David Blake


David Blake was born in the northwest of England in 1970 and grew up on a diet of Marvel comics, 2000 AD and television sci-fi. He has been writing for as long as he can remember and remains an avid reader. His other interests include travelling, vintage British television programmes, vintage cinema, football, eating toast and even having the occasional drink.

If David Blake has reviewed your work on Smashwords, please do not take any criticism to heart. He tries to be unbiased and constructive, and will only award 5 stars to the absolute best works, which will be rare.


Price: Free! Words: 1,450. Language: British English. Published: July 20, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(4.67 from 6 reviews)
The story has begun. Everything is normal, except... Joanna knows something is wrong, for Joanna is aware. She alone knows the truth and nobody will listen to her. She alone knows that they are all nothing more than fictional characters in a fictional universe...
Together Forever
Price: Free! Words: 720. Language: British English. Published: July 20, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
(4.00 from 6 reviews)
True love can last a lifetime. A marriage can last even longer. Another of my experiments in flash fiction, this short story is less than 600 words in length.
Price: Free! Words: 1,150. Language: British English. Published: June 30, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(3.67 from 3 reviews)
I saw Tiffany... once. I kissed her... once. Then I lost her... Forever. A piece of flash fiction by David Blake.
Lost Souls
Price: Free! Words: 3,430. Language: British English. Published: June 25, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
When Father O'Neill receives a mysterious visitor in St Mary's Church, he hopes that he can set her back on the right path. However, as he talks to her, he slowly comes to realise that perhaps she isn't the only one who needs salvation...
Facing Death
Price: Free! Words: 6,050. Language: British English. Published: June 23, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Historical » Paranormal
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
You're fighting for your life in the battlefields of the First World War. Your comrades are falling all around you. But some of them don't want to stay down...
First Mistakes - A Guide For Smashwords Fiction Writers
Price: Free! Words: 4,580. Language: English. Published: May 12, 2013 . Categories: Nonfiction » Publishing » Self-publishing, Nonfiction » Computers & Internet » Digital publishing
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
One of the most important, and also one of the most overlooked components of a story writer's work is the very first sentence. This simple writers' guide uses real examples from Smashwords to examine what makes a good opening line, and the common mistakes writers make.
Bacon Double Cheesemurder
Price: Free! Words: 4,970. Language: English. Published: October 20, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
(3.67 from 3 reviews)
A long lonely drive at night. A sinister roadside cafe. And a cheeseburger that comes with more than just fries...
Destined To Be Damned
Price: Free! Words: 1,130. Language: English. Published: October 20, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
A story of around 900 words. A blighted life, a lonely search and an ancient stone building which contains... Well, read the story and find out.
Turning Point
Price: Free! Words: 1,020. Language: English. Published: October 14, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Horror » Crime, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
(4.25 from 4 reviews)
A short story of around 800 words. We all reach points in our lives where we face a crucial decision. For the young woman in this story, the choice is very much one of what path her future will take as she closes in on the man who is unwittingly very much a part of that decision...
Number Withheld
Price: Free! Words: 750. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(3.90 from 10 reviews)
A horror story in 500 words. Some telephone calls are unwanted. Kane definitely doesn't want these calls - but he can't seem to stop them...
No Going Back
Price: Free! Words: 8,500. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Erotica » Romance
(4.00 from 1 review)
A young man makes an emotional return to the Welsh farm where he was evacuated to during the Second World War and finds that the past is something that can never be wholly recaptured.

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Smashwords book reviews by David Blake

  • A Hurt Too Deep on Sep. 19, 2012

    Many self-published or amateur works quickly betray themselves within the first couple of pages, usually with a clunky writing style, a cliched opening or a rogue grammatical error. Within a couple of pages of Christine Morgan's "A Hurt Too Deep" I realised I was reading the work of somebody who really knows how to write - it was not just free of errors, the construction of individual sentences and plot as a whole had a very professional feel. It faithfully adheres to the old maxim "show, don't tell" and isn't afraid to let the reader piece together the necessary information instead of spelling it out. I won't say much about the story itself because if I expand any more on the preview descriptions I'd be in danger of spoiling the surprises. The plot isn't especially stunning or remarkable, so I've deducted a point for that, but when a tale is told as well as this it's not too bad a handicap. After reading "A Hurt Too Deep" I'm certainly inclined to check out more works from Ms Morgan.
  • The Photo on Sep. 19, 2012

    This is a reasonable enough story but I didn't think it was told very well. Every fact is clearly spelt out, there's no attempt to make the reader piece the information together from the characters' words and actions. The opening sentence clumsily uses the word "room" twice. The following sentence tells is it is Diane's first visit to Gina's home since a life-changing accident. Why not omit this nugget of information and keep the reader guessing as to why Gina's room is no longer immaculate (as the next paragraph relates in detail)? Then, despite neither of the characters wanting to dwell on the tragic events, the photo album gets whisked out so that they can pour over the past, and so that the plot can progress to its main raison d'etre. Rather than two characters who (by the plot's admission) are little more than loose acquaintances who clumsily fall into a discussion about a tragedy, I'd have thought this story would have far more bite to it if Gina was refusing to come to terms with her loss and Diane was a close friend or relative who was, out of concern, forcing Gina to open up, and maybe getting them both to look at the photos for the first time as part of the healing process. 'The Photo' needs to be developed...
  • Don't Let Her In on Sep. 20, 2012

    I found this to be an exceptionally well written piece with lovely imagery and turns of phrase. It's very much a suggestive piece of horror, requiring the reader to contribute by way of imagination the necessary details which the text merely gives clues to. As such, the story will be somewhat different to everyone, and what satisfaction you get out of it will very much depend on how much imagination you are prepared to invest. Perhaps one to avoid if you are seeking a more traditional sort of ghost story.
  • Impromptu Séance on Sep. 20, 2012

    I find stories told in the first person in the present tense to feel a little awkward. It's like a person is speaking out loud, describing events as they happen, which people don't do without good reason. I mean, who are they speaking to, and why? That, however, is the approach this tale takes, although it carelessly slips into the past tense at times (and likewise, a passage that's meant to be in the past tense lapses into moments of present tense usage). And there are misuses of apostrophes and some incorrect words ('drug' is NOT the past tense of "drag"!!!) The text is very descriptive but it's nearly all 'telling' and very little 'showing' which limits its effectiveness. At least the story is original and keeps you guessing as to the ending - I can't help feeling it would have worked better if written in the third person, and if the 'flashback' sequence to the seance had been written with more dialogue between the girls to inject them with some character and obviate the need to describe all the action.
  • Tea Time on Sep. 20, 2012

    This is an interesting approach for a horror story, even for one where the horror is sourced from real-life as opposed to the supernatural. The author even makes apologies for it, but as he points out this sort of thing does go on, so why not tackle it? My main criticism with the story would be that the 'horror' element only manifests itself in the final twist (which I won't reveal), and up until that point the story could be going anywhere. To really succeed as a horror story it probably needs to build up an impending sense of doom or danger throughout the text, and maybe have some stronger foreshadowing of the climax. Cutaway scenes of the caretaker's preparations, perhaps? There are a few grammatical errors in the piece but this young writer has had a good go at trying to capture the banter of two elderly ladies. A decent effort that shows promise.
  • Esther's House on Sep. 26, 2012

    I've no idea if this story really is true or not, but at least it's believable. Much of its credibility lies in the good writing - it's not particularly flamboyant, but it succeeds brilliantly in its depiction of the important characters and the atmosphere in the house itself. A very good read. Incidentally, a quick analysis suggests that this writer and Jonathan Antony Strickland have some deal going whereby they give each other's works excellent reviews.
  • A Great Discovery on Oct. 01, 2012

    The writer of this piece describes himself as a "young and new author" so I will make allowances for that. On the plus side the story has a proper beginning, middle and end, it's well structured and well-paced. It's reasonably dramatic, with plenty of incident. I didn't think the story was particularly original, it reminded me of the plot of a 1950s sci-fi 'B' movie with aliens who have learnt to speak English because they've been secretly observing us for years. Still, it was a refreshing change that the aliens have actually been adopting many of our ideas and much of our technology. There's a half-hearted attempt to describe the four astronauts at the beginning of the story, but their different characters need to shine through in their dialogue and their reactions to events. For the most part, they are just names. A few things in the story seemed too far-fetched. Firstly, an astronaut running to get into a rocket as it's taking off, and also the fact that Johnny knows very little about his companions other than the fact they are his assistants. NASA space expeditions are planned months, even years in advance, the astronauts will train together for many weeks, so they should know each other very well, otherwise they can't work effectively as a team. Take-offs will also need lots of pre-planning, it is just inconceivable that an astronaut would run and jump aboard a rocket as somebody might do with a departing bus. Johnny seems to fall asleep two or three times in this story for no other reason than as a device to jump forwards in the plot (ie he wakes up again when something interesting happens). Within the context of the story it is just ridiculous that he would fall asleep. The sphere the astronauts take from the aliens - why do they do this? What is it that makes them take this sphere back with them? In the story they're getting attacked by aliens, they need to escape in order to save their necks, and for some reason they just decide to take a sphere with them. This needs to be better explained. Please don't be disheartened by the low score I have given you, my standards are very high. If you really are a young writer, then your work shows promise and, with practice and a willingness to work on your weaknesses, you can get better.
  • Endless Miles on Oct. 06, 2012

    Another superbly-written piece by Christine Morgan. After a slow start which establishes the main character of TJ very well, this story then develops into a highly intriguing situation which swept me through to the climax to see how everything would unfold. Certain aspects are (probably quite rightly) left ambiguous. I agree with one of the other reviews that there is scope for a sequel, probably because I was left wanting more.
  • The Window on Oct. 06, 2012

    I suppose if a story has to be limited to 700 words or whatever, then this is a decent enough tale. There's some good characterisation, the pacing is right and the text is light, with plenty of good touches (I particularly liked the line 'The only thing about nature that I like is the lavender in my shampoo'). As others have said, it does squeeze a lot into its meagre length. But the supernatural element of the story just sort of 'happens' and the reader has to accept it. There's no foreshadowing, no hint as to why it occurs, not even (it seems) any attempt by the storyteller to find out if the window has ever been looked through by other people staying in the room. A short, fun read, but it could have been more satisfying with more depth.
  • Crinckle Cut Farm on Oct. 06, 2012

