“The National Weather Service documented a slew of record-setting temperatures across the state Sunday. In Woodland Hills, just north of Calabasas, the mercury reached a sweltering 121 degrees. In San Jose, it was 103 just before 2 p.m., breaking a 1923 record.
“As temperatures rose, the operator of the state’s power grid warned of possible rolling blackouts for millions of customers beginning at 3 p.m. — the second time in less than a month that a heatwave has prompted the warnings.”
Here is the California Fire Map.
I could look into the sun as the smoke filtered the sun ray. I took these photo at 6:00 p.m.
Please pray for the mercy of the weather, the firefighters, all the car units, and thousands of people affected by the fires.
This is Fiction in a Flash Challenge Week #16.Each weekSuzanne Burke will 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 week #16 Image Prompt.
“Did you sleep okay last night, Son?”
“I did, Dad. Why?”
“You tossed and turned a little. The temperature dropped. I put my jacket on your sleeping bag and you stayed still. I went to sleep after that. I thought if you woke up, it would wake me up, so I didn’t worry about that. If your mom came, she would be up all night to watch you.”
“I know, Dad. Mom worries about me. She wouldn’t let me climb rocks by myself. I know she loves me. You let me do things.”
“Well, I know what you can do, but I also want you to try new things. I always watch out in case you need help.”
“I like this new pop-up tent. It’s easier to set up.”
“Yes, but I still needed your help. I couldn’t do it all by myself.”
“I like to help, Dad.”
“You always do, since you were two years old. We have a good time doing things together.”
“I had never seen a huge full moon like the one last night. I felt like I could touch it.”
“Yes, the clear sky gave us a better view of the moon.”
“Did you hear the wolves howling?”
“I did. The howling seemed to come from many directions. Do you think they howled at the full moon?”
“No, silly Dad. Why would they do that?”
“Isn’t it what we see in some wolf pictures?”
“Yeah… But my teacher said that’s the way they talk to each other. Sometimes they tell other wolves of where they are.”
“Good job, Son. You understand howling of the wolves. What else did the teacher say?”
“He said the wolves stay together as a family, like mom and dad and kids and aunts and uncles.”
“Is there a name for the wolf family?”
“It’s called a Pack, Dad. I thought you knew.”
“I just wanted to hear what the teacher told you. Okay, we’ll do a little hiking this morning.”
“Oh good, I was hoping to do that. Where are we going?”
“Do you remember where the howling came from last night?”
“I wasn’t sure.”
“That was from where we found Wolfy. When mama wolf got shot by the hunters, she escaped, but Wolfy was hiding in the brush. The hunters didn’t see him and went away. We waited for several hours, but mama wolf didn’t return. I think she got hurt terribly. We took Wolfy home to feed him. It has been a month. I think mama wolf should be healed by now. We’ll let Wolfy go back to his mom.”
“Wolfy and Zody got along so well. I wish we could keep Wolfy.”
“Cubs look like puppies, but they aren’t dogs. Alright, let’s uncover the cage and wait here. Wolfy may call his mom.”
“Okay, Dad. Will the wolves hurt us?”
“No, they won’t attack us unless we threaten them.”
“Wolfy is weaning. He is calling his mama.”
“Okay, I hear the barking, can you?”
“Yes, it’s across the field behind the trees.”
“They are moving out to the open. One wolf moved to the front but was standing there barking.”
“Oh, Wolfy is howling louder.”
“I think he recognizes mama’s voice. Okay, bring him out of the cage and put him on the floor carefully facing the trees.”
“Wolfy, goodbye. I’ll miss you.”
“I see the wolves are looking this way. Okay, let Wolfy go.”
“Okay, Dad… Now Wolfy, go to your mommy.”
“Oh good, he is running toward them. We’ll wait until they’re gone before we hike back to the campsite.”
“Thanks, Dad, for letting me come along to say goodbye to Wolfy.”
