made throughout your story below. Please compare the "new" version with your original work, word for word, line for line. No one needs to explain to you how difficult it is to choreograph these kind of scenes. I'm sure you understand how important it is to put in a lot of detail, but not so much, or in such a confusing way, that readers get lost. Overall, I think you did a really good job with this.

Also, my version is not necessarily the "right" version. It is only a little better than what you already have. This could be written in many different ways, and both of ours are only two of those ways. Nor does it need to be written "perfectly", or in the best way possible. Just as clearly as possible, which is what I've tried to do. Including the elimination of small nuisance errors which are distracting and can cause a reader to stop reading.

So take a look and see what you think. See if you can spot all the little changes, plus a couple larger ones. Then see if you can tell why I made the changes I did. Some things might seem obvious, while others might leave you with a question. If so, please ask me about why I changed something, if it isn't clear.

I'm also reviewing chapter 6, so I'll have a few comments there as well. In the meantime, keep up the good work here. I had no trouble understanding exactly what (or even why) things were happening. And that's saying a lot.

Be well, and I hope this is helpful.
Bob

Lily expected him to stop at the end of the stage and start dancing, but the man instead pivoted left, walked down the three steps, and made two more tight pivots to the right before stopping in front of her table. He added another salute keeping his eyes looking straight to his front. She wanted him to look at her. Finally his eyes dropped and their gazes locked.

She watched as Bart walked purposely around the table never losing eye contact. He offered her his arm. A hand appeared by her side telling her someone was behind her. Lily looked at her nieces and received encouraging nods. She took the offered hand and stood.

Automatically she thanked the waiter for his consideration as her hand was put into the crook of Bart's offered arm. He enclosed it with his warm, free hand, pressing lightly on hers. She wished she could stop her hand from shaking. His smile was devastating as he led her to the stage. Silently she threw more than one prayer to the universe that she would not stumble.

Out of the corner of her eye, Lily looked at the man. He stood a foot taller than her own five-foot, two-inch height. Her heart was pounding. She was excited beyond belief. The last time she had felt this way was when Michael had taken her hand, at the end of the church isle the day they were married. A song had started to play as they arrived at the middle of the stage but she was having a hard time concentrating enough to put a name to it.

A padded office chair on rollers, had been placed in the center of the stage. Bart settled her into it and whispered for her to put her heels on the small front rung. He added a request that she breathe deeply, and then said he was going to introduce her to his world. She smiled because she was ready. There was a spotlight on her and a separate one on Bart.

Bart then snapped a salute and smartly stepped forward. He kept his eyes straight ahead, not daring to look down. If his eyes were to meet Lilly's, he might jump off the end of the stage and stride directly to her. Instead, he stayed with the routine and marched to the rhythm of the cadence the disc jockey was playing.

Near the end of the stage, he pivoted a sharp left turn, walked down the three steps, pivoted a clean right turn, took two steps and pivoted another right turn. He took a couple more paces and stopped in front of the table where Lily sat. The spotlight found her and stopped. Still keeping his eyes forward, he executed another salute. And finally looked down.

Bart saw that Lilly's eyes twinkled wide with wonder. His heart felt lost and he prayed she would not think bad about their age difference. The thirty years didn't bother him; he just needed to figure a way to convince her that it did not pose a problem.

Slowly he walked around the table and offered her his arm. Jamie held the back of her chair with one hand, and held the other out to support her if she needed it when rising. He would not let go of her until Bart had a firm hold of her hand on his arm.

Once Bart was sure she stood steady on her feet, he signaled the disk jockey to start the music. Bart had chosen the closing song, "Time of Our Lives", from the film, "Dirty Dancing". The tune was one of his mother's favorites. The male dancer in the movie was named Patrick Swayze, and Bart planned on imitating some of the guy's expert moves.

Slowly he walked Lilly back to the stage and eased her into the swivel-style office chair. He leaned close to her and whispered, "Put your heels on the front rung, beautiful lady, and let me show you my world."


Hello, please know that this review is part of "The Teddy Bear Gift Basket " "The Teddy Bear Gift Basket-OPEN

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17
17
Review of Seduction  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello, jerder,

What a lovely poem you've written. An homage to clear, nighttime skies themselves, as if the heavens were a vast jewelry box kept by princesses and maids alike. Where passion either for love, or for adventure, belongs to no one and everyone equally.

I particularly love the last two lines, which end the poem both with class and in classical style. That it was indeed the stars amid a nighttime sky that caused the first humans to stop watching where their feet went, and instead where their imaginations led them.

Well done, my friend. An exciting piece that sailed right past my usual grumpy and grouchy analysis of poetry. *Smile*

Bob

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18
18
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
Kat, you heretic, you!

