Reviews for Providence
Espers chapter 2 . 5/2/2008
I hope that there are Rat Kings in this story. I think those would be the perfect creepy beasts to be hiding in Tyrone as well.
Dusk Dreaming chapter 3 . 4/7/2007
Yea, and the Klikstixians said unto the Raptorites, 'I will review thee in dark places.'

(I'm running out of new ways to say hi.)

Lo! Action-wise, not too much happened in this chapter, but I think that's a good thing. In fact now that I think of it, not a great deal of action has transpired since the story began, yet I found each chapter equally engrossing.

I think that says much about your writing style. Maria's thought processes are very interesting, so much so that I'm sure if you put your mind to it, you could write an account of Maria preparing a small picnic lunch for two, and I would be hooked until the end wondering if she *did* spread the butter rather than the margarine, and whether the allegorical nature of the tuna would spark any dryly understated insights into the nature of humanity today.

So well done. I think you're staying 'true' to the story by maintaining a constant level of action, and when the gratuitous violence (oh, please!) kicks in later on, it will be that much more powerful.

“It began as most dreams do,… played throughout your mind…” You seem to have a special aptitude for capturing everyday things with language. This description of dreams has balance – not too long or too short, language not too simplistic nor too complex. This balanced style has present throughout your writing – you seem to have a knack for being verbose or brief when the situation demands it, and for the most part the writing sits comfortably in between. I like it. I’m jealous.

“… in a voice that was both cruel and comforting, a sound akin to someone shooting you in the foot even as he helped you up.” This was a very interesting line for me, because it makes your God mysterious. Now I’m wondering whether the dualism of the Old Testament God and the Saviour will come in. I don’t spend much time pondering religion (or indeed anything at all) but since we clearly do not live in a perfect world, it seems a bit weird to me to believe in a perfect, omnipotent, benevolent god. That’s why the idea of an imperfect God appeals to me – something like the pagan gods of old, who would pretty much be humans with extra abilities. Imagine an all-powerful God who makes mistakes, or who can be thwarted, a God trying hard to do the right thing but not always succeeding.

Now, from what God has said so far, he seems to think he’s a Good Guy. He hasn’t done anything to make Maria believe otherwise. But I like the idea of the paradox in his voice – that this might be a God who demands an eye for an eye and also turns the other cheek. A God who is not infallible and sometimes needs help. His intentions, abilities and motives are ambiguous. M, smacks of mystery.

Well, this was another enjoyable chapter. I haven’t really got any constructive criticisms to make. I’m really enjoying the ‘style’ of your writing – and I know that seems vague, but the things Maria thinks, like ‘Surely giant blobs of light had better things to talk about.’, your description of the dream worlds… The midnight horse, the ocean and Tyrone were vivid and well-observed. Little details like the ‘blood-red sunset’ make a great difference to the whole. “Three strikes, you’re out.” The descriptions of her movements, like when she woke up and went for her tennis shoe. It all works, and works well. Pretty much every line feels like it’s been chosen to contribute in a certain way.

So, congratulations on another well-paced, flowing chapter. I look forward to more.
Dusk Dreaming chapter 2 . 12/2/2006
Hi, Raptora! I've been away from Fictionpress for a while, and what better way to return than with some nice, juicy reviews?

OK, I really enjoyed this chapter. You've managed to maintain the same tone as the first chapter, that sort of relaxed introspection from Maria which shows that she's intelligent without being forced. And as for the content... it's horrifying (as in, not flawed, but containing HORROR!)! This is exactly the sort of suspenseful foreboding I was talking about in my first review.

