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561 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
I am thorough. The technical aspects are important to me as much as if the story makes sense. The word "cruel" has been used before when responding to a review I've given, but in an appreciative and kind way.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Comedy
Favorite Item Types
Short stories
Public Reviews
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1
1
Review of Voodoo Saints  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello Kotaro

On behalf of the "WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group I'm giving your story a look since it's an "Action/Adventure" piece. And who doesn't love Action and/or Adventure?!

The description of the African landscape is nicely done. The standout line for me is this: Termite homes dotted the land like giant blades stabbing the blazing heat.

Imagining the interior of their home as well as the seer's home is very easy. You've done a great job in setting the scene here.

The doll was cold in her hand. Putting her back to her brother she put it under her blouse to warm it. -- This is a tender moment that speaks to the innocence of childhood in general and of Jamila's goodness specifically: she thinks the doll is cold and want to warm it.

He saw a solution. -- This is an interesting solution, but the very next scene appears to take place somewhere far removed from these children. A section break might be helpful in telling the readers you've shifted not only perspective but the location, too.

The death is nicely done.

He hung up and prayed...Let this be the end to tyranny. -- I would also suggest the prayer be italicized. Abdul has a private verbal thought as well that could be typed in italics.

This is an unexpected piece. I was wondering if the seer was the tyrannical leader in some way. When Jamila found the doll, I half-assumed that her putting it in her blouse would inadvertently smother the seer. Knowing now that it is the representation of the truly tyrannical leader, I wonder why it didn't smother HIM?

I can see that this piece is a winner of the Weird Tales contest. Congratulations on that! You must've been excited! I enjoyed what you've presented here as it is but also know that just a few things could make it even more enjoyable for the reader.

Your scene-setting is enviable. I could be so lucky to do it as effortlessly as you!

Take care, please, and also keep writing!

Join us and have some fun while reviewing and writing!


Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of Test Run  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hey Abby Gayle !!

I'm looking at one of your items that are marked as being both in the "Action/Adventure" and "Travel" genre, for "WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group I also saw it was marked as "Sci-Fi" and that is something that always catches my eye. Let's jump in!

Vespira knocked on the door to the garage, her sister, Tacita's, inventing room. When her sister told her she could come in, Vespira opened the door.

Can these sentences be cleaned up or slimmed down? -- Vespira knocked on the door leading into her sister's garage workshop. Tacita, from the other side, told her to come in.

And I already love the names. Sci-Fi always affords us to come up with unique names that sound so cool.

I like that there's three siblings mentioned but why doesn't Benjamin get a cool name?

She smiled as she cleaned up the mess... Why is she cleaning up the mess? She had to knock for permission to enter this room earlier, indicating that she's not normally allowed to go inside. A more believable stance would be that she was snooping since she might not always get to poke around inside her sister's workshop and see what is what.

“And where are all my tools and inventions?” Using the word "inventions" in this manner makes Tacita sound more mechanical than she's originally portrayed as: she kind to her siblings and spends time with them. Something more realistic and conversational might be "gadgets" or even just stopping with "tools".

During that time, all Vespira could do was lie down and listen to her heart racing as she wondered what in the world had happened. -- This is a nice line that sounds very believable.

When Vespira awakens in her dark room, the setting is described nicely. But when the throne room doors open, the room itself is described in detail and there's only mention of the people in the room after they've spoken. Identifying how many people she sees right off the bat will help the reader feel like new characters aren't literally popping out of nowhere.

Also, does she normally speak Russian? Is that her native language? If not, what is, and how many languages does she know? Or does the machine provide her the knowledge to instantly know other languages?

...she had identified what was spoken and that the language was French. -- Change this a little: ...she identified the language: French This change in language only furthers my questions about whether or not Vespira already knows these languages or is granted the knowledge by the device.

“They're not with me now,” Vespira said sadly. Having her simply say "I don't know" will sound more believable. Or having her pause to consider the question before answering would also work. If she says "They're back home", she'd have to start explaining where home was and that she's a time traveler and that could land her in hot water. Having her think about the consequences of how she answers any questions will help show her depth. This could also be applied to her meeting with the Russian king. She's always so quick to talk strangers.

...know my way around, though, so could you show me over there? -- Change this to ...know my way around. Can you show me? I realize this could be the French-to-English translation of what she's saying, but it makes her sound mechanical.

However, she was so busy that it was the next week before she got a chance to even look at the time machine. -- What? How is this even possible? I understand that she's doing hard chores with these people (since a dinner invitation somehow turned into indentured servitude) but she has free time at the end of the day, during meal breaks, during regular breaks, to look at the machine. It's small. She would most likely keep it on her person, especially since it's her only way out of there.

The part where she's talking about the machine's chosen language starts to reveal whether or not it changes how she talks to everyone else: it helps her speak the necessary language. It could be assumed, then, that it lets her understand the language when it's being spoken to her, too. I think. It could be a little bit clearer.

“It wouldn't be easy to forget you if I tried,” Marielle said. -- This line opens the door to include a miniature adventure that she has shared with Marielle. Doing chores all day isn't a lot of fun, but having Vespira being guided through a dark part of the forest or a dank cave might inject a little adventure into this part of her time traveling trip. And it would ultimately make Marielle's line more meaningful.

At the end, she says she was gone for two weeks. In reading the story, she was with the Russian king for a few minutes and then with the French people for one week. This is more of a logistical quibble, but a reader like myself tends to enjoy when stories are consistent with that type of detail.

At the end, I do like a nice time travel adventure. This one could be fleshed out more. Vespira is pretty quick to accept that her machine is a time traveling device just based on her brief conversation with the Russian king. Realistically, she might assume he was insane and try to escape his palace rather than risk activating the device again and being transported somewhere unknown.

The French Connection *Wink* is a nice enough section but it could be filled in even more. What kind of chores does Vespira have to do? How does it compare to the chores she did back home? Did she despair over the idea that she might never get home again? Why doesn't Marielle show any further interest in the metal ball? Do they have a little moment where they bond enough so that Marielle will truly never forget her?

