‘Fiction in A Flash Challenge’ Week #8 Entries Part 1) @HowellWave @pursoot @KIngallsAuthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 1)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #8.

Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1) John Howell  2) My own Contribution and 3) by Karen Ingalls.

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.

  1. This one line entry Contributed by John Howell

Flash Free child with lion toy

By

John Howell.

“I know you’ve had a rough quarantine, Simba but we need to exercise now.”

John can be reached here:

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

 Twitter:

Author Blog Fiction Favorites:

#

My Own Contribution:

Flash Free child with lion toy

Secrets and Smiles.

By

Suzanne Burke.

“Hey, Mary-Beth, hold up!” Fifteen-year-old Kayce called out as he rode up behind his five-year-old sister.

“Where are you off to in such a hurry, squirt?”

Mary-Beth squinted up at him, put her hand on her hip, and announced defiantly, “I’m runnin’ away.

“Oh, I see. Well, then you best be wearin’ your hat.” He handed the straw hat down to her, “I swear Mary-Beth I’m gonna have to glue that thing to your head, so you remember to wear it. That sun will make your running away much harder.”

The little girl gave that some serious thought and then placed her straw-hat on her head and gripped Lennie the Lion more tightly. “Thanks.”

“So … just why are you runnin’ away?”

“It’s a secret.”

“I’ll bet you tell Lennie here all your secrets. Maybe I should ask him?”

The little girl giggled. “That’s dumb. Lennie doesn’t talk. He just smiles a lot.”

“Ah, I see. So, Lennie has reasons to smile.”  he looked at her closely, “What’s made you stop smilin’?”

Mary Beth looked down at her feet, “It’s those babies. Things have been different since momma brought them home from the hospital. I don’t like it.”

“Yeah, I understand. Twin sisters were kind of  surprise for all of us. But you know something? I didn’t like it either when you were first born. I didn’t like all the attention being on someone else instead of me.”

“I just don’t get it, Kayce. They don’t do anything but sleep and cry all the time. Momma’s always so tired, and daddy just walks around shaking his head and smiling a whole lot.”

“Now, that’s strange. I could have sworn I heard mom reading you your bedtime story last night. She was tired, squirt, but she made certain you knew that you’re just as important as you’ve always been.”

“I … Oh.” The child was momentarily lost for words. “But the babies don’t do anything!”

“Oh, they will, squirt. Won’t be long now till the two of them are crawling all over the place and pulling themselves up on every dangerous thing their chubby hands can reach and grab a hold of. They’ll stumble and tumble and you’ll laugh after you make certain they didn’t hurt themselves. Then they’ll start walking, then running and laughing at the pure pleasure of being alive. They’ll capture your heart and hold it in their keeping forever. Just like you did with mine. Do you understand, Mary-Beth?”

“Sort of. Maybe a little.”

“So, are you hungry?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Dad’s fixing burgers.”

“With pickles?”

“Of course, with pickles. Climb on up here in front of me and hold on to Lennie. You both need to freshen up before we eat.”

“I guess Lennie and me can still run away tomorrow.”

“Make certain you wear your hat.”

***

Four-years later:

“Okay. Today’s the day you get to come into the tree-house. We’ll have a story and an afternoon tea party.”

Chantal and Emma grinned in unison. “That means we’re big girls now.” said Chantal.

“You’re on your way, but there’s still a ways to go.” Mary-Beth turned her attention to Emma, “Where’s your hat, baby-girl? I swear I’m gonna have to glue that thing to your head, so you remember to wear it.” Then she giggled with delight as she remembered exactly when she’d heard that before.

The twins looked at each other and shrugged. Emma pointed up to the small verandah surrounding the tree-house, “Hey look at Lennie! He’s smiling!”

“Lennie has a reason to smile.” Mary-Beth placed an arm around each of them,  “Just like I do.”

***

3) Contributed by Karen Ingalls.

Flash Fiction week 8 Karen Ingalls photo

Karen can be reached at …

Karen Ingalls Blog.

