Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge!

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
Helge Mahrt
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Helge Mahrt » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:09 pm

I scrapped my 532 words from the other day and started anew. I now got a 998 words flash I'm quite happy with. I think I'll be shopping it around, though, so I'm not going to post it here because of first publication rights. Which is a shame, because I would've loved getting your feedback, Wulf. wotf001
R, HM, R
http://www.helgemahrt.com
Sky High, my YA/SciFi novel

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RSchibler
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby RSchibler » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:13 pm

RSchibler wrote:In case anyone is feeling a tad lost about which Super Secret is which, I have been keeping tabs:


#0: Proper manuscript format for the win.
#1: Enter EVERY quarter. With a fresh story.
#2: DON'T drive to the story
#3: Set the hook!
#4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core!
#5: A story is a PROMISE
#6: Hint in your opening the granda vista of your world
#7: SUPER SECRET SUPER SECRET
#8: Kill "as you know, Bobs" in your story
#9: Open your story with your protagonist.
#10: Make sure your ending pays the reader a JACKPOT on your opening promise.
#11: Follow submission guidelines
#12: MAGIC UP FRONT!
#13: DON'T OVEREDIT
#14: Do not overthink your story!
#15: Open your story with 1. A CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM
#16: Read your story out loud.
#17: Know thy judge!
#18: Start your *#&$^ hero's quest! We're on the clock!
#19: Mock-up your story!
#20: Employ the 7 Point Plot model
#21: Take your reader on a deep emotional journey.
#22: THINGS GET WORSE!
#23: READ!
#24: Study your judge!
#25: Avoid first person for WotF
#26: Find your wise reader. Preferably, someone with more pro sales than you.
#27: SUPER SECRET SUPER SECRET
#28: YOU MUST WRITE


There are 3 new ones, but I’m in mobile right now. I’ll add them later if no one else does.
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.

https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

2020 Writers of the Future Superstars Scholarship recipient

Helge Mahrt
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Helge Mahrt » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:19 pm

I copied your list a few days ago for my own reference and added the latest ones. wotf008

#0: Proper manuscript format for the win.
#1: Enter EVERY quarter. With a fresh story.
#2: DON'T drive to the story
#3: Set the hook!
#4: Pick a major emotion and make your reader FEEL it down to their core!
#5: A story is a PROMISE
#6: Hint in your opening the granda vista of your world
#7: SUPER SECRET SUPER SECRET
#8: Kill "as you know, Bobs" in your story
#9: Open your story with your protagonist.
#10: Make sure your ending pays the reader a JACKPOT on your opening promise.
#11: Follow submission guidelines
#12: MAGIC UP FRONT!
#13: DON'T OVEREDIT
#14: Do not overthink your story!
#15: Open your story with 1. A CHARACTER, 2. in a SETTING, 3. with a PROBLEM
#16: Read your story out loud.
#17: Know thy judge!
#18: Start your *#&$^ hero's quest! We're on the clock!
#19: Mock-up your story!
#20: Employ the 7 Point Plot model
#21: Take your reader on a deep emotional journey.
#22: THINGS GET WORSE!
#23: READ!
#24: Study your judge!
#25: Avoid first person for WotF
#26: Find your wise reader. Preferably, someone with more pro sales than you.
#27: SUPER SECRET SUPER SECRET
#28: YOU MUST WRITE
#29: Help your subconscious to ENGAGE.
#30: Experience life, don't just read about other people's experiences.
#31: Not too long, not too short. Your story needs to be jusssst right.
R, HM, R
http://www.helgemahrt.com
Sky High, my YA/SciFi novel

AjZach
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby AjZach » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:59 pm

