Book Jacket


rank 379
word count 44101
date submitted 06.03.2010
date updated 29.03.2014
genres: Historical Fiction, History, Christ...
classification: moderate

December Gold

Ronald Lee Mitchell

December Gold tells an epic story of a father and son in separate quests for gold, adventure, marriage integrity, and renewed faith.


Professor Rollie Marclay stumbles on troubling information about his father, Jacob, who was a soldier in the Pacific during World War II. A matter of national security brings Rollie’s faith to the brink as he discovers the truth about his father’s relationship to a girl named Alaya.

Retracing his father’s footsteps from time in the war and the years up to and after his father's death leads Rollie to face issues dealing with deception both in marriage and friendships. Rollie's marriage infidelity lends itself to lessons of forgiveness and healing when the marriage bond is breached. Rollie's search leads him to deeper truths and understanding sought by his father, and also two unlikely friends, a Japanese soldier and a Filipino native, each who dedicated themselves to live their Christian faith in the midst of war.

The settings within the story revolve around real life characters from history; fictionalized to meet the flow of the story, and three vital characters which include a Japanese Christian soldier and an American soldier (Jacob Marclay) whose lives become forever linked to a renowned goldsmith from the Philippines; all because of a mutual love for a small child.

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Drafted Into the Army

Chapter 5-Drafted into the Army

       Everyone knew, including Jacob, that it was only a matter of time before the United States would get into the fighting. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor had taken most people off guard regardless of how soon everyone thought the nation would officially be in the war. It seemed strange to Jacob, despite the surprise attack, how the country became so divided over the issue of going to war. Some were still against being in the war even though seemingly justified. A social issue that was confusing for Jacob was when the military within the United States rounded up those of Japanese descent and placed them in confinement camps. The same was not imposed on those in the German and Italian communities to the same degree.
    There was no better way to say it. Jacob felt a sense of loss and completely stripped of his life from the past year. He had been drafted a month earlier. Jacob had moments before stepped off a bus at boot camp and now faced a Sergeant Major Manusca who was yelling in his direction.

     “Do you find something funny, private?”  “Who does this guy think he is,” Jacob smugly thought as he let his mind wander to things more pleasant, like Susan. Despite all that had happened since his birthday with the job and the girl he had to leave behind, he knew his life had a destiny. He was a realist; not that person he tried to portray while on his Harley. Susan took that out of him. She had seen right through the facade.

     “Susan wouldn’t let me get by with…” “Am I interrupting your thoughts, private?” said the Sergeant Major with his nose sticking inches from Jacob’s nose. “No,” Jacob quickly responded. “I am Sergeant Major. Are you trying to be disrespectful of me private? Your mind is on your girl back home isn’t that right private? “No, Sergeant Major, sir.” “Don’t sir me private. I am Sergeant Major—not a sir. Do you understand me private?” Yes, Sergeant Major!” Jacob said.       

      “I’m not sure you completely understand my predicament private,” saying this inches from his face. Jacob felt the sergeant’s hot breath as he faced the sergeant at attention. “My duty is to somehow turn you into a soldier and get you ready for war. I don’t want you thinking about your girl or your mama! Do you comprehend what I said?” “Yes, Sergeant Major!” “That’s good because you are going to fight for your girl and just possibly you may die for your mama, but while you are in the Army you will have no other thoughts except the thoughts I want you to have. Is that understood, private?”  “Yes, Sergeant Major,” Jacob shouted his response.

     The Sergeant Major said, “Was I just speaking with private McMackeral?” Wanting to laugh the entire platoon responded, “No, Sergeant Major.” The sergeant hearing a chuckle went to the soldier behind Jacob. “Is something funny mister?” “No Sergeant Major,” was the quip answer. Jacob spoke up after that response, “Sergeant Major, my name is Marclay,” to which the Sergeant Major responded, “Private did I ask you to speak?” After a slight pause the Sergeant Major continued. “If I wanted you to speak I would have told you to speak. If I want your name to be McMackeral then it will be McMackeral. Since you don’t seem to understand that fact private why don’t you take the whole platoon on a little run, Private Marclay?”

     Run they did. As they were dismissed, however, the Sergeant Major called him Private Marclay. “I guess that is what the Sergeant Major chose to call me,” Jacob thought laughing at his modest victory be it surrounded by the scorns of his fellow soldiers as they picked up their duffle bags to begin a twelve mile grueling march in street clothes and shoes not made for hiking. Tired and exhausted they straggled back to the camp, and then went through the welcoming process; haircut, picking up clothes, shower, chow, and then back out to the parade ground until an hour before taps to attempt to dig holes in the frozen ground and then fill them back up. Jacob couldn’t make a whole lot of sense about it all. With taps sounding that ended Jacob’s exhausting first day at Camp Custer, Michigan.

      It was January 29, 1943. Overall, Jacob believed that Sergeant Major Manusca was a pretty good guy. He was tough, but he was fair. After enduring just two weeks of intensive boot training under the constant scrutiny of the sergeant major, Jacob and several others from Fort Custer were transferred to the 544th Engineer and Boat Regiment in Ft. Devin, Massachusetts along with Sergeant Major Manusca. Once there they were attached to a boat platoon.

      Jacob and the others transferred from his boot camp were assigned to what was known as Company A. The basic training became very intense as Jacob learned the army way of shooting and street fighting. After 28 weeks of drills and training and being under live fire, the entire regiment of the 544th moved from Camp Edwards, Massachusetts to Camp Gordon Johnston in Florida for more extensive and specialized training. Jacob wrote Susan as often as he could, and as he did so a dark oppression which he found impossible to shake marred his thoughts.

    On September 15, 1943 Jacob found himself at sea on the U.S.S. Extavia making his way across enemy patrolled waters. Jacob wrote Susan about his crossing the Equator telling her how everyone made a big deal about crossing the International Date Line. He was officially initiated into the “Silent Mysteries of the Far East” and an official member of the “Kingdom of the Golden Dragon.” Entering the Coral Sea they arrived at Milne Bay, New Guinea where the mission was to assemble the LCM (3) crafts. It was then on to Oro Bay, New Guinea on May 24, 1944. Jacob had hoped to stop at Honolulu, but they never got near Pearl Harbor. Once settled into the base at Oro Bay he finally mailed his stack of letters he had written while on board ship.
     When Susan wrote back she didn’t appreciate his joining a secret organization while at war. Jacob laughed when he received her letter. There wasn’t much free time, but Jacob managed to squeeze in a few letters to Susan and his family while in New Guinea. He could not tell them where he was, because of the censorship of the mail. However, he elaborated to them of all the battles his regiment had been involved.