On Twitter:

Karen Ingalls Author Page Amazon

On Facebook

~~~

Thanks so much for stopping by. Tomorrow I’ll be Featuring Part 2 … entry 4) by Marsha Ingrao 5) by Gwen Plano and 6) by D.L.Finn

Find 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

On Twitter.

Gwen Plano on Facebook.

***

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?”

“Uh-huh.”

“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.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

BOOK BLURB:

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:

Twitter:

Amazon Author Page:

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

Website & Blog | Goodreads

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

What do you bring to a pity-party? Aka “Uh-oh, she’s back.” #RRBC #RWISA

 

This is your official invitation to the pity-party I’m having, right here and right now!

I’m home again after another sixteen day stay in hospital. That makes four long stays in Hospital this year. I’m pleased to be home again.  I’ve been scrambling around my head trying to find a way to ease myself back into my online world. I’ve been absent (Again) for a few weeks, and yesterday I discovered myself settling into self-pity mode.  That’s never a good look. So I decided to just throw a pity-party and get myself the hell over it. Groan. So let’s get this party started.

Cue intro music,  “Another one Bites The Dust,” by Queen and drape the party-scene in colors of purple and blue.

Menu; Serve Cold. Smörgåsbord

Pity Pork Pie.

The Coldest Cuts possible.

Helpless Hash Browns.

Morose Meringue

Sides available.

A We all know what realy happened to ‘Caesar’ Salad and a platter of Overwhelmed Artichokes.

Depressed Dijon Mustard.

Bar service: Help yourself to your favorite poison, if you’ll pardon the expression.

Party-games.  You already know this isn’t gonna be pretty.

Russian Roulette The old fashioned way.  (I warned you)

Method:

Blend all the above, and place 911 on auto-redial.

I’m working on my way out of a downward mood spiral, my friends, but it may take a little while longer this time around. Meanwhile I’ll start searching for things I can laugh at, and maybe laughing at myself is a good place to start.

In the interim please send a virtual kick in the butt in my direction.

Thank you all for making the time to stop by.

I’ll be catching up with you all over the next few days.

“Dying on Stage.” A comedy of tragic proportions. I kid you not!” #RRBC @pursoot #IARTG

 

Violin for short story horror contestA recent tag on Twitter by my friend Vashti asked me to reveal something personal about myself. I shared the fact that I had once taken acting classes. That memory caused me to shudder and laugh simultaneously. Are you gonna ask me why?

(Whew … for a minute there I didn’t think you were gonna cooperate.)

So … the acting classes led to a few forgettable amateur performances with a group of like-minded but otherwise normal people.

Laurence Olivier

Trust me Laurence Olivier’s reputation wasn’t in any danger of being outshone.

But, hell … we were a dedicated bunch. In a group like that you soon learn to put your hand up for anything remotely connected to a production, which meant we all worked scenery, props, backstage and front of house when we weren’t actually selected to be up on that stage ourselves. Like I said dedicated. Or maybe certifiable.

Anyways … I was chosen for a part in the next production. It was a great part. I got to be shot and die on stage as the final curtain came down and everything! Seriously! I mean let’s face it that was probably the greatest challenge ever handed an aspiring actor.  I rehearsed the hell out of that final scene. I perfected pitching forward as I’m shot from behind and landing face down on the floorboards, but with a side view so the audience could get a clear view of my dead face as my shocked lover comes forward and kneels over me in an agony of loss. My assassin still stands with his gun in his hand and a shocked look on his face.

AUDIENCE

Are you with me so far?

That was the pivotal curtain moment.

Meanwhile back on the floorboards I lay, unmoving. I held it, I had that sucker under perfect control, until my dead nose came in contact with a pile of dust that one of us hadn’t quite swept off stage before the curtain came up.

I felt the dust reaction hit my senses and I began willing that damned curtain down. But my mourning lover was milking the hell out of his big scene and I knew I was in trouble.

I thought my head was about to explode.

At last my lover moaned out his last effort and the silence just before the curtain drops permeated the theatre  … and I let loose the sneeze from hell.

I was mortified. Especially when I heard that first snicker, you know that embarrassed snicker you make just before you double up laughing? Yeah … that’s the one. Multiply that by about thirty folks still sitting in our audience. Uh-huh. Yep.  And then I heard it … A voice in the crowd that carried well called out ‘Bless You’ and the whole place erupted. To make matters worse my lover collapsed in gales of hysteria over my no longer dead body which had his boyfriend off stage wishing me dead all over again.

