“Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Week #3. Image Prompt: Join in, have fun, and let loose your creative muse.#FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

Flash Fiction best header

Hello everyone and welcome to week #3 of my  “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on Thursday, June 11th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on Friday, June 12th.

I do hope you join in! Have fun, let the creative muse loose!

And now …The image for week #3.

Flash Fiction empty hammockI hope the image inspires you and I hope to see you stop by.

Find me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

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By Email.


“Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Entries for week #2.@gmplano @KIngallsAuthor @JanSikes3 @DLFinn @pursoot #IARTG #WritingCommunity.

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to the entries for my weekly : “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #2. You have some great reading in store.

Flash Fiction best header

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 piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on June 4th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on June 5th.


AND Here’s the prompt image and ENTRIES…For #Week 2.

Flash Fiction park bench in the fall

This contribution Authored by Gwen Plano.

This week’s picture holds sadness for me. It’s as if life has been stilled. Though the scene is beautiful, there is also a chilly silence. I’ve chosen to try to capture that feeling of isolation in a simple three-stanza haiku poem.

Fiction in a flash park bench Gwen Plano

Take a look at Gwen’s blog.

Reflections on Life … Blog.

Author Page: Gwen Plano on Amazon

On Twitter.

Gwen Plano on Facebook.


This contribution by Karen Ingalls.

Flash Fiction park bench in the fall

The Park Bench

The wooden slats creaked when Jim sat down on the park bench. He held a bouquet of red chrysanthemums. The cool air, warm sun, and the smell of autumn leaves brought peace to his tired body.

It was October 18, 2019, which marked the 30th year of meeting Julie Henderson every Friday afternoon at 1:00 pm.

“Hello, darling.”

Jim looked up to see Julie standing there as beautiful as the first time they met. He gave her the bouquet saying, “Happy anniversary, my love.”

In 1989, they were strangers sitting next to one another on this same bench. Julie was reading a book and Jim was eating a sandwich. They glanced at one another and soon struck up a conversation discovering similar interests and histories. They were both divorced, each had three children, and careers. Julie was a nurse and Jim was caught up in the corporate world, but had dreams to open up his own restaurant.

After an hour, Julie stood up. “Oh, my goodness. I must leave and get to the hospital for the evening shift. It was nice to meet you.”

“Wait. Do you come here often? I am being presumptuous, but I would like to see you again,” Jim stammered.

Trusting her instincts, she smiled and said, “I am here every Friday at one in the afternoon. I like to come here and enjoy nature, the quiet, and to gaze at the beautiful oak tree across from this bench.”

“Perhaps we could meet here next Friday. By the way, my name is Jim Agen.” He extended his hand.

Julie took his hand and replied, “I am Julie Henderson. I’ll be here.”

They both felt a special energy sweep through them when their hands touched.

For several months, they met each Friday, same time and place. The park bench knew when they held hands for the first time, each embrace and kiss, and heard their words of affection.

When the weather changed to winter, they just swept the snow off the bench and enjoyed the wintry beauty. In the spring, they breathed in the fragrant smells from the cherry blossoms. On a hot summer day, Jim proposed to Julie. They got married on October 19, 1990, standing in front of their favorite bench decorated with red chrysanthemums and red leaves from the oak tree. It had been a part of their lives from that first meeting and was proud to be at the center of the ceremony.

Over the first months of marriage, Julie encouraged her husband. “Follow your dream of having your own restaurant. Don’t let naysayers stop you.”

With his wife’s help, Jim opened his restaurant Autumn, serving soups, sandwiches, and homemade desserts. It was a successful business and soon he opened two more restaurants naming them Autumn Leaves and Autumn Waltz. The couple filled one wall of each restaurant with books available for the customers to enjoy. Soothing music playing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, an orchestral rendition of Autumn Waltz, or Nat King Cole singing Autumn Leaves completed the ambiance. Julie quit her job at the hospital and became the manager of all the restaurants.

Despite their busy schedules and were married, they continued to spend every Friday afternoon together on the park bench. They talked about their week, hopes and dreams, growing family, and love for each other. Julie loved to say, “I think the angels were tripping over each other to find a way for us to meet. I am grateful that you decided to have lunch in the park that Friday.”

The years passed by, and one Friday only Julie came to the park. Once again, the board creaked as she sat down, letting out a sorrowful sigh. She spent her time talking out loud as if Jim were there. A tear fell on one wooden slat and Julie thought she heard a moaning sound.

Six months later, the October sky was cloudy and the last of the oak’s leaves had fallen. It was Friday, but the park bench was empty. It missed Jim and Julie who never sat on the park bench again.


Karen Ingalls can be found on

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This contribution by Jan Sikes:

Flash Fiction park bench in the fall


“Oh, the memories.” I sigh, and squeeze his hand a little tighter. The dried orange, brown and yellow leaves crunch beneath our feet as we shuffle along the sidewalk.

He smiles down at me. “Yes, my love. I remember when we sat on this very bench and I asked you to be my bride.”

