Book Review: “Murder They Wrote” An Anthology of Short Fiction. @MaeClair1 @virgilante @judypost @KathleenPalm @DawnDun66350980 #IARTG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a welcome to my BOOK REVIEW of “Murder They Wrote” An Anthology of Short Fiction. Seven great stories from seven talented authors. You’ll read shorts from these folks  Mae Clair ,C.S. Boyack, Judi Lynn, Julia Donner, Kathleen Palm D.P. Reisig and Rachel Sherwood Roberts

Murder They Wrote by [Judi Lynn, C.S. Boyack, Mae Clair, Kathleen Palm, Julia Donner, D.P. Reisig, Rachel Sherwood Roberts]

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Seven great ways to spend your reading time! A superb collection of Mystery Shorts from an eclectic selection of authors and disciplines.

I knew I was in for a treat when I began reading this anthology. You can’t go wrong with such a diversity of authors and genres. If you enjoy Speculative/fantasy fiction, cozy mysteries, Regency,  Ghost stories, and more don’t miss this chance to see each featured here.

It was pure pleasure to read selections from two authors I’m already a huge fan of, namely Mae Clair and C.S Boyack.  Mae Clair delivered my favorite of the collection, “A Winter Reckoning” This one is outside the genre I’ve come to expect from this author and she has nailed it. A beautifully written and totally engaging read.
Craig Boyack “From the Files of Jason Fogg” Allowed me to return to see  already familiar characters doing their thing. 

The introduction to authors I was previously unaquainted with has me now following them all on Amazon.

If you want a riveting reading experience, and a way to indulge yourself with a few hours of great escapism you need to add Murder They Wrote to your Must Read list.

 

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 5) by D.L.Finn @dlfinnauthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 5)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring a contribution from D. L. Finn.

 I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the prompt:

lost-places-3035877_1920

This contribution by D.L.Finn

The Day the Ground Moved

By

D.L.Finn

It jolted me from a deep sleep. Belongings were tossed around like feathers in a windstorm. My wedding picture crashed into the back of my head, but I had no time to worry about the bump as my bed moved toward the dresser that was lodged on its side. My black cat, Sissy, dug her claws into my leg, and I could hear the dog howl from his bed.

“It’s okay, Max!”

It was unlikely he heard me over the growl of the shifting landscape and shattering glass. I pulled myself to the side of the bed as Sissy edged up to my chest.

“It’s the earthquake they said would come, Sissy.”

Hanging on to the cat, I slipped on the leather mules my wife of 35 years had given me last Christmas. I lost Nancy three months later to breast cancer right before everything changed. I pushed down my pain, grabbed our wedding picture, and attempted to run. I found the floor was like a carnival funhouse. I could barely keep upright. My stomach flipped as a powerful wave surged through the house. I grabbed the closet door frame.

“Hang on, Sissy.” She buried her head in my neck. “I should get the go bag in case…”

Tightly gripping the wood structure with one hand, I snatched the bag from the closet, tucked the picture in it, and slung it over my shoulder. Sissy’s claws deepened, cutting into my skin, but I barely felt it as I navigated the dark hall to the creaking steps. The rising sun was peeking through the broken front window, and the neighbor’s car alarm was blaring.

I clung to the shaking railing and made my way down the wooden stairs. Halfway the wall cracked open with a loud pop.

“Crap.” I quickened my pace. “Max! Here, boy!”

The sweet German Shepherd slowly walked to me with his tail between his legs. I grabbed his collar.

“It’s safer outside.” I tried the front door. It wouldn’t open until I used all my weight against it. We burst onto the porch and raced out into the morning dawn. I stood on my front lawn as the brick fireplace crumbled to the ground with a dusty thump on the side of the house.

“Is this ever going to stop?”

As if on cue, the grumble gave way to silence.

A weak cry for help came from across the street. The houses’ two levels were now one.

“I’m coming, Bert!”

The young couple who had just moved in last month stood pale and bloodied by their car.

“Bert and Kathy need help,” I yelled to them and set Sissy down, who immediately hid under my car.

“There’s nothing we can do. We need to get to a safety zone.” The husband replied. They got into their car and left.

