Scores for February 2015 Labors of Love

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    Scores for February 2015 Labors of Love

    Judges TJ1985 Cran Bruno total
    belthgor "Music" 15 13 14 14
    MammaStrong "Kiera" 16 13.5 18 15.83
    astroannie "Valentine" 18 15.5 18,5 17.33
    Abby " Art is Always a Labor of Love" 18.5 15.5 18 17.33
    Crowley K. Jarvis "Suno no Ken" 16 14 18 16
    am_hammy "To Love And be Loved 17.5 15.5 18.5 17.16
    Boofy "Amterasu" 17.5 16.5 18 17.33
    rcallaci "Comic book Dreams" 17.5 15.5 16.5 16.5
    JustRob "Unrecognition" 15.5 12.5 16 14.66
    QDOS "Thanks for the Invite" 17 13.5 16.5 15.66
    InstituteMan "Home Work" 16.5 18.5 18 17.66
    Riptide "Labors of Love" 17 15 16 16
    EmmaSohan "Phil" 15 14.5 15 14.83
    Joshybo "Choosing Love" 19 19 17 18.33
    GuyFaukes " Of food, Explosives and Nationalism" 18.5 15.5 17 17
    PiP "Plot to Plate 17 18 18 17.66

    Scores for February 2015 Labors of Love

    Wow. Seriously, wow. This is a head-driven, plain-speaking revelation with the impact of a forty pound sledgehammer … dropped from the sixteenth floor to the street. This is a hard hat and steel-caps zone
    A quote from our judge Cran describing this months winner Joshybo for his story "Choosing Love"

    In a tie for second place with her story "Plot to Plate" Pip and InstituteMan for his story "Home Work"

    In a three way tie for third astroannie for her story "Valentine" Boofy for her story "Amterasu" and Abby for her story "Labors of Love"

    A special thanks to the judges TJ1985, Cran and Bruno for the time and energy to offer some great critiques to help further the skills of our writers.

    Thanks to so many of you writers who are new the NFLM this month. The LM is designed to let the members get to know each other and improve your skills as a writer in friendly process. I hope to see you all again.

    Joshybo will be choosing next months prompt


    SPAG: 5/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Effect: 6/10
    Total: 15

    I'm sorry to admit it, but this piece went over my head. It reads a little too much like an endorsement for the site, naming feature after feature. I really wanted to see you shining through, injecting yourself into the piece, and letting us see the creative mind that created the work.

    The saddest part for me was that you had so much room left to tell me about how you came about creating the song, designing the music, and making it yours. The unused words in the word count would have likely made this piece a front runner, but you stopped short.

    SPAG is solid, the tone and voice are nicely consistent, and you're obviously highly creative, but the material about the site simply left little for me to really dig my teeth into. I do think that paring back a little of the website data and giving a viewpoint of your thought process and how you developed the song would have given you a better piece that would let your readers really dig in.

    SPAG: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Total: 16

    This piece covers a topic that, if you were to tell me the essentials of the story, and then tell me it was for a Labors of Love contest, I'd assume you were making a word play, or were confused about the prompt. I'd also be a big dumb dummy for thinking that, because you wrote this and made it work well.

    The piece is solid, but it has a few issues.

    Impatient me of course chose to walk the halls.
    This reads a bit clumsy for me. I understand the thought you're conveying, but it's a little bit disengaging having to reread items to make sure I understand what's being said.

    I also noticed a few issues where, either the spaces didn't paste through, or the writing starting rolling rapidly and they were accidentally omitted. In either case, it still served to make the piece a little disengaging when I would read into a bump.

    A quick pinch in a random part of my arm became an IV and the words swirling around me consisted of “Emergency” and “C-section”.I should mention that not only am I impatient, I'm also a planner.And the plan was for a natural, non-medicated childbirth.
    That said, a careful proofread with a focus on cleaning up the punctuation and rewording just a few of the awkward passages, and this piece would be excellence. Reading the piece aloud will help you find the lines that could use smoothing.

    SPAG: 4.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 4.5/5
    Effect: 9/10
    Total: 18

    An excellent piece that has a lot going for it, least of all being that it's relevant to that time of year that I dread.

    The best thing about this piece is that it's walking me through your process without burdening me with a lot of jargon. I happen to know that visual and web design is every bit as easy as nailing a raw egg to a tree, but you make it sound easy.

    For nits, I noticed a couple of issues in SPAG.

    But, due to its proportions—wide and short—it wouldn’t work too well on a portrait-shaped, mobile device.
    The last comma could go, etc. Little nitpicky points like that which could benefit from a little bit of careful tuning.

    I’ve long believed that most insoluble problems are the result of poor perspective.
    This felt really out of place due to wordiness for me. I had to look up what insoluble meant, and while it's basically what I thought it meant, it still stands out as being a pair of guys in tuxedos on casual Friday.

    Title: Art Is Always A Labor Of Love
    SPAG: 4.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Effect: 9/10
    Total: 18.5

    Abby, you're making me earn my keep, looking through this one for things to complain about!

    There are a few slightly awkward passages that might flow a little more gracefully if adjusted.

    When I saw her piece I laughed on the inside because to me that wasn’t art!
    This passage might read a little smoother if written as “I laughed to myself when I saw her piece because I didn't see it as art at all!” It might help to read the piece aloud to find those borderline tongue-twisters.

    You were dancing on the edge of detail overload in paragraph two, and it came very close to impacting the effect score. You communicated it beautifully, but it just ran a little longer than it might have needed to go. The thought this gave me at the end of the piece was “If she'd given us half those details, what could she have done with those extra words?”

    The rest of the piece is well written and based on a subject that you're obviously passionate about. It shows through very clearly that you're madly in love with what you do, and the piece benefits from that passion.

    Crowley K. Jarvis
    Title: - Suna no Ken -
    SPAG: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Total: 16

    As someone who loves blades of all kinds, this piece started off on a great foot with me. The piece is well written, and makes me want to go make a couple of knives.

    My only major knock is, unfortunately, a pretty big one: The tone didn't work as it came across too conversational for my tastes in the context. It was in my face, and I wasn't in love with that.

    No, no, I wanted an eastern sword.
    the word of God is often referred to, yes, as a sword.
    Those are great conversational flourishes, but best used in strict moderation. In this piece, that conversational voice was too prominent, and the subject was almost lost during the transitions. I think if that friend-to-friend tonality could be dialed back a bit, this piece would be the better for it.

    That said, the meat of the piece underneath shows that this labor of love is something you take very seriously, and the piece benefits from that passion.

    Title: To Love And To Be Loved.
    SPAG: 4.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Total: 17.5

    I'm not a fan of sentimental pieces. That may be changing, because this is a sentimental piece that's not just dripping with the gooey details that serve only to trigger tear duct production. I especially like the way you call it “the creature” in the 6th paragraph, that disconnect works very well followed by the softness creeping into your mindset about the... thing. The stark shift in perspective is one of the strongest segments in the piece for me.

    There are a few passages that came off a bit awkward for my tastes.

    I tried and tried to gain my father’s love, attention, affection, and got nothing.
    This line could be reworded, and might be stronger for it. "I tried repeatedly to gain his love, attention, and affection. My efforts were in vain." Something like that. As written, I felt like the final three words were somehow part of the list. Breaking them up can fix that.

    The feeling I got was that writing the piece stirred up emotions that got in your way during the process of writing it. I noticed it throughout, and that raw quality seems a little overdone. Still, it was a well written piece that was swinging for the fence all the way.

    Title: Amterasu
    SPAG: 5/5
    Tone/Voice: 4.5/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Total: 17.5

    An excellent piece that starts strong with a little Japanese Folklore to let me know that we're going for a fun ride. I had no idea where you were going, and that's always fun. Solid SPAG, solid story, and you make it much more fun than it could have been.

    I could easily have ended up with the desktop equivalent of Frankenstein's monster humming near my feet... the stuff of nightmares!
    That's a line that works, and it's not alone in this piece. Anyone who can put the words “ cryptic claptrap” with “Everest” in the same piece with a Frankenstein reference, they're working at a higher level!

    What happened? I felt like you started off in a bouncy mood, full of fun, and then you started tapering downward. Right around paragraph six, you lost your bounce and left me wanting it back so badly. I've been in the depression after the “fun part” of a build, but I was looking forward to that bounce through to the finish, and I missed it when it wasn't there.

    That said, I loved the ending paragraph. It's never bad to leave your audience smiling. (One place I used to work had a swear jar. It didn't curb the profanity, but it did let the boss know that we were all overpaid!)

    Title: Comic book Dreams
    SPAG: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4.5/5
    Effect: 9/10
    Total: 17.5

    I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. You present a great example of your passion for comic books, and you invite me in with lines that make me want to go search through a box of the classics.

    The tales of the Silver Surfer, The Hulk Iron Man, Thor, The Fantastic Four, Spiderman and the rest of angst ridden group of hero’s and monsters, introduced me to the darker aspects of the fantastic.
    This line, early on, guaranteed I would be with you to the final punctuation mark, come what may.

    That said, I had a slight disconnect with the italicized voice. Not in the content, but in the amount present. It landed directly in that zone of “Needs to be more present or less present” for me, and that's not ideal. If you had given me a few more lines, I'd have loved it. I love the concept of a dual voice, and I love how you played it, but I just needed to hear a little more of the fanatic reader fighting alongside the heroes.

    All told, an excellent effort that reminds of a time few modern kids even know existed.

    Title: Unrecognition
    SPAG: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4.5/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Total: 15.5

    I'm sad to say I had a slight issue in the first line. With a word count looming over you, my best advice is to dive in with both feet and make each word count. It took a little while for this piece to get a full head of steam, and unfortunately the word count caught you a little. If the first line of your fourth paragraph, about the man two centuries ago, could have been your first line, you would have knocked my socks off. I feel like, since you've studied this person, you could have made an excellent article about what makes him an intriguing subject.

    That said, there's a lot of intrigue there, and you let us get to know you as a person and fellow writer. I felt your sense of humor peeking through, and the voice was excellent throughout. Consistent, stable, and endearing, three excellent characteristics of a writer with much to offer.

    Title: Thanks for the Invite
    SPAG: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Total: 17

    This piece is interesting, and communicates well the sacrifices made while raising a child. Overall, the piece tells a good story, though it does have a few SPAG errors. All in all, it's a good piece that shares your labor of love in a compelling way.

    Also, as someone without a base of knowledge in London and the surrounding areas, I found the references of the communities you drove through to be a little vague. I had no idea whether Tottenham lay two or two hundred miles from Spitalfield. This is easily overcome by mentioning that it's about 7.5 miles from Tottenham to Spitalfield, but that's no ordinary 7.5 miles. It's 7.5 miles in London traffic. I looked up the distance myself, but many readers might lose interest before going to that effort to connect with a piece.

    Late in the piece, you had a golden opportunity to let us see your little girl and visualize the performance, but it wasn't used. I understand well the difficulties of writing with word count in mind, but the inclusion of a few details would have helped me connect with the piece a little more.

    Title: Home Work
    SPAG: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Effect: 7.5/10
    Total: 16.5

    I like this piece. Your humor shines through wonderfully and the story you tell has a lot of meat on its bones. At first, I wasn't in love with the interrupted flow of the first paragraph. About the time I was sick of it, it ended and you started telling me a compelling story that I could get my teeth into.

    If you interview a general contractor about building you a house and you mention that you want to build with straw bales, he will try to dissuade you and then hustle you out when he fails.
    This, and a couple other passages, just read clumsy for me. I like longer sentences, but this is pushing my limits. “building you and a house and you” especially feels awkward to me.

    The biggest knock I have is that you left me feeling like you had a phone call end and rushed away. I'd have loved to see this one wrap up a little tighter, as it feels slightly unfinished.

    Title: Labors of Love
    SPAG: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Total: 17

    I didn't really think I was was going to like this piece on first glance. Immediately I assumed it would be weak because there were so many words left unused. I must publicly admit that I was wrong. True, I'd have liked if it had used twice as many words, but those which were used were used very effectively.

    I noticed a few Sneaky SPAG errors, those which spell-check wouldn't catch (preform instead of perform in the third paragraph, for example) but nothing really egregious.

    They raise their spirits and the bar each new time.
    This line really stood out to me, the alliteration is simply delicious. I can't help but wonder what you could have done had you used the remaining words you had left. This piece is great, and I suspect if filled out, it would be excellence.

