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Oregonian [Contact]

As my pen name suggests, I'm an American, living in Oregon. I started writing in 2012, just because I had a story (The Baby in the Closet) that I wanted to tell, but since then I have been trying to learn to write better by taking classes at the local college, reading some really useful books on fiction writing, and following their advice. Hopefully it's working!

I like to study history, languages, and science. I try to stretch my writing skills by entering challenges and forcing myself to write to prompts that I would otherwise not write, although Romance, Marauders, and Quidditch are topics I can't write well (so I avoid them). I am a registered nurse and have a daughter and a son.

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Reviews by Oregonian

Red Currant Rum by Eleanor Lupin

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Rosmerta Church has never really enjoyed Christmas since she was seventeen. In fact, it has always depressed her - there was just so much for her to miss. But one Christmas day, a recovering alcoholic visits Rosmerta's pub and gives her a bit of hope.

This is Eleanor Lupin of Hufflepuff writing for Round Two of the 2012 Character Triathlon.

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/17/13 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

This is a neat little story, nicely written. The first section (the prologue, you might say) is succinct but gives all the necessary background in a few short paragraphs with adept sentences and good word choices. In the second section, Rosmerta does not explain to her friend Caitlin why she is going to work at the pub, saying "You wouldn't understand." I'm not sure what was non-understandable. Caitlin seems to have known that Rosmerta didn't want to go back to an alcoholic father who ruined her life, and probably Rosmerta's sorry exam results were not a secret. (Or were they?) Maybe I'm missing something here. Was she hoping that she might see her father again someday if she worked in a pub?

The final section is sweet. Rosmerta's kind treatment of the impoverished woman shows that she still has a loving heart, even though she tries to be hard-boiled, and that fact that the reader can guess, partway through this section, who the old man probably is does not detract from that sweetness.

It was good to include the lines where Rosmerta asks herself if she wants to risk a reunion with her father. After all, she is nobody's fool, and she realizes that the reunion might not be what she hoped for. It would be out of character for her not to have these misgivings. But hopefully she and her father have both learned something over the years.

At a couple of spots in the second and third paragraphs of the last section, there was some alternating use of present and past tense, whether on purpose I don't know. But that's a tiny matter in an otherwise well-done story.

Vanishing Green by armagod679

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: She sits at her window and watches the vanishing green. Nominated for Best General Story in the 2013 Quicksilver Quill Awards.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/17/13 Title: Chapter 1: Nobility Lost

This is an interesting story about a character who has always seemed ambiguous. Her sisters Bellatrix and Andromeda are presented as bad and good, respectively, but Narcissa is harder to characterize. Is she an actor or a victim? Passive or resolute? Responsible or not responsible? The author captures this ambiguity well as Narcissa waits, alone, pondering her past actions and re-examining her past beliefs and assumptions.

I am impressed by the author's ability to organize Narcissa's jumbled thoughts so coherently and by the way the different topics flow, one after another, so fluidly: her trepidation about her upcoming trial and its probably result, her conclusion that everyone has already written her off as a criminal, her realization that her former values were ignoble and her former friends were merely sycophants.

The author cleverly uses the word "green", the color of Slytherin House, to symbolize everything that Narcissa used to have and has now lost. Even her party gowns are literally green. But now, all that symbolically green world is gone, and by setting the scene in the snowy months of the year, the author lets the disappearance of the green plants in the garden under a blanket of snow represent Narcissa's final loss of everything that constituted her life: her family, her social group, her standing in the wizarding world.

A story with only one character, no dialogue, and almost no action is a challenge to write without becoming bogged down in general emotion and angst or overly flowery description. But this stream-of-consciousness piece works, sentence fragments and all (which don't bother me in the slightest, though some people do object). It represents a seven-month-long turning point for Narcissa, even though she cannot see into her future, which, whatever it turns out to be, will be utterly different from what she has ever known.

Author's Response: Thank you for the lovely review. I'm glad you liked it.

Stolen Magic by coolh5000

Rated: 1st-2nd Years • Past Featured Story

Samuel Radley is a wizard born without magic. Coming from a family with generations of witches and wizards, his brother Adrian has never really understood why Samuel has been left without, especially when there are others, with no magical blood at all, who somehow find themselves able to do magic. As he enters his fourth year at Hogwarts, it seems that the Ministry are finally starting to do something about this imbalance and Adrian couldn't be happier. All around him however, there is resistance to the new laws, and suddenly Adrian finds himself an outsider in his class and abandoned by his friends, when all he's ever done is love his family.

This is coolh5000 of Slytherin writing in the Great Hall chaptered challenge, for the Phoenix Rising prompt. I am pleased to say this story won in its section!

I am also really thrilled to say that Adrian Radley won the Chaptered QSQ for Best Original Character 2013! The story was also nominated in the Best General category.

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 07/30/15 Title: Chapter 15: Chapter 14 - Back to School

I'm so glad to see you back, Hannah. A fellow Slytherin! Thank you so much for adding a chapter to this great story.


Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/11/13 Title: Chapter 7: Chapter 6 - Christmas

I am hugely enjoying this story. A refreshingly un-hackneyed topic, excellent writing, good plot development, good pacing, and so on, and so on... I am looking forward to reading the next chapter.

