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Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/tuozzo
Review Requests: ON
394 Public Reviews Given
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of The Way Station  
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
I always love a good punchline. I didn't see yours coming, which is the best kind! *Laugh* The tag was a nice touch. I assume it was on his toe??

I feel stupid now (maybe it's the early hour) but I had to Google "deiced". My brain didn't read DE and ICED as two separate syllables or even a diphthong. I read some single-syllabled word that sounded like a fancy spelling of "diced." I even thought it might be a typo (and so did Google - the first suggestion said, "Did you mean decided?")

Congrats on your win! *RibbonB*

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of The Bet  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
The cover image prompted me to read the description and genre, and I determined this would be a spooky Halloween-themed piece. The opening line stood alone and caught my eye, and I immediately assumed it was foreshadowing: This was, in fact, going to be the hardest $100 that Victoria ever earned.

You have me intrigued.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
Fun, original analogies:
the talk gravitated to the Hill house like metal clings to a magnet
Johnny worked the crowd like a revival minister

I like the last name of the family: The HILL house. Whether or not the house actually sits on a hill, I imagine that it does, dark and creepy and menacing, staring down at you from on high.

Editorial correction:
She laid in it, eyes on the ceiling, - should be lay

Great surprise moment of suspense:
Johnny turned, but it was too late.

Nice twist, here. You're creating a mysterious "whodunit" scenario:
“What if they’re pranking us now?”

And we never get to find out. Was it the ghost of Mrs. Hill? Some random criminal hiding out in the house? We're left wondering.
4 TEENS FOUND DEAD IN FORMER MURDER HOUSE. COPS SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS.

Summary:
A great horror story with elements of suspense. I disagree with your 18+ rating, though. I think this is a 13+ story, with a target audience of teens. There is no graphic violence of any kind, just implied violence, and this is the kind of story young people love.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
The paragraphs run together and are difficult to decipher. You can use {indent} or the -> in the edit bar to indent your paragraphs, or if you want something easier, just "Enter" one extra time after each paragraph and put a space in between them.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
I love this story. Your pacing is absolutely perfect, and you had my heart yearning for Taygen to relax and have fun. Literally, tension in my chest. If she's your protagonist, mission accomplished!!

I do have a few suggestions that might make the story even better, if you're interested.

1. Voice. Mostly, voice was excellent. I get the feeling this child is roughly eight years old. She's old enough to go to a sleepover camp by herself, but young enough to still want her teddy with her even in front of other kids. If I'm right, good job showing-not-telling. However, you have a few inconsistencies in your voice you could iron out. This story is told in third person, but definitely through Taygen's eyes. Therefore, I would not expect:

their crumbling marriage. Even if she knows her parents are having marital problems, I would be surprised to hear a child refer to their marriage as "crumbling."

I was also going to highlight "colossally, freaky place" but then changed my mind. I know smart 8-year-olds who might use language like that. But if she's smart with a high vocabulary, just make sure that's consistent throughout.

One other voice-related minor thing: Since the narrator is telling the story through Taygen's eyes, it surprised me to read "Big blue eyes widened at the vastness of the place." We don't normally think about the color of our own eyes when we widen them, so it just seemed like an odd thing to say.

2. Plot. Just a quick note that the counselor never introduced the girls. Taygen know's Gwyn's name because Holly said "That's good. I am just showing Gwyn around." Later: "K" Gwyn chirped made it sound like Taygen remembered the name, which is not likely since she was so nervous and the statement about showing Gwyn around wasn't even directed at her. Plus Gwyn never learned Taygen's name. So an introduction might be good all around.

I loved how it ended with Taygen warming up to the possibility that camp might not be so bad after all. You've accomplished a protagonist change in your short story, and so you've succeeded in building a strong plot.

NOTE: I started this review a few hours ago and you have since added to the story. I don't think the story needed the additional section, but having read it, I like where you went with it. The change in Taygen goes even further because she realizes that she can be accepted by Gwyn even though they have differences, and in that realization, she gains her first true friend. A lovely story. If you're interested in my opinion on the matter, I liked the shorter version better, because I was more emotionally involved. As I read the continuation, it was a little dense at times, slow, not quite as perfect of pacing as the original story. That pang in my chest, which was real on the first pass, wasn't really there reading the continuation. But truthfully, I don't know if that's because I had already read the first part and thought it was over, and then there was more to read, so the confusing expectations might have interfered with my emotional connection. If a new reader reads your story with no expectations as to where it ends, they might disagree with me.

Summary:
Nicely done. This piece is sweet, and I detect a theme around introversion, that it's okay to be an introvert and you can and should be accepted for who you are. A good message for kids who read your story. Good luck in the contest. Smile

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of The Hardship  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
I noticed the short length of the piece first, and then I picked up on the anger and frustration of the protagonist. My initial thought was that it was going to be an angsty piece, but I liked the uplifting humor at the end. I initially thought the scene was set at a funeral until I got to the second paragraph.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
I really liked this story. The pacing was good, and I especially liked how you teased at first, waiting to give away first the situation (someone has cancer), and then the identity of the patient (the protagonist's sister) for a couple paragraphs. You created dramatic tension for me by keeping me in suspense.

The scene was clear, once you started to describe it. I could visualize the hospital room, stark but for the colorful gifts and the continuous crowd of people coming through.

Your character's anger and frustration was evident, and I felt it for myself.

You had a few minor editorial errors:

shared old stories and babbled on as no time had passed at all. as if no
sign that I could place about of the bed of (I think that's what you intended, but "about of" didn't make sense)

On my first read, it bothered me a little that you don't use many commas. But on the second read, and once I got through it, I decided that I was just being a comma diva, lol. However, since it was an impression I got, let me share a few examples, just so you know what was going through my mind.

These sentences in particular felt like it needed some punctuation to break up the thoughts:

...would whisper the word cancer like if you said it too loud they might catch it too
The whole scene sent bile rising up my throat leaving a nasty taste in my mouth that kept a grimace on my face.

Summary:
Great emotional roller coaster, given the limited word count. The last two paragraphs made me smile, whereas the story up to that point had me tense. You don't have much time to tell us about these characters, primarily the protagonist and her sister, the cancer patient, but we learn a lot about their relationships with the rest of the family and with each other in a short amount of time. It was an enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing!


Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of A Chat with Death  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write in August-September-October [ASR] (reviewed as a bonus, not because it was required.) Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
I liked the casual conversation. A conversation with Death as a persona could be interpreted as very formal, but I think I enjoyed your interpretation better.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
The pacing was great, and the personification of Death was comforting. You even did a good job developing the character of your protagonist in a short time.

I have two suggestions, which are strictly editorial:
(1) Capitalize "Chat" in your title, and
(2) Separate each line with a new paragraph. It runs together a little and is hard to read.

My favorite line: "Can I choose not to die?" It's a little snarky, and I'm partial to snark. Wink

My second-favorite line: "Grandpa?" You built up to this nicely, so that I knew exactly what just happened and why.

Summary:
I loved everything about this piece. I rarely give 5-star ratings, but I'm giving one to you here despite my constructive suggestions, because I care more about storytelling than two minor editorial nitpicks. You told a good story here. Despite the fact that this is practically flash fiction at 431 words, and the fact that it's told entirely in dialogue form, you managed to have all the story elements and structure:

Characters: Protagonist and Death
Setting: Protagonist's deathbed
Plot: Protagonist must accept that it's time to die

Beginning: Death arrives.
Rising action: We learn that it's the protagonist's time.
Climax: The protagonist accepts her time.
Falling action: Death takes steps to comfort the protagonist.
Resolution: Protagonist dies.

Did you plan all that? If you did, good job! If you didn't, then you have so honed your storytelling skills that you're a natural at it.


Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review of In my sleep  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

I find I have to read good poetry several times to really grasp it, and I read your piece three or four times before commenting, so you've done a good job of building layers and meaning into your work.

You compare life with sleep, "totally empty" and "yawning". Your description says "A poem about sleeping," but I don't think that's what this poem is really about. It's about a vacant life: "Lethargy is too much sound for what I am giving."

Sounds boring, lol.

At first, I planned to comment on your lack of punctuation here:

"Lethargy is too much sound for what I am giving
Is nothing but fear of movement."

I felt you need a comma after "sound," because the two lines together create confusion. On its own, the first line speaks. But when you continue to the second line, it changes meaning. I thought, a comma would clarify the intended meaning! But then I thought, maybe both meanings were intended, and that's very clever. Brilliant, really:

Lethargy is too much sound for what I am giving

and

Lethargy is too much sound, for what I am giving is nothing but fear of movement.

On first read, I found "glides" to be an odd word. It doesn't seem to fit the imagery. But on a reread I saw life as a visual thing, a beast, stretching before a nap and quivering with a yawn so profound that its whole body shakes.

The only concept I couldn't reconcile after several rereads was your closing line:

...I sleep
My life erratically.

It's a beautiful line, but it doesn't fit in this piece. Here you talk of a life so devoid of any actual life, so "dead of activity," so "totally empty," that even lethargy is too much sound to describe it, and that all you can give is "fear of movement." How can that be erratic? It seems, if anything, utterly and mind-numbingly consistent.

Thanks for sharing your work. I enjoyed it very much.


Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review of The New Queen  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Review per your request. Smile

First impressions: I loved your description line, "What if teens ruled?" It intrigued me.

Summary: I like the premise and overall story. I enjoyed meeting Aribella and Cordette, and I like how the story ended. Do you have a word count limit? I could have used more tension before reaching the resolution. She interviewed a bunch of candidates and none of them were a good fit. Maybe you could show us why. You did do a good job of creating tension in the fact that Pauletta died and Aribella was on a time crunch.

Detailed comments:

In the first section, I noticed that the advisor was never given a name. Yet, in the second section, we meet Alys, whose official position we never learn. It seemed inconsistent.

I got lost here: "Aribella patiently cut a rose..." By the time I got to the next paragraph, I realized I only half read it, and I didn't understand what I had read. First, I think there were too many details about her sort-of-daily-but-not-really rose-cutting routine, which drew me out of the current action. Then when we got back into the action, I had to get my brain wrapped around what was happening: She's interviewing potential successors.

After reading the whole thing, I went back to the opening scene to understand its purpose. It does a good job of setting up for the reader what's important to Aribella: improvements to society. She cares more about her hospital plans than her advisor's concerns about succession.

However, one thing that's a bit inconsistent is that they are arguing over her successor's (Pauletta's, presumably) readiness to take over. But she only has three weeks left, so isn't Pauletta already dead? They should be arguing over the fact that Aribella hasn't chosen a replacement for Pauletta, not whether Pauletta is ready, unless time passed between the sections (which isn't evident to me.)

If it were more clear that she was on a time crunch to interview and select a successor in that opening scene, maybe I would have gotten my head around the action in the second scene faster, AND I would have felt more tension, more of that impending time crunch during the interviews. She's getting pressure from her advisor to make a decision, but it's important to her to find the right candidate. Hence the conflict.

Conclusion: Some inconsistency, and I could use a little more tension and clearer conflict, but overall, I like the characters and society you created here. I could see this story concept turning serial.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review of My Shattered Soul  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Good morning, JQ Loveland . Smile I'm glad you were able to get your first piece rewritten and reposted.

Great opening! Right away I understand a little bit about who you are and what this piece is about.

A suggestion:
I intended to start out in education... I was confused for a moment and thought you meant you would be getting an education, not that you would be an educator. I had to read the sentence twice to understand that you planned two simultaneous professions.

Your second paragraph is very emotional, but written in such a way that the reader feels it and empathizes. Good job conveying that emotion.

I am terrified; absolutely terrified that once again, I will try and fail proving my ex was right all along. Gah! How long have you been divorced? At some point, you have to stop letting him run your life.

(sad, since I am supposed to be the boss) - evidence that you should be writing. I like your quirky wit.

GOOD LUCK. *Heart* Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

1. Enter writing contests. Two of the most popular are these daily contests: "Daily Flash Fiction Challenge and "The Writer's Cramp. They're quick and easy. Both accept short stories; The Cramp also accepts poetry. Just one way to exercise your Muse on some kind of routine basis (you pick the routine.)

2. Participate in a goal-setting activity: "Weekly Goals or "Monthly Writing Accountability Challenge. You get to set your own goals for yourself, so keep them small and reasonable. Your accomplishments will help you build your confidence.

and finally,

3. Participate in "October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge in October and NaNoWriMo 2016 in November (see http://www.nanowrimo.org). These will provide you with an organized approach to writing your novel. Smile

Also check out scroll by clicking the "Messenger" link on your left-hand navigation bar. I've found that the best way to achieve things is to make friends who support and motivate you.

