Book Jacket


rank 444
word count 10504
date submitted 03.03.2012
date updated 30.03.2014
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance,...
classification: universal


Valentine But

Two short stories about the importance of love in our life


ESCAPE: Wonders happen every day when we are young. They are as natural at this age, as a rainbow when it rains or a sunbeam kiss on your cheek on a sunny day. When adults, we get serious, become devotees of so-called reality and betray the wonder world of our dreams. This is a fantastic and at the same time nearly-true story about two dreams which gave birth to a little wonder, about two adults who managed to escape the dull world of “reality”.
WADE THROUGH THE DARK: A short story about the fragility of happiness and life itself, about love and the limits of its endurance, about hopes that are not to be betrayed and responsibility to those, who rely on us.

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Branestawm's cat wrote 9 days ago

I read the first story, Escape. For me, the story began at Ch2. The first chapter seemed not altogether pertinent to the narrative, although it does set the context. The first chapter is in the form of explanation rather than narrative.

The premise of the story is good and the narrative itself is engaging, although I found some of the dialogue too wordy (I prefer minimalist dialogue wherever possible). The fight was not entirely convincing and lacked a sense of threat. I liked the way you avoided explaining in terms of actual geography (apart from a few place names) where the action was taking place and I liked the lack of explanation of words such as Zhigooly. I was a little mystified by a few of your phrases such as ‘cannibalistic charity’ (that made me scratch my head). The names Victor and Victoria seem a little too alike, unless, of course, that is your intention.

It’s a charming tale, a sort of fairy tale.

Margaret Holly wrote 20 days ago

Wade Through The Dark

I've now read your second story and it's a poignant piece.

Bob is "Watching life passing......" Is that his own, his wife's or watching the world go by? A bit of each, I would suggest. In this short story we see his own, lonely state, his remembrance of his wife's death ten years ago, and what other people are doing around him.

As in the first story "Escape" we get a sense of the liberating effect of the sea and its power to change lives, for good as well as for ill. The title gives us the hope that Bob will make it through the dark to the light and we finish with the suggestion that Lady Fate is smiling at him.

An enjoyable, well constructed story, though a little heavy on technical jargon for a non-sailor.

One suggestion: I would say "One could see his catamarans in the majority of marinas" - the present phrasing left me with a picture of four-legged creatures running along the jetty.


Margaret Holly wrote 23 days ago

James Bond with a romantic dream - and written in lyrical prose. What more could the reading public want?

High stars.


Mr Mystery wrote 24 days ago

What can I say that others haven't? There's just something so nice about your writing. I devoured every word. It's the sort of thing I could see myself reading again. I really hope you put up more! Full stars and backed.

Jumberly wrote 28 days ago

A boat and the sea and a woman.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

As soon as I started to read, Masefield came into my head. And that's the biggest compliment I can give.
Backed, 6 stars.

Annabel Watkinson wrote 29 days ago

Hi, here for my return read. I just read the whole of your first story, ESCAPE. It was lovely, sweet, but most of all, I just really enjoyed your writing. Very lyrical and smooth. It was a pleasure to read. :)


AliyaM.books wrote 32 days ago

Very smooth writing style! It's very vivid and precise, which is a good thing. You write with confidence and it shows through in your work. Well done!

Raymond Crane wrote 37 days ago

Hi, just a few pointers about chapter 4 which I consider to be literary fiction at its best. - 'under each lustful ass' I would say arse! - and - [a] striking information on the mixed up diskettes ... ,drop the [a]. The dialogue is sure footed and you step delicately, however I find it too metaphysical, there should be an occasional reference to their environment or setting, such as , 'a whispering breeze echoed their feelings,' or something like that , 'the waves lapped interrupting the eternal silence.' Hope this helps, and I wish you all the best - R

LiveinPI wrote 43 days ago

I've read both stories... very well written. I liked Escape. I too have a younger wife.. 35 years younger and a child, so I can put my self in his shoes... well done...

Robyn Quaker wrote 66 days ago

Escape by Valentine But
Poignant, beautifully written. I have read both stories and they really touched me. You write with a steady pace and good dialogue. I often think like Victor of how simple and free a bird's life is.

You certainly know all about sailing. I wasn't sure if Victor and Victoria were deliberately chosen names. In chapter three when Victor and Mustapha are speaking you have missed 'me' from the sentence ... Tell ..if you need something. No other typing mistakes.
I like the silver bells.

Igor was menacing and you portray that very well especially when you describe him.
It was nice for a change to have a happy ending because at one point I thought it was going to get deeper with drug trafficking.