Author's Response: Thank you so much for the review! I have finally updated after a rather hideous wait, so I hope you will enjoy what comes next :) ~Hannah

Rita Skeeter: Exposed by expelliarmus17

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: "Attractive blonde Rita Skeeter, forty-three, whose savage quill has punctured many inflated reputations..." She's back, and she's not what you'd expect. This is the other side of Rita Skeeter, something she'd never want published. Rita works to whip up a story about recent Azkaban escapee, Sirius Black, but something stands in her way...
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 05/10/14 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi, Nadia. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, and I will confess that I didn’t expect to enjoy a story about Rita Skeeter — she is a bit too brassy for me — but I greatly enjoyed this story because of your writing style, one good sentence after another, happy choices of words and details.

Your story is a textbook example of the old principle: Show, Don’t Tell. Everyplace where you could be writing a general statement, such as “Rita was worried about her career” or “Rita felt disrespected by her mother”, instead you give specific details: Rita’s article was printed on the last page, the photo was very small, she no longer receives free copies, her mother twits her for not being a Slytherin and asks about the downturn in her printed articles, Rita tries to avoid accosting her mother or answering her question. The whole story is full of examples like this.

The result is a fresh, lively writing style with a good pace that never drags. The story is imaginative and actually has a plot; I appreciate that. (I also liked your previous story, All That Was Left Were The Losses; it was less plotty, more of a mood piece, but with the same virtues of good sentence structure and word choice, evocative details, and imagination.)

One major reason why this story is so good is that Rita is not depicted as a one-note character. Her outward persona is the one we know already, a lively, colorful description of how Rita operates, gathers gossip, flouts the rules to suit her own convenience, obviously always treading close to the line, as indicated by her being sometimes on the banned list. But she is insouciant about that, boldly pursuing Kingsley for an interview, relentless in getting information, one way or another, from her sources, and being delightfully amoral. But you also show her vulnerabilities and self-doubts, which surely must have been there but which we don’t really see in the seven books. She is insecure about her status at the newspaper, as measured by the size and location of her printed articles, and her real anguish about losing her complimentary status. She greatly fears being discovered as an unregistered Animagus, so much so that she feels nervous just walking past the office where the Animagus Registry is housed, and she keeps her Animagus information well hidden under lock and key. She feels disrespected by her mother, as shown by her attempt to avoid meeting her mother and her discomfort about her mother’s remarks. All these features make her a well-rounded, and therefore interesting, character.

The plot is not complicated — she encounters Sirius Black, discovers his big secret (which is also her secret), realizes she dare not, for her own safety, reveal it, and goes happily back to work, apparently buoyed up by the satisfaction of knowing something that no one else knows. I loved the line, “She became a beetle to uncover juicy stories and he became a dog to…steal bread, apparently.” Fresh and unexpected. And that’s why this story is so enjoyable. Good job.

Author's Response: Thank you so much for your thorough review! I enjoyed fleshing out the character of Rita Skeeter. I like to think that there is always a bit more than meets the eye when it comes to "evil" characters. "Show, don't tell" is absolutely my mantra while I am revising my work. It helps me to create the best possible piece.

Inconceivable Me by Kreacher Feacher

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Lysander Scamander isn't normal. Not one little bit. Although, what IS normal? Follow Lysander on his journey to find who he is, and what his purpose is in this world.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/04/14 Title: Chapter 2: Chapter 2

Hi, Taylor. I see that you have set yourself a hefty task here, to write a chaptered fic about a unique character whom we don’t know much about, so your imagination is really in the driver’s seat.

Students going to Hogwarts have many experiences in common, such as receiving invitations by owl, shopping in Diagon Alley (where they all buy pretty much the same stuff at the same shops), going to Platform 9 3/4, and riding the train. The challenge is to make all these stories not sound alike.
By choosing Lysander and Lorcan as your protagonists, you are steering away from the heavily-used characters, and that is good; there is a better likelihood that you will come up with something original.

Already you sprinkle hints that interesting developments are coming: Luna says “…your father has a lot of …things…going on at work.” (What things, we wonder.) Mr. Ollivander says that the heartstring in Lysander’s wand came from a dragon that his father Rolf had slain. And Lysander’s father warns him that he has made a dangerous enemy. These hints are necessary to keep the opening chapters from being ho-hum.

You also have good characterization of the twins (I like the Veritaserum explosion and the cat’s long tail), and we get a clear idea of Rolf Scamander’s personality from just the brief scenes we see of him.

Your narrative includes some description, and that is good, but since the chapters are pretty short, you have space to play around with more description, how things look and the little things people do while they’re talking, to flesh your scenes out a little bit more and help us readers envision how the scenes look and feel.

I hope that you will continue this story and finish it up. We would like to see how this “different” person manages to find his place and his role at Hogwarts. You have an intriguing beginning, but how will it end?


In Silence by deryn_hermione

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: During her Sixth Year at Hogwarts, Luna Lovegood is captured by Death Eaters as she rides the Hogwarts Express home for Christmas. What on earth was going through her head during this harrowing experience?
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/17/13 Title: Chapter 1: In Silence

This is an interesting description of a little moment in time, when Luna is captured by the Death Eaters. It is written in the first person, from Luna's point of view. The short sentence structure evokes her unique thought processes. She jumps, in her mind, from topic to topic, and thoughts of the imaginary creatures invented by her father intrude on her attempts to understand what is going on around her.

