This is Weekly “Fiction in a Flash Challenge” Week #22.Each weekSuzanne Burke will be featuring an image and inviting us 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 week #22 Image Prompt.
“Here, Liam, this is mother’s journal. Let’s collect all her personal items before the lady comes to clean the house,” Marcus said.
“I wonder what went on in mother’s mind.”
“Let’s read her last entry.”
September 17, 1969
You said you loved me. I moved in with you. I waited and waited for us to get married. You said it was love that mattered. I believed you.
We had two darling children, two cheerful and curious boys. You were proud of them. I thought you could settle down for a family and a committed life. You said it was love that mattered. I believed you.
Our boys grew into intelligent teenagers. They were outstanding students. The teacher complimented us for being responsible parents. I thought you were a proud father and family man. I mentioned about making the marriage legal. You said it was love that mattered.
I didn’t feel the love you claimed to have in our relationship. I wanted to be free from the agony, yet it’s too late. The boys needed a father for a few more years.
Our sons graduated from college. They supported themselves with scholarships and part-time jobs. We soon will have an empty nest. I asked for your commitment.
“I’m married,” you said. “It was an arranged marriage in China. The WWII separated us. I thought she was dead. I went to Hong Kong when the war was over. You and I met. It was love. Nothing confirmed her death, so I couldn’t make our relationship legal. Five years later, she went to Hong Kong and found me. It was my obligation to see her.”
You said I was your only love. I demanded your choice. You were still indecisive and said you had an obligation to her. I asked you to pack up and never come back again, and you just walked out.
I told our sons because they needed to know why their father didn’t come home.
“She told us, and it shocked me. Father seemed to be so nice to us for all those years.”
“There’s one more entry. Let’s read on.”
Words came from your wife as you passed away. So… you told her about me and your sons. I sent Liam and Marcus to the funeral service. They told me there were two children with your wife, one was seven years and the other was five years younger than Liam according to the eulogy.
Liar! Liar! Liar!
“Mother had a chest pain after this entry. We took her to the hospital and her heart shut down.”
This week, at the Lens-Artists Challenge community,Tinashared with us her thinking behind the theme: “There are many terrible aspects of the COVID 19 pandemic, too numerous to count really. On the other hand, there are a few positives as well. This week I experienced the latter – which in the spirit of Halloween week here in the U.S., I am calling ‘quite a treat.'”
Visiting my family is always an enjoyment, but our last trip was surely a treat to me and my husband.
When Autumn was born, I flew to Portland, Oregon once a month to spend time with her and my daughter Mercy. After her first birthday, I went every six weeks. Being an educator, watching her growth and learning unique skills was an amazement. In March this year, because of the Covid, I cancelled my trip when Mercy gave birth to Nora. Eventually, I took a trip to meet Nora five months after she was born. As to my husband, Lynton, his last time being with Autumn was January 2019 when we took a family trip to Hong Kong and Japan.
Early this month, it was a real treat to me and Lynton to visit Mercy’s family and spend time with Autumn and Nora.
Autumn was attached to Lynton right away. She came into my room to wake me up gently every morning and said, “Where is grandpa?” “I think he went to the store to get a newspaper,” I said. She wanted Lynton to read to her, doing puzzles and other projects with her.
Nora grew so fast. She loved to smile and make distinct sounds. Lynton enjoyed interacting with her.
I took tons of photos, of course!
We did many activities, even though it was limited by the Covid. We went to a pumpkin farm. Autumn visited the cows, goats, and pigs. She and Daddy went on a hayride, train ride, and jumped on a giant bouncing bed.
We went to the school playground across the street from my daughter’s house. We went on a walk in the neighborhood. Three nights in a row, we played board games after the kids went to bed.
What a Treat!
Taking family photo is a challenge to get the kids look at the camera.
The rain stopped when we arrived at the pumpkin farm and the rainbow appeared.
Reading and cuddling
“I want grandma to get in.”
We played Yahtzee, Scrabble, and a detective game. I’m as competitive as Mercy and Will.
Autumn’s new favorite is the geometric block patterns. She knows the names such as hectogon and trapezoid.
Autumn is a loving big sister. When Nora fusses, she would pat her, hug her, and bring her a toy. She can hardly wait to run around with Nora.
Reading and learning through playing are important for the kid’s growth and development. Mercy and Will read to the kids from the beginning of their lives.
Our next visit to them is Thanksgiving. We look very much forward to it.