Welcome back to the community. Smile I hope you stick around awhile.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review of Sedative Eyes  
Rated: E | (4.5)
Dear Keaton Foster: Know My Hell! ,

I discovered "Sedative Eyes via the Random Review feature. I probably would not have read the piece otherwise because dark poetry is not my thing. However, it surprised me when it drew me in, and I enjoyed it after all.

What I liked about the piece was the vivid imagery and characterization. It was a narrative poem, telling the narrator's story, and I had a clear visual of the story in my mind.

This is where I was drawn in:

Oh the hell
They have seen
No one should
Want them


Now you've introduced me to your character, and I like characters. Smile I'm curious about the narrator. Who is he? What is it that he's seen that's so horrendous that he chose to donate his eyes while still alive? What has he done that's so bad that he thinks someone else deserves his living eyes more than he? We never get to find out, but I like the mystery around it, too.

I like the pace of your poem. At a glance, I noticed that it wasn't broken into verses, but on reading it, I decided that I liked it as is. It's driving, as it should be.

More of my favorite lines, either for their imagery or for how they tell the story of your character:

Ripped
From my skull
Torn
From their sockets


All connections
Severed


As the darkness invades


I signed on the line
Gave them permission


Now for the constructive feedback. I had one constant source of confusion throughout the piece. I didn't understand whether your narrator voluntarily donated his eyes while alive. Here at the end, it seems clear that he agreed to donate them upon his death only:

Gave them permission
Upon my death
Take all that you wish


But if he did not agree to donate his eyes while alive, why does he say this twice:

I was assured
I wouldn’t need them


and here, it sounds like whoever is taking his eyes intended to kill him to take the eyes:

Chained to my bed
Left for dead
They’ll be surprised
When I wake up


But if that's the case, why did "they" (the perpetrator taking the eyes) bother to get a signature or try to convince him that he wouldn't need them?

You have an intriguing story written in gripping verse. Thanks for sharing your work.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of The Academic Lies  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Welcome to WDC, Naveed ! Congratulations on posting your first written work in your portfolio. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to review your work. Please remember that my review consists of my personal opinions only, and you're free to consider or disregard any of it. Please also keep in mind that I'm not well-read on the topic you discuss, so my comments are those of an everyday reader, not a scholar in this field.

Your opening paragraph is engaging because you pose an interesting hypothesis. Your essay format is good, in that you open with your hypothesis and move right into an example, which keeps me reading.

Suggestions:
- Electronic written works are easier to read when you separate the paragraphs with a space. You could manually add a blank line after every paragraph, or easier option is to use the "double space paragraphs" option on your edit screen. You also might want to consider breaking your piece into more paragraphs to make it easier to read, but I'm having a hard time discerning where your paragraphs break, so that could just be the spacing issue.

- While commas are a matter of some debate, I personally think you could use more commas. Your essay is detailed and complex, and commas would make it easier to read. For example:

Kind of ironic isn’t it that the place where you expect to get knowledge and truth is the same place where you are fed fallacies in the name of knowledge? - this is a long sentence that would be easier to read with commas around the phrase "isn't it".

- One such lie is the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs Should "Needs" be capitalized? I'm not familiar with this work, but I presume that if Hierarchy is part of a title, then Needs would be as well.

- Maslow’s hierarchy has five stages namely: Physiological needs, Safety needs, Social needs, Esteem needs and self-actualization needs - I propose a comma between 'stages' and 'namely,' and also suggest consistency in your capitalization. If Maslow titles the stages, then it is acceptable to capitalize them, but you didn't capitalize "Self-actualization." Also, later in the paragraph, you didn't capitalize "safety" or "physiological." You have the same inconsistency later, when you list the original eight stages, and you fail to capitalize "Self-transcendental."

- He has his own moral codes, which do not necessarily have to be in accordance with those set by the society. So, in a way a self-actualized being is not the best member of the society, but the worst. This seems like a leap. I understand your logic, but it might be better to suggest that a self-actualized person has the potential to be the worst, not that he actually IS the worst. Not every self-actualized person has moral codes that conflict with those of his society.

- but a highly ‘educated’ writer such as Daft - I'm not sure why 'educated' is in quotation marks. Is Daft highly educated or not? It should not be a matter of opinion. Does Daft have an advanced degree? If he does, he is highly educated.

- If that’s the case then he should have named it as ‘Daft’s Hierarchy of Needs’ and not Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, - capitalization consistency.

General comments:

- You make a convincing case in the matter of Daft's interpretation of Maslow, which is that Daft's omissions change the nature of the whole hierarchy. However, I'm not sure this one example alone is enough to convince me that academia feeds lies to students. Why didn't you expound on your Darwin example from the opening paragraph? If your essay is primarily about Daft's misinterpretation of Maslow, then you should make that clear in your title, description and introductory paragraph.

- Your tone comes across as strongly opinionated on the Daft matter, and I would even go so far as to say you slam Daft. I assume that was your intent, but I want to point that out in case you wanted to know how the tone comes across.

Great work! I found your piece engaging and your points clear. Thanks again for sharing your work.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
Cute children's story. The beginning was a little slow but the pace picked up around the time Ms. Doyle proposed a Halloween party.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
In the first fe paragraphs, the story reads like you're targeting a very young audience, with passages like this:

I remember how on the first day of school, I walked into the sixth grade classroom and saw my teacher.
This is the sort of thing a young child would say.

Her name was Ms. Doyle. She didn´t look that old. In fact, she looked almost young enough to still be in High School. But the weird part was that she was dressed completely in a long black dress.
Your short sentences seem to target a young reader.

But your voice shifts pretty quickly into one that targets an older reader:
produced an unenthusiastic response
a sarcastic voice said
Moreover, by sixth grade, she had a reputation

At first, you shift back and forth. But somewhere around the dodgeball story, you shift entirely and stay consistently in the "older" voice for the rest of the story. After reading through the whole story, it's my opinion that the older voice works well for the story. The younger voice in the opening paragraphs would be appropriate for a kindergartener or first grader but your story is about sixth graders, and I think your voice for the latter half of the story is perfectly appropriate.

Watch for editorial errors. You have a few examples of random quotation marks out of place, missing words, incomplete sentences, etc.