Questions for furthering the story: will Marielle turn out to be and ancestor (a descendant - we don't know if she's in the distance past or future) of Vespira and her family? Or maybe she's related to the Russian king in some manner? That would be an interesting notion.

Overall, your story needs polishing and a little expanding to be truly enjoyable. And your dialogue needs work. The people sound a bit mechanical at times. Write your dialogue how people really speak. It doesn't always look grammatically correct, but it is something readers relate to more.

Thank you for sharing this work. I hope my words are helpful in any way. And if they aren't, hit the little Trash Can button to delete them. I won't mind. Good luck with improving this piece, and please keep writing! That's never a bad thing!

Join us and have some fun while reviewing and writing!


Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hello Leif the Lucky I read the first piece of this story in "The Halloween Event

I provided some feedback and you asked me to take a look at the second and third parts of the story. I'm doing so now.

I like the the summary of the story so far. It reads more clearly about what happened than what I remember from the first part, making me thinking starting this story at this point would be a better idea.

It was 24 April 1067, nearly seven months since the Halloween Event. The vision Ray has is powerful and raw - and then we end with this bland sentence. If you feel the need to set the date for the reader, I would suggest doing so at the beginning of the section. It could act as a section sub-header to give the reader a reference point. It being a statement made by the omniscient narrator is distracting.

Shaking hands was dangerous now that hygiene was rare, and toilet paper was a positive luxury. This is not only comical but also a well-reasoned statement.

The mention of British political figures (be they past or present) still kind of confuses a simple American like myself. I'm hoping that, with time, they'll become more familiar.

When Odo goes to meet with the PM in her cell, the story perspective shifts between the pair. Try to avoid that. We should only know what one or the other is thinking and feeling, not both in the same section.

Over the following days, they were lightly trained and debriefed. This seems like an understatement, and I would assume they'd be debriefed first. Plus the training they're going through doesn't seem "light". They are being groomed as soldiers: Gordy says as much.

In the first part, the casual pop culture references were minimal and didn't distract. In this segment, they are rubbing me the wrong way. I'm a big fan of Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones but these references feel out of place. Are they only there to help the reader feel more familiar with the characters? Comic relief? An easier way to describe the situation(s)?

He did not notice the dark figure sitting in the pews until it was too late. This is an example of the form of storytelling that's happening here: the reader is being told everything that's happening. We don't feel an intimate connection with any of these characters yet because we're only watching it unfold like a serial rather than experiencing anything alongside them. The ideas being presented here are like flashes of something that should be encompassing more than a handful of short stories.

I am kind of enjoying the battle at the wall. The action seems believable and fast-paced. But near the beginning, Gordy wishes Freefall was there with him but says how he knows he was needed somewhere else. And then, after the Molotov cocktails start being used, he's there. Where'd he come from? I think you might've meant "Kevin" in that moment.

After finishing the actual battle, I come away feeling good. The events depicted flowed smoothly from one to another and it was easy to follow all of the action. I didn't find myself caring about Lady Nicola at all, possibly because she had only been introduced during Gordy's training montage.

The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, but I guess that's expected. I was expecting something with V.M. and his "identity", although the reader knows exactly who he is. I do have trouble believing this larger woman in the end has maintained her weight during her across-the-ocean voyage. And that her glasses are still intact since she's not really surrounded by the comforts of modern day life.

All in all, this section is titled "The Battle of Hadrian's Wall" and that's the most exciting part. Everything else felt expository, like we were being given snippets of the larger story that was happening to other people.

I'll continue on to the third section, "Invalid Item I hope questions are answered. I see that part is twice as long as this one, so there's plenty of room to do so.

Thank you for continuing to share your work with me. I know I'm not much of a writer myself, but I like to try and help others as best I can. Take care, and I'll see you in the final act.

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of No comparison  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello erbiage I saw your piece for the Cramp and am offering my thoughts.

I like when people really stretch beyond the box for the prompt. I would suggest that you bold the line(s) within your piece (as per the contest rules). Without the bold font, I had to search for what you stated was within. And tell them how many lines you're using.

As for the content, it is a little wacky. I like the presence of a potential samurai threat and how they have the power to interrupt a simple form of play - rolling through tall grasses near the river.

Good luck with this and with all your writing endeavors here. Take care!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Confession  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hello trailerpark bodhisattva I saw your piece on "The Shameless "Plug" Page and saw you were looking for people to tell you what they think of it. I'll be providing my thoughts as I read.

Elmer laughed at his own clever response, quickly the laughter gave way to a fit of coughing. The way this reads, these could both be two complete sentences on their own, or separated by a semicolon. A comma is unnecessary. This is present in other places of your piece, too.

He looked as s****y as he felt. Who is thinking this? Is Elmer thinking about how he himself looks and feels? Is Robert describing this elderly inmate in such a manner? I would assume it's Robert since, at the end of the paragraph, it's mentioned that Elmer reeked of piss and that's not a thought Elmer would have of himself. But having Robert the narrator use the crass term seems calous to the reader. I'd suggest changing it to Elmer looked just like he said he felt, too.

That being said, the description of Elmer's face was nicely done. It is easily seen that it's bad enough to be mistaken for a mask.

The image of a stalking cat flashed through Robert's mind. - A nice instance of foreshadowing. Good job.

Elmer telling Robert that he did things because of the voices is plenty enough. Following up with a sentence further explaining the condition in semi-clinical terms is playing down to the reader. Have faith in them.

...some slithery, wet thing would actually emerge. Take out "actually".

The ashen hues of his sickly face were now swirling, subtly moving as if there was something writhing beneath. - This could be tighter: The ashen hues of his sickly face swirled subtly as if hiding a writhing beast

Once Robert appears to see Elmer's memories, the vivid scenes describes are both haunting and wrenching. Very nicely done. Especially with the cat.

