• Great continuation of the story! I don’t see how anyone can live thru this!

    But I will be back next month, to see what they do and how they escape!!!
    As now I’m hooked!

  • The truth is so much harder to read then fiction . . . I can feel your pain and anguish . . . and the worse is the time waiting to see improvement . . . like being stuck in an elevator . . .

    Wishing the best for you and your family.

  • Who would of thought? She got exactly what she wished for! Sounds like a Genie in the Bottle wish gone wrong!

    Good take on today’s political situation and put some humor in it! Normally it is very difficult to write about ‘political’ topics as polarization is too great – but you took it 28 years into the Future and blew it out of the…[Read more]

  • I felt like there was a LOT going on in this story – such as Mother/Daughter relationship, yearning for a relationship with Jordan through-out the years & underlying coming to grips with aging (or losing high school friends).

    The characters/relationships were portrayed with just the right amount of detail, where you could picture them and feel…[Read more]

  • Great Story! I especially loved the mythology touch with Aphrodite and Hephaestus. Or I should say divine interference! LOL The resulting effects of Maya falling in love was very well portrayed.

    I liked the humor, like when Sameer was able to show up 5 seconds later, after asking Maya for a date! This was an excellent example of show…[Read more]

  • Linda – Thanks for your comments! I actually was saddened by the story, after I wrote it, especially the part where the Ma had all her canning supplies ready for the harvest the next day! I do tend to have ABRUPT endings in a lot of my stories, where the end takes a totally different turn and is a SHOCK to the reader. I guess that is my…[Read more]

  • I really loved this story! And just in time for Halloween!

    I thought the idea of a staircase appearing and disappearing was very creative! I had never seen that take before in a Haunted House story, just the usual “ghosts” approach. I like how it was introduced, where she said her husband went down in the basement, and then the police…[Read more]

  • THE GARDEN by Valerie Ciolek


    The road was windy and long.  The sun in the western sky created long shadows.  This part of the country were the foothills of Appalachia.  Your mind could go off and wander as yo […]

    • I liked your story. I like your descriptions of the gardening, the morning breakfast. I could smell the delicious home made breakfast along with the fresh brewed coffee. Your characters were very real.
      However, I found the ending too abrupt. Good writing.

      • Linda – Thanks for your comments! I actually was saddened by the story, after I wrote it, especially the part where the Ma had all her canning supplies ready for the harvest the next day! I do tend to have ABRUPT endings in a lot of my stories, where the end takes a totally different turn and is a SHOCK to the reader. I guess that is my style. However, in this case, maybe it was a bit too abrupt for the nice context of the story – of the mother/son bonding.

    • Hi Valerie. I do love the mother/son relationship you have created in this story, and I could taste and smell the wonderful breakfasts the mother cooked. You created such a full and busy character in her that her absence at the end was palpable. I do feel that you could lengthen your sentences a bit, though. They are very stilted. The occasional use of ‘and’ instead of a full stop (period) and the start of a new sentence might help. I’m also not sure about your ending. It wasn’t sudden, as I sensed something like that might happen, but it was too unexplained. I wondered, for a minute, whether he had done away with her and was digging her grave! Maybe if you showed us how he lingered in his mother’s room for a while, savouring the situation a bit? Your last line seems to have been tagged on at the end in order to comply with this month’s prompt. Seems unnecessary in the rest of the story’s context. Well done and thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Valerie, good job on painting a vivid picture for your readers (complete with all the senses). You crafted a vibrant character in the mother. I am curious to know why Clayton returned home and what he did in his “other life” in the city. Perhaps he came home because he knew subconsciously that his mother was nearing her death? I quite like June’s suggestion below about having him linger a little longer in her bedroom to cement her death for the readers. Well done!

    • You have painted such an idyllic picture of a simple life in this story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Especially, the descriptions were great. Everything sounds so beautiful and the ending took me a little by surprise but in a good way. I think that bittersweet tone of it was perfect. Overall, a great story. Thank you for sharing.

  • I love this story, as it shows the power of old traditional ways over new young people who are addicted to their cell phones. LOL However, you told the story in the best way possible, by having thought bubbles appear over the photos and the MC getting a big dose of mind-reading that she can’t handle! That was very creative way of depicting…[Read more]

  • June – Thanks for the comments. Yep – my story could definitely use some editing and polishing up with grammar and use of words! As for ending, I’m a bit of a “slipstream” writer – and create ambiguity in my endings and like to leave them open to the readers interpretation. But, yes, I did have Klaara taking her own life physically.…[Read more]

  • Both Collette and Dr. Patrick Duff were two of the most hateful & spiteful characters I’ve ever met! They were clearly self-centered and selfish. Very ugly people.
    They deserved everything that happened to them.

    When characters evoke such a strong response (in this case the reader hating them!) – it’s due to your level of character…[Read more]

  • I loved the story! It brought back so many memories! I especially liked the first three opening paragraphs and I became hooked, to the unfolding adventure and then the following adult perspective.

    The first paragraph evoked the sense of smell, of the autumn air, which made the story all the more enticing. The 2nd and 3rd paragraph evoked a…[Read more]

  • Very intriguing read! I felt very involved as the reader, even though I did not understand everything that was going on. I’m sure there are some general concepts that spy thriller fans would know.

