• Hi Ben,
    Thanks for your story! This line was great, “as she dangled above the vast emptiness of the blue below and felt the cold water on her bare stomach and legs, an icy primal fear ran through her veins. ” I liked her brushing against the captain’s leg, romance amidst a life-or-death situation. I think her response “Promised” should be…[Read more]

  • Hi Deryn, Brilliant as usual! I was going to paste a few sentences I particularly liked, but realized I’d just be copying the whole story. I love your friend character. Couple thoughts, how much wine are they pouring/drinking? It was implied that the glasses had wine in them on the table when she arrived, then he pours more right away, then she…[Read more]

  • Seyi – I love your strong, unique characters. I like how the setting unfolded. Your first line was perfect, and then with the “when he’s on top” it drove it home for me. Great job “showing” us this story. This was such a solid piece, I have no feedback; I only wonde, what was in the piss of those two men?

  • Ana, I like the short back-and-forth pacing here. I feel like you are presenting something more profound than I am understanding, but I did grasp the star being put on a pedestal, then she proves she is just human like everyone else. I also wondered why the MC regressed to mainstream questions, although I’m not in-the-know about what typical…[Read more]

  • Bravo! Loved this line: “And as for the thought of sleeping with her fellow bus traveller, well she could barely contemplate even saying hello to him.” And I agree with Kim comments, too, although I did like the sandwich reveal. I’d suggest tightening up the wording, though, I had to read that sentence a few times to appreciate what you were…[Read more]

  • Hi Preston,
    Great job with this. I especially like the line, “But you saved her life. Sometimes things go wrong, and we learn from it. That’s why we say we practise.” You capture the realities of medicine: short on staff, trying their best, food and rest come last… I felt sad for the poor woman who lost her baby. I was curious of the setting f…[Read more]

  • I applaud you for getting this written down. I babysat for very little, too, and I am jealous for my kids’ babysitters when I pay them $15 an hour. I had to pay for college on my own/loans, and worked multiple jobs during the summer, so I’m glad you appreciate the gift your dad gave you. Just one suggestion, it reads like your dad was making you…[Read more]

  • 8-Final Message by Becky Crookham
    #
    The Duffing family shuffled into a pew near the back of the church for Midnight Mass: Julie and Katherine, Maisie, Eleanor and her husband, Rob, with their three boys sandwiched […]

    • HI Becky, I just love this. Your descriptions of going to mass and the words you use (“Catholic aerobics”) fulfill so many things: they make this scene vivid, funny and on top of that, it’s so accurate! I am Lutheran myself but my Grandma was Catholic so I learned a lot of these rituals from her. Like Maisie, I am pre-2011…and I can still respond to Catholic liturgy….this scene is so well written that I felt as if I was in the pew with Maisie!
      All the other rituals, like the sizing up, the socializing afterwards, checking up on old crushes, it’s so real.
      There is one sentence that I found a bit hard to understand: “Her first long-term crush. Unrequited of course, because she went unnoticed until after college—she didn’t turn heads, and she never made her own love interests known.” Do yu mean that Maisie’s crush did notice her but only after college? When you say that Maisie didn’t make any heads turn, what do you mean? that she’s boring? Or just unattractive to men?Did she actually have other love interests? I think, I need a bit more info here…
      The picture at the end, where Maisie shakes piety off like an old garment, is very powerful and suggestive. Now I am excited to see what happens at their house. Oh no, I have to wait another week…

    • Hi Becky,
      I really enjoyed this scene! Not having been to a Catholic Christmas service since I left home, I could relate to so much of what Maisie experienced. The puzzling over transubstantiation, the watching people as they went up for communion, the discomfort at shaking hands with people around, right down to the church crush. You’ve captured it all so well and brought back so many memories for me.
      I especially loved the line ‘And she never shed the guilt. Guilt, another tradition.’ Such a great way to capture that taught feeling that never leaves you – just brilliant! Once again, the dialogue between the family members is so real, I was smiling along with Eleanor’s teasing.
      But I still need to know if they’re going to find the clue! 🤣

  • Happenings by Becky Crookham

    #

    “I can’t believe it happened again!” Nevaeh said as she burst through the front door. Her golden hair was tamed into two braids, still intact.