While I do like the ending and how this wicked sensation simultaneously grows and dies within Robert, the implication is that Robert's son is also afflicted with the same designs that made Elmer a villainous man. I mention this because a timeline had been established where Robert is in tremendous pain due to the aggressive cancer. Did he conceive this child while he was feeling this pains? Or was his wife already pregnant? Knowing this would help the reader understand how this affliction might be passed on.

For instance, if she was already pregnant, it implies that Robert actively worked to plant the seeds of evil in her womb (much in the way Elmer did: by touch). But if he conceived this child through his painful throws of cancer, it paints a more menacing picture: the evil inside him is blindly making him act for the sake of being born into a young, healthy body.

The mention of "tentacles" was a nice, descriptive touch and I like that they even rubbed his crotch. It added a further perversion to Elmer's life.

Thank you for sharing this piece with me. Mine are just thoughts and ideas. I wish you well in future writings! Take care!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review of Toward Darkness  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hello 🌓 HuntersMoon I saw in the Newsfeed that Angus was asking that we drop a review for you. Using that as inspiration to read something new, I opened your port and came across your "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest entry. How exciting!

Now I know I'm a little late to offer anything that might be used for improving the piece (if that's even necessary) but I know I always like just getting people's thoughts in general so I'll add mine. So here we go!

...causing a passerby to start and take a wide berth around him - This is a funny image and it helps set the scene up in so few words. We know that he's in a public space, most likely on a sidewalk in front of storefront window. Very nice setup.

He found himself at the steps leading to Saint Ann’s Cathedral. - This is a small suggestion, but I'd consider changing "to" to "into". I think it's just an aesthetic choice for me, though.

Growing up a Catholic, I remember that a mass was offered for each day of the week, and it was always super early. How does he distinguish which day of the week it is by these people leaving the building? Unless this particular church follows a more protestant approach and has Wednesday evening masses as well? - I guess I'm trying to say that I do like that the church door opening is what helps progress the narrative, but I didn't think Bob associating it with a day-of-the-week identifier was believable.

"Oh Lord," he muttered, "Is this an answer? Or, is this a test? Why do you tempt me so?" I like this line.

At least I did that much, he thought, feeling both relief and a little self-righteous as he hurried away. I also like this line. It really speaks to his character. I would've expected "self-loathing" to be there instead of "self-righteous" but the fact that he doesn't feel that kind of loathing really helps you know the kind of person we're dealing with here.

How about another round?” - This needs an opening quotation mark.

The second part turns around and doesn't focus on Bob at all. It makes me think of the TV show The Good Place and also how the Demons in the Xanth series of novels act when it comes to predicting what mortals will do.

I feel like the second half was added for political commentary rather than trying to continue a story about a man and his moral failings. I was genuinely interested in trying to follow Bob and see how he dealt with his situation:

Did he feel regret and change his mind? Did Tom Rogers appreciate having the checkbook returned but hated how his money had been stolen? Do the two eventually cross paths while one is on the upswing and the other is on the down with both being a direct result of Bob's actions? I was hoping something like that would play out here.

I read in your port that you usually write poetry and have only started writing short stories relatively recently. Personally, I prefer writing stories but I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. Something that I really liked (that some people think is cliched but is really, really effective) is your inclusion of famous quotes as a means of helping tell the story.

In conclusion, I'm glad I got to read this story of yours. I hope you get other positive feedback and help grow your short story writing abilities. And, again, feel free to ignore my comments. I'm just a guy. Take care, and have a great weekend!

Than Pence



*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Hello Maryann ! I'm leaving you a Flash Review since we didn't get to play GOT this year!

“Coming right up Mrs. Casey,” I muttered as I poured... Should she be muttering this? Muttering always has a negative association (for me, at least) and whenever I see it, I interchange it with "grumbling" or "mumbling". But that could just be me.

Carol must have taken five whole minutes to tell us that, and I’m not really sure what she was talking about. This sentence made me laugh out loud. I am sitting her imagining a three year old him-hawing over a story and wondering where it's going. Very nicely done *Smile*

Overall, this is a cute little story. Looking at the copyright, I also see it is one of your earlier stories and it definitely deserves the ribbon that adorns it.

Thank you for sharing this, and I hope you continue to have a great night and a good weekend of writing!

Than Pence

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (4.0)
Hello Leif the Lucky You read one of my lengthier pieces and provided me helpful, honest feedback. I asked what I could do in return and you directed me to this story and asked what I thought of it.

My first impression of the story is that it plays out like a history lesson. The story itself is somewhat enjoyable but the only "thrilling" part is when the ferry is attacked outside of Dublin early on.

I do enjoy historical fiction a little but this needs more excitement.

Grammatically, I see no errors.

After starting with Gordy, you came back to him one more time. The piece is structured around small, individual narratives and then an over-encompassing description of the events that have happened. I think focusing on just a few people and not worrying about the entire country is the better option.

If you feel you have to do this to set the stage of the country as a whole, I'd suggest indenting and italicizing the "where we stand now portions" and treat them like they're clippings from a newspaper articles.

And your audience is smart. I knew exactly who the Blue Man was before his name was stated. I would guess others did too. If you left his name out of it and simply continued referring to him as "the Blue Man", do you think that would've worked? I only mention this because the scene has pretty good dialogue, and a discussion (possible critique) of Star Wars: Episode III. Based on what he's talking about and how his wound is described, we know it's Ray. But when his name was mentioned by the omniscient storyteller, it didn't make me feel justified; it made me feel like, "Well, yeah, I guess I like knowing I'm right, but I could've been content knowing I was POSSIBLY right.

The end is a little confusing (though I do see the story continues). In the end, Mike Pence makes an appearance outside of Westminster Abbey and he then introduces Harold II Godwinson to everyone. How did Mike Pence get there? Did the time become displaced once again after history had been altered? In the story, the rest of the world is normal and Britain has been dumped into the past. If boats approach Britain in the "present", do they cross into the past as well? Is that how Mike Pence arrive there? It sounds like whenever a boat is approaching Britain, they are usually old, wooden boats.