    I was disappointed by this one. It's effectively a haunted house story and the author tries hard to crank up the suspense at every opportunity but the whole thing seemed to move along at breakneck pace. The Henson family don't even have time to unpack their belongings! A lot of the strange things that happen in the house are just old ideas that have been used many times before, the descriptions were often awkward or lacking, the dialogue was dull (I got fed up with Carol repeatedly calling her husband's name) and there were several errors in the text (it's "en suite", not "on suite"). Still, at least the author dropped in some hints for the reasons behind the hauntings (which some Smashwords writers haven't bothered to do!) and the twist at the end was unexpected.
  • Megan's Wish on Oct. 06, 2012

    Interesting one, this, because the author is telling the story from a young child's point of view, which is one almighty challenge because it limits the writer severely in terms of vocabulary and metaphors. The author succeeds pretty well in this, although I found it strange that Megan didn't seem to know what blood is, only referring to it as red stuff - surely even the youngest children know blood from falling and scraping their knees? Overall I don't think I enjoyed this quite as much as the other stories I've read of Ms Morgan's, perhaps in the end the limited vocabulary worked against it, I'm not sure. But it's a good, original idea and a brave piece of writing.
  • The Lost Moments on Oct. 06, 2012

    Nice, touching short story, which I'm sure most readers will be able to connect with.
  • A True Bizarre Story on Oct. 06, 2012

    Contrary to some of the other reviews for this story, I found the writer's switching between different characters' viewpoints clumsy and largely unnecessary. It's okay to change viewpoints, even in short stories, but it's very distracting when it starts happening in successive paragraphs, and it's also very off-putting when one of those viewpoints is in the first person perspective. The plot, too, seemed to go off in different directions - one moment a child is being dragged out of his bed by a leprechaun, the next his mother's giving birth to a devil child. The actual descriptions are reasonably good, occasional typos or grammatical errors aside, and it does have some atmosphere and suspense, but I was left feeling that this could, and should, have been better.
  • The Grove on Oct. 06, 2012

    The dialogue in this story is lacking quotation marks, which I found irritating, and there were some other punctuation faults too. Apart from that, some passages are well written, others are a little bland, although at least the writer uses metaphors and similies to colour the descriptions which many other Smashwords writers I've sampled don't attempt. The plot is reasonable enough but I'd have liked some foreshadowing of the grove's 'properties', and more dynamics between the two characters - what little dialogue there is in this piece is completely lifeless.
  • It's Time on Oct. 06, 2012

    Very short story, a nice idea but why hasn't Ann mentioned anything to Steve about his condition before now, if that's all it takes to get rid of him? The sentences were too short, so everything felt a bit snappy. I'd have liked something with a bit more depth and mood.
  • A Very Weird Monday on Oct. 06, 2012

    Nice enough story, although the ending seemed rather obvious to me as soon as I'd finished the first paragraph. The story lacks description, particularly where the mysterious kid who keeps harassing Rich is concerned - what does he look like? Given his significance to the plot, a few more details about him wouldn't have gone amiss.
  • Coming Home on Oct. 06, 2012

    I found too many short sentences in this piece, which left me feeling that I had a pressing engagement such was the unnaturally fast pace of the text in descriptions of scenes which were supposed to be more thoughtful and brooding. I also found much of the descriptive text forced and unnecessary - for example, if someone turns on their torch, do we really have to know that the person is pressing a small rubber button that stands out against smooth metal? There are times to describe things and times NOT to describe things, and good writers should know how to strike the correct balance. Additionally, because the writer is female, I mistakenly assumed the narrator in the story was also female, because there's no indication until the very end that he's not. (I know the book description makes it clear, but I read this story on my e-reader some time after downloading it, so the preview description had long since faded from my memory - besides, a story should stand by itself). Otherwise, a reasonable enough plot which the writer has tried hard to fill with character and atmosphere.
  • The Hyacinth Girl on Oct. 06, 2012

    A good, well-crafted story. Great use of language yet still easy to read, vivid characters and descriptions, and a plot that unfolds very nicely. Full marks - and I don't say that very often!
  • Boy Monster on Oct. 06, 2012

    A very bizarre but imaginative short tale. I found the sudden switching between viewpoints a little awkward, I'd have preferred it just to maintain Annie's point of view throughout. The epilogue sequence seemed a little superfluous too.
  • Jorinda on Oct. 06, 2012

    Great story, really well told from a first person perspective in an easy style that keeps the reader intrigued from start to finish. A real page-turner! Top marks.
  • The Watch on Oct. 07, 2012

    I really enjoyed this one. It was easy to read, the text flowed very well and yet it painted the period and world of the main character so beautifully and vividly. The supernatural element is understated yet suitably intriguing. Recommended.
  • The Barn on Oct. 07, 2012

    I suspect that the author of this piece may be very young -certainly the writing seems to lack any maturity. The plot is quite simple and could be more suspenseful and frightening, but I have to be honest and say the narrative is tedious and boring. The first three chapters contribute virtually nothing to the story, the author's prose is bland, too often repeating words in consecutive sentences and the descriptions lack vibrancy. There are so many commercial brand names dropped into the text that you wonder if the author is taking sponsorships. The text contains numerous faults too - puntuation errors, typos and even a few instances of one character's name being used when it should be another's. There are glimpses of good writing in this, and the dialogue is actually okay (if sparse) but this story could have been told far more effectively in half the length.
  • The Blank Page on Oct. 08, 2012

    Like the last reviewer, I was sufficiently impressed by Krista Bean's "The Watch" to check out her other work, and hence found myself reading "The Blank Page". It's a very different story to the other piece, being set in the present day for a start, but it displays the same hallmarks: clearly-defined characters and settings that you quickly get wrapped up in and, most importantly, care about. Krista Bean has a wonderful ability to paint her worlds using a modicum of similies and with easy-to-read, free-flowing text that doesn't rely on words so uncommon that you have to hurry to the dictionary. This was very nearly a five - if I have to nitpick (and I hate to do it with work this good) I would say that Brooke's stumbling upon the 'answer' to her mystery seemed a little too easy/coincidental. I shall certainly be looking out for more of Krista's work - maybe Zoe Delano could get her own story? :-)
  • Hear No Evil: A Short Story on Oct. 12, 2012

    I suppose the plot of this story has echoes of Stephen King's "The Dead Zone", or the movie "What Women Want" but it's a good little tale that unfolds nicely. Although the events take place over quite an extended period of time, Nickie Anderson keeps the relevant scenes short and punchy so that the reader's attention never wanes. The intrigue builds up considerably as the story progresses, there's a great moment during the scene in the cinema which catches the main character - and the reader - completely by surprise and takes the story to a whole new level. I really like Nickie Anderson's imagination - for example, the concept in this story that sounds have colours was inspired. She's innovative in the ways she uses the medium of the written word both in this story and in the other work of hers that I have read, "Jorinda", and that's something to really be applauded.
  • Pain Is So Close To Pleasure on Oct. 13, 2012

    This 'story' is a lovely idea with great potential for development, alas in its current form it's essentially just one over-milked gag. It's very difficult to assess whether it's well written or not because the errors in the text could be put down to the alien's limited grasp of the English language.
  • Rebound on Oct. 15, 2012

    Not much I can add to the other reviews so far - a fun, sexy read with a cracking plot twist which caught me completely off guard.
  • Predestination And Other Stories on Oct. 15, 2012

    Three short stories, all quite different in plot and tone. The first one (For I Have Sinned...) is quite deep and open to a fair degree of interpretation. The second one (The Convict) to me seemed a bit drawn out and the events lacked believability at times. The third story (Predestination) is probably the most effective of the three, having the most powerful climax.
  • Dead End Train on Oct. 16, 2012

    This story is quite well-written, the premise is good and it builds up nicely... but very early on I started to form an idea as to what the resolution was going to be, and I was saying to myself "Oh no, please don't let it be THAT." But it WAS - in my view possibly the worst device that can be used to resolve a horror story. I even remember when I was aged 11, a fellow pupil used the same type of ending for a story we all had to write and got told off by the teacher for resorting to such a cop-out climax! So, sorry, but this story needs a far better ending in my opinion.
  • Old Jack's Tale on Oct. 16, 2012

    The title to this story seems to be a little misleading. Yes, the story concerns an old man named Jack who relates an incident to a barman - but the actual narrative of the incident switches between the viewpoints of numerous characters, so I never really felt it was 'Jack's tale' as such. It really needed to be told from his viewpoint alone, I thought. Not a huge problem, but... y'know. There's some attempt to establish Jack as something of an expert in his field, but this is achieved by making the other characters stupid - would professionals really all miss a wedding ring on a body which is spotted straight away by the 'expert'? Sheriff is misspelt as "Sherriff" throughout. Overall the storytelling seemed a little basic (descriptions are sparse, particularly where locations are concerned) and the plot goes nowhere really, lacking any kind of twist or imaginative new 'take' on the genre.
  • It's Just a Job on Oct. 16, 2012

    I would tend to echo the comments of the previous reviewer: the premise of this story has potential, but everything falls flat in the execution. I'm not sure that a first person/present tense narration was the best choice for this story, but even so, there are other inherent faults. The narration is too matter-of-fact: lots of details about equipment, the layout of the camp, and how he's found yet another body, but shallow in terms of character and emotion (considering the scenario). He keeps banging on about doing enough to earn his paycheck but I was left with the feeling he could just duck out at any time (Would I care if he didn't get paid? Not really) and so the suspense was limited. He could have been a man who really didn't want to be there but for some reason had to be, or was trapped there, or perhaps he's searching for his wife who was working at the centre, or perhaps he could have been some greedy mercenary intent on money (maybe even robbing from the dead) whom the reader would like to see get his come-uppance. He just falls limply in-between, and it was then a complete let-down to have him just walk away without anything actually happening. How much more effective if he was aware something was stalking him almost from the moment he entered the place? Or have a team of 3 or 4 go into the camp and have them picked off one by one. Lots of little details didn't add up, either. I wasn't convinced about the reasons he was picked for the job or sent in alone, nor was I convinced about none of the original staff being able to raise the alarm before they were all killed. In some ways the very title of this story sums up what's wrong with it - it's supposed to be something dark and suspenseful, but the main character is shrugging off that whole idea and saying "It's Just A Job."
  • Angelica on Oct. 18, 2012

