• .It began the same as it did every year.The cool August winds blowing in the hint of a promise of what was to come: of balmy skies and foaming seas. Of blinding white sand that blistered Winter’s tender feet a […]

    • Hi Kim! Where to start? first I learned a new word “plakkies!” I figured it out and looked it up just in case. What first drew me was the discrepancy between the character’s account and my own experience (August was fiercely hot and proceeded the start of school). Some writing comments… the sun was “defeated” kinda makes it sound like it doesn’t want to come back, maybe exhausted or some other might convey your meaning better? The punctuation and capitalization got a bit interesting after that and I am presuming that was deliberate to convey the youth of the child. I loved that whole section about the suitcase, brilliant. A story that reads like a memoir. Thanks for sharing!

      • HA! Yes December over in SA is our big holiday break – and a pilgrimage of sorts of the ‘Vaalies (Inlanders)’ that flock to the coast. And if we are lucky, it’s nice and hot – not like currently where we are having incessant rain enough to dampen any person’s enthusiasm for an outdoor holiday 😑.

        some parts are true – stealing stuff out the grocery bags and the back seat manipulations, the rest is ‘borrowed’ from friends’ family adventures 😁

        Enjoy your comments, as always 🤗

    • This made me feel warm inside – even though the childhood experience couldn’t be further from my own – it was written in a way that resonated and made me feel ‘included’ somehow.
      What are plakkies by the way? the mind boggles!
      Such a heartwarming story and constructed so well to make it flow. Very enjoyable.

      • ha – such a lovely comment Del 🤗
        plakkies are flip-flops – and I dont think there is a child on the African continent that hasnt considered them essential footwear 😄

    • Hi Kim,
      I loved this story. I pictured it in my mind as a film on a super 8 movie camera with a yellowish haze from the 1970s. The arguments about sweets you weren’t supposed to touch, the packing of the suitcase and of course the little girl who had to use the bathroom when they got to the end of the block–so relatable–and happened to us last week when my adult daughter and husband needed a bathroom and a snack after traveling 3 (yes that’s not a misprint!!!) miles in the car.
      It’s great to read about prepping for family holidays. The interchange as the MC has to keep giving in to more things being added to her suitcase was really funny. But the call of the beach and the foaming sea–you made that a magical experience in these few words. A fun memoir to read and told in a gentle, slow style. Great story!!

      • Sudha, I burst out laughing at your comment – your ADULT daughter and son-in-law??!! no waaayy 🤣🤣🤣

        Glad you enjoyed this

    • Hi Kim,
      So loved this story! It brought so many childhood memories hurtling back. That fight about the window seat still goes on iny household. Every word in that story felt so warm and fuzzy, loaded with emotions. And all of it is so relatable. I was amused to know that no matter which part of the world we are in, mother’s always demand that we go to the bathroom before starting a trip. 😊 A great holiday story! Thank you for sharing!

      • Thanks Amrita
        somethings, as others have said – are universal. Fond memories – am glad you enjoyed this Amrita 🤗

    • A wonderful, heartwarming story that brings me back to my childhood, when we 8 kids would pile into the volkswagon and head to the beach with Mom and Dad. And, BTW, I was the sister that had ‘to go’ even though I’d just gone after mom demanded that I do.
      The style of writing you told this in adds so much depth to the feel and mood of the story, it’s almost lyrical in its sing song pattern, and comes across as magical and mystical as many of our memories do when they surface. You make me long for the innocence of youth, for the togetherness of family, and most of all for the beach!
      well done!

      • your comment had me smiling Peggy – so you were one of ‘those’ kids , always needing to pee 😂 Loved your memory Peggy – very special indeed
        yea, I miss the beach too ☺

    • Oh I remember those moments with the blue sliver, and I can still recall exactly where on the road one would see it – then we started singing “Ek sien die see” on that universal tune that every child in the world seems to know instinctively – na-nana-na-na.
      I suspect you’re going to get a lot of reminiscing in your comments, Kim, because you’ve hit a universal nerve here. So interesting how some childhood experiences transcend all other kinds of differences. Very good of you to pick the moments before the holiday – the anticipation – as your subject matter, as that is where the shared experiences lie.
      I loved your opening lines, and especially how you personified the sun. I read it a couple of times to relish the lovely imagery and the way in which you used the rhetorical devices at your disposal.
      Which makes me think to ask: “fruitless exercise in futility” – this is tautology, isn’t it?
      This was a good one!

