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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

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: 10/19/12 Title: Chapter 2: Evanesco

Nicely written, and I am glad that you are addressing a topic I have wondered about also, namely, parents who have reservations about sending their children to Hogwarts. It will be interesting to see where this story goes.

Author's Response: Thanks! More about Phoenix's parents' reservations in the next chapter.

Unspoken by Maple_and_PheonixFeather

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: There are some things that exist without ever having been spoken out loud. Those things that you do or don't do because you know it's right or wrong. You’d think that sleeping with your cousin’s ex-boyfriend a week after they broke up would be one of those things.

I’ve learned better.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/04/14 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi Maple. I thought your story was well written and had a strong message, but maybe not the message you were focused on. Your story summary indicates that the point of the story is that Rose takes up with Scorpio right after he drops Lily. To me that is not the point of the story at all. In fact, it’s not even about Lily, Scorpio, or Rose. It’s about Everyman and Everywoman, the old, old story of the guy pursuing the woman who naively believes he wants to be soul mates, when all he really wants is sex, and if she doesn’t put out for him, he dumps her and goes to where he can get what he wants.

Lily thinks she loves Scorpio (he’s handsome, suave, and has all the right moves), but she doesn’t know the real Scorpio; she loves an imaginary Scorpio, and when he dumps her, she mourns the loss of that fairy tale, perhaps not realizing yet that it was never more than a fairy tale. The real Scorpio is a jerk. This happens all the time. Someday she will recognize that he was a user and that she was well off to be rid of him.
So why did he ask her out in the first place? Not because he was madly in love with her, but because he could tell she had a big crush on him and thought that she would be an easy mark.

The part I have difficulty in understanding is why Rose, a supposedly smart girl, is willing to allow herself to be used. I guess that people of any age can be book-smart, but it is hard for fifteen-year-olds to be wise.

The writing style is smooth, and the story proceeds at a good pace. It brings back memories of how silly teenage girls can be, and the hare-brained but obvious things they do, such as breaking open a schoolbag, to try to make boys notice them. It makes us all glad that those years are far behind us. Thanks for a fun story.

The Lament of the Darkest Servant by Envy_I_May_Be

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Bellatrix gladly does the bidding of her master with a wicked smile and an eager hand...

Done for the October race to Halloween Triathalon over at Poetry Anyone(?)
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: The Lament of the Darkest Servant

Hi, Envy. I see that your poem is one of those based on a very clever rearrangement of whole lines, to create new meanings from previously-stated thoughts, and ingeniously ending up where it started from. (You can tell that I have never had the courage to try to write one myself.)

I was intrigued by your title, The Lament Of The Darkest Servant. I even checked the dictionary to see if there perhaps was another definition of the word “lament” other than the well-known one of “sorrowful statement”, but there was not, so I went back to the poem looking for indications that Bellatrix felt any sadness or dissatisfaction with her role in the Dark Lord’s service.

Perhaps line two of verse three holds a clue. To paraphrase it: Her rage and her knowing bathe all who seek what she fears. This is the only clue that there is something she fears, something about which she is not totally happy. (Line four says that she takes His poison, which might sound unappealing, but apparently she does so gladly, so that can’t be the thing she is lamenting about.)

Most of this poem practically explodes with her negative energy, even madness, showing the great power for evil that she embodied. Your language is certainly vivid, so much so that the reader scarcely notices that the lines are being repeated. Although the point of view seems to be that of the poor unfortunate people who behold her, we get such a look into her heart that we can scarcely stand to see any more.

Well done.

The Raven's Claw by Sonorus

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •

A story of the origins of Hogwarts. 11 chapters.

It is the tenth century. Across the island of Britain great changes are taking place and history is being made. But its wizarding community is mired in division and violence, with little hope of an end. Everywhere, the future seems uncertain.

And amid this, in a glen in the Highlands, a young pregnant woman buries her husband and makes a vow that will change history forever.

Her name is Rowena. They call her the Raven's Claw.

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 10/19/12 Title: Chapter 3: Hufflepuff

So far I am enjoying your story. It is nicely written, and I like how you link actual history and canon artifacts. Looking forward to reading the rest of the tale.

Author's Response: Part of the reason I wrote this was the challenge of plausibly linking the Founders into real history, so I'm glad you like that. There's so much diverse background detail on the Founders, and it's fun to throw in these little hints and references.

At the End of the Tunnel by Ginny Weasley Potter

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Summary: He knew what he liked. He knew what he hated. But he never knew what he feared until a very fateful day.

