Reviews For Steel Hearts
Reviewer: dreamsnape
Date: 01/21/13 2:05
Chapter: We turn our dreams to stone

Good story. It was believable for the most part, although I felt that Oliver overreacted a bit when she told him about writing the book.I liked how it ended.

Author's Response:

I'm glad you like the story. :) This is one of the ones on my author page I may love forever because it was written for someone very special.

Though it might not come out clearly in the story, my goal was for Oliver to overreact because he felt like she betrayed him, rather than for what she was actually doing. He knew deep down that she wasn't writing trashy chicklit about him, but he felt like she used him when he cared about her. What he said was more his reflex action, throwing anything in her face that he could. They obviously, er, made up, but his dismay is rather understandable, I think.

Anyway, thank you for the visit. It's always nice when someone pays a visit to one of my older stories that I can actually read over again without wanting to gouge an eye out. Ta!

~Jess

Reviewer: hestiajones
Date: 06/01/12 19:31
Chapter: We turn our dreams to stone

I expect you’re tired to hear me say this, but exactly how do you write with such clarity? Descriptive prose that flows so well, even with so much detail, is actually a difficult thing to do. Yet, in every single fic that I’ve read by you, it has read effortlessly. In this fic, for example, I love the way you wrote her struggling with writer’s block:
Ink idly dripped onto the parchment, but it went largely unheeded. At least there was something on the page other than flickering candlelight and a vast expanse of eggshell-coloured nothingness. It was probably best that the Dictaquill had given out a few weeks back and was too expensive to replace, since it probably would’ve curled up and died from the lack of activity.
The part about the peanuts:
About halfway through that round, she felt rather than saw someone sit down next to her. With a sigh, she nudged the peanuts in that person’s direction. There was a muttered thank you, which told her the newcomer was male. She had to fight a groan of annoyance. The last thing she wanted was to fight off some random who either recognised her as someone semi-famous or just wanted a roll in the hay with the prettiest girl in the room he thought he had a chance with.
It’s the little details like these that give so much life to a story!
As far as characterisation goes, I love how mature Romilda seems. But there are good reasons that caused that maturity: the vagaries of adult life, and the things she has seen in her youth. The old, ambitious Romilda is still there, of course! She’s been successful and carving a niche for herself, and she doesn’t hesitate to let Oliver inspire her, without his knowledge.
I felt sad for Alicia :( However, losses do occur in life. I was rather pleased by Oliver’s stoicism, laced with unbelievable tenderness and vulnerability.
The romance developed so naturally. Although their meetings span over weeks, you’ve written the courtship in such a way that nothing seems prolonged or shortened. I cheered very loudly when Oliver led her to the bedroom ha ha ha.
And the ending?
What can I say? It was perfect!
This review does no justice to the beauty of the fic, but I hope it does convey how much I adored it. Happy Birthday, Jezza!

Author's Response:

Oh, Hestia Jones, shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Oh, hellz, no! It just means sweat in horrible places. You be cool as iceeeee, amigo!

Anyway, I suppose I write the types of stories I want to read: clear but not blunt, some description but not to the point where it overwhelms everything else. Whether or not I succeed is a different matter entirely, but I'm glad you see what I want to write and like it. I'm not really capable of painfully beautiful things, but I like to think I am capable of things that are beautiful enough to look at for as long as one likes.

Hahaha, bar peanuts! Anyone who's ever been to a bar with bar peanuts knows to never touch the peanuts - not until your very well drunk enough to pickle whatever might be festering on them. But I dunno...it just felt like a fun thing to throw in there, to show how people share tiny moments with one another but never even realise it. But Romilda, being the observant lass she is, I think she'll always have an eye for these moments.

Poor, poor Oliver. His life was so broken, but he decided that he had better things to do than keep throwing it away, and I think that might've been one of the qualities that attracted Romilda to him, that base practicality. And, of course, I felt bad when Oliver felt betrayed by having his life story recycled for everyone to see, but I don't think he'll ever underestimate Romilda again in things she writes. I, too, cheered when they decided to f*ck it and just f*ck. But is it weird that I was happier when Romilda came up with the ending to her book? I probably need help, lol.