      • Your ‘ek sien die see’ – had me smiling broadly! I still remember the thrill of that excitement clearly – love your comment Hanri

        Tautology – yes it is. And would not normally be tolerated in any other grammar but I was aiming to replicate how children speak when over amplifing their passionate descriptions : eg: ‘ like it was really big, massive ma! you should’ve seen it ‘ type thing

        but anyway , very happy you enjoyed this.

  • “Camlek, come on. It’s time.” Nola called as she entered the engineering room.

    “Where’s Mateo?” she asked, seeing only Camlek standing over by the control panel, running through a maintenance routine one final t […]

    • I liked your latest chapter, Peggy. You could choose to stop here but, I think it would fun to continue. Whether it was intended or not – your male character description. teetered on being a bodice ripper. Still, you have given us a fun fantasy to read. I hope you continue this storyline.

      • thanks Charles, I haven’t decided whether to continue this storyline or not. I’m actually considering taking a break for 12SS next year, but we’ll see if that really happens 🙂 As for the bodice ripper aspect, I did intentionally add a little spice, just for fun. Glad you found my fantasy a fun read.

    • Yes, I loved it – the story I mean.😉
      Seriously, the bodice ripper/spice element was fun.
      I’ll miss you if you take a break as I love your stories and your supportive feedback but sometimes ya gotta take a break from it all.
      But, you’ve been a wonderful writer friend – so keep me posted.

    • Hi Peggy,
      I saw that you are ending this series here…I hope you will start part 2 in the new year? This was such a different and refreshing story with a fresh theme. Dystopian literature isn’t something that I like to read but your story really drew me in. There are so many questions yet. Which city was there that was destroyed in the time before. I want to know more. A great read! Thank you for sharing!

  • Shedding a Skin by Honey Mustard

    They wanted to take the brand-new SUV on a road trip, into the Karoo, during the winter holidays. 

    “They’re going to frack that territory to hell and gone,” Chris said. “We’d […]

    • This took my breath away
      one of your best pieces Hanri .

      the daughters comment ‘ are you allergic to yourself’ – so profound it made my heart stutter.

      I think one has to have visited the Owl House to understand the surreal-ness of it – like some alien ship that forgot to beam up the last of their citizens ( that’s about the closest I can come to describing those statues with their marble eyes ) – and I so relate to the oppressiveness of the house, even after all these years ,the frenetic desperation clinging to the walls and floors.
      you captured it perfectly.

      but more than that – I enjoyed your counter-thread of your MC’s internal monologue , trying to understand how it is she feels so ‘other’ in her own birthplace. Sensitively portrayed, vulnerable. just beautiful.

      two minor points :
      not necessary to say ‘to ease the itch’ – all your action shows that clearly.
      I took on my shoes again – I put on my shoes

      Thank you for this journey through the soul – I found it mesmerizing 💗

    • I agree with everything Kim said. I loved this piece and it tore at me. Beautiful. And the writing is so clean and very piercing.

    • Hi HM,
      That was a really interesting tale! I like the creepiness that you build little by little. Your protagonist seems like she’s hiding something. I couldn’t quite figure out but it seems that she has some repressed or unpleasant memories of the place she has gone on a trip. I also wonder if she’s human? I don’t know if I am correct or not, but is this a part of a larger series? A very intriguing read! Thank you for sharing!

  • You sprint towards the ocean, the loose sand soaking up your strides. It’s tough running this way, but you know it will be worth it. The first wave will bring bliss, like the first kiss of summer sun, or that f […]

    • Corbus, I gotta applaud you for this sensory immersive story that fires on all cylinders. I think it flows beautifully. My only quibble is that your MC seems to be constantly beset with money problems, so him presenting his wife with diamonds seems a little illogical. If he struggled to pay for an alternator – where did he get the $ for jewelry? Perhaps presenting his wife with handpicked flowers as if they were precious like diamonds would have made more sense.

      • Hi Charles, and thank you for reading. I said it’s experimental, right? I was going for an intermingled retelling of (1) body-surfing, and (2) a slide towards financial ruin. The roughness and short-term joy of the body-surfing parallels the same in his relationship with credit. The money story is sequential, starting with his first card swipe, reckless spending on the jewelry, unexpected expenses, and overspending on his holiday. So little remains, that he needs lucky timing on the tax refund to pay for getting home. In the end, he hasn’t learned his lesson, and keeps turning back to the deep water, despite the risk. There’s a mismatch between ambition and execution, but that’s the concept. Take care.