I shook my head in disbelief; I knew there was no place to go. In the distance, I saw smoke and rubble as far as my old eyes could see. I rushed over the uneven street. Just then, I heard a screech and saw the young couple’s car fall. It was half in and half out of a large hole. The husband pulled the wife out, and they raced around the corner. Gone.

“Adam, can you hear me?”

“Yes, Bert, I’m coming.”

Thankfully, he was in a pocket by the front door, and I could lift the debris with a crowbar. Bert’s wife, who had been Nancy’s best friend, was crushed under a beam. She didn’t make it. We buried Kathy under her favorite maple tree. I understood his pain.

Bert took over that young couple’s house, and all that was left of our once beautiful area was two old men trying to survive each day. We lived in a world where no help would arrive. Our leader challenged the new directive, and as a cruel example, they detonated our earthquake fault. Later we found a renegade radio channel and learned part of our state was in the ocean.

It was a war no one had wanted. Luckily, Bert and I had a healthy supply of food, water, and weapons. When the time came, I would defend our old ways against the new directive. I knew Nancy would be proud of my stand, but I couldn’t wait to be with her again—when that time came.

~~~

D.L.Finn can be reached here …

Blog site:

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:

On TWITTER:

On FACEBOOK:

Thanks so much for stopping by! I look forward to reading your comments.I’ll be featuring further entries as they are received. 😊

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #13 Entry Part 2) By Harmony Kent @harmony_kent #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 2)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #13.

Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 2)  by Harmony Kent.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

michael-dziedzic-1bjsASjhfkE-unsplash

The Undoer

By

Harmony Kent

Millennia ago, they believed they’d destroyed the key.

Millennia ago, they entrapped The Undoer.

Millennia ago, such evil as you’ve never seen nearly undid the whole world.

The demon slithered into the mind of the mage responsible for melting down that small brass piece that would ensure the monstrosity remained contained. Instead, the confused old man swallowed the key. At some point a few days later—for, in his dotage, his movements happened but seldom—he shat out the magic-forged metal. A few hours later, with a mew of disgust, some young acolyte tossed out the waste.

Centuries passed. Magic disappeared from the world. And a vast, deep forest grew all over the land. Eventually, man grew clever in the ways of commerce, hoarding, and building. The natural ways fell into disrepute, and anyone who claimed extraordinary abilities suffered mockery and denigration.

Into this cold, uncaring, and disconnected modern world, a girl was born. An angel made flesh. A blank slate, ripe for the picking—finely balanced on the razor’s edge that lay between the Light and the Dark.

Molly adored adventure and running in play through the dwindling woods around her home. The squirrels and the birds and all the small creatures made friends with her. Oftentimes, they could be found in a fast game of Catch-Me-If-You-Can.

Long forgotten, The Undoer had grown strong. With his newfound motivation came restlessness. Over time, the demon contrived to erode the soil until, one day, the innocuous-looking little brass key lay atop the mulch and foliage of old growth. Waiting.

A hidden root tripped Molly, and she fell headlong onto the forest floor. Her dainty fingertips splayed mere millimetres from the key. Curiosity lit a flame behind her eyes. Molly reached out for the intriguing trinket.

Time stopped.

Preternatural silence thickened the air, as though all of life held its breath.

With a shudder of revulsion, Molly flicked the key away. Horrified, she brushed the contamination off on her frilly pink skirt, along with the dirt and mulch. Existence stretched and then snapped back, much like an elastic band. The Earth breathed out. A sudden tremor rattled Molly’s teeth. A gaping chasm opened, swallowed the key, and then convulsed shut once more.

In his prison, The Undoer let out a roar of rage. Finally, he knew the name of defeat.

Copyright ©Harmony Kent 2020

CONTACT HARMONY HERE …

Website: https://harmonykent.co.uk and Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page: author.to/HarmonysBooks

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

***

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

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By Email.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as they are received.

 

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #12 Entries Part 6) @dlfinnauthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 6)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12.

Today I’m featuring a contribution from D. L. Finn.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

bryce-barker-cIcX_aO9LPo-unsplash

THE CLOCK

By

D. L. Finn

I gently shifted my weight in the chair, trying to pry my bare legs off the brown vinyl. Several deep breaths did nothing to relieve the tension in my shoulders. I pulled my sweater tightly around me with the realization it wasn’t wise to be dressed for a hot summer day while sitting in a cold hospital room. There had been no change in the last few hours. The constant beeps continued, and the oxygen flowed in and out with a gentle whoosh.