"Denial is a wonderfully handy state of mind, I thought gloomily as I hurried back to my computer to check on the website’s progress..." Quirky. Maria does things in denial, and while she does them, she acknowledges the denial? Somehow, it seems to fit her personality. This could just be odd with the wrong character, but it works for her. Especially because she was involved in some sort of accident which prevents her from horse-riding - if she sometimes feels imprisoned, I suppose this would intensify any internal conversations she might have had before. This also ties in with her divine conversations. She's a curious mix - very internally perceptive as she analyses her own motives, and very outwardly analytical, too. Is this why God chose her? Or is she like this *because* God chose her? I find her relationship with God interesting. I know the whole 'Joan d'Arc' thing has been done literally hundreds of times, but I've never actually read any adaptions or inspired works. (Note to self: read more.) Anyway, if I were a divine entity, choosing someone like Maria to be my prophet could either be very wise or very dangerous, because she could decide that I was going about things the wrong way and refuse to follow instructions. I hope she's not going to obey God just because He's God! I hope they'll have some interesting conversations (Even if he does turn out to be, you know , the delirious symptoms of a very disturbed young woman). Oh, I just noticed the significance of Maria's name. I'm stupid today. :-(

"No news stories concerning mad ax murderers, no Dracula references." *sob*

"This was somewhat of a letdown. Had Holly been joking this whole time, sending me on a wild-goose chase for the paranormal on a completely regular website? I caught myself thinking." This is the same thing I mentioned in chapter one, where you may or may not use italics to indicate when the character is thinking. A couple of sentences later, you put "*Do you really think Holly would make up everything she told you?* I chided myself.", in italics, so it looks like you should put "*Had Holly... completely regular website?* I caught myself thinking.", in italics too, for consistency's sake.

"I felt a hot rush of heat come to my face" felt redundant to me, because of 'hot' and 'heat' in such close proximity to each other. I think an omission or substitution would make it look better, like "I felt a hot rush come to my face", "I felt a rush of heat come to my face" or "I felt a hot rush of blood come to my face" and so forth. Sometimes we have no choice but to leave redundancies in when we're trying to convey a particular feeling, so this is, as usual, merely something for you to consider. A very small thing.

"Even while apparently in a rush, Holly had still managed to fit her personality in." I like this line because it doesn't just tell us about Holly, it tells us about your writing style. In describing Holly, you use specific facts about her person that only a close friend like Maria would know, like when you told us about her 'subject matter thing' in chapter one. Instead of describing Holly's personality in great length, you give us little snippets which

we can use to extrapolate.

"as opposed to the bloated, you-have-too-much-time-on-your-hands novellas that I frequently plagued her with" Hm. The first time I looked at this story, I noticed that one reviewer had interpreted the character of Maria as partly autobiographical. I thought he might have been over-analysing a little, but having now read chapter two, I find myself more inclined to agree. In which case, I hope you haven't suffered any accidents that prevent you from enjoying your other passions (e.g horses!). If you haven't, then it's interesting how you've given Maria many of your attributes, and then denied her something you enjoy, isn't it? It's not unusual, though - we all have our morbid fancies. And a good thing we do, because I often enjoy reading these most of all.

"The “Unusual Tales” started out with a section concerning the unusual behavior" The two 'unusual's here don't stand out too much, because one of them is in the title, though you might want to change the second one to an 'eccentric' or something, if you wish to.

I almost forgot to mention that there are a couple of phrases in there which work really well. "I could feel belief starting to throw spears at the reflexive barriers I had erected to preserve my peace of mind", "the doubt starting to creep back in like a naughty dog banished outside, then allowed to return." and there are probably a couple of other examples. What stands out about them is that on their own, they may look a little wordy, but they are perfect for the flow of Maria's thoughts. It's easy to throw in a few complicated words and construct a bloated, artificial phrase. There are plenty of terrible similes out there, but although I don't pretend to know much about writing, and I don't even read as much as I used to, as a layperson I can say that your similes are just natural and congruous. They capture exactly how Maria was thinking, and one never gets the impression that you're being gratuitously verbose.

Hmm, mysterious happenings in a little town cut off from the rest of the world, uncanny beasts, authorities shushing everything up, and the whole saga narrated through the straightforward perspective of one resident, appealling for help to the conflicted protagonist. It all brings to the fore subtly-mounting horror. I can't wait to read chapter three, except that this review has exhausted me. I really need to learn to be more succint.

Oh, I found a typo! "They locked people up for that kind of thing? Holly’s views that **somethingwas** happening were clearly the minority... " There's just a space missing and that was probably some programme's fault, rather than your own. That's incredible, by the way. I mean, I know how to spell (mostly) but I always make one or two stupid typos. Well done.