    • Cobus, you pinch us on the soft parts and let me tell you, the pain is real. I think it was well executed. The transitions did not feel jarring in a bad sense. It did what it had to, stripped you away from that splendid sun and beach vibes.

      • Thank you so much. I’m happy it worked for you. I’m totally stealing the line, “pinch in the soft parts.” 😃
        Take care.

  • I stand here on a precipice, looking over the edge. I know when I jump, my experience tells me it will be OK – exhilarating even, yet my fear is making matters worse. I have to jump. I will jump. I am […]

    • Hi, Martin-
      Well, that’s certainly not the answer I expected. Quite a bombshell!
      This sentence bothered me a bit: “It was not an invitation without menace.” Double negatives are always hard to work out. Maybe something more like Laoise felt the menace.
      But I still want to know what happened to the third necklace! 🙂
      It felt like Laoise repeated a lot at the beginning–not in this scene, but from previous scenes. You might want to look at that.
      As I said, bombshell scene. Can’t wait to see how you end it and how it all fits together in one continuous story.

      • Hi David
        Well, it was your fault. If you remember my typo using Laoise instead of Adele? It seemed an intriguing solution, so I worked it in. It’s definitely your fault! I note your comment on the double negative and will rerun it. Yes, I’m looking forward to getting to the bottom of this mystery too.

        All I can say is that light at the end of the tunnel? Well, it’s getting brighter. It will need a rewrite, but the square pegs are beginning to fall in square holes now.


        • As long as that brighter light is not a train headed in the opposite direction! 🙂
          We all need a rewrite. I know I’ve learned a lot, especially from the other writers. Plus, the perfect novel hasn’t been written yet (although a librarian friend of mine might disagree.)
          Are you doing one of the rewrite programs next year?

          • Hi David

            Yes. I’m doing 6 months. I’m not doing 52 scenes though. I can’t face the reading – thank you again, BTW! I have learned from the discipline. I have written my scene pretty much every Sunday in Mia’s writing hour and I have a 30% written other novel good to go, so I might use that model to complete it. I also miss the ad hoc challenges that I love – the dialogue one and the flash, I particularly missed out on and i love those.
            Thanks again.


    • Hi again,
      So that’s why they were staring at the pond in the pictures?
      I’ve obviously met Laouise here in the middle of the middle, but I want to check out with you – the way she repeats what she says in different words (“I have nothing that I own. I am penniless and have literally nothing.”) – you made that intentional, didn’t you? Because I can feel the annoyance of the other characters with this. Eg Helen saying “I think I want to get to the point now”.
      BTW – you could make that sound more irritable if you remove “I think” – that’s a way of softening what one is about to say, but I think (!) Helen is past the point of being nice and patient here. Don’t you?

  • It was not the best of journeys. The cheap flights required a change of airports in Frankfurt, almost missing the connection, leaving everyone tired and tense. The next flight took them to an airport across the […]

    • But now you have me intrigued about the miniatures!
      Sounds as though this could be part of a longer story.
      Hinting at the death of her father and how her mother reacted….
      So much fodder for a longer tale!
      And why did her grandmother leave her the island retreat instead of to her mother?
      This is a delicious appetizer!

      • Hi Marilyn

        Thanks for reading and your considered comments. I was trying to imply the death of her mother after her father’s accident. Also, the implication that life in the white cottage had enabled her grandmother to outlive her mother. Another story indeed! As for the miniatures, well, there’s a thing. I just typed and the word came out. I know nothing about miniatures, but it’s a troy. It’s my story. I can do what I like 😉

        Thanks again…


    • The place sounds fabulous and as Marilyn said, much to chew on in this intriguing snippet of what begs to be a bigger tale.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Hi Michael

        Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I enjoyed this. The location is my magic place. I’ve used it a lot in various stories.


  • #12 HOLIDAY     

                  The Lifesaving Cat by Sharon Hancock

              Jimmy tried to slip into his third-grade classroom as silently as possible.  He tried  not to call attention to himself.  He dreaded […]

    • What a lovely story, perfect as a modern fairy-tale, you could even add a few fantastical elements and turn Jimmy into a wizard in training.
      I did like the highs and lows as the story progressed ending on the positive.
      Nice job with this.