I shook my head at the tragic irony of a man needing me after how he treated me growing up. My father had an undiagnosed mental condition. He hid it well, so only those who lived with him knew his explosive violence under the shrewd mask of a family man. No one saw the marks; they were never on my face. He was careful even when he had lost control. The war and his parents had hurt him so deeply that when it bubbled to the surface – it hurt us. He never seemed aware of his faults, so there was never an opportunity for him to seek any help. My family spent every waking moment, trying not to upset him in the hopes all would be well. It wasn’t.

I sighed loudly and took the protein bar out of my purse. Though I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t want to pass out and end up in a hospital bed, too. I washed the crunchy honey oats down with a bottle of water. The nurse entered the room right after I finished. I pretended to be asleep. There was nothing new she could share with me.

Finally, she was gone, and I sat up staring at the lump of a once proud and cruel man. We were the only two left from my family. Alcohol and drugs took everyone down, except me. I knew when to quit. The man lying in bed had upped his intake of drinking until it was all he did. Today I watched them remove twenty-one bottles of liquid from his abdomen, relieving his labored breathing. He had no idea it was happening.

A flash of light caught my attention, and I quietly got up to investigate. It was coming from the nurse’s station where someone had placed a small golden clock that looked like a holiday ornament. It was the same as…a chill shot through me.

It looked exactly like the clock from my dream last night where I was boxing up my father’s belongings. My only thought had been he wasn’t dead. Then, in one box, was this device. It had a clock face on all four sides as it gently spun in a circle playing my father’s favorite Hank Williams Jr. song.

“Can’t be,” I whispered, hoping I’d seen it the day before.

A loud conversation cleared that up.

“Did you see what that patient in 202 left us today, Sissy?”

“I’ve never seen a clock like that before. How sweet of him.”

I gulped when I saw the time was the same as my dream. Unsure what to do, I stood there frozen until a sudden warmness wrapped me in its wisdom. I quietly closed the door and stood over my father.

“I forgive you, father, even after all you did to us. You weren’t happy here on earth, and I hope you’ll find some happiness where you are going. Please know I’m doing this in love, and I believe it’s what I’m meant to do. Rest in Peace.”

I picked up the extra pillow and held it tightly over his face. He never struggled, but at the last moment, his bloodshot eyes opened. I saw approval in them, as the machines went silent. His eyes closed. I put the pillow back and pushed the nurse’s button right as they threw the door open. Mercifully, they couldn’t revive him.

Later, when I left his room, I hurried past the clock still set at the same time, 11:53. After a long wait for the elevator, the clock began playing my father’s favorite song. I held back a smile when I saw the hands had moved to noon, which only justified my actions.

No one knew what I did that day. I was okay with that because he was free, and so was I.

***

D.L.Finn can be reached here …

Blog site:

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:

On TWITTER:

On FACEBOOK:

Thanks so much for stopping by! The image prompt for Week #13 is now live. I look forward to reading your comments.

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

 

 

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #12 Entries Part 5) By Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 5)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12.

Today I’m featuring a contribution by Joan Hall.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

bryce-barker-cIcX_aO9LPo-unsplash

The clock was ticking. Only one week remained until Janie’s manuscript was due and she found herself staring at a blank computer screen. The pivotal moment, the last few chapters, eluded her like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. So close but just beyond her reach.

I’ll never finish this manuscript by the deadline. There isn’t enough time.

She rose from her writing desk then walked to the window. The falling snow made the yard and surrounding woods look magical. A true winter wonderland. A myriad of birds—finches, buntings, and cardinals—flocked to the feeders. They fluttered about, often fighting with one another. She watched—mesmerized by their movements.

Janie didn’t realize how long she had been there until her cell phone chimed to indicate a new text message.

Probably another reminder from my agent.

Choosing to ignore the message, she glanced at her watch. Fifteen minutes had passed since she first looked out the window. Fifteen wasted minutes.

Oh well, that’s not a lot of time.

She walked back to the computer to stare at the blank page again. Music always inspired her. Maybe it would help. Looking at her vast musical library, she came across the album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Beatles always lifted her spirits. Lots of good songs on this album. “With a Little Help from my Friends” was a favorite.

I can use all the help I can get now.

“Getting Better” was another cheerful tune.

Things can’t get worse, can they?

Then she saw it. “When I’m Sixty-Four.” Janie recalled seeing a video from the film, Yellow Submarine. Using cartoon illustrations, they stated how many minutes were in sixty-four years, then proceeded to count down the last minute of the song.

Janie immediately felt encouraged. One hour is sixty minutes. One day contains 1,440 minutes and a week is 10,080 minutes.

I can do this. One minute can be a very long time.