Two encounters with Boggarts lead Anurag Krishnan to discover himself more than ever before.

I’m Ginny Weasley Potter from Hufflepuff house and this is my submission to the October Mini Challenge at the Great Hall.

Anurag is my OC from ‘Where Are You?’ and though all my previous companion fics about him take place before the timeline for WAY, this one spoils it. For all the readers who are reading/ planning to read that fic, I’d advise to finish reading that first, right till chapter 25, as this spoils the last chapter too.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 12/29/13 Title: Chapter 1: I Failed

Hi, Pooja. This tidy little story certainly deserves more than one review. It is both vivid, because of its interesting background, and meaty, because of its theme.

What struck me in particular was the progression of Anurag’s character from the early scenes of the story to the later scenes, We can see that he is still the same person, but there has been progress in his maturity, which is logical for a person who has become older and who takes himself seriously. As he matures, he handles his personality quirks better, but he will always be himself. It is insightful of you to show that, even when he no longer worries intensely about failure with his patients, fear of failure in general will always be his point of vulnerability.

In your writing there is a good balance between action and introspection, happy emotions and sad ones. You do a good job in that basic principle “to show rather than to tell”, by using Anurag’s words and actions to indicate how he is feeling, rather than just saying that he is sad or happy.

Although this story is classified as an other-pairing romance, I don’t see it as primarily thus. The romance is a framework or backdrop for the theme of achieving self-understanding, and your choice of title points to this. Reaching “the end of the tunnel” does not equal acquiring perfection or your heart’s desire, but rather it is the arrival at a greater self-understanding. Striving to avoid failure and disappointment can be a strong character asset, so long as Anurag realizes that he will never be perfect and so long as he can forgive himself for his human imperfections.

I very much enjoyed the background of a different culture since I have some ties with both the Indian culture and dengue fever! I will have to read your other stories about these characters also.

I have two suggestions. In the sentence ”It was all uncovered to be a very well-planned scheme for the stealth of organs,” consider replacing ”stealth” with ”theft”, because ”stealth” does not mean ”stealing”, it means ”sneaking around unseen.” The other suggestion, in the matter of style, is to consider combining a few adjacent short sentences into one longer and more complex sentence, and see how that sounds; it may increase the fluidity.

But these suggestions are minor. I very much liked your story just as it is, because it was original and thought-provoking. I can see why you enjoy writing about this character.


Author's Response: Hey Vicki!

Wow, you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was, when I saw a review for this one, and then Face Value. Thank you so very much! I love this character very much, and I get really happy when people pay attention to him. Hehe. :p

This is one of the stories that I wrote for my own satisfaction because I've really troubled Anurag a lot in my story, and then the main story he's in -- 'Where Are You?' there's so much going on, I wasn't able to adequately address all his emotions and thoughts, and I thought I owed him that much.

Well, Anurag was intended to be an immature brat but he's been through so much, he's actually had to change. He's this guy who's had a relatively normal life, and then is put through a meat grinder all of a sudden. Like you have seen in Face Value, he's got a doting mum, and a girlfriend and he's this idiot who can't take a girl doing better than him (ugh, jerk) and then this same girl becomes the centre of his existence and when he loses her, he is forced to grow up. And as a med student myself, I really look up to confident doctors, and I know that we all face this fear of failure in our fields because failure here means death -- literally, so I wanted to show that in the beginning, he's not so sure, and then after he's lost Muskaan, he immerses himself so deep in his career, the failure he fears is about something else. Up to a certain age, everyone's concerned about their professional life, and then we all get oriented to a personal life... if that makes sense lol.

Anurag was one of the OCs I could close my eyes and actually picture, so writing his experssions and behaviour is easier. In fact, now that I write fanfiction for a TV show, I've come to realise the basic difference between writing fanfic for books, as compared to writing your own characters, or writing for a TV show. I was one of the people who read HP before the movies were out so Harry, Ron and Hermione look very different from Dan, Rupert and Emma in my head. In fact, I have an awful sense of imagination that way and I never pictured much of anyone's face in my head at all. So showing rather than telling for them is different. On the other hand, TV characters don't tell you if they're happy or sad. You look at their faces and decipher this. Same for OCs -- I can see them clearly in my head, and that's how I decided that Anurag would pound his fist on the terrace wall and yell at Muskaan.