     In actuality he was doing nothing more than loading and unloading supplies from the ships to the port. Some war hero I am,” Jacob reminded himself as he tried to keep his mind away from the humdrum of the work. He was promoted to technician 5th grade just days before orders came through from Col. Walsh to all the 544th boat regiments that they were to be a part of a large assault group. Jacob noticed several amphibious groups, including the 534th, the 542nd, and the 592nd; plus there was a whole division of combat soldiers also attached to the 6th Army Engineer group. Jacob tried to get some more information from Command Sergeant Major Manusca. All he confirmed was that they were to be a key part of the operation as the engineers of the 544th and not just the support group which they had been since arriving in New Guinea.

     All the 544th who heard the news cheered, but then everyone got very silent, sobered by war’s veracity. Things settled down for the night with everyone cracking occasional jokes, but for the most part everyone stayed more to their own thoughts. Morale was high as everyone in the 544th anticipated the coming action. They had visions of landing as heroes on the beaches of Japan, with G.I. guns blazing; as the conquering destroyer of the evil empire of Japan. Since Jacob and the others had yet to experience real combat, they had not yet faced the horrors and reality of war. These concerns were minimal. Their thoughts dwelled on the glory, not the tragedy of war.

      Early the next morning before sunrise the announcement clanged over the ship intercom that broke through his dream of his courting Susan. Susan, the maiden in distress and Jacob dressed in shining armor, charged the enemy to rescue her while boldly flashing his sword in battle.

      “All LCM boat engineers report to the briefing room at once,” the authoritative voice boomed over the intercom. Although expecting word that they would be called to battle anytime, Jacob jumped from his bunk, expecting it to be another drill. Everyday they would go through the same drill of breaking out the LCM’s; simulating the preparation to place them into battle. Jacob, despite thinking it was just another drill, responded quickly as he had been trained.

      Since the seas were so rough Jacob assumed that actual battle plans were still in the future.       In the previous drill the 544th unloaded everybody into the LCM’s and the other crafts of the amphibious fleet. All the boat crews circled for a couple of hours before being flagged back in. “All this because of a drill. We learned this stuff in basics. When are we going to get to the real fighting?” Jacob complained to those in earshot as he shook his head. Jacob was reprimanded for his complaining once it reached the lieutenant’s ears.

      Jacob regretted making those comments, he reflected as he made his way to the briefing room. At least at that moment he felt temporarily free from the evasive gloom that followed him since December 7, 1941. Lt. Major Evans snapped everyone to attention as they gathered in the briefing room that early morning before sunrise. The Major cleared his throat and said gruffly, “This is it gentlemen! This is what we have trained for!” He then proceeded to open up the plans for the battle to come.

       All eyes in the briefing room were riveted on Lt. Major Evans as he said, “We are to land on the north side of Borneo to begin a sweep of the Islands with the 543rd, 534th and the 595th Battalions.” Jacob’s eyes suddenly glazed with anticipation. Leaving behind the fear, Jacob turned to his friend Billy. “This is it! We are going into harms way!” he said pompously. Jacob confidently made his way down the passageway to get his equipment together. Now I will face the glory and the horror that had tormented my father his entire life, Jacob boldly said to Billy as he turned to leave looking back at the briefing room.

      Jacob was determined he was not going to let the war have its way with him. “I am not going to allow the terror to torment me,” Jacob defiantly proclaimed to the oppressive despair that attempted to pervade his attitude at that moment. The battalion would now experience for the first time the glory and hell of war. Hyped, Billy and Jacob separated to make final preparations and to pick up the necessary gear.  

       “BATTLE STATIONS” sounded throughout the ship. The stories were rampant about the barbarism of the Japanese. Those were stories, but now Jacob and the other men would face that ferocious monster as they faced their guns in battle. Jacob felt both excitement and fear well up inside him. Jacob believed himself to be ready. He had trained for this day. Everything moved very quickly from that moment as the crew stirred to battle gear and boat preparation.

      The chocks were unbolted from the LCM’s and connected to the hoists; lowering them into the bowels of the exit dock from the ship. Jacob followed his training as he circled his LCM (3) craft once it was in open water until it was his turn to pull along side the ship to pick up the waiting soldiers. Once loaded he proceeded with his full load of men, and continued to circle until the signal was given to start the run for shore.
      Jacob had never experienced anything as frightening before in his life for which his training left him ill-prepared. The small craft bobbed up and down in the huge nine-foot swells. Over one hundred landing craft of various types were heading for shore. The artillery from shore started to reach the approaching craft. His heart was racing from fear and exhilaration at the same time. The gunner on his craft was poised and fired off some rounds towards the shoreline. Jacob traded places with the engineman at one point so he could have a crack at the Japanese Zero that was making a pass overhead. He fired off some rounds then returned to his duty of bringing the LCM to full attack throttle. He knew this morning the regiment was being tested under fire. 

     Being Jacob’s first time under enemy bombardment he ducked each time the intermittent mortar fire came close to his LCM (3). The 544th and the other units were hitting the beaches of Aitape and Hollandia in New Guinea with this being General Douglas MacArthur’s largest operation to date. Jacob’s amphibious craft had a contingent of 55 soldiers with full combat packs and weapons. The amphibious craft crashed through the surf like a textbook example.


      During the run to the beach his machine gunner was slightly wounded from a ricochet from one of the Zero’s bullets which had found its target off his starboard. It forced Jacob to man one of the machine guns as an enemy Zero made another pass just as he dropped the ramp. Minutes after the men departed the ramp, Jacob thrust the engines into a fast reverse as he made his way back out to sea and away from enemy fire raising the ramp as he reversed engines.

     Although scared while in his first battle assault under fire, he was, nonetheless proud of being a part of this whole operation. In all, a whole Division had been involved in the invasion of this grouping of islands. He along with his friends were all talk as they got back on the ship.

     Jacob and his friend Billy, who had been with him all the way from the early days with Sergeant Major Manusca in Massachusetts, talked about their experiences, embellishing upon how close they came to being hit and how many planes they personally had shot down. They didn’t shoot down any of the Zero’s, but Jacob did show Billy the bullet holes near the steering area of his LCM earlier when they had docked.

      Jacob’s bragging did not prepare him for his next line of duty. He was assigned guard duty later that night, posted on the very beach they had assaulted and secured early that morning. He was relieved the battle was over, but he was beleaguered by his constant companion of despair which attempted to overtake his emotions as he became conscious of the perils of war.