Green Dreams 694 Words
The witch house was a curiosity of the neighbourhood children. Julia felt a special affinity to the burnt crumbling walls, and the glimpses of furniture and decay available through the cracked glass of the windows. The children would go in the evenings, when their parents were tired and wanting peace, and climb through the hole cut in the fence. They would wade their way through the yard overgrown with fern and gooseberry.
The house had been struck in a lightning storm, but no one could say how long ago. With the destruction, the disappearance of the witch. Whenever Julia asked when the event was, she would receive another answer. More definitive, were the stories of gold. It was accepted that there was buried treasure, hidden by the legendary witch, but none had ever been found.
The children’s had long given up on finding the treasure. It seemed a few generations had looked, so they had invented a new past time. The object was to pass by the remains of the house, and touch the great oak tree at the back of the yard. The tree had also been struck, and was charred and black. Jim had taken a piece of the tree, and all sought to replicate him. He said it would protect against lightning strikes, although he had not tested that claim.
Julia sought no blackened chip of bark, and when the other children would disappear along the side of the house to cheer on today’s champion, Julia would sink down into the ferns inhaling the cool and green.
She dreamed. Sometimes she dreamed of the witch, foul smells and plumes of smoke above a woman, too frightening and beautiful to look upon. Or she dreamed of a man, in many forms shining with athletic strength who cast the witch down with his shard of light.
All her dreams in her bed of ferns ended the same, with gold. Sometimes it shimmered on the very ferns she lay beneath, or revealed itself as the interior of the gooseberries, a hard crack instead of the juicy snap when she bit. But really, she knew it was the oak tree. She lay every night dreaming, while her fellows approached it, to know more.
Another day, another strip of bark handed around the school yard.
“Will you come to the tree today Julia? Or are you too scared?”
They often taunted her because she did not stick with the group. They feared the witch house, and they could not understand how Julia could stand be alone in the dreamy overgrown garden. She had been afraid at first. That is why she had stayed among the ferns in the front garden, but her fears had dissolved with the dreams.
The time came, to slip through the fence and along the side of the house. Julia came too, this time she brought a shovel. She looked with longing at the waving leaves of the ferns, where she would rather sit, but they had told her all. She had wanted to wait, to visit the tree in private, but she had decided that the other children should be there.
The children were becoming braver, a few of them had their tokens now, to no ill effect. Timmy was already working his way through the rubble towards the tree, glancing back to his friends, and at the gaping windows of the house behind.
Julia ran past him, spade in tow, and approached the tree. She pushed her spade down into the soft earth between the tree’s great roots. The split of the lightning through the trunk pointed right to the spots her dreams had shown her.
The others watched in awe. Julia kept pushing the dirt away until she felt the clunk. A few minutes more and she was acquainted with her prize, a heavy little trunk, locked but easily snipped open with someone’s father’s wire cutters. Inside was gold: coins, bars and rings. Ancient and covered with bits of soil.
They say a witch used to live in that old burnt down house, but she had buried many secrets, for those who would sleep among the ferns.

vsutherland01
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby vsutherland01 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:45 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:
(And, Sutherland, your title is accurate, and foreshadows your story. That is good. But could you come up with one that would intrigue from the git go? That would be a better title. Think along the lines of "What Comes Down, Must Go Up." Something that will make us say, "Hmm. This sounds interesting. Maybe I'll read this.")


I will work on it and try to have something better before the end of the night. Thanks!

UPDATE: How bout this?

Where The Spirit-Dog Roams.

Too on the nose with the red fern homage? Or swap Spirit-Dog with Coywolf or whatever works best.
Honorable Mentions: 4
Rejections: 5

Wulf Moon
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:01 pm

vsutherland01 wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:
(And, Sutherland, your title is accurate, and foreshadows your story. That is good. But could you come up with one that would intrigue from the git go? That would be a better title. Think along the lines of "What Comes Down, Must Go Up." Something that will make us say, "Hmm. This sounds interesting. Maybe I'll read this.")


I will work on it and try to have something better before the end of the night. Thanks!

UPDATE: How bout this?

Where The Spirit-Dog Roams.

Too on the nose with the red fern homage? Or swap Spirit-Dog with Coywolf or whatever works best.


Much better! And Spirit-Dog is good. It actually tells us what they are, and doesn't confuse us right away in the title with an undefined word.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:01 pm

Could someone please fix Super Secret #6? It's grand vista. Thanks!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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RSchibler
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby RSchibler » Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:14 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Could someone please fix Super Secret #6? It's grand vista. Thanks!


That’s my typo, sorry! What was that about a clean manuscript again?
V34: R, HM, R
V35: HM, R, R, HM
V36: R, HM, HM, SHM

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.

https://www.flametreepublishing.com/A-Dying-Planet-Short-Stories-ISBN-9781787557819.html

2020 Writers of the Future Superstars Scholarship recipient

Wulf Moon
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:13 pm

Helge Mahrt wrote:I scrapped my 532 words from the other day and started anew. I now got a 998 words flash I'm quite happy with. I think I'll be shopping it around, though, so I'm not going to post it here because of first publication rights. Which is a shame, because I would've loved getting your feedback, Wulf. wotf001


That's okay. You can do the exercise outside of here, and still learn from it. Phase 2 tomorrow!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

Wulf Moon
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:38 pm

Okay, on to the next! Sutherland is going to give us a new title to this. Something with a little more glitter. wotf001 Comments in brackets.

Farewell, Scrag by Sutherland. about 900 words

When Jada heard her boy sobbing, her aching limp vanished and she darted through the cabin to the front room. She found Ora kneeling next to where their coywolf, Scrag, lay on the rug by the fireplace.

[We have a character, in a setting, with a problem, in the first paragraph. Good! That's hard to do. Second sentence, however, is confusing. You have a coywolf, some critter we don't know--could be his pet?--and you name him, but we don't know what state he is in. Is he dead? Sleeping? ]

“Please get up.”[Need a comma here, not a period. If a short story has to be flawless, Flash even more so.] Ora said as he buried his face in Scrag’s rusty fur. [Still wondering about this body. Size? Is it breathing?]

Jada knelt and pried her son’s hands from Scrag’s coat,[semicolon here, not a comma] they were battered and bloody. “What did you do to your hands?”