    Title: Phil
    SPAG: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Total: 15

    This piece was hard for me to get into, but once I did, I found it quite interesting. I do have a few nits though, the SPAG could be improved slightly. And the repeated “sigh's” came through a little bit unmotivated, leaning toward annoying. I totally felt the exasperation, but I would have gotten it with half as many of those. I'd also think about capitalizing them.

    I like the first person narrative, and I especially like the sympathetic Devil's Advocate throughout mixed with exasperation for being in such a position, and how you maintained that while he was flawed, he was a human deserving of some compassion.

    "Imagine you are piloting your boat down a river, and you are on the right side, and another boat is on your side and coming at you. You're angry. You sound your horn. You head defiantly towards him, forcing him to back off. Your adrenalin is up and you're ready to fight.

    "Then you see the other boat is empty. oh. Your adrenalin disappears. You stop being angry. And you calmly avoid the other boat.
    This is one of my favorite lines in the piece, and the description is very fitting for the piece and the tone that the narrator has maintained.

    A nice piece that tells an interesting story that is told well.

    Title: Choosing Love
    SPAG: 5/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Effect: 9/10
    Total: 19

    This piece is a tremendous effort, and can't have been easy to write. The only nits I have are with slightly awkward wording.

    I'm around me more than anybody, so
    I'd reword this slightly to bring it up to level that the rest of the the article lives in, perhaps “I'm with myself more than anyone, so” It's the same word count, but it works better for my reading.

    That leads to a lot of unnecessary stress on both our parts; me trying to control my compulsions, her having to talk me through my anxiety when it triggers, or both of us attempting to adapt our actions to the irrational parameters of my disorder.
    This passage is fine as written, but the whole paragraph containing it feels out of place with the remainder of the piece. You've got a beautiful tone rolling along, and then I find a bunch of big words that is almost disconnecting me from the piece for a moment.

    I often try to explain to her exactly what she means to me, but the words just don't exist.
    I'd adjust the portion after the period to “but there are no words.” It feels better to me, and gives an almost musical quality.

    That said, the piece is otherwise perfect in my estimation. Someone may find technical errors within it, but I couldn't. Excellent work Josh.

    Guy Faukes
    Title: Of Food, Explosives and Nationalism
    SPAG: 5/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Effect: 8.5/10
    Total: 18.5

    This piece is a stunning work that tells Mr. Haber's story very nicely. The SPAG is solid, the tone is perfect, and the story is interesting. I do wish I'd have seen more of yourself in the piece. It's obvious that you care about the subject and have researched his history, but you didn't tell me what you thought. If you had injected just a little of your own commentary on the subject I think the piece would have been perfect.

    Technical issues were so minimal that I couldn't see any, and the voice held on and stayed consistent throughout. Oddly, despite the voice being very professional, had no really awkward segments. With just a little of you showing through, this piece would have knocked me out.

    I would have loved to see the segment on his death moved to the end, so that his story didn't end until yours did. After his passing, I had a mild twinge of "what am I going to read about now?" It was largely an incorrect twinge on my part, but anytime the reader disconnects from the reading, they may not come back.

    Title: Plot to Plate
    SPAG: 4.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Effect: 7.5/10
    Total: 17

    I worried about this one when I saw that there were words left on the table. As it turns out, if the words used are used correctly, it's an irrelevant point of interest. The story is solid, and the tone is rock steady throughout. I think there were a couple of passages that could have been strengthened a little for effect.

    I water and feed the young plants with the love of a mother tending a young family.
    If this example, I'd adjust the end of the passage to “mother tending her young family.” to give it a little more punch.

    transported halfway round the world and then dumped on the supermarket shelves.
    I feel like removing “then” would make this flow a little tighter and also trim the sentence a bit.

    My garden is like stepping through Alice’s mirror to my own wonderland where I feel at peace with myself and at one with nature.
    And that is how I like a piece to send me home. Strong, picturesque, and final. Excellent work.




    *belthagor – “(Untitled with Music)”
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.2
    Tone/Voice: 3.5
    Effect: 5.3
    Overall: 13

    My comments –
    The only part of this submission that could possibly fall within the technical definition of Non Fiction writing is the advertorial slotted in between a link to a musical composition and a piece of poetry that might be a lyric. I have restricted my assessment and review to the advertorial.

    The overall impression is of an inexperienced plug for a product and company; an extended customer feedback. In that respect, it is in the better than average range, although it falls to flaws common to such off-the-cuff communications.

    If written as a support to the musical composition, then it overreached and dwelled too long on the benefits of the instrument at the expense of the work.

    I used an online piano to craft this, because I do not own one.[O1] There[O2] is a website called Buttonbass, and it has several good virtual instruments. It's free, and you[O3] don't need to download anything...ever. The best (piano) link on their website is:[O4]

    It is also the easiest instrument to make music with [O5] compared to all the others found on their website. [O6] You can type notes individually, or press two keys (or more) at the same time on a keyboard to make chords. You can listen to what you wrote as many times as you want, even while while[O7] still in process of making it, and add notes in between others or remove notes, and slow or speed up the tempo. You can even add a second layer! Many[O8] people, at the very end of making a song[O9] , copy-paste their notes into the comments section located below the piano[O10] , for other people to hear. A[O11] heavy[O12] physical piano has flaws. The benefit of Buttonbass' Instruments, which I noticed, and is most important to me[O13] , is that you may use the computer keyboard to make otherwise impossible chords (for example if a pianist wanted to press a single key on the left end of a piano, a key on the right end, and one in the middle, their hands wouldn't reach that far on a physical piano), so you can make sounds and music never heard before[O14] !

    [Poem/lyric removed][O15]

    I feel that, in a similar way to writing, music has a message, sometimes multiple messages, and I keep that thought when I make things.[O16]

    Source:, Audio Portal, Creator: Belthagor[O17]

    [O1]I’ve allowed this because although the music score falls outside of the review brief, the opening sentence depends upon it, and would be employed in real world advertorial situations.

    It is usually better to embed links within the text, or within a button graphic, when writing advertorials.

    [O2]New Paragraph

    [O3]Although it is common in conversational writing, it is rarely a good idea to switch POV inside a paragraph.

    [O4]Again, it is usually better to embed links within the text, or within a button graphic, when writing advertorials.

    [O5]Common enough, but not grammatically correct – [with (or upon) which to make music].

    [O6]This clause has just turned your promotion of the website into a review – and a critical one at that. In the real world, that just cost you a paying client.

    Even for the purpose of this exercise, it’s an unwanted bit of distraction, because you’ve just made the reader wonder what other instruments you used for comparison.

    [O7]Oops – While while is probably a little town in New South Wales; they tend to go for that sort of thing. Just one while will do here.

    [O8]New Paragraph

    [O9]The issue here depends on which direction to come from – either, it is overstating the obvious, or it is an assumption that may not be justified; there might be just as many people who post unfinished works (or works in progress). All up, it is an unnecessary phrase breaking up the sentence.

    [O10]No comma here

    [O11]New Paragraph

    [O12]Why mention weight here, and then only discuss distance in the follow up? You seem to have created a dimensional anomaly here.

    [O13]Whoa! Not only is this a POV switch in mid-sentence, and includes a totally unnecessary ‘which’, it is simply not the place to boast about your perceptive abilities or to state your own priorities. If you feel you must do either, then better to that outside of this sentence, although I think both would be better left unsaid.

    [O14]Not quite – scores have been written for two or more pianos or pianists.

    [O15]Removed and not assessed because it falls outside the review brief.

    [O16]This would work better as part of the Par One hook.

    [O17]This credit refers to the location of the recorded work. There should also be a credit to the instrument website you cited in your advertorial.

    *MamaStrong – “Keira”

    Spelling/Grammar: 3.8
    Tone/Voice: 3.2
    Effect: 6.5
    Overall: 13.5

    My Comments -
    Our challenge host owes me a cookie. I did flag the possibility that someone might come forward with the original labour of love, and here it is.

    But what is it? It is an anecdotal more than revelatory essay, forced by the word limit to compress some important if emotionally confronting issues that afflict new mothers. It begins in a light frame with self-deprecating humour, moves into drama and tension, and then falls into depression, with just enough for a wrung-out signal of perhaps a return to the light.

    The recipe is there, the setting ideal, so why did it not leap out and grab the way it should? The voice. The voice didn’t work (just like choosing the wrong actor to play the part). And the voice comes from word choices and sentence structure. This was an emotion-charged time! But nothing kills emotion like passive voice and weather reports; drains the colour right out of it.

    If you do look at this one again, strike out the it-was’s, the befores, the as’s, the after’s, the clinical self -descriptions, and bring forward the impatients, the wows, the swarms, the gruellings, the fears in the dreams, the darknesses, and the disappointments that were so real they hurt like a knife to the gut or a hammer blow to the chest. Because that is how they felt, right?

    The birth of my daughter was a labor of love journey in and of itself. I've always been a very impatient person, and when birthing day came it was no different. It[O1] was a Sunday afternoon and we were sitting at 12 hours shy of 39 weeks. My Doctor[O2] had recently told me that by coming in to be checked for dilation, it could speed the process. Not a wise choice of advice for someone so impatient such as I[O3] .

    After the monitors were all put into place around my belly, the incessant beeping that would not end until after birth, began to chime in my ears. My dilation progress was then checked and we were informed that I was only one centimeter. Still a long way to go, I was given the option to go home or walk the halls of the hospital. Impatient me of course chose [O4] to walk the halls.

    As the Doctor [O5] left the room to confer with the other staff about the decision, my husband moved closer to the monitor checking our baby's heart rate. I sighed and leaned back to rest my eyes just as he said,“Wow, her heart rate is going down really fast”. Before I could even comprehend what he had just said, the room began to swarm with medical staff. My clothes were being pulled quickly from my body, I was being rolled back and forth and in between frightened gasps I asked, “What! What's going on? ”

    The head nurse looked at me and said, “Your baby isn't breathing”.

    A quick pinch in a random part of my arm became an IV and the words swirling around me consisted of “Emergency” and “C-section”.I[O6] should mention that not only am I impatient, I'm also a planner.And[O7] the plan was for a natural, non-medicated childbirth. Devastation hit as I was being prepped to leave [O8] and be[O9] rushed to the Operating Room.

    Our baby must have sensed my fear because she decided at that moment to unclench her fist from around her umbilical cord. The doctors then decided that since I was already there, and close to full term anyway to admit me. Being induced was also not in my plan but it was a much better option than a c-section.

    People say pregnant women get these nightmares sometimes and they feel so real it scares the women greatly. My nightmare during my pregnancy,consisted[O10] of me blacking out right before I was to give birth only to wake up with the baby already born and my husband telling me it was time to take our baby home.

    While this exact dream did not become a reality, there was a realness of the moment before her arrival. [O11] Twelve[O12] long hours of labor and not progressing past four centimeters. The grueling decision to get the epidural to, “relax me”. [O13] My husband staring me in the eyes and telling me that I was doing a wonderful job as I used him as my focal point through contractions. As I began to reach the end of labor it felt as if the room got darker with each passing second. The darkness consumed me as if myself[O14] and the bed were the only things in the room.

    It's been four years and eight months since that exhausting yet rewarding day. The darkness that swarmed over me then, has finally begun to clear. As a first time mother, I feared I'd miss the most magical moment everyone kept telling me about. The birth of my child. I[O15] was scared my pregnancy nightmare would become true. I suppose in a sense it did. The post pardum [O16] depression I experienced after Keira's birth,nearly[O17] felt like dark cloud that engulfed me during my final moments of labor. I have missed out on a bond with my daughter that has taken years to try and fix[O18] .

    [O1]New paragraph. Whether it was a sunny Sunday afternoon or a long and stormy night, or the best of times and the worst of times, it is the scene setter opening to your story. Whatever came before is the overture or prelude.

    [O2]Not capped unless proper title – eg, The Doctor, referring to Dr Who. You can blame it on children’s television and books which commonly but incorrectly make proper titles out of generic professions. When to cap or not cap is now a source of confusion for many and frustration for some.

    [O3]Two sayings merged into one rarely works – either for someone so impatient, or for someone as impatient as I – and such is an unnecessary affectation.

    [O4]Again, the merging of two sayings doesn’t work, and you would have seen that if you considered the phrasing after impatient – ‘me chose to walk’ is a style restricted to conversational aliens. As the subject, not the object, of the sentence, it should be ‘I’ – Impatient I chose to walk.

