• Agony Aunt Moon McFarlane smiled at her cleaned kitchen. She liked things to be spick-and-span, even if it took until 1 a.m. Now I can go to bed. Order created peace, peace created rest. The effect should prove […]

  • Mai peered at her reflection in her Nana’s tortoiseshell compact, a frown forming on her forehead, noticing a sheen of perspiration on her nose, upper lip. Unfolding a blotting paper, from her handbag, she erased […]

  • I Choose to Believe
    “After a few months of therapy, I felt ready for that conversation.”

    “How’d your parents take it Azlan? Did they believe you, or did they think it was a hallucination?”

    “They were skeptical a […]

  • Dear Abby,my wife’s turned to this holistic hippie stuff.She wants me to take Juniper oil.Yuk!Barfing, 67Dear Barfing,Juniper is powerful, beware!Consult an expert, not your wife!Tell her you love her, not the h […]

  • “Let’s crack it and have a taste.”

    Excitement courses like energy as my hand encircles the cap, opening it with a satisfying crack. Liquid luminescence fills the glass. 

    “It’s awfully strong — HOW many be […]

  • Jane and Profile picture of DerynDeryn are now friends 1 day ago

  • Dr. Juniper“If it’s not too personal, can I ask if you ever told your parents of Caspian’s visit?” I inquired.“Not straight away,” he faltered. “I started seeing a psychologist, Dr. Juniper Simms. She helped me […]

  • They entered Broodakh- Mahij, City of a Thousand Dreams, practically unnoticed. A great throng swarmed the streets which indeed were, as the legends told, lined with gleaming veins of copper. Here sheikhs and […]

  • Friday noon. At the front door, our bags were standing at attention.

    “You ready, Emma-Leigh?” I called up the staircase. “Let’s go! I want to get there before sundown.”

    I took the two bags and put them in the bo […]

    • Hi Hanri
      This is a pivotal scene. I love the idea of her trip around the house gathering bits and pieces that won’t be missed (perhaps a metaphor for all the parts of herself she hid in her marriage). I wonder if the intensity of this scene could be built up more. Here she is FINALLY making a choice for herself so everything in this scene needs to amplify that. The walk around the house could include memories that tip her further into her decision. I found myself reading quickly over the paragraphs describing the timing of the leaving, the reason they didn’t go last year and waiting for E-L by the car. Is she going to deliver E-L back to the house at the end of the week as E-L doesn’t have anything at the new house? Michael’s arrival is a great way to build even more tension but he fell a bit flat. He’s a man who likes to get his way so I was surprised at the reaction. And was E-L listening to this conversation? Would she get in the car in the face of hearing. Alma announce this? Can’t wait for next week!!

    • Hi Hanri,
      You changed from first to third person in the middle of the scene, which I think was just an oversight. You added the urgency that Michael might show up just by mentioning Alma’s complacency that she knows Michael won’t show up. So I was waiting for it. The walk around the house to say goodbye was a great idea, but I think the emotions could be a little sharper-more anger, sadness, loneliness, frustration. And perhaps a note of indecision?
      Like Leona, I kept wondering where Emma-Leigh was during the conversation when Alma announces that she is leaving Michael. Does Emma-Leigh know already?
      With Michael treating her so terribly, does he really deserve more than a letter? It may be that Alma is more mature and evolved than me, however, 🙂
      I wanted to see Michael more devastated. Would he make a scene out on the street? Would he yell? Would he cry?
      Or maybe he knew it was coming and he was resigned?
      You’ve got so much conflict and pain in this scene…You’ve really put the situation together so well up to this point. Good Scene!!

  • Fran threw her suitcase on the bed – then frowned at herself. It was a bad habit and created way too much wear and tear on eiderdowns and duvet covers. She should know, she had to research fabrics that would w […]

    • Hahahaha thank you. Perfect surprise ending. So this may be filler aka procrastinating those final moments but it was a nice read with lovely descriptions – a weird little orphan phrase I the spas text – and an important step for Fran and Bernard. But Chrissie – like she jumped out of the cake – took stage. And Laszlo, we’ll, who could fit her better…

    • Hi, Deryn-
      Well, that’s a surprise. I wonder what mischief Chrissie has in store for Fran, given how upset she was when they last met.
      You may have noticed this by now, but it seems something is missing here: “And the 16th century Turkish style spas dating from the Ottoman rule over Budapest the Kiraly Baths -The Turkish baths date to 1565, whose main pool sat under a classic Ottoman dome dotted with skylights.