    In spite of the advice in the preview description I did give this story a try and - ensuing feelings of guilt aside - I'm glad I did! Expertly crafted, inventive, witty, colourful, deep, fresh... This short story is a piece of class. I'm very difficult to please, as my other reviews will testify, but I've no hesitation in awarding "Angelica" top marks.
  • Lady Killer on Oct. 18, 2012

    I was just about to post my own review when I noticed the previous one and found it highlighted exactly the same qualms I had with this otherwise very good story. Yes, some of the dialogue felt a little awkward due to the lack of contractions - I wasn't sure if this was deliberate to suggest that Lisa is well-bred, but I found it very hard to visualise a character speaking some of the lines aturally. Yes, I too found myself confused as to which of the lines in speech marks were supposed to be speech and which were just thoughts. And yes, I too thought Rick's post-murder anxiety seemed too drawn out and unnatural for a supposedly experienced murderer who seemed very cock-sure of himself before the act. But otherwise it was pretty good... Wasn't sure to award it a 3 or a 4 but I'll be generous on this occasion, and the two reviews so far will give it an average score of 3.5 which is about right.
  • Eye of the Storm on Oct. 21, 2012

    Having read some of Krista Bean's other short stories and enjoyed them, it was interesting to see what she could achieve in a much shorter format of around 1200 words per story. Quite a lot, actually, as she seems to squeeze quite a lot of narrative into the word count without any appreciable drop in the quality of the prose. The three stories here aren't as fully rounded as her longer stories, which is only to be expected, but they're good snapshots which strike the right balance in terms of the information they divulge and the amount they leave to the reader's imagination.
  • Crimson Dreams on Oct. 21, 2012

    Nice plot idea, and it's reasonably well-written but I found the description of Ellie getting up, going downstairs and making a hot drink overlong and boring, and then the level of her anxiety at a sound coming from the refrigerator seemed way over the top and unbelievable.
  • Detuned Radio on Oct. 21, 2012

    A bit of an oddity this one, but in a good way, a fresh and imaginative take on a well-established genre. It's giving me suspicions about some of the people I work with!
  • Ellipses... on Oct. 21, 2012

    Another expertly-crafted essay from Gabriel Archer. This is quite a deep piece which took me two reads to fully appreciate - for much of the first read I was getting increasingly confused about what was going on and where (if anywhere) the plot was going. I'm glad I did take the trouble to invest the necessary time and concentration because ultimately it was an enjoyable read, but perhaps not the light short story material that some people might want for a coffee break or morning commute.
  • The Dog Lady on Oct. 21, 2012

    If this really is the author's first attempt at a horror story, then it's a pretty good one. The book-ending scenes work well, the plot is simple but powerful and there's a good steady build-up of implied horror before the climax. However, I thought a lot of the background information about the Dog Lady herself was just sort of dumped into the text early on, I think the story would have been more powerful if it had been told entirely from Hank's viewpoint - that is, we discover the Dog Lady firstly through the few details Jake tells him, then by what he sees, smells etc when they break into her home, and then finally from his experience of actually meeting her. There were one or two typos, frequent use of "it's" when it should have been "its", and an annoying use of an ampersand instead of the word "and". But overall - a very promising start to what I hope is a long flirtation with writing.
  • Lifetimes of Adventure on Oct. 21, 2012

    A lovely idea for a story, at the start you think "Hmmm, where's this heading?" but it all soon makes sense and has a nice 'feel-good' quality to it.
  • The bulldozer ploughed on on Nov. 06, 2012

    Well written, a short story that suggests more horror than it actually portrays. However, I found the first half of the story a bit of a strain to get through as it was so uninteresting. I'll be generous (because the writing was otherwise good) and give this a 4, because the story becomes more interesting and makes more sense to the reader in the latter half, but I just didn't feel sufficiently involved or engaged early on and if it hadn't been such a short story I'd have given up on it. It needed a portent of things to come, even if it was just the father dismissing one of the daughters' suggestions that there's danger in the desert.
  • The Ramblers on Nov. 08, 2012

    A nice scenario for a short story. I don't really see the need to break such a short story into numerous chapters, however... Firstly, the characters needed to be much more clearly defined. Angela and Sandy are almost interchangeable, apart from the fact that Angela is the more headstrong we know very little about them. What do they look like? How old are they? What do they do when they're not on a ramble? How long have they been trying to find men for, have they had any previous relationships, why are they single? Secondly, there's a lack of description, atmosphere. We aren't given a hint of what the weather's like until it becomes significant, for instance. Is it a hot day, a cold day? Is it early morning, mid-afternoon? Thirdly, the 'drama' seems rather forced. Without knowing how old the protagonists are, it seemed a bit far-fetched that the two girls would be reduced to sobbing wrecks just because they get caught in a downpour, similarly Sandy's change of attitude towards Chris seemed to come about too easily. For me, he needed to do something a bit more heroic to cause this. Lastly, a lot of the dialogue tags seemed awkward. Lots of 'Angela asked Sandy' and 'Sandy said to Angela' when there's just the two of them in the scene, for example. And some are just wrong - how can Rob 'correct' someone who is asking a question? On the plus side, I don't think I spotted any typos, spelling errors or punctuation faults, it's nice to come across a writer who checks their work properly before uploading it. I think the story has a lot of potential... But I think it needs to be told entirely from Sandy's viewpoint throughout, and it needs more depth through what she sees, hears, smells, feels, thinks, remembers etc.
  • Five Photographs on Nov. 09, 2012

    What a gem this story is! Fresh, original, funny yet touching, rich in characterisation, and with a surprising but perfect ending. Superbly well written. A rare 5 out of 5 from me.
  • The Death Clock - a short story on Nov. 09, 2012

    I've seen the same sort of idea used a couple of times before, but aside from that this a good, well-balanced short story.
  • Their Revenge on Nov. 09, 2012

    I found the story rather average - it lacked invention and twists, and Kayla's character needed to be given more depth in my opinion, given what details we're told about her. Also there are careless errors in the text including many instances of 'I' appearing in lower case. Overall it had a lot of potential, though.
  • The Lady Of The Lighthouse on Nov. 10, 2012

    A decent enough short story, reasonably well told, although probably better suited to younger readers because as an out-and-out horror story I wouldn't say it delivers the necessary scares, twists or suspense that an adult reader might be looking for. A note to the author - the younger brother is called Carl throughout the story, except for one instance when he's suddenly named Josh - a mistake, presumably?
  • Crazy Emma on Nov. 10, 2012

    A well-written short story which actually gets a lot of narrative into its relatively small word count, but not at the expense of characterisation, description and atmosphere. Importantly there's a proper build-up to the eroticism, giving the reader a proper sense of anticipation.
  • Once A Woman on Nov. 11, 2012

    A well-written piece of fiction dealing with strong emotions. The narrative conveys the feelings of the characters well without going overboard or labouring a point, or straining credibility, all easy traps to fall into with this sort of subject matter. It also isn't too downbeat, with an ending that at least offers some hope.
  • Drunk, But Don't Take Advantage on Nov. 11, 2012

    The writing style in this is slightly unusual, quite fast-paced and jumping scenes a little haphazardly at times, without ever dwelling too much on one moment, yet it works for this story. The banter's good and realistic. It deals with a sensitive and very relevant modern issue - as a cautionary tale, I think perhaps it needed to highlight the anguish a little more, as both of the protagonists seem to just brush off the events and live happily ever after, albeit having given up the booze. Maybe it would have been more powerful if Viviene HAD wanted to push charges against Chuck but the police were unable to because he could prove she'd been drinking heavily? That might have been a more compelling reason for Viviene to become tee-total.
  • Death Wears A Black Basque on Nov. 11, 2012

    A short but well-written tale, albeit rather odd. But as odd often equates to originality, that's no bad thing.
  • The Train on Nov. 13, 2012

    The story's quite well written. The plot starts off as intriguing... Then gets even more intriguing... Then seems to get a bit silly... And then the ending is an unforgiveable cop-out. Sorry, that kind of resolution is just not acceptable in fiction - my English teacher told a fellow pupil in my class that when I was aged 11! It's the second time I've come across it in a Smashwords book, and ironically the other book was about an unusual train ride too. I see there are sequels to this story, I've not read them yet, so I don't know if the goalposts move (as it were) but as a stand-alone story this one feels like a complete let-down. Sorry.
  • Breakfast In Paris on Nov. 18, 2012
    (no rating)
    Well, it had to happen eventually. After reading and reviewing numerous works on Sashwords, I've finally come across a story that's similar to one of my own. Not that I'm accusing Mr Cameron of plagiarism, far from it (his story appeared on Smashwords before I'd even signed up to the site). It's interesting to see how another writer, particularly one as eloquent as Mr Cameron, approaches the same basic idea. Some things we both did the same (female protagonist, story told in the present tense from a first person perspective, very similar word count...) and yet the stories are very different in other respects. I don't think it would be fair for me to score this work but I did enjoy his 'take' on the idea very much.
  • The Sweet Man on Nov. 18, 2012

    This story felt a little awkward for me. On the one hand the main protagonist, Ian, is shown to be a sympathetic character, but on the other hand he's behaving quite despicably. As a killer whose motivation stems from despair, a desire for revenge borne out of being hurt too many times rather than madness or genuine evil, I'd have liked the story to have built up more to the 'tipping point' where Ian, having finally had all he can take, caves in mentally. For me, the story didn't really get into the strong emotions that must have been involved, and instead Ian's actions felt far more routine than they should have done.
  • The Accidental Immortal on April 20, 2013

    After seeing all the good reviews, I was hoping for something a little better. This short story has some good ideas, including its central premise, but the actual storytelling seemed bland, most of it being an exchange of dialogue. The writing certainly doesn't engage the senses, there's no imagery, no tension, no atmosphere. I mean, when Maddie's recollections start, for example, she just states "I started off as a cave dweller." Why not have her remembering the hunger, the stress, the cold damp interior of the cave, the indignity of having to eat insects and such, before she comes out with this statement? Something to colour her words and add a bit of substance and character.
  • The Last Bite on April 22, 2013

    A good, rounded story which keeps you guessing as to the ending even though the clues are there right from the off. The characters and settings are well-defined. Just now and again the writing started to get a little flat, for example there was a sudden dump of information about Gabriel and Anna's relationship which I'd rather was shown or suggested through their interaction rather than told in straightforward narrative. Also, given the settings and situations, I think the descriptions could have been a lot more vibrant and a lot more imagery deployed, which is why I refrain from giving top marks. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and the strengths easily outweigh the weaknesses.
  • Harrington House on April 24, 2013