Snot streamed down the boy’s face,[period, not a comma. And it's not a pretty picture, and would not really run down his face. Tears could, they start higher.] “I pounded the front step for making Scrag fall”[Needs a period. Two errors now. I know we did these fast. Just watch out in an actual submission, this could be lethal, two on the first page.]

Jada pulled him close, and stared down at the old weary coywolf. Scrag’s ribs pressed through thinning fur at the rise and fall of each shallow breath. [Perfect chance to give us some idea what a coywolf is with just one more sentence. What makes it different from a wolf? Why coy? Give us some additional description so we know why you call this something other than a wolf. It's not a surprise withholding information for later. It's annoying to a reader.]

He looked up [Ah, so he is conscious and alive. Tell us up front.] and caught Jada’s gaze, eyes gilded by wisdom. Tell the boy,[<--needs to be italicized] his eyes seemed to say. [I like the gilded by wisdom line.]

Jada looked away, to where her father’s portrait hung above the cedar mantle. Scrag had been there for her all those years ago when she learned what death was. She shook her head, vision misty. Was Ora ready to learn?

“Scrag won’t tell me why he’s leaving, Mom.”

Jada combed gentle fingers through her son’s auburn locks,[period, not comma. In WotF, three strikes and you're out. You're among friends here. But in WotF or pro markets? You're in a competition. Don't make mistakes.] “I told you, Scrag can’t talk anymore.”

“Then how do you know he has to go?”

Jada glanced at her father’s portrait and made her choice. [Lordy, lordy! Someone that actually stated my prompt! WOO HOO! Give the writer a cookie! You made sure your story matched my theme! If I were an editor--and I am--and this were an anthology I had titled, "Tough Choices," I'd clap my hands. I'm buying stories on this subject! Lo and behold, I have somebody that sent me a story that's obviously about a tough choice! Your odds of selling this to me just went up exponentially...because you listened and delivered.]

She wiped a tear from Ora’s face. [Right here I'm wondering what she looks like. Does she look totally human? Does the boy?] “Didn’t you listen to any of my stories? Scrag ain’t a normal coywolf. Deep down he’s still a spirit of the wind and the wild. He belongs to his goddess, the blooming Desert Flower.”

Ora reached up and pointed at the crimson scars laced across Jada’ right arm. “But I’m not ready for him to leave. Reach up and pull down the lightning again, so Scrag saves you and stays, just like when you were a kid.”

Jada lay down beside Scrag, with her son snuggled between. “I hope I never wield that power again. Scrag wouldn’t be able to save me this time,[a period here, or a semicolon, but not a comma] ya can't sacrifice immortality twice.” [She has been saying "you" so suddenly saying ya seems off. If you keep it, you need to put an apostrophe after the a, because you've dropped a letter. So it would be ya'.]

Scrag lifted his head and licked Ora, then rested back into the rug. His eyelids drooped. Outside the window, a cloud-laden sun sank low over the sagoro desert. [I like giving us a sense of the setting here, but suns aren't cloud-laden. Skies are. Fix your description, and put some color in as well. It's a sunset, make it purdy. Also, there would be smells, and scent identifiers for each character--especially since they are wolfish creatures. Yet, I note none.]

“It’s been a day, why don’t you get some rest-” [It's always a day. Tough day? Long day? Exhausting day? Trying day? Give us the type of day. Also, a single dash is an en dash, used to link two words. If you are ending your sentence with an interruption, you need to use an em dash. That's noted in a manuscript as two small dashes like this --. But I think a question mark would be better here.]

Ora shook his head, [Needs to be a period] “I want to stay a bit longer.” [Is scrag his sire? If so, he'd not leave his side.]

“Alright, what if I tell you a story, one of my old adventures with Scrag?”

“It’s ok, mom. I don’t need a story.” Ora wiped at his damp eyes,[period here. But this would be a good spot to show a paw or a hand with hair, something that tells us what kind of creature he is.] “Could you sing the song Scrag used to sing for you, the sad one about the Flower he lost.” [Needs a question mark. For sure you'd be tossed if this was a WotF entry now. Just sayin'. : ) ]

Jada’s heart caught in her throat. She reached over to Scrag and began to hum a bittersweet lullaby. Scrag shifted beneath her touch and though he did not wake [What? He gave her a look that said tell the boy only minutes ago.] he began to sing as well. Too weak to howl his voice came in soft growls as he followed Jada through the melody, his melody. [Logic issues here. If he's asleep, he's not going to sing. If he's semi-conscious, he could do this. But you'd have to say that. And make it coincide with his earlier total consciousness. You actually have to show him fading away, a causal link.]

A tear slipped across her nose [still wondering what her nose looks like] as she stopped singing. She looked down, Ora was asleep. She let more tears come as she caressed Scrag’s fur,[period, not comma] “I’m sorry, old friend. I wish I could repay you for choosing me over her. [Who is her? Another woman? The goddess? You need to explain so we understand.] You deserve better.”