The second story was very sad indeed more so when Bob thought he saw Lizzie and searched for her overtaken by hallucinations. The last sentence is brilliant.

I have had this book on my watchlist for a long time and seem to think I owe you a return read. I'm so glad I remembered and glad I read it. I take it you do sail because there was so much attention to detail and spot on.
High stars.

Robyn Quaker
Halfpennies And Blue Vinyl

georgelle wrote 67 days ago

GSWTCG review of ESCAPE by Valentine But

These are two short stories which contain a theme of understanding and acting on love as it comes into ones life. Often there is a precursor to the moment that love becomes apparent and moves into the cause of future actions. That precursor may come as a dream or a recurrence of dreams. The first story, ‘Escape’ portrays the concept very well.

The second story, ‘Wade Through the Dark’ demonstrates the power of love to enter a distressed hallucinatory desperate mind to save that soul from death itself. These stories are not completely posted but enough is posted to conclude there is a good storyteller in this author. They contain well-presented nautical themes which are some of my favorite subjects.

There is some minor editing which will be taken care of as time passes. But overall the stories are sound and are page turners. Good and likable M/Cs and good visual scenes color this book with emotion and a slice of life that remains both interesting and exciting.

Recommended and highly starred

George McLendon
Papa’s Gift

Jorre wrote 67 days ago

Poignant and full of imagery. Dialogue is believable, and good pace. Think the forty age thing is repeated too often, but story has authentic ring to it. Not sure about the kgb stuff and how it fits, but will read on and definitely back, because you tell your story well. Some paras too long for me, but I suffer from ADD :)

Andreea Daia wrote 70 days ago

There is such a very melancholic feel about this story that I believe most adults who passed through a life crisis will identify with it. The beginning of the story when the main character dreams about leaving his past behind and sailing away made me dream about me “sailing” away and running away of my own problems. I believe this identification with the main character, regardless of the reader’s gender and profession, is the strongest point of this story.

This feel is strengthened by the soft lilt of the narration. Sometimes the emotions of the main character seep into his environment, as for instance when describing the stars as “cold and sharp” after the goons beat him. It is a wonderful stylistic technique that proves the author’s skill.

The sailing jargon is knowledgeable and will attract the fans of this hobby as well as the dreamers of far adventures. The manuscript is very clean and well edited and the only issue I noticed was “he began to distinguish” which should have been “he began distinguishing.”

Thank you for such a lovely read on Friday afternoon! High stars and good luck!


hockgtjoa wrote 72 days ago

I like the quiet and steady feel of the stories even though most stories try for more drama, more twists and turns. The location on the Crimea and references to the Soviet Union and the "cannibalistic charity" of its laws are concrete (literary, not political judgement), and we should all have more friends like Mustapha. Great job on capturing the atmosphere of being in a boat on the sea in both stories

Best wishes,

hockgtjoa wrote 72 days ago

I like the quiet and steady feel of the stories even though most stories try for more drama, more twists and turns. The location on the Crimea and references to the Soviet Union and the "cannibalistic charity" of its laws are concrete (literary, not political judgement), and we should all have more friends like Mustapha. Great job on capturing the atmosphere of being in a boat on the sea in both stories

Best wishes,

Olivia Boothe wrote 82 days ago

This is return read. I read through the first story. It is elegantly written and very dreamy. I liked your prose and the storyline. The only bummer was that it was a short story...I wanted to be part of their whole sail away with them and live their romance with them. I enjoyed it though. Thank you.

Overall I think you've done a swell job. Keep up the great writting. High stars!

Jed Oliver wrote 84 days ago

Valentine, I have read it all, and must say you have reached into my heart and touched it.
Some of my deepest fantasies lie expressed within your words. This is magnificent, beautiful writing.
This is magical poetry. Best regards, jed Oliver

JBerg wrote 85 days ago

I loved your lyrical prose. It was both soothing and eye-catching at the same time. Some things to keep in mind, however. I would get rid of the very first paragraph. You don't need it. Start immediately with the second paragraph. Also, you tend to overuse adjectives and adverbs. These often detract from writing, not enhance it and editors like myself really don't like them. Here a few examples of what I'm referring to:
He slept badly ... how do you badly sleep? Instead use verbs to tell your story. Such as He tossed and turned all night or He did not sleep. This says more than "he slept badly".
dark transparent abyss ... I love the word abyss, and because it basically means a dark hole, you can get rid of dark and certainly get rid of transparent. Transparent means you can see through it. Simply keep the word abyss.
"The stars were numberless, and like jewels spilled on the dark velvet of night, looked cold, mysterious, and compellingly attractive." Numberless is the wrong word. I think you're looking for countless or innumerable. You don't need "dark" and you certainly don't need "compellingly".
The above examples are just a few examples of what I'm talking about. Wordiness gets an author no where. Some advice I gave my English students and editing clients ... highlight all adjectives and adverbs and try to use nouns or verbs in their place. This will make your writing tighter and better.
Best regards,
Amber Waves of Grace