    The writing is competent without being exceptional, the story is short and simple but not especially remarkable. Okay for such a short length, I suppose, but not the most memorable or satisfying read.
  • For Joyce on April 24, 2013
    (no rating)
    I often sample writers' works without reading the teasers first, and that was the case with this short story. Having read the story, I've now read the teaser and am quite surprised as it provides information about the situation that the story itself does not. Stories should stand on their own; this one does, but is open to all sorts of interpretations. The information provided in the short description above, however, changes all that, so if that was the real intention of the story then it should have been made clearer in the story itself.
  • The Song of the Sea on April 24, 2013

    A fairly simple story, exceptionally well told, which holds the interest throughout and paints a vivid picture despite using a simple vocabulary. Top marks.
  • If on April 25, 2013

    I hate this short story. I hate it because it's so well written, constructed and has such a good premise that I'm jealous that it's not MY work. It's not the first time I've been impressed by a Gabriel Archer tale. Darn, I'm going to have to tag him as one of my favourite authors...
  • The Butterfly on April 25, 2013

    Quite a short story but it seemed longer somehow, perhaps because of the many twists and turns it took. Some truly fascinating concepts at work in this piece, and it conjures up some really disturbing images. An excellent read.
  • The Cat And The Fiddle on April 26, 2013

    A superior example of its genre. Rather than just consist of detailed descriptions of reproductive body parts for the sake of a quick bit of titillation, this well-written piece delves deeper into the psyche of the two protagonists, exploring a convincing attraction and building it up with sufficient expectation rather than launching straight into 'the action'. There were some nice puns along the way, too, and the musical aspect of the story is superbly intertwined with the sexual side.
  • Come Find Me on April 26, 2013

    **Warning - this review contains mild spoilers** This was an OK story, it kept my interest right to the end but the plot somehow seemed to lack logic and consistency, as if ideas had just been shoved into it whether they really fitted or not. Thirteen people have apparently committed suicide in the house of a period of many years. There's no attempt to explain what started this cycle. The house is haunted, but is this as a result of the first suicide, or did the first person kill himself because of the ghost?? Mildred "...stopped seeing the rest of the family and whenever they did see her," - big contradiction there, and soon after we're also told that Mildred has them round for dinner. The girls' father is mentioned in the past events as wanting to help Mildred, but he's not around in the present events. It seems ridiculous that Rachel would arrive to move into her new home all alone with no other family members to provide any assistance - particularly when they're concerned about the house! Is the father dead by this point, if not why isn't he helping his daughter? The whole issue of each girl having to enter the house alone (thus being vulnerable) seemed very contrived. People are found dead in the house, with blood everywhere, and messages written in blood on the mirror - so does nobody tell the police? Would there not be an official inquest after a sudden death? People have lived in the house for years, it's suggested, yet Rachel and Jennifer fall victim to it pretty much immediately. Seems a bit inconsistent. And the ending - I won't spoil it here, but it made me groan because the idea's been used so many times before. The writing was a bit clunky at times, with some errors (eg "right" instead of "write" in the very last sentence) but I did see genuine attempts to describe things, build atmosphere and add some personality to the characters, important things that some writers neglect in their hurry to tell a story. I can see a lot of potential and I hope Krysteen writes more.
  • Fright on April 28, 2013

    I was a bit bemused by this short story. A very dramatic scenario is told in a bland, matter-of-fact manner with little description or characterisation, let alone atmosphere. And it seems to end at a random moment. I think it really needed to be anchored to Robert's point of view the whole way through. He's woken by a scream from a neighbouring apartment, he rushes round and meets other neighbours for the first time, forms opinions of them, experiences emotions, makes conclusions about Katrina's character from the details he sees in her apartment... It would have made me feel more involved in the drama.
  • Compromises on April 28, 2013

    The use of the present tense felt very awkward in this story, I didn't see the need for it. This problem was compounded by the closing lines which anchored the narrative to a past event. The description is sparse, but the characters were nicely defined by the dialogue and although I had my doubts about where the plot was going, it did ultimately work as a story.
  • Medusa on April 28, 2013

    I started reading this without taking too much notice of the title, and was still drawn in by the character, the scenario and the setting. A well written short story which has depth and which is thought-provoking. I confess to not being an expert on the subject matter, if I was then my score may have shifted depending on my preconceptions and my perceptions of the story's accuracy.
  • The Mimic on April 29, 2013

    A fair read, intriguing and the tension mounts well, but I thought the ending lacked punch. Maybe on hearing Sean's voice coming out of the phone, the creature could then have mimicked Kim's voice and said "I'm on my way, I'll see you and the kids very shortly..."
  • The Room Behind the Wall on April 29, 2013

    The idea of a couple forgetting about a walled-up storage space, and not noticing a 15-foot gap between a ceiling and a roof just didn't ring true, but otherwise this was a well-told creepy story that cranked up the suspense and expectation very nicely.
  • Lamatsu on May 02, 2013

    This whole story felt very awkward to me, both in terms of the plot and the writing. There are some good ideas in it, the situation is interesting, the story held my attention throughout.. but... The characters seemed very flat. Each is introduced with a quick dump of information, including details quite superfluous to the plot (what's it really matter if Kyle is recently divorced, for example), from then on it's just dialogue and action without any attempt to revisit that character's appearance (although in the case of Sean, we're never given any information about his physical appearance at all, only his age). The story is mostly written in the past tense, but sometimes lapses into the present tense. We have detailed description of some things (eg the door knocker) but not virtually no description of other things (eg much of the house's interior). The ideas in the story seem thrown in more for startling effect rather than through logic. The armless man - why does he have no arms? What is his role in the situation? What purpose does such a severely handicapped man serve Lamatsu? How did he open the door? Is he paid a salary? How have the activities of Lamatsu gone undetected? Wouldn't using a commercial courier, who would presumably keep records of addresses they have delivered to, attract undue attention? Why kill someone who can be easily traced rather than kidnapping an anonymous hobo or hooker from the streets during night-time? And the M C Escher-style dungeon, nice concept but again, what's it really doing there? How long has this weird house been there anyway, who built it, did they have planning permission? Hasn't anybody else been curious about it? Leaving certain things to the reader's imagination, and allowing a limited suspension of disbelief is fine, but things still have to make sense, even within a fictional reality. The horrors in the this tale just seemed to lack all reason and, therefore, believability. And sorry, but I thought the the ending was very weak and unsatisfying too. But, at the end of all that, it had a proper beginning, middle and end, and was interesting throughout, so it wasn't all bad.
  • Mourning The Sun on May 02, 2013

    The plot of this story isn't anything especially remarkable, but where it triumphs is in its imaginative depiction of a different world and culture. This isn't a half-hearted effort like some I've read, the writer clearly has a vivid concept of this world and its inhabitants and has imbued the story with numerous little details, all of which help to colour the landscape. I would have given this story a mark of 4, but I've deducted a point because I found numerous errors in the text including common mix-ups between "it's" and "its", and several spelling mistakes that should have been picked up by an automatic spell-check, let alone a manual read-through.
  • Uncontainable on May 02, 2013

    Writing an original ghost story? That's some challenge you guys have set yourselves. Just as it's been said that there are only really a small handful of different types of joke, or different types of magic trick, most ghost stories tend to be derivative of one of a small number of set themes. Common examples include: * the person who is experiencing some odd things then discovers they've actually died and come back as a ghost *the person who meets someone, and later discovers that person died years before *the person who is given some sort of a warning by a ghost, doesn't heed it, and becomes that ghost *the person who fakes a haunting to scare a third party, then encounters a real ghost Then you've got all your poltergeists, doppelgangers, possessions... I'm not convinced this story truly passes the originality test... Several of the individual elements have been used before, such as people capturing ghosts (Ghostbusters), ghosts being echoes that are 'recorded' by the fabric of a building (The Stone Tape), and the concept of haunted computers has been around for a few years now. The idea of behind the 'main entity' I'd not come across before though (I can't say more without spoiling the story). But a story doesn't necessarily have to be wholly original to be good. I still can't decide if the story really benefited from being told via a series of emails/reports. I fully understand why this method was chosen, given the conclusion, but sometimes I felt it meant that events in the story lacked a certain immediacy. Having several characters, there were times when I had to check back who was who because they invariably only get mentioned by surname. They're defined okay initially, but a few more reminders throughout the text (eg further references to, say, Sheridan's ponytail) might have helped. I spotted a few typos - but these were deliberate, right? Because they were mistakes Stan typed in his emails :-) No, overall I liked the story, it was well-written, imaginative and held my attention, plus it had one or two nice twists at the end. I also like the way you and Strickland set yourselves these challenges, so that you're really trying to stretch yourselves both in terms of skill and imagination. And hopefully inspire other writers to do the same in the process. I know the challenges certainly get ME thinking...
  • Leaves of Autumn: A Short Horror on May 06, 2013

    I liked this. It's very short, but the writer has squeezed a lot of narrative into the story without detriment to the quality of the writing. It's fresh, atmospheric, spooky and thought-provoking, which is quite an achievement for just 800-or-so words.
  • Moments In A Crowd on May 07, 2013

    Quite enjoyable for its very short length. I'm not sure if the identity of the target is supposed to come as a surprise at the end of the story, because I guessed it was him straight away, even before I saw the cover (which is a bit of a giveaway).
  • Nostalgia on May 07, 2013

    An enjoyable genre work, more suggestive and psychological than graphic. Possibly just a touch overlong, but that's largely because the writer is detailed in description and pieces individual scenes together carefully to create an intriguing and thought-provoking whole.
  • Mortal Hobby on May 12, 2013

    This is a bit of an oddity. Essentially, it's a look into the mind of a serial killer, yet much of its short length is told from the perspective of the victims. The writer very courteously gives us the age of each victim as she is introduced, but precious little other information, other than the fact they're female and they live alone. As for the killer... The limited detail about him that this short story conjures up is one-dimensional and rather obvious. The erotic element in the story makes for rather uncomfortable reading in this context, and the ending was rather sudden. Also, the frequent use of exclamation marks was rather distracting. In fiction, these tend to be reserved for dialogue, not when describing actions as is the case here. Overall it was okay, just not especially remarkable.
  • Mould on May 13, 2013