Summary:
I enjoyed the perspective of your protagonist. It was fun to see bullies like Dena and Billy get put in their place, while Ms. Doyle encouraged Albert to pursue his talents. Your ending was cute.


Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Rated: E | (3.0)
Howdy, Fran. Smile Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
I see a four-stanza poem in rhyming quatrains about goals in the year 2050. In the third stanza, it sounds like the author would like to write and publish several "masterpieces" that year. In the final stanza, the closing promise "to cause the final revolution" makes me wonder exactly what these publications will be!

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
Disclaimer: I am not a poet.

When I do review poetry, the primary thing I look for is emotional connection. Do I, as a reader, feel an emotional response to your piece? In this particular case, I didn't. I felt like the speaker (or you, the author, maybe?) was emotionally driven to speak the words, but they were too personal, not something to which I could personally relate.

One thing I like in poetry is imagery. The only images you delivered to me in this piece were "when clock strikes twelve" and "glide like a swan" (both of which I loved, by the way.) My other favorite line was "It is my hearty resolution" - because even though it's not exactly imagery, it works as imagery in my head, because I could envision the emotion on the face of the speaker. The word "hearty" was well-placed. I actually pictured the WWII American poster girl, Rosie the Riveter (http://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2014/01/rosie_the_r...).

Your opening of "when clock strikes twelve" was very strong.

Is there a typo here? "For thing I've long declined" (things? or a/the thing?)

My overall favorite stanza was the third. You hint that in the year 2050, it's so easy to be a writer that you essentially have no excuses. I'm personally looking forward to that mystery technology. Wink

On the more critical side, I felt like you had a lot of forced rhyme in the piece. Some of the words you chose to make the rhyme scheme work just didn't deliver the poetic punch I would have liked, which is where I think the emotional connection may have been lacking for me. Here are a couple examples:

"declined" - This seems like a weak word for what you're saying, if I understand it correctly. Have you been declining things in your subconscious mind, or have you been ignoring them? Are these your deepest, darkest desires we're talking about? Would you simply "decline" them?

"thrifty" - Your ultimate point here is that you need goals to drive you. You will "glide like a swan" but only if you're propelled forward by clearly-defined goals. How is it being thrifty if you fail to set goals for yourself? Since I'm understanding your goals to involve publication, the word "thrifty" could actually work here - it takes a serious investment of time and money to succeed as a writer. But you don't proceed to talk about time and money; instead you talk specifically about setting goals. Failing to set goals would be lazy and unambitious, not thrifty.

Summary:
I enjoyed the driving ambition that seems to propel you as the speaker in this piece. I would have liked to connect with it more on an emotional level. You had a couple moments of great imagery, but I would have loved more of that.

Thanks for sharing your work, and good luck with the Cramp!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
A clever interpretation of the assignment. I like your explanation of why you decided to relate the Psalm to being a student.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
This is such an unusual piece. I had to ruminate on it for awhile. I have one major problem with the piece, which is the conflict between spirituality and comedy. I loved both aspects of the piece, but not together. I literally laughed out loud here:

Even though I must take exams designed by Satan

But then at this next line:

You prepare a graduation in the presence of my enemies.

I got very uncomfortable. I wondered if this meant your professors are your enemies. But the line could also refer to those who literally stand in the way of your success, which is the spiritual interpretation. Because of the confusion between funny and serious here, I thought for a moment you might literally mean your professors are your enemies, which made me nervous, spiritually, because that's mean and very un-Christian.

At this point, I started to think I would prefer if you chose one path or the other: spiritual or tongue-in-cheek. Personally, I don't have a preference between the two; I would enjoy either interpretation of the assignment. I also noticed that "comedy" is not selected as a genre, so I'm hoping I didn't misunderstand your words.

I pondered this line for awhile:

He teaches my soul. Are souls teachable? I honestly am not sure. It wasn't my favorite line, even though it made me think for awhile. I think that's because I was leaning towards deciding that souls are not teachable, but just ARE; rather, minds are teachable. That's not to say that learning has no effect on the soul. I find learning very satisfying and rewarding. Also, from a Christian perspective, the more I learn, the better the choices I can make, which is also indirectly good for the soul. It helps me avoid inadvertently hurting people.

I like the closing and this line leading into it:

You give a diploma no man read.

Except that it feels like incorrect subject/verb agreement. It's just awkward. Do you mean no man has ever read it before? No man can see it now? It seems like "reads" might be a better choice, or "can read"? Because in the closing line, you explain it by saying that instead of being readable, this diploma is evident simply through your actions.

Summary:
I love the confidence in the piece that shines through the opening and closing lines. I enjoyed the comparison to David's profession and the interpretation of the assignment. I enjoyed the comic aspect of the piece but would prefer that the entire piece lean toward either the comic or spiritual, but not both.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review of Autumn leaves  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
A delightful take on the prompt involving a fun family memory.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
This is a beautiful snippet of family life in the fall. It evokes nostalgia and happy feelings. The dialog is fun and believable.

I do have a couple comments you might find useful.

Plot
I loved this piece and felt it more poetic than story. But since you entered it into the Hint Fiction contest, it might be worth a mention. The piece does not have all the elements of a classic literary plot. You have a protagonist, but no antagonist, conflict, or resolution. As a reader, I didn't find myself missing those elements, but the judges might.

Style
In this short piece, I've managed to find one of your crutches (we all have them!) - the use of the word "as" to connect two actions in a story. You used it three times:

The rakes scraped... as the pile grew.
Nellie said as she deposited...
We grabbed hands... laughing as we landed...


I'm not a published author, and I have no degree in writing, so I don't claim to be an expert. However, I've been studying pace and narrative style with this year's NaNo project, and you've given me a great guinea pig to evaluate from that perspective. I read several articles analyzing popular lit (including this one  .) One of the articles (which I can't find at the moment) mentioned the use of short action sentences in books like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, e.g.,

The rakes scraped. The pile grew...
Nellie said. She deposited...
(etc.)

I am not in any way suggesting you should do that with this piece. I just point out that it's an option. As a reader, I did notice that you used the same phrasing three times in such a short piece, so I would recommend tweaking at least one just to eliminate repetition. But I have no opinion on whether you should consider changing all of them for style. Ultimately, your choice should be based on the pacing you're trying to achieve. Want the reader to devour your piece, sitting on the edge of their seat? Use short sentences. Want the reader to savor your piece? Use long sentences.