I'm not sure why I put it in the romance section, as you say. I should, perhaps, change that, because this isn't very romantic -- just minor bits of romance, but not romantic, yes. I don't think Anurag will ever forgive himself for his imperfections, though. He's always critical, always thinking of what he can do better... gosh, I'm talking as though he really exists lol. See how I can be obsessed with my OCs? :p Sorry!

I mostly write Indian culture because that's really the culture I'm most familiar with. ;) And the dengue was a spur-of-the-moment thing. Everyone's always afraid of it.

Ahh... yess, I'll correct that. I know about my sentences. They're awkward sometimes. :) I'll see what I can do about that!

*whispers* I'm actually obsessed with my OCs. But glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for that insightful review! :) ~Pooja

The Lone Sentry by Nagini Riddle

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: During the snowy season a millennium ago, a sculptor arrives to carve out a special guardian.

Written for the Birthday Challenge in the PA.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: The Lone Sentry

Hi, Nagini. What a clever idea, to pay some attention to the gargoyle, who is always there, but who doesn’t get any of our attention unless we have difficulty finding the correct password.

I like the plain declarative sentences with imaginative images but straightforward sentence structure; this is more of a storytelling poem than many of yours are. I think it is good to use a variety of poem types and structures; it maintains your readers’ interest more than if they were all constructed alike.

What’s fascinating is the sharp contrast between the active, dynamic form of the sculpture itself, expressed in phrases like “wings spread wide”, “eternal glare”, “claws swipe the …air”, and the cold, hard, rigid quality of the stone itself, “marbled bones”, “frozen”, “posed”, “lone sentry”, “silent”.

It is nice to see you writing a poem with a rhyme scheme, and the rhymes are good, natural ones; nothing seems forced. The final line seems just a little out of the mood, “the trespassers’ constant games”, because the rest of the poem is very solemn, serious, dignified, but the reminder of the jokesters who try to play games on the gargoyle introduces a different mood. However, the use of the word “battling” at the beginning of this line tones down this change of mood somewhat and helps make the line work.

I am constantly surprised by your imagination in finding poetry in the smallest of objects or moments. It’s always a pleasure to read your stuff.

Author's Response: After a very long and trying day, I come home and read such a lovely review and my spirits are lifted! Thank you so much for all your comments today- they truly helped me get through the passing hours. :)

More Than Just You by opti

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Some things are worse than losing someone, like never having them at all. A short Shell Cottage missing moment.

Warning is for implication, just to be safe.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/20/13 Title: Chapter 1: oneshot

This story was a bit challenging to read, and as moments in Shell Cottage go, it was a little moment, but worthwhile.

At first I thought the voice was just Hermione's during the time when she was being tortured by Bellatrix, but there were odd elements: looking around and seeing four bare walls, no other people. Then seeing a window/mirror that wasn't there a moment ago. Then looking at herself in the mirror. These things didn't happen in Malfoy Manor.

I felt a sense of deja vu when, in the midst of these terrifying events, Hermione sees the humor in comparing her situation to characters in books. Why did that seem familiar, someone taking a break from their present horror for this stray parenthetical thought? Then I realized why; my mind flashed back to the day in Mexico, waiting at the side of the road for the arrival of the ambulance, crying "My God, my God, it hurts, it hurts" but simultaneously assessing what number this level of pain reaches on the Clinical Pain Scale, according to the parameters. Yes, people can think like that. Hermione could.

Then suddenly it is all revealed to be a nightmare, a blend of memories of things that actually happened and metaphors for what those things meant. Like a miracle, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, Hermione is transported from total disaster, the brink of death, to total safety and enfolding love.

It is completely believable that after her harrowing experience at Malfor Manor, Hermione cannot bear to be parted from Ron. I am reminded of accounts of families who have experienced some major disaster and afterwards feel compelled to sleep all together, huddled next to one another on the living room floor with all the lights on.

The writing is lush, but not too much so. The whole story is summed up in the final line; that's the short version. The rest of the story is the elaboration of those thirteen words, but it avoids repetiton, and each paragraph manages to provide something new and unique. If this is a story that was just dashed off in a brief span of time between classes, that's impressive.

Author's Response: Yes, that's why I'm usually wary about writing those moments. There's plenty of space where you can fill the blanks but, oftentimes, I don't think I'd be able to write a coherent enough story to fit that space. So thanks for the comment on that!

I'm also glad that you picked up on the nightmare, since that was supposed to be the segue into Shell Cottage. I didn't know if I had made it 100% clear that was going on and was an aftermath of the torture, but if one person picks up on that then I think that's fine. It's even better that others interpreted it differently. As for the length, I just can't seem to write anything long without it just falling to pieces. It's probably because I can only really fire off a story in a few sittings and after that I lose focus.