The first conversational section, between Neville and Luna, seems unsubstantial to me. I'm not sure what it contributes to the main theme of the story. The collection of short paragraphs that follow are a good description of the changes and deterioration of the environment in the school and in society in general as Voldemort rises in power. Then the last of these short paragraphs, where Lune speaks of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, reminds us again that her grasp of the situation (and therefore her reaction to it) is still distorted by her belief in her father's "crazy theories".

In the end, she is too distracted to protect herself, to Ginny's great frustration, when the Death Eaters seize her and take her away. She asks, "How do you Disapparate?" but I do seem to remember that somewhere in the books Luna says that her father taught her to Apparate when she was younger than the usual age for Hogwarts students to learn the skill. (Maybe I disremember.)

Writing Luna must be a challenge. (I have never tried it.) It would be a mistake to stereotype her as a ridiculous figure. She was not a stupid or crazy person, despite her adherence to her father's beliefs. She was a successful Hogwarts student, but with a unique outlook on life and a remarkably even temperament. The author has captured her personality well.

Negotiation with Death by Nagini Riddle

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Lily negotiates with the bringer of death.

Written for the Negotiation with Death challenge in the Poetry Anyone? Forum.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi Nagini. I am always impressed by the way you can take a tiny moment in time and stretch it out like a concertina so that we can see all the little surfaces inside. In this poem you have five verses, each one focused on a different aspect of Lily’s thought’s and reactions when confronted by Voldemort in the final seconds of her life.

People say that when facing one’s imminent death, time seems to go very slowly, as if everything is happening in slow motion, and that is the feeling that I get from this poem, that Lily really could think all these things, perhaps not in specific words, as you have given her, but in feelings perfectly expressed by these words.

There is repetition in these lines, but it is effective; in a situation like this, we would say the same things over and over, as if the repetition would somehow increase our chances of getting what we so desperately wanted. But I am struck by Lily’s plea for mercy; as you say, “mercy is not his game” and there is no hope of that.

I like the way that you end the poem with the word “falling” repeated five times, giving the same slow-motion sense of her falling, and that is the last conscious thought she has. She is dead before she hits the floor.

I see a parallel in this poem with your other poem, “An Unexpected Turn”, which deals with another murder by Voldemort, the murder of his father and grandparents.

Nice job.

Author's Response: Aw, thank you! I have been told before that I tend to capture moments and narrate them in my poetry. :) And I am glad that you like the repetition, as well as the cruelty of Voldemort. And thanks for pointing out the similarities with the other poem about Voldemort murdering! *chuckles* I never noticed that before. ~Nagini :D

Sanctimonia Vincet Semper by kneazle_on_a_hot_tin_roof

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Summary: Growing up as a member of the Malfoy family, Valeria has always struggled to conform in an intimidating environment and to the strictest of demands. Until one fateful day when she finds herself completely cut off. Lost, adrift and facing destitution, she finds help from the unlikeliest of benefactors. The opportunity arises to build a new future for herself, and her life will take an unexpected turn...
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/25/13 Title: Chapter 1: Prologue

Dad is right. This is a very good story and deserves more reviews. The writing is graceful, the details greatly enrich the story, the characterization is well done, and the plot is intriguing. I look forward to reading the upcoming chapters.

Author's Response: Thank you so much for the complimentary review! I hope you enjoy the rest of the story as well.

The Testing Point by minnabird

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. -C.S. Lewis

June Bagnold comes from a family very focused on success at the Ministry, but she's not so sure she'll be able to fulfill her father's wishes for her, especially with her near-crippling shyness. But she's a seventh year now, and she must face NEWTs and the beginning of life after Hogwarts.

This is minnabird of Hufflepuff writing for Round Three of the 2012 Character Triathlon - Fairy Tale Prompt

It tied for third in its round and has now been nominated for Best General Story in the 2013 Quicksilver Quill Awards

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/16/13 Title: Chapter 1: Oneshot

This is a sweet story about surmounting failure and disappointment to go on to what is really important and satisfying. No, Mr. Bagnold will probably never approve of his daughter's not getting a prestigious job at the Ministry, but it is his loss for failing to see the value of any other occupation.

June makes a big step into adulthood by coming to understand that it is no longer her obligation to direct her life so as to please certain other people. The life and the decisions are hers, and the opinions of other people, even people as close as her parents, simply don't matter any more. In metaphorical language we refer to it as cutting the apron strings, and I suppose that most of us have gone through this process, even when we didn't graduate with disappointing grades.

I like the structure of this story: a series of snapshots to illustrate the pivotal moments in her journey, so that a long tale could be told in a brief span. (That is an art, as I have learned in trying to cram a whole story into the word-limits of a drabble.) Some less important considerations must of necessity be left out, such as what did her father think of her final decision? Did he ever come around? And, as she knows now, that IS unimportant. Once she is released from paternal expectations, she is free to grow in the directions that are right and needful for her. Mr. Bagnold's insistence on an "important" and "prestigious" career in the Ministry suggests a basic insecurity on his part, due to his family's attempts at upward mobility, whereas June is moving past that level of development.