My assassin barely managed to put the gun prop down before she cracked up completely.

Need I say that the only stage I was ever welcomed back on was the first one outta town.

True story. Seriously it is … even I couldn’t come up with this one.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope that my sharing a memorable moment has helped you to smile.

Have you ever had an oddly pivotal moment like that?

I’d love you to share it.

 

 

 

Book Review: “Ninja School Mum” by Lizzie Chantree @Lizzie_Chantree #RRBC #IARTG #BookReview

BOOK REVIEW COVER NINJA SCHOOL MUMHello, and welcome to my Book Review of “Ninja School Mum” By Lizzie Chantree.

MEET THE AUTHOR.

BOOK REVIEW NINJA S M BIO PIC LIZZIE CHANTREEAward-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

 

 BOOK REVIEW: “Ninja School Mum” by Lizzie Chantree

BOOK REVIEW COVER NINJA SCHOOL MUMBlurb

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

MY REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Utterly captivating and intensely readable!

I believe we are all a little wary of stepping outside our usual reading comfort zone. I wasn’t certain what to expect when I sat down to read this book.

What I found within its pages was pure entertainment. Author Lizzie Chantree has gifted the reader with some marvelous characterizations.

The stand out for me was Skye. I love strong female characters, especially those who stand tall and fight back. Skye is a wonderfully blended character. The author has woven her with a fine hand and a keen observation of human behavior. Skye has a delicious sense of humor and times of intense tenderness. I fell for the character totally.

This author has introduced us to the others such a Thea and Zack, and allowed us to both visualize and hear them. A perfect example of, show … don’t tell.

I  laughed often during this read, only to find myself suddenly thrust into a world where survival comes at a cost.

The twist caught me unprepared! That in itself made the book worth reading.

Author Lizzie Chantree has a winning combination in this her latest book.

I found it utterly captivating and intensely readable.

LINKS TO THE BOOK AND THE AUTHOR.

PURCHASE NINJA SCHOOL MUM on AMAZON.Com

LIZZIE CHANTREE AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Connect on TWITTER

LIZZIE CHANTREE on FACEBOOK

Book Review: “The Fall of Lilith” by Vashti Quiroz-Vega @VashtiQV #RRBC #Dark #Supernatural #Fantasy.

BOOK REVIEW The Fall of Lilith by Vashti

BOOK REVIEW “The Fall of Lilith” by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

MEET THE AUTHOR:

BOOK REVIEW BIO PIC VASHTI

Hello! My name is Vashti Quiroz-Vega. I’m a writer of Suspense, Thriller, Fantasy and Horror. I also enjoy mixing in some Humor and Romance into my stories.

From the time I was a young kid, writing has been my passion. I’ve always been a writer I just didn’t know it until much later. For me, it is easier to express my thoughts on paper than with the spoken word. I enjoy making people feel an array of emotions with my writing. I like my audience to laugh one moment, cry the next and clench their jaws after that.

My love of animals and nature are often incorporated in my stories. You’ll read intriguing things about various animals, nature and natural disasters commingled in my character driven novels.

I love to read almost as much as I love to write. Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, M. Night Shyamalan, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown.

BOOK REVIEW The Fall of Lilith by Vashti

BLURB.

In The Fall of Lilith, Vashti Quiroz-Vega crafts an irresistible new take on heaven and hell that boldly lays bare the passionate, conflicted natures of God’s first creations: the resplendent celestial beings known as angels.

If you think you know their story, think again.

Endowed with every gift of mind, body, and spirit, the angels reside in a paradise bounded by divine laws, chief of which are obedience to God, and celibacy. In all other things, the angels possess free will, that they may add in their own unique ways to God’s unfolding plan.

Lilith, most exquisite of angels, finds the rules arbitrary and stifling. She yearns to follow no plan but her own: a plan that leads to the throne now occupied by God himself. With clever words and forbidden caresses, Lilith sows discontent among the angels. Soon the virus of rebellion has spread to the greatest of them all: Lucifer.

Now, as angel is pitted against angel, old loyalties are betrayed and friendships broken. Lust, envy, pride, and ambition arise to shake the foundations of heaven . . . and beyond. For what begins as a war in paradise invades God’s newest creation, a planet known as Earth. It is there, in the garden called Eden, that Lilith, Lucifer, and the other rebel angels will seek a final desperate victory—or a venomous revenge.

“[A] compelling narrative that . . . strays far from traditional biblical text . . . A well-written, descriptive, and dark creation story.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