When fiery sunset gave way to twinkling night [comma] Jada rose and carried her son to his bed. She kissed his head [comma] then left him to sleep.
As Jada shut the door to Ora’s room [cut Ora's room, we know it's his room] a gust of wind teased her loose hair, passing like shifting dunes across her face. Whispers of the past swirled through the breeze. Jada scooped her hand through the air as grains of shimmering dust filled her palm. Behind her, the front door creaked.

“Scrag?” Jada whirled around in time to spot a hint of russet fur slip over the threshold and into the night. Pain seared through old wounds as Jada sprinted after.

The moon hung high, casting the sandstone flats in pale brilliance. Scrag limped on ahead. The shining wind brushed past Jada. It swept up beside Scrag and bore his body like a river bears autumn leaves. Scrag lifted [comma] then began to run. Jada grinned through tears and gave chase. All pain forgotten, she was a wild girl again with Scrag there beside her, nimble and blazing with starlight.

Jada raced through the wilderness, bewitched by memory of adventures long past. She wished it to never end, but a canyon edge drew near. Scrag did not slow. He ran on through the air, born of spirit, borne by wind. Regaining her senses, Jada caught the branch of a juniper and yanked herself back before she could fall, though the echo of the girl she had been continued to follow. [The echo of the girl is nice.]

Jada caught her breath, blinking in awestruck wonder. Across the vast canyon, a gleaming woman stood wearing a crown of opuntia petals and a moonbeam gown. It was the Desert Flower, returned to call back her beloved. The Lady held her arms wide as Scrag raced to meet her.

A happy sob escaped Jada,[period] “Farewell, scrag.” [Scrag is a proper name and needs to be capitalized.]

Scrag paused in midair, as if hearing Jada’s voice. He turned [and] then lifted his head and howled one last song. Jada knew the tune well. It was the tale of their bond, of all they had shared, through the triumphs and sorrows on the path they once led. Jada filled her lungs, and threw back her head. She howled to the night, to the stars, to her [her companion? lover? and] friend. [Just needs that for the beat. If it's not true, if he's not a shapeshifter, figure something else out.]

This is a pretty tale with some mysticism to it. Overall, it works. Some problems are understanding punctuation usage, especially around dialogue. If that's going on in your WotF entries, it's likely getting your stories rejected, so fix that. Another issue is sensory details. Even in a Flash, we need them. And this is a story, I think, about wolfish creatures. If so, they would have keen observations about the scents around them. And that's another problem. I'm not quite sure if Scrag is part man, part wolf, and if they are part human, part wolf. Since you call him a coywolf, I can't tell if he's a smaller wolf, a shapeshifter, werewolf, and I wonder the whole time if they are part wolf, since this is fantasy. We need desciptions to clear all of this up.

Thanks for sharing, Sutherland! GREAT job on nailing the prompt. It's a real secret to selling to themed anthologies as well. And well done on doing this in 24 hours and putting it out there. Just remember that doing another pass is important to present a clean story. That's different than rewriting and reworking everything.

Cheers!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

vsutherland01
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby vsutherland01 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:48 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:
This is a pretty tale with some mysticism to it. Overall, it works. Some problems are understanding punctuation usage, especially around dialogue. If that's going on in your WotF entries, it's likely getting your stories rejected, so fix that. Another issue is sensory details. Even in a Flash, we need them. And this is a story, I think, about wolfish creatures. If so, they would have keen observations about the scents around them. And that's another problem. I'm not quite sure if Scrag is part man, part wolf, and if they are part human, part wolf. Since you call him a coywolf, I can't tell if he's a smaller wolf, a shapeshifter, werewolf, and I wonder the whole time if they are part wolf, since this is fantasy. We need desciptions to clear all of this up.

Thanks for sharing, Sutherland! GREAT job on nailing the prompt. It's a real secret to selling to themed anthologies as well. And well done on doing this in 24 hours and putting it out there. Just remember that doing another pass is important to present a clean story. That's different than rewriting and reworking everything.

Cheers!


Thank You for the critique. I will continue to study punctuation. I am sure errors like the ones in this story slip into my WOTF submissions. Thankfully my critique partners point out most of these errors but I am still working to strengthen my grammar.

As to sensory details and descriptions, this is a critique I have encountered before. This continues to be a problem area for me. I will double my efforts to improve in it.
Honorable Mentions: 4
Rejections: 5

Wulf Moon
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:49 pm

Green Dreams by AJZach 694 Words [Thanks for sharing. This is hard to read because no offset paragraphs or at least indents on the first line. I trust you're not submitting like this, or it would be an immediate rejection. I'll read it and try to guess where one paragraph ends and new paragraphs begin. I've put some spaces in to help set a few off.]

The witch house was a curiosity of the neighbourhood [<--I'm guessing this is British English] children. Julia [Is she a child or adult? Tall or short? We need something to hang our hat on, not just a name.] felt a special affinity to the burnt crumbling walls, and the glimpses of furniture and decay available through the cracked glass of the windows. The children would go in the evenings, when their parents were tired and wanting peace, and climb through the hole cut in the fence. They would wade their way through the yard overgrown with fern and gooseberry.