“You’re welcome, Son. I’m glad you are here to help.”
This is Fiction in a Flash Challenge Week #15. Each week Suzanne Burke will 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 week #15 Image Prompt.
“Shall we board up the windows, Jeffrey? The howling wind is banging on the house. Look, the windows shattered.”
“I can try, Marsha. I don’t think there’s anything we can do at this point. Nothing can hold the windows shut.”
“The debris got blown in and darted the walls, the chandelier was shocked and dropped. It’s like an earthquake.”
“I fear this is worse than the earthquake. Did you see the eerie bright orange line of flames several miles long on the news two nights ago?”
“The gusty wind was blowing this way and dropped the sparks everywhere. It scared me to death when our garage caught on fire and the flames licked into the kitchen.”
“The big fire extinguisher saved us because the firefighters were busy fighting an enormous battle.”
“My cousin called this morning saying he was exhausted but okay. The fire burned hard overnight on the slope four miles north of our city, but his fellow fire crew with the bulldozers and fire engines was able to calm the flames and keep them from coming downhill. He said the Sheriff’s deputies knocked on doors to warn residents to evacuate.”
“The drought and the humidity of 5% to 10% are not helping to contain the blaze. The news said the Thomas fire burned an acre per second.”
“Your school got hit hard.”
“Yes, the cafeteria and several wings were ablaze to the ground in just minutes. The community rushed over to help before the firetruck came. It only saved it from destroying the entire campus.”
“Winter break is coming up. I wonder what’s going to happen after the New Year.”
“It’s hard to say at this point.”
“What are we doing next?”
“I don’t know. I have the TV news and the online news on to monitor it minute by minute. Would you get our important documents, some warm clothes, water, and snack items for the road? I’ll make sure the car phone charger is in the car. We’ll have them ready for evacuation.”
“I’ll call my mom right now to tell her we’ll be heading to their house soon.”
“Look, the news just came on. The wind predicted to come this way changed the direction overnight. But there’s no guarantee of safety, so the city ordered mandatory evacuation. We must go now.”
“Would you check the freeway condition? I’m afraid thousands of people are fleeing.”
“Your parents are one hundred twenty miles away. I may have to get on and off the freeway to avoid the crowd.”
“People are anxious, we just have to be careful. My parents are ready for us.”
~ ~ ~
“Oh no, Marsha. All the homes at the foothill are in ashes. Our home is about the same as we left it.”
“It made me sad. The wildfires burned for 13 days and caused so many damages. I don’t know how people can recover from that.”
“Let’s drive around and see what we can find.”
“Did you see the Christmas decorations? Some people put garlands on the burned trees and Christmas lights on the brown shrubs. I even saw some stockings hung on a lonely fireplace. They tried to cheer up the neighborhood.”
“Marsha, I saw our school board member. I wonder what happens to the school.”
“Why don’t you ask him?”
“Hi, Mr. Jackson. Good to see you. Did the school board discuss the school opening after winter recess?”
“Oh yes, Jeffery. The board decided to bring in many bungalows to set up temporary classrooms and resume school as soon as possible. We hope to rebuild the school for next school year.”
“That’s wonderful. I’m ready to return to the classroom.”
In this book, we’ll encounter the changelings. These changelings shift their shapes when they move about. Out of my curiosity, I asked Diana a question and was pleased to learn something magical.
Please give a round of applause to Diana.
Hi, Diana, how do changelings shift into animal shapes?
Biokinesis. I like magic that sounds scientific. Almost all the magic in the book is a version of kinesis, which is defined as motion/movement. Kinesis, believe it or not, is related to cellular biology and zoology (the mobility of skull bones).
Changelings manipulate their forms on a cellular level, which enables them to switch from one species to another. Like all species, their physical appearance is patterned in their genetic code. The ability to alter their appearance requires assuming a new cellular pattern.
Crystals facilitate an easier, less painful shift. Imagine going from a human skeleton to a dog skeleton without them!