I like the fact that the relationship between June and Vivian did not appear to be strained. There was no reason that it should be, even with their individual differences, but some authors might have been tempted to insert some tension there. This author wisely did not.

Although this story is made in large part of June's thoughts, without a lot of dialogue, the narrative carries along at a nice pace and does not get bogged down. The characters of June and her mother are well developed, and the lesser characters of Vivian and Mr. Bagnold fit neatly into their roles. A successful and enjoyable story.

Face Value by Ginny Weasley Potter

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: In life, we tend to look at things by their face value. We always want the better looking things: the more decorative and shiny objects have our undivided attention.

However, face value isn't everything. We must learn to look at inner beauty, as that is the most important thing in life.

This is Ginny Weasley Potter of Hufflepuff writing for the Fairy Tale prompt in round three of the the One-Shot Triathlon at the Character Clinic.

This story is a sequel to 'Mum's the World' and I'd really suggest reading that first as it has the same OC, Anurag Krishnan, who is also a part of my chaptered fic, 'Where Are You?'

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 12/29/13 Title: Chapter 1: Anurag Krishnan

Hi, Pooja. I continue to be interested in your long-running and multi-part story about Anurag and his path to adulthood. In this story he still sounds young, but about as sensible as a person can be at age eighteen or nineteen.

You have written him as different from many teenagers whom we see in fiction, who are impulsive and heedless, and do not look more than about five minutes ahead. Your main character is more organized, more determined, with his eyes on future goals, even though those goals are no more than to finish medical school, earn a good living, find his soulmate by a particular deadline, and win the prettiest girl in his class. That’s enough to keep a young man busy! I appreciate that he is different from the usual James/Sirius rapscallions.

Your story covers a lot of time, and that is good, because the kind of maturation that Anurag undergoes takes time. He starts off as vain of his looks, judging girls by their looks (because he just likes to look at pretty girls or because he thinks a plain girlfriend would lower his status in the eyes of his friends?) and feeling ego-bruised because he is not the top student in his class. He has not yet learned that there will always be persons greater or lesser than himself. But by the end of the story he has learned that these values (being the handsomest or prettiest, being the very top student) are not worth much, and that other, harder-to-quantify qualities are worth more. If you had written him as learning this lesson in just a few months, it would have been less realistic.

In your story I seem to pick up elements in which Indian culture differs from western culture. There seem to be closer ties with parents and family, so that when a child goes away to school, family members move to the same town in order to maintain close and frequent contact. The mother in your story feels as if she has to continue taking care of her child, even though he is an adult.

And asking a girl to go out with you seems to suggest a more serious commitment, not as much as asking her to marry you, but more than a casual date. But I notice the absence of matchmaking or semi-arranged marriages that seemed to be common among my Indian friends of my own generation. Anurag’s mother is not doing that in your story; perhaps times have changed.

There’s not a lot of plot in this story; it’s more like a slice of life, but it’s very interesting nevertheless because it’s about a different culture. My only comment on the writing is what I said about your story “At The End Of The Tunnel”: there are places where adjacent shorter sentences could be combined to make a longer, more complex sentence that might increase the fluidity of the writing. But that’s not a very big issue.

I see you have a fair amount of stories on your author page about these characters. If I get some free time this winter, I might read some more of it! Thanks for writing.

Author's Response: Hey Vicki! Good to see you again! :)

Like I said in my previous response, Anurag is a brat I'd hate, had I known him for real. But that's why I like writing about him, ha. He is impulsive and heedless, but then he's also career-focussed (or nerdy) so you have that. And he isn't looking for a soulmate -- he's just looking for a girlfriend, whom he can have fun with, which is why he looks at Rashmi, but then his mind changes, as you can see. But he's a scumbag there too. He makes a bet on Rashmi and everything, so I won't say he's at the best of his behaviour here.

He is still immature at the end of the fic -- he just understands a bit more about how these things work -- like companionship and all. He wants the pretty girl in the beginning -- has good legs, nice to bang, y'know, and then he falls for someone else because of the person they are. He doesn't learn that people can be better than him -- for a long time, and when he does, it's under really sad circumstances.

Well, Anurag's parents didn't move to the same town but yes, in India, the parent-child bond is very different -- as in we're their babies for a long, long time. This I wrote from my own experience -- I've been so protected, when I started college, I was in a different city, and I was very naive and I had to grow up fast. My mum still cracks this line to me, "you're my baby girl, no matter what." And that's funny, as I'm really a grown person now who is perfectly capable of taking care of myself. :) And this is not just me -- this happens everywhere, and I just took pointers.

Yeah, Anurag is about two years elder than I am, in my canon, and when I was about his age, that's how things would work. They've changed now -- people are more open to casual dating and everything, but at that time, it was more like there would be no dates until one person 'asked the other person out' which meant that they were officially boyfriend-girlfriend starting then. At least, that's how it was in the middle-class, upper middle-class society, and Anurag in my head, is of the latter. And yes, the term for two people going out used to be 'they're committed', Break-ups have always happened of course, but a few months of relationship was considered a short time period, and people wouldn't even lose their virginities unless they were in for long-term commitment, or were married. But it's changed, like I said. :) Just societal differences lol. The semi-arranged marriage thing is still there, but nowadays, that's like the parents setting you up on a date with someone. You can court and dump each other and look at another guy, or the relationship continues and you get married in 2-3 years. It isn't the 'saw him for the first time at the wedding' thing lol.