Tears came unbidden and trickled down my wrinkled cheeks. “We had a pretty darn good life, didn’t we, Harold?”

“Yes. Yes, we did, in spite of the hardships.”

“But, I no longer recognize the world we live in. Where is everyone? Why are the streets empty? There was a day when this park would have held the laughter of children and young lovers strolling hand-in-hand.”

“Let’s sit, Margaret. My old legs are giving out.”

We shuffled over to the bench and Harold brushed away the leaves that covered it.

He blew out a long sigh and leaning on his cane, dropped onto the very bench where we started life together fifty-two years ago.

“I’m troubled, Harold. No, I’m more than troubled. I’m scared. Not for me and you. We’re pretty much out of here, but for the ones coming behind us.”

Draping an arm around my shoulders, he pulled me closer. “It’s not the same America that you and I grew up in. Soldiers on the streets, looting, killings and so much hatred exists. You know it’s not even safe for us to venture out.”

“I know, but I really needed some fresh air. Thank you for appeasing me.”

“Oh, my love, that is what I have lived for these past fifty-two years. My greatest joy is to make you smile.”

“What is that noise? Sounds like firecrackers.”

“I think we better mosey on back home, honey. It’s getting closer.”

He struggled to his feet, then leaning heavily on his cane, reached for my hand.

As we shuffled back toward safety, I turned to look back at the bench that meant so much, only to see a group of hoodlums spraying graffiti on it.

“Harold, we need to move faster. Trouble’s coming.”

“I’m going as fast as I can go. Don’t worry, dear. I won’t let anyone hurt you. It’s just a few more blocks home.”

That’s when it happened. A blow to the back of his head, took Harold to his knees. I screamed and turned to face our attackers only to see sneers and glowing hatred in the eyes of what should have been intelligent young men.

“You old people don’t need to be alive,” one of them growled. “You’re just taking up space and eating food that belongs to us. This is our country now. Old people like you are a nuisance.”

I kneeled down beside Harold and cradled his head in my lap. “You’ve hurt my husband.” Tears flowed uncontrollably.

One of them laughed. “So what? What are you going to do about it old woman?”

The first blow knocked me backward onto the hard concrete, and I frantically reached for Harold’s hand. The second blow brought oblivion.

Then, I was flying and when I looked down, I saw the shell of our bodies lying on the concrete, our blood mixing together and staining the sidewalk.

Harold floated up beside me.  “We’re free now, sweet love. No more aches, pains or persecution. We’re free.”

He was right. I no longer had the familiar pain in my joints and his cane no longer had any use.

“What will happen to our once beautiful world?” I took one more glance downward to see the men who’d taken our lives strolling away casually as if nothing had happened. They laughed and joked and slapped each other on the back.

“I don’t know the answer to that. We may have to come back to find out.”

“I’m not sure I want to come back again. Maybe we’ll stay with the Angels for a while.”

“Whatever you say, dear.”

With his hand nestled softly in mine, we drifted slowly and peacefully toward the brightest light that you can imagine. Then we disappeared into it.

We were home.


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


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Contributed by D.L.Finn.

Flash Fiction park bench in the fall

It was our bench. I felt the familiar tug at my heart as I quickened my pace and maneuvered through the pungently earthy orange, red, and yellow leaves. I hated making this walk alone through the fall splendor.

I jumped when something brushed against my leg.

“Sorry. Lady escaped from her collar again.”

The pug sat at my feet with an amiable head tilt. I mumbled. “No problem.”

“She’s friendly if you want to pet her.”

I shook my head and stepped around the dog. Passing the brightly lit coffee shop that usually provided me with a latte, I kept going. Finally, I plopped down on a cold cement bench and was immediately greeted by a distant chorus of barking dogs.

A young boy burst through the door directly across the street. He was cradling a small black kitten.

“Can I name him Skitter, mom?”

As the mother agreed, I flashed back to the day I brought my kitten home from this animal shelter. Felix died right before his 18th birthday. I decided, after crying for two weeks, I didn’t want to go through that heartbreak again.

A wind kicked up, and the sun was sloping down. It was time for me to head home. I stood up to go but froze when a young couple exited the building with a small exuberant black lab just like… Tears flowed unchecked down my face. I missed my walking companion, Bessie. When I had to put her to sleep, after she lost her battle with cancer, it tore me apart holding her for the last time. My two constant companions were taken from me in only two months. Now, at sixty-five-years-old, I was not only a widow but petless too.  With a heavy heart, I slowly made my way home.

The final one-hundred yards before turning into my driveway, I heard a muffled cry coming from a bush.

“Hello?” I called out, getting my keys ready to run inside.

It answered with a whimper.


I carefully pushed the branches aside and found a taped cardboard box.

“Oh god…”

My heart was racing as I ripped the box open and peered inside.

The yellow puppy barked and jumped on the side of the box with its tail wagging. I quickly scooped it up, and it nestled into my neck. The smaller black one wasn’t moving, and the black and yellow puppy could barely lift its head.