    The question of whether or not a comma should go in after impatient comes down to whether the word is a part of your self-label – eg, Despicable Me – or a commentary on how you were feeling – eg, Frustrated, I kicked the door.

    [O5]Dr Who?

    [O6]Space after the period.

    [O7]Space after the period.

    [O8]You don’t need this, and it potentially adds confusion to your reader who recalls that you were planning to walk the halls.


    [O10]Lose the comma, and leave a space.

    [O11]Belongs with the previous paragraph, or on its own, depending on how much emphasis you want to place on it.

    [O12]New paragraph

    [O13]The quote marks should be around ‘relax’ only; it’s clear from the story that you didn’t make the comment, that anyone who did would have said ‘relax you’, and that the generic two finger wave to denote a common euphemism also only applies to ‘relax’.

    [O14]Again, you are a subject – I - not an object – me, myself. It is a common conversational error, but still an error.

    [O15]New paragraph

    [O16]postpartum – pardum is a fanfic writer; yes, there are websites who spell postpartum with a d, but they are all personal and non-professionals who didn’t check the spelling.

    [O17]No comma but leave a space

    [O18]We could have a long and pointless discussion about the whole ‘try and’ vs ‘try to’ mess. The consensus in the industry is that ‘try and’ is here to stay as the cheap generic substitute for ‘try to’, and generally accepted when wanting to avoid ‘to try to’.

    * Astroannie –“​Valentine”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 3.8
    Effect: 6.8
    Overall: 15.5

    My comments –
    From a great opening par, we slip away – passive sentences, and jargon that only a web nerd can love - the passion doesn’t come through to me, the reader looking for a labour of love. Too much head, and nowhere near enough heart, is written into this piece.

    I don’t need to know the nuts and bolts; I’m not looking for a summary report. I want to feel what you felt - the pleasure in the anticipation, the poetry in the moment around coding that perfect page and seeing the result. Damn it, girl, I want to be wooed and won, not handed an instruction manual!

    To your credit, you introduced most of them properly; fully spelled out, with the acronym in brackets, missing only .GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). But, to the uninitiated, it is still Chinese, or rocket science.

    I made my love a valentine. Not of paper and lace, nor of chocolate and fruit. I crafted it in the ethereal realm of the Internet. Thirteen files on a Web site. Using my Web-spinning skills, I made a gift from my heart[O1] .

    I love designing Web sites. I can hand-code the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that Web sites are written in and build the corresponding Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that optimize the process of giving a site a consistent look-and-feel across all its pages. With the advent of content management systems (such as Wordpress) there isn’t as much call for native HTML developers; it’s why I don’t get paid to craft sites[O2] .

    The valentine began when I was looking for an image for another project. Our wedding anniversary is in February and I wanted to make mobile wallpaper for my love’s phone as a gift. I was on a stock image site where I had paid previously for some number of download credits. I was looking for something romantic[O3] .

    Among the images I found, was that of an open book, with some of the pages rolled inward toward the seam of the spine to form a heart shape. It was a nondescript color on a white background. Immediately, I recognized its potential to be something romantic. But, due to its proportions—wide and short—it wouldn’t work too well on a portrait-shaped, mobile device.

    I took a different approach and completed a composite design for my mobile wallpaper project. But I couldn’t shake the image of the book with its pages shaped into a heart. While it wouldn’t look good on a mobile screen, it would be perfect on a high-definition computer monitor. There were issues, though—it would look best near the bottom with some text above it. I had to find the right text[O4] .

    I have a poetry blog. Also, I participate in some forums where I share my work. I tried to narrow it down to one poem but found several I really liked. I’ve long believed that most insoluble problems are the result of poor perspective. What[O5] I really needed was to do something dynamic, where I could have more than one poem displayed. I could do a .GIF slide show and create a number of still images, each with different text. That would take a lot of work in a graphics program. Fundamentally, I’m lazy. So why not let someone else do the formatting? This is the sort of thing you’d put on a Web site.

    With that, I was off and running. The background image needed to be something with more of a Valentine feel than just a book on a white background. So I found a shade of red that I liked and overlaid it on the image of the book, adjusting the transparency until I had something I approved of.

    Next, I had some poems. The longest was ten lines. I thought it might be aesthetically pleasing to have a table of contents on the left and to display the selected poem on the right. To achieve balance, I would need to have ten poems—one for each line in the longest one. I[O6] found a color of ivory that I liked and that I thought looked good on the reddish background. I created a style sheet with a vertical bar to visually separate the contents from the current poem. I also made the contents into a menu where each item would be displayed in white when the mouse cursor was hovering on it.

    When I was finished, there was a background image, a landing page, ten poems, and a style sheet to bring them all together. I put them on the Web and sent my love a link with the message “Happy Valentine’s Day!” He liked it so much he moved it to its[O7] current home. is the address.[O8]

    [O1]Great opening par.

    [O2]This par is Grandma’s bloomers – a passion-killer. Jargon only sounds sexy to another in the know.

    [O3]Another good par.

    [O4]Even without the technical stuff, two pars of detail search is too much.

    [O5]New par

    [O6]New par

    [O7]Put the link here between ‘to’ and ‘its’. See next footnote.

    [O8]To avoid the uncapped final Sentence opening, and the redundancy of a second way to say ‘location’, it would be better to lose this and incorporate the link into the previous. And let’s face it, “it’s current home” carries more emotional appeal as a closer than “is the address”.

    * Abby – “Art Is Always A Labor Of Love”
    Spelling/Grammar: 4
    Tone/Voice: 3.5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 15.5

    My comments –
    There is an interesting comparison between this and the previous. Again, I am taken on a journey through detail, this time of the young artist’s view of her model. When I was a child of maybe seven or eight, my favourite pastime was studying the face of the girl who shared my desk, so yes, I am probably very biased.

    The difference that stands out, however, is that although the description delves into more detail than would normally work, it is done without employing the proper anatomical terms and without the technical or esoteric language of the schooled craft that is today’s Fine Arts. So, for an outsider, it works.

    What doesn’t usually work, because it is all too common in classroom and homework essays, is injecting the prompt into the title or body of the essay. Unless it is satire, or outright parody, or written for a featured debate, anything that smacks of “What I did in the holidays” or “Why I like Ponies” is the opposite of sexy to an editor.

    Overall, it is an artificially compressed personal journey to reach oneself and claim one’s passion; the passion that comes through is muted, in part by the compression of the story, and in part by the tone, the choice of language and sentence structure. The head/heart balance is almost even, which means it is still a little heavy on the head side. In a heart piece, the heart should dominate and the head should be on a leash.

    I realised I was an artist when I was a child of maybe 7 or 8. I was studying my classmate’s face for an art lesson[O1] , we were learning about portraits and had been told to sit across from our partners and draw.

    When I looked at the little girl across from me [O2] I saw her eyes her nose and her mouth, her eyebrows and her ears and her hair. I also saw the way her skin tone changed where her nose rose from her face; I saw the slight tinge of blue beneath her eyes where the skin was so thin it was almost[O3] translucent. I noticed the little chink of light in the black of her eye, and the way her lips cast a tiny shadow on the skin beneath. I saw the halo of light reflected in her shiny brown hair and the tiny dip between her nose and top lip. I saw how her cheeks were round and her chin was pointed, and how her eyelashes curled up from beneath the top lid. I[O4] drew these things as best I could at my tender age using crude shading and harsh outlines. Afterwards[O5] I looked at my classmates drawings and they were all the same…[O6] an oval face, two eyes, a nose and a mouth, a suggestion of a hairstyle,[O7] but mine was different. Where theirs were flat[O8] mine had a life about it,[O9] it looked more like a human being than any of the other drawings and I couldn't understand why that should be such a strange thing,[O10] wasn't it obvious to draw that way? I[O11] think I realised then that my way of looking at things a little deeper and drawing what I saw had set me apart from the others, and I knew from that moment that I had a talent.

    Naturally[O12] I took art at college but whilst there it all began to unravel for me. All of a sudden it wasn’t enough to be able to draw what you could see with precision. They wanted to see a flair for the unusual, they wanted rebellion on paper. There[O13] was an assignment entitled ‘the senses’, so I drew my hands. I drew my hands making the shapes of 2 eyes, a nose and a mouth; to me this was art and a clever interpretation of the brief. Those hands were perfectly drawn,[O14] I posed my hand on my desk and I drew what I saw. I composed the image in my mind and I made it a reality on the page. Another[O15] girl in my class went out and bought a bag of sweets. She stuck them all over a piece of card and that was her submission. When I saw her piece I laughed on the inside because to me that wasn’t art! My tutor didn't agree though…she got an A and my perfectly drawn piece got a C. After that[O16] I became so disillusioned with the whole thing that I left because no one seemed impressed with my art any more.

    Fast forward quite a few years and I am once again happy to pursue what is rightfully mine. I realised that it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, what matters is how I feel when I’m drawing, and I have to say I feel pretty damned good. I realised that there is a place in the world for all kinds of art,[O17] mine is one and there are a great many others, but mine is really the only kind that matters to me. I[O18] know that my art had brought joy not only to me it’s creator but more importantly to its recipients. I am proud to know that the fruits of my labor hang on other people’s walls, and that it provokes an emotion in them. If that’s not a labor of love then I don’t know what is. [O19]

    [O1]Semi-colon or period & new sentence.

    [O2]I blame school English for this unnecessary and passive clause.

    [O3]From what little I know, almost doesn’t come into it; the skin is translucent, especially the fine skin of Caucasians; almost transparent, perhaps.

    [O4]New par – focal shift

    [O5]New par – yes, I know it leaves the last sentence on its own, but that’s how it should be.

    [O6]Colon (denoting list).


    [O8]Comma after flat

    [O9]Semi-colon or period & new sentence.

    [O10]Depending on which you choose for the previous: a period & new sentence, or a semi-colon.

    [O11]New par.


    [O13]New par.


    [O15]New par.


    [O17]Period & new sentence.

    [O18]New par.

    [O19]Directly addressing the prompt in text is rarely a wise move, and often suggests a school essay, although its position here as the closer suggests more of a debate piece.

    *Crowley K. Jarvis - “Suna no Ken”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.7
    Tone/Voice: 3.5
    Effect: 5.8
    Overall: 14

    My comments –
    This should have been a real eye-opener, an insight into the heart and soul of the katana’s trustee – a Zen and the Art of Katana Maintenance. It could have been; there were hints that it wanted to be. But it fails to cut through the common ailments of school English: passive voice and structure; laborious journeys into trivial or technical details; lost opportunities to strike, to stun, to touch another heart.

    There are times in writing when the head must rule, but sharing a labour of love is not one of them. This piece has two great pars, including the closer, and an opener that was in the zone but not yet sharp enough.

    There is nothing that compares to a sharp, polished blade. Swords continue to be emblems of honor and strength, and the word of God is often referred to, yes, as a sword.
    Little wonder then, as I grew up I became fascinated with the development of sword varieties throughout history, as well as their modern production and distribution. I enjoyed concepts of honorable duels, heroic deeds and acquiring a sword for myself that I may participate in such activities!

    So, as a young man I would often fantasize exactly what my first paycheck would be put towards. It took little under sixty seconds of consideration to decide upon, yes, a good sharp piece of metal called a sword. But I didn't know which kind I wanted. Medieval weaponry did not interest me. As much as we all love knights, I didn't fancy lugging around a long sword, broadsword, bastard sword or claymore.

    No, no, I wanted an eastern sword. There[O2] are many kinds, but the sword that claimed my heart could be blamed on my obsession with Samurai. I wanted a katana. My[O3] father always told me, 'Buy the best you can afford!' So I was resolved to get a blade of the highest quality for the price I was willing to pay!

    I bought a fairly standard katana with a 27'' inch blade length and 10.75'' inch [O4] long handle. katana[O5] all have a wooden sheath,[O6] mine had a black piano paint[O7] . The guard itself was golden and circular, like a steering wheel on an old ocean vessel. The handles metal fittings depicted golden waves. It was beautiful but without a name. I decided that, since the waves were golden, this shouldn't be a sword of the sea, but of the sand. I named it Suna no Ken. Literally, that means Sand sword. But it flows better in Japanese and just felt right.

    But katana must be cleaned and stored correctly! Suna no Ken was made of 1060 carbon steel[O8] ! It can't stay wet or humid, or have any fingerprints, or it will rust away. For this they[O9] use Choji oil. Basically,it’s mineral oil that is spiced. It's also an extreme rust preventative. As often as you use it, or every few months, you must clean it. The sheath is wooden, so with every movement of the blade, slivers break off. Dust, moisture, and all else get on the sword over time.