~~~~~~~~

Joan Hall can be reached here …

BookBub Author Page

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

Facebook Page

Thanks so much for stopping by! The prompt for week #13 is now live.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge Week #12 Entries Part 4) by Mae Clair @MaeClair1 & Gwen Plano @gmplano #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 4)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12.

Today I’m featuring contributions by Mae Clair and Gwen Plano.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

bryce-barker-cIcX_aO9LPo-unsplash

Yesteryear Treasures

By

Mae Clair

The antique store was small, tucked into a side street beside a dried herb emporium. Charlene studied the faded brick façade and low hanging wooden yardarm. The sign creaked in a slight breeze, its flowery blue script proclaiming Yesteryear Treasures. A man with long white hair greeted her when she stepped inside.

“Good afternoon.” He had eyes the color of midnight and long-fingered hands.

“Hello.” Charlene offered a smile then wandered away to browse aisles of pale milk-glass and cameo pins. Bone china teacups, vintage greeting cards, feathered hats and opera glasses, rag dolls with black button eyes. There was too much to take in.

She paused to finger an ornate four-sided clock.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”  The white-haired man appeared behind her.

“My great grandmother had a clock like this when I was a child.” Strange how she hadn’t thought about it in years, but now she could see it nestled atop a dresser in Nana Ruth’s bedroom as though it was yesterday.

What are you doing?” The reprimand in her mother’s voice echoed in her ears. So long ago, yet powerful still. “You shouldn’t be in here.”

 “But, Mama.” She couldn’t look away from the stark numerals and gilded brass casing of the clock. “It has four faces.”

 “It’s not for you to worry about.” Her mother knelt in front of her, lightly gripping her arms. “This doesn’t concern you.”

 “But I’ve never seen a clock like that.”

 “And you won’t again. Forget this one while you can.”

Charlene drew a breath, a bird beating in her chest. The floor felt spongy, like she might slip through into a realm where matter weighed little and thought was tangible. “Why? Is it special?”

“In ways you can’t imagine.” Her mother stood. “Come, child.” Taking her hand, she drew Charlene from the room.

Charlene looked at the man beside her, his white hair a waterfall of ivory. She touched the clock, a barely-there brush of fingertips. “I’ll take this.”

“You should know it doesn’t work. The time has been stuck at 11:53 since I acquired it.”

“That doesn’t matter.”

His smile thinned, sliding into something liquid. Later, when she returned to her small studio apartment, she set the clock beside her bed. Weary, she made a meager dinner of tomato soup and olive toast, then settled in front of the TV. The day caught up with her and she drifted off shortly after 8:00 PM.

When she woke hours later, the apartment was dark, needles of moonlight splayed across the floor. Her bed was only a handful of steps away, the old clock on the nightstand stuck at 11:53.

She grabbed her iPhone, illuminated the face, and saw the time was an exact match for the bubble clock with four faces. Slowly, she stood—half of her drawn to the window overlooking the moon-silvered grass to the rear of her apartment, the other pulled by the clock. Four different faces, all reading 11:53.

She closed her eyes. Heard the sound of her great-grandmother’s voice. Her grandmother’s. Her mother’s. Three spirits bound together in a prison of brass and glass, collared and penned by time. Her mother’s voice was strongest. Not words as much as a sad, keening hum of regret.

“You wanted to keep me out of it.” Charlene set the clock on the kitchen counter, her pulse wildfire in her ears.