Summary:
I enjoyed this piece and the happy feelings it evoked. Thanks for sharing. Good luck in the contest. Smile

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
I'm immediately hit with a sense of nostalgia as I start to read this piece, and it never stops. When reviewing, I tend to pause to think about what I've just read a little at a time, so I don't forget my first impressions, because I think the author would want to hear those impressions. I'm very analytical and struggle to turn that "off" even when I've been asked to read something and just give an overall impression (which is why novel reviews take me so long and often go unfinished.) But your piece was paced so well that I read through the entire piece in one sitting and then sat and thought about it for awhile before I wrote the first word of this review.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
I very rarely give 5's, and I very rarely review poetry. I'm incredibly picky about poetry, because most attempts at poetry are written for the author, not the reader. I believe good poetry evokes emotion in a reader, and it's the poet's job to evoke that emotion. That takes work: carefully planning, with each line and word deliberately chosen, and not just a "word dump" of whatever happens to be going through the mind of the poet at the time of the writing.

Your words and lines are brilliantly crafted. I love everything about this piece. In very few lines, you have painted a picture in my mind. You've introduced me to the characters at the feast, and they're involved in a flurry of action that keeps the reader moving right along with them. Everyone is doing something, and they're all powerful images. Grandma doesn't just bake the pumpkin pie - that IS Grandma, that's her official job, and pumpkin pie will always make us remember Grandma.

I especially love this line:
And not in the dining room

This is no formal, stuffy affair. This is family, through and through, and it brings tears to my eyes. It embodies everything that Thanksgiving should be. Not some formal obligation, but a joyous celebration, the opportunity to be with each other once again in a setting we rarely get to enjoy.

Summary:
Stunning imagery, evocative narration, nostalgic characters. Well done.

Thanks for sharing. Good luck in your contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review of I Write  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
In a short piece like this, first impressions are important. The first thing I noticed was brilliant imagery and strong active voice in your opening two lines, so well done with the hook. *Thumbsup*

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
*Bullet* I loved the alliteration in Line 4.
*Bullet* You have occasional rhymes, and I wasn't a fan because of the inconsistency. Line 3/4 wasn't as bad but Line 10/11 felt cliche.
*Bullet* Imagery continues to be fantastic throughout, including several non-sight sensory references("air turns chill" / "tremors of fun" / "excitement trembles"
         --- It occurred to me that "they wield their tools" and "gutting out the seeds and pulp" were opportunities for touch-related sensory words
*Bullet* I found this line cliche: "to young and old alike"
*Bullet* Editorial: families (plural) pick their pumpkins (plural) OR each family (singular) picks its pumpkin (singular)
*Bullet* Loved this line: "Carving in faces full of menace or delight" - it brought to mind every clever jack-o-lantern image I've ever seen
*Bullet* I'm a big fan of avoiding word repetition, especially in a piece of this length, and I noticed you ended two lines very close together with "night"
*Bullet* Love your action words: line, flashing, sell, offer, approaches, wield, gutting, carving, trembles, scamper, play. The piece moves along at a nice pace.
*Bullet* Love the closing line, "All on a Halloween night" - strangely, even though I find it a bit cliche, that fits as a closing line because the entire piece evokes nostalgia for me and cliche works well with nostalgia. I still didn't like cliche in the earlier lines, because it doesn't feel deliberate there, but instead feels awkward.

Summary:
Overall, the piece evoked the youthful energy of Halloween night. Imagery is definitely your strength. You don't have a form that I can identify, which doesn't bother me. I'm not a big reader of poetry, but when I do read it, I expect it to evoke some sort of emotional reaction out of me. Your evoked nostalgia, and that's perfect.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review of Fire and Ice  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
A story about an anti-social teen or young adult. As first impressions go, it's definitely misleading, thanks to your mastery of plot twists, which I will get into shortly. There is much more to this story than a boring night spent at home while friends partied without Jenna.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
She gave her best spooky sound, and dramatic shutter. - Not sure I understood. Did you mean shudder?

The clang of the doorbell made her jump and squeak. - Loved the timing here.

It let out a yell of surprise when she grabbed its wrist, twisted so that its arm was wrenched behind its back, and pulled the mask off with her other hand. Her ex-boyfriend looked up at her More great timing, with a well-paced reveal.

“A storm at midnight on all Hollow’s Eve,” - capitalize All

A crackle of thunder announced the storm’s arrival. - I like the pacing of the action here, too. You tightly weave the approaching storm with Drew's advances.

She moved to the cabinet where Lin kept the emergency Colman lantern. - Coleman

Before she could say a word it grabbed Drew’s head in both hands, and with a slight jerk snapped his neck. Another well-paced surprise. You do thriller/suspense and plot twists very well. Totally did not see this coming. *Thumbsup*

Her assailant tried a few more times to turn her into a human torch - nice description! You apparently also have a knack for vivid imagery.

They closed in on her like a pack of predators on a wounded animal. - More fun imagery. Bigsmile

Word Repetition - You used "consumed" four times here: She turned to grab the phone to call for help, but the flames had already consumed it. She turned back to the table to retrieve the lantern, and managed to shield her face with her arms as the flames consumed it, sending shards of glass everywhere. Jenna dropped to the ground to avoid the cloud of acrid smoke that slowly consumed the air. The smell of smoke mixed with the smell of burning flesh as the flames consumed Drew’s body.

You also said this near the end of the paragraph, which also repeated a variation of "consume" and seems like an incomplete thought, unless you meant it was consuming everything in general: She felt herself slipping away as the flames continued to consume.

“Who are you?” Jenna asked as the drip through the IV was strengthened. - How does she know this? Does she watch them tinker with it? Feel the increased effects of some drug?

The sound of sizzling meat traveled through the house followed by the sizzling sound of bacon. - Are you implying that bacon is not meat?! .....I don't care. I'll continue to devour it anyway.

The scene where she wakes and we think it's all a dream, and then that relief is shattered when Lin is attacked, was superb. I totally did not see the twist coming. And then this:

An ear-piercing scream drew Night Wolf out of a dose. Who the hell is Night Wolf?!?! Why are we in a hospital again? What happened to Lin and Jenna? I'm about as confused as poor Jenna, which is fantastic!! *Reading*

Raiden used his divine ability to summon lightning to his hands. He laid them on Jenna’s chest, and used pulses of lightning to restart her heart. -Wicked!! Must know more about Raiden and Night Wolf

“OUT OF MY WAY!” Lin cried. “THAT IS MY BABY!” - I wasn't a fan of the all-caps. I think I would have gotten just as much urgency from the words alone.

