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  • The cottage was perfect.  Hillview was at the end of a no-through road. It was situated near to the lost village of Dode that had been abandoned over 600 years ago due to the Black Death.  All that remained was t […]

    • its a great story – up until your last para – it does stretch the credibility a tad too far. Perhaps if you’d dropped more vague predictions in, that could be everything and nothing at all , open to interpretation , along the lines of something like ‘orange faced leader destroys vote ‘ or some such. you know, vague it up 😁

      but asides from that – and the typos – I enjoyed this!

    • I thought it was going a different way, and I enjoyed the ending. We do live in bonkers times, don’t we? The details about metal detecting (the pull-rings being a classic find, for example), are nice touches. Take care.

  • He was standing at the bus stop again.  She found the smile had formed on her lips before she checked herself. He looked up from staring at his phone and return it. She quickly looked down. The last thing she […]

    • Hi Sally,

      I love this piece! A slice of life that lives within us all. You did a wonderful job with the pacing and descriptions. I felt quietly captivated and sorrowful for the MCs dilemma. You closed this perfectly. Well done!!

    • Lovely piece. Reminded me of a similar situation when I was younger (except it was 2 kids & my mum used the exact same line).

    • Hi Sally. This is a touching piece and I like the idea of opening the door of love with a chain. There’s hope that the pain of the past will be dimmed with the arrival of new beginnings. It takes courage to take that first step but they say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. Thanks for an interesting read.

  • As Dylan tore off yesterday’s date on the small desk calendar, he could see it was a Blue Café Day.  That’s what the blue star meant on the corner of the paper.  Each page bore an inspirational quote. Today it was […]

    • striking story well expressed

    • Hey Sally. I really liked the opening of this – the long winding sentences, his mind all at sea, but playing with him (I wanted to see the final red flashing light and know he was going…but guess that happened anyway). I love the flashback of the performance, and his partner kissing his lipstick off. Fantastic image. I guess I wanted more of that twisted and difficult internal monologue in the cafe, maybe some neuroses playing out there before other things play out – it moved into dialogue quite quickly and resolved itself a little too easily for mine given where he started – not sure from my observed experience the black dog bolts off quite so easily. But anyway – just a thought. I really enjoyed the ride. Thanks for writing and sharing

  • James had woken up with a headache again.  A dull pain in his temples and behind his eyes as if there was a steel band around his head.  Throwing back the duvet, he got out of bed and within 2 paces, was s […]

    • Frightening,but can happen.Great take on the topic

    • Wow. What an imagination. The MC was described well, and the pace was perfect. My attention was with this story from the start to the end. Now I am left wondering what the black crows of Muldova is and do and if there is a second chapter?

    • Hi, Sally. Great way to use the prompt in a horror genre. This was my favorite sentence you wrote, “The eyes looking back at him were not his. ” Super creepy! Loved it

    • Hi Sally. This was a bizarre and delightful read! I enjoyed it immensely! I liked how you showed how small his apartment is by saying that he reached the kitchen sink in two steps. I also enjoyed all the little details you worked in: the feather, the gold embossing on the envelope. I loved the description “…relief flooded through him like a whisky sour.”
      The story reads comfortably and grippingly. There were two places where I thought perhaps you can make it clearer what is happening. First the beginning where he wakes up twice in two paragraphs – it seems like he passed out after seeing himself in the mirror, but it is not completely clear. Second: at the end I was unsure of who turned into what. Were there two men and a bird, or one man and one bird, or two birds? I know they ended as two birds, but the transition was just the teeniest bit muddly.
      A really fun read, well don! 😀

  • James had woken up with a headache again.  A dull pain in his temples and behind his eyes as if there was a steel band around his head.  Throwing back the duvet, he got out of bed and within 2 paces, was s […]

    • Hi Sally,

      I love this piece! Some suspense with a little bit of fantasy and horror. I felt the fear and horror of the MCs dream and his comfort at the end knowing that he belongs somewhere. Very nice indeed!

    • Interesting story. I enjoyed the idea of someone feeling like they could belong, and the descriptions that you used.
      I had a hard time visualizing what you were describing regarding the MC changing form into a bird. Was there a bird inside him, or did his features change to look more crow like? I think I was confused at the point that his chest was ripped open in the office.
      All in all, really interesting concept and fun use of the horror genre.

    • Hi Sally. This is an interesting take on the prompt. While I am not a fan of the horror genre, I was taken in by your story. I am used to vampires and were-wolves but crows are new and these ones are cute in human form. That brings in the element of danger and attraction for us humans. You could continue with this as a series. Thank you for the read.

  • The first bouquet had arrived on Monday.  3 white stock, 3 white chrysanthemums, 2 white alstroemeria, 2 green carnations, 1 pistache, and 1 green ball according to the label on the cellophane wrapper.  Black t […]

    • This was so much fun! Ahhhh…..not going to read any others just now. Gonna let this one marinate. So fun!

    • Hi Sally,

      I really enjoyed this piece, fun and totally believable. I’m still laughing.

