Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Critiquing Opportunity! Kendra E. Ardnek

A number of the authors have volunteered to critique YOUR writing. This post is mine.

How this works -

You comment below with up to 500 words of your writing.
Sometime before the end of e-Con, I come by and give you feedback. Unlike the others, this post is open until Friday night.

Sound awesome? Awesome!

Kendra E. Ardnek


  1. I push through the curtain, the blood-red warning screaming through my brain to shrink away from the cool darkness grasping for my soul.
    But I can’t.
    I must go on, I must show them no fear.
    “It can’t really be that bad,” I try to reason. But my heart is thrashing, my eyes forced open so wide I fear my eyeballs will fall out, and that screaming scarlet warning silences any attempt at calming.
    I suck in a deep breath, and march through the yawning gap of darkness leading into the void where I must face the unknown.
    I cautiously step forward, frantically searching for whatever is waiting to pounce.
    I realize - I’m not dead yet. Part of me wants to breathe a sigh of – of what? Relief? I’m not through yet. I can’t let down my guard. So what should I do? What next action should I take? I can’t go back. I must force through.
    I reach out into the warm color of night. Nothing. The sigh tries to well up again, wants to take in this moment, this second of what I know is false reassurance.
    I force my right foot forward again, my foot grating against the ground. My knee aches from the pressure with which I force it down again. But I want to be sure of the solidness beneath me. I’m not falling, not again. My bones still bear the bruises from last time.
    Suddenly, eyes. There are eyes, staring out from the darkness. A gooey, grasping substance coats my hand.
    I can’t breathe. I can’t scream. My pulse is pounding in my hearing, crimson and black fight for my vision.
    Then the sounds. Moaning and cries of torment fill the darkness, and I run.
    I run with all my might, everything is me fueling me forward, pushing me to the limit to get out. Get out. Get out. Get out. The necessity drums in my veins, sears across my brain, drives me to a frenzy. I can’t see the wall ahead of me and plow I straight into it.
    And then I awake, breathing so hard my throat hurts, sweat pouring across my face and trickling all the way down my back. My fists clench so hard my knuckles ache and my palms are numb. But I’m out. I never went in. It was all a dream, and it’s over now.
    Why does it come back to me? Why does an empty mind fill itself with everything that is most terrible and frightening? Why can’t I remember? It’s important, I know it is, I was once able to remember it. But now I can’t. And my brain fills the space in my dreams with terror.

    1. This was a bit of impromptu/flash fiction I did for a class recently. I updated and expounded upon it a bit, trying to get in some good imagery and the feeling of panic with the short sentences. Not really sure how good it is, but I thought it would be fun to have a "real author" look over it. And I'll probably include it in my story at some point, when I need a good amnesic-dream-panic-attack sequence. :D

    2. I am intrigued, especially by the use of color. It makes things very visual and helps lend to the dream-like quality. As a whole, I like it, though I do caution against the amnesia cliche. Not saying that you can't do it, but you have to work harder with cliches to make them stand out.

      Now for nitpicking:
      "I push through the curtain," Unless it's a curtain of, say, mist, I'd make curtain plural or change "through" to "past." You can't go through a single curtain. Not unless you want to look silly.

      "I must go on, I must show them no fear." Comma splice. Change the comma to a period. It'll actually sound better with a full stop, too.

      "breath, and march" Cut this comma. "I" is performing both the taking and the marching, so you don't need to break things up.

      "everything is me fueling" I really think the "is" is supposed to be "in."

      "and plow I straight into it." I think "I" and "plow" need to be transposed. "I plow straight into it."

      "And then I awake," While grammatically correct, it doesn't feel correct at the first glance. Consider "I'm awake" or "I awaken."

      "It’s important, I know it is, I was once able to remember it." Again, comma splicing. Either break this into three sentences OR put "I know it is" between dashes. Or a combination there it is. "It's important - I know it is. I was once able to remember it."