    “What happened, dear?” Mama look […]

    • Hi Becky.
      what an impressive and touching piece. The pain vibrates through every word, and I love how you bit by bit let the reader know more of their background. The respectful and layered way you present their different pains resonates a lot, and that insistent image of the train is poignant and carries the tension to its peak. Marvelous work, madam.

    • I found this tough to read – so that in itself tells you, you did a good job writing this.
      I also felt like escaping this intolerable prison that Mama finds herself – constructed by 2 girls who need her , both in their own ways, and to whom she has a responsibility.
      It is quite stifling and you did well to convey that essense. I loved the metaphor of the train being her ticket to freedom that she can never get onto.

      I like how you interspersed the ordinary business of preparing supper with the rising tension between the three characters.
      My only reservation is this line : ‘Her presence sucked the placidity out of the room ‘- I dont think ‘placidity ‘ works , I get your intention , it just sounds awkward.

      well done.

    • Hy Becky, and how goes it? Great job with this story. It filled me with a sense of foreboding as I dreaded Mama heading out of the door, or snapping, and doing something unthinkable to one or both girls. I read a really horrifying article a short while ago about the pressures the pandemic has placed on mothers (single or not) and your piece reminds me that these pressures have always been there. You really illustrate the ‘Junie’ character very well, despite giving her minimal dialogue and even visibility in the story and you have to feel for her and Mama both. The dialogue is great and I agree that the train is a cool device that you give Mama to help her cope with her situation. I did wonder why Nevaeh had the letter from the principal, though? Wouldn’t it have been given to Junie since it concerned her (Junie?). Tough storyline, very well told. Best regards, Seyi

  • Thanks, Dionne!

  • Hi Gene, Good point about the Marie Kondo reference becoming dated. Maybe I’ll find another way to approach it during my next edit, or maybe I’ll leave it for the future editors/publishers to decide….

  • Hi Maria, Thanks for the feedback. There have been a few other scavenger hunt clues, and there will be a couple more in the novel. Maybe I need to add more. I like your idea of making them have individual/personal association.

  • Thank you, Susanne!

  • Thank you, Deryn!

  • Becky commented on the post, Questions by Gene Glotzer 4 days ago

    I did pick up on the contrast between the two couples pregnancy experiences; you portray it well. Good job with that. Though my opinion is that 8 weeks seems kind of early, you may want to get a second opinion–dont change it if you disagree or have had a different experience. Another idea is just have them get the crib from his sister, not…[Read more]

  • Hi Gene! This scene flew by, I enjoyed reading it. It most flowed really well, just a few suggestions: use “Darce” rather than “Darc”, I had an instinct to use a hard c. Who floated over the divider? (you are missing a name). Eight weeks seems so early to be loading up on baby stuff. Maybe address why: did Darren’s sister want it out of her house…[Read more]

  • Thanks, Ben! As for the song, I was referencing “I’ll be home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby. I hadn’t heard of Driving home for Christmas until today!

  • Maria, thanks for sharing your story! I’m suspicious of those special berries. This scene flowed well and was a great read. This is probably just me, but I want to know how many pens he counted on the desk 🙂 I loved the detail of Marcum tracing the tiles from wall to wall. I remember doing things like that (though not from the principals office,…[Read more]

  • I love the contrast at the end between her fighting and then her sitting down at a desk nonchalantly, complete with the word “contrast”!
    I’m not sure what kind of chains she puts back on–I’m sure that was explained in the last scene though.
    Within the paragraph at the beginning where she references her training, perhaps you could add some…[Read more]

  • Ben, love it! I like the paragraph that begins “A strong swimmer, “–you describe the captain flicking his hair back without adding any note of handsomeness/attraction in it, but it was totally there! I’m not sure if you did that on purpose, but it was amazing regardless.
    I’ve had my experience with the swarms of street peddlers in Egypt. I…[Read more]

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