    I liked how it turned out to be a romance of convenience. I liked the ending, except I didn’t know if you mean to say:

    They never talked of the…[Read more]

  • JM I also haven’t been following the series. To me it sounds like both of them won’t survive the trip! But I know they will, against all odds, for the series to continue!

    Kept me in suspense the whole read! And if it weren’t for these particular characters, I would of thought them goners!

    Good Read!

  • Boy Erevan would NOT give Althaea up! He sure was a persistent little dude!

    I was getting irritated by him and his actions. Until the very end – when he actually shed a tear – you made him “human”! Pun intended!

    Good Read!

  • It was a very painful lesson for the readers to go thru in the eyes of your MC. However, at the end he came to all kinds of realizations and wisdom, that I think few of us are every brave enough to attain.

    At least, they both knew (him reluctantly) when to cut-off the relationship, instead of wasting many years in a futile endeavor. The…[Read more]

  • The makings of a jealous rage! It’s that quick and that fast! The only way you could portray it in a very brutal and sudden ending, as commented.

    Good read, the tension and the stalking was creepy, and I knew it wasn’t going to come to a good end. A lot of good foreshadowing by his creepiness and obsession with Margaret.

  • AMBER CASTLE UNDER THE SEA by Valerie Ciolek


    The water receded from the beach leaving bits of pebbles and shells sparkling in the sun.  If one cared to look, there it would be a shiny bit of amber, giving off […]

    • This is a beautiful piece on childhood to adulthood. I didn’t know Amber was found on the beach. Be careful using the word, very . Very is one of those words that has no place in any sentence. Your sentence will read fine without it.

      Also, aware of using the words looking, up, down, big, small.
      In this sentence you used looking down.

      Hunched shoulders looking down/

      example; With hunched shoulders, eyes glued to the sand.

      The piece brought warmth to my heart when Klaara finally found the Amber Castle. This is a great piece to read with children.

      Great job!

    • I love your beach images, and the way you have expressed the way the child felt on the beach as opposed to the adult. I agree with Maria about using ‘very’. These sentences: ‘ The sea was very angry today. The sound was deafening.’ ‘Deafening’ tells us how angry the sea was. I’m not sure if I got the ending. It sounded to me as though Klaara had taken her own life. Is that correct? Or am I reading something into the story that you didn’t intend? Nevertheless, you’ve got an original idea here and I love the images of the sparkling amber in the sea. Well done and thank you for sharing.

      • June – Thanks for the comments. Yep – my story could definitely use some editing and polishing up with grammar and use of words! As for ending, I’m a bit of a “slipstream” writer – and create ambiguity in my endings and like to leave them open to the readers interpretation. But, yes, I did have Klaara taking her own life physically. However, I loved the other interpretations of literally going to the Amber Castle and therefore that could be a change of worlds or a metaphorical death.

    • I love the imagery you have created here. It’s beautiful. The story is good too. I think with a little editing you can easily tighten up you writing. Other than that, this is a perfect slice of life kind of story and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing.

    • The contrast between child and adult in your story is wonderful. I also enjoyed your descriptions of the beach. I read this as a happy sad ending, with her following amber to her end. One thing I wasn’t clear of in your timeline was when the Eliisa visit took place. Was her mother still alive? Or was she fibbing? How close was the car ride to the final beach walk? Great tale and original. I noticed a couple of words missing, some extra line breaks and a few missing question marks. All things you can catch with another read through for your clean up. Well done and inventive.

    • There’s something very haunting about your story, Valerie, and you conjured up beautiful pictures of the beach with your words. I liked the way you portrayed the changes in the mother-daughter relationship over time. I thought the ending was a dream sequence with Klaara finally finding her way to Amber Castle because the envy of Eliisa didn’t seem to be enough provocation for her to seek to end her life.

    • Anne replied 1 month ago

      Hi Valerie,

      I absolutely loved the images you created with your words. You had me standing at the beach with the waves kissing my feet with the very first sentence. Such a beautifully written piece! I agree that it could use a little editing, but that would just polish up this gem of a story.
      Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to reading more from you. 🙂

    • What a lovely tale, Valerie, I enjoyed it a lot.

      I found a few sentence structure issues, and thought you were perhaps a little over fond of the unnecessary adverbs, but, all in all, was a well told story, brought together well at the end. Thank you for sharing

  • WELCOME HOME by Valerie Ciolek


    A moving figure just appeared out of the ice fog.  At first glance I did not know if I was seeing another moose in the distance or an apparition.  As he came closer I saw his p […]

    • Hi Valerie

      I can’t believe I’ve found a story with no comments on it.

      Some of your descriptions of the arctic cold are magnificent. It is the start of spring here, and I still shivered more than once reading your descriptions of coldness – well done.

      Because it is a memoir, you fall into the largest trap for memoir writing, and that is long, unbroken chunks of text which, no matter how interesting the subject, can make it hard to read. One solution is to italicise each time she thinks anything: Truly a scene right out of the twilight zone I thought should be Truly a scene right out of the twilight zone, I thought. (Twilight Zone should be capitalised by the way) You do it later in your story, Hmm…let’s try this for a few hours,” I though, which you should cary through the rest of the story. (You’re missing the ” in front of Hmm as well)

      Apart from some small editing and visual issues, it is a good story, well done

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Valerie Ciolek

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