I followed John Howell’s book launch tour and hosted a tour for his latest book Eternal Road: The Final Stop. I read all the excerpts presented on the tour. They grabbed my interest. I wanted to read the rest of the book and I did. I love to read or watch movies of time-travel stories. John’s book was a delight.
Mr. John Howell began the book with the scene of Sam being killed, but her body was not found. It grabbed my attention right away. James picked up a hitchhiker, Sam, who turned out to be his grade school friend missing 17 years ago. During their conversation, James realized he was dead when his car crashed while falling asleep driving.
Sam received the assignment to take James on an eternal road to his final destiny. They had a time-travel ability by closing their eyes to focus on a time and location, and it would transport them in just seconds. Sam knew all the places they traveled, O.K. Corral Gunfight site in Tombstone, Arizona, and Alamo in San Antonio, Texas because she studied history for seventeen years while waiting for James to arrive from the other side of the world. They had fun communicating with people in the 1800s of the different terminology and technology over time.
Sam and James seemed to pick up their childhood affection where they left off, and the care for each other grew. Along the journey, Sam visited her parents to let them know she was fine and that they would reunite with her one day. James also played a visit to his mom and stepfather to let them know he was dead, but he was fine. One last person Sam faced was her murderer. It was a relief to know her killer got what he deserved.
There were decisions to make before James reached his eternal home. I also wanted to find out the relationship between the two. The ending came as a surprise. Mr. John Howell created many scenarios and evoked thoughts and emotions. I highly recommend Eternal Road: The Final Stop to all readers.
John is an award-winning author who, after an extensive business career, began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written five other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. The paperback versions are also available in the Indie Lector store
John lives in Lakeway, Texas, with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.
This is Weekly “Fiction in a Flash Challenge” Week #21.Each weekSuzanne Burke will be featuring an image and inviting us 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 week #21 Image Prompt.
A Kind Soul
“Cemetery is my favorite place for contemplation, reading, and writing,” Jeremy said, keeping his eyes on the road.
“It’s peaceful, for sure. You don’t have to talk to anyone unless you speak a ghostly language.” Betsy glanced at him.
“I like to walk around when I think about writing. But then I started reading the tombstones. There’re interesting stuff.”
“Yeah? I can’t think of any interesting things among the dead.”
“I read the descriptions of the deceased on the tombstones. It made me think of the lives of these people and the legacy they left behind.”
“Oh, I see. It reminds me of a meeting with the dead last week.”
“What? Did you know someone who died?”
“No, it’s just my friends. Me and six girlfriends take turns to play dead. We met at Charlotte’s basement. We lit candles around the room. The ‘dead person’ lied on a massage table in the center of the room. The rest of us were standing around, took turns to read the eulogy. After the eulogy, we went upstairs for the reception in the living room. The ‘dead person’ could reflect, comment, and ask questions.”
“Have you played dead yet?”
“No, I’m the last person. After our first meeting, it made me think of what life is all about, what my priorities are, and what I would like people to remember me.”
“It sounds like serious stuff. Oh, we’re here.”
“Exactly. Now tell me what we’re doing here?”
“Well, it’s a long story. I haven’t told you all about it because I wanted to get here as soon as I could. Anyway, I was walking around the cemetery reading the tombstones yesterday. On one of them, instead of a description, there was a web link. I copied it and did a search. Guess what I found out?”
“What? You haven’t told me yet.”
“The website has only one page and one message. It reads,
You were the first person who came to my graveside. You even stopped to read the engraving on the tombstone. I appreciated your interest and kindness. I would like you to visit my home. I have a message for you. Please find the front door key which is in the garden directly behind the fireplace in the living room. There’s a loose brick at the bottom on the right of the red brick wall. Remove the brick to retrieve the key. Enter the house and find the rug in front of the fireplace in the living room. Locate a envelop with my wishes in it. You’ll find out what to do next.
There was an address and a map. So I called you right away and asked you to come with me this afternoon.”
“Oh, wow! What an adventure. This house seems to be neglected for ages. So, we’re looking for the key.” Betsy was getting excited.
“First, we need to locate the living room to have a point of reference.”
“Let’s circle around the house and find a window with a view into the house.”
“All the windows are boarded up.” Jeremy surveyed the surrounding.
“Come here. The board on this window got a crack. See if you can make out anything.”
“Thanks, this looks like a living room. If we walk to the end of this wall and turn left, we should find the red brick wall behind the fireplace.”