     Jacob routinely walked his guard post from the latrine area by the dune to the supplies stacked fifty feet away as he was assigned. Unknown to Jacob an enemy soldier slowly made his way through the maze of supplies stacked on the beach. Hearing noise off to his left, Jacob followed protocol as he investigated the noise. “Who’s there? What is the password? Jacob yelled out. Jacob suddenly saw a small man about to strike him with a knife. He was too late to stop him as the knife came down into his chest. As the enemy soldier made another lunge, Jacob knocked the man to the ground with the butt of his rifle.

       He then shot the intruder. The sleeping camp came alive because of the struggle and subsequent shot being fired. A corpsman came up confirming the enemy soldier was dead. Jacob detailed his report to Command Sergeant Major Manusca what had happened. It was determined the unkempt and emaciated Japanese soldier must have been hiding in a nearby ditch following the invasion while cut off from his own troops.

      The enemy soldier’s physical condition pointed to the obvious that he had been looking for food and water. Shaken from the experience of taking a person’s life for the first time, Jacob was relieved early from his guard duty. As he left his post, Jacob noticed his shirt was torn at the left pocket where the Japanese soldier had first tried to stab him. He found that the slice of the blade had been stopped by his Basic Field Manual Soldier’s Handbook and his rather large Amphibious Training Manual. The Amphibious Training Manual cover had been cut through, and it was no longer useable. He didn’t need the manual. In fact, Jacob knew he wasn’t supposed to have it with him on guard duty.

      During his training at Camp Johnston these books had to be memorized word for word. After their being in battle that day, Jacob sought a little confidence building by going back to these books he had stuffed in his duffle bag to brush up on what he may have forgotten. After realizing he was almost late for guard duty, he inadvertently stuck them, as awkward as that was, under his coat before going directly to guard duty. Jacob believed that providence was with him that night.

      Three days later the 544th was ordered on to Wakde Island, New Guinea to load and off-load supplies once again. It was tedious work for Jacob. Occasionally, Jacob would get the mail run allowing him to get a first look at the incoming mail. Getting letters from home, especially from Susan, became his obsession. The 544th spent September and part of October in Moratai, Netherland East Indies. Jacob’s thoughts wandered quite a bit during this down time from being in any danger from the enemy.

       Back in action on October 20, 1944 Jacob earned a bronze star as a part of the first beachhead landing on what was designated as Yellow Beach at Leyte, a massive invasion to retake the Philippines. Jacob voiced his agreement with the others in the company that, “the invasion fulfills General MacArthur’s pledge of returning to the Philippines.” After the invasion things became quieter. Jacob thought about the end of the war, possibly within a year, he hoped.

      The amphibious group 544th settled into Taclaban in the Philippines as the staging area for the offloading of supplies to the troops fighting inland on Leyte. Mail call as always was a welcome respite during the short days of November and December. Writing a lot of letters home and receiving letters and packages on a regular basis became his passion and desire adding light to an otherwise dreary life.

      He never said much, but any word from home gave him an outlet of hope. All his letters home during that time were, “Sounds great at what you are doing there? How is that fellow doing you are dating, Rebecca?” Jacob wrote to his sister. “You going to get married to him?” he had asked. “How’s the farm doing, Dad? I bet it is hard to get everything done without me?” Jacob wrote. Anything and everything from home especially news from or about friends, love notes from Susan, a stale cake from Aunt Flo all were what his world was about during that time.

      Jacob was quite homesick. The good thing, during the months leading up to Christmas, despite his homesickness, was that he felt a renewed fortitude regarding his destiny in life. He didn’t quite know what it was yet, but Jacob believed it implicated Susan. “Would he ask Susan to marry him?” he queried. He had a lot of time to think about that. Although they were constantly doing drills to keep themselves battle-ready, there was also a lot of free time between the drills and off-loading supplies to swim and catch the sun’s tropical rays. Except for the occasional flyby of a Japanese Zero, they were basically in a non-combat zone of operation.


       Jacob felt an odd feeling come over him suddenly on Christmas Eve 1944; a beleaguering gloom he hadn’t felt for months. It didn’t seem like Christmas being in the tropics and all, but everyone was making the best of it.

     A comedian from a traveling show was entertaining the troops stationed there. Included with the comedian were some dancing girls. It was a good break from the routine, but Jacob had an ominous indifference surround him that day. It was as if he was feeling someone else’s pain.

        All day he couldn’t shake the feeling of despair and desperation of someone he didn’t know. Jacob was very troubled. It had nothing to do with being homesick, although he did miss his family an awful lot, and especially Susan. This was different! He tried to talk to Billy about it, but Billy shook his head at his friend’s endless pain. “What a bluesy feeling to have on Christmas Eve,” Billie said to Jacob as he went off to sleep.

    The next morning at 3:00 A.M. the alert was spread that they were heading back into action. Down time from the war was over. Something happened with the higher up command in the timing of the deployment. Soon after everyone had chowed down, packed up personal items, and got equipment ready to go that the battalion was ordered to stand down. The mission had been put on hold or scrubbed. Jacob didn’t know for sure. 

      In the unexpected mid-morning break Jacob relaxed taking a deep breath to settle his nerves. Just to show that they really were still in the war effort, the air raid sounded to end Jacob’s temporary serenity as a Japanese Zero made sure they knew he was around dropping a bomb where the mess tent had been. The Christmas day landing of troops at Palompon closed the last Japanese exit from the island of Leyte which Jacob later found out was to be their assignment. “Orders got crossed or something,” Jacob told Billie somewhat irritated. Two days after Christmas, new orders came through to deploy. Once on board ship the 544th was told that the target to be hit would be Mindanao.

        Jacob stood at the bow of the U.S.S. Carter Hall, watching the rest of the convoy cut through the choppy seas on an endless carpet of fifteen-foot waves. It had seemed forever since Camp Edwards and then on to Florida’s Camp Gordon Johnston.  

     For most of the trip he had sat below with the rest of the 544th Engineer and Shore Battalion as they had for most of the trip earlier through the South Pacific.  Recently promoted to sergeant, Jacob Markley knew they had trained hard while at Camp Gordon Johnston and as a unit they had proved they were ready to face the fiercest enemy.

      Their assault in New Guinea and on Yellow Beach at Leyte left no doubt in Jacob’s mind. That sounded like a sound bite from one of the recruiting newsreels at the silver screen before he had signed up, but at that moment that is how he felt.  It was an exhilaration he couldn’t describe at that moment, plus he also felt a bit sea sick. Several of his buddies were experiencing the same nausea from the constant shifting of the ship in the rough seas. This was the first time in two days that the captain of the ship had lifted the ban on any soldiers going top side, as calmer seas began to prevail; if one can call fifteen foot waves as calmer seas.