  •             # 48  MIRROR  Pan’s Home for Shelly by Sharon Hancock

    July dawns bright and fresh as we sit looking out over the calm, peaceful surface of our lake.  My hand is covered with Pan’s warm hands and I […]

    • Julie replied 2 days ago

      Sharon, I love the way you describe the pod coming into view for Shelly. I like the fact that its segmented like an orange with a central structure. The kitchen food preparation area sounds amazing – can I have one! I would definitely love to live inside this pod with its access to and mingling with the outdoors. I think Shelly will be very happy – one question will they live on Earth or Pan’s planet? Your writing is very calming to read. Very imaginative 🙂

    • Thanks, Julie I also like their HOME. it was fun to write. All I had to do was think of things I would want in a dream kitchen. I can’t answer where they will live yet, but you will find out soon. Thanks for the comment about my writing. I know I tend to make everything happy and fun, but it is really hard for me to write dreary, sad stories,. I like that it is calming to read, very nice compliment. Thanks again, Sharon

  • Shandy always loved the Yule holiday, not least because it coincided with her birthday. She’d been born on an extremely rare Winter Solstice eclipse. By her reckoning she’d hit the trifecta. That made her a Yul […]

  • “Roy, I’m so glad I reached you!” Helen’s animated voice came over the speaker as Roy drove to the Eastern Pearl. “I just heard from Magera. Shiva Patel is dead. He crashed while chasing after the van. He shot t […]

    • Oh so exciting! I too and procrastinating the ending! I have to make decisions!
      Hoping the girls are ok! Eager to see what you do!

    • Reading this conversation was a good way to both catch my breath and refresh my memory on where everyone is after all that hectic action.

      Is the doctor there by himself? If he was expecting others to be there, I’m surprised hasn’t panicked and left. I’m wondering what’s going on with him and if he’s going to try to free the girls in the container. But not sure he can do that alone.

      Goid job keeping me guessing right until the end.

      • have you ever had your characters show up in places unexpectedly? My ending never included Charles Madison, but here he is at the docks and now I have to figure out what he’s planning to do 🙂 is he a good guy or a bad guy? Of course, I have a niggle of an idea, but you’re comment points out one serious flaw to my plan, there’s very little he could do by himself…

    • Julie replied 2 days ago

      Peggy, I really love it when the author skilfully summarises the main plot points to make sure the reader still has it all together. Very well done here. So there could be another set of girls to rescue from the clutches of…..And what is that doctor all about? As always, nail biting narratives and here we needed the slowed down pace. Great stuff. Helen should remain Helen as when she’s referred to as the assistant it throws the reader off – even though your aiming for variety. Fantastic…..its countdown

      • Thanks for the encouraging words, and for sticking with my story, it’s been quite the ride, and with just four scenes left it’s coming down to the wire.
        Thank you for your comment about Helen vs the assistant. I’ll change these references, as I can see that it is distracting.

      • have you ever had your characters show up in places unexpectedly? My ending never included Charles Madison, but here he is at the docks and now I have to figure out what he’s planning to do 🙂 is he a good guy or a bad guy? Of course, I have a niggle of an idea, but you’re comment points out one serious flaw to my plan, there’s very little he could do by himself…

    • SM replied 2 days ago

      Hi Peggy,
      The intense action continues…with just a hint of a breather as we see what’s in store for Roy and Sgt Williams. I’m a little confused by Charles Madison. You had him as an assistant to a doctor that we saw once and now Charles is the good doctor? Do I remember correctly?
      This scene is a good review of the action in a telephone call where you slip in hints about Roy acknowledging some feelings for Helen. You’ve cued us up now for a scene at the docks among the containers. Very curious what Charles Madison is up to by himself as he walks through the containers.

    • Great device, a phone call. Leave you a lot of room to go over things and slow down the action a little, before whatever ending is coming. This scene sped past so fast too. Someone else said it, but it’s a great way to highlight important things and remind the reader of the stakes.
      I also like that Shiva Patel just dies in a car crash, I was expecting something more or something else, but this was great. Dismissive and justice has been served.
      I wish I could offer you some great suggestion like you did on my scene – but I’ve got zip. I liked it just the way it was. 😉
      This whole story, and now especially at the end, does have a good rhythm and pace to it.

  • Tick… Tick… Tick… 

    The brown plastic wall clock in Mona’s kitchenette counted off the excruciating seconds with its red finger. A lifetime happened between each of the ticks.