    Every time, I must first remove any old oil and ensure the blade is completely dry. Then use a specific stone powder which basically acts like a buffer, to polish the blade and remove any small scratches, and reapply the Choji oil. The blade is also full tang, so the blade itself simply leads to the unpolished, unsharpened piece of steel that runs through the handle. If it gets soaked, I remove the handle completely and let it all dry. I play outside and have left it in the rain before. The handle is held on by bamboo pegs that often break and must be repurchased and replaced.

    Oh how sorry I am to that poor sword, that I am its owner. But how I labor to care for it, because Suna no Ken has claimed my heart[O10] .

    [O1]For an opener of a labour of love about a sword, this could have, should have been much sharper –
    Nothing compares to the sharp, polished blade. Swords are eternal emblems of honour and strength, and often the Word of God is revealed as, yes, a mighty sword!

    [O2]This should have been your second sentence, and the killer hook of your opening par. Everything between the Sword of God and There are many kinds is wasted – time, space, words, effort – just wasted.

    [O3]New par.

    [O4]Pick one and be consistent with it, but never use both the symbol and the spelled out word together. Most non-technical style guides will tell you to spell these words out, and so that is a good habit to get into.



    [O7]Careful here, this phrase could be interpreted as your katana had a black piano paint, because the subject of the previous clause upon which this one depends is katana.

    [O8]The danger of introducing jargon, or industry-specific terminology, without explanation is the loss of the reader. The danger of explaining jargon is the loss of the story. Solution: don’t use jargon.

    Only someone else interested in swords or metallurgy will appreciate that 1060 carbon steel means a plain carbon steel – 1 – with no other modifying of the alloys – 0 – and with a 0.6% carbon content – 60 - that will allow the steel to take and maintain a cutting edge, and still be flexible enough to return to shape after a 45 degree bend.

    So, how to get around this? Suna no Ken was made from the lightest carbon steel that can take and maintain a cutting edge and still be flexible enough to endure a 45 degree bend.

    [O9]Not they. I. It doesn’t matter what anyone else uses, only what you use.

    [O10]Good finish.

    * am_hammy – “To Love And To Be Loved”
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.4
    Tone/Voice: 3.8
    Effect: 7.3
    Overall: 15.5

    My comments –
    I feel for your struggle, and am impressed by your strength and maturity having come through it all. That doesn’t mean I’m going to soften my crit.

    What I see here suggests a high school English Comprehension essay; one brave enough to stick a finger up at enough rules to be mostly readable, but a student’s essay still. Why? It is a student who includes the essay prompt or topic in the body of the work; in this instance, not once, but three times. Whether it is to remind the student or the teacher is a matter for some idle speculation, but not here.

    In its favour, this essay has more heart, and a voice that manages to break through a bit more – that’s the finger I was pleased to see. There are the signs in this piece of a voice and style that will resonate, will reach out from the page and caress or smack the face of the reader. Real hope for future efforts.

    Before then, however, we need to break away from passive styles, from worrying so much about when something happened rather than what happened and how it felt when it happened.

    One rule, however, that didn’t take, or was unwisely ignored, is the one about who vs that. When applied to a person in any guise (ie, name, title, job identity, relationship, slang term, whatever) it is always who and never that; that identifies a thing, not a person.

    When I think about love, I view it in two different ways: To love and to be loved. For the majority of my life the latter of the two is what I've craved and honestly, what person wouldn't want that?

    When I was seven years old my parents divorced. My father left me, my mom, and my brother all alone. For a long time I thought I was at fault. There must have been something I did. I couldn't understand why he didn't stay. What did I do wrong? Why didn't he love me?

    For years I labored for my father’s love[O1] . I can count on one hand the times that I had heard him say “I love you” as I grew up. When my efforts proved to be fruitless, love turned to hate and our relationship changed. He had his share of girlfriends, but he ended up meeting a woman that[O2] is now my stepmother. I remember so vividly the day he told me that she was pregnant.

    I was fifteen years old at the time[O3] , and the rage I felt that night was far worse than any teenage angst I had ever experienced. I hated what was growing inside of my stepmother. The jealousy that ran through me left me breathless.

    I was overwhelmingly angry. Angry because my father was choosing a woman that[O4] was jealous of me and hated my existence. Angry for losing what little hope I had left for him of being a father to me. Angry because I felt like I was being replaced. This thing, this creature, was going to get more attention than me. I tried and tried to gain my father’s love, attention, affection, and got nothing. Now something else had the chance to get it. I felt helpless, alone, and betrayed.

    When the creature was born, I slowly [O5] began to see things in a new light. He was so tiny and his eyes were so big, so curious. It[O6] made me painfully aware that there was another person that[O7] had to fight for the affection of someone that[O8] would never really give it. A year later another one was born. At this point, I had three brothers who were all in the same boat as me. I took a step back and realized that I wasn't alone. I started to understand that I wasn't the only one that[O9] needed love. If anything, they needed it more than I did. The revelation shook me at my core and I started to make changes.

    By the time I was nineteen, I had officially decided to give up laboring for my father’s love[O10] . I was about to head off to college and start fresh. One thing I knew I had to face before leaving was my relationship with him. It hasn't been a walk in the park since then, but things are better than they were before. I[O11] decided that[O12] I needed to start working on loving my father, regardless if it would ever be returned. If I was ever to move forward, I needed to accept that my father might never be capable of giving me what I so desperately wanted. I[O13] also realized that even if he is not truly capable of it, he still tries. It might look like nothing to anyone else, but I finally was able to see his efforts. Even if it was a voice-mail telling me about a TV show he was watching or a book he was reading, he had taken the time to tell me. It makes it a little easier to love him, although it’s still hard. I've definitely had my moments with him but I don’t cry because of my father anymore, but for him.

    Loving my father is and always will be my greatest labor of love[O14] , and I welcome that with open arms every single day.

    [O1]Hmm …

    [O2]Regardless of how you feel about her, a person is still a who, not a that

    [O3]Not necessary

    [O4]Still who, not that

    [O5]Not necessary


    [O7]I can see we need to work on your people skills here - who

    [O8]Yes, indeed - who

    [O9]This is just a habit, right? Not some deep-seated inability to distinguish people from things? Who.

    [O10]Hmm …

    [O11]New paragraph

    [O12]Not necessary

    [O13]New paragraph

    [O14]Hmm …

    * Boofy – “Amaterasu”
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.8
    Tone/Voice: 4.7
    Effect: 7
    Overall: 16.5

    My comments –
    It’s not the first time in this challenge that a magic opening and a voice promising to come alive and take J Average along a heartfelt journey turns into a dark alley and then mocks the poor soul who does not know the secret passwords.

    “… assuming that it would be a straightforward process. That was my first mistake. It was like being dropped into the middle of a ...” well, no, not a horror movie, but one where the language suddenly shifted to Finnish or Japanese without the courtesy of subtitles.

    This is the writing challenge for nerds and aesthetes* - whether formally trained or self-made – to recall those distant days when such words or symbols were foreign, eye-glazing stuff; when RAM was a male sheep, i5 might have been the latest model BMW, Skyrim was a fancy word for horizon, and DOTA was probably a government department (maybe Trade and Agriculture).

    Even spelled out, random access memory sounds a bit like old-timer’s disease, a quad-core processor might be a newfangled car or bike motor part, open world games happen in those years between the Olympics, and Defense of the Ancients is what people are crying for in Iraq.

    Apart from that, we have an upbeat, conversational – even chatty – anecdote that does seem to share the love. A lot of potential revealed here, so I expect to see great things from this writer.

    *See what I mean? It means people with a deep appreciation and understanding for artistic styles and pursuits.

    She never gets hot, my baby[O1] . I named her for Amaterasu, the Sun God in Japanese folklore. Ammy for short, if you like. She's red and white, nimble, elegant and cool under pressure. I figured the name was appropriate.

    Committing to a project like building your own computer is no small thing. You hear about the expense all the time, but the overall experience presents you with a more distinctive flavour of agony than watching your savings disintegrate could on its own.

    I jumped right in at the deep end, impulsive creature that I am, assuming that it would be a straightforward process. That was my first mistake. It was like being dropped into the middle of a horror movie. I found myself in a big white room, the walls plastered with esoteric terminology, a voice whispering cryptic claptrap into my ears from somewhere in the ether. Overwhelmed[O2] , I closed down r/buildapc and Youtube with an angry flourish and didn't revisit them for a full week. It felt like an insurmountable task, the Everest of learning curves.

    Yet I climbed it. Over time I picked up what I needed to know. I wouldn't make the rookie mistake of buying too much RAM and I discovered that I'd only need an i5 processor for gaming. These nuggets of information ended up saving me a lot of money.

    I put off buying the parts for months. The idea that I might purchase pieces that were incompatible stayed my itching fingers. I'm so glad that I didn't just go ahead, in hindsight. I could easily have ended up with the desktop equivalent of Frankenstein's monster humming near my feet... the stuff of nightmares!

    After yet another month had passed where I couldn't muster the wherewithal to make a decision, I resigned myself to purchasing a pre-built, hectographed[O3] monstrosity. Moments[O4] before purchase[O5] I happened across an incredible website. It had a database comprising of most modern PC components, with price comparisons for a selection of vendors. These were categorised by functions and sub-features you could select and compile into a basic shopping list. It allowed me to finally see whether my desired build would be fully compatible with just a few clicks. There was a light at the end of the tunnel! Ammy wouldn't be here today without PCPartsPicker[O6] .

    I found the case first, having trawled through the site at length in my search for something unique. The bulk of the range comprised of rows upon rows of boxes, in various shades of grey. Robin Reliant's[O7] one and all next to the Alfa Romeo I ended up with. It was as close to a piece of abstract art as a case could get. One of the last in stock, to boot. I snapped it up and my excitement soared. The other parts soon followed.

    The parts arrived one by one. The case, the graphics card, the CPU... I stacked them neatly together on my desk until the day came when I finally had to assemble them. My hands never shook more than when I was mounting the motherboard. One bent pin and it could well have been the end before I even got the chance to start her up. I'm[O8] thrilled to say that she came through it all beautifully. We had quite an adventure getting her there though. Now we spend our days together, roaming the vast expanse of Skyrim, defeating bad guys with sharp metal prodding sticks and getting destroyed in DOTA tournaments. I wouldn't be without Ammy now. I'll certainly never need to buy a console again.

    Oh, my swear jar filled very quickly over those few months. My only regret is choosing to put in twenty pence a time. I'd have made the money back on my computer twice over if I'd only opted to put in pound coins instead[O9] .

    [O1]Great opener!

    [O2]Hmmm … maybe, maybe not, a new par – could go either way on this one.

    [O3]Wow, that’s a kick in the chronometer – maybe I should have seen It coming after the Frankenstein reference, but still … a 19th Century limited-run (hecto = 100) print based on a gelatin template? Not a Gestetner to roll them out? Ka-chung ka-chung ka-chung …

    [O4]New paragraph


    [O6]Fair plug, but it does turn your labour of love into an advertorial.

    [O7]No apostrophe. And you are saying that the others are cheap three-wheelers in comparison? Surely the Model T Ford would have been more fitting – expensive now, but old fashioned, and any colour you like as long as it’s grey.

    [O8]New paragraph

    [O9]Nice afterthought.

    * Rcallaci – “Comic Book Dreams (from the journals of a Mad Poet)”
    Spelling/Grammar: 3
    Tone/Voice: 4.5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 15.5

    My comments –
    A comfortable, conversational anecdote about a boy growing up with comic book superheroes and adventures before they adorned the Saturday morning TV slots, and making excellent use of flashbacks.

    It begins well, and ends brilliantly, but still relies upon the broad assumption that J Average – who might have only found Disney, or Beano, or war and western comics, or even (unthinkable!) no comics at all – would recognise the names of the heroes, the anti-heroes, the out and out super villains, and would understand why a kiss from Catwoman would beat a kiss from Wonder Woman or Supergirl any day of the week. Although I reckon a kiss from the Black Widow would definitely challenge the Catwoman’s supremacy.

    Punctuation and formatting – paragraphing – are areas that need work. Perhaps a lot of work.