      – the Rudas spa with its modern rooftop pool overlooking the Danube to”
      I’m sure Fran is really regretting her Puritanical suit, given the inevitable comparison to Chrissie’s dental floss outfit. Can’t wait for the fireworks to start.
      I don’t agree, by the way, that this is pure filler. The return of an old foe could be just the spice you need to work out the ending. Good scene.

    • Hi Deryn,
      A good scene where we get to see Fran and Bernard being a little unsure of themselves, especially in front of Lazlo who may be a welcome distraction. Your description of the city was fun and was distilled through Fran’s lens so we saw what was important to her. The regret over the overly formal bathing suit was funny but the big surprise with Chrissy was good. We needed to find out what happened to her and if she’s like one of those annoying untalented people who always land on their feet–then we will probably see that here.
      Inspired idea to bring her back!

    • That PA of hers. Wow, bit on the, how shall I put this – itching to get fired side. She’s a group PA and not just for Fran right. LOL. They’re supposed to assist you, not give you uphill. But Fran played her right.
      Laszlo never changes, you’ve done him so well I can smell the cigar smoke and just too much after shave. Love it. I see he’s still eyeballing Fran – the man is insatiable.
      Then Chrissie! Interesting – I hope she finds some kind of peace. I know you said this was filler, but this was a very enjoyable scene and had me grinning most of the way through. A perfect breather away from some of the drama. Feels good.
      Bernard played it slow this scene – but then again, rooftop hot tubs, drinks and foreign cities have a way of inciting chaos.

    • YAY!!!!!! Chrissie!!!! I’m so pleased.
      Chrissie and Laszlo are perfect together. I love these naughty two.
      Bernard and Fran in swimsuits in a spa, being plied with alcohol (I assume) and having to deal with whatever glorious display Lazslo and Chrissie are going to bring? I’m down.
      Doesn’t feel like filler, feels like fun!

    • Hi Fran, Love it! Fran and Bernard are being a little shy and quiet. I see her character change in your novel.
      You know I was kidding about Chrissie, but it’s kinda perfect. It gets Laszlo off her tail (hopefully). I’m glad your reminded us of Laszlo’s former sleaziness. I wonder if he has an agenda (setting up Bernard and Fran, perhaps?) or just wants to have a good time.

  • The shadows grow across the plank floor. Tension tightens as time tip-toes forward. A primordial plaint splinters the silence. Two sets of eyes train upon the prone woman, writhing in sweat, amid the sheets. […]

    • That’s so sad. I can feel that tension you set up in the first paragraph – writhing in sweat. The last line captures that life and death struggle. Nice job.

    • Such a lot here without explicitly telling us. “He sobs, reading the message in her green gaze”. Almost poetic and very moving.

    • Pain, loss, and grief presented so poignantly, with an appropriate name for the baby. Makes me think of a situation that has just happened, a pregnant woman on a ventilator for co-vid, whose baby was delivered early to save its life. Devastation for the husband, but a child saved from a double tragedy. You have captured the scene.

    • So much emotion and feeling done so well. And yes, so sad. But the sadness wouldn’t be nearly as poignant without your beautiful storytelling.

  • “Do you know what time it is?”

    Anne was not delighted to be called at 10 p.m. but Lilli had anticipated as much.

    “Sorry, sis, it’s an emergency. We no longer have a Dad.”

    “What??? When did this happen?”

    “ […]

    • Tough questions for Lilli to think about! No wonder she is having nightmares. And this seems to be the root of the problem, their inheritance: “Yes, but I don’t mean the money. ” I wonder what the significance of Danielle’s character is–I’m sure she’s been mentioned once or twice in a similar way of being unavailable/busy, but I don’t remember her well. Lilli seems a bit dramatic with the way she explains this situation to herself “we no longer have a dad”. I hope she is able to unpack and understand those feelings.