Thank you for sharing this piece with me. While it is an interesting idea, I wish it had been paced a little better. And that I had at least one character that I could try to relate to, rather than many characters that are mostly points of reference from historical documents.

You can also ignore my ramblings and tell me to read the next part if I want answers so bad. Good luck with this story, and keep writing!


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Greetings Al I'm giving your piece a read. I found it on the "August Super Power Review Raid and it is stated as being a horror story. I hope I don't get too scared *Ghost*

I like the character waking up in the middle of the woods, knowing nothing, but this sentence made me smile: I attended a local school. It doesn't feel like it belongs, especially since it pulled me out of the story and made me wonder why it was included.

A shadow was behind me. - Up until this moment, the suspense was really starting to make me squirm in my seat. How close was the shadow? Being "behind me" isn't good enough. And his limited vision should be brought into play as well. His eyes adjusted by this time:

I turned ever so slowly. The dim surroundings shifted, darkened when I tried focusing on them. I paused, my heart beat thumping through my ears. Behind me, curling around a tree I had just passed, was a shadow. I ran.

The ending is both sudden and prolonged. And the reader isn't granted any knowledge as to WHY this boy is out in the woods. Did this creature drop him there? Did someone else put him there to feed this creature? I can even imagine him stumbling into an old man that he happened to remember from earlier that day, only for the man to push the boy back toward the shadow. For the feeding.

For the most part, the suspense did work pretty well. I would definitely ramp it up a little bit where I mentioned. This looks like it was a piece for a short story contest. Did you come out on top?

Thanks for sharing your work with all of us here, and I hope you continue to write even more!

Than Pence

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review of Celestial  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
Hello, Nikki Collins I'm here to provide you with a review. I saw your story on a list of suggested items associated with the "August Super Power Review Raid and decided to give it a go.

Right off the bat, I can tell changing the format of this piece will help it out. When editing, change the spacing to "Double Space Paragraphs". It makes it easier to read.

Your opening sentence wants to convey some mystery and excitement, but the punctuation is holding you back. Here's what I would suggest:

“You’re lying,” he whispered. I could hear hesitation in his voice. He wanted proof that I was what I said I was: a monster. That’s what I thought I was. My mom thought I would be the world's savior.

“Rhys.” A whisper came out of my mouth, fifteen ... that had been laid on me from the moment I turned ten. - This is a very confusing statement. Or it's just muddled. This boy that's talking to her is her brother? And he doesn't believe her powers. Does he not normally live with her or did he move off before her powers materialized at the age of ten? It could also be confusing because it's one long run-on sentence. I'd attempt to clean it up and make it clearer what statement you're trying to get across with this passage.

Saying the brother can't "handle the pain" makes it sound like he either knows she has a power and chooses to ignore it, or she thinks that he isn't ready to know anything about it. That does take away from the beginning, though, since it sounds like she's trying to tell him about her gift and he doesn't believe her. Again, a clearer message here would be helpful.

I heard the shattering of crystal, making my heart skip a beat, Rhys wasn’t strong enough to break the pinkish glass. - This is a nice, ominous line. It even manages to build a little suspense.

...Rhys was yelling at me to stop... - This is stated during a memory recall, indicating Rhys knows about her gift. Then why is he calling her a liar in the beginning and demanding proof?

...made the hair on my arms stand up, as if it should hold some meaning to me, but it didn’t. - End this sentence with "meaning to me". Saying "but it didn't" made the sort-of bond that's already forming between these two dash away quickly.

...like the killers in horror movies wear. - Change to ...like what killers wear in movies. - It's a creepy depiction as well. It gives this stranger a menacing presence right off the bat.

I brought the sword of death high over my head... - Referring to a scythe as a "sword" is confusing for the reader's mental eye. The two objects are very distinct. "Weapon of death" sounds better.

This time it was my turn to smirk as I forced the scythe to disappear into a pile of crystal needles, then re-materialize in my outstretched hands. - Imagining this happening made me smile, made my flesh prickle. It's described very well *Smile*

“I look like an anime girl!” - This does not seem like an appropriate statement for her to make. She just went through an heady ordeal.

Why isn't Rhys even trying to comfort her, or say anything to her in her moment of need?

When the fox-boy showed up, his hair is described as being similar to Celeste's. That made me think that the two were related more than anything. And she has a power over generating crystals and forming them into predetermined shapes. If they share similar physical qualities, why can't he control another form of matter, or she also turn into a fox (or some other creature)?

What significance does the cape play? She snapped her fingers and it whooshed to her like Dr. Strange's cloak. The presence of the cape makes me think that there should be other magic artifacts available to her... and the cape itself isn't very helpful. It is as if it doesn't belong in the story.

Another logistical question arises when it comes to all of these crystals. What happens to them after she had her episodes? She acts like this particular "outburst" has happened before and it appears to have generated many crystals. Where do they all go? Does she have to clean them up and dispose of them? Do they melt away? Does she leave them and is forced to move somewhere?

This story feels like a rough draft for the prologue of something larger. I'd recommend cleaning it up, starting with the punctuation. Too many commas and run-on sentences.

I can see you're relatively new to the site here. I hope you're having a good time or learning a lot about how to hone your craft. Or both! That happens a lot! I know a review like mine can feel like I'm coming down hard on you, but I'm impressed that you came this far with this piece. Now you can go further and make it into something exciting and full of mystery and action.

Take care, and keep writing!!

Than Pence

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*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of Never, And Again  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello James Heyward I saw this in the By Online Authors section and it intrigued me with the description.

This is a piece worth remembering and it speaks to many people who actively have to see this firsthand every day.

The implication for this piece comes across as a form of Alzheimer's, or dementia, or both. Does Abbey feel anything besides this once-happy moment? If not, it kind of points to her suffering a traumatic state of shock (like PTSD). With diseases like those mentioned, more than one range of emotions is to be expected.