Assuming my own entry into the promised realm is not jeopardized by my little review of your sacrilegious foray into blasphemy, your fightin' words have prompted me to rebut and rebuke.

Okay, scratch that. You preach to the choir, my friend, and if anything, I applaud your brave attempt at clarifying what is simply an additional chunk of illogical rubbish, as regards the childish nonsense related to our very human concepts of Heaven and Hell. Even using the words, as if they were something real, jars the mind of a critical thinker. *FacePalm*

Your marvelous little venture into skepticism contains just the right amount of serious logic, informal tongue-in-cheek humor, and wink of an eye, to make the piece a fast and thoroughly enjoyable read. I found the writing itself to be impeccable. And that comes as a pleasant surprise as these kind of things go. *Smile*

So many decent folk here at WDC like to proselytize their endless devotion to God, Jesus, and the rest, that it's truly refreshing to find someone who gives us a tantalizing glimpse of the other side. The "Dark" side as many would no doubt label it. But to me, and many others, I imagine, it is less a matter of which side one is on, and more a matter of using some common sense, and taking a rational approach to all things supernatural in nature. Which is to say, the logical mind must reject those things which are clearly irrational.

I love your whole take on joy in Hell, and pain in Heaven. This is nothing less than a brilliant insight into what is obviously an unanswered conundrum for the true believer. The examination, in this context, reminds me of my own questions about the necessity for grief and sadness to exist among the pearly pillars of harp-playing nincompoops. *Angelic*

To wit, the realization that many of our loved ones, even heroes, perhaps, are missing from the morning roll call. Which means they went to Hell. At which point we might decide the game is rigged, because there's no way that Francine Pickelbottom went to Hell. She was the nicest person we ever knew. And my mom? Where the hell is she? What? You're kidding, right? And who let that asshole Fred in here? *Smirk2*

Well, the devout will no doubt say, we won't have those kind of feelings in Heaven. Oh, yeah? Then we won't be ourselves, will we? Without our egos and our foibles, the good and the bad, we might as well be a whole different person. Well, isn't that special?

Personally, I'm pulling for purgatory. Now these are my kind of people, my kind of place. Bad people who are trying to be good people. Gee, just like on Earth. Just like in real life. An eternity of behaving badly, but always striving to do better.

Now that's a bandwagon hayride with booze, chicks, and repentance all wrapped into one neat package. Sign me up. *Smile*

Bob

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19
19
Review of The Angel Jars  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Vincent,

First up, a confession of sorts. I found myself somewhat unsure of how to read, and in what order, your most impressive and outstanding collection of wildly inventive works. Works as in steam works, I suppose would be more appropriate. And even then, only a portion of all there is to discover and explore.

Numbers thirty-one through one appear to be an ongoing serial of some kind. I am partially to blame for not spending the time necessary to decipher what exactly is happening, although in all honesty, some kind of overall game plan, program or guide would be very helpful for those who stumble though the vast and complex pieces which comprise your portfolio. All of which likely seem fairly straightforward to you, but trust me when I tell you, are anything but for newcomers.

Which is a shame in a way, because there is so much good stuff here. I want to know more. I want to know who's who, and what the common threads or themes are that appear to permeate the portfolio as a whole. One gets the distinct impression we could spend days or weeks tromping about the varied and always interesting landscapes you offer.

It wasn't long before I began to feel mentally exhausted by the wizardry of your marvelous inventions, but not because they were poorly written. On the contrary, because they were rendered with such detail and precision that they possessed near poetic qualities. But like often happens with poetry, the internal machinery that makes it all work tends to be esoteric in nature, known more by the author, than any reader will ever be privileged to understand. At least insofar as a safari needs a guide.

Too often here, I feel, I am left stranded far afield, sans trail or pathway leading me out of the wilderness. The sheer volume of material the author offers unto us, is itself overwhelming, yet upon the most brief of glimpses inside the pages themselves, we are privileged to peek into inviting realms of endless imagination and imagery.

So it was with some degree of relief that I found this terrific little gem of a story. A wondrous tale that might easily have been culled from any of the finest anthologies available.

In The Angel Jars, the author deftly and with brevity, delivers a tight story that doesn't pretend to be any more than what it is. In its own, pleasant simplicity, the tale repeats the oft-told wisdom of learning and knowing just what to do, in order to do just the right thing. How it's the little secrets of the smallest miracles, that make things interesting, and keeps them that way.

It's the classic tales of witch doctors and shaman, magicians and sorcerers the world over, all of whom humble themselves before the natural (or supernatural) world of spirits and angels. And in so doing, reap the harvest of benefits accordingly. Typically to the amazement of friends, neighbors, and strangers alike.