  • Dear Abby,
    Love reading your column every day. How come
     you’re able to give such good advice?
    Full Of Admiration, 35

    Dear Full Of Admiration,

    Thanks so much! Glad you like my advice.

    I try to stick to is […]

    • Hi Susanne, it does sound like Moon has a bit of a tormented soul. So brilliant and smart at an early age, but it seems it comes with its own drawbacks. She is quite endearing though with her emotional response to her readers:) Well done.

      • Hi Jane, you are quite right. I’m glad you find her endearing. The danger with smart characters is always that they might come across as arrogant.

    • That last sentence is so powerful in showing us that Moon has endured hardships. Well done!

    • I don’t remember the source, so let’s give it to that prolific writer – anonymous.
      young person – How do you make such good decisions?
      old person – Experience.
      young person – How do you get experience?
      old person – Bad decisions.

      Great use of the prompt. Will go back and read about Moon.

      • HI Mike, thank you for reading and commenting. Thanks also for that exchange about experience. It hits the nail on the head.

    • This one made me see Moon a little differently – including a more hardship than we might imagine from someone so young. Well done.

    • Been there, done that, says Moon! No wonder she is able to give good advice, she has lived it! To be able to distill one’s own experiences to help others is an amazing skill! You have done an excellent job of letting us into Moon’s real life. Enjoying the progress of this story!

  • **************************  

    La Rage Scene 42 – a night out  



    Robert pulled up a chair at the small table. His friend Anan was already there and greeted him with friendly […]

    • Another piece of the puzzle revealed! Daniel was quite the sh#t wasn’t he? “I don’t date poor men” indeed. I can just imagine Jamie squirming in embarrassment at such an act.
      I am quite interested in understanding the relationship between Anan and Robert, they are quite comfortable with each other, and it seems Anan always seems to know just the right thing to say to cheer and calm Robert.
      Bess has certainly done her homework in uncovering the details she passed onto Grizelda, you’ve given us another nugget to ponder with the postcard from the Isle of the dead.
      Great work, as always, Jan. Your beautiful narrative pulls the reader in and hooks us to the very end! Well done.

  • Sara watched Amy and Tom stare at each other with eye-narrowing suspicion but neither showed any signs of shiftiness.

    ‘What’s going on here?’ She demanded, unconcerned about the strident tone in her voice. ‘What […]

    • With this scene, you’ve mixed up all their little alliances well and good, Leona. No one trusts the other much anymore, which makes it really hard for them to retaliate to this transgression . You’ve got the intensity right, and the suspense is excellent. I’m a bit glum that I have to wait another week before I can pick up the story again.

  • Kate’s heart was still drumming as she crossed the lounge towards her cabin. She realised her throat was parched. After swimming for such a long time, she was in desperate need of some rehydration.

    She grabbed a […]

    • Hi Ben, I loved your scene. Looks like you haven’t decided how to spell Jacki(e) yet 🙂 Regardless, she is a very perceptive character: “we’re still all people, with beating hearts”
      I think “fancy-dress” is British, am I right? I appreciate being educated. In the US, we’d say costume. I do like how you described her towel. I also just learned “jacked it in”. 🙂
      You also describe Momo’s smile well.
      I find it interesting (and realistic) that Kate caves a little, but is still conteomplating “what” the captain is up to instead of “why” as Jackie wisely suggested. I also find it interesting (and a little less believable) that Jackie has all this great advice, but isn’t the least bit curious about what Kate is concerned about. She either knows more than Kate does, or she is very gossip-adverse.
      Great hook at the end–it must not be the captain coming to call? Great job on 42!