AlisonW wrote 88 days ago

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed your first two chapters. Your story has a lovely beginning - beautiful, almost lyrical prose. I'm intrigued by this and definitely want to know what happens and where the relationship is going. It all seems very romantic up until the end of chapter two, but I am sure that Victoria isn't all she seems - your protagonist seems to wonder if it's all too good to be true and I am wondering the same thing! One (very) small gripe - I did sometimes feel that the dialogue wasn't natural enough. Aside form this - high stars and I will back this soon.
The Black Hours

Debbie R wrote 96 days ago

I have read the first 3 chapters and have enjoyed being taken on a journey by your lyrical prose.
Your descriptions of the natural world are beautiful - stars 'like jewels' 'spilled ono the dark velvet of night'.
I like the slow pace of the opening chapter. It has a rhythm to it, like that of the sea and the seasons.
'Long winters left their silver threads in his hair' - I particulalry liked this line.
We slowly learn of the main character's life. His broken marriage, his children and the death of his father. I get the strong sense that he is a man who does things properly, a man of duty and a man who has a dream.

Chapters two and three
The pace picks up here with the arrival of Victoria pushing the story into motion.
I like the fact your main character has a very poetic sense of her being the girl he has dreamed of whereas we soon learn she is being used by her husband as bait to get him to deliver a package.
The sense of peace and tranquillity has suddenly been broken by Igor and his underhand tactics.
With the protagonist struck from behind at the end of chapter three I am left wanting to find out what happens next. Just what a good story calls for.

When time allows I will return to read on.
High stars.

Narcissus wrote 99 days ago

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Escape! The writing is great, paced well, has some very nice poetic moments, and is entertaining. Of course, what seasoned gentleman doesn't like the thought of being admired by a younger very attractive woman...? I want to see this book reach the desk!!! Top stars for this excellent read.

~Isles End

aerisen wrote 117 days ago

Lovely romantic story, so well written. I enjoyed it very much. Best wishes and good luck with this, Alara

Brendie wrote 122 days ago

This is a lovely story that reminds every middle aged man of the dreams he had as a young man. I love the way you describe actually finding that dream,only to suddenly realize that the people you were traveling with were no longer there to share it with you. It was your dream, not theirs.
However, there are a few things that concerned me about the style of writing - it felt sometimes as if you threw all the thoughts in your head onto the table. Everything you wanted to say is there, but it needs to be smoothed out and rearranged into a sleeker and leaner model...
Also you use some phrases that I'm not sure about - in paragraph 1 you say; 'the crowded beaches roared even louder.' Do beaches roar?
I feel that just using 'He' in paragraph 2 feels cold and distant. I know you don't want to use a name, but maybe if you said; 'The middle aged man, or the tanned, muscular man,' it would give some life to the character.
In paragraph 3 your expression 'a strange half forgotten feeling' doesn't sound quite right. Also I got a bit confused in paragraph 7 with; 'wild winds of hyper-inflation shook the whole of his previous life, stripping him of all his illusions ...'
I really hope this doesn't sound too picky, Valentine. I'm just relating the story to how I would like it to read, but that is only my honest opinion and not meant to detract from the overall work.
Anyway, high stars and a visit to my bookshelf

Darius Stransky wrote 144 days ago

Loved it. Autobiographical methinks eh?
Characters brilliant
Subsidiary characters the same
A complete story in a book (better than a box eh?)
Starred it high and can find no wrong in this.
No re-write required. The sort of tale that makes a man think about things and remember his own lost loves.
Well done.

celticwriter wrote 145 days ago

Nice, beautiful. On watchlist for now :-)


Joshua Jacobs wrote 145 days ago

This was a nice change of pace read for me. I dabble mostly in young adult literature which typically starts in the middle of conflict at a roaring speed. ESCAPE, however, grabbed my attention right away with a different tactic. You did this by creating a very specific mood and tone, one that was incredibly easy to identify with. The fact you never name your protagonist in the opening chapter made it easy to put myself into his shoes, and as he aged in your opening pages, I saw my life reflected. Your descriptions are magnificent, and though not much happens in real-time in the opening pages, a great deal happens, and I can only imagine that anyone who has lived will find themselves nodding along with the passage of time and the deflating of dreams. At the same time, the subtle, almost impossible-to-detect promise of hope felt real as if this story wasn’t just a story but a memory. And then came the last two paragraphs. Typically I don’t read much beyond the first chapter on authonomy, but your last two paragraphs got me and I knew I needed to read on. Wow. Well done.