It is very easy to feel sorry for Arthur, and the fact that a tear sits in Abbey's eye as she's speaking makes me think this is a form of PTSD, since she knows on some level what's really happening. And it's effectively done.

I did notice a spot near the beginning where a stray quotation mark needs to be wrangled in.

This story, after reading it, brought to mind a short, short story I wrote years ago: "Baby Boys

Thank you for sharing your work. Keep it up, and keep on writing!

Than Pence


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of Dogs  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (4.5)
Hello Jacky I found your piece by clicking Read & Review and I'm proud to say I didn't back out of it. Because I don't love dogs *Wink* They are definitely not my favorite animal and everything you described the dog doing in the story is one of the reasons I don't like them.

But... you've written this in such a crystal-clear manner that I couldn't help but be sucked in my this tiny slice of life and identify with it. Granted, what I identified with was what I don't want a dog doing to me, but it's a reaction. Writers always want a reaction to their pieces and I can tell you that you've inspired one within me.

Great job with your writing talent here, and I thank you for sharing it with me.

Than Pence

PS. What kind of dog is Annie? In my mind, I went straight to a dalmatian for some reason.


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13
13
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 18+ | (3.5)
Hello wikiemol I was invited to review your piece and offer my advice and I will do just that. Just from your descriptor in the invitation, this sounds like a series of stories I could enjoy in the long run. Know that as I type this part, I haven't read anything yet. But I'll be diving in now.

...brought with it a few things, a shimmering mist... Change that comma to a colon.

...feet heavy plodding on the side of the highway... I am not certain how you're trying to depict this ghost, but "feet heavy plodding" is a confusing descriptor of action. You could leave out "feet heavy" and it'd be okay.

Oreos are far too delicious for shame I like this line *Smile*

How young is this ghost? She is described as being young and "toddles along", indicating childhood. At first I was okay with the sexual desire for the cookies, but after thinking this might be the ghost of a small child, I'm unsure of that.

...like thousands of long fingernails tapping on an empty bucket -- even with her sitting inside it was still empty I love what you're trying to convey here, but it could be cleaned up, and the long hyphen could be a period. ...like fingernails tapping an empty bucket. Even with her inside, it was empty.

They laid defeated on the mildew car floor... Change "laid" to "lay" and "mildew" to "mildewed".

...onto the traveller's crows feet face... Describing a whole face as crows feet doesn't sound good. You go onto to describe he's wrinkled in the same sentence. I would suggest working his crows feet in at that point and just say it's the "traveler's face". And traveler has one L.

...like when a fart wasn't exactly what you thought it was, which unfortunately was something he was a little too used to in his old age Is this something a ghost worries about?

At this point in the story, you have shifted character perspective. We were limited to what the young girl ghost could see, and now we're seeing exactly what the old ghost is thinking. Not knowing what's going to happen yet, I somewhat feel like we should still be within the young ghost's perspective. As a reader, I would relish the situation more if I had to guess whether or not he was going to steal her Oreos.

He had to keep her here, but he couldn't lie. Such a simple sentence that potentially carries a lot of heft: are ghosts incapable of telling lies in this world? If so, it'd be nice to set that up closer to the beginning. It would make us trust the old ghost, even if he's trying to spin the situation to his advantage.

There were certainly demons about ... was watching her (it was him). This entire sentence helps prove why, for the reader, it would be nice if he explained her specific lies to her after the fact, rather than spelling it all out for the reader. Personally, the second I read him say that someone was watching her, I ONLY thought he was talking about himself. Readers like to be treated like they're smart and can figure stuff out on their own. That way when it all turns sour, they can say, "I knew it!" and feel really good about their intuitions.

A car. College. Knowing that she's "young" but not too young to be in college this late in the game does make me feel better about her urges. But it might also have you change how her age descriptors are handled early on.

...that she simply had to trust, there was something divine about it. Is this her thought, or his, or is it the the "storyteller" that's actually telling this story around a campfire? I don't like him thinking that his own smile is "divine" when he only thought of himself as being "dashing" earlier. I'd think I was more comfortable thinking that SHE thought his smile was divine, but that does shift us back to her perspective once again.

He began to giggle, proud of his cleverness like a daycare child proud of a coloring book page... As a simile, I'm not sure what you're trying to convey here. His actions sound almost malevolent or even just selfish. I am distracted by comparing it to when a kid successfully colors a page in a book. He began to giggle, proud of his cleverness like a snake hissing over an egg it had stolen.
That is just a suggested alternative.

...the storm had travelled from the sky to her eyes... Is this a common expression. If so, I've never heard it. As such, it sounds out of place to someone like me.

...as he returned his gaze towards his front... Suggestion: ...as he turned his gaze forward...

And she realized that there were only a five things worth remembering. Take out "a" and, since you're about to starting listing items, end with a colon.

The old ghost thought. This realm is where the murderous greed of humanity goes. Something is wrong with punctuation here. I'm not sure what you want to do to fix it, but fix it.

I like the final summation about selfish deeds, especially how it relates to his silent hope about giving the Oreos back to Rei. I am confused about why she immediately turned back into Gremlin-form when she nearly caught up to the old man. Wouldn't her cursing and running after him in the first place trigger the transformation?

Near the end, you attempt to describe cars coming from and going to nowhere down the highway. Early in the story, you make it sound like she is travelling an abandoned highway and is thankful to find shelter inside the car (which turns out to be her car). And when she renames herself in mid thought, that seems like a passive throwaway thought that should take more center stage time.

Going out of your way to state that the relationship with Jordan was platonic is unnecessary. You mention that Jordan has a boyfriend and you could easily equate their friendship to being sister-like. Or leave it more ambiguous: a reader might appreciate a little mystery when it comes to Rei's life and loves. Ending that fourth thought with "Jordan was Rei's best friend, but Rei hadn't been Jordan's for a long time" feels perfect to me. And I know a lot of people can easily relate to it.