Either way, thanks for the review! (I'm sure you'd like the thematically similar Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean, by the way.... just shillin' here)

The Tribulations and Tranquility of Travel by MetamorphmagusLupin

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: AU. There are many joys in fatherhood. There are equally as many horrors. On a trip to the seaside, Zoe Snape makes certain that Severus experiences both. A continuation of my Severus and Zoe series, taking place two years after The Power of Words.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 12/31/13 Title: Chapter 3: Birds and Bees and Dragons

Time for another review. I won’t go into all the usual stuff about your delightful writing style etc. etc. etc. I am just writing as a mother and a grandmother who sees her own beloved children so perfectly reflected in your depiction of Zoe, I feel all choked up just to read it. And in your depiction of Snape as a parent, I relive my own feelings and experiences when taking care of my own children. Maybe all of us parents feel these things, we know what it is like, but the art is to be able to put those feelings, those observations, those tiny bits of behavior and looks on faces, those little whispered words into a story. You have succeeded admirably.

You describe yourself in your bio as a “twenty-something”, but I think you must have children of your own, to be able to write this topic so perfectly.

Author's Response: Thank you so much for your wonderful reviews! I am so glad that you are enjoying my stories. I'm curious if you have wandered into any of the others (I know you enjoyed The Art of Communication) :) I am a "twenty-something", for sure. I turned 28 back in October, though I initially started to write this story about three years ago. I have to say, I actually do not have any children of my own, though I'd desperately love to in the future. I DO, however, have a four-year-old niece who inspires me a lot as well as several young cousins and second cousins who I also draw ideas from. Other than that, I try to pull a little bit from things I remember from being a child and I observe the interactions of parents I see. And I read A LOT of child psychology articles and books, as well, which is kind of nerdy, but fascinating at the same time. Research is definitely by friend when writing. I have to say that I immensely enjoyed getting the two reviews you have left so far. I haven't received any on this site in quite a while, so it was a lovely treat to see the review notification in my inbox. If you haven't yet, definitely check out my other stories. My WIP, "It's All For You", is steadily being updated. Thanks again! MetamorphmagusLupin

Defying Home by HumanHorcrux

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Sirius's sorting.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: Defying Home

Hi, H.H. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on your poem. It is a good poem, and I sure hope that you take heart from your reviews and keep up with the writing.

One thing I like about your poem is the recognition of the emotions that Sirius had during the Sorting process. In the books we see Sirius as an older teenager or a grown man, and we tend to forget that he started at Hogwarts as an eleven-year-old boy, as unsure and nervous as any of them. You describe him as anxious, frightened, shaking with anticipation, and yet exhilarated. All of this makes perfect sense. The image is intensified by your description of his actions, gripping the stool and trembling, shaking his head (apparently not daring to whisper to the hat).

I like your recognition that in the moment before the Hat renders its decision, time seems to stand still; it must be that way for many students when the Hat does not shout out an instant decision, as it did for Draco, for example. By the way, your line there says Time hung still all; is that what you meant, or did some words get transposed?

Since Gryffindor is the House of the brave, it is quite appropriate for you to feature this quality in your poem. You have the Hat giving voice to ideas that Sirius had not dared to give words to before, that he wanted to defy his family, even though that would carry frightening consequences. When the Hat says, “You’re just afraid, but I know where you belong,” the Hat is acknowledging that courage is not merely the absence of fear, but the will to forge ahead in spite of fear. It seems that Sirius understands that at the end, when he no longer doubts that he belongs in the House of the brave.

There is a lot of meat packed into this little poem. You have done a good job.

Author's Response: Hi Vicki! Thank you so much for your review. It means a lot- made my day. :) I forgot I had uploaded this until I saw your review, so I'm going to have to guess that some words got transposed or I made a careless mistake. I have continued with writing, much thanks to the awesome people who leave reviews, but none of it has been HP fanfic. The time and thought you put into this review is just amazing, thanks again! H.H.

The Art of Acceptance by goldensnidget92

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Colin Creevey sees acceptance as an art form. It disguises his loneliness, his insecurities and his conviction that he does not fit in.