      Hope that's helpful. It's a really intriguing scene, if a bit dangerously close to cliche. I enjoy flirting with cliche, though, so I say - if you do it well, it's good.

  2. “When I’m grown up, I’m going to be a Privateer like father,” said 13-year-old Cian O’Malley lying on his back in a forest clearing resting after an energetic bout of sword play with his best friend, 12-year-old, Brenda O’Sullivan. Brenda was lying propped up on her elbow a few feet away, watching Cian’s 6-year-old sister, Alannah attempting to hit a stump with an arrow from her small bow. The three children had been sent to the clearing to work off the excess energy brought on by the return of Captain O’Malley from a nine month cruise. Unable to give enough power to the arrow, Alannah finally gave up and coming over to Brenda, flopped down on the ground beside her. Brenda shook her head and turned to Cian. “Did you say something?” she asked.
    “Yes. Are you all right?”
    “I’m fine, why?”
    “Because you looked a little dazed,” Cian replied.
    “I was just thinking about something.” But before Cian could ask what she had been thinking of, Brenda gave him a look that he knew meant ‘don’t ask me around Alannah’. “What did you say before?”
    “I said I think I’ll become a Privateer like father when I grow up,” Cian repeated.
    “I’d rather be a Pirate,” said Brenda.
    “Pirates are bad,” said Cian loftily. “No offense to your father,” he added hastily. The children’s fathers had been good friends despite the fact that one was a Privateer and one had been a Pirate.
    “Huh!” scoffed Brenda. “Privateers are just as bad! They are just legal Pirates. Fake pirates! Privateers are people to whom the King says, ‘You have my permission to be a Pirate, but you have to follow these rules’. Why be a fake Pirate and have to follow rules that someone else gives you, when you could be a real Pirate and follow your own rules?”
    “Privateers are no such thing!” declared Cian. “They are the King’s sheriffs of the sea!”
    “Nuh uh!” argued Brenda. “They are just legal Pirates.” Cian opened his mouth to retort, but Alannah interrupted him.
    “Brenna, when you become a Pirate, can I be your First Mate?” she asked. Cian laughed and Brenda sat up and glared at him.
    “What do you think is so funny?!”
    “Girls can’t be Captain’s and First Mates on pirate ships,” he said.
    “Oh really?” Brenda’s head was tilted to the side and her eyes had a ‘you-wanna-bet’ sparkle in them. “And why can’t they? Sure most girls don’t become Pirates, but Da always said I would make a splendid Pirate. So you can be a Privateer and Alannah and I will be Pirates, and we will overhaul you!”
    “Uh–uh! No Pirate will ever be able to beat me when I’m a Privateer.”
    “And when we are Pirates, no Privateer will be able to beat us, right Alannah?”
    “Uh-huh!” agreed Alannah, nodding her head emphatically.
    “You’ll never become Pirates,” said Cian with assurance, “So there’s nothing to worry about.”
    “And how do you know we won’t?!”

    1. Exactly 500 words, nailed it! This is the opening scene from my pirate story, and this is the first draft version.

    2. Oh, grrr. I just wrote up a nice, long critique, and blogger ate it. Give me a bit and I'll rewrite it.

    3. Okay, trying for the third time. -_-

      First off, this is a very cute exchange, and I'm pleased to see hyphens in the ages. (The one time that I beta'd for your sister, she was inconsistent - something that I pointed out to her - and the fact that you have them correct means that she learned.) Also, do you have a GOOD reason for consistently capitalizing Pirate, Privateer, Captain, and First Mate when they're common nouns? (This is a peeve of mine, as it makes writing feel immature - like you're trying to overcompensate for something. Once in a while for emphasis is fine, but too much is annoying.) There are also several instances where the dialogue feels incredibly stiff. These are kids talking. Kids either use too few words or WAY too many. They also tend to ignore grammar when their parents or teachers aren't listening. (Unless they happen to be THAT kid. But you only need one THAT kid.)