    • Hi Sally

      Fun, quirky and a lovely story that keeps surprising. I really enjoyed this. In the first paragraph, there seem to be several different tenses, causing me to reread it, so you might want to have a little look at that.

      And the story is so worth that little bit of tidying up.

      Martin

  • They had thought it was a girl.  She was lying face down in a ditch, long, shiny blonde hair trailing above her head which looked unnatural. As they neared, they realized it was a wig and under the band at the […]

    • Really enjoyed this, very moving and made more real by the officer’s own relationship with the deceased. The only thing I might suggest is that you let the reader make the discovery that she is in fact a he by not stating it in the opening line. It would pack more punch if we see her lyng in the ditch and then on turning her over, note the adams apple etc. Really great topic and really enjoyed this.

    • Yes, agree with Catherine’s comment above, in that it would have added something to find out for ourselves about the mistaken gender, beyond that it was an interesting piece and I liked the secret that was between the dead boy and Keith revealed the way you did. Good take on the prompt.

    • Good work! Yes, the reveal could have been handled better, but it was a very interesting read.

  • By the time I get through to DI Keith Miller, the lead detective for the first ‘Butterfly’ homicide in Washington, I am so sure he is going to confirm my suspicions when I ask him if he has a stepdaughter, I am […]

    • I enjoyed this Sally. Love this genre of fiction and you do a great job with the relationships and dialogue. As this is part of a larger work, I felt I was missing a little. Where is the main character from – what city are they in? I gather these murders are taking place in different cities (Washington, Boston and ? ) which is great leaving lots of opportunities for different locations, but it also makes me wonder why there isn’t some kind of multi-jurisdictional group dealing with them. Is your hero in charge of something like that? Makes total sense to start this story in medias res but wished I had a little more background.
      I also felt it was a little confusing with all the personal details shared between the two people in the phone conversation. I know its important to the story (and your killers motivation) but I wondered if you might make it more difficult for your hero to pull that info out of Keith Miller. Just seemed too easy and felt a little like just giving me info.
      I really love the premise of this and, as I said, I think you have done a great job with understanding these characters. I wish I had the same grasp on mine. I’m hoping I can read more of this. Thanks so much.

    • It’s difficult commenting on a story I’m picking up in the middle, but I like how you’re using the monthly challenge to make progress on a larger piece. (I’m doing the 52 scenes challenge, too. You may want to look into that. It’ll have you making weekly progress.)

      I’m lacking setting–which you’ve probably established in earlier scenes–but I enjoyed the characterization and the weaving of the murder mystery with the detective’s personal life. That builds the story on two fronts simultaneously. Nicely done.

      I am curious about the choice to set it in the U.S. The use of single quotations and the capitalization of job titles leads me to believe you are not in the US yet you’re setting the story in the US. Is this detective an FBI agent? Otherwise, it’s unlikely he’d be working a murder case that crosses state lines. (Is the Washington referenced the state or the city of Washington, D.C.? If the state, I’d pick a city within the state so that the location references were more consistent.)

      In editing, be sure to review the punctuation with the dialogue. Sometimes it’s missing or misplaced, and that adds a bit of confusion.

      Thank you for sharing and good luck with finishing your novel.

  • Ode to Alan Partridge by Sally Brown

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    When I came out of the church, the sky was dark and foreboding and perfectly matched my mood.  The old priest had meant well, but what he had said had not reassured me.  I […]

    • Nina replied 8 months ago

      Wonderful little scenes here and great imagery. I had to look up Alan Partridge. There’s a sharp edge to the humor. The ending was perfect.

    • I agree with everything Nina says! Very hard to find anything to add except that I’m glad I’m not Catholic and don’t have to go to confession! Extremely amusing – eggsactly the kind of story to read on a windy grey, day like today in Auckland!

    • Sally – got me laughing. I have seen events like the bowling over of the little nunnies. And I have done the eggs on a billboard. You write of things that people can identify having done. Your wit is apparent and you obviously are well read. Thanks for sharing this cute story.

  • Heaven or Hell by Sally Brown

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    Only the good die young. I’m 103 years old and I’m going to hell. My toes are black where the flames burnt them before I fought myself back. The nurses tell me it’s somet […]

    • I was intrigued by the title and the teaser and was pleased to find such a very touching story. You built Frankie’s character up vividly through Mary’s description, but Mary’s own character is revealed more subtly by the things she says and does. I could feel the dynamics of the relationship between them. I liked the wickedness that was sitting over Mary’s sadness and I’m so glad she was able to die happy! Well done and thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sally. It was the picture that drew me to read your story, and I’m delighted I did. You have created wonderful imagery throughout this piece. I love this description ‘My toes are black where the flames burnt them before I fought myself back.’ I love the way you have described Frankie and I can see him so clearly in his ballet-dancer pose as he goes about his day. This paints a perfect picture of your MC ‘I’d like to change the R in runt to C, but I’m from a generation that doesn’t litter their sentences with dirty words.’ Well done and thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Sally, I loved this little piece. It made me think a bit of my great-grandmother (except it was a cyclist that hit her!). I love the blackened toes bit, and the new word I learned “doolally”. Your character is clearly a woman who’s taken charge and stock of her life, but really hasn’t given herself any forgiveness. I liked her secret crush on the yoga instructor. Well done and thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Sally, I thoroughly enjoyed your story. The pace is perfect. Mary’s character is brilliant and reminds me of other old women I’ve known. I love her ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude. She is honest about her regrets. I love Frankie too, so kind and genuinely himself. The ending is wonderful. Well done!