    The writing in this tale is of a high standard and yet... I dunno, the story just didn't grab me at all. I just didn't find it that interesting. I suppose it's just down to personal tastes, I applaud the writer's efforts all the same on what is a fresh, vivid piece of fiction.
  • Locks of Her Hair on May 26, 2013

    A good, well written creepy yarn. The horror element is suitably subtle and mostly left to the imagination. I'm not really surprised to hear that this story was the winning entry in a contest, it's certainly hard to fault.
  • With These Eyes on May 26, 2013

    The basic plot of this one is okay, but the writing is a bit of a mish-mash. As it concerns a blind girl hoping to get her eyesight restored, this could have been a much stronger, emotional tale told entirely from Alison's point of view; descriptions could have relied entirely on sounds, smells, touch in order for the reader to better experience the ordeal Alison is going through, but instead the story opts for a much weaker and less satisfying omniscient point of view. Character descriptions rigidly adhere to a person's height and hair colour. Some moments are confusing. Does a person who has just had a terrible fright, and has adrenalin rushing through them, feel the inclination to yawn? And how can a person who has been blind for some time, has a bandage over her eyes and has her eyes closed think it's too dark? That just didn't make sense to me. The doctor's relationship to the killer was unexpected - but also completely superfluous, as nothing is then made of this connection. As for Alison, the main character, it would have been nice to learn a little more about her. Why did she need the op in the first place? Where were the rest of her family at such an important time in her life? The writer talks of wanting to make money from his hobby. I can see a lot of potential, but also a lot of flaws that are common to the works of untrained writers. Without wanting to come across as patronising, I'd strongly suggest doing what any writer who is serious considering selling his work does, buy a book or two about how to write fiction. There are lots of good ones on the market and their advice is essential. If a writer is too lazy or stubborn to learn the craft properly, then they really shouldn't expect anybody to pay for their work.
  • The Elevator Story on May 27, 2013

    A good, well-written, quirky horror with well-defined characters.
  • Flower Beds on May 27, 2013

    There's no real twist in this short story; the plot unfolds in more or less the way you expect it to. Often, that would be to a story's detriment, but not in this instance. In the expert hands of James Hampton, this short story is a delight, the enjoyment stemming from the simple-yet-absorbing situation and the rich characterisation.
  • Jimmy's Dream on May 27, 2013

    It's probably just as well this story is very short because the first two-thirds of it are - sorry to be blunt - just dreadfully boring. It's just a rambling treatise on Jimmy's likes with absolutely no intrigue or situation to stimulate reader interest. Yes, the 'revelation' of the final third of the story (rather signposted by the story's title) provides a reason for the preceding narrative but I don't think it really justifies it - you can't have a boring beginning and middle of a story for the sake of an interesting conclusion because there's a danger readers won't persevere to the end. There are also some spelling/punctuation errors in the story suggesting it hasn't been properly proof-read.
  • I'm Old and They Know It on May 27, 2013

    By coincidence, I was watching the film "Harry Brown" just last week and this story starts out along a very similar path of that film, although it then veers off into a rather different direction completely. The basic plot is sound enough for a short horror story, but it all seems rather flat, somehow. The thugs are blighting Winston's life, apparently, yet the one we meet in the story seems way too calm and compliant. Although I understand why the author adopted it, I'm not convinced the first-person narrative is the wisest option for this story. Having Winston rather cosily reminisce about the events does lend a nice juxtaposition to the horror, but it dilutes a lot of the drama. For example, we're just told in passing that Winston almost had the life frightened out of him when he returned home to find one of the youths there. That, to me, is a situation with great dramatic and character potential that should be properly described in detail rather than just reference almost with a shrug of the shoulders. There were several words which slipped through the spell-checker too, including one in the very first sentence, and "illation" used instead of "elation".
  • Fatal Vision on May 30, 2013

    An interesting concept but that's about the only thing I can praise about this story. Even ignoring the punctuation errors, I thought this was a classic exercise in how to tell a story in the blandest way possible. No description, characterisation, atmosphere or imagery... The tale is mostly told through dialogue, which need not be a bad thing except that the dialogue here is as lifeless as a brick. The vocabulary is lacklustre and repetitive (eg 'jotting down notes'). We aren't even told how old Tom is. Even the story seems illogical - Tom thinks he's killed at least fifteen people, why hasn't he had his eyes checked out before? Why did the psychologist ask his wife to remove Tom's spectacles instead of doing it himself? And the final couple of lines, it seems so contrived that Tom has to enquire who Peggy was just so Wiemer can then disclose the revelation. Sorry to sound so negative, I just thought the whole story was very weak.
  • Come Find Me on May 30, 2013
    (no rating)
    In response to Michael Carter's comments about me below... I'll hold my hands up and admit everything :-) Yes, I probably seem overly critical a lot of the time, but in mitigation I'll never just say a story is bad, I'll explain where I thought there were weaknesses, because basically I want to help writers out there to improve. Showering them with praise might encourage them, but it won't help them improve one bit! And, hey, at least I'm taking the trouble to read and review stories on this site, we're in a minority, sadly. Michael is absolutely right though - you should never take any of my criticism to heart. Incidentally, are you aware that there are more reviews of many Smashwords stories on the Barnes & Noble website? The reviews are much more, um, variable on there and some are far more blunt than anything I would say!
  • A Place Where I Belong on June 02, 2013

    First things first: the chapters are incorrectly numbered - there are two Chapter 4s! This is almost a book of two halves. It started out as a straightforward romance, but after just 3 or 4 chapters it was pretty obvious that the two main protagonists were going to form a relationship, so with a dozen or more chapters to go I was wondering how the novel was going to sustain interest when there really wasn't much else going on plot-wise. By the halfway stage the story had already reached the point where I thought it might have concluded, which left me even more curious. Luckily after that, the novel actually came up with some actual plot, and the second half was much better than the first. So my main gripe was that the first half of the book had too little going on, it needed more subplots for the budding romance to be played out against, or at least to tantalise the reader with some mysteries. The opportunities were there, but they were invariably spurned. This was, essentially, Mandy's story so I think it should have been told solely from Mandy's viewpoint. The constant cutting to Buddy's viewpoint weakened it, because every time Mandy was curious about Buddy's behaviour we were immediately given an insight to his thoughts and any chance of intrigue was gone, so that by the time Mandy discovered the answer for herself the reader already knew it and consequently wouldn't be that interested. Similarly, after the initial misunderstanding in the first chapter, rather than Mandy be told by Melanie that Buddy is really a nice guy once you get to know him, it would have been better, dramatically, to have had Mandy discover this entirely for herself. In this sense, Melanie was a bit of a superfluous character; the story might have worked better had Ginny taken Mandy to the card game, the initial disagreement with Buddy taking place, then Mandy decides to stay on in town and hears that the Turner ranch is looking for a new live-in helper. Mandy answers the advert, and only when taking up the position does she then discover Buddy lives on the ranch, thinks "Oh no, not HIM" and then gradually gets to know him better and fall for him. Likewise the aspect of Christian faith might have been sold better if Mandy's faith had lapsed as a result of her abuse by Jerry, and Buddy and the Turner family helped her slowly regain it. As for Ginny - she just vanishes! One moment she and Mandy are hugging like old friends, then Ginny is just dropped. She doesn't get even an invite to the wedding, and it was largely through her that Mandy and Buddy met in the first place! Large portions of dialogue seemed unnatural to me, no matter how I read them I just couldn't visualise anybody actually speaking some of those lines naturally. This wasn't helped by a lack of contractions (eg "I am so happy" used instead of "I'm so happy") and the use of brackets in dialogue also seems very odd. I found a lot of the sentences too short, meaning the text didn't flow as well as it could. The story has a bad habit of labouring a point. There's just so much general repetition. Over and over and over again the main characters say how much they like/love each other and how grateful they are for whatever. The same vocabulary is constantly used , the same similes are repeated (eg Mandy's emotional outpouring is likened to a dam breaking at least four times). Descriptions of key characters are brief or non-existent, yet we're told the full contents of every meal (of which there are many). In spite of all this, there were good aspects too. As I said previously, the second half of the novel worked quite well in terms of plot structure. The characters, Ginny aside, all seemed to have a relevant role in the story. There were occasional punctuation errors or typos, but considering the length of the piece, it was, on the whole, correct in terms of spelling, grammar and punctuation. The author obviously cared passionately about the characters and some of the situations, which came across at times, for example Buddy's favourite place being vividly described. Writing a 90,000 word novel is no mean feat either, as anybody who has tried will know, so my thanks to Mary Tribbey for making this available for no charge.
  • The Teacher Syndrome on June 02, 2013

    I have to agree with the other reviewers. This story was too much like a first draft that the author hadn't even read through; there were flashes of good writing but lots of errors - words missed out and so forth. The story itself hints at an illicit affair but needs tightening up as it's a bit too ambiguous and confusing, such as how the teacher's brother comes to be involved. I mean, yes, I can come up with a theory or two, but it's pure guesswork rather than piecing together clues from the narrative. Given how everything else is told by suggestion, it's also a bit clumsy that the text has to explain that Collin is Mr Arturo's brother the moment he is introduced. So, a score of 2 from me, but with better editing this could have been a 4.
  • The Cause on June 03, 2013
    (no rating)
    I started to read this and after a few pages I just couldn't figure out what was going on, so I gave up on it. I left it a few days then tried reading it again, with the same result. As I didn't read the full piece, it would be unfair of me to score this work. Maybe it's a good story, but I certainly couldn't understand it.
  • The Leaves of Departure on June 05, 2013

    A fairly simple but very effective short story. In terms of character and setting it paints its pictures beautifully and is also eloquent in conveying mood and atmosphere. Considering how sensitively crafted the rest of the story was, I felt that the resumé/biography of the old man's life seemed a little shoe-horned in, maybe the salient points could have been memories triggered by certain things the old man looked at or heard during his daughter's visit, but this is really a very minor criticism and didn't detract from an otherwise excellent piece of writing.
  • Cat's Milk on June 05, 2013

    A really well written, quirky and off-beat short horror tale, which builds nicely as it goes along. I can't say too much without spoiling the plot, but overall I couldn't really fault it, so top marks from me.
  • The Proposition on June 05, 2013