“You poor babies! What kind of monster would do this?”

I raced to my car and gently set the box down while still hanging on to the yellow puppy. My hand brushed over the black pup, finding no life, but the other pup let out a small sigh as I stroked its soft fur.

I dialed my vet and started the car, “I found some puppies in bad shape. Are you still open?”

“We just closed but bring them in, Marsha. We’ll wait.”

Soon the two puppies who had survived were on the vet’s examination table.

“They are around four weeks old and look like a shepherd/lab mix. It was lucky you found these two when you did. We will do everything we can for them and call you in the morning. Are you considering keeping them?”

I frowned. “I don’t think so, but I will pay for whatever they need.”

I spent a long night tossing and turning. Their sweet faces haunted me as well as the cruelly taped box. I knew I was meant to find them, but that didn’t mean I had to keep them. When the sun finally rose, I knew what I had to do.

The phone rang after breakfast. “Hi, Marsha. I’m sorry the boy didn’t make it, but the girl did. We will keep her here another night so we can monitor her, and we found someone to foster her so—”

I cut her off. “No, she has a home with me.”

A year later, Molly was proudly wearing her new pink collar. She yanked me toward our bench. Today we couldn’t sit there because a neighbor’s adolescent daughter had taken it over with a box of kittens that had a free sign taped to the side. Our walk was cut short when I locked eyes with a tiny black cat. We had found the missing member of our family and I had learned that having a pet’s love was worth any loss endured.


Contact D.L.Finn here on

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And My Contribution.

Flash Fiction park bench in the fall



Suzanne Burke.

Hoover Building: Washington.

F.B.I. Taskforce ‘Glitch’. November 17th, 2019.

Special Agent Ryan Spence ran his hands through his thick dark hair and looked across at Jenny Hanson, “Do we have confirmation that it was the same park location?”

“Yup. We had flash traffic a little over an hour ago. Same as all the others. An identical description of the events they also described, including Margaret Dawson’s statement this morning.”

“The first Casefile #C514 was Craig Carmody. Listed as missing person November 16th, 2010. Located, November 16th, 2011. Missing exactly one year. The dates are identical. His interview, especially the description of that location was almost word for word identical to Margaret Dawson’s and the eight others.”

“Sweet Jesus. Nine years, and we still have nothing but supposition to go on. And proving that will be next to impossible.”

“I’ll run his interview file. Who knows maybe we’ll find a difference.”

The room quieted and they hunched forward in anticipation.


“Recording date November 17th, 2011.”

Casefile #G514. Craig Carmody. Listed as missing November 16th, 2010. Located November 16th, 2011. Present. Senior Special Agent Colin Wagstaff. Mr. Craig Carmody.

“Mr. Carmody please describe for us the events leading up to your disappearance. You were last seen by your wife on the morning of November 16th, 2010. What happened when you left home?”

“I headed off to work, just like I do every day when I’m on shift. I had a bad mornin’ and come lunchtime I was ready to punch somebody’s lights out. But I figured a couple of stiff bourbons and a walk in the fresh fall air would see me calm down some.”

“You had a few drinks and then?”

“I went to the park.”

“Which park was that?”

“The big one over on Delancey street.”

Delancey street? Are you sure of that location?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. I recall wonderin’ why I hadn’t been down there before. But we’d just moved from Idaho, so I hadn’t seen all of the city.”

The agent sat back for a moment. “Can you describe the park for me? Walk yourself back over that morning and tell me what you see?”

“Yeah, I guess so. So, it was cold, and the wind had picked up, I recall thinking winter was gonna be a real bitch this year. Oh, and it was empty … the park I mean. I thought that was odd, being it was still only early afternoon. But I was in no mood for company anyways.”

“Can you describe what you see?”

“The path is covered in fall leaves and they crunch under my feet. The trees are losing the fight to hang on to the last of their leaves. There’s a bench up on the right, covered in crunchy Fall color. So, yeah, I swiped the leaves off, sat back, and lit up a smoke. That’s when I felt it. ” He stopped and looked down.

“Felt what, Mr. Carmody?”

“The light blinded me and warmed me up instantly, and the sound was a pulsing thing. I put my hands over my ears, but it went right through me, it seemed like it was keeping pace with my heartbeat.” The man wrapped his arms across his chest as if to protect it.

“What happened then, sir?”


“You felt the light, and heard the sound, and then what?”

“I went somewhere else.”

“Where did you go?”

“I don’t know.”

“Were you alone in that place?”

“No. They were there too.”

“They? Can you describe them?”

“You can’t see them, they’re made of light and sound. They don’t have a body like we do.”

“What happened there?”

“I … well, I … I don’t remember. I just know I was there, and now I’m not.”

“You can’t remember anything? You were missing for an entire year, Mr. Carmody. Surely you recall something?”

“I told you. There’s nothin’.”

