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12/22/2011 c1 Your Christmas Present
Hello there! Here's your Secret Santa review!

I went back to the WCC to look at the prompt, and I have to say I liked how you tied in to the prompt that you had: it was done in a way that was very layered and subtle, and that's something that I always appreciate.

I also liked the surprise with the card at the end, because I'd expected the card to be a simple birthday/anniversary card, so it was really nice to have that jump out at me, so to speak.
12/8/2011 c1 63RedactedNoLongerWriting
Interesting take on the prompt here. I think it's so cool how many different ways people interpreted sirens this month, and this one in particular was relatable. I could hear the storm outside, and the tornado siren, and I thought the use of the storm as her anger built was effective. I still think she was crazy for going out when the sirens were going off, haha, but hey, seems like it worked okay for her.

I thought the ending was rather predictable, but maybe that's just me. I saw the first bit about the card and just knew that's where the story was going. It's a nice bit of tragedy, given how the rest of the story plays out, but it didn't surprise me like it could have. Maybe if the opening, before he comes home, was a little shorter, it could be more surprising, but if surprise isn't what you're after, I think it's good the way it is. It's still sad, either way. :)

Nice work and good luck in the WCC!
12/7/2011 c1 29YasuRan
The impending storm makes for a perfect parallel with Cynthia's marital troubles as they approach. I like how everything is hinted at first: her pregnancy, the affair, the destruction, and the aftermath. Having the tornado arrive and wreak the havoc it did served as quite the paralyzing metaphor for the shambles her life falls into.

Nice, subtle take on the prompt, if I must say :). The mention of the sirens interwoven with the storm conjures to mind a ship (or relationship, in this case. bad pun, I know) under severe conditions. And of course, the siren that almost led Homer to his doom though Dan wasn't so fortunate here.

Enjoyed this a lot. Good luck in the WCC!
12/6/2011 c1 4jinx1764
Ah the irony of fate and karma...I do enjoy such stories.

I wondered what the card was for, figured it was a birthday card so that was a nice surprise. Especially since his cheating was an easy assumption. I also enjoyed how she runs into the storm. Sometimes the most dangerous appearing route turns out to be the safest.

I really liked this line [He would be home soon, and she needed her composure before then.] I thought it was a great way of phrasing, since some people can't easily put on composure.

I did notice you use words often, such as [frantically] This was used three times, twice in back to back sentences.

And you write in passive voice using verbs such as: was, were, had, have, has. If you decide to eliminate as many as these words as possible for stronger verbs/phrasing you'll find your sentences becoming more vivid.

Very nice, bittersweet story, I enjoyed it! Good luck!
12/5/2011 c1 5Dr. Self Destruct
Very nice, Steph, I really liked this one. You delivered the two character's emotions and reactions on both ends flawlessly. Of course, I went and read your reviews before I read the story (stupid me), so the affair wasn't as big a surprise as it would have been, but I like how you don't come out and blatantly say it but allow the reader to make the connection themselves. I also loved how Cynthia was tugging at her shirt and trying to keep everything bottled up, then she can't take it any longer. I can't blame her for the way she reacted - and even worse was that it was going on for three years.

The inclusion of the storm was a cool way to mirror her mental state at the time as well, and I think it was a good device to keep tossing in to make the reader more uncomfortable/worried about what was going to happen. The storm added a sense of mystery to the entire thing. For a moment I thought maybe he was going to leave and let her stay, and then I thought maybe she would die in the storm, but I'm glad to see both of my assumptions weren't correct. I'm sure you can sympathize with how, when being a writer, it's easy to see things coming in terms of twists or plot... but I didn't see this at all.

The way he acts all normal and everything really had me ticked off at him as well. You do a great job pushing Cynthia's feelings and thoughts onto us readers, making us just as angry. I thought the flow of your sentences was very nice as well; you included short, concise sentences where things begin to heat up between them and it helps leak the tension onto the reader.

The only thing I can really nit-pick at is I did notice a couple times in the second half of the story there were a few 'thats' which could have been removed, and I think there was a comma or two before a 'which' that I think might have been used incorrectly. I was so into the story that I didn't get a chance to catch them though, I'm sorry.

I enjoyed the way you ended it, with her finding the card she had bought for him. I also thought it was nice that she sounds concerned for him... I mean, even though he was having an affair with her, he was still her husband for a very long time. It's only natural for her to feel sorrow after this, and I'm glad she does because it makes her character very realistic.

One last suggestion, and I know this will be difficult to do because of the word count limit, but I would have liked a little more description of her husband at the very end. Maybe just say he wasn't breathing or his body was injured, something along those lines. Just a suggestion, of course. I really enjoy what you have now - just think putting more detail into the husband will help really drive home the tragedy of what happened to him. :)

And I'm curious if you have some hidden message you're trying to convey here, considering the husband dies after being found out about cheating on his wife. I almost get the feeling that Cynthia killed him through means of the storm, considering the storm was mirroring her emotions and didn't hurt her when she drove out into it. Very interesting things to ponder.

Good luck in the WCC!
12/5/2011 c1 16Dragon made me do it
Great story, good construction and mood development, relationships, character development, imagery, all that.

I like the way you build the mood of the piece through the parallel construction of the brewing storm.

I like the contrast between his state and her buried emotions, and the tension that builds in the air through this disconnect increasing.

'At the corner of the screen was a small radar map with an intimidating wall of red highlighted. Solemn yellow boxes marked the storms' projected paths.' - love this, symbols in our society hold so much meaning and emotion to us that go miles beyond their simple design.

speaking of which, email is kind of similar. To have such huge emotionally laden content communicated through such a lifeless, robotic medium is eerily out of whack. I know someone who went through this, must be weird! And then you see people's whole private lives played out over faecbook. This really taps into something odd about modern society.

I think this prompt inspires this kind of story where you get some intense event that drops away with a sense of regret that follows. It doesn't have to literally involve sirens and what have you (although you have the police, granted). To me this captures the essence of the prompt well.

'She walked back into kitchen' - add 'the' before 'kitchen'

'She pushed her seat back violently, and table lurched with the force of it.' - add 'the' before 'table'
12/5/2011 c1 58Inkspilled
I loved the ending. The whole time I was expecting a twist on the whole affair theory, and I was a little disappointed when it turned out it really was an affair. But that made up for it completely. Creative use of the prompt. I like how you planned everything to work out as it did. Also, the little details made it vivid, like her pulling at the hem of her shirt. Combining the revelation of the affair with a storm was well done, too. I liked how as her emotional distress grew, so did the storm. Nicely done. :)

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