“This is a big house… Okay here’s the red brick wall. Now let’s find the key.”
“There it is. Hurry to get in before dark and open some windows. There may not be light inside.”
“Look at all the oil paintings on the wall, and a grand piano in the living room. Yes, there’s a Persian rug.”
“Good, I found it. The envelop is under the rug right in front of the fireplace.”
“Open it and read the message.”
“Okay, it says,
I was an orphan and worked day and night all my life to get ahead. I had no fun, no family, or friends. You were the only kind soul who came to my graveside. My attorney is the executive of my will. He’ll distribute all of my assets except this house to a designated orphanage. This house and everything in it will be yours as my appreciation to you. My attorney is expecting you.
Ann-Christine invited us to explore the theme of Hideaway and would like to see our interpretation.
There is no time like this when we all need a hideaway. A place in which we could find safety, calmness, beauty, feel the contentment of being, and sustain the patience of riding out the storms.
My garden is my hideaway. Nature and the little creatures speak to me and I find comfort in their messages. The branches bend when the wind blow. The roots reach deep to draw water and nutrients. The flowers dance in the breeze. Some plants go dormant in the winter. Some creatures migrate south in the cold season. They don’t fight against nature but make the best of what nature offers and maintain their balance at their present state.
I’m delighted to have my fellow poet Balroop Singh here to celebrate the new release of her latest poetry book Magical Whispers. Please join me for the party and share her excitement.
The book cover is magical. Don’t you think? Now let me have Balroop tell you about her book.
Thank you for hosting me, Miriam
I wait for whispers; they regale my muse. Whispers that can be heard by our heart, whispers that ride on the breeze to dispel darkness and ignite hope. I’m sure you would hear them through these poems if you read slowly.
‘Magical Whispers’ would transport you to an island of serenity; beseech you to tread softly on the velvety carpet of nature to feel the ethereal beauty around you. The jigsaw of life would melt and merge as you dive into the warmth of words.
In this book, my poems focus on whispers of Mother Nature, whispers that are subtle but speak louder than words and breathe a quiet message.
Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing. She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.
When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.
Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.
A little less than two years ago, I clicked “publish” for my poetry collection Songs of Heartstrings. It was beyond exciting to me. Today, I’m sharing something as exciting as publishing my book.
Here’s the back story: WhenDiana W. Peach had her book launch of Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil Book 1), there were many bloggers/authors on board the train hosting her launch. It was gracious of her to reward one host by drawing a name. The prize was to produce a trailer for this winner.
Diana is a perfectionist with literacy, writing, and visual production! She sent me a website to pick a soundtrack and asked for some images. I used my photography and paintings to illustrate the poems, so it was easy for me to select the images. She asked me to pick my favorite poem to use in the trailer, and it wasn’t hard to do it either.
I couldn’t believe how beautiful, perfect, and professional it is for the final production of the Songs of Heartstrings trailer.
Please sit back, relax, and enjoy this moving beauty (2:57 minutes).
To celebrate the birth of Diana’s production, I scheduled an Amazon promotion. Songs of Heartstrings is $0.99.
It’s my please to welcome James J. Cudney on my blog to celebrate his new book Hiding Cracked Glass.
Let me have James tell you about his new book.
Hiding Cracked Glass is the second book in the Perceptions of Glass series. The book officially releases on October 8th.
About the Book
An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?
In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?
Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.
Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved.
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.
Reader & Reviewer
Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.
Blogger & Thinker
I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humour, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.
Genealogist & Researcher
I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.
I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.
All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.
This week for Lens Artists Challenge, Amy invited us to share our photo walk.
We went to Maui on multiple trips. Last year, something out of ordinary during our trip was hiking the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls. On the previous trips when driving on the Road to Hana, I could see some of the Seven Sacred Pools. Seeing people having fun playing in the pools delighted me but didn’t think of stopping by until this trip.
The Seven Sacred Pools is a beautiful but remote location featuring waterfalls, freshwater pools. And incredible green foliage. The actual name is the Ohe’o Gulch. The name “Ohe’o” means “something special” and it’s part of the Haleakala National Park. We paid the $15 admission to the park.
We took the Kuloa Point Trail, a 0.5-mile loop, and continued toward the Pipiwai. It’s a 2-mile hike (4 miles roundtrip) leading to the 400-foot-tall Waimoku Falls.
There are several key points of interest on this photo walk.
The Kuloa Point Trail was marked by jagged roots. For the most part, the Pipiwai Trail was a stone upward trail.
