Reviews from

Smiley John, Prop

Hard times on the Oregon Trail

34 total reviews 
Comment from giraffmang
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Hi Lee,

Something funny going on with the formatting on this one. There appears to be large gaps between paragraphs.

Brits used to call it Fort William - I'm not sure of the actual time frame for this tale but it is unlikely for this term to have been widely used much before the mid twentieth century. Given that this is the Oregon trail and the images that conjures up in regard to time adds to the unlikeliness.

Farley is obviously a very well read / educated man with his knowledge of Napoleonic history.

"Can't be helped," I repeated - need closing punctuation here.

where there's work to be did." / while there's work to be done?" -same talker but different sentence / speech structure.

Darlin' Kate thinks she got got a dose of the mornin' heaves- delete one 'got' from here.

Good read. dialogue zings along as usual and the tone of the piece is very entertaining.

Nice one
G

 Comment Written 24-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 24-Jul-2016
    Thank you, G. And you're right about Fort William. I meant to reference Fort John which by the time of the story was called Fort Laramie (or La Ramie).

    I'm not certain Jemal had to be exceptionally well-educated to know something about Napoleon. He had been a rock star in his time.

    I also wonder if characters cannot be allowed to vary their speech patterns--like real people do. I think we can be overly diligent in our hunt for errors. I'm not complaining, G, just voicing an observation. Characters without quirks or tics are comfortable, but I wonder if they're real? People constantly surprise me. I know I fall into different speech patterns based on a wide range circumstances--stress, the company I keep, distractions, to name a few.

    James Fenimore Cooper was forever being called out by other writers because Natty Bumpo seemed too noble, too high-minded for a frontiersman. Yet the Leatherstocking Tales were hugely popular books--for their time. Characters are as they are created, and sometimes they should be allowed to be surprising. Would anyone expect an ex-boxer and self-proclaimed thug to quote Milton and Emily Dickenson? Robert B. Parker's Spenser series continues to sell in the millions. Just a thought.

    Really, G, I don't mean to pontificate, and I do appreciate your thoughtful reviews. Just expressing a frustration.

    Thanks again.

    Peace, Lee
reply by giraffmang on 24-Jul-2016
    All good Lee,

    I like the dialogue that we can have about these things. I think it is one of the thing that is missing and is sometimes construed as 'defending' out work.

    The reviewer can get as much out of the process as those being reviewed if taken in the same vein.

    All the best
    G
reply by the author on 24-Jul-2016
    Bless you, G! Yes, I think we can both take a little back and forth without feeling defensive. We're both serious about our craft--but thoughtful, too.

    When I first joined this site, reviewers were on an adverb rage. Every writer, good or bad, had gotten the memo that all 'ly' words were to be singled out as SPAG.

    Since then, I've seen a few other waves of 'absolute' reviewing. Currently, I'm finding a spate of reviewers who pre-judge characters based preconceived notions. Basically, reviewers expect me to write characters based on their stereotyped expectations.

    I do not include you in this group, G. I know you to be thoughtful, not knee-jerk.

    But I've been hearing this complaint so often lately, I've developed a knee-jerk response. I apologize.

    But I went so far as to write a short piece for Page & Spine on this very subject. For what it's worth.

    Thanks for understanding. Peace, Lee
reply by Anonymous Member on 26-Jul-2016
    Bless you, G! Yes, I think we can both take a little back and forth without feeling defensive. We're both serious about our craft--but thoughtful, too.

    When I first joined this site, reviewers were on an adverb rage. Every writer, good or bad, had gotten the memo that all 'ly' words were to be singled out as SPAG.

    Since then, I've seen a few other waves of 'absolute' reviewing. Currently, I'm finding a spate of reviewers who pre-judge characters based preconceived notions. Basically, reviewers expect me to write characters based on their stereotyped expectations.

    I do not include you in this group, G. I know you to be thoughtful, not knee-jerk.

    But I've been hearing this complaint so often lately, I've developed a knee-jerk response. I apologize.

    But I went so far as to write a short piece for Page & Spine on this very subject. For what it's worth.

    Thanks for understanding. Peace, Lee
Comment from MTF1955
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Excellent writing. Had the feel of the old west. And there's nothing I like better than a good western. You have the accents and talk down to perfection. A great read. Marey

 Comment Written 23-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 31-Jul-2016
    Thanks so much. I love Westerns, too. Every four or five stories, I need to write a Western. Don't know why. Maybe they represent something easier to understand. Thank you again. Peace, Lee
Comment from Mabaker
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Cute. Not too bad at all. Robin Hood western-style. Puts a different twist on the pilgrim story that's for sure. Glad no one got shot and some of the expressions were downright funny. Stepped-on bee. Cleaner than a paupers toothpick. Funny. Good story.

 Comment Written 21-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 22-Jul-2016
    Thank you, Mabaker. 'Not too bad at all' warms the cockles of my heart. Jesse James was considered the Robin Hood of American Lore. These folks were more honest thieves. They took what they need, and tried not to be taken from. Thank you again. Peace, Lee
Comment from jpduck
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I'm most curious to know when this first saw the light of day, but it feels as if it might have been yesterday. Still the same deliciously outrageous metaphors.