This is just a lesson I wanted Anurag to learn. He has to make a lot of compromises later in life, and he needs to know that you should give everything a try. :)

The other stories that include Anurag are 'Mum's the World' and 'Where Are You?' WAY is a story that's a sequel to another one, but it works p[erfectly as a standalone, and I'm more or less revamping the prequel, Killer Instincts, so please don't read that, unless you want to be bludgeoned by epically bad writing from my teenage days (I am serious about it). LOL. Otherwise, you're welcome to look through WAY and MtW at your leisure. Thank you for the lovely review! :)

An Unexpected Turn by Nagini Riddle

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: This is a companion piece to my story, His Last Descendent, though you don't have to read it in order to appreciate this poem.

~Tom Riddle Sr. has an unexpected visitor and an even more unexpected surprise in his life.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: An Unexpected Turn

Hi, Nagini. This is a great poem. Since it treats of the same situation as your poem “Negotiation With Death”, the parallels are definitely there.

But in this Poem Tom Riddle Sr. is not negotiating with death since, unlike Lily, he has no idea what is going on, or what is about to happen. So in this poem you have included many images of what Tom Sr. sees, what Voldemort looks like. I love the lines “fantastical vampiric materialization that reflects him in very manner”. Interesting that even though Tom Jr. is still a man who looks pretty normal (under ordinary circumstances), when he is about to murder someone he hates, he gives the impression of being like a vampire, murder gleaming in his eyes, revulsion etched in his features.

I like the momentary pause that you suggest in the opening lines of stanza three, “an odd silence has fallen…” as Tom Jr. stands for a few seconds before lifting his wand, the “long wooden stick” that Tom Sr. does not recognize. At first Tom Sr. longs for a should to help him understand what is happening, and then he gets more sound that he can stand as the curse is cast.

You end with Tom Sr.’s last sensations of sound, sight, taste, and feeling (a clever way to polish the poem off), and a presaging of what will happen to Lily many years later: falling down, down, down down.

What I like about your poetry (among many things I like) is that it is figurative and imaginative, pulling out ideas we didn’t know we were thinking until suddenly you say them, but it is always understandable, which to me is a big issue. Poetry which is so obscure that I don’t have the faintest idea what the poet is talking about is not attractive to me. And just to make sure we don’t get lost, you mention in the Poet’s Note who you are talking about. Thank you very much!

Author's Response: Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) I totally got into a mood a year and a half ago after reading hestiajones' work that inspired me to write more about Voldemort's past- murdering his dad, for example. And it also got me more interested in writing about Merope, although those stories cam a bit later. :) And it means a lot to me that you said I "pull out ideas [you] didn't know [you] were thinking." I try really hard and struggle sometimes to do so, hoping against hope that I am not using cliches.... :) ~Nagini

The Coffin Brawl by Nagini Riddle

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: After all of a mother's hard work, her daughter now lays in a coffin and her brothers don't know quite how to cope.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: The Coffin Brawl

Hi Nagini. As usual, your poetry is lovely. As usual you have taken a tiny moment in canon history, a brief reference in passing, and expanded it into a tapestry of senses and understanding.

When I read it, I felt good about being able to figure out, by verse two, who the subjects of the poem were, because when the reader can know who the poet is talking about and what the incident was, the experience of reading it blossoms from simply appreciating graceful language to creating a connection with both the fictional subjects and the very real poet himself or herself.

Of course the clue in the title should have given it away at the very beginning, and for those of us readers who are the slowest on the uptake, you give the final clue at the end by mentioning Ariana’s name, so that no reader is left out. That is very thoughtful of you.

The one line that hung me up a little was “My nose ” like a whip it cracks.” I had to think about that for a minute until I put two and two together (this line plus the title); voila! this line is the sole reference to the fact that a brawl actually occurred coffin-side and a nose got broken. By relegating the physical brawl, which must have been spectacular to the onlookers, to one line out of forty-eight, you emphasize the fact that the brawl, painful though it must have been, was nothing to Dumbledore compared to the pain and guilt he felt over his sister’s death.

I like the way you interleave lines of objective observation (not all of them, but many) with parenthetical lines of even more emotional content. This emphasizes that Dumbledore is mentally torn in two directions, one being the necessity to keep it together and get through the mechanical events of the funeral and the other being the impulse to break down and be overcome with emotion.

Your various poems show a wide variety of techniques to present your thoughts. Poets like me can learn a lot by reading your works.

Author's Response: Nothing like a spree of reading Nagini's earlier poetry to learn more about her writing style! :) *chuckles* Thanks for taking the time to read and review my work. It means a lot to me, and I have to agree with your statement made in your Poetry Anyone? thread- I sometimes feel like we are the only two people on the boards and archives as well!!!! :) And I am gla you caught the fact that Albus was more distressed over his sister than actually getting hit by Aberforth- in the books it said that Albus took the hit calmly :) Keep reading and writing. ~Nagini

Wasted Space by Nagini Riddle

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: What is she? She is a wasted space...