My only hesitation came in chapter II. The opening paragraphs when he first sees the girl from his dreams seem rather unceremonious compared the beautiful details you wrote in the opening chapter. I’m a little split on this. On one hand, I’d love to see a little more build-up to show the significance of this event—maybe having time itself seem to stop—and to cause the reader a bit more anxiety, but on the other hand, I sort of like the suddenness of this. Because, really, when moments like this happen they typically ARE unceremonious and sudden. With all that said, I wonder then if you could think of a way to make his anxiety leap off the page. He has been dreaming of this woman for years. If it were me, I’d be a mix of terrified and excited, but mostly, I’d be overwhelmed with worry that I’d blow this opportunity I’d dreamed of for so long. For me, his uneasiness fades a little too quickly. If it’s a matter of him feeling unusually comfortable around her, then maybe he can think this?

A few minor notes:
- You’re missing a period after “and I do remember everyone I love….” he said
- I LOVE the dialogue. It’s clever and realistic, and it does wonders for your characterization.
- The subtle details like him touching her scar and brushing an eyelash from her cheek are excellent. It shows an immediate connection between the two.
- Possible typo? “She took off his shirt and made a step…”
- You have an unnecessary period after Chapter III
- In chapter three, when you mention him seeing Victoria for the first time, you refer to her as “she.” I wonder, if for the reader’s sake, it would be better to mention her by name here.
- Should be “Whatever you are having.”
- I love the introduction of conflict in chapter 3. You know you have your reader engaged when all he can think is a mixture of “damn, I had hoped she wasn’t using him” and “well, that’s life, isn’t it?”
- Love this line, “Like a drunkard after a wet night.”
- I love the exchange about dreams and virtual reality. Your dialogue is so cleverly written that I’m jealous!
- I wonder if the resolution is too easy. Can you make Victor work a little harder? Make things a little more challenging?
- Nice ending, too. Like with the opening, you really know how to play with your reader’s emotions.

Well, I have to admit I’m impressed. This is far from my typical reading material, yet there’s more depth, characterization, and ingenuity in this short story than there is in most of the full-length novels I read. Fantastic work. I’ve given it high stars and a spot on my shelf come December 1st. And I’d love to know if you ever publish this work. I’ll be the first to buy a copy.

Willow Fay wrote 162 days ago

Hiya! Here for our swap.
Started reading last night. What a fresh read! You're opening paragraphs are wonderful and I love the use of your words. I think someones already said...but I also loved this line, 'that freedom was a young girl...this is a tired lady of her late forties.
Your dialouge also good
the story is kind of poetic in a sense, it's almost like you know the MC right from the onset. Your characters a relatable. You show your characters emotions well.
Its a lovely read, but i also think you could make this into a full novel, there's so much more than could be expanded on. But at the same time, it's also good as a short story.

All in all, a very nice, romantic, and fulfilling story.
Great writing :)
High stars given.

Willow x

MMaguire wrote 162 days ago

Valentine, this made for a very enjoyable night of reading!


Lovely opening. Well done.

The, “That freedom was a young girl…” line is great.

Nice dialogue in chapter 2. It all rings true. In fact, the whole chapter is very strong, and moves very nicely. Chapter 3 continues to be high quality. I like writing about fights, and you do it well here. “The hook at the guy’s chin was heavy enough to lay out a calf…” is a great line!

When Victor said, “You’re too talkative old man…” I wasn’t completely clear on what his mood was. I assume somewhat angry and annoyed, but I thought perhaps he could’ve been kidding a bit.

I didn’t spot any bad typos or grammatical errors at all.

Overall this is, simply put, a very pleasant read. I read every word and wasn’t once bored. My only suggestion, and I’m largely saying this just because I feel like I should suggest something in case you’re looking for suggestions, would be to consider cutting down on some of the set-up of chapter 1 a bit, so the readers get to the meeting of Victoria and the subsequent action more quickly. Then again I agree with another commenter who said it could be expanded.


Oooh, wow, well done again. To get that much emotional impact out of such a short story is really impressive.

One little thing here, the wording seems a bit off at: “… that particular restaurant was his fear not to cope with…”

An editor would probably want you to use more commas between prepositions, but that’s up to you.

Thanks for providing such compelling stories!