    Tick… Tick…

    It was pointing its […]

    • I don’t feel sorry for Peony, but she’s sort of pathetic here. You hinted subtly at a Daddy issue that Peony may be suffering from which may help to explain the attraction and desire to be with Michael, or at least with men who abandon her.
      I am curious to hear about the recording. Although we got to see visually what happened, I’m curious how the incident would come across on a recording –and whether Peony’s or Michael’s words could be twisted one way or another.
      I liked the interplay between Emma-Leigh’s eyes and her own. Perhaps a slight manifestation of her guilt?
      Excellent scene–I’m hoping that Mona will listen to the recording, but I’m afraid that she will erase it if she goes back to her own apartment first!
      Great tension as we wait to see what will happen here. It seems that we are gearing up for something that will topple Michael.

  • They’d all three stared at Clarissa when she told them about Sheila and the check, about Mel and the ring, about Alden proposing. They all three blurted out at once.

    “What did you expect? Outrage?” Glenna asked […]

    • Hi Nina – Rachel is wiser than the part she plays and it’s good to see her imparting that wisdom to Amy, who, I’m sure will grow up to be a well balanced young woman! It’s interesting that Alden never once mentions that he wants/needs/loves Clarissa or expresses any real deep desire for her to go round, but I guess it’s just not in his nature (and in fact he doesn;t love her – as you say he’s merely asked Clarissa to fill a part in his life that is vacant) …A nice slow scene this one in the build up to the end.

    • Hi, Nina-
      Clarissa is growing up right in front of us. And, against all odds, so is Rachel. Hard to know what prompted her, but we’ve been privileged to see what motivates Clarissa. First and foremost, Amy. I’m very interested to know what she’s going to tell Alden on the beach.
      Odd that Magda would be so subdued about the news of the engagement. Seeing her own life in Grandmother Duncan’s house, with the attendant loss of her husband?
      Down to 4 scenes. A walk on the beach with Alden. Angus in the wings. Michael in the wind. No place to live, no job, no prospects (other than Mrs. Alden). You have a fair amount of heavy lifting yet to do. Can’t wait to see how it works out.

    • Hi Nina,
      I love that you slowed us down so much. I was revved up for a big scene and to hear what Clarissa will say to Alden about their engagement, such as it is. Clarissa realizes that her indecision and being hard to reach makes her that more fascinating to Alden but she is not being manipulative, although she is capable of it. She realizes that she can be herself and Alden wouldn’t be chased away by it. There are so many issues being addressed in a subtle way here. Amy learning to make peace with who her father is, Rachel, learning that she cares more about her family and maybe Jackson than taking risks and crewing with Michael, and Magda has learned something, I think, but we don’t know what it is. Her behavior of being subdued at the news of Clarissa’s “engagement” is very interesting. Your descriptions of the setting, particularly at the end, the pale muted tableau waiting for the sun to set the colors is really so so beautiful. Loved this scene while we watch Clarissa sort through her issues and come to a decision.

    • My heart was in my mouth for Amy when she so stoically told Clarissa the lesson she’d learnt from Aunty Rachel, is this all going to come crashing down I asked, if she has to suddenly take Alden on board as a father-figure. You’ve deftly handled the conflicts here and I really feel for poor Clarissa. David is right to remind us that Clarissa’s deliberations have all been motivated by what is best for Amy and her. Alden really is a strange one, cold, distant, charrming but without conviction. I hope to God Clarissa doesn’t get stuck with him, he’s a void. I loved the chilling description of Emmy, fantastic.

    • This was a good scene. Amy is really growing up, I love how you show Clarissa and Amy, she’s a good mom – like checking on her before she went downstairs in the morning.
      Clarissa’s family all played their part true to their characters. The mom should be more supportive.
      I liked the spectre of the old woman standing over everything.
      That last sentence is foreboding – looking forward to the next scene on the beach. The place where she feels the freest – if I know the character.
      I like the Amy looks at her father now – it’s not great, but if it makes sense to her and she’s happy then that’s all you need (for now).

    • Hi Nina, I love the continuing presence of Emyline and her rocking chair, not yet at rest, that was eerily powerful. There’s so much more other great stuff in this scene too, the beautiful moments between Clarissa and Amy were very special, so full of love, and Magda being subdued spoke volumes. Clarissa has so much to work out, about Alden, about the kind of life he would give her and Amy, I can’t wait to see what she decides…

  • The taste of the ginger, crystallized and doused in raw sugar, took Polly back in time to the day she arrived in Lackawanna, more than fifty years ago, to spend the Christmas holiday with a woman she’d never m […]

    • Hi Nina,
      What an interesting story. Very dark with a strong stroke of humour. It was one that you had to read carefully as it had been well constructed. I did get a bit confuse, I will admit about the timing in the third paragraph (her being seventeen when her parents died and then her being an old women) but I believe I got it on a second read. Thanks for some delightful entertainment.