In conclusion, keep up the great work. Your writing really is enjoyable. I'm surprised you haven't received more recognition, but at least you can turn your nose up at other people, call yourself an elitist, and sniff disdainfully at the plebs who attract the accolades of the uneducated masses. Not that I'm educated. But at least I'm not massive. Adios!
Shdwphoenix chapter 3 . 12/2/2006
Wow. I think a few people already mentioned this, but I absolutely adore your writing style. It's everything I like in a first-person narrator: sarcasm, humor conveyed in a formal tone, a little bit of frantic-ness every now and then. I really, really like it. XD

I would go on to pick out precisely what it is I enjoy about your writing style, but literary analysis was never my strong point, so hopefully you'll be content with knowing that I'm mostly intrigued by the character. Yes, I like Maria more than the plot. She is... I can't find the exact word I'm looking for... It's a mix between logical and impulsive. She thinks her situation out and has justified why she's leaving, but at the same time, part of her mind still insists she's crazy and doesn't know what she's getting herself into. It's a fun conflict to read about.

I can totally see her arriving in Kansas, looking around, and thinking, "I want to go home."

Oh, and I loved the allusion to Charlotte's Web. It made me laugh out loud.

You're an excellent narrator and I hope to read more in the future!

-Shdwphoenix
Dusk Dreaming chapter 1 . 9/17/2006
I'm finding your writing style enjoyable. Maria is so... normal, it's refreshing. She's obviously quite intelligent and expresses herself well. She's not too verbose, although she can be if she wants to (I'm not bashing verbose characters!). Um, I never quite know what to write for these. Let me get on to your writing itself and hopefully I'll have come up with a mildly coherent conclusion by the end of the review.

I note that one of your reviewers pointed out that the formal nature of the introduction contrasts slightly with the rest of the chapter. Well, I like it. It sort of suggests that Maria is reflecting after some life-changing ordeal - you know, I can imagine her sitting back at the end of it (if she survives) and thinking about writing it down. The certainty of her tone bespeaks experience.

"... I struggled to compose my letter of justification to my parents. It was well past midnight on a full-moon Saturday, and I was trying to explain by letter ..." Perhaps it's just me, but I thought that repeating the word 'letter' twice in close succession was a little redundant. If you omit the 'by letter' - "trying to explain why I was going" I think the meaning would still be clear.

"Maria? They would say. Never. She’s such a good girl. It’s beyond possibility." I think some program has dropped in capitalisation here where it shouldn't have. " Maria? they would say." is probably what you meant. You might want to put ""Maria? ... Never. She’s such a good girl. It’s beyond possibility." in italics, or even put quotation marks around them (single or double to differentiate from spoken voices. I haven't seen any external dialogue yet, so I'm not sure which you prefer.)

"Did I really have a good reason? I wondered." This is almost the same thing again. It makes sense the way it is, but you might want to consider putting the "Did I really have a good reason?" into active thought (italicised). Like, *Do I really have a good reason?* I wondered. If you do this, you should probably change the next part to match, *Is a plea from a friend and divine intervention really enough?* It's just that the way it currently is, the thought could be two separate actions. "Do I really have a good reason?/I wondered." Not a big deal, really.

"Going to bed at one and waking up at ten. I love it." Amen, sister.

"told me a tale of intriguing qualities about her hometown of Tyrone" Again, there is nothing really wrong with this except that it looks a bit funny to me. Did the *tale* have an intriguing quality? If so, you might consider "told me a tale of intriguing quality about her hometown of Tyrone". Or do the intriguing qualities belong to the town? You might consider "told me a tale of the intriguing qualities of her hometown Tyrone" in that case. I deleted an 'of' because the repetition could look a bit funny. Anyway, it's another small thing best left up to your own discretion.

Having read your story once again, I *do* have a mildly coherent response! I really like it. I'm not sure if you're a sucker for horror as I can be, but it reminds me of a story by Lovecraft called 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth'. I doubt you'll be into Lovecraft because your writing is fresh and lucid, whereas his tends to be archaic and swollen, with lots of words like 'antediluvian', 'rugose' and 'daemoniacal cacophanication' in it. He tends to read like a parody of himself, but I'm one of his fans. We'll forgive him anything.