The house had been struck in a lightning storm, but no one could say how long ago. With the destruction,[feels a bit abrupt] the disappearance of the witch. Whenever Julia asked [who?] when the event was [replace *was* with *took place*], she would receive another answer. More definitive,[delete comma] were the stories of gold. It was accepted that there was buried treasure, hidden by the legendary witch, but none had ever been found.

The children’s [<--error, strike one in WotF] had long given up on finding the treasure. It seemed a few generations had looked, so they had invented a new past time. The object was to pass by the remains of the house, and touch the great oak tree at the back of the yard. The tree had also been struck, and was charred and black. Jim [Jim who? Her friend? Brother? Schoolmate?] had taken a piece of the tree, and all sought to replicate him [change to *copy him*]. He said it would protect against lightning strikes, although he had not tested that claim.

Julia sought no blackened chip of bark, and when the other children would disappear along the side of the house to cheer on today’s [the day's] champion, Julia would sink down into the ferns inhaling the cool and green. [green is a color, you can't inhale a color. And a temperature is hard to inhale as well. Cool, moist air would be appropriate.]

She dreamed. Sometimes she dreamed of the witch, foul smells and plumes of smoke above a woman,[delete comma] too frightening and beautiful to look upon. Or she dreamed of a man, in many forms shining with athletic strength [<--description doesn't make a lot of sense] who cast the witch down with his shard of light.

All her dreams in her bed of ferns ended the same, with gold. Sometimes it shimmered on the very ferns she lay beneath, or revealed itself as the interior of the gooseberries, a hard crack instead of the juicy snap when she bit. But really, she knew it was the oak tree. She lay every night dreaming, while her fellows approached it, to know more. [Unclear sentence again. If she's dreaming at home in bed, aren't the other kids, too? Or are they doing night raids on the place? It sounded like it was taking place after school.]

Another day, another strip of bark handed around the school yard.
“Will you come to the tree today Julia? Or are you too scared?”
They often taunted her because she did not stick with the group. They feared the witch house, and they could not understand how Julia could stand be alone in the dreamy overgrown garden. She had been afraid at first. That is why she had stayed among the ferns in the front garden, but her fears had dissolved with the dreams.
The time came,[Why? What made this day different than all others? You need to tell us what changed.] to slip through the fence and along the side of the house. Julia came too,[with who?} this time she brought a shovel. She looked with longing at the waving leaves of the ferns, where she would rather sit, but they had told her all.[define they, because this is all very confusing.] She had wanted to wait, to visit the tree in private, but she had decided that the other children should be there. [Again, why?]
The children were becoming braver, a few of them had their tokens now, to no ill effect. Timmy was already working his way through the rubble towards the tree, glancing back to his friends, and at the gaping windows of the house behind.
Julia ran past him, spade in tow, and approached the tree. She pushed her spade down into the soft earth between the tree’s great roots. The split of the lightning through the trunk pointed right to the spots her dreams had shown her.
The others watched in awe. Julia kept pushing the dirt away until she felt the clunk. A few minutes more and she was acquainted [<--this seems antiquated, like something Victorians would say] with her prize, a heavy little trunk, locked but easily snipped open with someone’s father’s wire cutters.[Try reading that out loud. Better to just have her snap the lock with a good strike or two from her shovel.} Inside was gold: coins, bars and rings. Ancient and covered with bits of soil.
They say a witch used to live in that old burnt down house, but she had buried many secrets, for those who would sleep among the ferns.


AJ: I think you have introduced the setting well. We have good descriptions of the house, the fence, the ferns and gooseberry. It's the characters I have a problem with. Julia needs to be identified with more than simply a name. Her age is important, which is easy if you say what grade of school she is in. I like it that she's different, that she likes to sleep among the ferns, and has visions. But I'm not feeling any danger, any fear the witch might return, that the treasure might be cursed. It's all too easy for her. For a very young child, this story would be fine--they don't need much danger, and you could very well have their attention for an entire story with the thought of discovering buried treasure. But for adults, there's not enough tension.

Plot is driven by tension. A character wants or needs something that somebody else is trying to keep from them. They try hard, get defeated. AND THINGS GET WORSE. They try harder, get defeated. AND THINGS GET WORSE. It's what ratchets up tension and makes us care for your heroine. We should be afraid for her. She's sleeping in a witch's yard and I don't feel she's in danger at all. In fact, everything comes to her so easy, it's like magic. Now that would be interesting, if it was all happening because she had power she didn't realize. As the dreams kept happening, she could start directing them, searching through them, and discover she has a divining power. Lots of ways you could make this more dangerous, or mysterious as she discovers she has powers she wasn't aware of, or character growth as she goes from extremely shy to courageous enough to stand before that tree with a shovel. If it were me, I'd have that tree radiating all kinds of negative energy, and she has to find her own power to face it and push through it. And the reward wouldn't really be the gold, but the understanding of herself. The gold could just be a symbol. Deeper meanings and character growth are vital to good stories.