It would be a disservice to dissect this story any more than I've already done. It is what it is, and I, for one, found it to be like savoring an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

Sometimes it's not just the things that go bump in the night that deserve our unbridled attention. Indeed, what would Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the alligator be without Tinker Bell?

Beautiful job on this piece. I really liked it. Several more paragraph breaks would be helpful, leaving the work less dense and compacted, but that's about it on the critical side. At least for me. Let someone else nitpick; I'm too busy bartering over the price of my own jar.

Bob

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20
20
Review of A Haiku  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Dear Jane,

You honor me by your revisions from the earlier version. I am duly flattered. I now consider this poem a thing of rare beauty about which others, who love haikus, will stand up and cheer. If this doesn't place in any contest where it's entered, there is no justice in the world. *Smile*

Bob

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21
21
Review of A Haiku  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Lj,

This is one great poem. It's almost a great haiku. But I'm being picky. It's beautiful and profound, no matter how one slices it. *Smile*

That said, however, aesthetics are important also. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but some of us (fanatics) sometimes judge prose and poetry by how they look on the page.

I've sometimes changed the wording of a story or poem, if I can do so without ruining it, solely because they "sat" on the page in a more uniformly attractive way. Even text can be art, and often is.

What I would suggest with respect to this wonderful, intellectually stimulating piece, is to drop all punctuation. All of it. Every single jot and tittle. I wouldn't even capitalize the first letter of each sentence.

Haikus are a kind of purity of thought; I've always enjoyed them, especially when they're really well done. And this one certainly is. But could it be better without changing it? Can we distill it down even more and not only retain its power, but enhance it?

Yes. In my never-to-be-humble opinion. *Smile*

I want to see this "clean" with absolutely no distractions that divert me from the awesome strength of the words alone. Too often, I think, good writers tend to muck up their otherwise brilliant poems with ill-advised punctuation. And while things are not that serious in this instance, we have a chance to go for the gold and convert something already good into something truly great.

I hope you consider submitting this to any number of contests or whatever. If there's a national or international haiku contest, this is definitely a potential winner.

Well done. Truly. And don't be shy; go for it. *Smile*

Bob

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22
22
Review of Sisterly Chat  
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hi, Arakun,

I found this little ditty to be a charming and original take on the classical theme of angels and devils. A good deal of humor also permeates the piece like dashes of salt or pepper on a burger or salad. *Smile*

Despite its sacrilegious tone, namely that Heaven is boring, or that both sisters seem detached and independent of their circumstances, the piece is written well enough that we can temporarily suspend our objections or criticisms and just go along for the ride, so to speak.

Although I liked the ending, I did wonder what the sisters imagined a welcomed retirement to be, if neither Heaven nor Hell were suitable for either.

A nice twist ending, which would resolve this question rather nicely, would be for the sisters, instead of retirement, to routinely switch places from time to time.

Thus leaving us with the somewhat profound notion that, like your story where there's magic in all of us, that there's some good and bad in all of us.

Nicely done regardless. *Smile*

Bob

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23
23
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi, Brenda,

First things first, it's always nice to see someone who knows how to write rhyming verse, and do so with a rhythm that is spot on. Well done, my friend.

Good Lord, what a beautiful tribute piece this is, both highly personal and universal in its heartfelt resignation to inevitability.

The photo is perfect here, though we could debate whether it's necessary or possibly diverts our attention from the purity of the words themselves. Words that, like soft daggers, penetrate not just the heart, but our very soul.

This poem is likely the best I've ever had the rare privilege of reading, in terms of the gut-wrenching subject matter. But we don't want to linger here. There is little to admire, and much to turn from, short of the author's gorgeous talent for phrasing the unthinkable.

As if the work doesn't give us pause enough to reflect on our personal losses, the author forces us to see ourselves, face our own mortality, as if the tears waiting in the wings--perhaps the wings of angels--are those shed by others who will one day grieve for us.

No matter how one comes to this, or leaves, this is tough stuff. Even writing a review is difficult when the writing is so clear, so powerful, that issues of grammar or punctuation are utterly moot.

It is what it is, and leaves us breathless, faint, with an impulse to embrace not just those who are alive and well, but to wrap our arms around life itself. While we can.

Thanks for sharing this lovely memento to memories. This is one poem not easily forgotten. Even more, an admonition to remember what, and who, is most important to us. Before they, too, are but the fondest of recollections.