“Sir, I’m sorry, but there is no park down on Delancey Street. It’s all office buildings and a couple of cafés.”

The man shook his head, “Damn you! I know where I walked to! I tell you it’s there. Why are you saying it’s not?” The man became visibly distressed. His heartbeat and his blood pressure rocketed. The interview hurriedly concluded.


And, Jenny? What else? Tell me?”

“Craig Carmody disappeared from the Watford Mental Health Facility yesterday.”

“Jesus! We have to check on Margaret Dawson! She’s being escorted there now!”

He picked up the phone and placed an urgent call.

Jenny watched his face drain of color as he hung up and turned to face her. “The car carrying Margaret Dawson has just been found. The escorts don’t remember what happened. They saw a flash of light and there was a pulse of sound. Margaret Dawson is no longer at the location. Don’t plan on sleeping anytime soon, Jenny.  We have ourselves another active GLITCH file.


😁😎(No prizes for guessing I loved The X-Files)

Thanks so much for stopping by. The Challenge Photo-Prompt for Week #3 will be posted on June 6th.

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“Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Week #2. Image Prompt: Join in, have fun, and let loose your creative muse.#FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

Flash Fiction best header

Hello everyone and welcome to week #2 of my  “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on Thursday, June 4th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on Thursday, June 11th.

I do hope you join in! Have fun, let the creative muse loose!

And now …The image for week #2.

Flash Fiction park bench in the fall


I hope the image inspires you and I hope to see you stop by.

Contact me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

“Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Entries for week #1.@gmplano @pursoot #IARTG #WritingCommunity.


Hello everyone and a warm welcome to the entries for : “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #1.

Flash Fiction best header

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 piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on May 28th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on May 29th.

AND Here’s the prompt image …For #Week 1.

Flash Fiction MEERKATS FOR 1st post

This entry comes from Gwen Plano.

“A Visit to The Zoo. By Gwen Plano.

George … George! Come out here.

Why would I want to do that! I’m trying to rest.

Ya gotta see this.

Whatever it is, I’m not interested.

Come on, George. There are strange creatures out here, and they are all staring at me.

Can we eat them?

No, they’re pretty big. They might eat us, though.

Good grief! And, you’re still out there?

I think they’re in a cage. I don’t think they can reach us.

Alright, alright. I’m coming. This better be good.

Look … over there. What do you see?

I don’t know for sure. They have eyes, and they have hands and feet.

Watch … watch. When I move, their heads turn to follow me. Did you notice that?

Yeah, weird for sure.

Hey, look what happens when I just stretch out and show them beautiful me.

Wow, that got a reaction!

Why don’t you try something?

Okay. Let’s see what they do if I stand on my hind feet.

Hey, I think they like you more than me.

Do you think they can talk? They’ve gotta have a mouth, don’t they?

I don’t know. I don’t even see a nose, so maybe they don’t breathe.

They gotta breathe, they gotta eat. Unless …

Unless what?

Maybe they’re some kind of alien. What do you think?

Aliens? Why would aliens be interested in us? What do we have that they need?

Well, for starts a mouth and a nose.

Come on, George. Seriously, what do we have that they don’t?

Beats me.

George, look at the little alien. He’s tugging on his face, but the big one stops him.

Woe … I think I know what they want from us.

You do? What is it, George?

They want to be free like you and me.


Take a look at Gwen’s blog.

Reflections on Life … Blog.

Author Page: Gwen Plano on Amazon

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And here is my take on the image.

“Chillax”. By Suzanne Burke.

Flash Fiction MEERKATS FOR 1st post

“Merkle? Merkle! Man, what are you doin’? Aren’t you meant to be on watch?”

“Whoa. Chillax, Max! I got this.”

“You’ve got this my ass. I mean look at yourself. All laid back like you don’t have a care in the world. Where has all that frenetic energy and perpetual state of angst disappeared to, my friend? Just so you know, bro, some of the elders have been asking.”

“Sit yourself down alongside me and take a load off those tiny feet.”

Max checked frantically around several times then hurried over and sat perched anxiously on a rock nearby. “Just for a moment.” He glanced at his friend. “You’ve changed since you came back from that 3-month retreat. It’s like you’re on a whole other continent, or something. Did something happen while you were there? You can tell me. I won’t say anything. My lips are sealed.”

Merkle chuckled and poked his friend in the arm, “Max you’re the gossip master of the entire waterhole! Even Harriet Hyena can’t keep up with you.” He spluttered and laughed again. “You’re in serious need of a relaxing intervention, buddy. I can help you with that.”

“Please explain intervention?

“It’s simple. You just need someone to sit you down and ask you what the hell you are doing with your life, and where do you think your life is headed?”

“Why would they ask that? Has someone said something? Who was it? Was it Margaret?”

“See now, that’s precisely what I’m talking about! Your paranoia is off the charts, my friend.” He hunched forward and rested his elbows on his knees. “I’m parched. You want to join me in a drink?”

“Of water?”