    I've always had a special love affair with comic books[O1] . The first thing I remember reading was a beat up old Superman comic I commandeered out of my brothers[O2] room. The word captions were simple enough for a nine year old to understand and the drawings of super heroes and villains fueled my imagination to its limits. I was hooked. I became a comic book junkie. Reading[O3] about the adventures of the Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, Superman, Batman and the rest of the D.C. Pantheon became a glorious obsession. I helped sabotage Lex Luther[O4] ’s plans, did battle with the Joker and the Riddler, outsmarted Brainic[O5] , roamed the galaxy in a bubble and danced with half naked mermaids while Aquaman played the flute. A dime in those days could buy a lot of dreams[O6] .

    In my early teens a new pantheon of Anti-Hero’s, Villains and Super Freaks captured my attention. The Marvel Invasion swept the D.C. Nation. The tales of the Silver Surfer, The Hulk[O7] Iron Man, Thor, The Fantastic Four, Spiderman[O8] and the rest of angst ridden[O9] group of hero’s[O10] and monsters, introduced me to the darker aspects of the fantastic. The lines between Hero and Villain were blurred, and rather than fight on the side of Truth[O11] Justice and the American Way[O12] ; I surfed alongside the Silver Surfer plotting Man’s destruction, crawled in the sewers of Manhattan with the Man Thing eating rats and wrestling alligators, and danced with armor-plated Valkyries while Loki played the fiddle. It now took a quarter to fill my head with those dark dreams and nightmares that a young mind craved but it was well worth that extra fifteen cents.

    Looking back on those days leaves me with a smile and an ache for those bygone times when the stories and illustrations woven into those comics ruled my dreams. If not for them[O13] I doubt that my love for mythology, myth, fairytales[O14] and comparative religions would be as prevalent. I[O15] also credit my great love and admiration of classical and modern art to those comic illustrations that helped fuel my imagination as a young boy and man-ling. My[O16] movie and TV tastes were formed by such shows as the Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Star Trek and Dark Shadows which I was hooked on in my teens. Things that bump in the night, alien invasions, and galaxies that needed to be explored were introduced in my newly formed memes. I probably would have never watched these or enjoyed them as much if I wasn’t already a comic book aficionado. I[O17] also would have never read the book (the Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien)[O18] , that shaped my love for religious myth[O19] ; if not for my love of adventure comic books. One of my more vivid memories of my faded army days was me standing in the gun turret of a tank, reading the Hobbit[O20] . I never would have read it if I didn't see it advertised on the back cover of the Green Lantern. Yes: I still read comic books till I was well into my twenties. From[O21] the Hobbit I read the Lord of the Rings and from that The Silmarillion. After that I devoured all writings that delved into fantasy, science fiction, religion, magic, supernatural anomalies and things of the fantastic.

    I’m no longer that nine year old boy or that teen who wanted to conquer the world but a man in his early sixties. Although Graphic Novels [O22] has[O23] taken the place of Adventure Comic Books [O24] in length as well as in price[O25] ; it’s[O26] still all comic books to me. I[O27] still have some old comics which I lovingly take care of; A Pure Labor [O28] of love. Each time I read them[O29] I’m transported back in that nine year olds[O30] mind. The Cat Women[O31] gives me a passionate kiss on the lips[O32]

    [O1]Good opener.

    [O2]Apostrophe – brother’s, or if more than one brother shared the room, brothers’

    [O3]New paragraph



    [O6]Good line.


    [O8]Spider-Man (I keep getting this one wrong, too).

    [O9]hyphenated – angst-ridden

    [O10]We’re not in Late Middle Ages’ England now - heroes

    [O11]Comma after Truth

    [O12]Comma or colon – the following statement remains connected by the flag ‘rather than’


    [O14]fairy tales, or fairy-tales.

    [O15]New par – new focus added

    [O16]New par

    [O17]New par – new focus added

    [O18]No brackets


    [O20]not italics – this is an anecdotal statement, not a flashback

    [O21]New par

    [O22]Is this a brand name, a company, or a title?

    [O23]Plural – have, or if in past tense – had.

    [O24]Is this a brand name, a company, or a title?

    [O25]Comma – dependence of the clause is flagged by Although. Wait! You can get graphic novels for the length and price of adventure comic books? Who is your supplier? Ah, I see the issue – the preposition [in] would be clearer as [for] in both instances.

    [O26]Plural – they’re or they are, or if past tense, they were

    [O27]New par

    [O28]You’re using cap titles for emphasis? I’d also be wary of using the prompt in text; that tends to suggest a school essay.



    [O31]Don’t be greedy, just one Catwoman.

    [O32]Great closer

    * JustRob – “Unrecognition”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4
    Tone/Voice: 3.5
    Effect: 5
    Overall: 12.5

    My comments –
    This essay is a combined passive voice Foreword and Introduction to a five par piece - presented as one paragraph - that mentions a passion for research, perhaps research into a singular subject or life. Very little else can be drawn from it, other than a preference for self-deprecation, and stated desire to pay it forward.

    The overall effect is similar to an online marketing teaser.

    Paragraphing and punctuation are things to watch.

    It was suggested to me that I write something here, but I am always willing to walk away from a challenge if it is challenging for its own sake. There are sufficient challenges in life without creating more. However, I also said that I would try and I have a reputation made up of honesty, integrity and reliability. If[O1] it’s not and this is just my delusion then I have no idea why people have trusted me so much over the years unless they share it with me. So[O2] I thought about the things in my life that I care about passionately and then I realised that they all had to be excluded as subjects for various reasons and that I had none left to write about, except maybe and only maybe one.

    Fundamentally[O3] I don’t seek recognition, quite the opposite. I am a recluse forced by necessity to cope with this humanity that claims me as its own. Personally[O4] I sometimes wonder whether I was born on the wrong planet, but maybe next time destiny will get it right and I’ll have long tentacles instead of arms and fingers too short to make me a real man. Yet[O5] other men and women too have their shortcomings that deter them from attaining their ambitions. There I am fortunate as any ambitions that I have must await me in that other life, as they certainly aren’t evident in this one. Hence I am free to assist those greater, or maybe lesser, individuals in their struggles, but I will always be the man who walks away when the plaudits are awarded, for my passion is to go unrecognised, selfishly denying others the opportunity to reward me.

    If I do a favour then I shrink away when someone tries to repay it[O6] and equally any favour paid to me may go unrepaid. The world is not a better place for favours repaid any more than a battery does any good by being short-circuited. No, I hope that my favours will be passed on from person to person many times before they finally return to benefit me when I am in need of them. That way much more of society feels the benefit. Hence[O7] I must be that masked man, the lone arranger of events that fit the gaps in the jigsaw puzzle that is life. There is nothing that I can write of here in any detail to explain this, but maybe I can give an example.

    Two centuries ago[O8] a man was born and over a century ago he died and was all but wiped from history. He wasn’t that special and yet he sat at the centre of a web of threads connecting him and his forgotten family to many events in the Victorian era that extended across the globe. He[O9] is remembered only by a short paragraph in a slim volume of local history, but this is a cruel caricature drawn through ignorance. I could as easily represent him as a spider on his web and be as accurate. In[O10] fact[O11] the real story disclosed by my research is so fascinating and eventful that others have agreed with me that it could wipe Downton Abbey off the ratings slate and reduce that Fellowes fellow to an echo of his past achievements. Of[O12] course[O13] I would not be the one to write the script or period novel or even history though[O14] . I accumulate my research as a labour of love[O15] , nothing else, in the hope that this man will be remembered as he should in days when I am forgotten. Hopefully[O16] soon I will find the better writer who will make it so.

    There are many other examples that I could write about[O17] but if I overrun the word limit set then I may all too easily achieve my ambition and go unrecognised and that[O18] then[O19] would be no challenge.

    [O1]New par – focal shift

    [O2]New par – focal shift



    [O5]New par – focal shift


    [O7]New par – focal shift


    [O9]New par – focal shift

    [O10]New par – focal shift


    [O12]New par –focal shift


    [O14]common conversational error; it should start the sentence – Though of course, etc – or be dropped. Where it is indicates an unfinished statement.

    [O15]hmm …

    [O16]New par – focal shift




    * QDOS – “Thanks for the Invite”

    Spelling/Grammar: 3.5
    Tone/Voice: 3.5
    Effect: 6.5
    Overall: 13.5

    My comments –
    It looks like a debate speech, beginning with a direct address of the topic and its definition. What follows are a little Q&A, and an illustrative example, before a return to the topic closer. Punctuation issues are evident.

    The meat of the work is in the example: that of a father doing for his daughter, with love and without complaint (except where traffic and parking were involved) or thought of return (unless they forgot something and had to).

    The tone is dry, and the voice conversational. This is not unusual for working fathers expected to keep their emotions in check, or for debate presentations. There is enough familiarity in the descriptions to resonate with other parents.

    Ah! Labours of Love - productive work performed voluntarily without material reward or compensation. Tall order but[O1] when you get down to it[O2] I guess there have been many such occasions. Helping[O3] neighbours, friends, family, as a parent our own children even their little friends. A little sharing of others[O4] burdens to lighten their load. Being cheerful and putting a positive spin on things, I always find that helps.

    This gets me thinking of those moments when you’re feeling low[O5] , the task in front of you seems insurmountable. Then someone come[O6] into the room with a cheerful what’s up can I help [O7] sort of a... well it somehow lifts the gloom and everything’s much more doable.

    I have to ask[O8] do you count material reward or compensation to your labour of love when seeing your daughter in a London stage production[O9] . Emotional reward, yes I guess I do[O10] , material[O11] definitely not[O12] , compensated for the hours of driving her to and from rehearsals[O13] no. The production was a one off - The Long and Winding Road - at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. As far as I remember[O14] we even had to pay for our tickets for the performance.

    We lived north of London at the time and getting to and from rehearsals and the performance was a nightmare. It wasn’t just allowing time for the journey and any number of traffic problems we might have to endure. At least on one occasion[O15] we had forgotten some valuable prop or costume piece which[O16] we had to return and pick up.

    I started my working life in the city[O17] and in my day[O18] a group of friends all in different jobs used to car share. It was a lot cheaper than using public transport. Traffic was heavy during rush hour, but we had our knowledge of back routes that we could deploy. Parking was free if you knew where along side streets. However[O19] today city parking is restricted and costly[O20] and then there is the added tariff of driving the inner zone.

    Most of my daughters[O21] group rehearsals were near to Liverpool Street Station around the area of the old Spitalfeilds Market Hall.[O22] The[O23] first few miles from home usually went without any problem. Then we would be heading down the A10 through Tottenham not far from where I was born. Then Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Shoreditch and finally Spitalfeild[O24] . Sunday drivers, London traffic[O25] , if my daughter learned anything on those trips it was how to curse and swear. My[O26] nightmare didn’t end, parking even on a Sunday held me on tender hooks [O27] while we waited for the rehearsals to finish. Then[O28] all done for another week[O29] the long journey back home. The distance wasn’t that far[O30] it was just the time it all took.

    As to the performance, our seats were so far back and there were so many on stage. Our daughter[O31] so young and not very tall, she was hard to spot. But I felt proud as punch[O32] [O33] , one[O34] that she had been actually picked[O35] and two[O36] for all the effort she had made. As[O37] for my part – Thanks for the Invite - for participating in the frustrations and annoyance of having to drive through London traffic, I guess for me[O38] that was a Labour of Love[O39] I will never forget.

    Footnote Bob – Thanks for the Invite – I did my best.



    [O3]New par – focal shift

    [O4]apostrophe – others’

    [O5]semi colon


    [O7]There are a number of ways to format and/or punctuate this phrase; you chose none.

    [O8]Colon, or at least a comma

    [O9]It was a question - ?

    [O10]Semi colon


    [O12]semi colon




    [O16]for which, otherwise you are saying you had to return the piece.





    [O21]apostrophe – daughter’s

    [O22]Spitalfields – it’s one of those i-before-e names for a renovated Victorian East London landmark. “around the area of” is either a fancy way to say outside of the Hall, or is an unwise blend of two ways to say “near” or “in the vicinity of”.

    [O23]New par – change of focus.

    [O24]Still i-before-e -‘field’.


    [O26]New par

    [O27]A common misconception – what you were on were tenterhooks; the hooks to which cloth was attached and stretched across a tenter frame so that it wouldn’t shrink when it dried. As the cloth dried on the tenter, the draw tension in the threads increased, sometimes to the breaking point. To be on tenterhooks is to experience that feeling.

    The misconception has grown so far that it spawned a documentary about people who willingly suspend themselves from large hooks driven through their tender flesh.