So if this is a very YA tale, I am sure it would hold their attention. But for adults, we need more. And I'd recommend you try to work the piece toward that, because you will need that in a WotF winning story, too.

So far, everyone has posted visual stories. Sight is only one sense we have. Rich stories employ all the senses. Hearing. Taste. Touch. Smell. To everyone I say: get more of the senses on the page. This shall be a forthcoming Super Secret.

Thanks for sharing!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Thomas Woodward » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:17 am

I just submitted for Q3 - my first new story in a long time. Thanks Moon for encouraging us to push ourselves with new stories :)
4x R
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"No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure." — Ernest Hemingway

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:06 am

I've been working on the flash challenge, but I'm not yet certain if this thing I'm writing actually is flash or if I've inadvertently discovered something larger. I'm writing by the seat of my pants, and I'm at 893 words with no concrete idea how to get from where I am to my intended ending. Might be able to trim it down once I figure that out.

But not just yet, because babies call.
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby vsutherland01 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 7:30 am

Wulf Moon wrote:
So far, everyone has posted visual stories. Sight is only one sense we have. Rich stories employ all the senses. Hearing. Taste. Touch. Smell. To everyone I say: get more of the senses on the page. This shall be a forthcoming Super Secret.

Thanks for sharing!

Beastmaster Moon


This has been an invaluable experience and I am glad a new Super Secret has culminated from it. I am going to implement this feedback immediately. I can already think of a few places in this flash where I could have employed sound smell and touch. I need to do a sensory check on every new story until it becomes habit to WHAM! the audience with smell-o-vision and 4D.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:50 am

disgruntledpeony wrote:I've been working on the flash challenge, but I'm not yet certain if this thing I'm writing actually is flash or if I've inadvertently discovered something larger. I'm writing by the seat of my pants, and I'm at 893 words with no concrete idea how to get from where I am to my intended ending. Might be able to trim it down once I figure that out.

But not just yet, because babies call.


I solve this problem by figuring out my opening first. A story opens with 1. a character 2. in a setting 3. with a problem. When I figure that out--and honestly, I figure out my title first because that's my theme--I then decide on my promise line. A story's promise is your promise to your reader. It goes like this: If you read this story, I promise I will deliver X by the end. Or at least by the end will make you pleasantly surprised it wasn't X, it was Y, which I promise will be even better!

Once you have that promise in mind, you can figure out how you're going to deliver on it. Figure it out first, or you end up wandering. Wandering aimlessly through the shrubbery does not make for an interesting tale. This is why I figure out my ending before writing the middle stuff, the try/fail/things get worse cycles. How can you amp up if you don't know what's your top frequency? Many, many times I don't just have the ending in mind, I actually write it. With that, I have my destination. Now I just have to chart my course there. It makes for logical sequences, reduces rambling, and creates a tight story that knows exactly where it's going.

Of course, everyone's system is different. Mine works for me. But you might be able to steal something from my method and add it to your own. Or somebody else can. At 17,000 views, I figure we are not alone... wotf011

All the beast!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:01 am

Thomas Woodward wrote:I just submitted for Q3 - my first new story in a long time. Thanks Moon for encouraging us to push ourselves with new stories :)


Well done, Thomas! Like I've said, some have won reworking the same story year after year after year, raising it up the ranks from rejection to a win. You can become a great editor doing that. You might even create your magnum opus doing that, like FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON. But you will soon find you have nothing else to show for your years and years of efforts, and if you want to be a writer, you need to write fresh stories. Might as well start now. We grow through the writing process. It's where we build our writing muscles.

Glad the encouragement to write fresh stories has helped. I hope it helps many others to push forward and grow.

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:18 am

vsutherland01 wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:
So far, everyone has posted visual stories. Sight is only one sense we have. Rich stories employ all the senses. Hearing. Taste. Touch. Smell. To everyone I say: get more of the senses on the page. This shall be a forthcoming Super Secret.

Thanks for sharing!

Beastmaster Moon


This has been an invaluable experience and I am glad a new Super Secret has culminated from it. I am going to implement this feedback immediately. I can already think of a few places in this flash where I could have employed sound smell and touch. I need to do a sensory check on every new story until it becomes habit to WHAM! the audience with smell-o-vision and 4D.


There is a method to my madness, as you shall see if you continue on with the next phases of the lesson. But I'm also doing it to make sure anyone that signed up for the challenge can get a critique if they like, by submitting to the exercise. And everyone watching can figure out if they are making the same mistakes I call out, and then fix them so their stories will improve. Finding our blind spot and fixing it can take us toward the win. Which is writing professionally, whether or not you win this contest.

It is very true new writers neglect to employ all five senses. New writers' stories are normally entirely visual. And they tell, they don't show, they don't smell, they don't feel, they don't taste. A good storyteller makes their character and world REAL. That takes accurately placed sensory details. I would add another sense new writers neglect--emotion. How their protagonist feels in any given situation, any environment. Without that, we have cardboard cutouts moving across a cardboard box stage.