Summary:
What starts out sounding like a boring night at home turns into potential rape turns into some murderous skull-thing killing Jenna's ex-boyfriend and burning down her house. Then we think that it was all a nightmare, except it wasn't because the skull-thing kills mom and Jenna, but then it is, because we find ourselves in a hospital bed being resuscitated by magicians who turn out to maybe be Jenna's father and someone else. We get the impression that Jenna has been in the hospital bed all along, and that Mom has been on standby somewhere nearby and completely understands what is going on in Jenna's head.

That's a lot of plot twists in 2,000 words! I love each and every one and feel you are a master of the almighty plot twist.

So you kept me hopping and riveted, but you left me completely unsatisfied. Although Mom (and maybe Jenna?) understand what's happening, I still don't. I feel like this is a snippet of a much larger story. Who were the men we met in the first (apparently imaginary?) hospital bed? Do they matter? Who or what is the skull creature and why is it haunting Jenna? I would love to have more answers. All that said, if this were a chapter instead of a short story, I would have almost no complaints.

Thanks for sharing, and good luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review of Money Matters  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
We start with Jessica cleaning the kitchen, and it sounds like the effort was rather epic.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:
I felt like the second paragraph slowed the story way down. First, this sentence was a little confusing, because it just went on and on: Jess resented the fact that the house had become somewhat of a student cliché which she had vowed not to let happen when she moved in with Ross, Kate and Alfie at the start of their second year at University. Second, the whole thing read like exposition and interrupted the action entirely.

Although some exposition is necessary, especially in longer works, I'm not so sure you needed it here. You only have 300 words to work with. In my opinion, I'm not sure it mattered that it was their second year; I didn't need a list of roommate names (they become evident later in the story); and I didn't need to know that it was difficult when none of the others lifted a finger. I *did* need to know that she and Ross rowed that morning. I did need know that Ross is not her only roommate. You could have shown the other roommates as well as how difficult it was that none of them lifted a finger if you introduced me to Kate and Alfie here instead of telling me about them. Instead of waiting until Jess finds the empty jar to show the roomies in the living room, perhaps she could have walked past the living room, seen them in there watching television while she busted her butt in the kitchen. That would have told me everything I needed to know about how difficult it was, and that none of the others lifted a finger to help.

Once we got back into the action, I enjoyed the story a lot. I liked that the money was missing, and that Jess was already in a tiff because (1) she'd had a row, and (2) she'd spent the afternoon cleaning while the others watched TV. So of course the empty money jar would be a last straw.

And then you gave us a fun plot twist when Ross redeemed himself in the end. Kate's closing line is also good because I'm not sure whether Jess will laugh or scream - at this point, I'd buy either one, and I feel her distress enough that I might be torn over which to do if I were Jess.

Summary:
A very realistic story about dorm life and learning to live with other people. When people live together, they have opposing priorities, and they fight, and they have to constantly work on their relationships. This is a perfect example.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review of Christmas in July  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
Your protagonist, Violet, wakes to find a surprise waiting for her in the living room. The story is told in third person, past tense, but I immediately noticed some discrepancies in your tense. I also noticed a number of incomplete sentences.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:

Description: You did a stunning job of describing the scene, and especially the Christmas tree. I could vividly see the droopy branches and sagging bright start on top. I also loved your ring tone, which engaged my sense of hearing in your story. I could relate to Violet's struggle to find the missing phone.

Tense: Be careful of your chosen tense. You have written your story in a mix of past and present tense. Here are some examples that demonstrate your inconsistency:

         Present Tense:
         Checking a calendar she has on the wall...
         Christmas isn't for another five and a half months...
         ...most beautiful gift anyone has ever left me," Violet says to herself.


         Past Tense:
         Violet walked from her bedroom...
         She walked towards the sad Christmas tree...
         The silence was broken with the sound of the phone...


Confusion: I was confused almost immediately, in your opening paragraph, when you said, "Shocked at what her living room looked like because it was exactly as it looked in her dream." Since you have not yet described her dream, this did not help paint any sort of picture in my head, and I wasn't sure what I was looking at in the living room. I would have preferred some hint that she had a recurring dream (perhaps something like, "Waking up from her recurring dream..." or similar?)

Sentence Fragments: This was a frequent problem in your piece. Here are some examples:
         Shocked at what her living room looked like because it was exactly as it looked in her dream.
         Checking a calendar she has on the wall and seeing the date for today is July 13, 2012.
         Looking at the fireplace with lights and two stockings hung on the mantle.


These are not complete sentences because they are missing subject/verb agreement. In the first example above, WHO was shocked at what her living room looked like? (You're missing "she" or "Violet"). In the second example, you're missing the subject (WHO checks the calendar and sees the date?) but you are also using the wrong form of the verbs (She CHECKS or CHECKED that calendar and she SEES or SAW the date.)

Because you use a lot of dependent clauses in your writing, I suspect that you are using sentence fragments because you write them often in other sentences. For example, this sentence is okay (except that it is missing a required comma):

         Confused about the situation she walked into the living room to look at the mysterious changes.

If I insert the comma where it belongs, your sentence looks like this:

         Confused about the situation, she walked into the living room to look at the mysterious changes.

The first part of your sentence looks like many of your sentence fragments, which are incorrect when they stand alone:

         Confused about the situation.

However, the addition of an INDEPENDENT clause to your sentence makes the dependent clause okay. Here's the independent clause:

         She walked into the living room to look at the mysterious changes.

This phrase is "independent" because it can stand alone as its own sentence. It has a subject (She) and a verb (walked), and they agree. Therefore, you can add any number of dependent clauses, and you still have a proper sentence:

         Confused about the situation, she walked into the living room to look at the mysterious changes.

The problem is that you are writing dependent clauses by themselves. This is incorrect. They cannot stand alone.

Plot: This is a cute story. It seems that Violet has been talking in her sleep for awhile, and Sebastian is a loving and considerate boyfriend.