“Not exactly.” He held it out to his companion. “Try it. You’ll love it.”

Max took a nervous sip and then another, “This tastes weird, but I like it.” He gulped down the last mouthful.

“Give it a minute, you’ll like it even more. I guarantee it makes that acid-reflux and nervous dyspepsia disappear. ” Merkle smiled and waited.

“So, what’s it made of?”

“Mostly mushrooms, and a little cactus juice.”

Twenty-minutes passed in silence, broken by Max as he reached out his hand and grabbed at the air, “Those sunbeams are singing.”

“Uh-huh. So, what are they singing?”

“A song.”

“Cool.” Merkle nodded sagely. Then busied himself preparing the next phase of the intervention.

Max sat and happily hummed along to the sounds only he could hear.

Merkle finished his preparation, lit it and inhaled it deep into his lungs, held it in, then expelled it with a sigh of satisfaction.

He handed it to his friend.

“I don’t smoke tobacco.”

“It’s not tobacco.”

“And it’s 100% organic too?”

“Doesn’t matter, man. We’re omnivorous.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Hours passed with the two friends interspersing the silence with deep and meaningful gasps of insight and wisdom.

They roared laughing at anything and everything.

The riotous colors of sunset made them cry at its perfection.


Max lay back in the darkness gazing up at the sparkling ceiling above them. “This intervention stuff is amazing. You learned all about this at the retreat?”


“So, I’ve been to both of them over the years, but, man, we never learned anything like this! Which one was it, Botswana, or southern Namibia?”

“Nope. They put me up on the wrong flight. We flew over the biggest waterhole I’ve ever seen. And the place was filled to the rafters with humans. I really got to like a few of them.”

“Could you get there again, I mean maybe I could take a look at it, just out of curiosity.”

“I’m not sure exactly how we would get there.”

“But you do know the name of the place, don’t you?”

“Yeah … it’s a place called Amsterdam.”

“So, how did you get back here?”

“I boarded some plane they call Astral! And zap! Here I am. What do you think about that?” … Max?”

He listened carefully to the sounds of the night, then smiled in the darkness as he heard Max hurrying back to the den with a cry of alarm. “Everyone wake up! You’ll never believe what Merkle just told me!”

Merkle rolled another joint and laughed delightedly. “Man they’re gonna think I’m having a breakdown. Then I’ll get sent on another 3 month retreat. This day couldn’t have gone any better. Bless your predictability, Max.”


Thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to your comments.

The next “Fiction in A Flash” image prompt will be posted on Friday, May 29th. I hope you’ll join in the fun.

Contact me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

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Book Review: “In Search of McDoogal” by Mae Clair @maeclair1 @storyempire #IARTG #WritingCommunity

Hello and welcome to my book review of “In Search of McDoogal” By Mae Clair.

book cover in search of mcdoogal

Meet Mae Clair.

bio pic mae clair

A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections.

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.com


book cover in search of mcdoogal


In search of something ugly…

All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.

With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?

Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.

McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen.

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐A wonderful addition to this talented author’s repertoire.

I’ve been a fan of author Mae Clair since I first read the Hodes Hill series.

This genre is new to her and she has nailed it. Comedic writing is difficult at best, and this author has the talent to make it look easy. Her comedic timing is perfect.

The wonderful characterizations of the focused duo of Brady and Declan make them clearly visible. Their snappy banter and camaraderie born of comfort in each other’s presence make them both intensely likable.

I enjoyed the fast pacing as Brady and Declan set out to retrieve a painting and avoid the consequences of Brady needing to fess up to his new girlfriend that he messed up badly when left in charge of her gallery, The journey these two close friends set out on had me laughing out loud. A case of anything that can go wrong … did.

Mae Clair had gifted us with a marvelous cast of characters, and a read that left me smiling long after I finished reading.

Top-notch all the way.  A wonderful addition to this talented author’s repertoire.



Contact Mae Clair:


Amazon Author Page:

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Thanks so much for joining me today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

NEW: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Join in, have fun, and let loose your creative muse.#FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

Flash Fiction best header

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 piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on May 28th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on May 29th.

I do hope you join in! Have fun, let the creative muse loose!

And now …The photo.

Flash Fiction MEERKATS FOR 1st post

I look forward to seeing you!

Now have fun!






Short Story” “Just Before Dawn.” #RRBC #IARTG #WRITINGCOMMUNITY

Just Before Dawn

Short Story: “Just Before Dawn”. May 5th, 2020.

Tracey awakened screaming. She gulped in lung-fulls of air forcing herself to focus on her breathing; struggling to remain calm knowing the consequences if she lost control altogether.

The chill in the air caused her to shiver on this mid-fall morning. A glance at the digital clock confirmed it was 4:00 a.m. Tracey reached for her iPhone and checked the temperature, 35 degrees was tolerable. She flicked on the fireside and set it on low, and moved into the kitchen, pleased to discover she’d prepared the coffee last night. She poured a large mugful, heaped in the sugar, and grabbed her Marlboro.