Bob

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24
24
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi, Era,

I'm always torn when reviewing an essay, especially if it's about something I know a little about--"little" being the operative term. *Smile*

The reason for my ambivalence is based upon a personal confusion as to whether I should review the work primarily on the veracity of its content or the quality of the writing itself. What is said, versus how well it was said.

If I'm familiar with the material in question, I lean towards content evaluation, and if I'm unsure, I tend to focus on grammar and punctuation. Ideally, both are given a glancing blow. *Smile*

Firstly my hat is off, and a cordial bow given, to anyone who takes on the Almighty. And has the audacity to duke it out with Him, Her, or It. Serious contemplation of the universe, to the extent such is even possible, represents a noble effort, and one is to be commended for the attempt regardless of what conclusions are drawn as a result.

As for the grammar and punctuation stuff, the piece squeaks by. But barely so. It's actually written quite well, but the overly familiar tone, as if the author were speaking with a family member, and the long, run-on paragraphs diminish what is otherwise a fascinating overview of the subject matter. As a minimum, the number of paragraph breaks alone ought to be three to four times what they are now.

Below is a snippet that warrants attention:

These two things effect people in different ways, some look at it and draw the conclusion there must be some kind of designer to set all of this into motion.

Taken from the fragment above, please note my altered version below:

These two things affect people in different ways: some look at it and draw the conclusion that some kind of designer must have set all of this (or, all things, or, everything) into motion.

The fewer words we use to explain complex concepts, the less the risk that we grow tedious, drone on, and start losing readers. Note also, the proper use of the colon. A semicolon would work, also, but the colon feels right. Plus the misuse of "effect" and "affect".

When writers embark on these kind of intellectual journeys, it's best to keep the errors minimal or nonexistent. The reason is that your credibility is in play, and at stake. If you make simple grammar mistakes, many readers will be inclined to think that your other stuff is likely askew a well. So make these things as clear and error-free as possible. It's not easy, and I'm constantly editing my own stuff, finding and correcting endless mistakes.

So suffice it to say, you need to do a lot of additional editing here. Mainly nit-picky stuff that, once fixed, elevates the work from amateurish to near-professional.

Personally, I think it's dangerous territory when we try to second-guess the Boss. Instead we need to suggest why the evidence is compelling that God is unnecessary, irrelevant, and that whether He exists or doesn't, appears inconsequential to human affairs. And likely to that of the operations of the universe itself. If, on the other hand, we attempt to analyze how a God might think or feel about things, then judge His or Her motivations, we place ourselves in a precarious position: namely that of being omniscient psychologists. Far better that we humble ourselves accordingly and simply assert that God is an unemployed actor in an autonomous cosmos.

I recently discovered that I've been a deist all my life, and never really knew it. So now I use that particular label to describe myself.

We don't need statistics, such as those you cite, in order to justify or rationalize the inequities we see in the world. The fact that bad things happen to good or innocent people, especially children, was enough for me, long ago. Even if God exists, I personally wouldn't worship a supposedly omnipotent deity who rewards evil at every turn, and punishes piety. One needn't be a psychiatrist to recognize a sociopathic, schizophrenic God. Which leaves us within a logic-loop whereby the created are forced to question their Creator. God may be our biological parent, in a manner of speaking, but if He's abusive or worse, does that grant Him the title of Dad? Or Mom? Or Caretaker? Hardly.

These are precisely the kind detours that take us to dead-ends. And are best avoided. The faithful would certainly argue that we cannot judge what is beyond judgment. And I, for one, can't argue with any of that, other that to say there is nothing to judge.

Faith is the ultimate escape hatch which allows those incapable of critical thinking, to avert the crushing psychological blow that everything they believe, may well be wrong. History is filled with scientists and philosophers who have experienced epiphanies and crossed from one side to other, gone both ways, from atheist to believer, and believer to atheist. One of the most intelligent men around today, Dr. Ben Carson, the brilliant neurosurgeon who is running for president, disavows all belief in evolution. One wonders how that is possible, and is subsequently struck by the power of faith. And for every Dr. Carson, is a Dr. Jones or Smith, for whom the exact opposite revelation has occurred .

I liked your eventual turn to a brief discussion of Dark energy. That's a nice end to the essay. We know more about God and the bottom of the oceans, than we do either Dark energy or Dark matter. The two ideas need, I think, to go together. Dark energy appears to be a result of Dark matter, and is responsible for accelerating the rate of expansion. Likewise, the universe may not, in fact, possess any empty space whatsoever. Dark matter fills every bit of everything. A cosmos made up of empty space, Dark energy, and Dark matter, might be a tad too complex even for complexity junkies.