  • E. Nuff by Sally Brown

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    As I tie my hair in a scarf in the small hall mirror, I practice saying my name. ‘Hello. I’m Edith Nuff’ I say with a confident smile. I still sound a little hesitant.  ‘Hello. I’m Edit […]

    • You make me long to see what you see . Thanks for sharing

    • O I did like this story! You’ve created a lovely character in Miss Nuff. I enjoyed the contrasting lifestyles and the way she saves herself from losing her real identity in the nick of time. I like the way she becomes different people throughout her life. Some of the Sloane is still there when she asks for the candlestick. By the end of the story she is quite changed. One wonders how she will be in her old age. There is humour and depth in your writing. Do check for a few typos.

    • Sally, I loved your story. With your detailed descriptions appealing to all the senses you do a very good job of showing rather than telling. Although, I think if you broke up some of your very long paragraphs and added more dialogue it would add even more to your lovely memoir piece. When I saw the picture, I had to read the story. Being right on a cliff at the North Sea with your own private beach, is something I would love to have. It is enough, (and no clutter!). I love dogs too so Dylan is a wonderful addition to your life. My favourite vacations are renting remote cottages on the oceanfront with a private beach, and since the pandemic I will have gone 2 years without. I’m desperate to be by the ocean. I could smell the salt water and felt like I was there with you in that cottage on the North Sea! Great writing!

  • Coming of Age by Sally Brown

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    The sea never leaves me. The black water waits in my eyes until I close them and feel the swell of the waves beneath me. Sometimes it’s gentle, comforting, rocking and hushing me t […]

    • Hey Sally. I soooo love the opening of this work. Its visual and visceral and lands me in a powerful and dangerous place. I got the impression at first Lowanna is quite young under the blanket, but later she has a whiskey which did make me back track. Perhaps a little nod to her being a strong young woman through a visual key? The piece keeps working at its best when you show me action. I think some of the recounting dialogue or her narrators voice, could work better simply captured as scenes, string together in this reverse order, revealing the true nature of what’s transpired. I hope that’s useful feedback. I look forward to reading more of your writing. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sally. I liked the somber tone and the way Noah coaxes the story from your MC. The mention of magic took me by surprise, coming in the very last paragraph. I think a hint earlier on will be a great addition.

  • Beyond the Golden Field by Sally Brown

    There was no-one in the field. At least, there didn’t seem to be. But I knew better. They were there, waiting.  I looked down at Alfie. He looked too young to be doin […]

    • Hi -your first lines I found ineresting and it compelled me to continue reading. The entire piece reads as if it is a chapter from a novel. The writing flows and the story unfolds in an interesting way. I was surprised and pleased to discover they were all young boys including the writer. This would make and excellent book for younger kids -The Adventures of…
      The fact it is true makes it more compelling, And the gentle protective part of the older brother creates an instant sibling connection that is sweet and rare.
      Nice!

    • I love this story and the memories of childhood that it brings. It is well-written and compelling. I enjoyed your choice of telling the event as if it were truly a life and death situation. The games we play as children hold that much importance. Great job!

    • Thank you Sally, well written, sucked me in, I was tied up in the excitement of it and then when I realised it was childhood reminiscence which was a relief in a way as couldn’t do more bloodshed this week. It made me wonder as had read some of the war poetry (WW1) a week earlier and the motivation of the young men going to the trenches was their childhood imagination of what war was like in their games combined with that youthful desire to see the world. One point the commentators made was war will never be so glamorous as then as it is is done from control rooms and from drones in the sky.
      Lovely gentle flow to it.

  • Seeing is Believing by Sally Brown

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    When I saw William Goode’s mud-streaked face coming towards me, I raised my hand in bemused delight. 

         ‘Will!’ I cried. ‘What the devil are you doing here?’ I sho […]

    • Wow! Interesting take. You mentioned been rushed and there are a few typos but nothing that impacts the flow and impact of the story. Poignant and dark all in one. I really enjoyed this, for some reason reminds me of my favourite author David Mitchell, must be the mixed genres.

  • Hi Sue,

    Thanks for your positive comments! I haven’t actually thought about what it is that’s coming but something is! I might be able to continue the story in another theme if it fits. Lovely part of the globe. I’m not too far away in the Peak District. Thanks again.

  • Thanks for reading Jennifer. Yes, I can see your point. I was pleased it was a low word count this month but actually, I always end up writing too much and having to edit like mad! Next month’s word count of 1200 is ideal. Not too short but not too long, although as yet, I have no idea what I’m going to write! Have you?

  • Oh, thanks Lauren, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I would be tempted to expand it, maybe in another theme if it fitted in. Just trying to think of something for ‘Hyped’ now!

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Sally Brown

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