    Why is Abigail referred to as Abagail in the preview description? Anyway, I digress. The book: It's about 65% dialogue, 30% actions, and the small remainder reserved for description and thoughts, so it almost reads more like a script than a true novel. I'm guessing the author finds describing things in detail a bit of a strain and skimps on that part of the writing process. Unfortunately it's gotta be done! In terms of plot structure the story was quite good, it progressed nicely, maintained interest and had a few nice twists along the way. The whole 'plan' seemed rather vague though, although Abby is supposedly to be used as bait I never really understood how the trap was to be sprung, as such, and when Merritt was chased out of Portland I was left wondering why Paul and Nick couldn't have just done that in the first place without roping Abby in. There were some instances of certain words or expressions being used too frequently, the vocabulary maybe needed to be more varied. And in the opening chapter, for instance, the narrative explains Paul's connection to Abby, only for Abby to then repeat the very same information to Nick a few paragraphs later, rendering the former explanation unnecessary to the reader. For a dialogue-heavy piece, it was very lucky that the dialogue was so lively. The banter between the characters seemed natural and was often witty, as were Abigail's frequent thoughts aside. I really liked the humour in this tale, Abby was a fun character to take us along on her ride and I enjoyed the developing dynamic between her and Nick. (I agree with the previous reviewer, though - after the constant teasing as to whether or not Abby and Nick would 'get it on', the actual event needed a little more than just "we made love for hours". It doesn't have to be graphic, but for a key moment in the story, it needed some impact.) So yes, while this could do with a lot more polish, it was still a fun, exciting, sexy adventure story, and it set things up very nicely for a sequel, which I await with keen interest.
  • Parasite on June 06, 2013

    A good story that takes a common human fear, that of wasps, and amplifies it somewhat. The story is told well; the jumps of scene/viewpoint are a little jarring in such a short story, but probably necessary as I can't really think of a better way the full horror of the situation could have been brought across. Vhiper's fate is not nice!
  • Whisperer on June 08, 2013

    I don't go in for werewolf stories much as a rule, but I gave this one a try and was rewarded by some very good writing by Jaleta Clegg. The jump from Tori thinking the problem was just down to common wolves to then accepting that they were really werewolves seemed too sudden to me, otherwise this was a rounded, engaging tale which managed to satisfy me even though I'm not a fan of the genre.
  • Enemy of the People on June 08, 2013

    I think the reviewer below has hit the nail on the head as to why this story doesn't quite work. There's rather too much thought and backstory from Leon as he is just sitting there waiting to carry out his job, and as it's the type of job he's used to doing, the reader has to question why there's so much thinking going on. The end is good, certainly, but that doesn't really justify the means. It might have helped if the thoughts had been broken up more by action, maybe start the story with Leon first getting ready to set out to do the job, and each stage as he gets closer to his target and doing the dirty deed triggers increasingly doubtful thoughts. Maybe even follow it through until the banker is killed, and have Leon then question why a banker has to die as he looks down on the lifeless corpse, and then question his own future. Tying the thoughts up with the actual actions might have made them more relevant and powerful, in my own humble opinion.
  • The List on June 08, 2013

    I'm not sure I'd agree with the author's assertion in the book description that this story is "gripping and edgy", however it is quite a good character piece which has something to say. Using "kindle bestsellers" etc as a tag for this story is taking a liberty! I'd prefer it if the author had the guts to be honest and let his/her stand up and be counted on its own merits. There's sufficient promise shown in this piece to suggest the writer has no need to resort to such duplicitous tactics.
  • Thief on June 08, 2013

    I liked some of the ideas in this story and the prose was generally very good, but the ending confused me somewhat and I had to re-read it a couple of times to work out exactly what had happened. I don't think it was quite as clear as it should have been. Would have been a 4, but because I had to re-read bits to understand it, only a 3.
  • Reprise on June 08, 2013

    When I spotted the word count of 205, I was very intrigued to see what kind of story could be woven in such a limited space. But, as the other reviewer has indicated, this is not a story at all, it's more like a brief report from a news journal concerning a sculpting project. It bears absolutely no resemblance to the description provided, to the tag words or to the genre it has been placed in. I've no idea if this is a genuine mistake and the writer has uploaded the wrong file, or if this is some kind of prank.
  • Afternoon of the Iguana on June 08, 2013

    A good story that felt much longer than 1,200 words, the author has crammed a lot into the narrative yet not to the detriment of the quality.
  • The Invitation on June 09, 2013

    An okay read, but flawed in some respects. The whole set up, with Evelyn arriving at the party and so forth, is rather pointless since Evelyn's participation in the party is over in a few lines and the main aspect of the story only occurs as Evelyn is about to leave. And sorry but WHY does Matt suddenly want to marry Evelyn when, out of his own choice, he's had no contact with her in two years? How can he keep 'up to date' on her life via a Facebook page she hasn't updated in 18 months? All in all, not as rounded and well crafted a story as it could have been.
  • Don't go there on June 25, 2013
    (no rating)
    Hi Sean. I see from your profile that you are new to writing and looking to improve with each story you write. That's good, and I hope you will take my advice as sincere and not take it too much to heart. You really really need to brush up on your punctuation. Too many sentences in your story just flowed into one another, and important things like question marks and capital letters were missing. This made your story far more difficult to read than should have been the case, and will put readers off your work immediately. Your story didn't describe what anything looked like - the people, the places... It repeatedly used the term word countryside as though that was sufficient, but there are lots of different types of countryside! (And if the two backpackers are in a pub that is a few miles into the countryside, why would somebody ask them if they are going into the countryside if they are already there?) Your story idea was good though, with a nice ending. If you're determined to improve, then invest in a book on how to write fiction, there are many excellent ones available on the market. I don't say this as a slight on your ability, it is advice I would give to any aspiring writer and yes, I've bought several myself over the years. The other piece of advice I would give is to read as much fiction as you can. Learn from the masters, learn how they tackle their ideas, learn to broaden your vocabulary. Good writing is not just telling a good story, it's telling that story in the most interesting way possible.
  • Blue on June 25, 2013

    Ah, another little gem from Michael Carter. Immaculately constructed, good use of vocabulary as I would expect from him. I really can't fault it (although there's seems to be an inference that there is only the one big beast inhabiting Blue's waters, which wouldn't really make sense). I'm going to have to give it 5 aren't I? Enjoyed the afterword, too. Interested to read that you don't keep re-writing drafts until the story's 'just right' - I'm pretty much the same... A bit of re-tweaking is always needed but the majority of my finished stories are 90% first draft. I generally trust my initial instincts and the re-writing process (I feel) loses that important spontaneity. Sometimes it's fun just to start with a general idea, start writing and see where the characters take you. Thanks for sharing.
  • Return Me to Mistwillow on July 02, 2013

    Oh, this was a sheer delight to read. Good, absorbing story which sneakily reveals its hidden depths a bit at a time, but the actual writing is so rich it positively drips gold. There isn't a single word in the piece that fails to suggest it hasn't been deliberately chosen to enhance the work. These are expert descriptions here, not long-winded lists of details but a few considered observations which evoke a vivid image. For example: "He leaned against the counter and surveyed his inventory of goods awaiting buyers. Stacked shelves of flour, wheat, beans, and jerky lay in dusty ruin. Wilted dresses hung from wall pegs like gray ghosts. Spider webs adorned the boot rack, and the pickle barrel had rotted out long ago." Make no mistake, this is a writing masterclass all Smashwords fiction writers could learn from. Sublime.
  • Our Longest Night: A Short Story on July 06, 2013

    This is okay in parts, it attempts to establish characters and the horror element is generally understated and kept mysterious. The dialogue's not bad but there's very little description. A camping trip should be rich in sights, sounds and smells but no, the text makes no attempt to put the reader in the location. Nor does it even bother to inform the reader what any of the five friends actually look like. I didn't really see the point in Pearl's inclusion in the story, and the idea of five kids camping out somewhere without adult supervision but with their parents' blessing (particularly when one of the kids has strict parents) seemed very far-fetched. Note to the writer: A long passage in the story (starting with '"What do you see?" Allison asked, sticking her head out of the tent' and ending with '"Yeah," Pearl said') is repeated for some reason. I'm not sure if this error is in the original manuscript or was a fault generated in the conversion process, but you may want to fix it or readers will be left with a sudden sense of deja vu mid-way through the story as I was!
  • Slaughter Wolf on July 06, 2013

    I tend not to be drawn towards horror stories featuring vampires, zombies or werewolves because there are so many of them about and I prefer to experience more original types of menace. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by this story, which in terms of plot and execution I found to be a big improvement on the other works I've read from Walter Lazo. The writing is generally very good and although the story concerns a werewolf, that element is really just a backdrop to a more human - and more rewarding - tale of good and evil. Okay, so there are a few minor errors (eg "we approached the shirtless man wearily" when I presume it should be 'warily') and there's a tendency to list details rather than blend them in. However the characters are believable, descriptions generally good, the vocabulary varied and imaginative, so all round a very enjoyable read.
  • Curse of Genius on July 12, 2013

    **Spoiler alert - This review contains spoilers** I felt that this story rather lacked conflict... It was a pleasant read, but wasn't a page-turner that I found hard to put down. Dori is wary of the school bully? That's okay, she has a friend who'll protect her. Dori fancies Bryson? Well, luckily he fancies her too. Dori gets involved in a bad car accident? No problem, she escapes without serious injury. And all this anxiety Dori has about revealing her genius - the only thing that seems to be stopping her is she's worried that she'll lose her best friend, and yet at the same time we're repeatedly told (and shown) that her best friend will stick by her through thick and thin, so what's the problem? I can believe a 15-year-old girl successfully keeping her true level of intelligence under wraps, but not a younger one. How and why did Dori's genius stay a secret when she was aged 5, 7, 10? And these books she's supposed to have written, have they not been published, did she write them under a different name, or what? Because writing a book might be a slight giveaway that the child is pretty intelligent... So, plot-wise this was a bit light and stretched credibility a little. The only thing Dori actually DOES in this story is become a cheerleader, and that's just to get her mom off her back, otherwise good things just keep happening to her. I'd have liked her have to work just a little bit harder to achieve her success, you know, for a bit of actual drama? Okay, that's the criticism out of the way. On the plus side, this was well-written: very clearly defined and believable characters, entertaining dialogue and narrative, faultless punctuation, spelling and grammar, and refreshing use of similes (a skill too often neglected in the Smashwords stories I read). Descriptions of what people looked like were lacking somewhat but otherwise the character dynamics were very good. It was interesting (and convincing) that a genius (Dori) and a very self-confident girl (Becca) were both very insecure when it came to boys. As a counterpoint to this, it might have been good to have the supposedly-inferior Carson totally at ease and successful with the opposite sex. All in all, I don't think this story managed to convince me that genius was a curse to Dori, but in most respects it was very very good.
  • The Broken Needles on July 12, 2013