    • Another lovely scene. I loved the interaction with Jackie and Kate – Jackie seems very perceptive, obviously the perfect pub owner for people to pour their worries onto as she pours pints for them. I love Jackie’s advice, it was the perfect thing for Kate to hear, just the right impetus to allow her to confront or question the captain – who knows, maybe he is the port authority under cover trying to catch a drug dealer (that’s my working theory anyway – and if so, and Matt is under investigation, maybe the captain already knows something of his past, ie Kate and Matt’s relationship? – I guess I should stop conjecturing and let you get on with telling the story 🙂 )

      If Kate just took her t-shirt off, and was about to get into the shower, it makes me wonder what exactly she had under the t-shirt that would now be greeting the person on the other side of the door (dare I hope it’s Pierre?).

    • Hey Bene, this is such a strong scene. I love the rapid build of depth to Jackie’s (and even Colin’s) character that then parlays into a really powerful intimate moment between the two women. You also build it up nicely with the wrestle of those bloody water bottles and the lollipop outfit. The dialogue isn’t overdone and feels really natural despite dealing with complex subject matter – the essence of character and the impact of past betrayal. The only area I think you could strengthen is the two paragraphs starting “Kate nodded…” I get the need for some introspection, but reckon you could apply a slightly lighter touch (as you know, we all get Kate’s inner angst because you paint her clearly throughout). But its a minor point (again). Well done on what I think is one of your trickiest but skilfully handled scenes.

    • Omg I read this so fast, picking at my nails, heart racing. Loved the descriptive details, the inner monologues, the dread and hope and fears and…. Jackie is to die for. Great job with Kate thinking jackie knew about Matt and bringing Anais in. Absolutely fabulous. And my friend Momo. And that sneaky ending.

    • Hi Ben,
      I was so hoping it was PIerre at the door, but you left us hanging! So many possibilities. I really liked this scene with Jacki and Kate. Your slangy dialogue with Jacki is great for me to hear, I understand that its slang but its surprising grammar and words.
      I liked how sincere and kind Jacki is to Kate and that she pushes hard for Kate to get out of her comfortable spot.
      I would suggest that some of the dialogue can be tightened up, but a minor second draft issue.
      Overalo, your scene continued well from the last scene and was a really good read.

  • Able to See a Future

    “Caspian told me he needed me to live for the both of us. To make a difference to all the people out there feeling lost, hurt and alone. He said he would always be with me, helping me to do t […]

    • Oh my, Jane, this Azlan is too good to be true….Wonderful. I think to be truly seen by someone is perhaps the greatest thing.

      • Hi Susanne, he certainly does, wish I had met him 20 odd years ago, LOL:)

        • Wait, is Azlan then based on a real person?

          • Hi Wesley, no I guess that comment was a bit cryptic. Just means I would have fallen for him hook, line, and sinker if I had met someone like him all those years ago:) I am using experiences in life though to help a bit with the writing. A friend lost a son to suicide a couple of years ago and the comment she has said to us a lot is “you are enough”. She said she wished she had told her son that more often. And told us to make sure our kids (adult kids now) know that they are enough. It sits in my mind all the time and I try to remember it with my 23-year-old son, who drives me bonkers:)

    • He’s lived through the despair his brother felt, but his brother saved him after he couldn’t save himself. This goes beyond anything that could’ve been found at her speed dating adventure! Great writing.

      • Hi Becky, I like to believe that ourdeparted loved ones can reach out to us. I have never witnessed it but it is a nice thought. Thank you for reading and your lovely feedback.

    • This just gets better and more interesting with each segment. The characters are developing nicely! 😀

    • That’s such a wonder gift – I see you. I love where you’ve gone with the story. It’s really got some depth. Well done.

      • Hi Shelley, I always think to be truly seen is the greatest gift of all:) Thank you for your lovely comments.

    • Hi Jane
      I am loving the twists and turns of this piece but more so the emotions these pieces evoke. You have developed a knack for these pieces and writing that flows so beautifully

      • Hi Wesley, I appreciate your feedback as I never know where this story is going from one day to the next. Thank you.

    • This is developing so wonderfully Jane. You should be very pleased with this – I am. I know the “I see you Azlan” line is really great and full of emotion, but I actually love your very last line. Saying that he “showered and shaved for the first time in weeks” is a perfect way to show how he picked himself up despite his grief which will never leave him. Loving this.