The sitting room offered comfort and she flicked on the table lamp and settled herself down with the nicotine and sugar hitting her system and bringing with it the pleasure of treasured memories. The days before the uprising had been filled with warmth and laughter. Her husband Kyle was a quiet man prone to overthinking, but he had a wicked sense of the ridiculous, he made her feel safer than any other person ever had, dead, or alive.

Memories of that last morning together forced themselves into her reality. They’d been seated right here on the sofa, with a mug of steaming coffee each and their ever-present cigarettes. Kyle placed his arm around her shoulders, “You snored last night.” He’d said with a smile.

Tracey grinned up into his face, “I snored? I could have done far worse after that spicy Thai curry you made for dinner!” the thought caused her to giggle and Kyle had laughed with pleasure. “You’re wicked. You know that, right?”

“I’ve had the best teacher sex can buy.”

The warm banter had continued for a few minutes before Kyle had grown still and Tracey watched the process evolve and waited on his thoughts.

“Troubles coming, honey, and it’s coming soon.”

“I know. Folks are angry. That’s not a recipe for calm.”

“They’re angry with good cause. The police have been too heavy-handed dealing with the long ques for food. That guy died last week, and they’d said it was accidental even though the video showed clearly that it was no such thing. The use of excessive force was abundantly apparent. People are hungry and they’re watching their children cry with the need for more food. The lack of freedom has finally broken them.” He grew silent again and then half-whispered, “It’s happening everywhere right across the country. You need to be prepared. I want you to promise me that you remember everything we discussed in preparation for this time coming. Tell me you have?”

“I remember. The bug-out kit is fully prepared, and I have another ready as well in a different location.”

Kyle expelled a sigh of relief, “Good, that’s good, honey. So, what do you have me doing this morning?” he gave her his smile.

“We need groceries. I’m sorry, I know the lines are long but the coffee’s low, we’re out of toilet paper and milk, and a few other essentials and I want the makings of an omelet for dinner if you can get them.”

“I’ll head off soon as they open, make me a list … you know I’ll forget something if you don’t.”

Tracey had nodded in agreement. “I’m impressed when you make it to the supermarket at all. Last time you came home with a tank full of gas and the morning paper instead of the groceries you’d gone out to buy.”

Kyle’s face burned and he shrugged, “Perfect is boring. You hate to be bored.”

Tracey laughed with pleasure, “You know me so well.”


6:00 a.m.

Tracey watched from the deck as her husband carefully backed the SUV down the steep driveway. She gave him a wave of farewell and stood watching until the car disappeared from view. It had begun to sleet, and visibility rapidly became obsolete. Another cup of coffee beckoned and then she’d focus on dressing and preparing for her day.

She showered and pulled on a warm black tracksuit and runners then headed into her home office and logged on to her laptop. Her diary confirmed she had five clients to call this morning. The pro-bono case was causing the most concern, her client stood to serve a life sentence for murder.  He had insisted on pleading not guilty despite the pile of evidence stacked against him. She lit another smoke and began re-reading and cross-checking every incident.


10:00 a.m.

Tracey checked the clock for the hundredth time since 8:00. She grew concerned that Kyle had been distracted again and lost all track of time as he was prone to do.

She began calling his phone when 9.00 o’clock rolled around and her calls all went instantly to his messages.

When 1:00 p.m. came she was becoming frantic with worry. What if there’d been an accident? He could be hurt and undiscovered even laying in a ditch somewhere. After all, the road would have been slippery with the sleet that had begun just as he left the house. Her thoughts spiraled and she watched the clock and waited. At 5:00 p.m. she rang 911 … the number constantly rang out. “Fuck! What the hell is happening?”

She hurried across to the television and flicked on the news channel, the pandemonium she witnessed caused her to run for the bathroom as she threw up.

She fixed herself a stiff bourbon and sat again fixated on the scene unfolding in front of her.

What seemed to be hundreds of screaming people were gathered on the downtown streets and the Police cordons weren’t holding. Sporadic gunfire rang out and the screaming intensified. The news anchor struggled to make himself heard. “News update this hour, if you’ve just joined us here’s an update … At approximately 6:00 A.M this morning large groups of people began forming in long lines outside police headquarters, they were somber and silent in the beginning.”

Tracey concurred … the film showed exactly that. There was an urgency about these folks, but so far, no overt aggression.

She longed for a glimpse of her husband and prayed she wouldn’t see him at the same time. Kyle was caught up in this to be sure, but she hoped that he was still in the car and sitting watching carefully in the backup of traffic that must have ensued.

She ran to the wall panel and made her decision. Thanking God that Kyle had seen ft to take preventative measures of security. They were a good thirty-minutes-drive from downtown and this property was in an isolated pocket not seen from the road. That was a bonus. Tracey pushed the controls, initiating the movement detectors that would shoot out flares and a loud alarm if the boundaries of the properties were breached, by car or on foot.

She’d activate the surveillance drone soon.