She grabbed a hammer from the storage cabinet beside the sink. Without hesitation she bludgeoned the time piece. Spurred by anger and fear—a malice so strong each strike grew in ferocity until there was nothing left but cogs, broken gears, and scattered springs. The spirits of her great grandmother, her grandmother, and her mother soared free.

Calmly, she rounded up the scattered pieces of the clock, then dumped them in the trash. The next day she returned to the antique shop, but found the place boarded up. She caught a stooped over gray-haired woman opening the herb emporium and asked about the shop.

Yesteryear Treasures?” The old woman shook her head. “Hasn’t been here for over twenty years. Nothing has. The place has been abandoned for as long as I can remember.”  With a tired shake of her head, she disappeared into her shop.

Charlene stared at the building. At the space where the weathered sign had hung.

As she walked away, she was certain she heard the old wood creaking behind her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mae Clair can be reached here …

Twitter:

Amazon Author Page:

Mystery, Suspense & Urban Legends | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up

Website & Blog | Goodreads

~~~~~~~

This contribution by Gwen Plano.

When I saw the photo, I imagined a train station and decided to superimpose the clock on a station scene. Focusing on the time, I thought of a country rock song. You’ll soon discover why.   
Midnight Rider

“What’s wrong, Bernie? I came as soon as I could.”

“It’s Sam. He took off tonight.”

“He left—again?”

“Said he had a train to catch.”

“What the hell is wrong with that guy? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I should have expected it. I told him about the baby.”

“And the bastard didn’t give a shit?”

“He said something like, ‘that’s your problem, not mine.’”

“Why do you put up with him? Really! You need to figure this out, Bernie.”

“I know, I know. I just keep thinking he’ll settle down. He’s a good guy down deep.”

“Well—down deep doesn’t cut it. In my book, he’s nothing but a drifter.”

“Do you think that after the baby is born, he’ll…”

“Are you serious? Bernie! We’ve talked about this way too many times.”

“What should I do?”

“To start with, forget Sam. You’ll never catch this midnight rider.”

 

Gwen Plano can be reached here …

 

Thank you so much for stopping by. Tomorrow I’ll feature the 5) post for WEEK #12 by  Joan Hall. The image prompt for #Week #13 is now live.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #12 Entries Part 1) @HowellWave @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Part 1)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12.

Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1) by John Howell. And Entry 2) My own contribution.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

bryce-barker-cIcX_aO9LPo-unsplash

This one-line contribution by John Howell.

“Hey, Harry. Did you mess with the doomsday clock again?”

John Howell can be reached here …

Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 Twitter:

Author Blog Fiction Favorites:

 

My Contribution …

bryce-barker-cIcX_aO9LPo-unsplash

 

Intervention

By

Suzanne Burke

Melody sat bolt upright. A memory still hovered from her dream. She’d heard her father’s voice, “Promise me that you’ll nurture your dreams, sweetheart. They’ll wither and die without nurturing. Not many folks get a second shot at it.”

She should be excited, after all, today was the big day. She’d been promoted and was undertaking a more prominent role in the company. This is what all the long hard hours of afternoon shift had earned her. So why the hell did she feel like she’d betrayed that promise she’d made. She tried ignoring the part of herself that still clung to the more youthful visions of her future.

Melody dressed, grimacing as she slipped on the uncomfortable new heels. She hurried out into the bustle of late morning. Her normally punctual bus arrived five minutes late.

***

Melody glanced as always at the ornate clock that graced the entrance to Central Station. Seven minutes to twelve. I’ve still got four minutes to make the eleven fifty-three! She hurried over to the elevator to find it was out of order. “It’s the day for it.” She made a dash for the stairs. The train was already on the platform and she saw the familiar people who normally joined her in the first carriage.

Melody hurried down the stairs, caught the edge of her right heel on the next step, lurched forward as it snapped, and groaned at the pain in her ankle. She cried out as she began to fall.

A strong arm wrapped around her from behind and pulled her back to safety. “Steady now, it’s okay! I’ve gotcha.”

Melody leaned back and took a shaky breath. “Thank you so much!” She tried to stand but her ankle gave out from under her. “I … um, I think I may have sprained my ankle.”

“Let’s get you down to the platform and seated. I’ll carry you down. I mean if that’s okay?”

She felt a little foolish but nodded, “Thanks again! I’ve seen you in my carriage for months now, and I don’t even know your name. Mine’s Melody.”

“Elliot.”

“I’m sorry that you’re missing the train because of my clumsiness.” She said as the train doors closed and the 11.53 left the station.

“I’ve been looking for a way to start a conversation with you for ages. This is not quite what I had in mind, though.” He looked at her now puffy ankle. “That’s swelling fast. It’s gonna need strapping, but I don’t think it’s broken.”

“Would you be kind enough to help me back upstairs? I’ll grab a cab and take myself off to the hospital.”

“Let me help get you there in one piece, and maybe we could talk a little more while you’re waiting in the E.R.”

“Don’t you need to be somewhere, Elliot?”

“Nowhere important.”

Her rescuer carried her back up the steep stairs.

Melody’s eyes as always were drawn to the clock. It still read seven minutes till midday. “I’ve never known it to stop before.”

“Ah, well. It hardly matters now. Let’s get you to the E.R.”

***

The ankle was x-rayed and strapped. Nothing was broken. They were about to leave when a pale-faced doctor came rushing through to the E.R. He raised a hand for silence. “Ladies and Gentlemen, can I have your attention? We have an emergency unfolding and it’s going to get crazy busy in here. You’ll be moved to a smaller waiting area if your need isn’t urgent. Thank you for your cooperation.”

“All staff prepare for an influx of ambulances. We’ll move gurneys into this waiting area and set up a larger triage.”

One of the nurses touched his arm, “What’s happened, Karl?”

“There’s been a level crossing accident. Signals failed and a commuter train and a freight train collided. The first carriage of the commuter has taken the brunt of the collision. Heavy loss of life. Multiple injuries coming in, eta fifteen minutes.”

“What train? Please, tell me?” Melody asked in a strained voice.

“It was the Eleven fifty-three to Helensvale out of Central station.”

Elliot and Melody gasped with the shock of it. Melody managed a whisper, “Oh, dear Lord. We were meant to be in that first carriage.”

Elliot put his arm around her shaking shoulders, in a voice thickened by tears he spoke. “No, Melody. I don’t think we were meant to be there at all.”

“All those poor people! Can we go to the hospital chapel, Elliot? I need to pray.”

“So do I.”

***

 Later that afternoon Elliot helped her settle on the big sofa in her apartment.

Melody sat wracked by tears which stilled finally as she and Elliot drew strength from each other.

She glanced over at the image of her father that graced the wall. “My father told me once that not many people get a second shot in life.”

“Your father’s a wise man.” Elliot spoke softly.

They each rang their loved ones, then sat together throughout the long night, watching on as a new day dawned. They gave a prayer of thanks to be witnessing it and prayed again for the families of the victims and the survivors. Trusting that the answers to their questions would come when their souls, hearts, and minds were ready to hear them.