Overall, I feel like I nitpicked the heck out of this piece. The final message you're trying to convey does feel a little forced, especially since they both end up like Gremlins when she herself should probably be changing back partly since she shared the Oreos. Unless she shared them thinking it would change her. This is an idea we're not privy to, but we also have no reason to believe she'd think that far ahead about why she transforms since it's only happened once before.

In conclusion, I can see that, by the end of the piece, two separate perspectives might help get your point across, but I would hope for clearer shifts in the narrative. Physical breaks in the page can help (a line, ellipses, asterisks, etc.). Plus, when readers see your item, some may skim it to see how long it is. If they don't see any breaks, they may skip over it.

Just a little note: when you mentioned her memories, you brought up a city and then Jordan. A city that was a terrible place. Jordan. I know you immediately mention that the best friend was named Jordan, but my initial thought was that you were talking about the city of Jordan and then I overlooked the "best friend" item until it was mentioned later. That could just be me not paying attention, but I can see other readers (maybe) jumping to that conclusion, if only because they yearn to know where they stand in this world.

I don't know if any of this helps, but that's all I have for you. Please let me know if there are other items that are meant to be connected to this one and I'd be happy to look at them.

Take care, and keep writing!

Than Pence



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14
14
Review of Reaper  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello HeLl'sAngEL437 I clicked on Read & Review and was brought to your piece.

The dark, brooding, almost playful tone of the piece is easily picked up and enjoyed.

One part where I was hung up was "over the flicking life". The "the" doesn't feel like it needs to be there, but it doesn't stay as cohesive without it. That is just a small conundrum.

Looking at your port name, I can see that you're relatively new to the site. So, welcome! I hope you enjoy yourself here! I could recommend "The Writer's Cramp as a nice place to contribute items for fun, daily writing. And "The Shameless "Plug" Page is also a good place to promote your own works.

Or you can click Read & Review and randomly find someone's wonderful read as I did. Either way, have fun with all of it, and keep writing and sharing your work, please!

Than Pence


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15
15
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hello Greg Schuler } I saw this was your entry for the July round of "The Dialogue 500

What a delightful twist on the contest! It is very entertaining. "Crackers of graham and juice of the apple" made me smile. "On the ground of play" also brought out a chuckle.

This piece is imaginative and a lot of fun to read. I pictured tiny children dressed in Victorian garb.

I did notice one typo: "Good sir, thought it would be... "Thought" should be "though".

I did not see myself entering this particular round but I've done so in the past and I know writing these dialogue-only pieces is both a challenge and a pleasure. Thank you for sharing it and good luck!

Than Pence


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16
16
Review of Flashback  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Hello Angus You've offered thoughts and comments on several of my pieces over the years and I've always appreciated it. I saw that this was your entry into the Lodestar Contest and I thought I'd give it a read. I know it's too late to make any edits at this point, but that's not necessary.

This piece is delightfully crazy and plays out like an Inception sequel or an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dream sequences can be a lot of fun to work with and when the reader is genuinely left wondering what's happened afterward, that's a lot of fun, too.

This also kind of reminds me of the type of story where the character ends up living multiple lives in the span of just a few days. It's very engaging. The reader wants to keep reading to see where the next dream shifts.

When Sophie kept trying to make an appearance, I thought that was very nice, but I was also expecting the dog to be named Sophie in the next dream sequence, just as a means of changing up what's real and what isn't.

Stylizing the flashing clock time with red was another nice touch.

Your tag-line asks us to speculate whether or not Jerry won the lottery. I am guessing the ambiguity might mean you also aren't sure if he did or not. If you have a definitive answer, that's fantastic, but not knowing helps the reader carry the mystery with them with speculation: "Did he win it and go crazy?" "Did he not win it and dreams of being crazy?" "Has he never even entered the lottery in his life and he's secretly living with his Aunt Sophie 30 years in the past and this whole tale is one long, fanciful notion of what his future may store?"

Something that I did have a little trouble with, character-wise, was how blase he was about the horrible wreck just a block from his home. Does it occur so much that he just doesn't care anymore, or is the fact that he's clouded by the dream forcing him to be less concerned? He doesn't KNOW it's a dream at that point, but the dream could be shaping his emotions. But if that was the case, it really does help indicate his negative character trait: when he dreamed he won the lottery, he was jumping up and down like crazy.

This are just my random thoughts and reactions to your well-crafted piece. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more from you. Thank you for sharing, and good luck with the contest!

Keep writing!

Than Pence


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17
17
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (4.0)
I see this is your entry for the Cramp today. The cadence and story helps pull the reader along. Personally, I kept reading to see this despicable person forcing a kitten onto an unsuspecting household and if she was going to get away with it *Wink*

One change I'd make (which probably won't affect the judging) is with this line:

...pick him up, cuddle, and accept." - You could easily take out the "and" and it would read a little easier and still make perfect sense. While I was reading at least, I did find myself halt for a beat since it kind of felt out of place.

Otherwise, good job, and good luck with the Cramp!

Than Pence


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18
18
Review by Than Pence
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hello! This piece was in this week's "Fantasy Newsletter (July 4, 2018) and I'm giving it a read today.

This was a cute, quick piece that briefly analyzes the communal structure of neighborhood pets. Of course, it doesn't sound like it STARTS that way: it sounds like we're going to take a trip down Civil Rights Ave. But we don't.

In the end, I smiled imagining the cat walking toward a food bowl, only to have another one dart in and start eating. It brought to mind a kind of "cartoon" quality that was appreciated.

I do wish the setting had been fleshed out a little more. I'm having a hard time imagining WHERE these animals are having this session. I'm also not entirely certain about what the Black Cat has been accused of. It jumps straight from that to describing how an old woman's home is suitable for multiple animals.

Thank you for writing this piece.

Take care, and keep writing, please!

