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 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.


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 or 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.

5a.m. Flash 281012 – Don Darkes eBook Smashwords offer for readers & reviewers

Recently I put up a shout-out (on, as I recall, Facebook and Twitter) for anyone who has a free eBook to let me know and I’ll blog about it.

Don emailed me to say that he will gladly give away free copies of his non-fiction memoir eBook 6692 Pisces the Sailfish to anyone willing to review it. I don’t review full books but do review short stories for my Short Story Saturdays blog slot and I really enjoy it so please do consider Don’s offer because we not only love knowing that our work is being read but also what you think of it. It’s how we learn where we’re going right (or wrong).

The details he’s given me are as follows:

  • Sign up for a free Smashwords account. (They need your email address and your name only) – you will have to validate it by clicking on a link when they send an email to you to check that it is correct.
  • Add my book ( to your shopping cart.
  • Check out.
  • Enter the coupon code:
  • Utilise the -50 %Discount use coupon code PU72F in the space provided (below the Price)
  • or
  • Access the Free reviewers copy use coupon code LN38D
  • Click UPDATE – the price will change from $5.99 to reflect the discount
  • Click Checkout
  • Once done a page will open showing that “You Own this book”.
  • Either click on the DOWNLOAD button at the top right of the page OR scroll down the page to the different formats available and click on the format you prefer.
  • I recommend .pdf because you can print it as a booklet on any dot matrix printer or you can read it on your pc or most ebook readers, tablets and ereader devices.
  • You can download more than one format if you wish and even come back to this page and download it again and again simply by logging in to the Smashwords site.
  • Don’t forget to click on the “LIKE-IT” Facebook link on the Smashwords page – it may help to publicise the book and will also help to put a huge smile on my face.

Thank you so much, Don. That’s really generous.

You can read my interview with Don, here.


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 and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have 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 reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Welcome to Short Story Saturdays – short story reviews

I know it’s only Friday but I’ve come up with a new feature: Short Story Saturdays, alias SSS on the top menu bar, (because I didn’t have enough to do :)). No, actually the reasons are two-fold; 1/ I love short stories. 2/ I’m quite often asked to do book reviews and I don’t have time. So what better solution than to review short stories. 🙂 It gets your writing grilled (firm but fair, I promise) and it gets me reading a new short story a week… as if I need the excuse to read but I don’t as much as I should, or want to, so give me a deadline (Saturday afternoons) and I’ll be there… er, here.

I picked Saturdays because of the alliteration with Short Story but also it won’t interfere with the day job although I’m leaving that at the end of March to write full-time so it won’t interfere at all. 🙂

I’ll be starting tomorrow, Saturday 11th February, with a story I’ve already read. The reviews themselves won’t be in-depth, just a couple of hundred words at most (as the author spotlights will still be the main feature Saturday pm) but we all like feedback on our writing and I enjoy giving it. 🙂

So if you have a story of between 50 and 2,500 words you’d like me to review, do email me. I’d also like a quick third-person biography, if you’d like to provide one, a photo or two (again optional) and links to your website and if appropriate, where people can buy your book/s –  in other words the same sort of thing as listed at the bottom of any of the guest interviews, spotlights etc.

You’d then be welcome to copy / paste the review on your website for your visitors should you wish, although point them to your page here would be fantastic. I’d also be happy to copy / paste into the relevant story’s page on Amazon, Smashwords etc. if appropriate (if you provide the link).

If you’re feeling braver, I also in-depth critique fiction of ideally up to 1,000 (I can go up to 2,000) for my Podcast. Like everything I offer, this is totally free. I do it because I love it (especially short stories) and I’m a struggling author too. 🙂

Speaking of short stories, my contribution to Flash Fiction Fridays follows in an hour. Seeing as I’m going to record it for Monday’s podcast (13th February) it’s an ‘unlucky’ story written in my favourite point of view, second. 🙂

Author Spotlight no.22 – Lynn Goodwin

To complement my daily blog interviews I started a series of regular Author Spotlights and today’s, the twenty-second, is of author of articles, stories (and much more), Writer guru and writing tutor Lynn Goodwin.

B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me To Do What? – Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing). Her stories and articles have been published many places including Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You’re Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career; We Care; and The Sun.

She’s taught workshops and written reviews for Story Circle Network. She also writes for StudySync and Caregiver Village. She facilitates writing workshops and publishes Writer Advice. She’s also a Manuscript Consultant.

And now from the author herself:

The California Writers Club recently asked me to list my principal genre. I listed book reviewer, author interviewer, flash fiction writer, fiction writer, article writer, journaler, personal essay writer, e-zine editor, writing consultant, and education writer. Truthfully, my primary interest fluctuates, but I circled “flash fiction writer” as my favorite form because my best writing often mimics fiction even though it’s tied to my life and might be mini-memoir.  I cross genres.

A writing partner once convinced me I am on my own unique path and I should not want to be on hers. She writes memoir and focuses on one project at a time during the hours her kids are in school. That sounds good to me, but it’s not who I am or where I am. I’m a writer hurrying to answer requests, keep up with assignments, and find time for my own stories. My writing blurs the lines between fiction and creative non-fiction.

I love my life. I love writing. The short version of my bio reads, “B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and the managing editor of Writer Advice. She also writes for and” In 31 words I show the world that I write constantly in varying genres.

You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers offers encouragement, instructions, and over 200 sentence starts so no one ever has to face the blank page again. I’ve used the book with caregivers for spouses, parents, and special needs children. I’ve shared it with nurses and social workers. I’ve also discovered that they work for anyone facing writer’s block. If I had a chance to do one thing differently, I’d call the book You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Everyone. You can get copies quickly from Amazon or you can order them from independent bookstores.

Writer Advice will be fourteen years old this October. The e-zine includes author interviews, book and website reviews, a contests and markets page, writing advice, a Flash page which includes the winners of our annual Flash Prose Contest, and much more. To receive notices, including requests for submissions, subscribe (no charge) by e-mailing

I host a book club called The Joys of Journaling at Caregiver Village, I write essay questions and more at StudySync, and I write book reviews and teach classes at Story Circle Network. In addition I often draft short stories and essays that tell my story. I carry my journal because there’s always one more observation or discovery to write down.

If anything here intrigues you, visit me at Writer Advice. You can e-mail me from there, and I’d love to hear from you.

Yes, please do get in contact. Thank you Lynn. 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with Daniel Silver – the one hundred and sixtieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers 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. You can also read / download my eBooks here.