    • Hi Nina, Polly never fails to amuse me! The ending especially is great. I like how you let character shine through very subtly, for example Polly not shrinking back after she heard Arthur helped people cross Styx. This already lets us imagine what kind of woman she is.
      How old is Arthur? I could never figure this one out. One thing that made it a bit hard for me to read: the different time levels on which the story. I think it would help the reader if you could indicate the jump in time a little more clearly.
      Great idea to give Polly a bit more room to develop by choosing the short story. Keep ’em coming!

    • It was great reading about Polly again. She is a very interesting character. I never thought of what she did as “aiding those looking to cross the River Styx. ” You did a great job of building the picture of their relationship and how Arthur was part of her growth in her chosen field. I was glad to have a bit more time to get to know Polly in this story.

  • Catrin stretched out her hand, rubbing Fred’s head, rousing him, bussing a kiss on his forehead. 

    “Pookie, rise and shine.”

    “Coffee breath!” Fred murmured.

    “Mmm — Much better than morning breath I think. ” Ca […]

    • Delightful! It wasn’t until I got to the end and looked up the A’phabet day thing that I got the image and the banter. It reminds me of a long ago greeting card that read Noe, Noe, Noe — The banter was fun and I wasn’t sure if the “invites” were also suggestions of what each guest was to bring. It was great fun from the coffee breath is better to morning breath to the slip the use of L at the end! One suggestion (and this is only formatting). There’s a lot of white space (this happens to me too when I copy and pasted into the submission), that would make if flow better if you edited it. It’s probably fine in the original, but just this online version. Thanks so much for a fun read!

    • I admit, I had to look up “A’phabet Day” – what fun, and I didn’t even know it existed! Joyful banter, a likable couple and delightful crisp dialogue. The pace is even and I like the flow. I understand that the white space is there because your piece comprises mainly of dialogue, intercepted with succinct narrative. Great submission! And … Happy Holidays!

  • Christmas – a lavishly decorated house, endless hours spent in the kitchen. Then, go to mass, sing some carols, have a jolly family dinner, open carefully chosen presents. Weeks of preparation to implement a c […]

    • A far cry from the usual seasonal saccharine. As a card-carrying member of the Clynics’ club, I applaud your trashed Christmas. And as a widowed pensioner, living alone, this is a fair approximation of the way I spend Christmas. Quiet. Peaceful. Solvent. Relaxed. Enjoying my solitary dinner, and a glass or three of my favourite wine, whilst listening to my favourite music. Thanks for making my reading day.

      • Hi Andie, thanks for your lovely comment. This is the experiment from Mia‘s writing session and I was a bit scared that people might feel offended by my sarcasm…so glad you enjoyed it.

    • I love this. My friend Moon McFarlane has set you on the path to your true calling. Here’s to Russian Routette Dinners and wrecking so-called Christmas in style.

      • Hi Nina, now you scare me. What exactly is my true calling? Writing weird advice columns or wrecking people‘s Christmas…or inventing new dinner events? 🤣actually this came out of one of Mia‘s short story writing sessions where we were to experiment with 2nd person POV….this came out, at the exact word count. I took this as a sign 🤣

    • A thoroughly delightful story….probably the dream of more people than you imagine.
      There have been times when I decided to nix the idea of the ‘traditional’ holiday.
      While a few askance eyebrows were raised, I smiled and went on enjoying the non-traditional dinner (with far less cholesterol and sugar) and after everyone went home….I laughed and applauded myself at my daring!
      I think you covered each and every ‘tradition’ well….and perhaps, maybe, you are starting a new tradition.
      Your writing was entertaining and totally relatable.
      My only hesitation is….the children….what will they remember?
      Perhaps a modern woman who dares to be different?
      You can always roast a turkey for Sunday dinner.
      Every now and then we do need a ‘breather’ and of course, it is vitally important to think about the real reason for the season.