Jjkendrick wrote 169 days ago

Hi Valentine, What a sweet love story, and bittersweet tale you have here. Your writing is so comfortable, it felt as if an old friend were telling me these stories. There is a sincerity that pulls the reader in,and calms the soul. While reading Escape, I kept thinking it could easily become a full length novel. There is so much you could do with the MCs back stories, especially Victoria getting tangled up with the thug. It would make for a captivating read. I guess I just want more. LOL (that's a good thing.) You packed a great deal of emotion into Wade Through The Dark in minimal words. Kudos on that. High stars, indeed. All the best, JJ

Michelle Richardson wrote 174 days ago

Valentine, I have been meaning to read the remainder of your work for a while now and finally got around to it. I really enjoyed the ending to to chapter four, and as usual your descriptions spring right off the page. The same beautiful prose can be found in your next story, setting the scene so effortlessly. A great read and you should be very proud of it.

John Regan wrote 191 days ago

Your prose is rich and evocative with some lovely vignettes. I particularly liked '...long winters left their silver threads in his hair...' and 'years of his life, ground by the mill of time into grey dust...'
There is an occasional slipup, however, such as '...young, eager foal...' (A foal is young.), and '...stars began to emerge in the sky getting darker and darker...' sounds like the stars are getting darker, and you don't need two darkers. I wonder if 'the income (from the boat) was enough to keep the family afloat...' is a joke.

I wonder if you have a market in mind for a 10,000 word short story and think you could do quite a bit of pruning, especially in the early chapters. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining and unique story with a dreamlike quality.

Narcissus wrote 194 days ago

I've commented on this piece before, but had to come back and compliment the author again. This is a very well written piece and I only wish I could read more...! (hint, hint...) It's both romantic, and poetic....easy to get involved with, never boring. Great job, Valentine! This deserves to be in print, and I have no doubt, will be some day, one way or another.
~Isles End

AriesAirhead wrote 196 days ago


I read Escape. From your picture I can see you, like Victor, are also a sailor (of if not, you look comfortable on a boat). The metaphors and similes in the first couple of paragraphs were wonderful. I enjoyed those very much. What a boost for an older man (who doesn't think the best of himself) to have a pretty, young woman interested in him. Having Victoria married and prostituted wasn't something I expected. I wondered if she didn't just have a passing interest in Victor (saw him as a way to get away from her husband) or if she genuinely liked him. When it was revealed later that she remembered him from years ago, I had my answer. Maybe elaborate on that more--is one voyage enough to making a lasting impression (even though he saved her)? Another thing that was jarring was her to blurt out that she wanted children. I always believe in being upfront but that was odd. Victoria had just been saved from her husband, Victor had been in fights and they were running away together--does someone usually (after such traumatic experiences) say that? Aside from my few nitpicks, wouldn't it be nice if the real world worked in such a way as you've vividly described? It is the ultimate fairy tale.


Andrew Esposito wrote 200 days ago

Escape is a warm, gentle journey. I liked the theme of the yacht and the sea as it transported Victor through his dreamy life. There are many good turn of phrases and evocative descriptions such as: 'ground by the mill of time into dust' , 'a dusty half goat-eaten park' and 'partly lost, partly killed.'

Chapter 1 set the scene well, although I would have liked Victor to be revealed sooner by name.

I really liked Chapter 2. Very engaging and sexy in a subtle way. I wanted to know more about the older man and his younger woman. As the story ebbs and flows in the following Chapters, the darker side of the plot is unveiled. The fight scene is action packed and even a little humourous such as the punch that would 'lay out a calf'. I also liked the line 'she's prima'.

The narrative and the dialogue is well constructed and well written. Only typo I found was '- well smoked - /ham'
I think there may be too many '!' used when there already is a lot of good description. This can also be said of some of the naming such as 'skinhead', 'goblin' and 'yellow rat'. These terms are internalized by Victor and are not dialogue. The actions, such as the Rothmans cigarette smoke being blown in Victor's face is enough to convey to the reader the unsavory character of Igor. However, I think the descriptive noun of 'athlete' is a good visual. The principle characters being Victor and Victoria has a romantic ring... although some readers may find it a little too cute.

I thought Wade Through the Dark, the second story was again evocative, albeit quite short. The dream sequence of the woman in the water did remind me of Chapter 2 in Escape - even though this time it was a drowning scene. Perhaps this is a deliberate link with the yacht and the sea again.

Valentine, I think you have written some lovely prose that is a rewarding read suitable for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It left me wanting more. I've rated Escape highly and wish you much success. Best regards, Andrew Esposito / Killing Paradise

Elina Ivanov wrote 211 days ago

Very smooth. I was reading and enjoying how flowing it was, like a milk chocolate. Honesty, the writing is very good.