Written, somewhat lately, in response to the Ian Sharp challenge in PA.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: Wasted Space

Hi Nagini. Here I am again to review another one of your beautifully accessible poems. Although this one is in the form of a prose poem, it is certainly more poetic than prosy, and never prosaic.

It is easy to tell that the poem is spoken by one of your favorite characters, Merope Riddle, nee Gaunt. All of the images you choose to compare her to are the important points in her life.

I spent some time puzzling over the first image, the crinkled letter, and finally wondered if it was her Hogwarts letter which she was never allowed to take advantage of, but why would it be sealed clumsily by a shaking hand? Was it a letter that she wrote to her husband revealing her magical deeds and which he crumpled up and left behind when he deserted her? That must be it.

When I read the line “I am a wasted space,” my first understanding was not of a desertlike wasteland, but of her perception that she is so valueless that even the space she occupies on planet Earth is “wasted”, that she is good for absolutely nothing. I don’t know if this was your first meaning, but it is powerful, and significant to me that of all the images in this poem, “wasted space” is the image you chose for the title.

“Dying pollen fluttering through the open skies” is also an inspired image. We picture pollen as something very fragile, something associated with springtime and favorable conditions, wafted on the breeze, never robust enough to survive harsh and punishing conditions. She speaks of the pollen, an image of her procreative power, as “never to find its destiny.” A slightly chilling thought, since we know that her baby did survive to become a monster. What a destiny!

Thank you for all the beautiful poems you write. They help us see many points of the Harry Potter saga in a bright new light.

Author's Response: The letter was the one she wrote to her father, explaining what she had done. Dumbledore mentioned it briefly to Harry when he talked about Marvolo Gaunt returning home after being in Azkaban. :) I am happy to see that you are enjoying my poetry, and that you are able to get so much out of it. Now I feel like I have to go return the favor and review all your work! 0.o ~Nagini

James Sirius Potter and the Mysteries to be Solved by GinnyPotter95

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Join James and his friends as they venture throught their first year and solve some mysteries.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/03/14 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Letters and Shopping

Hi, Nidhi. I see that this story is your first chaptered fiction in the archives. I hope it will be the first of many.

Despite its mysterious title, it is a cheerful story, moving along at a good pace with an optimistic, upbeat tone and a cast of kind and friendly characters. It is also well edited for errors of spelling, grammar, punctuation, or dodgy word choices.

The plot of the story is not clear yet, in this first chapter. The story promises to be a mystery, with troubles that need to be dealt with, and it would be good to give us readers a hint of what those troubles might be, to pique our curiosity.. Your opening is good, the family being worried about James’s tardy Hogwarts letter, but that problem seems permanently solved when the owl finally arrives; it is not the promised mystery after all. The rest of this chapter is a pretty routine visit to Diagon Alley to buy school supplies, with a bit of tension supplied in two places, where Ginny regrets telling Lily to ask her father about the Pygmy Puff because Harry will give Lily anything she wants, and where someone (Ginny?) says, “George!” after George insists on giving the children their little purchases for free. These two little points are good because they show some unique moments in an otherwise unremarkable visit.

Here are two suggestions for style, both easy to put into effect and both providing a good return for efforts made.

You have covered a lot of ground in only 1622 words, so you have some wiggle room to make your story even more vivid than it already is by adding more description. Your readers are already familiar with Harry Potter, and Diagon Alley, and owls, and so on, but it is good to add description anyway, because no two experiences are ever exactly alike. Owls can be different colors and sizes, for example, so “an owl landed on the windowsill” can be expanded into “a large gray owl landed on the windowsill, clutching a thick parchment envelope in its talons,”, making the image easier to envision, without making your chapter too long.

The second suggestion echoes what one of your previous reviewers mentioned: the short sentences that tend to give a choppy sound. This is also easy to fix. Try combing two or three adjacent sentences into one longer, more complex sentence. Example: “His first incident, when he was three, was the worst. James had managed to get hold of a wand and stun himself. Worst of all, he had hit his head when he fell and got very badly hurt.” These three sentences could be combined thus: “In the first and worst incident, three-year-old James had managed to get hold of a wand and stun himself, hurting himself badly when he fell and hit his head.” This way you can improve your story by making it more fluid. I do this with my own stories, looking over the first draft to find areas of shorter, choppier sentences that need to be combined to flow more gracefully.

But even as written, your story has a certain sparkle; there is an expectation that something intriguing is just around the corner. Do you plan to write another chapter and let us know what that something will be? I hope so.


Author's Response: Casually replies to review two years later... So, I posted this in 2012, at the ripe old age of 13. As you can tell, 13 year old me struggled at writing. A LOT. But thank you for the feedback, and I might? continue this story. This is the first time I've logged in to this account since 2012 Nidhi

"The Kiss" by Writ Encore

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: It was nothing more than a kiss.