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Chris Bostic wrote 11 days ago


I’m finally getting around to December Gold. Sorry it took me so long. I tend to comment as I read along to give you my impressions, so sometimes things are answered later. I read your Prologue and first chapter closely and found this to be interesting. The following are my comments:

-P1, that first sentence is a bit of a monster. I’d be tempted to split it into two.
-P2, this comment is stylistic again. You have only two sentences, and semi-colons in both of those. It might be nice to mix up sentence length to provide a variety.
-P3, I’d hyphenate “white haired” and “well worn”. Now that I think about it, this is already published, so my line edits may not be all that helpful. I’ll keep noting them, but feel free to ignore. The part “to others” is probably unnecessary as aloof describes it well enough.
-P4, it seems like you have two different speakers in the same paragraph. Each speakers needs their own paragraph, no matter how short their dialogue.
-P6, there seems to be an abrupt transition in narration here where you talk about his father at one point, then the next two lines are about someone totally different and what they’re doing right then.
-P8, more multiple speakers in the same paragraph
-I really like the description of the beach landing, though it seemed to me like there should have been a bit more of a reaction or more emotion when his buddy was killed by the mortar. I get that he blocks it out, but it’s dealt with very quickly.
-A bit of a minor tense issue in the flashback. It should be “that was when he saw” not “that is when he saw”
-A couple other things, you say Jacob laid the baby on the rocks, then go back to repeat “had previously set the baby on the rocks.” It sorta unnecessary. Also, you call the man a Filipino right off, then later say “not Japanese, rather Filipino”. It’s kind of an after-the-fact redundancy.

Chapter 1:
-I like the idea of following the story from the Goldsmith’s perspective. You have more flashbacking here, starting in ’44 before MacArthur’s return then jumping to the Japanese invasion of ‘41. It seems to work fine.
-The brutality is amazing, but (sadly) absolutely the truth as far as I know. I like the way you have Enrique survive and how he ends up with the Japanese office who speaks English (and to find out that he’s a prince too – shocking). That was convincing. If anything, this might benefit from a bit more dialogue and a little less of the ‘this happened, then this happened’ sort of narration. Dialogue gives it more immediacy and emotional connection rather than reading a bit like a history textbook.
-There’s some crazy stuff in here, like a wedding in a prison camp. You cover a lot of ground here in a long, but not too long chapter. There are some really unexpected, but believable, details. One phrase at the very end of the chapter confused me. “embraced her lips” seemed oddly worded to me.

It’s a unique story so far. I’ve enjoyed it, as I’m a fan of historical fiction, especially dealing with the wars. It’s a solid story.

Best Wishes,
Poisonwood Key

Lindsay Cross wrote 13 days ago

I finished all 11 chapters. Beautifully written. I was captivated all the way through. This is a mystery, at least to the players involved, that seems to keep coming up with the passing of time. And on that note, you use the passing of time amazingly well, without losing any information in the process. The years roll by perfectly in the telling. Loved all the characters in that roll.

Great story.

Lindsay Cross

Lindsay Cross wrote 13 days ago

I've read up to chapter 5. I like the perspectives of both people leading up to the war. We get to see a little history of peoples and life with them. I actually shed a tear at the part where Jacob's father found solace after reading the Bible.
Nicely written.

Lindsay Cross

Lindsay Cross wrote 14 days ago

I started reading chapter 1. I enjoyed the start and the flashback to the history. I also love the humanisticvalue to the story. I is so refreshing to see how human nature can thrive in the face of devastation or tragedy.
I look forward to reading on.

Lindsay Cross

Neville wrote 66 days ago

December Gold.
By Ronald Lee Mitchell.

I was fascinated by the prologue, so very well written that I felt I was there at the dedication ceremony amid the throng.
The beach landing at the Lingayen Gulf, Luzon captured my imagination with your excellent description.
I liked Jacob for his caring manner in the face of battle—the baby’s in good hands, that’s for sure but the parents are gone…part of war I suppose some would say, but innocent deaths all the same.
I like the scene of battle and the tenderness erupting from within the quagmire.
I wanted to know more about Jacob, I have a soft spot for him, so I read on with your compelling story.
Good storyline. Good characters. Good dialogue. It’s all there as the pages are turned.
I feel that with a good book cover, there will be no stopping this!
Love the book…many stars and backed with pleasure!
Well done, Ron, great writing!

Very best wishes,


One Off, Sir!
The Secrets of the Forest (Series)-Cosmos 501.
The Secrets of the Forest (Series)-The Time Zone.

Andreea Daia wrote 68 days ago

I read the first two chapters and I believe you can make a movie only based on their plot. Rarely I have seen on this site, the story of a man distilled so well. There was not one single instance when I felt that the narration rushed, or that elements I wanted explained weren’t present. In fact, as I read, I thought over and over “Enrique is a survivor.” After all, despite being captured, he becomes a prince’s protégé, he builds a news life for himself, for his wife and daughter, he survives the departure of his protector and an abusive new commander, he even survives the departure of this commander. When he realizes that they took the wrong direction he still doesn’t give up his fight (this made me stop and wonder a bit if realistic, but I guess lots of folks can’t tell North from South). The most spectacular fact is that, even in his death, Enrique still gives the impression of a survivor—after all he managed to protect his daughter and to insure her future. There was something very heroic in his death. I wanted to read on and on to learn how she fares.

I believe you do a great job of portraying your main character as a real man who has a distinctive aura of a hero. He is always supported by his religion and the belief that everything will work out, amazing proof of strength in a time when there was little hope for anyone. I was also fascinated about the vivid scenery and by the details about goldsmithing. I was a bit curious as why they threw away the “bad” gold when it would have been easier to purify it—that’s the reason it is called a “noble metal,” because it doesn’t combine with most other chemical elements.

You clearly have talent for narration and I believe this story will capture a large audience of historical fiction readers, as well as those of action and adventure, and Christian literature. Well done and best of luck!


Sheena Macleod wrote 82 days ago

Ronald, I read the first two chapters of December Gold and enjoyed this epic tale. I liked the fact that it is based on real characters and events. The research behind it must have been phenomenal, The details are well presented in a way that kept me reading on to find out more.