Than Pence


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19
19
Review by Than Pence
Rated: ASR | (4.5)
Hello! I saw this piece in this weeks "Fantasy Newsletter (July 4, 2018) and decided to give it a read.

First off, I see that this was written as Cramp entry and it won. Congratulations! I wonder what the prompt might have been.

Secondly, the back-and-forth is a terrific means of weaving this short narrative and really helps the reader identify with the character and her motivations.

Some scenes are so vividly described - especially the "cleaves" passage - that it's hard not to picture what's happening, and then pray that you forget the ghastly images.

Thank you for sharing this piece (although I'm not sure the newsletter authors ask for permission). Either way, it was a nice read.

Take care, and keep writing!

Than Pence


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20
20
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello again Breach I was pleased to read Chapter 7 of this story before and I look forward to see what Chapter 8 beholds.

Faldashir looked a little defiant -- Personally, I don't like the use of "a little" here. Faldashir, so far, has seemed like the kind of guy who either is something, or isn't.

Some of the other soldiers leaned forward in their saddles to look as well. -- Take out "Some of the" and start with "Other" for this sentence.

At this point, the dragon mark has been mentioned. Seeing as I started with Chapter 7 and am continuing through 8, I'm not sure if I'm missing mention of the mark from an earlier Chapter or if it is new to all readers at this point. Either way, the intrigue is well placed.

Really? I doubt it,” the captain replied. -- Just before this, you mention Branston's horse attempting to ward off other animals. Mentioning how the captain pays no attention to the action could help define his character. Visually, I can see the captain on his horse standing standing beside Branston, who is equally mounted. I can see his horse neighing and stomping and then I wonder to myself, "Why didn't that make the captain even flinch for a second? Or why didn't Branston point out the captain's unwavering stance toward it? Do dragon marks really hold THAT MUCH interest?" Something along those lines.

Olivar was silent. -- What was Faldashir's answer? Did he swear? Say "No"? Was he also silent, but not as silent as Olivar? I ask because they answered the other question in unison.

Faldashir and Olivar got the same treatment... -- Don't use "got".

...as the captain called them–followed, giving warnign glares to Branston. -- Change "warnign".

“So don’t think you can escape. You or your friends. Let’s ride!” The last was for his company. -- I'd alter the last part. "You or your friends." Raising his voice, he yelled, "Let's ride!"

His smile deepened. “What have you heard?” -- Such a sinister image is pushed here. It's nice and chilling.

“You’re one of them.” Them was filled with contempt. --Italicizing "Them" will help with aesthetics.

His shoulders prickled, Tyollis had a reputation for being harsh... -- Change the comma to a period or semicolon.

He met Branston’s eyes, his dark eyes studying Branston. -- The captain, Tyollis, was mentioned as having blue eyes when he was staring hard at Branston earlier, after the dragon mark was noticed. Are they dark blue?

Branston frowned quizzically, did he see regret in the man’s eyes? -- No comma here. Make it a period or a semicolon. Your comma usage can become distracting in spots like this.

He strode passed Branston without a word, and Branston followed. -- Change the comma to a period. Cut "and". I've bypassed excessive comma usage and didn't point it out. It is distracting. In many instances, you use commas to break up sentences that don't need breaking, or they can truly stand as their own sentences.

I notice a lot of "was" too. Past tense usage like this for your verbs has the potential to diminish the action. It is not as common as your commas, but it does show up.

At the end of this Chapter, I can say that it did not hold my attention as well. It could be the action of Chapter 7 was traded for subtly and intrigue. I do enjoy a nice pace of exposition and hints of menace, but it was harder to focus this time around.

The logistics of the Second World have been explained a little but, but it only brings more questions to mind. Branston can travel through the Second World physically and end up somewhere else in the Real World. If he appears in the Real World and converges with another object, he'll die. Can he see trees or rocks or buildings in the Second World? I would hope so. Otherwise he's just moving around on faith alone. That does speak to his bravery, but it all speaks to his recklessness.

Thank you for sharing Chapter 8. The introduction of the dragon mark has helped pique my interest a little more. The Dragon Guard sounds like an interesting order of people. Captain Tyoliss is an abstract person so far, and he appears to suffer mood swings. Irrational villains are usually the most fun to read in the long run

Take care, and good luck with this story!

Than Pence


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21
21
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (3.5)
Hello Prince of Dhump I was invited to read this piece and give my thoughts.

The first sentence is a bit long and wordy. I like what it's trying to say, but I had to re-read it two more times to follow the pacing. I would suggest this:

It's appropriate to compare an office employee with their boss roaming nearby to a beauty stranded on Skull Island with Kong, a king who could enjoy her dancing as much as the meat on her bones. But in the case of the employee, there's no hero waiting in the wings.

I feel like the second sentence is mixing metaphors. Kong is mentioned and it could be a reference to either King or Donkey but it's not entirely clear. And the actions sound more like Bowser either way.

...somehow get the boss like and enjoy your stupid yet cute moves... -- Add "to" after "boss".

Don’t get frustrated of continuous shouting and... -- Swap "of" for "by".

It is Ann Darrow who gets the Kong killed in the end, and has the last laugh. -- Either use "the King" or take out "the" before "Kong.

Side note: Ann Darrow did not have the last laugh. She was crushed by the death of King Kong. That is a mild digression, but one I felt I should point out since I loved Pater Jackson's movie so much.

...wearing a jacket to work or just a formal shirt, leaves sharp after working hours... -- Change the comma to a semicolon.

You have got to play smart by not revealing... -- Take out "got".

The last paragraph has a lot of "woulds" in it. Change them all to "will".

This piece does ring true regarding some boss-employee relationships. The writing is a little loose but the humor and tone suggest that's not too important initially. You asked for my thoughts and I probably gave more on points of grammar than anything.

Someone who really dislikes their boss might stall at taking the advice because they were stuck laughing about their boss acting like King Kong. I know I was envisioning my own boss most of the time and smiling.

Other than my suggestions, I find it to be a sound piece. Thank you for sharing it.