*Ahem* Sorry, you want to know how this is relevant. Well, this first chapter alone has given me the first few stirrings of a creeping fear for Maria... the prospect of a mysterious, insular town beset by strange phenomena is quite a good setting. I do hope for some juicy suspense before the mystery of the town begins to show its full import. Lovecraft's heroes are often besotted with mystery or cynical to the point of stupidity - sometimes you want to shout at them, "Don't open that door! Don't visit that sacred site! Don't hang around that town!" I already feel like shouting a similar imprecation to Maria - should she be involved in this business?

The communion with God is an interesting touch. Perhaps the town is a place of miracles rather than freakish horror? (struggles to not look disappointed) Or maybe her God is sending her there to vanquish unhallowed demon hordes. Hmm.

Whether or not the mystery is something huge and devastating (like a giant sandworm which awakens to consume the world! Bwahaha!) or something more 'trivial' (like a small town harbouring some secret - maybe there was a mother who murdered her child, or a dark creature that prowls the local wood - aren't slightly-twisted ordinary things more frightening than anything else?), I'm sure that you'll handle it admirably with your engaging writing style.
ice flyer chapter 2 . 8/27/2006
The plot thickens...good development in this chapter. The situation is becoming more mysterious by the minute. I liked Maria's voice a lot, esp the "Migraine!" part. The bits of humor are very nice. The last line was also excellent, really hooks you.

REally, no CC. good job! :)
ice flyer chapter 1 . 7/23/2006
Good first chapter! The first few paragraphs are great, really building up the plot and hooking us, making us want to read more. I like the subtle humor too.

I was lost on who Holly is. Maybe mention the relationship of the author to Holly?

Anyways, it's a good beginning for sure. I like the hint of foreshadowing and suspense. Good job!
The Yardstick chapter 2 . 7/5/2006
Yes yes yes, LGM! Keep it up, keep it up! Can't wait for those dreams.
Kinna chapter 1 . 7/4/2006
Your writing is very natural, and the details are done just to the right amount.

Now for some minor criticism...

In this sentence, "In defense of your sanity, it’s always a good idea to have a nice long list of why you weren’t actually losing your mind and the reasons behind the sudden mental breakdown that caused you to actually go through with whatever you were doing." A comma would work well in, "losing your mind[,] and the reasons-"

Also, in this section, "Now instead of just thinking I’m crazy, here’s proof positive that I belong in the loony bin." It sounds awkward with the order of the words, "proof positive" It would be better to write it as positive proof.

The mystery that surrounds Maria's friend Holly and her town is very intriguing, and I wonder why exactly Holly needs help. I'll look out for your next update.
The Yardstick chapter 1 . 6/14/2006
Wonderful, LGM. Just like I told you on the RH forum. Can't wait for the rest, especially the conclusion-a premonition, perhaps? ;)

By the way, if I ever did need you, you know I'd call.

~Y
The Breakdancing Ninja chapter 1 . 6/13/2006
This is awesome. The Breakdancing Ninja gives this a 4 out of 5 (it would be a 5 if the story maintained this solidity and consistency, but since there are tentative chapters, I cannot possibly give the chapter itself a complete 5.)

The writing process is deeply ingrained in this story, the mechanics of it- the way it sounds. [There are times in every person’s life when they have to justify acts of complete stupidity and make it seem like it was a rational thought process that led to their conclusion.] Even if it’s concise, be careful about what you’re writing- when you’re writing creative fiction, generally, the first sentence shouldn’t sound formal/robotic (I have nothing against formal writing or robotic writing if it comes under the style/motif of the story, but) since the story has a casual undertone, it would be best to simplify this statement to soften its essay-sounding quality. I agree with it completely. The introduction paragraph to your story could possibly be pardoned by its female tone, since the sentences generally would run on a bit longer. It has a good feel, though. Intelligence exudes from it. I wish my ex-girlfriend could’ve sounded like how you write. XD! The ending line of your intro paragraph made me smirk.

Hm. This seems close enough to a Joan-of-Arc complex. Engaging and crisp.