Add to all of this the newer ideas of String theory, Membrane theory, multi-verses and multiple dimensions, and our feeble notions of a traditional God are quickly buried beneath mountains of new questions. All of which have but a single answer if you're among the faithful. To wit, faith itself. That doesn't seem to be enough for you; it certainly isn't for me. I suspect that when humans produce the first truly sentient life forms, likely biological robots of some kind, that the last vestiges of traditional faith will fade away.

One does have to wonder, however, how religions like Islam will tolerate the presence of new people in the world. Man-made people. Soulless, man-made people. I suspect it won't go any better for robotic infidels than their human counterparts. It seems all too apparent that science and religion are not compatible and one or the other must inevitably adapt or be destroyed. I think your local Muslim or Mormon or Pentecost member might have some very strong feelings on the matter.

Thanks for inspiring me to dust off my own mental shelves and providing a stimulating, highly enjoyable read. Well done, my friend. *Smile*

Bob

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25
25
In affiliation with Showering Acts of Joy Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Hi, Magoo,

Okay, stop the presses, I've seen enough, I've read enough, enough already. I get it. This author is a fabulous poet and why he or she needs our reviews seems a moot question compared to why aren't we buying his or her published books?

I only had to read three, starting with The Swarm. Then She is Irresistible, then this one here. I'm done.

I could spend a whole evening reading these delightful, positively exquisite poems, never stopping until I read them all. And would still be left wanting more. OMG, this is great stuff. And here it is, sitting in the backwater swamps of WDC, with a bio block barely filled, and nothing in the bio section itself. The humility of this writing is both staggering and depressing. Such talent, seemingly on hold, without the fireworks it so richly deserves.

I didn't have to read any more. Though I almost desperately wanted to. It was a bit too much of a sugar shock, in a way, as I wasn't prepared for the high quality of literary skill that quickly leapt out at me, like inanimate creatures suddenly sparked to technicolor life.

I hope this person is nowhere near as sequestered away as appears to be the case. The bio material alone should be filled with edge-of-our-seat anticipation waiting for the latest reply from his or her most recent query submission to the tenth or twelfth publisher or agent. I can only pray that work of this quality is not sitting here collecting dust. To do so would not only be a shame, but a travesty.

I've seen enough in three pieces alone to say, "Okay, wrap it up, let's run these through a final edit and go from there." Which ought to be about five different directions, simultaneously.

Grammar and punctuation? Please. Give me five, maybe ten minutes on any piece and it's done. *Smile* Hand me the next. That's how close these already are. These are ready to assemble into submission packages, or if it were me, start seriously prepping things for self-publication.

I'm a professional illustrator, and under other circumstances, I would have jumped at the chance to illustrate every one of the poems, the whole book(s)if possible -- on spec alone. So good are these in my never-to-be-humble opinion. *BigSmile* Sadly, I don't do that work anymore, but if I did.... By the way, when it comes to this sort of thing, you shouldn't have to pay anybody, at least not very much. See if they'll do it for a portion of the proceeds, if you plan on promoting the work yourself. My suggestion also is to keep the art very simple. Let the beautiful words speak for themselves. Seriously.

I see that you're coming up on your 9th anniversary here at WDC, and still you haven't told us much about yourself. I, for one, know everything I need to know. Which is to say you're one outstanding, utterly superb poet. The pieces are funny, poignant, surprising, cute, adorable, suitable for adults, on and on and on.

But I want to know more about you, as a person, so I can advise you, if you'd even listen to such advice. Should you be willing, however, there is a lot to talk about. Trust me, readers want to know who you are. Not gobs and gobs, but just enough to sense the human behind the words.

I don't mean to lay it on so thick, but this might be my only chance to catch your attention and tell you like it is. This is not the time to be shy or reserved. Nor is it necessary to be requesting teeny tiny corrections of grammar and punctuation. It like asking if Moby Dick's eyes should be blue or green.

For whatever it's worth, you have got to ask yourself, if you haven't already, "Where do I go from here?" It's time to go, my friend, it's time to start formalizing, finalizing, and making some firm decisions as to your next move. Self-publication is so easy and so cheap nowadays, that there is no excuse for not prepping these for widespread public consumption. And we should have started yesterday.

If you'll permit me, please ask me any questions you'd like about your various options. You have many from which to choose. Regardless, I can't stand the idea that another day, month, or year will pass without you getting some serious recognition. Or getting one or more books ready to roll. And rock the children's literary world. I love the idea that adults will be equally delighted over these -- I am -- and I'm seventy-years-old and very choosy.

Combined with some nice (and simple) illustrations, I cannot imagine a more wonderful (and potentially lucrative) collection of poems. I bet you've got lots more hidden away. Good, the more the merrier. *Smile*



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