This is Kuri of Ravenclaw House writing for the ‘Remember Me’ prompt of the Great Hall Chapter Challenge.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 12/29/13 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1: "The Kiss"

Hi Kuri. I read through your story twice, once to get the general outline, and then again to get all the details sorted out correctly. It’s just a couple of tiny slices of life, at two points in the relationship of Elphinstone and Minerva, but I enjoyed it. Elphinstone in this story seems more competent, more in control of his situation, and I prefer that depiction of him, but I still don’t have a strong feel for Minerva, what she thinks about her relationship to him, why she refused him for so long and accepted him at the end. All her relationships seem complicated ” with her father, her niece, and her suitor/husband.

I am trying to figure out the significance of the cooking pots, the term “taking out party”, and the juxtaposition of kissing the bride and putting coins in the pot. Is this a jovial Scottish custom for providing a little extra cash to the soon-to-be-newlyweds? And when Mitch kisses Elphinstone, is it a sort of joke, as if Mitch expected (or hoped) that Elphinstone would give him some money too?

It was interesting to see your glimpse of Kingsley Shacklebolt as a young man, fifteen years before the momentous events around the time of Bill Weasley’s wedding. You depict him as a person who can be relied upon to be responsible, to make things go right, which is the character we see in him many years later. Apparently at the time of this story Kingsley’s career had yet to begin, because Elphinstone did not know who he was.

Minerva’s brief marriage to Elphinstone doesn’t seem to figure into her later story, the events during the time of Harry’s presence at Hogwarts, but is merely a bit of backstory for her, so I would be interested to know why you are attracted to writing about this time of her life. Thank you for writing.

Author's Response: I cannot thank you enough for looking at these objectively with an open mind. I had no idea that folks still read these, and frankly,, I had to reread them myself to get on track with you. You are the nicest reviewer. The rereading is my fault. You're spot on through all of these. I don't remember why I wrote this. I find the backstory about her to be really interesting, honestly, and I relate to that. I'm sorry that you have to reread - well, no, I'm not, and you hit the nail on the read in another review. The coin ritual? Way back in the day, and I hope they still do this, Scottish brides would carry around a pot with salt in it. She gave kisses. I'm sorry that I haven't responded earlier, but I'd forgotten my logs. Thank you for reading. I'd like to shake your hand.

Prayer to the Master by Envy_I_May_Be

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Harry reflects on his choice in that pivotal scene from Deathly Hallows, for he, as many, knows that in the end we must all face the master...
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: Prayer to the Master

What a perfectly lovely poem. It seems to stem from Harry’s question about dying, “Does it hurt?” and Sirius’ answer, “Not at all. Quicker and easier than falling asleep.”

One might be surprised about a poem that is so gentle, so positive, so hopeful about death, especially in the context of the terrible battles that occurred before and after this incident, and the bloody build-up to these final scenes. Compare, for example, the peaceful acceptance of death in this poem with the frantic, panicked attempts to avoid death seen in the final moments of James and Lily.

The difference, of course, is that Harry has chosen his death, has had a relatively long time to think about it before it happens, and believes that it will accomplish some positive good; none of these things were true about James and Lily, or really about any of the other people killed by Voldemort and his death eaters.

The master mentioned in the poem is of course not Lord Voldemort, who only thought that he was the master of everything and wished to be master of death. Death itself is the ultimate, unsupplantable master, the master whom Harry addresses. The Avada Kedavra curse, described as the emerald waves, the emerald fury, and the peace-bestowing emerald light, is revealed to be not a curse in the generic sense, but rather a kind of blessing in the hand of the master, since we all must die sooner or later.

This poem elucidates something which we may not be able to understand fully otherwise: how Harry could be so calm and accepting of death, when all around him everyone was trying so hard to avoid death. In fact, I think it explains his frame of mind better than J. K. Rowling did in Chapter Thirty-four of Deathly Hallows.

Thank you very much for writing this poem, which both gives us pleasure and helps us to understand better a crucial point of the story.

Life in Technicolor by Nagini Riddle

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: He is trudging forward, heart beating, the truth of it all washing over him- neither can live, while the other survives...

Written for the Magic in Music challenge in the PA.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: Life in Technicolor

Hi,Nagini. It’s always interesting to see your take on any moment in the Harry Potter story. This time you are focusing on the image of light in the midst of the darkness of the forest at night. The light beams from the spirits of his departed family members and friends, the forest glows instead of haunting, and (my favorite image in this poem) life does not flash before Harry’s eyes, as we have always been taught to expect, but floats around him like a clear blue sea. That’s a more attractive point-of-death experience, in my opinion.

Harry says that happiness “is being with the ones you love,” and at first I thought he was referring to being with the departed spirits of his loved ones, but the next lines make it clear that “the ones you love” is now referring to his still-living friends whom he is leaving behind, dying so that they may live.

I did wonder about the first line, “ a roll in my pale, determined hands”. What roll was that? The Golden Snitch was round in shape, and the Resurrection Stone was probably more or less round, but it seemed a little odd to refer to it as a roll. Other than that, there were no words or phrases that gave me pause or disturbed the mood of the piece.

A nice job. Thank you for writing.

Author's Response: The roll is Harry turning the stone in his hands- in a more abstract way, I chose "roll" to refer to how some people roll the dice to determine their future, and in this case, it is somewhat similar. Harry "rolls" the stone in his hand in order to see his departed family and gain strength from them. :) Thank you for reading!