A typo and a SPAG. (Square brackets indicate suggested deletion):

'Henry ?[gave] tossed her a jaw-crackin' grin'

"Whaddaya mean, old man? La Ramie's comin' to get me." (I think there should be another question mark after 'me').


Adrian

 Comment Written 21-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 22-Jul-2016
    thank you, my friend. I first posted this in December 2010, a few months after joining FS. It has lain dormant since. But I'm fond of the story, so I thought I'd give it another airing. Different time, same result. I still think it has potential.
    Thanks for your spag alerts. I've adjusted. Thanks, Adrian. Peace, Lee
Comment from Sis Cat
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Good, although I can sense that your writing improved sense you first posted this story two years ago. Your writing is tighter now. Good dialogue and use of metaphor and hyperbole:

"See, we's what you call alchemists. We turn lead into anything we need." The unveiling of the outlaw band was stunning and a twist as the band vows never to be victimized again.

Wide gaps between paragraphs slowed reading.

This is an imaginative, early work, one which shows promise in your storytelling ability. Thank you, Lee, for sharing.


 Comment Written 21-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 31-Jul-2016
    Thank you, Sis Cat. This is a piece that's clung to me. As you say, it may be a cruder version of what I write now. But I find a tongue-in-cheek quality to this that I've had difficulty replicating. I doubt that time will study what I write, but if it did, I'd hope this one would shine. Thank you so much. Peace, Lee
Comment from nancy_e_davis
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You wrote this a while before I joined FS. I have a fondness for stories about the old West. I enjoyed this one very much Lee. I can just imagine it really was dog eat dog on the long trek west. Thousands didn't make it that's for sure. Well done lee. Nancy

 Comment Written 20-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 20-Jul-2016
    Thank you, Nancy. Yes, I was looking through some of my early posts and really enjoyed revisiting it. I figured it was worth another showing. I re-edited, with all I've learned over the ensuing years. I like this story. I'm glad you enjoyed. thanks again. Peace, Lee
Comment from Cumbrianlass
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I don't recall you ever 'reposting' anything afore, James. :)

I enjoyed this immensely, and learned a thing or two:

cap and ball - didn't know what that meant, so I Googled it. Now I know.

He looked like he might squeeze a good-sized porcupine backwards out his hind end. - Hilarious. Cringeworthy as hell, but hilarious.

Kathleen stood there, backlit by the lowering sun, her hands on her hips, madder than a stepped-on bee. - I love this line. I think it's my favourite.

I would bestow upon you that wee gold cross, but I actually gave you my last one t'other day. :)

I could see how this band of 'survivors' evolved and... survived as a result! And now, it seems, they are about to add one new one to their number.

Excellent, as all your work is, double-oh.

Av

 Comment Written 20-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 20-Jul-2016
    You're right, Av. I don't look back very often. But I'm feeling a bit ambivalent about FS lately. I thought I'd look back. Maybe restore my enthusiasm. Well, I came upon this story, and remembered how eager I was to write it. And all these years later, I was impressed. Sure, I made a few technical adjustments, things I've learned over the years. But mostly, I just re-posted. And I'm planning to submit it for a Seal Quality. I think it's good. I'm hoping new reviews might restore my enthusiasm, and spur me on. Seems to me, this story is a perfect representation of the way I write.

    Thanks for reading, Av. You comment about the way 'survivors evolved' sums up the story.

    Thanks again.

    Peace, Lee

reply by Cumbrianlass on 20-Jul-2016
    Yes, it's good! It's all good. You never write anything that isn't good. For sure, some stuff is gonna be gooder than other stuff, but it's all good. Hitch up yer pants, lad, stuff some enthusiasm in your pockets, and churn out some more good stuff. She says, preachingly, while struggling to finish her own frickin' chapter! :)

    xx
Comment from LIJ Red
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Marion Morrison, no doubt, with a handle like John...this is treason to
the noble settlers of the West. Fiction wise. The real thing would probably make your crew look tame. Excellent story, Lee.

 Comment Written 20-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 20-Jul-2016
    Thanks, Red. Yup, Marion is a little nudge at John Wayne. An homage, if you will. You're the first to suss it out.
    It was fun to turn pilgrims into pillagers. And I'm guessing you're right--the real wilderness was wilder. Thanks again. Peace, Lee
Comment from barbara.wilkey
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I saw this is a repost. I don't know how I missed it. I try to read everything you write. I so enjoy your writing. This is another really good post.

For a few moments we just sat our wagons and gazed in wonderment at our apparent salvation. (I think your missing a word "sat IN our)

 Comment Written 20-Jul-2016


reply by the author on 31-Jul-2016
    Thank you, Barbara. This was a very early post. I had no identity. I thought I'd give it another airing.
    I'm glad you read and enjoyed. Peace, Lee
Comment from sandramitchell
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I'm really pleased you brought this one back, Lee, I love western stories, and this one was really good. I had to laugh at some of the expressions, you are genius at those, goodness knows how you manage to conjure them up all the time, but they always fit in beautifully. No wonder Smiley John was a miserable so 'n so, with a name like Marion! Bet he didn't thank his parents for that! Loved it, my friend, then again, I love all your stories. :) Sandra

 Comment Written 20-Jul-2016