I recommend writing six senses down on a notecard and putting it by your monitor and reviewing it regularly, since several have told you your writing is weak in this area. Six senses, you say? I thought there were only five? I'm adding the sixth. Emotion. How do all the sensory experiences make your protagonist feel? The environment you create should be stirring feelings within your hero. We'll sense those feelings as well, and if we like your hero, we'll share in those feelings.

I hope this helps.

Cheers! And Phase Two of this exercise will be posted tonight! So be sure to tune in. Same bat time! Same batty channel!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 10:12 am

Last call to our SUPER SECRET Challenge Beasts! If you enrolled in this challenge, this is the way to be sure you get a critique before it ends. I've critiqued many of your stories, but simply can't do critiques for all. This exercise gave everyone that entered an opportunity to get a critique from me (and your fellow challenge beasts if they desired to add in) if they wished it. But after today, I must move on. Get it while it's hot! Phase One of the exercise closes today! Deadlines are DEAD LINES. Don't paste me something tomorrow, I won't read it. : )

Give Becky a cookie, with extra chocolate chips! She is correct. Flash is challenging. Telling a meaningul story in under a thousand words is tough. It makes you think about the lessons. It makes you think about word choice. It makes you think about how you can get from point A to point D swiftly, in and out. Master it, and your longer pieces will have similar energy and tighter cohesion.

Okay. Last call!

Beastmaster Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby storysinger » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:52 am

Hey Wulf. I sent you a pm.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 12:43 pm

storysinger wrote:Hey Wulf. I sent you a pm.


Hey, Storysinger, I got nada! Sorry! Did you send it in here? Send to me in Messenger. It's more reliable.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:21 pm

Hmmm. No more challenge members submitting a Flash piece? Well, the day isn't over yet. But here's an observation. Remember: our prompt was A TOUGH CHOICE. Many thanks to all that did the work and risked life and limb to put their story on the chopping block. Well done. That said, on some that were submitted, it wasn't super-duper clear the protagonist had options to choose from. More than one didn't seem to require any choice at all--these heroes or antiheroes headed straight to their destinations without a moment's pondering, perhaps because it wasn't apparent any choices were set before them. Which means as we are writing, we forget what we are supposed to be writing about. It's wonderful to get caught up in the story, but not if we forget why we came to the stage and what our play was supposed to be about. When we open a story, we make a promise. Often, that promise is in the title. We say, "This is what my story is about, this is what my protagonist desires, and I promise by the end I shall deliver!"

Why is this important? Readers get upset when you promise them one thing, and then deliver another. They feel cheated. Lied to. This has caused many a book to be thrown against a wall. Or a judge to push R on submission #1382. A story is a promise. Deliver on your promise. One day, an editor might say, "Hey, successful writer, I'm doing an anthology called A TOUGH CHOICE. Want to send me something?" And you say, "Hey, pro editor, I shall deliver! Thank you for the invite!" And if you send your friendly editor a story about stone garden gnomes and their exciting life of standing motionless all day long in the hot sun, the editor is going to scratch their head, reject the story, and probably never reach out to you again.

Okay, I see no more Flash entries. As the deadline approaches, it's my turn.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby storysinger » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:37 pm

I have a story I'm trying to send to you. An email attachment is the easiest way. What's up? I don't want to post it on the forum.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:38 pm

(Feel free to critique as you see fit. I separate paragraphs by a blank line for this place only. Word count: exactly 999. Normally you don't put copyright notice on your manuscript, but this is a public forum.)


Last Words by Wulf Moon. Copyright 2019

I sat in a hard plastic hospital chair, fingers touching the book inside my jacket while I watched my father die. Dad rested in bed, eyes closed, eyelids twitching, lips grayish-blue. The room’s window was etched in frost, streetlights glowing upon the crystals, illuminating patterns like stained glass in a chapel. The air smelled of pine solvent and rubbing alcohol, and the divider curtain was drawn, giving the illusion of privacy.

I ran my fingers along the binding of the tome, felt the impression of stamped letters. My book. The latest collection of poems. My lifelong secret. My last chance to let Dad know. Becoming a poet had always been his dream, and I didn’t know if I could tell him.

Dad had known success. He’d won Realtor of the Year for Century 21 in Minnesota, had the view office in Stillwater overlooking the St. Croix River, yachts cruising past like fat swans. Everyone in town knew Dad, but it wasn’t his successful career that gave him joy.

Just writing those damnable sing-songy poems.

When I’d stop to visit at his office, he’d have me pull up a chair, ask his assistant to bring me some coffee. Awful stuff, tasted like brewed charcoal briquettes. We’d talk about his new listings and pending closings, about how I was doing after the divorce, how my teaching was going at Carleton, how the girls were doing in school. And every time, before we’d head for ribs at Brian’s Meat Market, he’d reach in a drawer and toss me that worn leather binder.