Anyway, thank you for the wonderful visit. I'm glad you picked this story, as it's one of the best things I've written in the past year. <3 you, and though you've been epically busy with Stuff, I'm glad you took the time to stop in. :D

~Jess

Reviewer: The_Real_Hermione
Date: 04/10/12 22:00
Chapter: We turn our dreams to stone

I think you have the perfect opening in this story - Ink idly dripped onto the parchment, but it went largely unheeded. At least there was something on the page other than flickering candlelight and a vast expanse of eggshell-coloured nothingness. It was probably best that the Dictaquill had given out a few weeks back and was too expensive to replace, since it probably would’ve curled up and died from the lack of activity. - It just shows so beautifully where Romilda is at and how she's struggling. I love how the Battle is a topic she knows plenty about and could easily get more information, but she's still got nowhere to go.

I loved the bit with the DA coin - it really seemed to fit well into the story.

The dialogue between the two of them was great throughout the story and really carried it - from the banter at the beginning, to the tension after she told Oliver, to his admiration after he started reading.

I also loved the bit you wrote as the opening to her book - it really captures what Oliver said and I think it's a beautiful opening to a story about the Battle.

I just noticed this - the line But she had missed it, but luckily, Oliver was sharp and very forgiving. doesn't quite flow - maybe you could cut one of the 'buts'?

Anyway, loved this story, like everything else you write.

~Katrina

Author's Response:

Yayyyyy, you're back!

I love this story on a deep level, and how people see it, probably more than most all of my other stories, means a lot. I poured a large amount of myself into it, mainly because I wrote this for Carole. It was something she was feeling, too. And, of course, being Post-Hogwarts, it falls right into my wheelhouse.

To be perfectly honest, I had originally planned this to be short and for Romilda and Oliver's relationship to be more platonic, but you know that goes. It does what it'll do. And it didn't hurt that Carole was jonesing for some Oliver smut, lol.

I think the link to the battle was really important for this story, because it showed two opposite sides of the story. There is the girl who knows them all by name and could talk to them at any time, and there is the man who has been there and sat precariously on the fence between acceptance and grief. In a way, they needed each other more than anything: more than Romilda needed her story and more than Oliver needed to beat the bottle.

The DA coin was originally supposed to be something different, like a car wash token or something of the like. Then I had the thought of how Oliver knew that the battle was happening and to go back. The natural answer was that he was with someone who had a coin. And I decided that this person was going to die in the battle. Angelina was out, and I don't have the heart to kill Katie. Alicia it is. :/ Poor love.

Well, I fixed that line. I have been told by the lovely Soraya that I use far too many 'but's, and I have been working to curb that.

I'm glad you liked the dialogue. Dialogue isn't my thing, so if I do it well, it makes me happy. :D

That's it from me! Ta!

~Jess

Reviewer: Gmariam
Date: 03/24/12 2:23
Chapter: We turn our dreams to stone

Love!! Once again you've done wonders with the minor characters. You've made Romilda more than just the annoying bimbo who tried to drug Harry. She's a real person here, and when she was worried about Oliver's reaction to the book, I was worried for her!
I thought his reaction was appropriate, but I sure felt bad for them both. And then his reaction as he read it - guh! So good! I love your damaged war-boys, I must say. ;)
One question about the end: when he says "love you" is he actually talking to Romilda, or remembering his wife?? Romilda doesn't seem to suspect the latter so I'm guessing neither do you. I hope not. Oliver deserves to be happy. :)
This turned out really well. Love it. Keep writing. You ARE good!!
~Gina :)

Author's Response:

Helloooooo!

I love the art of redeeming abused characters. Actually, that very concept was why I picked Romilda for Carole's gift. As you said, her role in the books doesn't paint her in a good light, but also...she was fourteen. How many people do retarded things for the sake of love at that age? I daresay a few, and I daresay yet again that she isn't the sum of that incident.