Luna Lovegood has never been accepted, but remains perhaps the most content person Colin has ever met. As his feelings for her develop throughout their years at Hogwarts, Colin must prepare to renounce the acceptance of his friends; instead learning to accept her and, ultimately, himself.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/16/13 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Second Chance

I have always wondered how a place like Hogwarts could function and thrive with so little adult supervision of basically clueless adolescents. Each house has its contingent of prefects, who are just middle teens themselves, and a Head of House who does not live with them or supervise their hour-by-hour behavior, as would a parent who lives at home with his or her children. The situation is a little bit better than Lord of the Flies, but not a lot, as it pertains to non-homicidal misbehavior. (This issue is also raised in Inverarity's story "Hogwarts Houses Divided", in the description of the internal functioning of Slytherin House. Isn't anyone teaching these kids right from wrong?)

In this well-written story, which takes place all in one day, Colin's first day of his second year (though the first year hardly counted), Colin is still trying to establish his place at Hogwarts. He doesn't know what the unwritten rules are, concerning friendships, inclusiveness, and belonging. He doesn't have confidence in his own ability to make right decisions. He doubts because he does not think his decisions should be based on basic principles of right and wrong, but rather on obscure factual knowledge that Jack and Jimmy seem to have but that he himself does not.

In his confusion he feels compelled to make an on-the-spot choice, believing in actuality that he has no choice. If there are any options beyond the obvious either-or that presents itself, he cannot see them. The day that started with such high hopes ends with the taste of ashes in his mouth. And this is just the first day.

The details in this story are spare. The author gives us a few examples of the bullying that Luna endures, but the reader is invited to imagine that the incidents are multiplied many times over. In the last few paragraphs of the story, with no superfluous words, the author shows Colin beginning to try to resolve his moral dilemma,now that he has time, through the long hours of the night, to reflect on his choices. Hopefully the next time he will be better prepared.

The Paths Continue by ntoforhp

Rated: 6th-7th Years •
Summary: This story is a sequel to Paths to 9 and ¾ 2017 and Beyond.

It’s been almost one year since the twentieth anniversary of the battle for Hogwarts was celebrated. The good feelings between the Weasley/Potter clans and the Malfoy/Greengrasses had lasted but a short time. When Draco Malfoy had married Astoria Greengrass he’d become Chairman of the Society of Pure Blood Families. His in-laws founded the Society and having the son of Lucius Malfoy as the Chairman had drawn many of the old-line Pure Blood families. The Society had opposed, with some success, many of the modern progressive changes that the Ministry of Magic under Kinsley Shacklebolt has tried to implement. The Society blames the Weasleys as the chief architects of these changes. The animosity between the two groups was never greater.

Meanwhile, at Hogwarts School the students are mostly ignorant of the depth of this feud. They are interested in their studies, Quidditch and romance, and not necessarily in that order.

The story centers around two young lovers that will interact with Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and their children. This will not be a pleasant trip for the Weasleys, Potters, or the Malfoys as their paths continue down a sometime very rocky road.

The World of Wizarding England and many of the characters belong to J. K. Rowling (who I am obviously not.) I’m just happy to be able to play in it for a while.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 02/01/14 Title: Chapter 12: Chapter 12-Nightmares

Hi, Ken. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, making some general comments on your almost-completed story, rather than waiting for the last few chapters to be posted.

What stands out to me most prominently is your narrative structure, a story that proceeds at a rapid pace, covering many years in a relatively short span of words. The tale is crammed full of events, so that the story line proceeds briskly, never bogging down. It consists almost entirely of what the characters say and do, with little description or reflection of people’s inner thoughts, and the conversations are not extended. You are giving us the bare bones, or as Sgt. Joe Friday (you know who he was) would say, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” This is by no means meant as a criticism; it is just one style of telling a story. If each of the scenes in your story were expanded to its fullest, your word-count would rival that of War and Peace.

I notice that you have many story lines going simultaneously, such as Minnie/Linus, Rose/Scorpius, Harry/Hermione, Luna/Ginny, and so on, but it works because the characters are all interrelated and constantly communicating with one another. So in the end it seems like all one story, and every event depicted impels the plot forward. That is good.

Some specific thoughts:

Linus and Minnie are refreshingly sensible for teenagers/twenty-somethings, and they make generally good decisions and treat each other reasonably. I enjoy reading, at least occasionally, about characters who can learn from the mistakes of others and do not have to learn everything the hard way.