Elina Ivanov.

Robyn Quaker wrote 214 days ago

Warm, wishful and wanting more writing. It's so refreshing to read a gentle touching piece of work. I am intrigued and need to read on. Lovely descriptions. High stars.
Robyn Quaker
Halfpennies And Blue Vinyl

Jim Darcy wrote 230 days ago

You write in an engaging and easy way which quickly appeals to the reader. Victor and Victoria work as a pairing but, I must admit, I was desperate in the first chapter to know his name so I could peg an idea of what he was like to it. Also, and just IMO, the beginning needs a little work. For example, you don't really need 'even louder than ever' when either 'even louder' or 'louder than ever' would suffice. I like the twist with the bad guys and the yacht is like a third MC, lending colour and atmosphere.
In all, a pleasant read for a rainy Saturday night.

sesad wrote 236 days ago

Hi Valentine,
A good friend of mine recommended your book. What a lovely, romantic story; I throughly enjoyed it. It's such a nice change from all the books I've been reading lately. High stars, Best wishes, Sesad

C.I. DeMann wrote 252 days ago

really nice work, Valentine. this is true literature. each story felt different, and yet they both had your beautiful writing style. love the romance of Escape. Well done. Good luck with this.

Natalya Nickerson wrote 259 days ago

Hi Valentine!

Finally dropping the comment I promised! Things got a little crazy for me! Sorry!

I read the first two chapters and was pleased. So far, it seems to be a lighter, easier read than many of the other stories I’ve read. And that is A VERY GOOD thing! Especially since we’re introduced to the story on a warm summer night. This novel would be a great companion to relax with at the beach. Nice job!

“But then it happened.”--→ Brilliant ending to chapter one. Questions zipped through my mind at that point and I had to read on.

As I read, I felt that you often duplicated your descriptor words. I’m sure you meant to be thorough and emphasize your point, but it sometimes made the sentence read funny IMO. I’ve pointed to a few in the first chapter.

“On those summer days the crowded beaches roared even louder than ever…” ==== I’d probably drop the “even” here. I’ve read the sentence several times and I feel that it impedes the flow.

“…dark transparent abyss spangled with millions of stars. The stars were numberless…” ==== This is nit picky, but you give the stars a number (millions of stars) and then immediately follow it with “the stars were numberless.” I understand you’re trying to emphasize that there were a lot of stars… but you have a beautiful metaphor following. I think that does the trick.

“…folk did for centuries and centuries…” Same thing here. There’s no need for “and centuries.” The first century is plural, which means hundreds of years without a definite limit. That means a lot of years!

Great work. High stars and I’ll be back for more as soon as I can!

Natalya Nickerson
Anomaly: Love & Loss

Kate J Squires wrote 263 days ago

Hi Valentine, returning your read:

What a way you have with words! I felt as though I'd been dipped in a descriptive world, with every detail thought about and flawlessly presented. Both stories are intriguing, even though they share similarities. I liked Escape for its simple redemptive qualities and Wade is a much darker tale, with my heart breaking for the lost love at sea. Those who enjoy your literary and beautiful style will love these tales - high stars and I wish you all the best with it.

Kate J. Squires
Feather Light

Geowonderland wrote 284 days ago

Your story is a smooth read, perfect for the summer :)
Good luck,

nese wrote 293 days ago

Hi Valentine,
A very good friend of mine recommended your book to me. I read the first story, Escape, and thoroughly enjoyed it. So, nice to find something purely romantic and promising in the dismal atmosphere of the world today. Your story gives me hope for a better world, with better prospects. Thank you for inspiring me...
High stars, backed, best wishes,

CJBowness wrote 301 days ago

I have read the first story and was enchanted and soothed by it. It is so nice to read a romance of such delicacy where love is described and sex is implied. So often sex is described and love is absent.

Your style resonates with romance and you create a strong atmosphere with your descriptions, first of the sea, then of the woman, the bar and its owner, the fights and finally the happy ending. However, I think sometimes you 'overwrite', which can make your language seem sort of 'top heavy'. I would advise some drastic editing which would leave the bones barer and let the shape of your story and its meaning shine through less encumbered. I think that, when you love words, it is difficult not to use too many of them, but sometimes 'less is more', as they say.

I have given you lots of stars because I love this and will not forget it in a hurry.

CJ Bowness
The Lost Palace

Tornbridge wrote 306 days ago

Escape by Valentine But

Beautifully written. What else can I say… OK, I will. “The darkness was complete and continued endlessly, as did the silence.” Valentine’s enthusiasm for the subject is obvious and born from experience. I spent many a childhood holiday on our ocean cruiser and much of this took me right back. I like the parallels drawn between relationships, love and being at sea.