And of course, there's Oliver, hehe. He's just a can of UNF. He's one of those people who, in my canon for this story, just enjoys being with someone. Not everyone copes well with being alone or prefers it, and I think after his Quidditch career is over, he would be able to settle down and be that guy. I think that's part of the reason why he decided to pursue things with Romilda; she was interesting and he was available.

Oliver's reaction was one I had to discuss with Alex a little and tweak, but I believe that he had every right to feel betrayed and exposed. When you think of a magazine like Cosmopolitan publishing a book, good images don't pop into your head. That is the reaction he had. He didn't know that she was writing what was, in effect, an 'It Gets Better if You Want It To' book. I think when he read the dedication/author's notes, he saw that she cared for him almost or as much as he did for her, and it changed the dynamics a lot.

And as for the ILY-bomb, it was more reflex than anything, but I think it was a little bit of both. Romilda doesn't think that it was wholly directed toward her, or at least isn't sure, but she is happy to stick with him and find out. The thing that matters is that she wants it to be true, and she's pretty sure he does, as well.

Thank you for the review, and I'm glad I was able to pull out of this wtf-slump and write something that Carole would like. Her response still bedazzles my brain like a rhinestone gun. Ta for now, and I hearts mah twinnnnnnnnnnn.

~Jess

Reviewer: Equinox Chick
Date: 03/23/12 18:31
Chapter: We turn our dreams to stone

I am crying a little as I read for the second time. I will try to leave a coherent and decent review because you deserve that and so much more after writing this for me.

This story truly is amazing. I love it. You know that, don’t you? Well, I squeed and gasped and wept a little (or rather a lot) on ls, so you should know by now - heh heh.

From the first paragraph, I was blown away. You’re a writer, so yes you know about the process and what can hinder it, but that opening set of lines - the eggshell nothingness - it was actually like you were here with me a few months ago (November and then January) when I wanted to delete everything and give up this strange addiction. Of course, you were with me - cyberly - and I thank you for all the words of encouragement you’ve given me, but this story for some reason resonated with me strongly.

Romilda - not a character I like much, but then she’s dealt a marked hand because we’re not supposed to like her. She tried to drug Harry and failed, and so we despise her. Except that action also speaks volumes about her resourcefulness. I am pleased you made her a journalist, and a good one, because I figure she would be good, too.

The hero enters, and yes, it’s Oliver. Thank you very much for including him rather than an OC. Not that an OC would have been bad, not with you writing it, but I needed me some Oliver UNF. He’s gloriously IC here, but with a hard edge. I LOVED the Firewhisky lines - the fact that he orders it and never drinks - gahhhhh. He does have that self-control but also needs to test it. I was surprised at his wife, not because I think it unlikely - not at all - but because I thought you had other plans for her. Although your stories don’t have to interlink, it just came a tad out of the blue (but not a bad way at all). I would have cried a lot if it had been someone else that I know we both like, so thanks for not doing that. (NB: I’m deliberately not mentioning names because I know certain people read reviews before stories so I don’t want to spoil “ heh heh heh.)

You said there wasn’t much dialogue. There was enough. Yes, this is an introspective piece, but your skill with this is such that it doesn’t read as overly introspective or self-indulgent (which I sometimes find with reflective stories). The dialogue here - especially their first encounter in the bar - is really good. The banter is perfect and I love Romilda’s drunkenness because she’s still sharp and witty but losing her edge just slightly (erk to the peanuts, though *shudder*)

However, Romilda hadn’t expected the first words out of his mouth. “Fucking women!”

Chortling, she replied, “You don’t have to share your evening plans if you don’t want to. I hardly know you.”

Practically my favourite exchange - what a brilliant opener for the pair of them - hahahahahahahahahaha.

Oh, and the DA Galleon - great idea. And *sob* it’s Colin’s.

MERLIN!!!! Hot sex or what?! and ... she’s short and he’s tall and hahahahahahahahha -I’m loving this girl with her kickassness and her freakishly familiar middle name - hahahahah.