      And now for nitpicking:
      "When I’m grown up, I’m going" One of the stiff points. Two "I'm"s so close together - especially in dialogue. Consider "When I grow up, I'm going..."

      "Cian O’Malley lying on his back in a forest clearing resting" You need commas after "O'Malley" and "clearing."

      "Privateer like father,” Father needs to be capitalized because it IS a proper noun.

      "sword play" needs to be one word. And were they with REAL swords? Otherwise, you need to specify that they were practice swords.

      "12-year-old, Brenda" This comma needs cut. Also, is every last name in this book an "O'Something"? I mean, they're cool last names, but do you have a GOOD reason?

      "Alannah attempting to hit a stump with an arrow from her small bow." You need a comma after "Alannah." Also, the wording here feels very awkward, though I'm not sure how you can fix it.

      "nine month" needs a hyphen. Otherwise, it sounds almost as tough he took nine voyages that each lasted a month.

      "finally gave up and coming over to Brenda, flopped down" There needs to be a comma after "and." HOWEVER, this would be a great place to use the "Power of Three" (which I can explain to you, if you'd like - it's a nifty writing trick, though). "Finally gave up, came over to Brenda, and flopped down." Also, try using a more exact word than "came." HOW did she come? Did she run? Skip? Frog-hop? March? Storm?

      "Brenda shook her head and turned to Cian. “Did you say something?” she asked.
      “Yes. Are you all right?”
      “I’m fine, why?”
      “Because you looked a little dazed,” Cian replied.
      “I was just thinking about something.” But before Cian could ask what she had been thinking of, Brenda gave him a look that he knew meant ‘don’t ask me around Alannah’. “What did you say before?”
      “I said I think I’ll become a Privateer like father when I grow up,” Cian repeated."
      This feels like padded wording. Like you didn't really know where you were going with the conversation and had to spin your wheels for a bit. Do you really need this little exchange? I'd consider removing, or at least condensing this part. Even if you do get back to what Brenda has on her mind, it's likely that you can bring it up without this.

      "said Cian loftily." Comma after Cian. Also, consider moving the hasty adding here with a "but." OR add an action beat. A toss of the head or cocky tilt or something.

      "one had been a Pirate." By use of "had," I'm assuming that Brenda's father is no longer alive? *Not saying that you need to state this here, I'm just making an observation here.*

    4. (Splitting this up because it said I used too many characters. O.O)

      “Privateers are just as bad!" So she admits that pirates ARE bad?

      "gives you, when you" I think that this comma should be removed. Don't quote me, but it's feeling off to me.

      "could be a real Pirate and follow your own rules?” Um, maybe so that you can have immunity from the law??? Notice that his dad's still alive, and yours ... probably isn't.

      "Cian opened his mouth to retort, but Alannah interrupted him." This should be its own paragraph. My rule of thumb is a new paragraph whenever the focus of action changes, and it is ESPECIALLY true in dialogue. Otherwise, it can be confusing as to who's speaking.

      "Cian laughed and Brenda sat up and glared at him." Again, same. But here I would actually split this sentence, as, from a technical standpoint, it's hard to tell who's speaking. (I mean, you can figure it out from WHAT is said, but if she'd said "Green frog," it could have just as easily been Cian.) I'd leave the laughing with Alannah as a "she asked, prompting Cian to burst into laughter" or such. Then I'd attach Brenda's sitting up and glaring to her dialogue. (And, to make you feel better, this was about a third of my edits in Sew - action beats attached to the wrong dialogue.)

      “What do you think is so funny?!” This is another stiff point. And it's clear what he's laughing at - something that Alannah said. Brenda isn't stupid, she can tell this. Either add an "about that" at the end or consider rephrasing to a, "Why are you laughing?" (I'd also cut either the ? or the ! The reason I cut the ! here is because we can tell from her glare that she's indignant).