I always send any crits via message.

Best of luck with this, superb work.

The Washington Adventure

Keiran Proffer wrote 309 days ago

Overall comment
On the whole well-written with virtually no typos. The only objection I have is to your style. I think you overdo the adjectives. See various points below. My rule is: when in doubt, leave them out.
Also the golden rule in fiction is "show, don't tell". Let the reader see for himself e.g. that his life has unravelled, etc. by describing what happened. More factual description of what had happened to him would be better.
However, I have been accused of cutting things down too far and leaving people feeling they do not know my characters.

Comments on indiviual chapters below.


Chap 1
General comments:
1. I think you overdo things a bit in the first 2 paras. Is summer's end melancholy? Some people like autumn. Also we all know stars are numberless.
2. It helps to be clear even if you have to sacrifice some of the drama. e.g. "Wild winds of hyper-inflation..." What exactly happened? Most of your readers have not lived in a Soviet society. I am not quite clear why his wife left him and under what circumstances. Why should inflation affect their love?

Detailed comments:
1. Is a Zhigooly a summer cottage? I was not clear whether your were explaining or giving an alternative. Maybe you should say something like "a Z. as they called summer cottages".
2. "cannibalistic charity"? What does that mean?
3. I would make the last line: "So when it happened, he was totally unprepared." It sounds more intriguing.

Chap 2
General comments:1. I missed any sense of awe. If he had been dreaming about this girl and then she suddenly appears, he would be constantly asking himself if it was really happening.

Detailed comments:1. If he was asleep, how did he hear the soft splashes?
2. "pretty girls"? If she really was the girl he had been dreaming about he would be tongue-tied at first, and not dare complement her. As you say later he was never "at ease with pretty girls"
Also (in Britain) the only people who call girls pretty to their faces are old men or women who are past any sexual interest in them.
3. "what on Earth" -> "what on earth"
4. "took away eyelash": taking liberties! You don't touch a girl you have just met!
5. "jumped": I read that to mean did not dive.
6. In my experience older men can say no to pretty girls: it's younger men who find it harder.

Chap 3
General comments:
1. "He was not superstitious"?! From what follows it sounds as if he is! Also I couldn't really understand the rest of the para. What does "evolution-blind" and "hieroglyphs for a baboon" mean?

Detailed comments:1. "ground by the mill of time": overdoing it! "Twenty years of the best years of his life lay in those streets" works perfectly well, making the point.
2. Didn't understand the shaven-headed goblin until I read further. Maybe you could make it clear he was one of the group.
3. How did he manage to smash a man's nose with his elbow when the man was behind him? I've tried to make the movement. How did he aim?
4. Where does the Bible say "a woman is a net"? Do you mean Ecclesiastes 7:26? It is usually translated as "snare".

Chap 4
General comments:
1. I think this chapter went on a bit too long. They have discovered each other and escape. Some of it could be cut.

Detailed comments:
1. What is Chumak's Way?
2. "gave birth to that shadow"? I didn't believe a young girl would talk like that. What does she mean?
3. A break before "Wonderful" should be indicated. Say by a line with 3 dots: ...

Jennie6092 wrote 311 days ago

The premise of the story is intriguing and I think it has real potential. I have listed some of my suggestions for improvement. You are free to dispose of whatever you don't agree with but hopefully you'll find something of use. Incidentally, I found the mention of a baby kind of out of place; it just seemed not to fit and as I read on, it didn't appear to be an integral component of the story, so here's my two cents: I'd get rid of it. You lose some of the wonder and mystery of the story by straying to something so grounded in reality. It places the events in an every day context, which it appeared to me, was not your intent. In any case, high ************* to you for the potential and it was an enjoyable read. Now for the suggestions:

Chapter 1 - Paragraph 1: "every instant of departing summer" Suggestion: "every instant of the departing summer"

Chapter 1 - Paragraph 5: "Zhigooly" I have quite an extensive vocabulary but I am unfamiliar with this term. That doesn't mean you should not use it, just that it would be nice if you could include a brief explanation. (What is it?)

Chapter 1 - Paragraph 7: "he had encountered (with) hypocrisy and treachery" The word 'with' does not belong - it needs to be removed.

Chapter 1 - 3rd paragraph from the bottom: "but despite (of) all his curiosity" The word of needs to be removed.