      • Hi Marilyn, thanks for your comments! I hope the children will remember a Mom that is at peace and actually enjoying Christmas. Maybe they‘ll find out what the true spirit of Christmas is… I actually read a Christmas article in a women‘s magazine like the one I describe…I think we need to get back to the basics of this holiday…

    • Hi Susanne, I agree with Nina, this has some of the same Moon McFarlane sass. Well done! I would’ve experimented with 2nd person, after Mia’s class, too, if I didn’t already have something half-baked. Maybe for January. I think you could improve upon this by cutting out the we/us references (“Let’s”–for example), those place us back in 1st person, but other than that I think this piece of writing was perfect for 2nd person. I call it a success! I wish I could join with the no-presents idea. Gifts are definitely not my love language (giving or receiving). Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    • I really enjoyed your story Susanne. This was perfect for this time of year. I can certainly relate to wanting to ditch all the hype and enjoy a quiet holiday without frantic preparations. I liked that you took each tradition and skewered it. I do think it was reminiscent of Moon – the getting down to business approach. Very fun read!

  • 49_
    Uh-oh, the kids are planning something… Lilli chuckled. She probably could have grilled her students to the point when they would have spilled their secret plan. They’re so creative…I think I want to be surpr […]

    • Hi Susanne,
      I’m excited to see what Lilli’s students have planned! I like the playful banter between the couple.
      I like Lilli’s reflection on hair and makeup, it’s a good complement to her homemade dress. I wonder if some of those thoughts could go into a conversation with her sister or best friend?
      I have a thought–I wonder if you want to develop Bad Glauburg a bit more in the rewrite? I know you’ve mentioned it many times–and maybe you’ve given us more history and visuals of the city and I’ve missed it, but now I see it plays an important part in the story.
      Is wedding cake traditional for them as well? Just wondering if the guests will want it after all those yummy desserts!

  •  Car rides are a holiday thing, and were already a thing of the past by the time he was ten years old. Car rides he remembers, therefore, with a special kind of vividness.Beau didn’t want to go on this one th […]

    • Life is strange many a times one has to face strange happenings.One side of life depicted well.

    • Well written Ana. I enjoyed how you explored your MC’s narrative through his experience and memory. Your tale took dark turns where insanity and corruption bubbled beneath the surface – threatening to explode into violence. In some ways, your story reminded me of David Lynch’s movie “Blue Velvet.”

      • Thanks a lot Charles. I haven’t had the mind in the right place for writing recently, and this turned out way darker than I intended. But if it feels even slightly close to David Lynch I take that as a huge compliment 🙂 surrealism always helps!

    • Hi Ana,
      I had started to read your story earlier but an awful migraine pain got in the way. I am glad I made it finally. There was so much pain in this. I remember the first story I read of yours…from then to date, your capacity to get inside the human brain and experience their feelings simply amaze me. How do you make it so poignant and gritty every time? You will make for an amazing directrix if you ever consider that as a career option. I loved how you portrayed the boy’s thoughts, him being forced to ‘man up’ in the cruelest way possible. The end was heartbreaking. A poignant story! Thank you for sharing!

      • Hi Amrita,
        it’s very dear of you to come back after a migraine, I know how bad they can get… I appreciate your comments very much, life hasn’t been easy lately and I think I spilled a whole lot of that darkness on this one. I hope you feel better and thanks a lot for reading

    • Hey, again Ana and hope things get better soon. You’ve not allowed any of life’s pressures to affect your writing though, this tale took me into your main character’s head and you kept me there effortlessly. Reminds me how fertile a young male mind is, and how susceptible it is to the actions of male role models. The exchange in the car is positively painful as the lad tries and fails to please his father. The reason for the trip, the father’s coiled anger, and the sordid atmosphere at the parlor all seem to assure that this trauma is going to pass on a generation. I particularly enjoyed the internal monologue, and the descriptions of your narrator’s discomfort (‘…numbness is preferable to pins and needles’) says it all. I’m not sure you needed teh second part of your opening line (‘Car rides he remembers, therefore, with a special kind of vividness.’) It seems to dilute the effect of those opening words, somewhat. Well done with this, as with your other submissions. I look forward to more in 2022. Stay well and ‘aluta continua.’ Best regards, Seyi

  •  INHERITANCE   Song Money by Sharon Hancock

              Janice and Will enjoyed working with each other on the Hampton News Tribune. They had been married for 16 years and it was their lifelong dream to own and pub […]

  • Roy pulled into the parking lot behind Sargent Williams. He threw his car into park and was out the door without bothering to kill the ignition. The engine ran at a high idle, like the blood pulsing through his […]

    • Wow. I enjoyed piecing things together with Roy and Williams. This is a terrific reaction scene, allowing readers to catch their breath but not lose interest, with a nice nugget at the end to make sure we turn the page. Good job!