      "Brenda’s head was tilted to the side" by zombies. Yup, still makes sense - passive voice. Passive voice is frowned on. I don't usually pick on it, but this is an instance where it can and probably should be improved. Consider "Brenda tilted her head to the side as a 'you-wanna-bet' sparkle lit in her eyes." Also, the quote marks here need to be double quotes since they're not withing dialogue, and I'd probably even remove them here as the hyphens make it clear that those words are together. (Oh, and there was another instance where you had single quotes where there should be double. Basically, if it's not within a double quote, it should be a double quote.)

      "Sure most" Sure needs a comma, as it's an introductory word.

      "So you can be a Privateer and Alannah and I will be Pirates, and we will overhaul you!” Okay, first of all, I'd cut the "So" because it doesn't REALLY add to the sentence. Also, you need to add a comma after "Privateer" and probably cut the "and" right after. (Once done, that's a good use of the power of three there.)

      "to beat me" "to beat us," I'm really not liking this wording. It makes it sound like there's an actual pitched competition between the pirates and privateers, and the wording feels repetitive. You could possibly leave Brenda's, but change Cian's to something like "get the better of us"

      (Also, since Alannah is Cian's sister, why doesn't he play that card. Like, don't you want to be a privateer like me? Like OUR father?")

      "right Alannah?” You need a comma after "right"

      "assurance, “So there’s" Either make the comma a period or make the "So" lowercase. Preferably the latter. (This is another thing I did a lot of fixing on Sew, and that was AFTER my Grandmother had made me fix most of them before its original publication.)

      "won’t?!” Again, see if you can get rid of one of those punctuation marks.

      Again, this was a very cute exchange, and I am curious to see where this story is going. Just watch your commas and capitalization.

  3. Thank you for offering to do this. This is from the beginning of my unpublished inspirational fantasy trilogy, Living Sacrifice.

    Zezilia (Notation for the reader to tell them who is the speaker in the 1st POV of the current section)

    I was the disappointment. On the day of my birth, my mother cried for I was not a son. The son they hoped, prayed, and sacrificed for, the seventh son who would become the Sept Son. He would have taken the highest position under the High King and restored the glory of the Ilars. I knew the story as if I had been there from before my conception. The tale of my family, Father retold it every year on the anniversary of my birth.

    I resolved this year would be different. The shame, the disgrace, and the pain in my father’s eyes might fade if I proved useful. A woman of marriageable age could advance the family by way of a profitable match. Marriage, the only way for a woman could please the goddess. I cringed.

    Glancing around the tablium, the living area of the main house, I found myself alone, which was just as well. Mother lectured a servant in the next room. My father and most of my brothers had long since scattered about the house and grounds pursuing their own interests. I was supposed to be practicing my music, but I couldn’t keep my mind on my task.

    Outside the open glass doors of our main house, the depths of gardens beckoned. I harkened their call. Behind me two of my six brothers argued loudly over who would take first in the foot race tomorrow. As their voices rose the call of the quiet appealed to me all the more. Finally I could resist no longer. Slipping through the doors, I reached the first turn of the path before they noticed my departure.

    Heavy blossoms of deep red and orange bobbed in the breeze as if ushering me into the cool depths of the gardens. The broad, deep green leaves of the organza ferns reached out to brush my face and hair, tracing dew trails over my clothing. I slipped deeper into the wild heart of the garden, down where the tamed groves gave way to the chaos of nature. The border was unmanned, but clearly marked by a vast bramble of brandleberry bushes. Unfortunately, their crimson fruit reminded me of my neglected duties.

    It was a year of six, an extra day of feasting and dancing to celebrate the goddess and her bounty to us. Only here, deep in the gardens, I could find peace from the bustle of preparation for the week ahead. Why did it have to be a long year this year, the annum of my presentation? I hated that I was born on the first day of the high week. It brought extra attention when all I wished to do was hide.