Than Pence


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22
22
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello Breach I was invited to review your piece. I've decided to give it a read and my thoughts as I go along.

At the beginning, the names are distinct and unique.

So they dismounted and led their horses forward. the soft snow crunched under Branston's boots. -- Take off "So" at the beginning. And either capitalize the T at the start of the second sentence or change the first period to a semicolon.

Had they left the arms’ domain. -- A question or a statement?

“We don’t know how fast the arms can appear,” Faldashir said. -- Change "said" to "reiterated", maybe.

With no rests we should reach it a few hours before dawn. I don’t think I could sleep.” -- A pause between theses sentences can help convey how uneasy he is, even to the point of not being able to sleep. ...before dawn." He sucked in a breath. "I don't think I...

Faldashir tone was flat. -- This could use some alteration. Ever stoic, Faldashir spoke plainly.

The man moaned and pulled free of Branston, raising his fists weakly. -- Take out "of Branston".

What was he supposed to, fight it? -- Add "do" after "to".

“All right.” His voice was still shaking, and he was shivering. -- End at "shaking" and start a shorter sentence. He shivered. It's more direct.

A tall person stood with long-sword in hand a dozen yards away, it didn’t move; it only watched. -- A powerful, simple sentence that gave me chills. I could clearly see a figure in my mind.

We need to leave! These horses can’t outrun it. -- The second sentence should go. It almost made me laugh because the man just told them that he ran from it earlier. All the reader might think of is "He thinks he can outrun a horse now?" and that's a terrible distraction from such a tense moment.

...yest he could see his companions as clear as broad daylight. -- Should "yest" be "yet"?

The landscape is the same. The river is too our right; the forest, our left. -- Just for clarification: can Branston and the others SEE the river and the forest, or do they merely guess at where they are in relation to where they were?

No sun marked the sky, only more fog. -- Remove this sentence. It's already been established by this point.

I've finished this chapter and have enjoyed it. The Second World is an engaging idea and it doesn't sound like it's common enough for the people to actively cross over and walk around in it. It seems to instill fear into even the hardiest of people.

In reading further, I understand that the land seen in the Second World is definitely like that of the real world. It's just harder navigate because of the fog. Are structures represented in the Second World? Is the idea tackled where they might exit the SW, only to find a building in their path? That seems like a notion that could help them out of a prison at some point, but I guess that's jumping ahead.

Your grammar is mostly spot on. I've pointed out some instances but there are a few that I left alone.

I jumped into Chapter Seven and I feel like I have a grasp on theses characters for now, but I might find time to visit them in Chapters One through Six at some point. This world, though brief, is entertaining.

One final thought: why didn't Branston drink from his canteen and then refill it in the river, making it full? He obviously didn't think the water was bad since his horse drank it, and he hadn't seen the dead people in it yet.

Thank you for sharing this. Good luck with further chapters!

Than Pence


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23
23
Review of Lights Out  
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hello again BlackAdder This piece was pointed out to me and it sounded like I might enjoy reading it. I see it was written for a Sci-Fi Short Story contest. Seeing as how it was written in April, I imagine the deadline is past but I'll give it a go.

The first thing that jumps out is varied use of punctuation. And you're using it properly. I like that.

It was a rung on the ladder... -- I think "It" should be "I".

...looters were everywhere, shooting off their guns and their mouths... -- I like this line for some reason. It sticks with me.

The words that came with were sharp-edged and ugly. -- I always like when people imply bad words being said rather than saying them. It calls to mind a dozen different profanities but doesn't distract the reader.

In finishing the story, I do like the setting and descriptions of this pair's night, but why did they feel they had to do it? I guess, specifically, why did Rohan feel it was his obligation to open the emergency release? One is a banker, the other in IT. They don't seem like the kind of people who seek wrongs to put right.

The beginning of the piece strikes a resonance with today's society very nicely. A program on NPR recently discussed "robot-proof" jobs and in talking about all the jobs in the future that AIs would end up doing brought that program to mind.

Thank you for sharing this engaging story. I wonder if it's part a larger arc of stories set in this near-future society. I hope it places well in the contest.

Than Pence


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24
24
Review by Than Pence
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello, BlackAdder I saw this piece in last week's "Short Stories Newsletter (April 26, 2017) and decided to give it a read. I noticed this was designed for a contest whose deadline has passed so I probably cannot offer any helpful advice.

The language of the piece does feel authentic and archaic. It is not common enough in modern-day writing but it is enjoyable and makes one appreciate the nuances of language even more.

Aideen seems like a complicated character. She's powerful but she worries what others think of her. That's not a typical witch, which is refreshing. She doesn't want to be feared but wants to remain mysterious.

The battle with the Shade was very nicely done. It was a battle of eerie silence, but for the splash of foul water... This line really jumped out at me. The imagery it invokes sticks with me.

I also liked how the Shade seemed to grow faster during the battle. Cadoc is slowly paring it down and it's becoming more nimble for his effort.

Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed it and hope you do well in your contest. The title of the piece is what drew me the most. It reminded me of my own story "Under Shadow of the Moon but the language in yours is much more poetic.

Take care!

Than Pence


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25
25
Review of TAYLOR MADE  
Review by Than Pence
In affiliation with I Write  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Hello lauraispracticingpiano I'm looking at your piece for "I Write in August-September-October.

Oh my goodness, what a vicious little tale or jealousy and revenge. It read like a smutty, gossip rag and I loved every second of it. The description of Taylor is vivid enough that she'd seen at all times.

Vicky being described as an older version of Taylor is also quite visible. Vicky does claim to have "been" a Taylor once but she doesn't seem like the kind of person that this younger woman turns out to be.

The last bit with Vicky ultimately trying to get a dig in at her ex-boss is a little treat. Although I only knew her for a moment, I felt bad that Vicky had lost her job because of some little tart.

Thank you for sharing this fun little piece! I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Take care, and keep writing!

Than Pence


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