    This was a good story idea, but it's a bit rough around the edges. The mystery starts to build up nicely but then we're suddenly given all the answers in a couple of lengthy speeches, which is the most unsatisfying way to resolve it. I'd have preferred not to have been told everything, just to have been given hints and clues. Also the story starts off as though we're following Emily as the main character, then it just sort of switches to her grandparents. There were several punctuation and spelling errors too. Overall, this had the potential to be a 4 or even a 5, but in this form it only merits a 3.
  • For The Best on July 14, 2013

    Another well-written and subtle horror story from Christine Morgan, striking the right balance between what to tell and what not to tell; it leaves several possibilities open to the imagination of the reader without being too ambiguous.
  • A Warm Afternoon, A Dark Summer Night on July 12, 2014

    I quite liked this story, although the middle section rather sign-posted the 'surprise' ending. The descriptions could have been a bit more vivid, and the dialogue seemed rather false due to the continual lack of contractions (eg somebody saying "I do not know" instead of "I don't know"). Otherwise this was well told, with varied and flowing vocabulary.
  • Longest Night on July 13, 2014

    An all-round good tale - meticulous punctuation, spelling and grammar, vivid (but not labored) descriptions which engage the senses, strongly defined characters and a tantalizing scenario... What's not to like? This is an enjoyable peek into another time and place, and I was also impressed by the way the writer managed to make this story work so well when being told in the present tense.
  • Jacob's Closet on July 13, 2014

    I have to agree with the previous reviewer who picked up on numerous mistakes in terms of punctuation, spelling, words missed out etc. There were more than enough to detract from the reading of the story. I liked the scenario here, but unlike previous reviewers, I'm less convinced about the way the story is split into two halves. The story starts off by slowly building up to a chilling crescendo and then... Puff! The drama evaporates as the story is effectively rebooted, and the suspense then has to build up again from scratch, and in the process repeat details we already know. I think it might have worked better starting with Detective Jennings arriving at the scene, and as he visits each room and learns details, the narrative gives us snippets from Jeannie's experience in the form of brief flashbacks. The two strands would have knitted together more strongly and the piece as a whole would have had a more clear sense of progression, particularly in terms of slowly cranking up the suspense from the start to the climax.
  • Scary Stuff on July 14, 2014

    The basic plot of this story is excellent and ideal for a piece of this length. It just needs a little bit more work to really succeed. For a start, the dialogue throughout seemed very unnatural; I couldn't visualize real people actually speaking those lines, which too often seemed contrived to reveal necessary context. Also, the behaviour of the characters at times seemed unrealistic also, such as the man who finds Annie lying face down in a pond. After dragging her out, all he does is more or less ask if she's okay and then clear off. Would he not take her home, or to a hospital, or call one of her friends out to take care of her? Point of which, shouldn't Annie's transformation have a bit more of an impact upon her life? Does she not have any friends or family, or a job she goes to, which would make suddenly having a new face rather complicated? She ultimately comes across as a not-very-nice person given that all she seems to care about at the end is her own personal wealth (which she even lies about in order to attain). I give this 3 stars, but with the right work on it, the story has the potential for a full 5 out of 5.
  • Scaring Fields on July 15, 2014

    Bit of an oddity, this one, but then it IS filed under "Weird Fiction" so what else should I expect? The prose is perfectly functional and the scenario intriguing, yet I somehow didn't feel the level of suspense that I should have done, and I'm not altogether sure why. The ending seemed to lack impact, too. But this is an interesting and original glimpse into a community with different values and, a day after reading it, I'm still pondering. Thought-provoking material can only be a good thing... So 4 out of 5 from me.
  • The Fortune Roulette on July 17, 2014

    A very, very short story and a good example of what can be achieved in so few words. The story is very well written, and even has an identifiable beginning, middle and an end, but ultimately it's just too short to be wholly satisfying. The sense of suspense is lost because there are realistically only two ways in which the story can end, and also because there's insufficient time in a story of this microscopic length to get to know the character and therefore care about what happens to him. Debt also seemed a rather obvious motivation for the character engaging in this activity, a more original, inventive reason wouldn't have gone amiss. But overall, a very good experiment with micro fiction.
  • Retrograde on July 17, 2014

    Hmmm, I was a bit bemused by this, if I'm being honest. It seemed fairly obvious what was going on, so I'm not sure if the ending was meant to be some kind of surprise or not. And why was Jen so apprehensive? It's not really made clear. The basic idea behind the story has been used many times before, and often to much better effect such as in the film "Never Let Me Go". The writing was competent without being exceptional. In conclusion then, rather average.
  • The Carpenter on July 17, 2014

    An expertly crafted and touching piece of writing.
  • Meet Olive on July 18, 2014

    A decent short story, well written. Good all round.
  • Well-Covered on July 18, 2014

    Well-Covered isn't a bad story, but it's a little rough around the edges and could do with some more work. There are a few errors in the text, nothing major, but they're there. Descriptions vary from the good (such as the ending scene), to the odd ('splash' seems something of an understatement when describing the effects of a tidal wave) to the non-existent (clues as to what all the characters look like were few and far between). Too many details are just told, including one big dump of information towards the end as Ashley 'recalls' the explanation for all the events, a rather lazy device with which to impart such details and not a very satisfying one for the reader. In fact, the story spurns several opportunities for increased drama. For instance, when Ashley is at the Shabbat service, she has already seen Aaron there, so the reader doesn't get to experience Ashley's shock and surprise at spotting him there. Also, later in the story, Ashley is suddenly clouted from behind and knocked unconscious. The drama might have been heightened if she had been confronted by her attacker first, so the reader could feel Ashely's fear at the predicament she was suddenly in - and also get a better angle on just who this assailant is. He's an important character in the story and yet he's virtually absent from it. I was also left a bit confused about how the police have pinpointed the villain of the piece to that specific property, yet have taken so long (several days, at least) to search the most obvious place. All in all, this felt like an early draft rather than a finished story. In its current form it's okay, but there are some glaring weaknesses that need to be ironed out.
  • Sanguine Saviour on July 19, 2014

    A very, very good short story. Along the way there are several small but significant disclosures which catch the reader by surprise, and the resolution was wonderful and original. Yes, there are a few questions left dangling, but in the 'good' sense - overall, this is a good peek into a character's psyche and a good horror piece where the menace builds slowly but surely. Highly recommended for a quick read.
  • Short Attention Span on July 19, 2014

    Another good delve into the human psyche from Jamie Buchanan, and an interesting - and valid - examination of the idea that premeditated murder is more than just about evil. Short Attention Span is also an essay on drug use, hero worship and the options one has in life, so there's a lot going on in this short story; however all these strands are meticulously woven together so it's not a cluttered mish-mash of ideas as some stories turn out. There seemed to be a little too much unnecessary detail regarding all the band's various songs and albums at the expense of any kind of hint as to why they were 'retiring', but this was a minor gripe and didn't detract much from what was otherwise a very well constructed story.
  • Fish Food on July 19, 2014

    Not bad. It tells a story and has a nice twist, though I had to read it through twice to really understand everything. For something of this length it works, but the restricted word count is never going to allow for much depth and in this case that's possibly to the story's detriment.
  • Something Borrowed, Something Blew on July 20, 2014

    Yes, the title I like. But I'm not sure it's a good idea to come up with a good title and then make up a story as you go along to try to fit that title, as the writer suggests in his after-notes. Nevertheless, that's what he has done and he's managed a short story which is both rounded and readable. The in-story narrator has character and motive behind his actions. My main gripe, I suppose, is the writing style. Works where a solitary character is rather conveniently thinking a complete story back to themselves never sit comfortably with me. And the story is all explanation of motives and actions, there's no description to speak of. Reading this story, I may be put in the mindset of the man, but in no way am I put in the places he's in, as I'm given no idea what his environment looks, sounds, smells or feels like. Unfortunately it smacks of lazy writing. I've not read any other works by this writer - I shall try some, but I hope he doesn't deploy this style as the norm. As for the idea of borrowing/stealing a faulty spacecraft, that's been done before - not least in one of the most famous entries in the sci-fi canon, Doctor Who.
  • Seasons Change: A Romantic Thanksgiving Story on July 25, 2014

    A nice original story. The two characters have depth, the formation of their relationship is believable, and the writing is of a high standard. I even like the little quips in the author's notes!
  • Mirror Mirror on July 27, 2014

    A good short story: well written, a fairly simple scenario that is fleshed out with plenty of character and background whilst at the same time leaving just the right amount to the imagination, including what happens next...!
  • The Butcher on July 27, 2014

    Sometimes short stories are merely a single scene or sequence, which paint a picture of a much broader, deeper sequence of events, left largely to the reader's imagination. "The Butcher" falls into that category. The situation it describes is an intriguing one with some potential, but this story is undermined by the simplistic writing, which makes no attempt to describe the characters or setting. Even worse, considering it runs to a meagre 130-or-so words, it is riddled with punctuation errors. So, a reasonable idea, but the author has put no effort into this whatsoever.
  • Kindred Spirits on July 27, 2014

    A good work. The descriptions are vivid, the vocabulary rich and the characters three-dimensional. This is a gentle but actually quite inspiring tale that suggests love can bloom at any time for even the most mundane of people.
  • The Story on July 29, 2014

    I'm in full agreement with all the other reviews so far. A flawless classic. Top marks, and thanks for sharing.
  • Evening Rounds on Aug. 17, 2014
    (no rating)
    A pretty fine piece of writing, although not what I would expect from a story filed under the banner of contemporary romance. The only hint of romance comes within the context of the brief framing sequence, whilst the actual 'story', a snapshot of the old British public school system, is something else entirely. I'm not even quite sure how to score this.
  • 20 Minutes of Terror - A True Story on Aug. 17, 2014

    A good short read and a good situation for suspense, although it is a very difficult exercise building or maintaining suspense when you can't actually progress the situation. Caroline Gebbie has had a good attempt, but at times it sounds a little over-described and repetitive... And the outcome becomes a little obvious before the eventual climax. And why does the character start out with the name Caroline but get called Sam towards the end, and in between it's just she, she she as though she has ceased to become a character at all?
  • Down The Line on Aug. 17, 2014