    “Child, curb your thoughts.”

    I jumped at the sudden voice, rough and raspy. Turning around in my small haven, I beheld the strangest sight. A short man, only slightly above my height, stood in the midst of the brandleberries.

    1. I find this very intriguing, and I like how it has a rather different feel than I have found in your other books. Very Grecian, and you don't see a lot of that in fiction. Also, the premise is intriguing - a heroine who was supposed to be a son. It is a mite on the cliche side, but I'll still read it.

      Now for nitpicking:

      "my mother cried for I was not a son." I feel as though there ought to be a comma after "cried" since "I was not a son" would function as a sentence on its own.

      "The son they hoped, prayed, and sacrificed for, the seventh son who would become the Sept Son." Since this sentence takes place BEFORE the sentence before it, it ought to be in perfect tense - "the son they HAD hoped, ect" "who would HAVE become."

      "as if I had been there from" consider replacing the "if" with "though" and the "from" with "since" or "even."

      "The tale of my family, Father retold" Comma splice.

      The tenses in the second paragraph feel off. It feels like it is still introduction, and then you have the "I cringed" which would indicate that this had already transitioned into the actual story. Perhaps replace it with "the thought made me cringe" or something of the sort.

      "Glancing around the tablium, the living area of the main house," The explaining of "the living area of the main house" jars me slightly from her POV. Zezi has lived in this house her whole life, and she would think of it as simply "the tabilum." When you think about the rooms in your own house, you don't explain "the bedroom, the room where I sleep." Perhaps if this aside concluded the sentence, it'd be fine, but in the middle, it's jarring. Putting it within dashes might work too, or start the sentence with "as I glanced," so that the first half of the sentence feels more independent of the second.

      "I found myself alone, which was just as well." This makes it sound like she JUST discovered that she was alone, but the next few sentences indicate that she was already aware of the fact. Perhaps you could try consolidating this paragraph by moving the fact that she was supposed to be practicing her music to this first sentence?

      "Mother lectured a servant in the next room." Can Zezi hear this lecture? If so, consider mentioning it.

      "I harkened their call." This sentence confused me as I thought at first that it meant that she got up here and went outside.

      "Behind me two of my six brothers argued loudly over who would take first in the foot race tomorrow." I thought she was alone? Also, you need a comma after "me"

      "voices rose the call" Comma after "rose"

      "Finally" comma

      "they noticed my departure." Since you don't SHOW them noticing her departure, or at least doing anything about it, I'd consider changing this to "before they COULD notice"

      "Heavy blossoms of deep red and orange bobbed in the breeze as if ushering me into the cool depths of the gardens." On one hand, this is very picturesque and beautiful, but on the other hand, the wording is heavy and I think I got lost somewhere...

    2. "I slipped deeper" You JUST used "slipping" in the previous paragraph. Normally, repetitive words don't bother me, but I really feel that this isn't the right word for this place, especially since most people don't use "slip" in this context ... slipping out the door is one thing, I do that all the time. Slipping through the garden usually involves a puddle and bruising my backside.

      *And I just stared at the word "slipped for too long and it has lost all meaning O.O*

      "The border was unmanned, but clearly marked by a vast bramble of brandleberry bushes." That's a bit of a tongue twister (not a bad thing though, necessarily), but I'm also confused on how that marks the border if nobody takes care of it (what I assume you mean by "unmanned.") bramble bushes go crazy if you don't keep the, in check.

      "A short man, only slightly above my height," That is a bit ... awkward to read. Also, this might be a good place to put an aside about Zezi's height - is she tall for a woman? Average? Short?

      Overall, I find this to be a very intriguing introduction, and I can't wait to hear where it's going. Just be careful of commas and wording that, though beautiful, is heavy and easy to get lost in. When it comes to words, less is often more.

      Thanks for letting me read this, and I am SO sorry about taking so long. I've been busy.