~~~~~~

Thanks so much for joining me here today. I look forward to seeing your comments.

I may be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

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By Email.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “Brazos Wind” A Western Short Read by Jan Sikes @JanSikes3 #RRBC #RWISA #IARTG #WritingCommunity

Hello and welcome to my Book Review of “Brazos Wind” a Western Short Story by Jan Sikes.

COVER BRAZOS WIND BY JAN SIKES

Meet the Author:

JAN SIKES BIO

Jan Sikes is an award-winning Texas author who has been called a wordsmith by her peers. She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. She chose to create fictitious characters to tell the story through, and they bring the intricately woven tale to life in an entertaining way. She released a series of music CDs to accompany the four biographical fiction books and then published a book of poetry and art to complete the story circle.

And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published many short stories with a series of novels waiting in the wings. She is a member of Authors Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC), the RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHOR (RWISA), sits on the RWISA Executive Council and hosts a monthly RAVE WAVES blog talk radio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE.

COVER BRAZOS WIND BY JAN SIKES

Blurb:

War-torn drifter, Jack McClean is left with nothing but bad memories, scars, and a restless soul. When he stumbles upon a burning homestead, and an unconscious woman, beside the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, he stops to render aid. Grieving widow, Savannah Logan, sees no reason to live, and only wants to join her husband and children in their graves. But, Jack refuses to let her die. In saving her, he might somehow find redemption for himself and hope for a new tomorrow. Is it possible that both Jack and Savannah can find a new destiny in the changeable flow of the Brazos wind?