“Penned some new ones, kid. Try these on for size.”

I’d give up the view of the yachts, lean back in my chair and read his poems, sweating to find something good I could comment on. Then I’d smile, because, hey, they were from his heart.

“Hmmm. "Snowfall" is good. I like this verse: The snow falls in time with memories of my mind as I chew on the rind of forsaken mankind. Reminds me of Frost.” It did remind me of Robert Frost. Thought a lot of his works were sing-songy too, repetitive rhyme and meter, but that didn’t seem to harm his career. Success is hard to argue with.

Dad always smiled when I likened his work to famous poets. “Damn right it’s good. But do you think the Poetry Society of America would think so?” He’d flash the latest. “Form rejection. Not even personal.”

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Proud of you for not giving up. There’s something to be said for our stubborn German blood.”

“Jawohl,” he’d say, thumping his fist against the desk. “You hungry? Let’s go eat.”

I remembered Dad’s comments on my works when I was a kid. I’d be lying in bed, staring at the glittering bits in the ceiling texture, words pouring into my mind like songs from seductive sirens. No way they’d grant me sleep unless I rose to their call and danced. I’d hunch over a typewriter in the basement until two or three in the morning. As the night flowed on, the keys striking the platen would sound like volleys of thunder. I’d set a pillow under the base, wrap a towel around the sides, hope Dad wouldn't hear, and immerse myself in verse again.

It didn’t work. Inevitably, Dad would hear and come lumbering down the stairs. I’d swim up from the hazy depths, float on the surface of the muse as Dad drew up alongside, scratching the stubble on his chin. He’d stand there in his sagging underwear in a silence as long as the sea. He didn’t have to speak—I knew what his verdict would be.

“Rhythm seems off. Doesn’t flow. Good ideas, son, but you won’t make money at it. Trust me, I’ve tried. You’d make a great Realtor though—got my name to carry you in town. Get to bed now, you’ve got school in the morning.”

I started winning awards in national student contests. Now he’d be proud. Now Dad would know the fire burning in my heart was true. But every time I’d show him a certificate, he’d ask to see the poem, make some comment about how it didn't rhyme or the metaphors were off, and his words would rip the wind from my sails. I quit telling him about them. And as I’d head to bed after he’d finish his spiel about my wonderful future in real estate, I’d think, yeah, just what I want in life, to wear a baby-crap-yellow jacket to work every day.

Years later—many rejection slips later—when the New Yorker took my first poem, it was published under a pseudonym. I never told him. Then the Atlantic. Then some chapbooks through good university presses. Then St. Martin’s Press bought my collection. I never told him. I had sold. He hadn’t.

And now here I was, sitting by his side, holding his blue-veined hand, oxygen hissing like serpents through pale green tubes at his nose. The air was winter dry, and the chair had a deep slant that forced me to balance on the edge of the seat. The book in my coat felt heavy as a brick as I mulled over the best way to tell him.

I jerked as Dad sat up. “Michael, it’s you. Good. Want you to do something for me.”

“Sure, Dad. Just sit back.”

“Hell with the doctors! Listen to me, kid.”

I leaned forward.

“All my life, only thing besides family that meant anything to me were my poems.”

My throat caught. “I know, Dad.”

“Only thing I didn’t succeed in, getting published.” He coughed furiously. “Take my stuff. You’re the only one who understands. Keep sending them out for me.”

I rubbed his weathered hand, my stomach twisting like a ball of baler twine. “I will.”

“They were good, weren’t they?”

A hot tear wandered down my cheek. I shifted my coat, tugged the zipper a little higher.

“They were great, Dad.”

finis
Last edited by Wulf Moon on Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:07 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby JVAshley » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:43 pm

I am partaking in the current Flash Challenge, but please forgive me. I will be holding mine close to the vest. It might be the underpinning for my next short story.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby storysinger » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:49 pm

I guess what's complicating things from my end is writing on a computer not connected to the internet. I put the story on a thumb drive and take it to my other computer so I can email it away.
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:51 pm

JVAshley wrote:I am partaking in the current Flash Challenge, but please forgive me. I will be holding mine close to the vest. It might be the underpinning for my next short story.


Nothing to forgive, Julia! It's wonderful if you come up with an idea from these you can send to WotF or elsewhere. And anyone can still participate on the side! It's worth it!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby storysinger » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:00 pm

I'm trying to participate. wotf017
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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:10 pm

storysinger wrote:I'm trying to participate. wotf017


It's supposed to be posted in here, Storysinger. I'll see it when you do. Cheers!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Moon's SUPER SECRET Bonus Challenge! Vol. 36

Postby storysinger » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:50 pm

Oh, my mistake. I thought we had the option of sending it to you for a private viewing.
Regardless of how it works out I wrote a story that stayed within your guidelines (except for posting on a public forum) which I choose not to do.

I thank you for helping me learn and grow into the writer I will be. If you would like to read it then let me know.
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