  4. They’re going to find you, they’re going to find you, a voice chanted in Nick’s head. The evil sent chills tingling down his spine. His hands grew clammy and he wiped them on his pant leg. He knew he and Noll would have to run. Any moment the riders would see. Desperation clawed at him. They had to leave—now.
    He grabbed Noll’s shoulder and nodded towards the wood behind them. Noll shook his head and pointed to the bow. He wanted to fight.
    “Nay,” Nick mouthed. He began to rise, taking a step back—
    Crack! A stick broke under his foot and he tensed. His face paled. He could’ve sworn time ceased as he felt the riders turn.
    “Who dares pass by the Knights of Norcir without speaking? Show yourself and we will do you no harm!”
    Silence. Nothing. Nick threw down his bow and drew out his sword, the cool metal of the hilt shocking his hand. He looked over his shoulder, hoping Noll was ready to fight.
    An arrow pierced the air, whizzing by and landing in the tree where Noll’s hand grasped the reins of the horses, trying to tug them loose. He crept back behind the oak, taking the dagger from the sheath at his side.
    Nick edged up beside him and Noll leaned around, throwing the dagger towards the Knights. A man cursed. Swiftly the clouds danced across the sky as if in a great race, and the moon shone.
    Nick loosened the reins from the limb, nimbly leaping onto the saddle. “Get up Noll!”
    Noll reached down for the other dagger in his boot. He yanked it out and flicked his wrist, sending the weapon through the air.
    “Get up on the horse!” Nick yelled.
    Noll reached up but it was too late. The Knights of Norcir sprang forwards, jumping off their horses, their swords and spears gleaming in the dim light. They reached the two before they had time to react. Noll whirled around, catching one of the Knights on the arm.
    The man staggered back, falling to the ground. Before Nick could react, another Knight came around, this time trying to stab him. Nick swung around, tumbling off his horse. The breath whooshed out of him, the sword still in his hand.
    He jumped up, gasping, forcing air into his lungs. The Knight lunged for him again but Nick side-stepped the blow. He clenched his teeth together.
    Metal against metal rang in the night air. He took a flimsy aim for the man’s arm above the gauntlets. Something cracked. The man screamed, blood dripping onto the ground, the sword falling from his fingers.
    Nick whirled around at his brother’s voice and—
    Spots danced in his eyes and a searing pain ripped through his head. One of the four Knights had grabbed him from behind, throwing Nick’s head again the oak. His arm wedged between the trunk and the Knights body. His sword fell to the ground. His vision blurred and he felt a hand grab him around the neck. The air suck from his lungs and he succumbed to darkness.

  5. From Surrender's Strength (Book 3 of Truth from Taerna):

    She shut the door behind her and turned to face him.
    “This is about this school thing, isn’t it?”
    “Yes,” Father answered, his gray eyes searching her a bit uncomfortably. “It’s time, Laelara.”
    “Why now?” She tossed her head.
    “Liliora’s thirteen now. The boys are doing fine on their own. You can’t use them as your excuse any longer.” He paused. “And you aren’t getting any younger. The time is now. If ever.”
    “I’d rather the never,” she muttered, crossing her arms.
    “That can’t be,” he returned. “We need further income. We can’t live solely on the farm work anymore. We need you to get a good job that brings - brings decent income. You can’t get that without schooling.”
    “Free academy would help. And they’ll feed you for the year. That will help.”
    “Why can’t the boys do it instead?”
    “I need Kelton and Kethin on the farm right now. You know that. Someday I hope they have better jobs too. But it’s your turn now.”
    “What if I don’t live here anymore? You wouldn’t benefit anyway.” She longed to sink into the chair, but she wouldn’t change her independent stance. She needed the advantage of her height - even though it wasn’t more than average.
    “I want this for you, Laelara,” he replied wearily. “You need a better life. If you marry, there just aren’t the men with good jobs anymore. I want your well being.”
    She sighed. “Why can’t I just plan my own life? I hate school. Such a waste. I could be doing something practical.”
    He didn’t answer at first. Then quiet words came. “Your mother wanted this.”
    She too became quiet. Any reminders of her mother always made her so.
    She didn’t want to argue with her father on this point, but she wasn’t going to Academy if she could possibly help it. The very thought sickened her. School! Reading! Books! Wasting away time listening to some professor drone on and on about something entirely impractical! Why had her mother wanted her to get an education anyway? It wasn’t as if she didn’t have plenty of other talents that she could use to make money to support herself. And with all the housework she did, she certainly contributed her fair share to the family’s support. Academy was entirely unnecessary.
    Her thoughts wound their way back to her mother. Her mother hadn’t had much education; she’d married too young. Well, Laelara wasn’t planning to marry any time soon. Plenty of time for that later on in her life. She did want to have her own family some day; that’s the way life worked. But before she settled down to raise her own family, she wanted to spend her time on something that actually mattered. Wasting it in a stuffy schoolroom wasn’t her idea of that.
    “Please.” Her father was speaking again. “Do it for her. Do it for me.”