MY REVIEW 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Dark Supernatural Fantasy at its Best!

When I had finished reading this book, I sat back and thought about what exactly it was about it that had totally captured my attention and kept me riveted until the early hours of the morning, long after I should have flipped off the light.

Author Vashti Quiroz- Vega has undertaken a mammoth task in “The Fall of Lilith”  and she could have quite easily opted for the easy road in depicting the eternal battle of Good .V. Evil. The fact is that she has not done that. Make no mistake, that is indeed the premise on which this well-written book is based, but this author has none of the stereotypical tried and true characterizations that frequent many books attempting to cover that dark premise.

Instead, we are given a deeper insight into the urges that drive these characters, with Lilith’s character being only one of many that frequent this epic. Lilith, of course, is pivotal and as such her driving characteristics are what influence the narrative. She is multi-faceted with her initial desire to do as her ‘God’ had instructed being overridden by her passionate nature, her guile, and her inability to accept that she was all she could ever hope to be in the ‘heavenly’ sphere.

It is that dissatisfaction, that boredom, and her driving and at times overwhelming desire for something more that drives her. Her clever manipulation of the other supernatural beings (Angels) is a joy to read. There are no boundaries that she does not attempt to tear down by the sheer force of her will. She uses her beauty as a weapon, and the forbidden acts only lead her forward with her need to experience more than this life in ‘heaven’ permits.

I have long been fascinated by the supernatural. This author has delved deeply into the religious aspects that permeate any story that focuses on the ‘angels’ being cast out from heaven, she has acknowledged that, and then taken those understandings and beautifully crafted a vision of the alternative  possibilities.

Much has been written by other reviewers that cover the plot very adequately, I prefer to focus instead on the driving force behind the individual characterizations.  None of the characters in this book fail to engage me as a reader, they are each capable of arousing my understanding of the ‘demons’ that drive them. I by turns laughed at the dialogue, then caught myself tearing up when hurt was dealt out in the coldest of ways.

This book is not for the faint-hearted reader. The author has clearly stated that it is written with an adult audience in mind.

The scenes in this book that capture the essence of lust and desire are written with a clever hand, I found them totally necessary in the plot development and as such, they were never a grab for the ‘sex sells’ probability we so often find in fiction.

We witness the struggle to overcome the initial hardships on a dangerous ‘Earth’. The need to belong to another being, and the ultimate desire to survive at all costs, regardless of who may get caught in the trap of our own making along the way. The thirst for revenge is hovering darkly as the book reaches it final pages.  This is the first book in a series. I will most certainly be back to read the remainder.

Author Vashti Quiroz-Vega has captured the essence of Dark Supernatural Fantasy. She should be proud of her accomplishment.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “The Hat” by C.S.Boyack. @Virgilante #Paranormal #Speculative Fiction #RRBC @StoryEmpire

BOOK REVIEW COVER THE HAT By C S BOYACK

BOOK Review “The Hat” By C.S. Boyack.

Meet the author.

BOOK REVIEW BIO PICTURE OF C S BOYACK

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Craig

BOOK REVIEW COVER THE HAT By C S BOYACK

BLURB

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

MY REVIEW … 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A Captivating way to spend your reading time.

I have read and reviewed other works by author C.S Boyack and knew from experience to expect an enjoyable read. The Hat didn’t disappoint me! This author has a boundless energy and imagination which he shares quite beautifully in the pages of this novella. We humans all appear to be genetically predisposed to hunger for some small connection to our past. The central (Human) Character of Lizzie finds herself needing to have a memento of her connection to the family when she finds herself adrift from her familiar surroundings.

Denied the chance to take something she’d value she grabs an old box and runs with it.

What the box contains is ‘The Hat.’ And from then on the story takes you on a frantically paced and well thought out roller-coaster ride. The dialogue between Lizzie and her new companion is classic one-liners delivered with superb comedic timing. That timing doesn’t falter for the duration of this enjoyable read.

Attributing a personality to a supposedly inanimate object takes skill, as did the sketches included so beautifully within this paranormal framework. Author C S Boyack has a marvelous creativity that enhances the reading experience.