    [O28]New par


    [O30]semi colon


    [O32]Originally, describing someone as "proud as Punch" was an insult, because the character of Punch was a bully and his pride was arrogance. To describe great pleasure in a thing was to be as "pleased as Punch". Over time, the two sayings converged into the one meaning, and Punch was as often as not denied the right of name and relegated to a mere object - punch.



    [O35]semi colon


    [O37]New par


    [O39]Title case for emphasis?

    * InstituteMan – “Home Work”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.8
    Tone/Voice: 4.9
    Effect: 8.8
    Overall: 18.5

    My comments –
    Yes, it was a labour of love – that or an exercise in self-torture to the point of insanity. More, it was well written for tone, voice, pace, and SPaG; the main let-down being the second par for its perspective switch+assumption, and the minor three missed par breaks (par 4x2, par 10x1).

    There were a couple of minor dips into jargon, but they were minor: post-and-beam construction is, to many, self-explanatory, and stucco is common enough even in regions where it is called render or daub.

    All up, a fun anecdotal essay of the type that would appear in a Country Style or environmentally focused magazine, usually with a photo spread of the property.

    This is a Workshop entry, so not included in full here.

    I was just going to build a house … [with] super-insulating straw[O1] !

    I discovered that you [O2] cannot just hire a contractor …

    ... I[O3] finally found a bank ... Turns[O4] out a family of four can live ...
    We[O5] had planned on having ...

    [O1]Excellent opener. Some critics might pick at the rule-breaking grammar, I think what you’ve done here can work.

    [O2]This rule break, however, doesn’t work as well. Yes, it is very common to create some generic “you means anyone, but mainly means I” situation, but it also immediately sets up an assumption that everyone, especially the reader does share your experience. In some parts of the world, this will not be true.

    For instance, I know someone who did hire a local contractor to build her straw bale home; and others to build rammed earth homes; one who specialised in mud bricks; and a whole town famous for dug-outs or in-ground homes. And that's just one reader.

    It is almost always better to stay with the personal experience - this is what happened to me - than to extrapolate it into a generalised warning.

    [O3]New par

    [O4]New par

    [O5]New par

    * Riptide – “Labors of Love[O1]

    Spelling/Grammar: 4
    Tone/Voice: 4.5
    Effect: 6.5
    Overall: 15

    My comments –
    A mystery opener, especially the smoke rising bit. That’s OK. I’ll read on. Hate, pain, pressure – a lot of labour going on. Why? Ah, winning, congratulations, a medal. Yes. No.

    No? But you’ve just overturned everything, confused me, and left me wondering, “what’s with the smoke?”

    I know there is a tremendous story in here, the sort of story that a Hollywood producer wants to snap up and give to an A-List director, rope in some A-List actors and the latest heartthrob or two, or failing that some rising starlet, and turn it into Chariots of Fire meets GI Jane, or perhaps Private Benjamin. It’s in there, I can feel it, in the hate and the pain and the pressure, and in the constantly rising expectations, and in the glory. And somewhere lost in all of that, a girl who just loves to run.

    But, right now, the message is confused, twisted back on itself. And, apart from being an interesting image, what’s with the rising smoke?

    Smoke rising, stomach churning, the exhaustion sits on everyone's shoulders[O2] . A gasping, “Job well done.”

    I don't like this. I hate it. The pain that grows with each and every step, and it's worst[O3] that 'they' expect more. That 'they' think I'm the star. I'm not. They is [O4] everyone, from coaches, superiors, friends, family[O5] , they put their trust in me, and I'm supposed to act. To step up to the plate, the starting line, and run first from dead last. How can they pressure me like that?

    My times, they say, are amazing. How does a girl run so fast? I shake it off, but smile. I like the glory, but shy away in case I can't preform[O6] . They raise their spirits and the bar each new time. I prefer coming out of the fog and winning, not coming from the top and staying. It's harder to sustain when other[O7] expect greatness each time[O8] .

    But still I do it. Why? Because of afterwords [O9] when my friends jump up and down with a medal dangling from their necks or when a first sergeant personally congratulates me. That's why I do what I do. Why I train when I don't want to and run even when life is saying stay and sleep instead. I'm out there, grumbling to the daisies about everything under the sky. I run not because I have to, or that I want to stay in shape. No, I run because I love to.[O10]

    [O1]Hmm …

    [O2]Interesting opener.

    [O3]Just worse, I’m afraid; worst will have to wait.

    [O4]OK, for this to work, you need to stick with the quotes: ‘They’ is; otherwise, it should be They are …

    [O5]Semi colon, or period. New sentence.

    [O6]perform – preform is generally applied to manufactured objects.


    [O8]You don’t need to say this bit again; you’ve already referred to each new time.

    [O9]afterwards, meaning later; afterwords are additional bits of writing after the main body of text.

    [O10]I’m not sure if you noticed, but this last statement contradicts, no, it utterly invalidates everything that came before, and it still doesn’t explain the rising smoke.

    * EmmaSohan – “PHIL”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 5
    Effect: 4.6
    Overall: 14.5

    My comments –
    An interesting, if challenging, style and approach, revealing in snippets of overheard exchanges – with the odd dip into thought – something which might have been important, might have had a message or a truth about ourselves worth examining.

    But then, we find out it was only a sigh-filled distraction from the really important things, and those only revealed in a casual blink at the end. Whilst clever, adding an unexpected layer, it is unsatisfying in a way that can only mirror the work – sigh. I don’t know.

    "He's disgusting."

    sigh[O1] . "I know." I've lost track of how many times I've been told that.

    "He's horrible. Did you hear him yelling at his wife?"

    sigh. "I heard. He shouldn't yell at her. I think maybe she picks at him. Then he gets defensive and angry and yells back." Except he has a loud voice. And he's a man. No one believes me, and anyway I'm not sure if I'm right.

    "He's disgusting. You shouldn't let him be here."

    sigh. Yes. It would be better for me if he wasn't here. A lot more people would be happy.

    But then his wife couldn't come. She really likes to be here. She's a nice person. She's an old person, and this is one of her joys in life. I see her face light up.

    She tries to help me. If I do or say anything nice to her, she's happy.

    I can't take that away from her. I just can't.

    sigh. "Phil, you have to go faster."
    "Phil, you can't do that."
    "No Phil, I can't do that just for you."

    He's a pain. I get tired of Phil management.

    "I'm not eating with them."

    sigh. "No one eats with them. You're welcome to eat somewhere else." I may be the only person who's ever eaten with them. She's nice and can be interesting. He's not bad, though I admit I'm afraid to watch him eat. He occasionally tells me jokes, then he laughs. They're usually not funny. But they're harmless.

    Can you imagine what her life is like, always eating alone? Always looking around, seeing other people eating together, and knowing she's being rejected?

    I think he's clueless. I assume he would rather eat alone. Sometimes I imagine him appreciating that I treat his wife decently.

    "Phil took eight cookies."

    I made those cookies for everyone to share. People look forward to those cookies. He's disgusting.

    "I can't stand him."

    sigh. "Imagine you are piloting your boat down a river, and you are on the right side, and another boat is on your side and coming at you. You're angry. You sound your horn. You head defiantly towards him, forcing him to back off. Your adrenalin is up and you're ready to fight.

    "Then you see the other boat is empty. oh. Your adrenalin disappears. You stop being angry. And you calmly avoid the other boat.

    "Phil is a half-empty boat. Don't let him bother you."

    "I don't want to have anything to do with him."

    sigh. "I'll do what I can. But you aren't the only one. It's a long line."

    "I shouldn't have to tolerate him."

    sigh. I suppose not. But whatever happened to practicing tolerance?

    "Hi Phil."

    He says cheerily, "Hi Emma." I probably said hi to him five different days before I ever received an answer. He has bad social skills. But now he always answers back.

    He has a stooped back. He walks with a cane. His mind doesn't work as well as it used to. That has to be hard on him.

    "Why are[O2] taking his side?"

    "Well, this time he's right."
    "He can't hear you. You have to speak louder."
    "He can't follow things quickly. You have to go slower."
    He has the same basic rights as anyone else. That's why.

    "He's disgusting."

    "I know." He's easy to criticize. You're following the crowd. I'm not impressed. I don't like pecking orders.

    You know, my books are a labor of love. I'm proud of that. Every second I spent and spend with my children is a labor of love. I'm proud of that. That relentless perfectionism is hard on me, but it's so so rewarding and fulfilling.

    How important are these little skirmishes? sigh. I don't know. [O3]

    [O1]Whether as a one-off, or as a recurring theme (as it is here), if a word is not to be a normal part of the text, then a definite shift in format or presentation is warranted. As it is, it looks like an habitual typo.

    [O2]are you, I assume.

    [O3]This out of the blue contrast might not work as intended. It raises questions about priorities, perfectionism, and why spend so much time building something only to dismiss it as trivial, and ignore either of – unless the two are one? - the finally but briefly revealed labors of love?

    * Joshybo – “Choosing Love”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 4.6
    Effect: 9.5
    Overall: 19

    My comments –
    Wow. Seriously, wow. Yes, there are a few missed par breaks, and maybe some bits that could be tighter, sharper, but really? This is a head-driven, plain-speaking revelation with the impact of a forty pound sledgehammer … dropped from the sixteenth floor to the street. This is a hard hat and steel-caps zone.

    Worse, this revelatory essay comes close to invalidating everything I’ve ever said about heart-over-head dominance for a subject like labour of love. It works, and it works because it is not a labour of love so much as a labour for love. It works at arm’s length because that is what we expect of a social documentary, and this strips away veneer just like a social documentary.

    As a Workshop entry, I cannot include the full text here.

    Love's a funny thing … Is love really worth this[O1] ?

    Guilt[O2] plays a much bigger role ...
    That[O3] leads to a lot of unnecessary stress …

    We[O4] both understand …

    … but I'll fight it until my last breath.

    [O1]For an arm’s length head-ridden opener, this is actually very good.

    [O2]New par

    [O3]New par

    [O4]New par

    * Guy Faukes – “Of Food, Explosives and Nationalism”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.4
    Tone/Voice: 3.5
    Effect: 7.6
    Overall: 15.5

    My comments –
    Well done for looking outside of yourself, for exploring someone else’s life and achievements. It doesn’t matter, well it does, that it follows the old school assignment format, and that references are lacking. It’s great that you made the effort to look beyond your own internal walls to find your topic.

    On the downside, it really does come across as a modern history homework assignment. It fell victim to misleading oversimplification once or twice and left unrevealed its reference source or sources. Some missed par breaks.

    This is a Workshop entry.

    … which allotted[O1] him a fine education including a doctorate …

    Haber, alongside Carl Bosch, is best known [O2] ...

    He pioneered chemical warfare[O3] , one of his concoctions being chlorine gas[O4] : …
    On[O5] April 22nd, 1915,
    On[O6] May 2nd, 1915,
    Unwavered[O7] , Haber ...

    … vowing to repay[O8] German’s reparations …
    … the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute would[O9] were evicted ...
    Unable[O10] to find … Fritz Haber would die[O11] at … exiled from a country that [O12] he ultimately...
    For[O13] alas, his … Zylcon A[O14] would be converted to Zyclon B[O15] by …
    …the benefit and[O16] harm of all of mankind.

    [O1]Allotted? Really? Education and doctorates were drawn as lots and apportioned? Was this practice in his family, or in Prussia? Allowed is allowed; granted, granted; even afforded I could buy , although that would be his family rather than him personally.

    [O2]This would have worked better as the opening par.

    [O3]No. This is a common mis-credit to Haber, even by those who should know better. Chemical warfare was known and used long before Haber was born. That’s why there were two international conventions banning the use of chemical weapons in place years before the First World War began. Haber and the Germans were not even the first to break those conventions in that war; it was the French. What Haber did do was oversee the first full-scale deployment of a poison gas delivery system in a battle, and employ an effective defence against it (the gas mask).

    [O4]No. Haber did not concoct chlorine gas. Chlorine gas was first produced by Scheele in 1774, and identified by Davy in 1811. Various production methods were tested and known, the most common industrial scale use in Haber’s time was via electrolysis of brine (saltwater). What Haber did was advise that chlorine gas be used in a modified delivery system that previously involved tear gas.

    [O5]New par.

    [O6]New par

    [O7]New par

    [O8]Just pay – repay means either that reparations were paid to Germany by some other party, or that Germany made reparations to Haber.

    [O9]Oops – missed deleting this one.