  6. The first bit of Chapter One of my doodle project:

    Issac looked around the airport, a worried frown creasing his face. He couldn't see the kid, but then, having never met him before, he wasn't entirely sure what he looked like. He pulled out his phone and squinted at the photo that social services had sent him. It was a little blurry, and grainy. He sighed. Curly black hair with a purple streak in it, skinny, thin pale cheeks. Not sure what color eyes, they didn't show in the picture.

    He began walking again, head swiveling from side to side, looking for the kid. He wasn't exactly sure what he'd gotten himself in for when he agreed to take him in, but the poor thing needed a home, and now that he was stable, he could offer that for him.

    His son. He rolled the words on his tongue without opening his mouth and saying them. He hadn't said them at all, in the five days, 9 hours, and 31 minutes since he'd gotten the phone call. His son. He was afraid that if he spoke the words before his son arrived, he'd wake up and it would all be a dream.

    Trisha James, they'd said. Trisha James. He'd known her in college – known her quite well, actually. She'd been his girlfriend. They'd been pretty serious, too. Moved in together after a few months. But then Trisha had vanished. He hadn't known where she'd gone. He had tried contacting her parents, in California, but he was always sent to voicemail.

    Then there had been his tour in Afghanistan.

    After that, he never thought of contacting Trisha. He couldn't handle himself, much less support anyone else. Besides, she'd probably forgotten about him by that time. Three years. And what reason would she have to remember him? She'd been the one who vanished, after all.

    He took a deep breath, forcing his mind to focus on the task at hand. His son. His and Trisha's son. The memory of Trisha's skin under his hands ghosted through his mind and he forced a smile, then walked forward again.

    He tripped and nearly fell, but recovered his balance in time. He looked at what he had tripped over, and saw that it was a duffle bag, sitting on the floor by a bench. A scrawny teenage boy was sleeping on the bench, wearing black jeans and a black hoodie. Issac cleared his throat. “Evan?

    The kid mumbled something. “Just five more minutes, Mom...” He rolled over to face away from Issac, but yelped in pain and sat up slowly, hand on his ribs.

    Issac smiled a bit at him. “Evan?”

    Fear, confusion, and relief swept across the kid's face, all at once, then he nodded a little. “Yes sir. Evan James...”

    “I'm Issac Brooks.” He hesitated over saying that he was his father, and finally decided on, “I'm going to take you home.”