You were my muse, even though I don’t believe in muses, and my inspiration, and I couldn’t have written this without you’.

*LOVE*

Thank you, so much. Just wordless, really, despite this review being over six hundred words, it’s not nearly long enough or eloquent enough to express my gratitude and the love I have for you.

~Croll~

Author's Response:

Oh, Croll, the things you inspire me to write. I almost feel the need to thank you for giving me cause to gift you such elaborate thank-yous. And that doesn't make any sense. :3

I think we've all had writer's block at some point, but Romilda's block wasn't the average sort; it was more the 'why am I even doing this' kind. You know the sort, which is why I thought it would be the perfect subject matter to include in the story. Much like staring at that damned blinking cursor, she stared at that paper wondering how she had got there and whether she could ever write normally again. I understand that feeling more than I care to admit.

I know you have always had a soft spot for abused characters, and I always thought Romilda was one. How many of us weren't romantically ridiculous at fourteen/fifteen? Yes, she did something generally reprehensible, but it took guts and some creative thinking to pull it off. That was why I pictured her as a journalist so strongly.

One of the first images in my head while brewing this story in my brain pot was Oliver staring at a drink he would never drink. However, I think the battle wouldn't have been quite enough to send him to drink, but losing his wife would. I don't think using an OC in this role would've been as potent, and I don't really write OCs anyway, lol. Using characters we knew a certain way and then showing what being put through the wringer can do to them. He lost everything but decided that enough was enough and started to take it back. Just like in PoA: When Harry fell and they lost to Hufflepuff, he tried drowning himself in the showers, but then he only became more determined to win the Cup and sure as hell made that happen. He feels intensely, but he isn't a quitter. However, you know that, so I'll shut up, lol.

I've never been very good at dialogue. I am someone who is generally quiet and introverted, and that ends up filtering into my writing. But there are golden little moments when banter and the good ol' back-and-forth are just *right*. Romilda is a talker and a listener, so she needs these bits of dialogue to learn about people, as well as to read between the lines and hear the things they didn't really mean to divulge. But she was also a thinker, hence why there had to be a large chunk of narrative. Her character voice was fun to write, though, so hopefully that shined through.

And very much *erk* to the peanuts. Nobody who is sober eats bar peanuts, lol.

You've picked out my two absolutely favourite lines from the story. Someone as mentally sharp as Romilda needs to have that smart-ass streak in her, and a sex joke is always welcome. :D And of course I had to throw a muse-mocking remark in there because of our shared contempt of the concept. Well, I sort of call my imagination factory my muse, but only because it's easier to say than 'imagination factory'. It's true. And as for the rest, Romilda owed Oliver this honesty, and her acknowledgement of how integral he was to her writing was definitely true. She didn't have the words to express a meaningful story until she met him and saw what the war could do and what strong people could do to push back.

The Galleon was a last minute chuck-in, but I think it's possible that Colin could've lost his coin at some point during the battle or after he died. Maybe it even fell off of him when Oliver picked him up. How's that for predestination. And anyone who found it would naturally keep it, especially if they didn't know what it was or what to look for.

The smut was a bit toned down, but I think it hinted enough to show that they really were extraordinarily attracted to each other because they were friends first. That really changes sexual dynamics. And the height disparity was another nod to you (as well as that other obviously obvious things), but also, it makes for some interesting horizontal gymnastics, hehe.

I'm so glad you liked this, and that you have let me into your world enough to know what things would mean the most to you. Much like Romilda, I struggled to find just the right idea, but after that, it just oozed out of me like a fresh wound. And you know what, I never doubted myself for a second when I wrote this. There's just something about writing for you that makes me confident in both the quality and that you'll enjoy it. I haven't had this much fun writing a fic in a long time, so I must thank you for that and inspiring me to do it. I needed something like this, and I'm glad that I could hit my stride because of you. Oh, Croll, you are my muse! XD

~Jess

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