The Art of Communication by MetamorphmagusLupin

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: AU. Four years after Severus Snape's life changed very much for the better, he has a very interesting conversation with his daughter. One shot. A glimpse into my Severus and Zoe series. Zoe's mine, everything else belongs to JK Rowling.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 12/24/13 Title: Chapter 1: The Art of Communication

I am glad that I finally decided to give your Severus & Zoe stories a try. They give the impression that you really enjoy creating this alternative reality.

It seems that you are very familiar with the behavior of three-to-four-year-olds, because your story paints a vivid picture of a pre-schooler being entirely herself. I can just see her crawling up into her father’s lap and wriggling around to get comfortable.

I love the contrast between Snape’s patience with his little girl and the flashes of his old self that we have know for so long, such as scaring students into silence and being snappish with Madam Pomfrey. He has always expressed feelings of impatience with children, and these feelings persist, as shown in the one “What kind of child chose anything for itself. Weren’t they all incapable of making rational decisions?” but he cannot help being soft toward her. These contrasts give the story its spice and keep it from being a bland stream of mush.

It is interesting to see that Snape is capable of love, that the spark is still there. We knew that he loved Lily, but did he ever love anyone else? Yes, his daughter Zoe. In the seven Harry Potter books, Snape emerges as a tragic character, and in the end we feel sorry for him. So it gives us a warm feeling to know that in your alternate universe, his heart can be stirred.

I loved the graceful writing, with awkward sentences, phrases, or word choices. There is careful choice of descriptive details, actually, not a lot of details, and that is good because it focuses our attention sharply on the behavior of the child and the reaction of the father A well-focused story is good.

Your story doesn’t have a lot of plot, of course (though it can be seen as one element in a longer saga comprising many stories); there is no big tension or momentous issue resolved in the final paragraphs, but that’s just fine. It’s just a charming glimpse of an intimate moment in Snape’s personal life. The dynamic tension comes from the juxtaposition of Snape’s stern outer persona and his much more human inner persona, revealed by the stream of his unspoken thoughts.

I never read Severus and Zoe before because I am not a fan of romance and assumed that Zoe was an adult. I will have to go back and read the rest. You have captured the essence of a child well. I am reminded of my own children and grandchild.

Out Of Reach by CanisMajor

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: His mum's a witch and his dad's a wizard, but Phoenix isn't going to Hogwarts.
His parents have other plans, and they know their rights much better than
Vernon Dursley ever did. It all makes perfect sense to them -- but not to
their unhappy eleven-year-old son. The magical education authorities might
have an opinion, too, if anyone were asking them. Or is it just that no-one
is listening?
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/15/13 Title: Chapter 6: Populus

Hi Geoff. I half-promised to write you another review after this story was finished, so here it is. I am hard-pressed to find anything to complain about. Obviously you have made good use of the suggestions you received from the various assistants whom you credited. The subject was original and touched on a part of the Harry Potter legendarium that I have not seen addressed before. It is plain that you took great care with the details, which can make or break the plausibility of the story and function as little nails tacking everything firmly into place. Examples would be the reference to widdershins, an old supernatural belief, and "Tom Brown at Hogwarts", a take-off on the old "Tom Brown at School" books, which actually existed a century ago.

The plot is well-developed and well-paced, not draggingly slow or superficially fast, with the surprising twist of the letter's not being a Hogwarts invitation after all, when we readers were so sure that it was.

The descriptive sentences are well-done, with good, careful word choices, that avoid the extravagance one sometimes sees, mere novelty for the sake of novelty, and they never impede the flow of the narrative but rather contribute to it by making it more vivid.

The characters are well-developed and distinct, but the story never wavers from Phoenix's point of view. I like the fact that Ron is almost always referred to as Mr. Weasley, because that is how Phoenix sees him. I also like the fact that Ron, at age 29, is depicted as a mature and competent adult, not a perpetual bumbling adolescent. You would think that maturity on his part would be a given, but it is not always written thus.

Of course a good Sorting Hat song is always a treat to read, and yours certainly qualifies. But it does raise questions in my mind, not fully satisfied, about how it is decided, pre-invitation-letter, that some students are not suited to attend Hogwarts.

My only other qualification is that the ending, where Ron is so certain that Mrs. Jones will come around eventually, is a little weak in that the matter is not so unquestionable in my mind as it seems to be in Ron's. I would much enjoy reading a sequel, the first chapter of which would settle this question beyond further doubt.

An excellent story. Well done.

Author's Response: Thanks for such a long and flattering review! The plan was always for this story to finish where it does, but I agree that in retrospect the ending does seem a bit abrupt. While Ron is only too happy to see what he (or, rather, Minerva McGonagall) wants to see, Mrs. Jones will probably not be convinced that Phoenix belongs at Hogwarts until he has spent a term or two there. So perhaps a sequel is in order. But I have another chaptered story to finish first (I'm hoping I'll be able to start posting it here soon). I re-read "Tom Brown's Schooldays" recently; it's easy to see it as a distant ancestor of Harry Potter. (Tom Brown arrives at school and makes a new best friend who doesn't have any money. But Tom has plenty, so he buys some snacks for them to share...) Thanks again. By the way, "legendarium" is a great word.