Usually sentences like this one: [I was the complete opposite, really: Maria Bentley, 5’ 6”, blonde hair, green eyes, fifteen years of age, no distinguishing features, neat, quiet, “good girl”.] Should be avoided. I can’t think of a good reason of why I want it in there, except to say, it works. It’s just that it’s disquieting to receive a quick caricature of a character that someone of your stature could possibly build in layers with more subtleties. One thing I want to touch on, and it’s the anxiety of rendering a story. We get caught up in little details, in making sure the shit actually flies, that it ends up looking rushed, forced, and conventional. Don’t be afraid of taking your time with your character. I understand the dynamics of the story are heavily reliant on the plot revelations, but imagine what else you could do by subtly revealing even the finer details of your character- such as age, in, let’s say, her mannerisms, or her worries. Hell, we don’t even need her age if she still lives with her parents, goes to high school, so on and so forth.

[I still hadn’t reached the tear-your-hair out boredom that usually accompanied the absence of homework and extracurricular activities.] I didn’t know people still felt that way. Rofl

[Holly considered a subject just as important as the message, and religiously thought up unique titles to her e-mails.] These are the nuances I like.

[Either that or offing myself the next time I came to a bridge and deep water.] The line’s quaint and detracts from the sincerity of the paragraph. It would be best to consider omitting this.

[Deciphering the message is the first step, I had told myself vigorously, trying to put rhyme and reason back into my life. Just try to figure out what this means.] Here’s the gist of the story- I’ll touch back on this in a minute. Let me just re-skim.

The writing is nearly flawless, concerning its readability. The best test to help a person know- if you don’t know this already- especially when wondering if you’re conveying what you meant to convey, is reading the story aloud to yourself slowly or to an audience. This story has great readability.

The truthfulness of this chapter hasn’t escaped me just yet. My fear for it is, that once it starts getting to clever, its truthfulness will diminish. I can really hear you in your writing- and anyone who says that they’re not writing about themselves or their story is obviously lying, hasn’t really thought much about it, or is completely pretentious. I’m fairly interested in chicks- girls- and your written voice has caught my attention. The speaker is innocent, but intelligent- in such a world-weary generation X. finding this combination is as rare as red hair and blue eyes- and she possesses such a believable quality. Of course, the story intrigues me; I can’t wait for it to unfold. But I’m more interested in how you will capture and preserve this character- this facet of yourself- that you’ve created.

So. The story, so far, is coherent, comprehensible, and believable. But how is the writer?

Here’s the sentence again, which seems to encompass (as well as unearth) a lot of the motives in-story and out of the story: [Deciphering the message is the first step, I had told myself vigorously, trying to put rhyme and reason back into my life. Just try to figure out what this means.] Holly, whether a figment of the self or a carefully rendered close friend (or even an ideal of what a friend should be) embodies most of the mystery of this story- she is the id. The Maria character (who possesses a generic name and all) has all of a sudden gotten this mystery dumped onto her. Would it seem out of character for Maria to venture away from home (when she probably hasn’t in her life) to immerse herself into a world of mystery? If she hasn’t before, why would she do so right now? This is the most pressing question- what motivates writers to write a certain story, whether autobiographical or a complete fancy- what point are you at in your life where you feel that: Moving away from home is necessary and essential to figuring out a part of yourself?

Answering these simple questions could save you a world of roadblocks and (God help us)- fake writing.

The inner state you are going through at this very time in your life has much to do with exploration- your writing style and perceptions could possibly be taking a completely different turn. Why is this? Is this because of Holly, an external inspiration/catalyst/motivator? Or is she the inner voice?

I might possibly be able to answer this question myself in the next chapters to come. But keep those questions in mind. I’ll put you on Author Alert so I’ll know how you’re fairing. This is some great work. Maybe after I’ve finished digging for other authors, I’ll go back and skim your other stories. 3,0 words isn’t very long- you’ll be seeing me again.

If you have questions or comments or ‘I hate you, you asshole’s, just check out my site. Reciprocation of a review would be nice, and I’ll admit it. But other than that, I have no expectations. Rock on with this, Raptora.