Editorial: I think this might have been an inadvertent typo or editing error: "...I thought it would be fun to recreate for real thing for ya."


Summary:
This is a very sweet tale of a morning surprise left by Violet's boyfriend before he left for a business trip. Your description of the sad little Christmas tree is vivid, and the scene where Violet (who just woke up!) struggles to find her missing cell phone is believable. Your writing includes a number of grammatical errors including mixed tense, missing commas, and misuse of dependent clauses. These types of errors would be found and corrected by a professional editor.

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Izzy, this was a great summary of the experience you had at Aim High and the benefits you gained from it. It reads like a testimonial about the school, especially your closing remarks.

Some suggestions for correction:

Six grade. This is a grade I’ve been trying hard to forget.
-and-
8th grade. (I skipped over seventh grade

First, it should be either sixth grade or grade six (not six grade), but also, may I suggest using consistent formatting: Sixth grade, eighth grade, seventh grade OR 6th grade, 8th grade, 7th grade.

I found the whole essay engaging and easy to read, but I did get lost a little in the descriptions of the individual teachers. Except for the part where you stuck out your tongue at Ohio State (Go Bucks!!!!) Seriously, though, as a reader of this piece, the credentials of your teachers wasn't all that relevant to me, and there was so much data that you lost me a little. I would have preferred just knowing how the teachers helped you (like being funny and using powerpoints.)

I was really sad when I read the parts about the boys who called you ugly every day and the boy who threw a basketball at the back of your head. I don't understand how people can be filled with so much hate and anger. Frown I'm glad you found Aim High, which sounds like a much healthier place to be. I wish you all the best of luck in college. I have faith in you. Smile

Cheers,
Michelle

PS: I don't need the auto-reward, so I'm sending it back to you.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review of Obsession  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: E | (2.5)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
The first things I noticed were that the story is told in third person present, and that it takes place in an office. Carla is the protagonist, who appears to be an accountant. The narrative and dialog feel very formal.

Specific Praise and Suggestions:

Plot
I don't have any kind of foreshadowing that Larry will turn out to be a predator, so this was a great plot twist! Larry was rather freaky, and you left me with the feeling that she won't escape.

In your opening paragraph, you said nearly the same thing twice:
"...looks around to see where the sound is coming from."
-and-
"...humming continues and she decides to find out where this is coming from."

Consider eliminating repeated phrases, because they slow down the action.

In general, I found the pacing in first half of the story a bit slow, even without the repeated phrase. I find stories much more engaging when the action in them continues to move forward. For example, I don't need to know that she "decides to find out" something. Just show me that she did so:

The strange humming continues.

Getting up from her desk...


Clearly she is investigating, so there is no need to spell out for me that she made a decision to investigate.

Favorite Parts
The end was scary, which I loved. I also loved the ringtone set to "The Witch is Dead"!

Genre
Consider adding "Horror" to the list of genres. Smile

Dialog
The formal language was distracting, especially in the dialog, which did not feel natural. I propose you consider the use of contractions, for example:

"I do not hear anything." = "I don't hear anything."
"...you are right." = "You're right."

Also, some of the dialog felt unnatural just because it's not something people would say. For example:

“I knew you would say that. I am going to remind you my name is Larry. We have met before about one month ago..."
- "I am going to remind you" felt bulky and unnatural.

“It is home time. Looks like you need a night out. Some of the girls are getting together tonight. You should come. The Dry Martini for 8pm.”
- "The Dry Martini at 8pm" would make more sense to me.

"I will cya guys then"
- Ironically, this is too informal for dialog, or at least for written dialog in a fiction piece. I suggest writing out the phrase "see you" instead of using the abbreviation.

Grammar and Usage
Generally, grammar and usage were correct, with only a few editorial catches:

- Occasionally I found extra commas that did not belong, at least not according to the Style guidelines with which I'm familiar:
Carla says, “Maybe, you are right..." (no comma after "Maybe")
"...What, do you know about this new guy?” (no comma after "What")

- Watch your tense. You slipped into past tense a couple times:
Carla stood up from her seat...
Carla tried to run past Larry...


- You have a sentence fragment here:
Taking a deep breath and counting from one to ten to attempt to calm her nerves.

Summary:
Great use of the prompt with a scary twist at the end. Grammar and usage are mostly correct, but the tone feels too formal, especially in the dialog. I could have also used faster pacing in the beginning of the piece. However, once you got to the last five paragraphs or so, the pacing was much better. You have a great imagination, and I hope you continue to develop your craft. Keep writing!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
Rated: E | (4.0)
Please accept my review in conjunction with "I Write [E]. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read and review your work.

First Impressions:
I see three quatrains of poetry, with fairly consistent line length. Words jump off the page: sweetness, carefree, unbridled, fragile, hazy, unforgiving... I expect to be emotionally touched by this piece.

Specific Praise:
You do indeed move me with your words. My favorite lines:

The carefree moments of unbridled play

and

Buried deep within unforgiving ground

These lines represent their verses as polar opposites of one another. First you make me see beauty in life, and then you rip it away.

And then this line, your closing:

Time stands to honour then move slowly on

This is a powerful reminder that we are but brief, falling petals on the flower of life. We have only the time we have to honor and be honored, and then time marches forward without us, and we are forgotten.

Beautifully done.

I'm not as big a fan of your second verse. Compared to the first and last, it feels forced for a number of reasons:

Word repetition: "broken" and "broke" - in such a short piece, each word has the capacity to carry a huge amount of power. Their effects are watered down for me when I just saw the word two lines ago.

Forced rhyme: "broke us" is an awkward way to end the third line even without the heavily forced feel of "hiding with fear and fuss" - in a poem filled with powerful imagery, this just doesn't work for me at all. I can't see fear like I can see unbridled play or burial in unforgiving ground. And "fuss" seems a very awkward word to describing "hiding" - I imagine a fussy child making a lot of noise, which reveals your hiding place to the intruder. It just doesn't work for me.

The first line of the quatrain:
Time marched, ripped fragile hearts broken in two

To me, this reads like hearts were broken before time came along, which I believe is the opposite of what you mean.

And one final comment about word repetition: You used "time" thrice within this short piece. While I get that the whole point of the poem is about the passing of time, I feel you could be more creative. You've demonstrated such thorough creativity in other lines of the poem.