      • Jane replied 1 day ago

        Hi Sharmayne, thank you for reading and your feedback, I really appreciate it.

  • The open door blasted rain into the room and hit James, who’d kicked off the sheet, across his face and naked chest. He’d been sleeping soundly, the post coital stupor from their earlier activities, the hur […]

    • Great action scene. Has me holding my breath all the way through.
      What a stunning predicament.
      What a cliffhanger.
      Just as long as Curtis is okay, frankly, I don’t care what happens to Liam.

    • I’m with Marilyn, just keep Curtis safe and Liam can go to hell! Great scene, Georgiana, the tension really builds as they assess how best to rescue Liam while struggling against the surging storm. I thought James’ irritation or underlying anger seemed reasonable, given that the man he’s about to rescue deserves to die, but like Brianna, he doesn’t want the man’s death on his conscience. The storm is also becoming a real force, an antagonist all on its own. I’m very worried about them…
      Great work!

  • Minsang sat cross legged on the bed, dressed in yoga pants and a black t-shirt. Her hair was damp from the shower, her skin soft and sweet smelling with lotion.

    Surrounding her were the contents of the duffel bag […]

    • Oh no! Is it Shiva?
      I’ve lost grasp of Minsang’s past and family tree (which I don’t think was happen if I was reading your book in one sitting as I no doubt would do). So I was really in her head and puzzling it put with her, and just as surprised and scared when the door burst open. I was glad to be reading about Minsang again. The repetition of the old woman’s words is effective. How interesting that Minsang ends up with the clothes and jewelry and isn’t repulsed by them given how they were used. But maybe she hasn’t fully grasped that yet.

      • Oops, I just posted a reply to your comment, but it didn’t reply directly to you – see above. Thanks for reading and for your comments, Kathy. I appreciate it.

    • I know what you mean about keeping track of who’s who and the details of the characters when you’re not reading the story straight through. You really have to pay attention too, as the clues and the facts have been doled out slowly throughout the scenes – I can tell you that Wu Te is Minsang’s biological father, and while the old woman isn’t Wu Te’s biological mother, she is his mother-in-law, and she has some crazy notion that that makes her Minsang’s grandmother.
      Minsang has no idea that she was adopted, so I wanted to spend some time in her head as she figured things out. She still doesn’t know who her father is, the old woman was going to tell her, but she died before she could reveal that little fact.
      Unfortunately, Minsang is going to be a bit busy to give it much thought, however…
      As for Minsang and the dresses – she’s been a bit of an odd character throughout – she really seemed to enjoyed playing dress up, and admired the clothes the old woman chose for her (in my revision, I’m going to have the old woman give her preferential treatment, to make this more reasonable), and she never really felt overly threatened during her captivity, especially since Shiva (Man Ho) always played by the rules of the New Moon Ceremony. I suspect Shiva’s about to start playing by his own rules, though, so we’ll have to wait to see what happens next…

    • Hi Peggy,
      I was wondering when Min Sang would figure out that she was adopted. Like Kathy, I was definitely confused by her tie to the clothes that were used during her captivity. I could see her wanting to sell them, but to wear them again is hard to understand.
      I liked how you very slowly unfolded the scene, but I was always waiting for something to happen.
      Why would Minsang be alone? Wouldn’t there be an officer or a friend with her, given that she has just been freed from this harrowing ordeal?
      The explanation of Minsang’s family tree is interesting–and you re stringing us along about the complete picture.
      I don’t remember Minsang and Cho’s relationship. Did she date him way back when? How would he have taken an “interest” in her.
      I always thought that the old lady was Wu Te’s mother–but she’s the mother in law?
      The pace here was interesting and the action at the end was chilling.

    • Well, well. That’s a lot of revealing information and ties up some of the whole father daughter relationship from much earlier in the story. Lucky the old lady kept it all.
      I read what you said about her personality and the dresses. It’s an interesting character dynamic and one you should lean into. Have her feeling things and doing things that aren’t what readers might expect, if it’s all backed up by some deep personality trait it’ll be great.
      She feels fresh and clean and secure in the beginning – then it all ends. I wonder how he found her. 🙂

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