This was an enormous Banyan tree along the Pipiwai Trail. There was not enough space far enough to capture the entire tree.
There are more than seven pools. During the flooding, there are as many as 20 pools. This was a small one and we stopped by for a photo.
Several layers of falls and pools.
The last bridge before entering the Bamboo Forest.
The trail through the Bamboo Forest is a popular one, so it’s frequently maintained. The pathway is large, and looks like this photo throughout the way. it’s very easy to navigate. Many fallen bamboo good enough to use as walking sticks or canes. Someone gave me one on his return hike.
We reached the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. It was a rocky area with a barrier where we could go to take a closer look at the fall.
I’m delighted to have Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene on my blog to celebrate her new book Hullaba Lulu, A Dieselpunk Adventure. My dear friends and visitors, please join the party, have some drinks and goodies. We’ll find out all about Teagan’s new book of adventure.
Let me have Teagan tell you all about her new book of adventure. She’ll tell you some interesting real world thing in her book also.
Hi Miriam – thanks so much for hosting me to announce my novella, Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure.
As you know this is a “dieselpunk” story. It has a 1920s aesthetic with retro futuristic technology, a dash of magic, and some creepy settings, along with a crew of misfit characters. Lulu is a snarky, but good-hearted flapper. She and her friends get into all sorts of trouble (often due to Lulu’s clumsiness). They travel on a magical train to a lot of “sideways” places.
At the back of the novella I included a list of Real-World Things. I thought it might be fun to talk about bubble gum. That was one of the “random reader things” I was given for this story.
Bubble Gum was predated by chewing gum. Bubble gum is a type of chewing gum, designed to be inflated out of the mouth as a bubble. In 1928, Walter Diemer, who was actually an accountant for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia, experimented with new gum recipes. He came up with one that was less sticky than regular chewing gum, and stretched more easily. This gum became highly successful and was eventually named Dubble Bubble because of its stretchy texture.
Lulu is always hungry. In this scene Lulu has gotten separated from her pals, Rose and Pearl. While she’s looking for them, she finds a vending machine. Here’s a snippet:
Men always seemed to want to take over when it came to map reading. My stomach rumbled. I wished I hadn’t exchanged that bag of cheeseburgers for tokens when I entered the park. I saw a vending machine a few feet away and went to investigate, hoping it would have an apple, or even a cup of soda. Unfortunately, it only dispensed stockings, stamps, and bubblegum. With a sigh, I put a token in the machine and got some Wriggle’s Near Miss gum.
With a mouthful of bubblegum, I tried to chew away my appetite. I thought I could probably make a pretty swell bubble. Carefully, steadily expelling air into the chewy pink, I blew the biggest bubble of my life. It was nearly as big as my head!
My eyes darted around, but I didn’t see anyone to share my achievement. Suddenly the bubble popped. Sticky pink bits of various sizes plastered my face. Instantly I switched from wanting someone to see me to hoping no one would get a look at me. I jumped and tried to hide my face when I heard a voice behind me.
“May I help you, Miss?” came a familiar drawl.
Miriam, thanks again for letting me visit. Here’s the rest of the information for Hullaba Lulu.
Here’s the Blurb
Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure is a wild and wooly 1920s fantasy story. Lulu, the heroine is inspired by the song, “Don’t Bring Lulu,” from 1925 ― so are her pals, Pearl and Rose. My Lulu loves to dance, and freely indulges in giggle water. She snores and burps and says whatever she wants. Lulu is a snarky but good-hearted flapper. The song’s inspiration stops there, but the story is just beginning.
Travel with Lulu and her friends on a magical, dieselpunk train that belongs to the smolderingly handsome and enigmatic man known only as Valentino. They get into all sorts of trouble, usually due to Lulu’s clumsiness. It’s an intense ride through a number of pos-i-lutely creepy settings, including “sideways” versions of Atlantic City and the Cotton Club. At every stop and in between, Lulu ends up creating chaos. There’s no telling where they’ll end up. No, Lulu! Don’t touch that!
Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene’s work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest (of the USA). Teagan most often writes one kind of fantasy or another, including the “Punk” genres, like steampunk, dieselpunk, and atompunk. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or an urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy. There are no extremes in violence, sex, or profanity.
Her talents also include book covers and promotional images. She makes all of her own. Teagan is currently exploring the idea of offering that service to others.
All of the books by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene are available at her Amazon Author Page.