    [O10]New par

    [O11]Did die, in fact. Just died would do.

    [O12]If you used [for which] here instead of [that], you would not be stuck with the common grammatical error at the end of this sentence. Especially as you begin the next sentence with the same word.

    [O13]New par

    [O14]Zyklon (Cyclone) A, essentially a canned process for rapidly delivering hydrogen cyanide from a source compound when exposed to water and heat.

    [O15]Zyklon B, basically hydrogen cyanide in a can; the gas is stored under pressure within the canister containing a highly porous adsorbent* stabilising medium, a biogenic silica called diatomite (the accumulated residue of diatoms).
    *able to accumulate molecules of liquid or gas to its surface.

    [O16]or, rather than and, I think.

    * PiP – “Plot to Plate”

    Spelling/Grammar: 4.9
    Tone/Voice: 4.6
    Effect: 8.5
    Overall: 18

    My comments –
    There was a missed opportunity here to point out the irony of generational and social kick-back. For most of our recorded history, and in most parts of the world, growing food or farming meant survival or a means to trade. There is even a return to this in economically depressed parts of the urban West. That there are those among us who choose to return to a measure of self-sufficiency as a hobby or lifestyle, to enjoy the benefits of home-grown over mass produced, must be a delicious irony.

    This is a straightforward conversational essay with some pleasant dips into imaginative prose. It is a moment on the porch or balcony in the mild afternoon sun, shared with friends. One cannot help but smile.

    Growing fruit and vegetables is my labour of love and a hobby which gives me a great sense of fulfillment. Although my efforts in the vegetable garden will never make us self-sufficient, the pleasure of eating something I have grown from seed is rewarding.

    The wonders of Mother Nature never cease to amaze me[O1] , especially when I pause to consider how such insignificant looking seeds germinate to produce such an abundance of food. And as their vulnerable green shoots push up through the soil and reach for the sun, I feel protective towards these tiny wisps of life.

    Like a sentry[O2] I stand guard against the slugs and snails, and other predators such as rabbits and birds; each eager to sample the tender green shoots. I water and feed the young plants with the love of a mother tending a young family. I shelter them from the harsh salt winds and shade them from the midday sun until, like young adults, they are strong enough to fend for themselves.

    White mold and other diseases threaten the crop and I frantically search the internet looking for an organic solution rather than using fungicides. Unfortunately, the limited options available and lack of success have resulted in many an organic pipe-dream failure. My main concern in using chemicals is the devastating effect they can have on the bees. I have[O3] witnessed this first hand after the local farmers sprayed their crops and our bee population was wiped out that year.

    I love to study the bees as they pollinate the flowers of the cucumbers, courgettes and tomatoes with a promise of a feast of home grown fruit and vegetables in the weeks to come.

    Different varieties of lettuce grow in containers. Spring onions, radish, peppers and chives, all basking in the sun just waiting to grace my next salad bowl.

    The taste of fresh produce served straight from plot to plate within minutes is so different to that of irradiated foods which have been boxed, transported halfway round the world, and then dumped on the supermarket shelves.

    My garden is like stepping through Alice’s mirror to my own wonderland where I feel at peace with myself and at one with nature.

    [O1]This phrase suffered somewhat from overuse as much as from its passive stance. Whilst valid in itself, the stronger active and still personal, [I am amazed by Mother Nature] would make the better impact, I think.


    [O3]The statement would gain strength by losing [have].

    Bruno Spatola
    This might have been the most consistent LM I've ever judged. So many interesting and competently-written pieces of work to dig through. It really was a delight to see your passions poured out like this! You all won in that regard. Thank you.


    by Belthagor

    SPaG: 4
    Tone & Voice: 3.5
    Effect: 6.5
    Overall: 14

    The sentiment is strong, here. Writing a tune for your dad is a sweet and thoughtful gesture, even though you didn't show it to him.

    The song itself is a little rough around the edges – understandably so, considering the nature of the instrument used. I bet if you slowed down while playing, it'd come out sounding cleaner. Removing some of the dissonant notes would improve it, too, but I could 'hear between the lines', so to speak, and understood the intention. It's incredibly sweet. (You can buy fairly cheap keyboards with recording capabilities. Perhaps it's a hobby you should pursue? Who knows what you might come out with?)

    Your series of poems had more of an effect on me, however. They're humorous and silly in their own unique way, and showed me a more colourful picture of the relationship you might have with your dad: straight down the line, say what you feel, “For God's sake, put a shirt on,” ha. I laughed and smiled multiple times at the honesty. You should do more in that vein!

    For me, the main shortfall is in the prose. You describe the tools you used to create the piece, but not the reason you created it. That's the bit I'm most interested in – the reason I picked this prompt, actually – and I was a little disappointed not to hear more about what it meant to you when you were in the process, or how you feel about it, looking back. It is what it is, though, and I appreciate that.

    There were a couple of errors in the form of missing words, but it was mostly clean and correct. No big issues at all.

    Thanks for showing me another side of your personality!


    by MamaStrong

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 18

    It'd be easy for me to say I understand what you went through, but that would be a lie. Going from the best day of your life, to those odd feelings of coldness and depression after the fact, must have been very confusing.

    Wanting a totally natural birth is almost commendable – to want to experience every bolt of agony as 'intended', so to speak – and something not often written about. So, while I couldn't empathize fully, being a big ol' manly man, I was very interested in your thought processes, and how you wanted the labour to play out in its own way.

    I never thought, “Labour of love,” could be interpreted in this way when I chose it, but it makes perfect sense from a different perspective. Thanks for sharing your story – I appreciate the simple rawness of it. It's full of emotion, certainly, and hard not to be inspired by in some way.

    Thanks for the read!


    by Astroannie

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 8.5
    Overall: 18.5

    This was like the best episode of “How it's Made” I've seen, simply because of the work you put into making someone else's day feel special. It was particularly interesting to hear a female perspective on this day that's not expectant, as it's often a female-oriented occasion that conjures clichéd images of flowers, chocolates, and perfume. You did the beautiful thing for him. It's refreshing.

    Being so close to Valentine's day, the use of the prompt was perfect. I visited the website with excitement to see how the fruit of your efforts turned out, and smiled with delight when I saw it. Such a lovely and pure way of expressing yourself to him; the tenderness in the poems you crafted is supremely real, also. To think that it all came from a chance meeting at a sci-fi convention.

    I had no idea of your web-building skills, and going through the process from idea to reality intrigued me a great deal. I'm a nerd, but one with a soft, gooey center, so it ticked my boxes on all sides.

    I have nothing to criticize at all. The style was maybe more factual than 'Valentine' would suggest, but the sentiment speaks for itself. A labour of love indeed.

    Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the read. He's a lucky man!


    Art is Always a Labor of Love
    by Abby

    SPaG: 4
    Tone & Voice: 4
    Effect: 10
    Overall: 18

    Wow. The way you described all the little details you noticed about your subject's face – the subtle differences in skin tone, how her features cast shadows, the eyelash curl – was hugely enlightening. Attention to detail makes me giggle like a Japanese schoolgirl, so I thank you for bringing out my inner teenager.

    I have a sharp eye myself, but your ability to almost photograph images with a pencil, turning wax and graphite marks into complete, breathing pieces, is impressive. I'm convinced the best artists have eidetic memories – I refuse to believe passion and raw talent are the sole forges of such displays of quality. It has to be some alien gene I don't have, or something...

    I also enjoyed how you included the less-impressed opinions of others who've seen your work, and how you learned that it only matters what you enjoy doing. It's good you didn't try to change yourself to meet the expectations of others, and followed your focus on capturing reality. You can't 'teach' how to express yourself, after all.

    There were some minor errors. A couple questionable commas, and an unnecessary apostrophe, but nothing worth noting strongly. Thanks for sharing this analytical slice of your mind; it was fascinating to have a brief tour of it. (I have a feeling you'd make an excellent detective.)

    If I gush any more, I fear my Y chromosome will give way to another X, so I bid thee adieu. Nice work.


    Suna no Ken
    by Crowley K. Jarvis

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 18

    Ah, you share my love of weaponry, and the Japanese variety in particular. I would buy a proper katana in a flash if it would become more than a decoration, but I don't have the heart to doom it to such a fate. Blades are made for cutting, and cut they should!

    This was an excellently written bit of work. Not only was your passion clear in every sentence, but I learned something: about the powder you use to treat the blade, the drying process, preventing rust, and all that juicy info. People often have great respect and passion for the ideas of things, but not necessarily the ongoing maintenance of them – preservation as much as admiration. You may not agree, but I think Suna no Ken would be proud of her owner.

    You also gave a little background info about why you like swords for being symbols of heroism and honor, which is a nice intro. There was some room to add a little more flavour there, though – about the more fantastical side of the passion, and how you actually use the sword (if you do). I imagine you in full cosplay regalia, slicing through bottles of coloured liquid and whatnot, like the blacksmiths from the Man at Arms YouTube channel. Still, that's a small criticism.

    I noticed two errors: a missing space between a comma and the following word, and an uncapitalized word starting a sentence. Other than those easily-forgiven blips, it was perfect, and smoothly written.

    Great work. Keep spreading the word. Love Japan, people!


    To Love and to Be Loved
    by Am_Hammy

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 4.5
    Effect: 9
    Overall: 18.5

    I was nailed to my seat when reading the first half of this; it's totally raw and unembellished emotion. The way you referred to your brother as a creature was full of the bitterness a semi-neglected fifteen-year-old would carry, and it was biting. That's not a criticism, however – it's a positive. I appreciate the honesty, and would change nothing about what you wrote. It's brave, in fact. It must have been hard to write down.

    The way you say your heart won the battle, when you saw your brother's curious little eyes, is lovely. I saw the resentment evaporate off the page, almost, and it changed the tone of the writing completely. Tonal shifts are fun, even in non-fiction.

    I gave a nine for effect because I can relate to your father issues personally. I hardly ever saw mine as a child; I have no memories of him in those stages, yet it's like looking into a mirror when he comes over. We have nothing in common – it's a difficult relationship, to say the least – but I came to that same conclusion of, “Well, he is trying, he's just a bit useless at it.” I was upset when he had a son of his own, whom he gives all his time to, but that's life. It feels good to let it go, as I'm sure you know, and you captured many of those emotional colours.

    Anywho, if I were criticize anything, it might be of slight prompt hammering, but that's ultra picky. I had to say something negative, just so everyone would know it was Bruno.

    Thanks for sharing some of your life with me. I hope it was as successful an exercise in catharsis for you as it was for me.


    by Boofy

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 18

    I think if I were to sum up your passion with a song, it'd be Kraftwerk's classic syth-fest, "Computer Love." (It's stuck in my head as I write this.)

    I enjoyed being guided through your compilgrimage. You leapt straight into a world many fear – one that conjures images of basement-dwelling know-it-alls who speak to machines more than their own families. Not true, of course, but its walls aren't easily penetrated. It's Mordor, basically; Gabe Newell is Sauron, you're Frodo, and Steam is the one true ring.

    A little more about why you wanted to have a specced-out rig in the first place would have been cool – whether for the sheer glee of having a high-performance monster purring by your side, or the catharsis/challenge of putting something so delicate together. Something more than playing games on, I mean.

    It's more labour than love, then, but 650 words ain't much; the article is well-rounded for such little room to breathe, and yet remains full of your personality. It's a good balance that made me read on with intrigue, and come out smiling. Very nice work.

    I hope you and Amaterasu have a wonderful life together. Your GPU may be ripped out, and its umbilical severed in favour of the latest card, but her spirit will always shine above material components.

    Thanks for the read.


    Comic Book Dreams
    by rcallaci

    SPaG: 3
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 8.5
    Overall: 16.5

    It's so interesting to hear a comic fan's perspective from a time when they truly were a staple of most boys' weekly reading. I never heard of comics 'til I was in my early teens, when Ultimate Spider-Man and much later editions of The X-Men were in the middle of their issues. I never once had the luxury of finding a comic with #1 written on it, though, so the passion didn't click until much later with my discovery of graphic novels like Watchmen, Batman: Year One, and the adaptation of The Hobbit. Online services like Comixology made it easier for me to get some exposure to older works, like the Detective Comics series.

    Your point about traditional comics becoming less major and graphic novels taking over a bit is spot on – for me, at least. I have neither the time nor patience to commit to a full series of comics, especially when they get into the hundreds. I'm sure it's the sheer wealth of content available to modern children that causes this conflict of interest.