I love HF and feel that this could be a winner. The story has all the elements of a good read, hardship, love,survival, relationships and a puzzle waiting to be unravelled as the story unfolds. I know from my own writing that following an accurate path with a true story, while making it readable, is no easy feat. You achieve this and more.
High stars. I will keep this wl and read on.


Shiloh Yazdani wrote 139 days ago

You've written a very interesting historical fiction here. I enjoyed it from the first word I read. It is well written and intriguing. I am a student of history and especially WWII. I especially liked that you wove faith in as a river running through the parts of your story I've read so far. Excellent job!
"Courage through Faith"

Elizabeth Kathleen wrote 139 days ago

I am so impressed with your book! Your story is deep and draws the reader in. The story is strong, well-written and deep! I was rooting for Enrique and his family. I am impressed by the fact God blessed you with the ability to tell a story and show the power of God's love at the same time!
Good job!
Elizabeth Kathleen
"If Children are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?"
"The Sticks and Stones of Hannah Jones"

Elizabeth Kathleen wrote 139 days ago

I am so impressed with your book! Your story is deep and draws the reader in. The story is strong, well-written and deep! I was rooting for Enrique and his family. I am impressed by the fact God blessed you with the ability to tell a story and show the power of God's love at the same time!
Good job!
Elizabeth Kathleen
"If Children are Cheaper by the Dozen, Can I Get a Discount on Six?"
"The Sticks and Stones of Hannah Jones"

RMAWriteNow wrote 278 days ago

Hi Ronald; I have just read your prologue and first chapter.

This is a most unusual read. The reason I say that is the scope of it. This feels like a truly epic story that is very visual and at times quite moving, very cinematic. It is also sprinkled with some quite beautiful lines. I could have picked many, the opening just for one, but really liked, "only God knowing his name as he died."

Special mention to the smelting scene and purposely boring the guards; that was great.

The issue is, as others seem to have said, some of the sentence construction. It is like you have been so keen to get the story out of your head that its style sometimes suffers. (This is easily solved) A wise person here told me and others to read out loud the work if unsure of it. This works. You will notice errors and easily sort them. A lot here could be corrected by simply shortening the sentences.

Here is an example of what I mean:
That night they spent the night in each others arms / might be better as, They spent that night in each others arms. (Hope this helps.)

This takes nothing away from a comprehensive and classy storyline that demonstrates historical knowledge and good storytelling. There are some heart rendering moments of the sort only the better writers can generate.

Good luck
The Snow Lily

Lourdes wrote 297 days ago

I apologize for my tardiness in reading your work, and I want to thank you very much for your past support of The Path to Survival.
I’ve got to tell you that stories such as yours always pull at my heart strings. There’s a cauldron of emotions in the prologue and first chapter alone, and the pictures you painted made me tear up a few times.
You are a good story teller and December Gold can be a winner, with a little editing. I’m in no way a professional, but I noticed a few things that can be easily fixed. Please ignore my rambling if you don’t agree.
“…Honoring World War II veterans and those veterans who died defending our country.”
You don’t need the second ‘veterans’
I noticed you’re not very fond of commas and neither am I, but I find they help me sort my thoughts as I write, otherwise they all run together.

A good example:
“We’ve eaten Grandma.”
“We’ve eaten, Grandma.”

“Instead Jacob, his father, seemed deeply saddened and moved, at times, by those events remembered.”
Comma after ‘instead’
No comma after moved

“His father was a mystery when it came to his war experiences in the words he didn’t share.”
I had to read this sentence a couple of times to get your meaning, and all it took to fix that, was a comma after experiences. There are a few examples of this through the Prologue Chapter one.

Following this sentence you introduce Dr. James and his wife, and Dr. Laurel, as they sit to witness the dedication.
Perhaps they should have their own paragraph, so they don’t interfere with the beautiful sentiments of the previous sentence.

December Gold is very compelling. There’s so much goodness in the story and I believe it has great potential, but it does need a little attention. I'm keeping it on my WL so i can check back later. :)
Best of luck,
Maria x
The Path to Survival

Charles Knightley wrote 312 days ago

December Gold
Ronald Lee Mitchell

We read the prologue and four chapters. We were very impressed with the story, quite an epic. Chapter one was a lovely tale of the goldsmith and then his love but then in chapter two we had the sad story of his and his wife's death but hope in the survival of his baby. In the background we have the gold!

We enjoyed reading the story but found many of your sentences quite clumsy and cumbersome. For instance in the prologue, "Even the dignitaries lined up in their traditional place for ceremonies such as this seemed excited about the events unfolding." Another example, "Because of the drinking his father could barely hold down odd jobs", do you need "barely" and "odd"? You could just say, "Because of the drinking his father couldn't hold down any jobs." Another example - what are you saying in the sentence, "Late last night had been quite challenging, and yet, it had been typical for most nights of the week anymore"? Do you mean, "Last night had been challenging, another typical night"?

Jacob's father's redemption was quite sudden!

The scene at the beginning of chapter four was slightly odd - when Flo came in crying, presumably because she'd heard about Pearl Harbour on the radio, then the men heard it on the radio. We think you could build on the tension.

Anyway, a good story which with some editing can become a great book.

Charles & Yasmina Knightley
The Secret of Netley Abbey

Janet/Helen wrote 313 days ago

December Gold. Ch 1 & 2.

This feels like the start of an epic war story. Very well written - I found the second part of chapter 2 particularly gripping and moving.
Two places where I hesitated -
Chapter 1. 'His fortune had turned to despair.' sounds a little odd to me, as despair is an emotion - fortune isn't. Perhaps 'His optimism had turned to despair.'
Chapter 2. '.....knowing his life was soon over.' Again this just sounds wrong. Perhaps '....knowing his life was coming to an end.' or '.....knowing his life would soon be over.'

Minor points in an otherwise error free two chapters. Very enjoyable and morish. 6 stars and onto watchlist for backing when I can. Janet

The Stranger In My Life

Janet/Helen wrote 315 days ago

December Gold. Chapter 1 (Prologue)

An interesting opening to this story. I've only time to read the Prologue this morning but that's enough to make sure I return tomorrow to read a few chapters. One or two points which caught my eye as I read the Prologue.