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MY REVIEW. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A powerful and emotive story.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve read a Western, and such a delight to find one of this quality to reintroduce me to the genre.

Author Jan Sikes has a marvelous way of inviting the reader into the hearts and minds of her characters. She lays the soul of the characters bare and takes us into their pain and what could well be their salvation.

This author’s knowledge of and love for Texas shines through in this beautifully exposed short read.

Jack McClean’s and Savannah Logan’s characters evolve over the course of this short. The trauma of their backgrounds allows us a glimpse into the pain and suffering both have witnessed. We are given insight into the reasons for the choices they make, and it garners our understanding.

Kudos to this talented author for using every word to further enhance a great story.

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BRAZOS WIND on AMAZON.COM

CONTACT JAN SIKES:

All books are available at http://www.jansikes.com

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Thanks so much for stopping by, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #11 Entries Part 6) By Miriam Hurdle @mhurdle112 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 6)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #11.

Today I’m featuring the final contribution for week #11 by Miriam Hurdle

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

adrian-mato-6kaPKnqwaYw-unsplash

Destination

By

Miriam Hurdle

“What do you think about St. Andrews Church?” Joshua and Melissa were at the café reviewed their notes. He had a Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino and Melissa had a Cinnamon Dolce Latte.

“I like the layout of the sanctuary. The stage is five steps higher than the audience, but it’s not too far from the first pew. I like the alter and the apse behind it.” Melissa took a sip of her latte, recalled the details of the church layout.

“The location is just right with access to major freeways.”

“We need to write different directions to get there because we have families and friends from all over the state. And we also need the direction to get to our homes from the airport.”

“Yes, I’ll write the directions. Have you agreed that you’ll create the website? You’re the techie.”

“No problem. I picked the template of the website and the color scheme already.” Melissa took another sip of the latte.

“I trust you on that. I’ll admire it when it’s done.”

“I need you to help in making a list of the hotels in town with different price ranges, a list of the restaurants, some entertainments, and places to visit while they’re in town.”

“That part is simple. I’ll have them in just a few clicks. Some tourist sites have plenty of recommendations.” Joshua entered a few notes on his phone.

“I created a spreadsheet of the timeline. Once we decide on the church and reception locations, I’ll plug in the details. We have visited several churches. What other ones do we consider?”

“What do you think about the Lutheran Church?”

“I liked it, but the sanctuary has dark walls on all sides. The church doesn’t have the best lighting for photography.”

“You’re a better one to have any say on that from a photographer’s point of view. What other churches do we want to consider?”

“The Presbyterian Church has a modern look.”

“Yes, there are plenty of parking spaces, and the structure is on the same level as the church.”

“But it’s too far from the Reception Hall at the Gulf Course. I’m afraid some people may get lost. I know we can give the direction from the church to the Reception Hall.”

“Your concern is valid. Let’s keep talking.”

“I can’t believe it’s been seven years since we met.”

“Time flies when you have fun as people say. I’m so happy that we have fun together.”

“You were so cute when we first met.” Sparks filled Melissa’s eyes.

“How so? What did I do?”

“Well, that’s it. You did nothing. You just stared at me for the longest time until I said ‘hi’ and you startled.”

“I did? I don’t remember that.”

“You offered to buy me a drink. I said ‘I don’t drink’.”

“Now I remember. Then I said I’d buy you anything to drink.”

“It was our first day there at the resort on the mountain. I arrived in the morning and you got there in the afternoon.”

“Yes, I took the gondola lift to get up there.”

“So did I! I wanted to have time to look around before the hiking trip the next day.”

“How did you like the view going up?”

“The aerial view of the water fall from the gondola took my breath away. It was like magic.”

“It was impressive and exhilarating. I had seen nothing like that. It’s not the same as seeing it from the airplane. It’s seeing it in the air yet, it’s close enough to see the rushing bubbles.”

“I’m writing our story to post on the wedding website… That’s it! I want a destination wedding.” Melissa almost jumped up.

“At the resort on the mountain top?”

“Yeah, I want people to experience the magic.”