I liked your treatment of post-Hogwarts higher education for young witches and wizards. My impression is that traditionally wizards and witches had little contact or interaction with Muggles, but it is reasonable to assume that that barrier is slowly breaking down. JK Rowling has stated that there were no wizarding universities, although some some authors have posited that there were, so it is logical to propose the existence of a transitional program for Hogwarts graduates who wish to take advantage of what Muggle universities have to offer. I think that traditionally the wizarding community relied on on-the-job training, apprenticeships, or the school of hard knocks, such as in the case of Fred and George, who opened their joke shop without the benefit of any formal business training. So I very much enjoyed your description of Millie’s on-the-job training for an Advocate career. It was well spelled out and gave me a much better idea of how the system worked.

You have depicted Luna as a very strong character, running a successful publishing business after her father’s death and generally being a rock of support for the people around her. I find it very plausible that she would develop in this way during her mature years.

I am glad that you have introduced Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome as an explanation for Ginny’s dysfunctional behavior. It makes a lot of sense that she and many other survivors of the second wizarding war and the Battle of Hogwarts would be thus afflicted. In a much less drastic way, I used the same idea in my story The Baby In The Closet to discuss the concept that early traumatic experiences produce effects that echo down the years in ways that the victim does not recognize or understand. Life in general is not easy, marriages break up with dismal regularity, and Linus and Minnie probably don’t appreciate how lucky they are.

I am looking forward to your final chapters of this story, and I would encourage you to consider something a little different for your next story, a more detailed treatment of a smaller scope of narrative, simply because it is good to try to stretch ourselves by attempting something new. I did that when I tried to write romance in Beloved Son and adventure in The Hogwarts Storm, and was pleasantly surprised by the results. Write on!

The Ghosts That Follow by Nagini Riddle

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •

Haunted memories are as the ghosts that follow...

Merope's life takes a different path when she meets Abraxas Malfoy, a rich young man who promises to help her out of her situation. But when she arrives at the designated place to meet, he isn't there, and all she can see is a ghastly green potion beckoning her to step forward and drink.

Consuming the potion leads her into another world, where marbled structures speak in Delphic tongues, forests hold the mind prisoner, and poisonous bugs stalk their victims.

But that isn't all. She comes to the realization that perhaps memories and experiences are naught but deceitful apparitions meant to drag her soul down into endless misery. It is then that she must make a decision - give in or simply give up.

This is Nagini Riddle of Gryffindor, writing for Round 9 of the Gauntlet.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 04/16/13 Title: Chapter 3: Part 3 - Ethereal

I have read a lot of your poetry, so I was intrigued about seeing how you handle a prose piece. I enjoyed reading your story; it was very imaginative. The first part (Merope's initial interactions with Abraxas) and third part (Merope's interactions with Salazar and Abraxas in the castle) were written in a more straightforward manner, though with your trademark colorful description. The central part (after Merope drinks the potion until she wakes up in the cottage) was almost surrealistic. If I wrote the story, I would use fewer adjectives, but that would be my style, not yours.

The third part was a little confusing to me; I had to read it over again to get a good handle on what was going on and to understand more fully the conversation between Abraxas and Salazar. That is not bad; I like a story that makes me struggle a bit to catch the implications of things not spelled out in words of one syllable. And in the end there were still points I was unsure of -- some of the specifics of what Abraxas and Salazar were planning, whether Abraxas had visited Salazar before, why Abraxas needed to make his own antidote when it seemed that Salazar had plenty of it, etc. But that is how it often is in real life, questions remaining unanswered, skeletal remains never identified.

On the technical side some items of grammar and word choice needed to be improved. There were places where a past participle was used in the place of a past tense, such as "She almost sunk to a heap on the floor." It should be "She almost sank..." ("sank" is a past tense) or else "She has/had almost sunk..." ('sunk" is a past participle, like "eaten' or 'flown", and needs a helping verb "has" or 'had'). In other places a past tense was used where you needed a past participle ("she had never ran for her life before" needs to be "she had never run..." and "she had drank a potion" needs to be "she had drunk a potion).

In a few spots it appeared that you were looking for a particular word but ended up with a similar-sounding word that actually has a different meaning. At one point you said "allies" (friends, supporters) when I think you were looking for "alleys" (paths, roadways), and there were a few other spots of this sort.

These flaws don't detract from the pace or imagination of the story, but they give it an unpolished sound. To your group of betas who advise you on plot and characterization, you could add a beta who is simply a stickler for grammar and word usage.

Speaking of characterization, I though you did a good job depicting Merope's dejected and depressed personality, the result of a lifetime of abuse. But you also showed flashes of the strength and initiative that she could have had under better circumstances, if she had lived longer.