  7. Someone was shouting. Jason blinked hard, and bright light shone into his eyes. He was lying on the ground, and the ground was different. Definitely not concrete. And it almost felt like he was … moving. Groaning, he spat out dirt and rolled into a sitting position. He rubbed his grime-filled eyes and the girl standing in front over him, or rather over him, came into focus.
    “Sorry ‘bout that,” she said, holding out a hand and helping him up. “I told ‘im to be careful.”
    “Him?” Jason’s eyes followed Tip as the tiny creature scuttled away to hide in a corner.
    The girl pushed her goggles higher up on her hat, but only succeeded in knocking them more askew. “Yeah, him.” She pointed to a dark haired boy who was standing alone by the ship’s railing.
    Ship’s railing … why was he on a ship?
    The girl kept talking. “Zade. My brother. Told ‘im to be careful when he rescued you.”
    “Rescued me?” Jason snapped, “you call that rescuing?”
    “I don’t. He does.”
    “ … and he’s the captain?”
    “Nope.” She grinned and tightened her messy bun. “That would be me. I’m Caitlin Skinner, but everyone calls me Cat.” She stuck out a hand.
    Jason glanced down at her blackened fingers. So that’s where all the dark streaks in her hair came from. But he took her hand and shook her. Her grip was strong.
    “Wait.” Jason jerked away, suddenly regaining his wits. “Why were you … him … why was I rescued? From what? And why in Arkans is this ship flying?”

    ~ Savannah

    1. Ok, just wanted to say that I'm not Kendra, obviously, but this story sounds AWESOME and I need more.

    2. Oh my goodness - thank you both so much! :D

      ~ Savannah

  8. Ok, I am inordinately pleased about the fact that, after giving my thoughts on your writing multiple times, I now get to hear your thoughts on mine!

    For context: this is the beginning of Between Two Worlds. I think you'll be able to guess the genre pretty quickly.
    For the past two years, I’ve dreamed of this day. I’ve imagined in detail what will happen: how my neighborhood will look as I walk up the street once more, my joyful recognition as I pick out memories from my surroundings, my excitement as I near my house. I’ve pictured how my parents will greet me, their surprise and relief to see me back, how I’ll tell them everything I’ve done since I last walked out my door. I’ve laughed as I thought of my sister’s reaction, no less joyful than my parents’ but twice as surprised and outraged that I’d gone and had an adventure without her. I’ve thought many times of what it’ll be like to live again in my own home, sleep in my own bed, and return to my favorite activities and haunts.

    Yet, despite all that, my dreams are wrong. The street I now walk up is not quite familiar; everything seems to have shrunk and shifted ever so slightly. My joy is cooled and tempered with sorrow, my excitement dulled with longing for something else I cannot have. And my home itself . . . I pause at the end of the driveway and look up at the house. Has it always been so small? So like the other houses around it?

    I glance over my shoulder, back the way I came. I could go back. The portal would still be open. They can’t have closed it already. My friends would still be there; maybe I could find an excuse to stay away a little longer. Another day, another week, maybe even another month.

    With a shake of my head, I shove the slim hope aside. No. I can’t go back. I know the rules. So do my friends. I look again at the house before me. This is your life again, Kate. This is reality. Get used to it.

    I walk up the driveway and around to the front door, hurrying to get there before my conviction runs out. Once again I glance back, hoping against hope to see one of my friends rushing after me. No one’s there except a curious neighbor watching from his deck across the street, so I turn back to my front door and ring the doorbell. No turning back. You’ve said goodbye. Now go in and say hello.

    Even from outside, I can faintly hear the doorbell ringing. It sounds like bells tolling at a funeral, announcing the death of my old life. Mentally, I kick myself. Stop it, Katelyn. You’re supposed to be happy. You’re seeing your family again, remember?

    My mother does not exclaim when she opens the door a few moments later, but her smile is better than the loudest shout of joy. She greets me with a hug, which I return. “Hi, Mom. I missed you.”

  9. Kendra will be by to critique everything eventually, she's jut VERY busy. She does enjoy everything that has been posted, though.

    1. No rush! You're running this thing, after all; I can imagine you don't have a ton of time.

    2. That's fine, Kendra! Like Sarah said, we know you're busy ;). Thank you for taking the time to run all of this!

      ~ Savannah


Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

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