In the opening paragraph '......who died defending our country.' sounds a little odd since you are not writing in the first person. Perhaps '.......who died defending America.' Again in a later chapter you refer to 'our troops' [American troops]

'He chuckled as he viewed the mother reigning in the enthusiasm of her young patriot.' [reining]

In the first conversation between Rollie and his wife, Rollie comments 'So many people with so many stories.' Then his wife's response is broken into two sentences, one finishing with 'Laurel agreed with him' and the second finishing with 'Rollie's wife responded'. The separation is unnecessary and makes the dialogue sound strange. I would write this as '"There are so many memories present in this place it would take a lifetime to tell them all, but at least we've brought one memory to rest regarding your father" replied Rollie's wife, Laurel. '

'.....his father last shared with him personally from an experience he had in the war.' Delete the word 'from'

I like the analogy of Jacob telling his story using the backdrop of the War Memorial as his easel. I also like the hook at the end of the Prologue.

High stars for this and onto watchlist. Will return to read more. Janet

The Stranger In My Life

Software wrote 336 days ago

Very well researched and presented piece of quality writing, fascinating in its specific details and engaging in its delivery. December Gold has the feel of a classic war story, epic in proportion and graphic in description. 5 stars and WL'ed. Bookshelf candidate when space is available.

Clive Radford
Doghouse Blues

MaryBe wrote 438 days ago

I read the first chapter of your book and found it very detailed about war. I found the experiences were beyond what I knew about war. The picture of war you presented was done with out emotion which surprised me. I imagin experiences like those are very hard to get over.

fictionguy8 wrote 446 days ago

Captivating and fast paced. I do the same thing with surrounding real people with fictional circumstances which makes the story seem realistic. It's not easy to do but you did it well. The narrative is good and the dialogue is perfect. Five stars,

James Workman wrote 447 days ago

I've read authonomy chapter 1 and want to read more. It is an engaging story and the opening makes me want to know how it turns out and what the mystery was.

MiriamNConde wrote 452 days ago

After the first chapter I’m interested in reading more. Enrique’s story is especially fascinating. A miracle seems to have saved his life. You lend the reader a feeling that Enrique may have been saved for some unique purpose.

The Immortality Experiment

Laurence Howard wrote 458 days ago

Your book has originality and intrigue; your eloquent prose weaves a tale that has depth and sensitivity that grips the imagination. Masterly piece of writing.
Backed with pleasure.
Laurence Howard The Cross of Goa

Dr. Surya Kumar Daimari wrote 465 days ago

Hi Ronald,
Your ‘December Gold’ has truly created a land mark in the writing of an epic story of love inside a war. What I like most is the presentation of the message of humanity and peace, love and forgiveness even in the midst of deadly war and brutality. It’s something like War and Peace. Your soldiers in the battle field are not only the soldiers of your country but they are also the soldiers of God displaying their true and renewed faith in Him. The happy ending of your story is another facet of glory. Yours is a pure literature. The art of writing , the use of words, phrases, similes and imageries are superb. I like yours, “The sun cascaded over the snow covered landscape ; each of the fallen flakes creating their individual magic as they danced……..”
“The early snow blanketing the road way” ……..
The only thing I don’t like about the book is its length , however, it’s moderate for an epic. I feel, whoever will read it will surely enjoy the story full to the brim. Good luck,
The Names of the Believers

Dr. Surya Kumar Daimari wrote 465 days ago

Hi Ronald,
Your ‘December Gold’ has truly created a land mark in the writing of an epic story of love inside a war. What I like most is the presentation of the message of humanity and peace, love and forgiveness even in the midst of deadly war and brutality. It’s something like War and Peace. Your soldiers in the battle field are not only the soldiers of your country but they are also the soldiers of God displaying their true and renewed faith in Him. The happy ending of your story is another facet of glory. Yours is a pure literature. The art of writing , the use of words, phrases, similes and imageries are superb. I like yours, “The sun cascaded over the snow covered landscape ; each of the fallen flakes creating their individual magic as they danced……..”
“The early snow blanketing the road way” ……..
The only thing I don’t like about the book is its length , however, it’s moderate for an epic. I feel, whoever will read it will surely enjoy the story full to the brim. Good luck,
The Names of the Believers

lexington_ky_writer wrote 473 days ago

Ron, Good afternoon. Your writing is incredible. Well placed desciptives. The picture you painted on the beach when rollie's father found Ayala was awesome. I was put right there on the bach with them, thanks to you. I am continuing to read, but had to share my thoughts before I move on. Cheers, kerry.

Alice Barron wrote 474 days ago

We are introduced to this wonderful story by being at a ceremony of respect for the good and the brave who fought for our freedom in world war two. Rollie and his wife are at the ceremony as Rollie's father bravely fought in the war.
We are brought back to the war that Jacob fought in and we learn that jacob rescued a little baby, Alaya, as her father lay dying. Her father's name was Enrique. We are then told the story of Enrique and the author expertly leads us on in the telling of his story.

The end of chapter one is uplifting.

In chapter one you use "task at hand" in fairly rapid succession. From my time on this site I have learned not to use the same type of phrase twice.

I think you need to insert the word on in the following sentence.........It was on this frantic trip back from manila to Mindanao that the japanese captured the boat he was a passanger "ON"

Looking forward to reading on. This is great.

Highly starred.

Seringapatam wrote 475 days ago

Ron, I have been waiting to read the rest of this for some time now and have only just got back to it. Its a cracking story for which it is clear you are passionate about. It is so crisp and flows so well. You certainly have talent here without doubt. There have been numerous comments below so it just leave me to say, good luck with it and so well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R)

faith rose wrote 492 days ago

Dear Ron,

O this really pulls at my heartstrings! I loved the way you seemed to tell two stories in one in the opening chapters. The soldier's rescue of baby Alaya hooked me immediately, and then you beautifully filled in all the pieces as Enrique's story unfolded. You painted a vivid, realistic picture of war with all its heartbreak, tragedy, and raw emotion. Yet there was a underlying sense of hope. I loved the prayer the German missionary shared with Enrique: "In the midst of the battle there will be the Lord. When we can go no further, it is there God will take us." Beautiful and powerful and so, so true. This is a real gem, Ron. I am starring this very highly and holding on my WL for future reading. A deeply moving read.

All the very best,
Faith Rose
Now To Him

LCF Quartet wrote 498 days ago

Hi Ron,
I just finished reading the first two chapters of your book and I think your MC Enrique is a well-rounded, fleshed persona with a story to tell. Your third-person voice is very clear and easy to follow. I also liked the pace and the overall structure, including the prologue.