    • Great action and pacing around the building. This club under construction is a great setting in this story. It’s got so much of its own character. I guess you could develop it like that when you revise. Let the building start one way then end up another – like a living thing with moods and a personality.
      The action was great as they surrounded the building and did a sweep. Kept thinking about that other entrance from the street I think it was – near the bakery – I might be wrong. I did expect someone to call for paramedics, so perhaps add that if suitable.
      Nice ending too.
      This scene was sharp.

      • I like your idea about giving the club its own personality. Will give that some thought for the rewrite. I was a little worried that this scene would be a little boring after all the action leading up to this point, but wanted to use this scene to begin wrapping up some loose ends and give the reader a little breathing room. Good point about the paramedic – I assume you meant for Wu Te? I’ll add that into the rewrite for sure. Thanks!

    • Peggy,
      Great job of reminding the reader of all that had gone before with this search of the building. I didn’t expect Wu Te to be alive! And the doctor lingering at the dock… foreboding. You are setting us up for a great ending!

      • I decided to keep Wu Te alive, so there’s at least one bad guy still around to hold accountable for his crimes. Just a few more lose ends to tie up. The doctor at the docks was a surprise to me, but just the last little bit of action I needed to get us to the end!

    • SM replied 1 week ago

      HI Peggy,
      So intense. And yet a relief of a calm scene while we piece together what has happened and that responsible people are now walking around the New Moon…Your description of the abandoned building with only one unconscious person left behind is really well done, I can see the depressing, dimly lit place in my mind. The action has cooled a little which is great pacing and quite necessary.

      • I was on a call with Mia today and she said we should be in the dark night of the soul right about now, and I panicked, thinking I’m just coming out of that dark night, worried that the action ended just a tad too soon, and worried this scene might be a bit boring after all the action. It did feel like we needed a bit of a breather, though, and there is still the doctor at the docks, so I’m feeling pretty good about the overall pace, and I appreciate your comment all the more for it!

    • Peggy – you must have done this before (write a novel that is) This is so accomplished and as the others comment pulls it together and reminds us of the threads as well as giving us a break from pure action but still packed with tension. Fabulous!

      • Wow, what a nice thing to say, Julie, thank you! This is indeed my first novel, but it is a second draft of this story. The plot is slightly different, and the ending is all brand new, but the characters have stayed true to who they were, just polished a bit and given a few character flaws to add depth. I feel like one more revision and it may be ready to publish. Thanks so much for your encouraging words!

  •                                      Pan’s Pride by Sharon Hancock

                “Shel, do you think we can take tomorrow off? I have something I want to discuss with you. Our lives have been on a fast track l […]

    • Oh Sharon this is intriguing. I’m so glad Pan has a ‘real ‘identity but I’m now wondering if the others from his planet came to earth on specific missions as he did, and if so, did they succeed or fail? I’m assuming they all had missions that finished and many of them decided to stay – although it must have been a hard decision to leave behind such an advanced civilisation. Is it the fact that humans are far more expressive and have emotions and this appeals to those from Pan’s planet. I almost thought he was going to buy a car for Shelley but now I am thinking they are going to end up married and slipping into ordinary life with their big secret. 🙂

      • ThAnks, Julie. I have to put more thought into this scene in the rewrite. I can see that there is too much going on in the scene that leaves too many questions for the reader. I understand all your questions and they will all be answered shortly, but you are on the right track. I can assure you they will not slip into ordinary life – but wait that might be the sequel. Thanks for following and being such a constructive friend long the way. The end is near which is rewarding, but also a little sad.

    • Sharon,
      Pan has always been empathetic, but to see him with his own emotions is a treat. I laughed when Shelly ” she loved that he had chosen this body for her.” Very considerate of Pan to choose to be hot!!
      I really like the back story of the aliens to earthlings, and the surname Mission. Does it mean that everyone with that surname will be from the other place? I’m assuming it works for the story (but am wracking my brain to remember if I know anyone with that surname!)
      I’m going to miss these characters!!

      • Thanks, Georgiana I didn’t think about it, but now you have me wondering if I know anyone with that last name. I think in the rewrite I will add more descriptions about my characters. I haven’t really described Pan much but I like the ideas that he comes across as HOT. I am also going to miss these characters. I deal with them almost daily either writing about them or thinking about what I can have them do. Going to be sad to let them go. Thanks again, Sharon

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