    A good short story. Good plot, and the spelling, punctuation and grammar were all immaculate. It probably needs a little tighter editing; too much detail is simply told instead of being shown. The opening sentence goes on forever trying to cram in lots of details which would soon get revealed anyway in the next few lines. Meanwhile, some essential details are completely absent: for example, Elizabeth - what does she look like? How old is she? What kind of person is she? Despite its flaws, the story still works, so I'll be generous and give it a 4, but it could be so much better.
  • Late One Night on Aug. 02, 2015

    There's a good story in here somewhere, but I don't think Ruth Nordin tells it to its best potential. For a start, the descriptions are few and far between, leaving me with practically no idea as to what Alicia or the house looked like, or what kind of area the house is in. There are some odd turns of phrase, such as 'the kind of smile a vulture might give to its prey'... Do vultures smile? The dialogue and actions played out in a very unconvincing manner, for me. For example, a woman turns up at a house wanting to use the telephone, she is invited to stay there that night and she is shown up to the room and left there with virtually no conversation taking place... How does the man know she's even ready to go to bed? Why not offer her some refreshment? The whole thing just lacked any sense of reality, somehow, which lessened the impact of the twist.
  • Quiet: A Short Story on Aug. 03, 2015

    This story is a bit of a slow-burner, starting off with the mundane and almost subliminally cranking up the mystery and general feeling of unease about the whole situation. It's deliciously quirky, and Eide crafts the two main protagonists very well through their dialogue and reactions to events. The ambiguous ending and allegorical nature of the piece will doubtless leave some readers frustrated, but it's an original, thought-provoking piece of prose that is quietly unsettling and lingers on the mind. Eide has strived to give it a rich and vivid flavour. A few occasions early on I thought it was a little over-described in places, and there were a couple of sentences which rambled on interminably (one ran to well over a hundred words), so I ought to dock a point - but given the overall quality of the piece, that would possibly be a little unjust. So, top marks from me.
  • Right or Wrong? on Aug. 03, 2015

    This short story essentially concerns a married couple who, after many years of seeing eye-to-eye on just about everything, suddenly find themselves vehemently opposed to one another in respect of their daughter's future. It uses this scenario to offer arguments for and against abortion. Often short stories which neglect description are a no-no for me but in this instance the dialogue-driven approach probably works to the story's benefit. That's not to say the writing is particularly strong, however. There were numerous errors, from punctuation to continuity (the daughter's age changes from 18 to 16). And what is "Smarshwords" which is mentioned numerous times before and after the story?
  • A Real Surprise on Aug. 05, 2015

    Bit of an oddball, this one. For a story filed under the "Thriller and Suspense > Crime Thriller" genre, I didn't find it too thrilling or suspenseful. The first half of the story, which deals with the actual crime, had potential but is told in a very matter-of-fact way, almost as if this is an everyday occurrence in the narrator's life. There's practically no sense of emotion in spite of the traumatic events he describes, and the feeling of detachment is heightened by his casual disregard for important details. For example, he never bothers to reveal his son's name, let alone drop in a mention or two of what his own child actually means to him. The police's method of investigating this crime also seemed completely ridiculous. A body would most likely be identified by the next of kin in a mortuary, not in situ. A crime scene has to be preserved, suspects are not invited to encroach on it before CSI have finished gathering forensic evidence (a process which can take days). And surely asking Bill where he was at the time of the crime would have been the very first question the police would ask him? The second part of the story is a rather long-winded build-up to a twist. I'm not sure what the point of this 'twist' was, as the whole story then seems to imply that the adulterers deserved to die and that Bill, who never comes across as a man who cares about anybody else, deserved to become rich. In fact the story is pervaded throughout by an almost flippant tone that makes it come across as comedic, which I'm not sure was the intention. The choice of cover and even the story title reinforce this. There were quite a lot of punctuation/grammar errors too. In summation, this story fails whether its to be taken as a dramatic thriller or a black comedy, and fails on a number of other levels too. I'm sure there's some potential in the basic plot idea, but it's certainly wasted in this treatment.
  • So Much It Hurts (So Much It Hurts Series, Book One) on Aug. 11, 2015

    This showed a lot of promise at the start, but the more I read the more I found it seemed to lack a certain depth. That's not to say it's bad... Far from it, the vocabulary is varied and flows nicely; the story is plotted well with a proper cause-and-effect dynamic making Kaitlyn's experiences perfectly plausible despite the rollercoaster ride she goes through. Kaitlyn and the three men in her life are strongly defined, the other characters in the story rather less so, and at times the story is cluttered with names making the reader struggle to keep track of who's who. The level of description employed in the story is also inconsistent - plenty of words about Chris' physiognomy for example, yet by the end of the book I couldn't tell you what Kaitlyn's parents looked like, or even much about Kaitlyn herself for that matter other than she's five foot tall and 'pretty'. Locations rarely get described. For example, the hike sequence took place in an environment which should overload the senses, but there's little effort made to really put the reader there because the text refuses to stray from Kaitlyn's actions and emotions. That highlights another weakness in the story in that everything is told, as in absolutely spelt out for the reader (sometimes repeatedly). Sometimes 'less is more' and the writing would certainly benefit from a bit more subtlety at times, by showing rather than telling. Still, the story tackles some brave subjects without coming across as forced or over-indulgent and I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome as it didn't follow the more predictable route of 'perfect love'. In fact there were a few surprises along the way, such as the mother's letter for Kaitlyn to find. I also liked the overall presentation of this e-book, with its illustrations of handwritten notes, detailed afterword section and so forth. In conclusion, despite a few weaknesses this is a good story which ought to please fans of the romance genre.
  • AKA Lexi Frost on Aug. 17, 2015
    (no rating)
    I got through a third of this book then finally gave up. I can't say it was boring because there was plenty happening in the story, but it had no clear sense of direction or purpose about it, nothing that hooked me. One thing a story, especially a long one, has to do is to keep the reader wanting to carry on. Usually a story will achieve this through ingredients such as: (i) the main character having a clear goal or ambition, and the reader caring enough about that character to want to see them achieve that goal (ii) Major conflict which the reader wants to see resolved (iii) Mystery and intrigue - questions are posed which the reader wants answers to (iv) the desire to see a villain get his come-uppance (v) sufficient wit in the prose that the reader enjoys so much that they simply want more For me, this story was sorely lacking in such ingredients. A romance story is clearly on shaky ground when the main character isn't even interested in pursuing a relationship. There were certainly plenty of opportunities to intrigue the reader in the early parts of this story by shrouding things in mystery - such as Paul's relationship with Kayley, or why Lexi has an alternate persona - but these were squandered by offering explanations almost immediately. Additionally there seemed to be an over-indulgence in introducing additional characters into the plot with insufficient descriptive detail or distinctive 'tags' to these characters, or helpful reminders along the way as to who all these names actually were, leading to occasional confusion. Description was too often glossed over, except of course for the bedroom scenes where everything gets described in minute detail. It's a shame because in most other respects the story had a lot of promise. There was clearly a detailed plot going on, and an original one, which the writer had devised, the vocabulary and the dialogue were generally of a very good standard. But I really didn't know where the plot was heading or more importantly, where, as a reader, I was supposed to want it to head. With a bit of tweaking in the right places, this could probably be fixed and would result in a good book. It's certainly not a lost cause. I don't score books that I haven't read in full, as I don't feel it is fair to do so.
  • Gone on Aug. 17, 2015

    An admirable attempt to write something sensual rather than a bland rundown of actions and dialogue. Unfortunately for me it just came across as rather rambling. The frequent use of capitalised WORDS was more distracting than effective, and some lines just seemed incredibly awkward or contradictory. For example: "Humans are just complex beings" "It's never easy. And if it is easy, you're doing it wrong." (You just said it is never easy, so how can there be times when it IS easy?) There were quite a few errors in the text too.
  • Maralie on Aug. 17, 2015

    In terms of the actual plot, this was quite a good story - a good, intriguing situation with a solid foundation on human character, and with a suitably small cast and a good, historic location. But it didn't fulfill its potential. For a start, the decision to alternate between Maralie's viewpoint and Jake's viewpoint destroyed a lot of the intrigue. Jake's surprised to learn that Maralie was abandoned by her parents? Well, I wasn't because I'd already read about that a few pages earlier. Maralie's surprised to learn that Jake had a wife previously who was killed? Again, I knew all about that a few pages before she did. It's far better in these situations to stick with one character and learn about the other as that character does. The level of description was sorely lacking at times. For example, Eden's Hollow is a beautiful place, apparently, but there are no real descriptions of it. The people are barely described. Smells? Tastes? Forget it. Maralie, as the central character, needs more colouring in. Just how old was she when she was abandoned? Was she an only child? What was her relationship with her parents like before they abandoned her? What was her previous life like? Was she an only child? Did she have many friends? Hobbies, interests, education, skills, religious inclinations? Assuming Jake was her first sexual experience, even that is glossed over. So, some good ideas, but a little lacking in the actual execution. Not a bad read by any means, but could have been so much better.
  • Deep Down: The Man in the Water on Aug. 22, 2015

    A good story with some refreshingly original ideas. The character and dialogue are achieved well enough, but I thought it was lacking in sufficient description, particularly with regard to the various settings. For instance, the first scene starts off and apart from Rachel drinking vodka, the kids drinking milkshakes and Richie standing by his jaguar surrounded by some fans, we're told NOTHING about where this scene is supposed to be taking place. Then there's Rachel's house. Well, there's a table in the kitchen, a 'main room' with a TV and DVD, and somewhere in the house there's a bed too, but again that's about all we're told. Is this a big house or a small one? Clean or untidy? Old or modern? Is it in a city, a small village or is it an isolated cottage? A person's home reveals a lot about their character, so big opportunities to expand on Rachel were missed there, but more than that it is simply unacceptable for a writer to expect the reader to create their own canvas. It's a shame, because the descriptions which were present in the story (mainly confined to Richie's looks or Rachel's body) were generally written well.
  • A Guide for the Perplexed on Aug. 22, 2015

    Once again Barry Rachin demonstrates his mastery of the writing craft with another short story snapshotting the developing relationship between two individuals. A great example of how to say a lot by saying comparatively little.