Summary:
A wonderful piece that reminds us of our own mortality. You've captured the brevity of life in beautiful imagery. I especially enjoyed the first and third stanza but am not as big a fan of the second. I almost feel you could eliminate it entirely and use the first line of the last quatrain (which contains word repetition anyway) to summarize the passing of time that you've portrayed in that second stanza. It might even be poetic imagery in itself, to portray the eternities of youth and death with entire stanzas, while only allocating a single poetic line to the fleeting passing of a lifetime.

Good luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review of School Pressures  
Rated: ASR | (3.5)
I offer this review in conjunction with "I Write in June-July-August [ASR], and I thank you for the opportunity to read your work and provide feedback. I hope you find it helpful.

I found your topic very apropos, considering the season, and relatable as well. Ironically, I just had a discussion yesterday with a friend about how overpriced and overvalued college has become. In my generation, college was an expectation. It was ingrained in me that college = job. But these days, you're lucky to get a job at all after college, let alone a job in your field, let alone a job that pays enough to make your student loan payments. So this piece is very relevant.

The form is good, and the rhyme is not forced.

I reviewed a piece for you recently and was incredibly impressed with its poetic attributes: meter that reads well aloud and yet feels unforced; brilliant imagery; poetic vocabulary, with words that evoke strong meanings and emotional connections. I missed those attributes in this piece. I felt like it scratched the surface of emotional connection, and I would have liked to have seen more. This piece was almost too direct, too conversational. It raises a fantastic question at the end, but I felt I was on the receiving end of an opinion piece, being handed conclusions rather than being led there emotionally and allowed to draw my own conclusions.

That said, you did leave me with a question in the end, so you invite further reflection and discussion around your piece, which is always a good thing. I'd love to see better value in academia, and I'm interested to see where the problem and these discussions lead us. I anticipate a market crash much like we saw in the housing market a decade ago.

Thanks again for sharing your work and allowing me to review it. I wish you the best of luck in the contest!

Cheers,
Micelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review of Camp VR  
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Please accept this review in conjunction with "I Write in June-July-August [ASR]. Thank you for allowing me to read and review your work. I hope you find my comments helpful.

First Impression:
The first thing I noticed was the voice of the piece, which is clearly written from the perspective of a upper-elementary- or middle-school-aged child. The voice captures that age perfectly.

Characters:
Ginny appears to be a whiny and narcissistic child. She tries to use whining to coerce her mother into letting her out of VR Camp. I also love these lines:

Even if she didn't get straight A's all the time, anyone could see that she was one of the most intelligent students her age

"In fact, she didn't have any friends at all. But that didn't bother her because everyone at school was a loser."

It tells me that her mother is not the only seemingly inferior person in her life. Though the second line did give me pause and make me consider that her I'm-better-than-you bravado might be an act to hide a lacking self-confidence.

"That's enough," said Ginny. "We need to find this mirror thing."
Ginny, for all her people-are-morons attitude, is a natural-born leader.

Just a note that Leonard seemed to lose his stutter entirely after the turning-Ginny-into-an-ant incident.

Plot:
I love the setup - how Ginny got in trouble and the ultimatum from the principal. It strikes me that mom is a weak character, which explains how she allowed Ginny to get as bad as she is.

I love this line:
Of course, as is often the case with quests, the real object is to find something less tangible along the way.
So profound! *Laugh* One of those things you've always known, but nobody ever really admitted.

Turning Ginny into an ant: Totally random and completely hysterical. Although, it did seem a bit unrealistic that Leonard was suddenly an accomplished wizard. Was he reading his book while they walked? That's hard to do over rough terrain.

...Trying to sneak away from Leonard and Bob was wrong," said the reflection. I never really understood the big deal. It seemed like Ginny was trying to take advantage of the spider's distraction, not Bob's distraction. Despite her obvious narcissism, I never got the impression in this particular case that she was trying to one-up anyone, just that she was trying to accomplish the team's goal, on behalf of the team, just to get it over with since she didn't want to be there in the first place. So this angle doesn't jive well with me, that she did something wrong by trying to sneak into the cave.

I like the ending a lot, and I understand where you went with it - that Bob would have had a similar come-to-Jesus moment with "himself" like Ginny had. But it still felt like a rushed transition. Even Ginny's transition felt a little rushed and unbelievable.

Laugh-Out-Loud Moment:
This guy looks like a real genius, thought Ginny. Leonard and Bill are both morons. I've got morons on my team.

General Suggestions:
It took a moment to realize that Dr. E is still speaking here: "Now then, you have been chosen... Perhaps something like, "Now then," he continued...

You never really explained what caused the loud crash: ...there was a loud crash. It was Leonard. He had a magic wand which he was waving indiscriminately and sending bolts of purple light flying in every direction Just to help visualize the scene, I would have liked to have it spelled out (one of the bolts of purple light clearly caused something specific to crash, but you left me wondering what it was.)

This seemed unnecessarily wordy: ...there was a chamber and in the chamber...

Editorial: "Oh Please," said Bob. (lowercase "p")

Word repetition here ("thoughtful"): Leonard was more thoughtful. "Give it a try," he said putting Ginny on the ground. "Good Luck."

"Thanks," said Ginny. Then, she added thoughtfully.


Summary:
A great story with fun characters and a good plot. You're a witty writer, evidenced by Ginny's witty inner dialog. I really do like the story and the plot, but I felt like the transitions on the parts of the characters were too abrupt. It might have helped if I'd gotten a stronger feeling of dissent from Ginny when she ventured away from the group, some notion that she was trying to separate herself from the group rather than just take advantage of a circumstance that would allow her to achieve the team's goal. I also would have needed some amount of guilt or an understanding that what she was doing was wrong, so that when the mirror spelled it out for her later, it would be more believable that this was a nugget of integrity buried deep inside her that was just waiting to be released.

Thanks again for sharing your work, and good luck in the contest!!

Cheers,
Michelle


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
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Rated: E | (3.5)
It's difficult to write to this piece in its form because I can only pause, but not back up or move forward in the audio file. If I want to listen to section :37 to :43 four or five times in a row to solidify in my mind the action taking place there, my only option is to reload the whole browser tab and listen again, all the way up to :37, before I can focus on my goal and start taking notes. If there's a way to move around within the piece, I'd like to know how to do it. If not, there may not be anything that can be done about it, but just passing on my feedback in case there is.

I do, however, love the contest. Great idea!
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