Author's Response: Thank you so much for your review. :) I like the points you made on my grammar- to be honest, it's more my computer/keyboard hitting the wrong letter and autocorrecting to what it think it should be in that moment, which is annoying. So if I spell "run" wrong on accident from going to fast, it likes to make it "ran." And, of course, I suck with past tense grammar. Anyways, the point of the mystery was because it was supposed to focus mainly on Merope, who wouldn't even know why Abraxas did what he did. I debated leaving it completely from her point of view, but I felt a few questions- not all- neede to be answered. In the future, I may revise it. It makes me happy to have you think I characterized Merope well. Abraxas and Slytherin, on the other hand, were much harder! And then, we must remember that this was based on picture prompts given one at a time, and then only a month three weeks to tie it all together. I am not a fast prose writer! *chuckles* This being one of my few Chaptered stories, I was pretty proud of how it turned out. Thanks again for your review. ;) I love to hear from you!

Sing Me To Sleep by TheHarryPotterNerd

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Today is Lily's last day. Everyone she knows will soon be gone. Menkes had finally won, and she had lost.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 11/19/12 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi Abby,
I read your story when it was brand new and didn't have any reviews yet, and I meant to review it, but didn't get around to doing that until now. I figured you had some personal connection to Menkes disease since it is rare, but we're never wrong in writing about what we have experience with. Actually, it's not impossible for Lily to have this disease. A previous reviewer mentioned that Lily would have to receive one defective gene from Harry, but that does not mean that Harry would necessarily have the disease himself (although he has only one X chromosome) because about one-third of all cases of Menkes disease arise as the result of spontaneous mutations, from a parent who has no familial history of the disease. In plain language, a perfectly normal and healthy Harry produces (by spontaneous mutation) a defective sperm cell which fertilizes a egg cell with a defective gene, produced by Ginny (who has no inkling that she carries a recessive mutated gene), and voila! you have a female baby with Menkes disease. Not all the mutations are alike; some disrupt the metabolism of copper more than some others do, so you can have victims with varying life spans. It is possible, but rare, to live beyond the age of ten.
But this is a writing forum, not a science education forum. And I congratulate you for being gutsy enough to write something and post it for all of us to read. I'll bet that the more you write, the better you will get. At least, I hope that that will be true for me. When I read something that has fluid and graceful prose (not necessarily whiz-bang action, just well-crafted sentences and paragraphs), I like to study carefully what makes it so, and then try to revise my own paragraphs to have more of that quality. It takes time.
Wishing you lots of luck.

Teach Me How to Smile by Hokey

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •

This is Hokey from Slytherin submitting for Round 9 of the Gauntlet.

Her mind was already set. Hermione had never abandoned Harry before, and she wasn’t very well going to start now.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 11/22/12 Title: Chapter 1: The One and Only Chapter

This story is nicely written and fun to read. An interesting moment in time to focus on.

Author's Response: Thank you for saying so! I was a bit worried this wouldn't be interesting at all, since I've never written anything near a Historical fic before. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Forever in her Shadow by phoenix_tearPatronus

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Dominique had never cared about anything is her life until her older sister Victoire managed to yet again overshadow her achievement with a bigger, better and more important one. The once close sisters are now drifting apart, can these two ever fix their relationship or will the rift just continue to grow?
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 10/04/13 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi, Abi. I am here to comment on your story again as it develops, and I must say you are doing a fine job. Ellie has already commented extensively on your story's virtues, so I won't repeat anything except to say that I agree with everything she said.
I love that your dialogue is really very natural, not obviously striving to be "stylish" (which gets annoying rather quickly). The characters are well-developed, each with a variety of characteristics; no one seems to be a one-note personality.
And I love that your story seems to have a story arc; in between the sections of dialogue, stuff is happening which seems to be co-ordinated toward some future goal (which we do not see yet, but we believe that it is there.) Sometimes I read stories where the dialogue goes on and on, beating the same few points into the ground, while very little happens plot-wise, and my fingers itch to take a blue pencil and cut the manuscript way down, to make it tighter. I don't feel that way about your story at all; you have struck a good balance between dialogue and action, between taking the time to develop a scene or idea well, while also moving the story along at a good pace.
I also like the fact that you depict all your characters (except maybe Victoire) as sensible, thoughtful people who are ruled as much by their heads as by their guts. (And I don't mean that as a criticism of how you depict Victoire; it's okay to have one character like that because there really are a few people like that in the world, just not an entire cast of characters like that.)
Stories about people who are constantly behaving against their own best interest can get boring after a while (at least in my mind), so I find your story very refreshing. I am looking forward to the rest of this story, and hope we won't have to wait long!