She stumbled briefly as she ran into the bedroom and retrieved the bug-out backpack from the closet. Dressing hurriedly in clothes suited to the outdoors, she then placed the loaded shotgun on the coffee table where she’d be sitting. The monitor was now sitting alongside her laptop. Tracey checked the contents of the bug-out kit and nodded with contentment. She had everything she’d need for a week at the outside. She hoped her abysmal hunting skills would never be needed. Now all she could do was wait.


11.00 p.m.

The late evening news bought with it tales of loss on a huge scale and flashes of heroism. The police had been overrun and as every city was currently experiencing this coordinated nationwide attack there would be no backup coming, at least until the government stepped in and sent out the National Guard and declared a curfew, she was surprised that that hadn’t happened yet. Grateful in many ways for the delay, as many more lives would be lost under martial law.

Kyle’s words echoed into her consciousness. “The President has lost control, hon. It’s too late to implement the measures to prevent what’s surely coming. People no longer trust the politicians. That will cause a revolt. It’s simply a matter of time.”


Three months later:

Tracey stood watch in the late spring air. She was grateful for the people she’d taken in. Grateful too that she hadn’t shot them as they approached with their hands raised in surrender. Two women and three children aged from just four to fifteen now lived with her. Their company and assistance had kept her sane. She could smell the venison cooking and her stomach rumbled in anticipation, it had been a while since they’d eaten red meat and they all craved it. She bagged enough bush-turkeys to alleviate their hunger, but this meal would be special. Kyle would be proud of how her hunting skills had improved.

She moved the binoculars and ran her eyes across the ridgeline, a flicker of movement caused her to stiffen. There was someone out there, too close for comfort. Tracey ran inside and alerted the others to prepare before she exited the building and set out on foot, dodging in and out of the shelter of the trees and grateful, they’d now grown their spring camouflage.

There it was again, moving slowly down an unseen path and stopping frequently. She homed in the sights and captured the intruder in them. A man by the height of him with a hoodie pulled down over his head. He carried a weapon. Tracey ensured her shotgun was ready.

The male moved closer and Tracey raised the gun, “Stop right there and go back where you came from. I have my shotgun pointed at you and I won’t miss. Place your weapon on the ground now!”

The main did as he was ordered and raised his hands in supplication.

Tracey moved closer. “Okay. Now go.”

“I guess you’re angry about me being late, honey.”

Tracey screamed in joyous recognition of Kyle’s beloved voice, and she ran towards him and was swept up in his arms and held there safe at last.

“So, you got distracted again, huh?”

“Something like that.” He laughed softly.

“Coffee’s hot.”

“I love you.”

She placed her fingertips against his mouth. “I’ll let you show me how much later. But baby you really need to take a shower first.”

“I guess it’s worse than snoring in bed, huh?”

“You got that right.”

Their laughter lifted and echoed around them as they walked back to their home to face an uncertain future. Yet both content in their understanding that whatever may come they’d stand and face it together.

Knowing in advance that the darkest hour was just before dawn.










Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Thriller – The Reckoning Squad by S. Burke

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to welcome Suzanne Burke to the Cafe and Bookstore, with her memoirs written as Stacey Danson and her other books as S. Burke. The featured book is her most recent, a thriller, The Reckoning Squad.

About the book

The Reckoning Squad was the new name being whispered in the darkened corridors of the powerful in Washington. The name was whispered with awe, and the whispers grew louder.

Twenty people had been carefully vetted and recruited to undergo specialized training. Training engineered to break them utterly, intended to shatter everything they once believed themselves capable of surviving. Only the best of them made it through the twelve weeks of hell. They now formed a cohesive black-ops unit, known as The Reckoning Squad.

Their facility is breached, and the team’s numbers are decimated. The survivors know that they’re in a fight for their lives. They have been betrayed from within. Trust…

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Book Review: “Hieroglyph” By Wendy Jayne Scott @WendyJayneScott #RRBC #RWISA

Hello and welcome to my book review of “Hieroglyph;(TC’s Adventures Book 1) by Wendy J Scott @WendyJayneScott

Wendy scott bio pic

About the Author:

Wendy has an NZ Certificate in Science (Chemistry), which allows her to dabble with fuming potions and strange substances, satisfying her inner witch. Wendy writes adult fantasy as Wendy Scott and children’s stories as WJ Scott. In 2012 Hieroglyph was selected by NZSA for one of five mentorships (mentor author Anna McKenzie). Hieroglyph won the Gold Medal in the UK Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2015, 9-12 year category, and the Silver Medal in the International Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, Children’s/Preteen 2016.

:Cover heiroglyph


“Did Ancient Egyptians visit Australia?”

13-year-old TC has a secret. No one knows she possesses a supernatural power.
Can TC help her Uncle Max, an archaeologist; to unearth enough evidence to prove Ancient Egyptians visited Australia before he’s discredited in the media by those that want the past to stay buried?