I will never look at a fashion accessory in quite the same way again.

A Must read.

Find Craig on TWITTER

Purchase THE HAT on Amazon.com

C.S. Boyack Amazon Author Page

Craig Boyack’s Website.

Christmas on the streets. The truest meaning of Christmas. Christmas morning 1966: 2:00 A.M. #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1

BEAUTIFUL BABY DOLL FOR BLOG CHRISTMAS 2017

Thank you for joining me. Whenever the darkness of our crazy old world threatens to overwhelm me I remember the times when the wonderful spirits of good people who saught only to give joy with no expectation of return enriched my life. I share this precious miracle with you each year that I am able. My Christmas gift to all those that may despair or have lost faith in the belief that most human beings are intrinsically good.

CHRISTMAS MORNING 1966: 2:00 AM.

The Christmas season is the harshest of all when you live on the streets.

On ANY streets … In ANY town.

A miracle happened in our small dark world that hot and steamy Christmas morning all those long years ago.

It was not a ‘miracle’ of biblical proportions, yet for us, it was a miracle that we would hold in our memories forever, to be taken out and looked at whenever life grew harsher.

I have taken the chapter from my memoir, and I am sharing it with you here.

I hope that it makes you nod in understanding.

I am smiling through my tears as I remember…..

 “Faint Echoes of Laughter” Book 2 of the “Standing Tall & Fighting Back.” Series. Non-Fiction. Memoir.

Chapter 7

Christmas was barely a week or so away, and the mood wasn’t good.

Christmas out here meant different things to each of us I guess.

My memories of Christmas’s past were all bad. Even last year when I’d been on the streets alone for barely a month had bad stuff attached to it, yet it hadn’t been nearly as bad as the ones I had lived with back in the home I called ‘hell central’.

I asked Baby Jenny to come for a walk with me down to see Big Mike. I wanted to ask him if he could scrounge up some leftover decorations to put up in the ‘palace’ to lighten the mood up a little.

He gave me a thoughtful nod, and said he’d “see what he could do.”

He spoke to Jenny…”I swear you get prettier every day, Jenny. Don’t let Sassy here teach you any bad habits.”

Jenny grinned at him too shy to respond.

I kept my mouth shut except for a “Gee thanks … Big Mike”

He smiled and wandered off, and we headed back up to the palace. We spent a lot of time outdoors during the heat of the summer. The cooler breezes from the water were good. The heat inside our metal home was dreadful.

When a week had passed and we hadn’t seen Big Mike we figured that he had forgotten. It was disappointing, but he didn’t owe us anything; and after all, he had helped us out with Momma and other stuff like wood for the fire in winter, so we didn’t really expect the decorations, we just hoped for them.

Jenny was extra quiet. I wondered if she would ever be able to talk about why she was here. I didn’t ask her. I hadn’t discussed my background with any of them, even Jamie. So I understood that it was not open for general discussion.

Christmas Eve dawned fiery red. It was going to be a very, very, hot day according to the radio forecasts, with a cool southerly change expected later in the evening.

We all headed up to Hyde Park very early and took a Christmas bath in our favorite fountain. At least the palace wouldn’t stink quite so badly for Christmas day.

It was tempting to just jump in the ocean so close to the Palace, but Big Mike had warned us all about the sharks, so we didn’t dare.

Sydney Harbor wasn’t the safest place to swim. We planned on heading down to the Botanical Gardens for a swim in the lake that evening. We figured there wouldn’t be many people around because it was Christmas Eve.

The sky began to look dark and threatening early in the afternoon. The southerly buster was heading up the coast rapidly. We were all unusually quiet and sitting around outside in the shade of the container when we heard the sound of vehicles heading toward the Palace.

We headed around the front to see who had arrived and watched in stunned amazement as Big Mike and two of the other guys whose names I can’t recall, began unloading boxes of stuff from their cars and placing it in the shaded opening of our tin home.

Big Mike looked uncomfortable; if possible, he was even gruffer than usual. “You lot need feeding up, so we brought you some stuff.”

We were all too stunned to say much at all, these hard men were all smiling and a little red-faced. I swear if they could have, that they would have scuffed their shoes in the dirt like little kids with embarrassment.

Big Mike shook Jamie’s hand and accepted the ‘thank you’ from him.

I was speechless which wasn’t a common occurrence, I just grinned like mad and gave the guys a hurried “Thanks.”

They were the unlikeliest Angels you would ever see, sweaty and dirty after a long hot day’s work, the sight of them unloading the Christmas goodies and punching one another in the arm in a gesture common amongst males remains etched starkly in my memory.

