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Short Story Saturday Review 017: Fireflies by Sullivan Leigh

Welcome to the Short Story Saturday review slot and the seventeenth review in this series. This week’s review is of ‘Fireflies’ by Sullivan Leigh.

All stories should have strong hooks and make the reader want to know more and Sullivan’s is no exception. We immediately have the dilemma, the character is nervous going to the house and we want to know why.

The sign of good writing is that we feel the emotion the character is feeling and as Kyla was hiding behind her mother’s legs, so was I, and then later when her parents are righting and we find out it’s a regular occurrence.

There is more description than dialogue in this piece but when the dialogue comes it’s very authentic, entertaining and spare.

A first person story is great at getting inside your character’s head and I could hear Kyla saying, “blah blah blah”. Sullivan has her tone spot on.

The dilemma continues as we go from her backstory to present day and find she has a rival for her love’s affection and I love her being labeled with a nickname (no spoilers here).

I know that Sullivan has not been writing for long but the writing is already well-crafted which phrases such as ‘crawling the walls her hands made’ and ‘the swing made the moonlight dance across the porch’.

If I had to pick at the story (which I do because this is an unbiased review), I would suggest she looks out for the tells vs shows. For example, “I was intrigued by her”, “She was gorgeous to me”, “Naturally, this delighted me to no end.” are tells, whereas “…my knees kept shaking and my tummy felt weird”, says it all and would take us quicker into the action. If you find you do the same thing where you show us what’s happening and tell us then you can most likely take out the ‘tells’. If the story still stands up without them, then you’ve done the right thing. :) I mention show vs tell on my http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/writing-101 page.

While I’m on a pick, and I hadn’t intended this as a red pen session but another of my bug-bears is repetition and this may help other writers reading this. One line reads, ‘A loud noise in the hallway startled me. I ran to the hallway.’ If you can avoid using the same word twice then do, unless it’s to emphasise the first. In this instance, Sullivan could change it to ‘A loud noise outside my door (or ‘on the landing’) startled me. I ran to the hallway.’ Because she’s just been talking outside the house I’d recommend not using ‘outside’ as it would confuse the reader as to where ‘outside’ refers to.

The mark of a great story is where you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster and this did not disappoint. A writer should make their reader turn the page, wanting to know what’s going to happen next and most importantly how it’s going to be resolved. In a romance you can presume the two main characters are going to get together and whether they do or, for whatever reason, they don’t (I’m not going to say which here) by the time you read the end you should have been entertained and this story ticked that box.

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Thank you Sullivan for inviting me to read your story.

coverSullivan is a writer from Mississippi. She lives in Amory with her partner and her son. ‘Fireflies’ is available from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk and below is the Amazon synopsis:

Kyla is moving in with a family friend, Marie, for her first semester of college. The two of them carry a special bond – they’ve known each other since Kyla was eleven. The chaos in her life was only balanced out by the safety she felt with Marie.

So moving away to college is the first shred of normalcy her life has ever really taken on.

However, her heart carries the secret that after all this time, she is still in love with Marie.

If Kyla chooses to confess her love, her life will be anything but normal.

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You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.

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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and I also review stories (and post others in their entirety) of up to 3,000 words on Short Story Saturdays. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 3,000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
 

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Short Story Saturday 016: review of ‘Bewilder’ by James Eddy

Welcome to the Short Story Saturday review slot and the sixteenth review in this series. This week’s review is of ‘Bewilder’ by James Eddy.

BewildersmokeI love stories that unfold as they go along, no info. dump at the beginning but just enough to intrigue us then explain as we read.

Any reader who is also a writer is going to pay extra attention to the quality of the writing and they will not be disappointed here. My favourite phrases included ‘He’d drunk in’ (rather than the more usual ‘taken in), ‘melancholy undercurrent’, ‘diamond cascade of rain and tears’ and ‘misery dripped from my face’.

James has avoided using commonplace metaphors / similes and they’re not overdone, as is the mix of past (saw) and past perfect (had found); once the reader is advised that something happened before the simple past, we get our head in the time frame and are then told of that in the simple past (rather than too many ‘had’s). The descriptions of the characters and places are detailed yet leave enough for our imaginations to fine-tune.

I’d printed out the story and taken it for a dog walk where I made comments (in red – I love red pens) and ticks where there were passages I liked. The pages (five of A4 in Arial 12, in case anyone was wondering how long the story was) are covered with ticks so that says it all.

On the down-side… this is a review after all, giving the name of the bar spoiled it for me as I then had a clue as to the ending (which I won’t give away) but I still enjoyed the story enough to write a “Wow!” at the end. :)

Thank you James for inviting me to review your story.

Bewilder is available at: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Smashwords.com (free), Diesel ebooks.com, and Kobo Books.com.

I reviewed his story Heart over Head over Heels (which is available for free from Smashwords.com) here.

Youngblood booksJames Eddy was born in Braintree, Essex in April 1980. After moving first to Colchester, Essex, the family settled in South Norfolk and James was able to enjoy the wide-open spaces and quiet of the area which fed his imagination.

Following an undistinguished University career, he began writing scripts for films and acting out the cliche of the drunken writer. He diversified by moving into prose and eventually focussed enough to write a collection of Short Stories called ‘Diamonds’ along with several other short stories a novel and novella. He released ‘Bewilder’, the first story from ‘Diamonds’ in April 2012, followed by ‘Heart over Head over Heels’ in May. James’ website is http://youngbloodbooks.webplus.net.

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If you’d like to submit your story (3,000 words) for review, or  take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with lad lit novelist Andy Holmes – the five hundred and sixty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.

As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in ebooks

 

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