“Some would say that I have a gift, but to me, it’s always been a curse. Before I changed my mind, I tugged off my gloves and whipped my head left and right, checking to see that no one was watching. I sucked in a breath and steadied my nerves then thrust my hands against the stones and touched one of the cartouches. Time and place ripped away.”

An enthralling archaeological mystery, mixing the supernatural with humour and suspense.

The first of TC’s adventures – an archaeological mystery for junior readers and above.

My REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A delightful read.

I’ve heard so many good things about this author and I’m delighted to find that praise well deserved. This short should capture and hold the attention of its targeted audience. It’s well written and doesn’t make the mistake of talking down to its intended readers. Beautifully done.

As an Australian, I was immediately drawn to the story and found all the descriptive and visualizations of my beautiful country to be accurate and well described. Bravo.

The plot is multi-faceted and intriguing. Did the ancient Egyptians visit Australia? Ah, but see it matters not if they did or they didn’t. This talented author involves all the senses throughout her book and makes all she writes seem utterly feasible. You become a believer.

The characterizations could perhaps have been fleshed out a little more, we all read things differently after all. However, nothing distracts from the story. Others have written much about the inner workings of this book, so I’ll be brief.

Young protagonist TC is developed very well and has the strength to carry that throughout this short read.

She joins her Uncle Max in Australia, whilst he is enveloped in his research into the possibility that the Ancient Egyptians may have visited its shores. 

Members of the media are going out of their way to discredit him.

TC’s special abilities allow her to envisage that time as if she were right there in the midst of it. Author Scott has marvelous descriptive abilities certain to transport the reader into a time and place of the authors choosing. I highly recommend the book to the young teens and the young at heart. Well done.


Twitter:  @WendyJayneScott



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Thanks for stopping by this morning. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. ❤


Book Review: “2121:Twilight’s Last Gleaming (Revolution Book 1) By Karl Morgan @KarlJMorgan #RRBC


Hello and welcome to my book review of “2121: Twilight’s Last Gleaming (Revolution Book 1) by Author Karl Morgan:

BOOK COVER 2121 Karl Morgan.

Meet the author:

Karl Morgan face


I love science fiction and fantasy! As a normal, breathing human being, I have my own ideas about how and why we are here. I also have my views on why evil and good exist in this world. Put all of that together and I am blessed to have the chance to share my words with you, my readers.

Writing continues to be an adventure for me. Each story refines my skill and allows me to delve into different aspects of my personality and to better define my world-view. But please do not think that makes me special. We are all on our own adventures, and hopefully, each of our lives allows us to learn and grow.

If you are interested in stories that will challenge how you see the universe around you, my books might be right up your alley. Expect the unexpected. I have written space operas where you can travel the universe and see how much and how little things change from planet to planet and species to species. I have and am writing crazy stories about people who somehow end up with incredible talents that can and do change the world. And believe me, the adventure has just begun.
BOOK COVER 2121 Karl Morgan.



Is America’s future in the hands of a fourteen-year-old boy? Jack Kennedy is growing up in a nation destroyed by a corrupt, uncaring government. While the elites live in splendor in their domed city centers, the masses live in squalor and poverty. Farmers struggle to survive in walled villages to protect themselves from the terrorists and gangbangers who ravage the countryside.

The elderly are banished as there is no will or money to support them. The promise of our country has become a dystopian nightmare where life is hard and hope is an illusion.

Until now, Jack’s life has been good. When his best friend ventures to the nearby Ottumwa Free City to look for his former coworkers, Jack hitches a ride and discovers our president’s horrific secret. The truth is revealed in the slaughterhouse, and their lives will ever be the same again.
In this fast-paced action thriller, Jack and his friends and family must fight the most violent and terrifying forces of man and nature to stay alive. If they succeed, perhaps there is hope for all of us; if not, we are doomed and America will be forever lost.

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ A dark vision of a future tinged with hope.

This book captured my attention immediately. Predominantly because the central character’s name of Jack Kennedy invoked immediate images and thought of another great man who carried this name. One wonders if this was deliberate: if so it certainly worked for me.

The world of 2121 is a terrifying place to try and survive. I’m reminded of Soylent Green in many ways. Author Karl Morgan doesn’t spare us from the stench of corruption in the book. He takes us into the darkest recesses of man’s inhumanity and he does it without flinching. The inhuman side of humanity is revealed in strong language which I found absolutely necessary. The author has used military terminology to great effect and has clearly done extended research.

The rich and privileged live in absolute comfort, protected under their domed city.

While the poor try to survive the utter devastation and poverty. The elderly are banished and cannibalism has become the acceptable norm.

Yet there lingers a dream and a hope amongst those that see a different future, that premise keeps the book from being too painful to read. I became a little confused in parts where the threads of the story overlapped. However, this was a good read and I’ll be reading more of this author’s work as a result. not for the faint-hearted, but for those that enjoy hard-hitting writing this should prove a most enjoyable read.

Follow the author here:

Twitter:  @KarlJMorgan



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