Big Mike reached into the front seat of his car and pulled out a parcel that was wrapped up in Christmas paper, with bright ribbons attached. He walked over and handed it to Baby Jenny.

She looked confused and wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“The women picked this out for ya, little one.” Big Mike said.

Jenny still wasn’t sure what to do.

“Go ahead and open it, Jenny,” Jamie said.

“Um, later. Later. Okay?” she replied looking very unsure of herself.

She looked at the men, and gave them one of her sweet smiles, “Don’t matter what it is. I never had a present before, so…Um…Yeah, thanks, thanks a lot.”

The men seemed to understand that she needed to be alone when she opened it.

As for the rest of us, we tore into those presents and boxes like there was no tomorrow…squealing in delighted surprise with everything we found.

There was more food than any of us had ever seen.

Tinned Hams, fresh pineapples, cherries, and plums. Cooked Turkey and Cranberry sauce …with all the trimmings. Fifteen red t-shirts all large sizes. Paper plates, and plastic knives and forks, a can-opener. A Cooler packed with ice, a radio, and spare batteries. A big crate of beer and bottles of Coke.

That night, we all huddled around the new radio; it was bigger and put out a better sound than the small transistor we had been using, we sat drinking the beer and singing our version of Christmas carols, none of them repeatable. Trust me.

Jenny sat on her sleeping place; she was a little tipsy as well having been allowed one-half of a small bottle of beer. We glanced at her as she picked up her present and watched the look on her face as she unwrapped it.

It was a baby doll, all soft and dressed in bonnet and booties with a pretty pink knitted dress. “Just what we needed, another fuckin’ mouth to feed,” she said…but the smile on her face could have lit up the entire city.

We were fed, content, and a little overwhelmed and unsure at the kindness of these people.

Typically, we questioned the motive behind it. We all wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, they had done it for no motive other than the wish to make this Christmas a good place for us to be. It was an alien experience but a welcome one.

We had only sampled a little of the huge amount of food, deciding to save the rest for Christmas Day

That night we were all tipsy. Strangely quiet as we bedded down for the night. I think we were all a little overwhelmed by the generosity of these men.

It was around 2.00 am Christmas morning I guess when I felt something was wrong. Whatever the something was, it wouldn’t let me sleep. I couldn’t place it immediately. It was a strange sense of something missing, and it troubled me.

Jamie was on watch; I climbed over the others and hunkered down next to him. Jamie smiled at me and said, “You too hey, Sassy?”

“Yeah, I guess–what is it? Something’s different.”

We sat a while just listening. Then Jamie said, “Oh shit! It’s Jenny, she’s not crying!”

My heart was in my mouth. Jamie grabbed the torch and we played it across the others, several of them were already awake, and wondering what the hell was happening. Jenny had cried herself to sleep every night since she’d come to this place. It was a sound we all tried not to hear. She couldn’t be comforted, we weren’t permitted that close. She’d been here for two years now. Jenny was around eight-years-old.

Jenny lay on her side, sound asleep with both arms wrapped around that doll so tight there was no space between them.

That was the first time I had cried in a very, very, long time. I glanced at the others, without exception we were all affected the same way. No one wanted to look at anyone else, shit we were supposed to be the toughest kids on the block! Hell, we were the only kids on the block. That Christmas was the first real day of Jenny’s childhood. From then on, Christmas became Jenny’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you that a miraculous change came over her. That she was instantly transformed. In a make-believe world, she’d be outside singing all the hits from ‘The Sound of Music’ and wearing a pretty new dress and shoes.  But this is the real world, and the changes took place over time.

Jenny named her doll, Francine.

The greatest change of all; was that, from that night, for all the years that Baby Jenny remained in our world, she never cried herself to sleep again.

***

Many years have passed since that long ago Christmas Eve. My darling Jenny has gone.

So many of my Christmas Eves’ over time have been special ones. But the one I recall with tears of happiness on my face, and a smile in my heart … is this one.

Jenny lost her battle with life in September of 2008.

The doll Francine was buried with her.

Thank you for being here. I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, serene and joyous Christmas, no matter where on this planet you’re from.

Faint Echoes of Laughter here on Amazon.com

KOALA CHRISTMAS

 

“Oops!” The crazy stuff I write when I need to cut loose. @pursoot #IARTG #RRBC #BloggersBlast

Oops.