    You clearly have fond memories of those simpler times, and that came through the words nicely. I loved the image of you reading The Hobbit in the turret of a tank, in particular. A Hobbit is the antithesis of warfare, I think, which is why I like it so much. Contrast is often translated to beauty.

    Technically speaking, I noticed quite a lot of errors: Misspellings, run-on sentences, missing hyphens, unnecessary apostrophes, odd semi-colon placement, etc. Your passion negated the impact on flow those errors would usually have, so I didn't focus on them too much, but they are there.

    Thanks for the read, sir. Favourite line: “A dime in those days could buy a lot of dreams.”



    by JustRob

    SPaG: 4
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 7
    Overall: 16

    Is it strange that I expected your writing to be incomprehensibly dense (in the most flattering sense, of course)? I breathed a sigh of relief at the simple, to-the-point style implemented here, only through fear that the sands of time would consume me before the series of devilishly-propped pennies you'd set began to drop in my brain. On behalf of my resolve, I thank you, yet I'm secretly disappointed (again, in the best way possible).

    I'll start by saying I liked the piece, simply. A lot of clever folk stand on pedestals of their own creating, looking down at others, but you seem a very grounded and self-deprecating person, which gave the entire thing a lovely and likeable glow. It's not impactful in an aggressive way, but subtly filled with personality. Non-fiction can often read coldly, so this was a refreshing tone that fuelled my interest.

    Deeper into the piece, you mentioned a salivating tid-bit about your research on an intriguing figure from centuries ago whom didn't get their due, and I suspect that was the real labour of love – the bit that truly piqued my interest to the max – not your displeasure at recognition, which read more like an act of recoiling than of passion. I believe it's true, that you feel strongly about not getting glory for aiding others, but it didn't necessarily come across like that, which made me yearn for more fiery words. Focusing on that may have lessened the tonal split I perceived.

    Regardless, I learned something about you, and that's the reason I picked this prompt. Thanks for sharing.

    Nit: The punctuation overall could've been slicker. I noticed some sentences running on pretty long, such as: “There are many other examples that I could write about but if I overrun the word limit set then I may all too easily achieve my ambition and go unrecognised and that then would be no challenge.

    This wasn't the sole example, mind. I have difficulty reading prose when it's structured in such a way; I think more commas and other punctuation marks would smooth some of those cracks, making it an easier read.

    'Twas perfect, outside those niggles. Entirely free of ego, and written with a realness I appreciate about you.

    Thanks for the read, sir.


    Thanks for the Invite
    by QDOS

    SPaG: 2.5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 15.5

    The dedication you showed to your daughter is touching. The selflessness involved in good parenting is always a rousing subject, along with the pride of seeing them grow, and achieving their dreams.

    All the driving back and forth, and dedicating yourself for the benefit of her passion, is a passion in itself; I see how the prompt struck that note in your head, and enjoyed the thoughtful nature of it immensely. A labour of love indeed!

    I feel you describe it well. I certainly had no trouble noticing little details you implanted, and other accuracies which make me giggle. The info is there, certainly – enough to entertain and move.

    Punctuation-wise, I'll be honest, it needs a hell of a lot of work. To focus on that strongly would do the piece's intention a disservice, so I'll cap this thought by saying a lot of the basics weren't at the expected level – apostrophe usage, comma usage, misspellings, unhyphenated words, etc. – and should have been.

    That's the only negative. I enjoyed the piece a lot in every other area, so thanks for your time, and the uplifting work!


    Home Work
    by InstituteMan

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 18

    I have to be honest and say: the sheer amount of brick walls you hit up against (or should I say hay bales?) in the process of building your home made me laugh, especially when the guy who sorted you a truck was technically a criminal, and that truck then catching on fire at some point. Ridiculous.

    I really enjoyed the detail you went into, also. I'm a big fan of shows like Grand Designs, so lists of info really brings out my inner nerd. I love all processes, and you gave me some content to dig into. I learned a little something as well as being entertained, which is always a winning combination.

    I have little else to add other than a heap of kudos for building your own house, and getting past all the pressure and daunting thoughts such an undertaking can bring. I'm hugely impressed. Perhaps a picture at the end of the piece would've been evocative? That would have sealed it very nicely, and satisfied my curiosity.

    Outside of some questionable ellipses in the opening paragraph, and one error ("...being taking responsibility"),it was perfect. Odd formatting for my eyes, maybe, but nothing worth penalizing.

    Thanks for the read, sir. Well done on the build.


    Labors of Love
    by Riptide

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 6
    Overall: 16

    I liked the progression from exhaustion and physical pain, to self-conscious neuroses, and finally the acceptance of the passion you'd been fighting.

    The length is a shame, for me. Not every piece needs to fill the exact parameters, of course, but I think a little expansion of this would've been interesting. That would arguably be forcing yourself, though, which is the opposite of what I wanted – I wanted natural flowing of thought, and you gave that, so I can't criticize the piece in good conscience.

    It was easy to read, certainly. I saw potential for more, to really hit that love home, but it is what it is: brief, interesting slices of the mind.

    Thanks for the read!


    by Emma Sohan

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 5
    Overall: 15

    I'm truly disappointed with my 'critique' of your entry, Emma. I loved the style you wrote it in – it's unusual, and structured like the snippets of internal dialogue that intersperse regular conversations. The things you don't say are right there with those more diluted bits of everyday chatter, and it's certainly interesting.

    Confusing, too; or, at least, it was to me. I never really understood what the labour of love was – just writing stories? That's a given on a writing site, isn't it? It didn't surprise me much.

    This style confused me, in that sense. I didn't see how it was even non-fiction, to start with; it seemed like an excerpt from a story, but the finishing lines changed that vibe and confused me further. I didn't know quite who was talking at any point, even.

    I apologize. I really was lost during the process of reading and talking about the piece. It certainly wasn't the most accessible work, I will stick by that; it wasn't easy to digest.

    Either way, you have an ability to write in interesting ways. It's not always enjoyable, and often seems like experimentation without the fun bits, but interesting nonetheless.

    Thanks for the read!


    Choosing Love
    by Joshybo

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 7
    Overall: 17

    Very interesting. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one of those illnesses that everyone has probably ran into at some point, whether someone in their family suffers, a friend, a colleague, or having little rituals of their own.

    I've never read about the personal experience of a more pronounced case of it. These perspectives – not just from the side of the 'sufferer', but that of your closest companion, also – educated as well as made me empathize.

    My best reference point is probably the TV series Monk – its titular character suffering from an extreme case of the illness. He can only drink one brand of water; steps over cracks in the ground; touches every wonky fixture on the street in a futile attempt to straighten them (all the while keeping count in his head); and regularly invades other peoples' privacy to restore balance in his brain. This is often a source of comedy for the viewers, but its maddening effect on Monk's companions is profoundly present in the show. Their love of him is never in question, but his personality is certainly a chore to manage. I think that's a similar story you painted here, and I learned a little more about the complications of it. Thank you.

    Everyone has the right to express the amount they feel is right, but I guess I never quite managed to fully understand how in particular the condition affects your lives. You mentioned annoyances, like hand washing, an odd gait you sometime manifest, etc., but I think why this is so difficult to manage for you didn't necessarily come across strongly. Laborious, certainly, the depth of it on show

    That would be my only criticism, outside of one error: "At its worse."
    It's exceptionally formatted and structured, outside that.

    Thank you for sharing such a personal thing about yourself. I appreciate the bravery to tell it like it is, and the empathy you have for your love and how she deals with it, too. Nice work.


    Of Food, Explosives, and Nationalism
    by Guy Faukes

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 7.5
    Overall: 17.5

    I know this story well. It's one of the most fascinating and heartbreaking depictions of science, in its morally grey form – its true form, in fact. It is the process of seeing what we can do, not what we should do, and that is one of the scariest things about it.

    You wrote with such conviction, that I felt no need to look up the facts. I didn't necessarily pick up on your own passion, Guy, but you certainly captured Haber's cold ambitions and blind nationalism. His wife must have contemplated suicide every time she look into his dead eyes, and that tragedy was also clear in your retelling.

    Not much else to say, honestly. Not since Oppenheimer's quoting of Bhagavad Gita regarding his involvement with the Manhattan project has such profound darkness surrounded science, at least for me. "Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds." That quote is an adequate one for Haber, too, whether he realized it or not.

    I noticed one error, but it isn't worth mentioning. Well written, sir!

    Thanks for the read. I didn't want to embellish my review to fulfill an invisible quota, so I hope this short one will suffice!


    Plot to Plate
    by PiP

    SPaG: 5
    Tone & Voice: 5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 18

    This piece was full of freshness, of both the produce you grow, and the life you live. There's a delicateness about it that matches your persona on the forum – one of motherly, nature-loving goodness.

    Although short, I got lovely images of you busy at work; the bees buzzing with contentment; and the birthing of exquisite, bulging fruits and vegetables. Simplicity can do that, often: create colourful, realistic mindscapes. For this, it worked well, and didn't get bogged down in minute details, preserving that green charm.

    Not much else to say, really. Your passion is evident in every line, and that's all I ever wanted out of this prompt. Nice work!

    Thanks for the brief stroll in your world. I enjoyed it muchly. Grow a pumpkin for me!
    Last edited by Plasticweld; March 12th, 2015 at 10:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Congratulations, Joshbo That was one tough challenge!

    Thank you to the judges for their hard work. *I bet you were all groaning as all the entries kept rolling in* LOL.

    @Cran, I was relieved to see there were no paragraph issues - who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks! *PiP does happy dance*
    Grow a pumpkin for me!
    sure will.
    @TJ Thanks for picking up on the unnecessary words. I'm pleased you like the ending

    And finally thanks to our challenge host, PlasticWeld, for all his hard work
    Last edited by PiP; March 12th, 2015 at 11:54 PM.
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  3. #3

  4. #4
    Wow, congrats Joshybo :3 I did enjoy your piece, you definitely deserved the win!

    I'm just stunned I came anywhere close. Time to write whilst I'm carried on this wave of temporary elevated mood! /puts on cloak and wizard hat
    Remember kids: Drink vodka, play Dotka!

  5. #5
    Congratulations josh!!!!! Yeah!
    She lost herself in the trees,
    among the ever-changing leaves.
    She wept beneath the wild sky
    as stars told stories of ancient times.
    The flowers grew toward her light,
    the river called her name at night.
    She could not live an ordinary life,
    with the mysteries of the universe
    hidden in her eyes....
    Author: Christy Ann Martine

    Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
    love leaves a memory no one can steal....
    Author unknown.

  6. #6
    Congrats to Josh for winning yet another challenge

    And congrats should go to Plasticweld too for hosting the most successful NFLM to date. Very well done everyone
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  7. #7
    Just to see how passionate people were when writing their entries is the true victory here, in my view. I'm proud we have such fiery people in our community. Well done to you all.
    "When I am gone, it won't be long before I disturb you in the dark."

    ~ Hidden Content ~

  8. #8
    I am legitimately surprised to have won this one. This was a huge field full of exceptional pieces from some very talented writers. I consider this win an honor based on the level of quality everyone brought to their pieces for this competition.

    TJ - Your suggestions are spot on. Thank you for the solid advice that I will definitely keep in mind throughout my writing.

    Cran - Thank you very much for your kind words! I'm happy to see the emotion behind this came across for you. And thank you for the advice on the paragraph breaks. I do need to work on that area of my formatting.

    Bruno - Thank you very much for your suggestions. You are very right that the experiences inside relationships of sufferers doesn't get discussed very much, but as you said, this is something many people deal with to varying degrees. Thank you for your feedback, as well. All of you guys did an amazing job.

    Plasticweld - This could not have been easy to process all of these scores so quickly! Thank you for your hard work in hosting this huge competition!

    And thank you to everyone else for the kind words and congratulatory responses. I'm still surprises to have come away with this one.

  9. #9
    Congrats Josh! And to everyone else who placed ^_^ It was a great competition to be a part of and so many awesome stories were shared!

    Thanks to the judges as well for reading all of our stories and taking the time to critique them. You guys had a heavy load to deal with this time so congrats to the three of you for getting through it.
    ".... But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
    All losses are restored and sorrows end."
    - William Shakespeare, Sonnet XXX

  10. #10
    Member TJ1985's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    West Tennessee, USA.
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    Congrats Josh! It was a huge stack to crawl through, but they were all pretty nice entries.
    If I can't go down rockin', then I won't go down at all. - Waylon Jennings.

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