Author's Response: Hi, Vicki =) Thank you so much for such a lovely review! I've been sat here for about five minutes trying to write coherent sentences because I'm squeeing too much. I'm so glad you're enjoying the story, and I promise there won't be such a long gap between updates from now on. Thank you again for taking the time to read my fic and for leaving a lovely review as well =) ~Abi~

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/21/13 Title: Chapter 2: Chapter 2

I suppose that Victoire had always nurtured the hope that she might get back together with Teddy, and now that hope seems to have been destroyed. Being "perfect" certainly does not guarantee a happy life. Perhaps Dominique is beginning to feel that things are more even between herself and her sister.

Author's Response: Thank you for the review =)

Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 11/28/12 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

A problem that exists in many families, no doubt. Who is the winner and who is the loser. It will be interesting to see how you resolve this.

Author's Response: Thanks for the review =) I hope you'll keep reading to find out how I resolve it =) ~Abi~

Goodbye by GreenEyesLoveNeverDies

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Harry's pain and Lily's sacrifice
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/06/14 Title: Chapter 1: Goodbye

Hi, Emma. This is Vicki of Slytherin House commenting on your poem Goodbye. I am trying to decide where this poem fits into the relationship of Harry and Lily, and it seems that Lily is talking to Harry but he can’t hear her. He sounds very young in his two verses, and that makes me conclude that this poem is set in the years of Harry’s early childhood, when he suffers the lovelessness of the Dursley household and longs for his absent parents.

You have expressed what must be the frustration of a long-departed parent who can see her child crying and suffering but cannot do anything about it. She says,”Don’t cry,” and “I am here!” as if by saying the words so forcefully she can somehow break the barrier between the living and the dead and make him hear her. But of course she cannot; she can only watch and wait.

In Harry’s two verses, his little-boy voice sounds almost accusative: “How could you say goodbye?” and “don’t ever say goodbye”. Of course a little child cannot understand what happened, cannot understand that she didn’t leave on purpose.

The poem reminds me of other children’s stories that I have read, in which an orphaned child is desperately longing that his parents or other blood relatives will suddenly turn up some day and rescue him from his miserable situation. But those conversations are usually one-sided; unlike in your poem, there is no answer from the other side of the grave.

Nice job.

Life After Grief by Misdemeanor1331

Rated: Professors •
Summary: The Collier's Virus is highly contagious, magically virulent, and always fatal. Junior Healers Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger are called in to help find a cure before the virus claims another life. If they can.
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 11/28/12 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

An interesting story with lots of details that really bring the milieu of St. Mungo's vividly to life. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this story.

Author's Response: Thank you! I'm very much looking forward to posting it! :D

Save You by Nagini Riddle

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Severus' love for Lily drives him to try to save her, but will his efforts really help?
Reviewer: Oregonian Signed
Date: 01/15/14 Title: Chapter 1: Save You

Hi, Nagini. Me again, here to review another one of your exquisitely imaginative poems.

Oh Merlin, I really like this one. Severus is teetering in that brief time period between when he realizes that Lily is in danger and when she finally dies. It is your talent to take a little moment in time and really see into it, see everything that is going on in that instant.

This poem is full of great lines, and one virtue of your poetry is that you use words in fresh, unexpected ways. You do not just string a bunch of standard phrases together. Here’s a good example of what I mean: I yearn to be your savior, prohibit your precious blood from being spilt, that I perhaps, could be the one, could be a life changer.

Here are some other bits I particularly liked: wretched Time is swift and my newfound morals. Doubts are wild and mockingly free is a wonderful way to say “I cannot control or suppress my doubts.”

I also much enjoyed the recurring rhyme scheme”it tied the poem into a neatly controlled bundle”and the variable length of the lines, between ten and eighteen syllables, keeps the poem from becoming singsongy.

One question: in the line Destroyed as if by the enemy pranger, I do not recognize the word “pranger” and didn’t find it in my dictionary. (My word processing program didn’t recognize it either and tried to change it into the word “prancer”, like Santa’s reindeer.) Is this a typo, or is it a regular word, or one that you coined, like “beseechment” in line 4, which works fine, by the way, because we immediately know what it means.

I always enjoy reading your poetry, and one of the reasons is that it always has something new. Nice job.


Author's Response: Aw, thank you! And "pranger" is a german word for a punishment device, like a pillory. :) I was hard pressed for a rhyme, and a rhyming site gave me that word... :p Keep reading! ~Nagini