The main concept behind your novel is strong and injects hope to the reader immediately.
I look forward to reading more and see where the story is going from here.
High stars and best wishes,
Lucette- Ten Deep Footprints

KMac23 wrote 522 days ago

I read this story before a while back, and am recalling the beauty of all of it. I loved how you set up the first scenes, with the baby, Alaya being saved by the soldier, then going into the tale of Enrique and his marriage to Kayusha and bringing it all back to Alaya again. Then, revealing the background of the soldier, Jacob and leading him up to the point where he saves Alaya. And then you take us to Rollie, Jacob’s son, who has told the story of his father and the rescue of the baby. Lastly, Rollie is set upon an adventure of finding out about Alaya and the missing gold, ending up in a coma as a result. The ending is very good with his father’s dreams being fulfilled.

I can’t say anything that I would work on in this story. It is written so well. I love the themes running through it, God’s help in times of trouble, family and the importance of it, love for our country, self-preservation, war heroes and war causes. There is much to like about this story, and I enjoyed going back to take a second look at it.

A Gate Called Beautiful

Chris Whitson wrote 640 days ago

Hi Ron, I am so impressed first of all with your knowledge and research of your subject matter. Your Christian touch adds a lot of depth and feeling to this captivating story. Your hard work is really paying off here! I love the way you get into the action quickly. That hooked me. Your descriptions are vivid but not too wordy. This keeps the flow very appealing. There is so much going on in these first few chapters, but you do a masterful job of keeping it clean, clear and easy to follow. I'm truly surprised how much I'm enjoying this selection. The characters and the story are totally engaging and I will be back for more. This book is historical, adventurous, extremely well written and purposeful. A wonderful recipe for success.
I have starred this very high! Wow! Well done.
God Bless.

Kerrie Price wrote 642 days ago

I returned to read your book again today, and must say you have done a great job. It has an easy reading flow, with a sense of anticipation of the story about to unfold. I wish you every success for publishing.

KMac23 wrote 651 days ago

I don't usually read war stories much, but I did sit down to read this one and am really impressed with your work and see this as one that would appeal to a wide audience, with its descriptive imagery, historical accuracy and vivid accounts of the pain of the war. The settings are very well described, and it's such a moving tale. I'll be giving it lots of stars! Kara

Mule wrote 653 days ago


Thank you for sharing your work! The writing style is clean and easy to read, and the storyline is engaging. This is an interesting premise that deserves to be developed through the length of a novel, and not anything shorter. Enrique is an engaging protagonist, and his dilemma is enough to carry the reader through the first stages of the novel. I encourage you to show rather than tell--to describe Enrique's emotions and reactions through action and reaction, rather than laying it out through the voice of the narrator. I think the story would be better if the narrator's voice disappeared and the story itself is told through the actions/reactions of the characters. Of course, it is necessary to "tell" what a writer is thinking at times; but, maybe only at select times, rather than saturate the whole scene with narrative second-hand description. I think the premise of this story is quite good enough to be packaged and placed in a bookstore, and to get there I encourage you to keep developing the action. There are paragraphs that are excellently done, so keep improving on those.

Also, I appreciate immensely the scripture references that Enrique and others cite. These help ground the story in a deeper truth; namely, the Bible and the Writer of the Bible, Jesus Christ. Great work!

Keep up the good work!

Sam Cronin

JamesRevoir wrote 657 days ago

Hello Ronald:

I read the first two chapters of December Gold. What a riveting story! There are so many dynamics which bring this novel to life on so many levels. While there are so many elements-war, romance, gold treasure, divine favor, all of these elements are woven together in such as way as to create a fine tapestry to appeal to a wide spectrum of readers. It is clear that, beyond someone who is simply dabbling in writing, you truly have a gift as a storyteller.

The book is well-edited, though occasionally I spotted a few minor typos, which is common regardless of how many times one has gone through the editing process. In Chapter One, in context, "reigning in..." should use the homonym "reining in..."

Also in chapter one, "that the Japanese captured the boat he was a passenger", I would add "on which" before "he was..."

This is an epic novel of which you can be very proud. I see that it has been uploaded since 2010 so you have been very patient to see this rise in ranking to where it is. I am confident, however, that your patience will be greatly rewarded. This book is truly a treasure

Blessings to you, to your family and to your ministry.


Cariad wrote 676 days ago

Hi Ron. An interesting story. Your style is very personal, as though you are sitting telling it to a bunch of avid listeners. It's easy to read, in that it flows well, and the events you relate are recognisable, human ones.

I noticed something in chapter three - the first paragraph is only about seven lines, but you have at least 5 instances or variations of the word 'drink' - drunk, drank, drinking etc. and it began to jar a little, so maybe substitute for one or two? The end of this chapter - just when things seem to be changing and going well - the fact that some evil was about to be unleashed, is a bit 'Oh no!' moment, and a page turner.

Like everyone, it would be even better for a final edit, or even that old trick of making yourself lose at least a hundred words from each chapter - great for weeding out weak, repeated, or wasted words, leaving it all tighter and leaner. Enjoyed the read - have some stars.

David Price wrote 683 days ago

Ron, just read chapter 2, and it's at times like these, I wish I were a faster reader! There is an epic quality to your work, encompassing a range of human experience from war, death and cruelty, to love, beauty and hope. Along the way, you give us visceral, exciting and moving insights into the horrors of being stuck in the middle of a war zone. This is a work of great dedication and I look forward to continuing the journey.
As my strengths as a reader lie in the editing area, I hope you won't mind if I mention a few minor things that slow the action down occasionally. In para 3, in the phrase beginning 'Enrique had crafted an intricate locket...', the word 'image' appears 4 times in 2 sentences. How about simplifying it to something like: 'Enrique had crafted an intricate locket which also incorporated a one of a kind specialty coin, featuring Kyusha's image and her name underneath. After fashioning the coin, he destroyed the imprint of her name on the coin, but left her engraved image..etc'.
In para 6, the word 'being' occurs several times. How about: 'Rumors were rampant that the smelted gold was being hidden in the cave caches prepared for it, and sealed off'.
Also I noticed one spelling mistake: 'a crane like devise'. Should be 'device'.
And in chapter 1, it crossed my mind that you might want to consider using the authentic Filipino expressions 'mamang' and 'papang' rather than 'mom' and 'dad'.
Hope you take these comments in the spirit in which they were intended. And please let me know if you find any of them helpful.

Lenny Banks wrote 684 days ago

Hi Ron,
I read Chapter 10, it was gripping, you have a great way of conveying the story as if you were a thrid person watching from the side, I was facinated. I like the way I was compelled to start guessing what the key was for myself. I love using unusual words and I love the word procrastinating !
Good luck with this book, and Best Wishes.
Lenny Banks

irelandsmemories wrote 686 days ago

Hello Ron
I have read up to ch. 17 and am delighted to have found this historical piece of work. This is Memorial Week so it was a welcome read, how detailed and specific you were with the characters, the countries at war, the political happenings and of course, the emotions of those held captive and for those struggling in the country...