Chapter 2 - Paragraph 1: "It was early morning." I think it would be a good idea to combine this sentence with the next. It is kind of short and choppy. Short sentences serve a purpose; perhaps to make some dramatic point, but in this case there is nothing significant to focus on and it is a bit mundane. Suggestion: "Still sleeping in the early morning," (and then include the rest of the sentence) OR eliminate the first sentence completely and begin the chapter with the second sentence. Your first chapter ends with "And then it happened." Now the reader eagerly turns to the second chapter to find out just what happens but the first sentence is a disappointment after that build-up because all that immediately happens is that "It was early morning." It's not very exciting.

Chapter 2: "what on Earth her words could mean" The word 'Earth' should not be capitalized in this instance as it is merely part of an idiom / phrase and is not a proper noun as it would be if it were to name earth as a specific place in relation to the universe / galaxy, as would be the case in some sci-fi works. Just use 'earth'.

Chapter 3 - Paragraph 2: The last sentence is too long and a bit confused. If you were to break it up into two clear sentences it would be appreciated by the reader. I won't offer a specific suggestion here because the tone and content just were not obvious but I'm sure when you review it you'll be able to adjust it somehow.

Chapter 3: "cursing the Heavens" Suggestion: 'Heavens' should not be capitalized in this case.

Chapter 4 - Paragraph 1: "He knew it for sure." Suggestion: I would eliminate the sentence. Although it is likely meant to add certainty / finality to the thought, it only detracts from that. It's too short, too choppy, and doesn't fit with the sentence before it or the one following it. It's just unnecessary.

Chapter 5: "most of all it works on your brains" 'Brains' should be singular; each person has only one. Use 'brain'.

Well, there you have it, my two cents. Happy writing!


wekabird3 wrote 314 days ago

Wade Through the Dark. By Valentine But. 08/06/13
Hi, I struggled at first but realize that English may not be your first language. Having said that, some of your descriptive phrases are great. Please feel free to dump whatever you want.
I assume, from the first sentence, that the narrator is in Cape Town. If so, then maybe the second sentence should begin with 'Here' not 'There.'
As I explained in my last message, I spent quite a lot of time at sea, both sailing and other boats/ships.
Moorage. (haven't actually come across that word before-usually a mooring). A ship is said to be moored when it has two bow anchors out and not tied up at a jetty.
An anchorage is a designated area of water where ships can anchor, again not tied to a jetty.
It seems, from your description, as if the schooner and Bob's boat were 'tied up alongside the jetty' etc.
'It's your choice,' said he. Usually written as ,'he said.' Unless going way back in time or, if this is your style then okay
Assuming Bob is a one-man crew, small boat, he would have some kind of stove, not fire. Most probably gas operated.
'promised to be at…' (why three periods?
'Steered his own rout.' (route) but 'own course' much better. (Nautical Terminology).
You have plenty of general comments about the story and setting so I will not duplicate. Maybe some general editing and sorting the tenses will help improve things.

Good luck,

AlexandraMahanaim wrote 318 days ago

Wade through the Dark

Since I have read the Escape, I am moving on to the second story.

“His heart wept tears of blood.” Powerful descriptive of the tragedy that is described here. Lizzie drowned at the sea. I am glad that you start the story where the MC has already recovered from the incident because it is a shock to me…I am glad that MC still can enjoy the wind, the sea, and his boat. It tells me that there is hope for everyone who suffers to regain once lost territory.

Few things to fix:
“South –Easter” should be ‘Southeast wind’. I tried to look up your word combination in the Google and could not find it.
In the first paragraph, start a new paragraph with Tomorrow morning…The entire thought should be italicized and no quotes around it.
In the paragraph, starting with “He looked back at…” fix em-dash as follows: “…Nellie—a thirty-year-old redhead beauty—and a young…” Note that there are no spaces, yet some modern writing allows spaces but traditionally it is the way I have demonstrated. Notice, the dash is longer.
Same goes for the paragraph, stating with “He drained the potatoes.”
In the paragraph, just above, fix ‘medium-sized’ no space.
In the paragraph, starting with “Bob grinned…” add a quotation mark at the end of the paragraph.

Thank you for sharing your story,
Alexandra Mahanaim
Return to Eternity
Symbolic approach to creation and love

JCS87 wrote 320 days ago

This is written in the finest orchestration. From the moment I started, until I stopped. I have other reads to fulfill so I couldn't finish, but this is truly wonderful.

You're a talented writer. Your mastered imagery is wrapped in poetry as you read along. It's as if I'm there.

I didn't find a thing that needed work, but I wasn't looking for errors.

Your manuscript is amazing, I'll have to rotate it on my shelf in the next coming weeks.

Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your book!
Highly rated, and on my watch list for now.

Bleeding Stars and Paper Hearts