Hello, lovelies! You all know that I write seriously strange stuff when I need to just cut loose for a while…So here I am again, visiting the crazier than usual zone. Uh-huh … Yeah, so here we go!

 

“Oops!”

I guess we all have those moments in life, you know the ones that you are certain to regret as soon as you recall whatever the hell it was that you did! Yeah, those rugged and dark times when you indulge in something legal or otherwise that you just HAD to have. My ‘Oops’ moments were continuing to create havoc.

The room stank. Body odor and cigarettes blended with stale booze.  My stomach was unimpressed that my sense of smell was still working.

I dry retched.  I shut my eyes and tried to remember just where the hell I was.  Hell seemed an appropriate placement, it sure was hot enough.

The memory hung there just beyond reach.  It troubled me somewhat, no matter how drunk I got, I had never blacked out before. It was a stupid thing to do.

The stench in the room increased.  A light came on.  What I saw made me wish myself unconscious again.

The thing sat in a stairwell.  It wasn’t quite a dog.  If it were, it was the ugliest one I had ever seen.

My first thought was, I hope to God this is only a nightmare. I pinched myself hard, and unfortunately, I felt it. The fetid odor of wet fur and old blood encouraged that notion.  My nose didn’t usually intrude itself in my dreams.

I moved, happy that I could do so.  I moved further.  The doglike thing emitted a sound that gurgled up through its throat; it spewed from its mouth, a combined growl and groan combined.  I shivered despite the enfolding humidity of the room.

It was angry and afraid.  Never a good combination in a nightmare that stank.

I shuffled myself backward on my ass.  I felt behind me in the light coming from where the thing sat.  My hands touched something cold and solid; I turned my head slowly to look, not wanting to attract Stinkys’ attention.  The scream I let rip, blew that scenario right out of the cellar.

The carcass had once been a female.  Now it was just a gutted thing crawling in maggots and covered in a congealed mess of intestines.  The genitals were the one remaining identifier.

I had attracted my ugly companion’s attention.  He—she … or it, moved onto a lower stair, the stench wafted over me as it moved.

Staying silent was hardly an option.  I was good with things with four legs as a rule.  Better though if I had a clue as to what I was dealing with.  It appeared to be a combination of an animal and an even uglier animal.

I guess if I looked that scary, I’d be pretty pissed as well.

I was deciding between throwing up or wetting myself, neither option was terribly attractive.

Good old Stinky had moved closer and was now only a couple of feet away.  He wouldn’t need to eat me.  The toxic fumes coming from him would decalcify my spinal column long before his sharp teeth could.  This thing made ‘Jaws’ look like a sardine with attitude.

I weighed up my options, trying not to glance behind me at the last person who made the wrong choice.

The trouble being of course that Stinky may well be the best deal I had.  I hate negativity; I decided to go with the easiest choice.  I stood and remained still.  My knees were shaking.  This didn’t assist in portraying myself as a solid “Terminator” type.  Stinky had a set of wedding tackle hanging between his legs.  It, was a he.

Stinky dropped to the floor.  He sat there making hideous sounds, his saliva pooling into a sticky mess in front of him.

So far so good, he had been conned by my immense physical presence.  Then again, he may just be tired from all that eating human beings stuff he’d indulged in.

I tried for the soft approach, hunkering down and talking in a calm controlled manner as I extended my hand, “So, Stinky, how’re they hangin’?”

“Rumplefargl.”

“Whoa—the old ‘Rumplefargl’ huh?  Tough break, Stink. Hey, buddy, I understand.  Us guys have gotta stick together, which given the amount of saliva you’re making, is a distinct possibility.”

I sat down completely, wanting, of course, to make him more comfortable. Plus my knees had turned to marshmallow and simply wouldn’t hold me up any longer.

Good ol’ Stinky must have figured I was cool. He put what passed for his head on his front paws, and looked up at me gently with eyes only ‘Stephen King’ could invent.

“Rumplefargl?”

I had to be careful how I responded to this one.  Suppose he was asking permission to turn me into a maggot-ridden mess like my other cellmate. Or worse yet, it could be a marriage proposal.

I gave it some thought, and then went for the psychological approach, “So with all this ‘Rumplfargl’ going on, Stink, when do you get a chance to just have time out alone? You know, just hangin’ out with the other things from hell and shootin’ the breeze and each other?”

He appeared to consider my question.  He stood and hurried over to the stairwell, “Rumplfargl.”

I followed him. Hell … why not?  I doubted whatever was up the stairs could be as disgusting as where I was.

I was so terrifyingly wrong.

I tried shutting the door again as a chorus of “Rumplfargl” greeted me.

“Oops!”

OOPS BABY