The incidents and characters were kept clean and you just focused on the story at hand, which I liked, the back and forth story lines were well setup so the reader didn't totally drift into another era... For someone who has never sat through a history lesson, this could certainly be a stand-in, with personal and emotional value.

All families go through times of revelations, secrets and issues and your book covers these subjects in an authentic and realistic way.

I am not an expert but I believe the demographic for this book is not just for the mature or middle-aged, many young readers would be attracted to its historical value also.

I will probably see this on a Barnes & Noble bookshelf one day, and I would pick it up without hesitation.

Good luck with the rest of its journey

Thanks for introducing to this wonderful piece of work.
Max stars

David Price wrote 688 days ago

Ronald, I've just finished Chapter 1, and wish I had time to read more today. This is quite a story, both touching and informative. I also have to mention that I spent a year in South Cotabato in 1970 as a Rotary Exchange student. In fact, the last chapters of my book are set there. It was one of the happiest years of my life, and allows me to conclude my book on a hopeful note. So there is particular resonance for me in your story, and I will be back for more as soon as I can. For now, five stars.
MASTER ACT: a memoir

Tod Schneider wrote 695 days ago

Sorry it's taken me so long to take a look. I'm pretty backed up on read requests.
You've done a good job with story telling, and documenting an important slice of history. You're at your best with the anecdotes that you share.
You might want to reconsider the phrase "embraced her lips" in the last paragraph of chapter 1 -- that doesn't sound right to me, unless he's hugging her lips with his arms.
Best of luck with this!
Tod Schneider
I'm in a VERY different genre, but of course take a look if you'd like:

Lena M. Pate wrote 703 days ago

A very well written story with good hooks to keep the reader interested. I liked the going back and forth between the story lines and the characters are well built. The history is not so far back that it isn't remember and it brings to light how one life and lifetime bleeds and feeds into another.

patio wrote 709 days ago

December Gold is close to my heart. A load of aspects are identical to personal experience.

Kerrie Price wrote 715 days ago

Beautifully written. Not my kind of book, Ronald, but I know it would appeal to many who have served in the forces, and their families. I've rated it five stars.

TDonna wrote 724 days ago

Great start, good flow, good pace and writing style. It made me emotional about Alaya and her parents, but it portrayed a selflessness of our soldiers. I will return very soon for more.
(No Kiss Good-bye)

Shelby Z. wrote 726 days ago

This is a well written book.
I would have liked to read chapter 1, but it didn't come up.
Anyways, I like your story a lot. It has an originality to it. I haven't read any book like this one. I like they way you develop it and leave a tension always in the air.
The names are really great. I enjoy new names.
Good work.
Best wishes with it.

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

Melissa Writes wrote 732 days ago

I really enjoyed reading this - I like the use of cliff-hangers/small mysteries at the end of the chapters that made me want to keep reading on (e.g wondering what was in the pouch at the end of chapter one - I was intrigued by that).
The MS is well-written but I noticed a touch of repitition here and there and maybe a few overlong sentences. Apart from that, the story flowed beautifully. Great job!
Lessons in the Dark

junetee wrote 736 days ago

This is a most enjoyable book and I was hooked to the story from the beginning. I read seven chapters and had to stop myself. What a page turner!
The story flows so well, and although you revert back in time, and then back again, you do it well.
A great story with a strong backbone.
Highly starred
Junetee(Four Corners)

grantdavid wrote 736 days ago

A fine, stirring piece of work, Ronald, told rather than written, like a fireside story, so that we miss all the marks of a novel, such as clear, controlled punctuation, well-indicated changes of mood, subtly introduced history of this war, planned preparation for climaxes, and general management of the whole.The highly dramatic plunge into the midst of the conflict might have benefited from reference back to Pearl Harbour, and the Burmese and Malayan invasions by Japan, etc.

Your statement "that carried our troops to victory in 1945". In Luzon, yes, but what about the fatal campaigns in Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and finally the atomic bomb?
With more accuracy, as so fully detailed by other authonomists, your book would have significant promise.
I'm putting it on my W/L in the expectation of that.
David Grant,
"Pompey Chimes"

grantdavid wrote 736 days ago

A fine, stirring piece of work, Ronald, told rather than written, like a fireside story, so that we miss all the marks of a novel, such as clear, controlled punctuation, well-indicated changes of mood, subtly introduced history of this war, planned preparation for climaxes, and general management of the whole.The highly dramatic plunge into the midst of the conflict might have benefited from reference back to Pearl Harbour, and the Burmese and Malayan invasions by Japan, etc.

Your statement "that carried our troops to victory in 1945". In Luzon, yes, but what about the fatal campaigns in Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and finally the atomic bomb?
With more accuracy, as so fully detailed by other authonomists, your book would have significant promise.
I'm putting it on my W/L in the expectation of that.
David Grant,
"Pompey Chimes"

Philthy wrote 753 days ago

Hi Ronald,
I’m here for our read swap. Sorry it’s taken me this long to get here. Below are my findings/comments. They are of course my humblest opinions, so take them for whatever they’re worth (and feel free to ignore whatever you disagree with).
Brilliant imagery and smooth sentence structures. However, a lack of commas in key places make some parts a more tedious read than they need to be. For instance, “The dignitaries lined up in their traditional place for ceremonies such as this seemed excited about the events unfolding,” ought to have a comma after “dignitaries” and “this.” Otherwise, it sounds like they’re in the act of lining up, instead of you describing them already lined up. Just something to think about. There are other examples like this. I know some don’t think this is a big deal, and it really isn’t a huge deal, but strategic and proper uses of punctuation help an author control how the reader interprets what he or she is reading.
“older, white-haired gentleman” you can drop older, as white-haired implies older.
Strong dialogue.
The pros: Strong language paints a vivid picture. Wonderful flow and a knack for storytelling. Strong dialogue makes for great characterization.
The cons: Wordiness at times (some things could be condensed, consolidated or whittled down). Punctuation—I’m not a complete grammar hawk, but when a lack of or misused punctuation disrupts or hides the wonderful writing that’s there, it’s something worth noting.
Ultimately, I don’t think this reads like a final, polished draft. However, I love your writing style and your method of storytelling. This is strong stuff. Highly starred and I’ll gladly give it a spot on my shelf when space becomes available.
Best of luck. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on mine when you get the chance. It’s a completely different style and genre, but it’s always great to get feedback from a gifted writer.
(Deshay of the Woods)