“I know, people always want to know how and where the couple met.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Contact Miriam here …

Author Links and Contacts

Amazon Links

Amazon UK Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07K1S47W9 

Amazon.com Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K1S47W9 

Contact Links

Website: https://theshowersofblessings.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Hurdle/e/B07K2MCSVW?ref=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mhurdle112

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/miriam.hurdle.1

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by! This is the final entry for week #11.

The new image prompt for week #12 is now live.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #11 Entry Part 5) @MaeClair1 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 5)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #11.

Today I’m featuring a contribution by Mae Clair.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

adrian-mato-6kaPKnqwaYw-unsplash

Mrs. Conway

By

Mae Clair


Jarrod Hamilton was not a rich man but considered himself a talented one. For the last eight years he’d made a living teaching the upper crust ladies of Victorian London the finer arts of painting with oils. During that time, he’d often had to bite his tongue rather than offer advice­. On other occasions, he fawned over inferior work all the while cringing at the substandard quality his students produced. But catering to delicate egos paid the bills and helped him maintain his lifestyle, mediocre as it was.

Perhaps that was why Mrs. Conway so surprised him. Unlike the other ladies who breezed in each Wednesday, chattering like magpies, Millicent Conway arrived early and alone. A quiet woman widowed for over a year—if gossip was to be believed—she rarely engaged with others. Of the near dozen students in his class, she was the only one with a dram of talent. He’d observed the growth of her painting for weeks, maintaining his silence on her progress. Now, with the final brushstrokes applied, he could no longer contain his thoughts.

“Very striking, Mrs. Conway.” Jason stood with his hands behind his back as he looked over her shoulder. “The assignment was to paint a representation of self. I’m curious why you chose a waterfall.”

Millicent set her brush aside with a graceful movement, as dainty and refined as a delicate bird. “Your praise is most kind, sir.” She seemed reluctant to say more.

Undaunted, he peered closer. “A more cynical man than I might guess the waterfall is not the subject of your painting.”

She blinked, wide-eyed and curious. “Pardon?”

“I suspect the true focus is the tree in the foreground. Desolate and barren while the waterfall feeds a valley rich with life.” He eyed her sharply, prying beneath the buttoned-up layers of her personality. “The tree is Isolated and alone.”

Her spine stiffened. She fingered her collar. “How observant of you. Sometimes people are much the same.”

“Only by choice.”

She looked away.

“Do you know what I see, Mrs. Conway? Despite the fact the tree doesn’t embrace the vibrance of the valley, its roots are deep. Steadfast. A strong force in the face of adversity.”

She relaxed, her smile wan. “Ah, but you don’t see beneath the surface, Mr. Hamilton. Sometimes there is a reason for that distance. The exterior is gilt and flash, while the inside has been poisoned with disease.”

His gut clenched. The chatter of his other students created a buzz like the constant drone of honeybees in the background. He wanted to swat them away. “Disease?”

She wiped her hands on a rag. “It destroys from the inside out. You can’t see the damage until it is too late, and there is nothing to be done.”

“Like a cancer?”

“Precisely.”

Bile burned the back of his throat. “Then there is no hope?”

She squeezed his hand, her fingers cold. “There is always hope. Especially when those who suffer have made peace and no longer feel the need to be part of the valley. They have their own verdant dell waiting, guarded by loved ones who have passed.” Warmth touched her eyes. “The tree must bend. Break at last.”

His throat grew tight. He nodded toward the painting. “What will become of this?”

“It matters not to me.”

“May I have it?”

She appeared surprised. “Of course, but I fail to understand why you would want it.”

How could he tell her? Finally, after years of teaching petticoats, dowagers, and debutantes, someone in his class had spoken clearly through canvas and oil. It may not have mattered to her, but even as disease shortened her life, she’d found a way to instill meaning in his work.

It made him believe he could find his own waterfall and valley.

At the very least, she’d taught him how to be a tree.

~~~~~~

Mae Clair can be reached here …

Twitter:

Amazon Author Page:

Mystery, Suspense & Urban Legends | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up

Website & Blog | Goodreads

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Thank you so much for stopping by. Tomorrow I’ll feature the final post for WEEK #11 by Miriam Hurdle. The image prompt for #Week #12 is now live.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.