Thank you, Diana. Now let me present the book information.
Behind the Veil, the hordes gather, eager to savage the world. But Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, is untroubled by the shimmering wall that holds his beasts at bay. For if he cannot cleanse the land of life, the races will do it for him. All he needs is a spark to light the fire.
Three unlikely allies stand in his way.
A misfit elf plagued by failure—
When Elanalue Windthorn abandons her soldiers to hunt a goblin, she strays into forbidden territory.
A changeling who betrays his home—
Talin Raska is a talented liar, thief, and spy. He makes a fatal mistake—he falls for his mark.
A halfbreed goblin with deadly secrets—
Naj’ar is a loner with a talent he doesn’t understand and cannot control, one that threatens all he holds dear.
When the spark of Chaos ignites, miners go missing. But they won’t be the last to vanish. As the cycles of blame whirl through the Borderland, old animosities flare, accusations break bonds, and war looms.
Three outcasts, thrust into an alliance by fate, by oaths, and the churning gears of calamity, must learn the truth. For they hold the future of their world in their hands.
Here is a marvelous trailer she created. Please sit back and relax and enjoy her creation.
Please click the link below for purchasing Liars and Thieves:
Now, please allow me to formally introduce you to Diana.
D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.
This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Ann-Christine gave us a list of words and invited us to choose one (1) word or more or choose all of them and illustrate the words with photos! The words available are the following:
Comfortable, Growing, Tangled, Crowded, Exuberant
After six months of waiting, I finally felt comfortable to get on the plane to visit my granddaughters. My daughter Mercy and I planned carefully. They self-quarantine for two weeks prior to my visit. I did the same. I booked the premium seats to avoid passing through many passengers.
Both girls are growing so fast. Autumn will be three in September. Nora turned five months during my visit.
Autumn’s language development amazed me. Sometimes when the grown-ups carried on a conversation at the dinner table, she would ask, “What are you talking about?” She wanted to be part of the conversation. After breakfast, she would ask, “Grandma, you want to play puzzle with me in the family room?” We did projects in the morning and played games indoor or went to the park in the afternoon.
Nora is a happy child. She loves to “talk” and make loud sounds. She smiles a lot.
There are mature crowded raspberry bushes in the garden. My daughter, Mercy, and Autumn picked raspberries every day. Autumn ate as many as she picked.
Marketing is always a challenge with book launches. Word-of-mouth is good but to reach the bigger sales numbers that offset the costs of publishing takes more. I’ve tried free advertising, more outlets (beyond Amazon, B&N, TpT), in-person presentations, fee programs, and focused social media. I’ve tried lots of ideas people suggest and hoped they worked (some did; most didn’t–I blame myself for not following through well enough). Before I spend money, I dig into the suggested option, see who liked it, find out if a trusted efriend has found success with it. I’ve spent a lot of money on advertising my books and sadly it rarely works (I’ll take that blame, too; I’m sure it’s either my marketing pieces or my follow-through).
If you remember, back before the virtual launch of my latest book, Against All Odds, I asked how you market your books. I included these ideas:
This is Fiction in a Flash Challenge Week #13. Each week Suzanne Burke will 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.
“Mom, thank you for telling me about the adoption. I appreciate you and Dad. I still have this strange feeling of belonging to someone else.” Clara frown.
“I understand, Clara. Your dad and I wanted to have a family, but I couldn’t conceive, so we adopted.”
“How did you decide where to adopt?”
“Most of the countries listed the criteria of children being adopted. Many orphans had major physical or mental handicaps. We were not equipped to handle those problems. The orphans in China were either abandoned or given up for adoption because of the one-child policy. We hoped to adopt a healthy child.”
“Your document helped me to locate my birth parents. I want to meet them. This seems to be a good time for me.”
“What do you want to do when you find them?”
“I don’t know. I was always curious about living with them.”
“We support you whatever you do.”
“My flight is tomorrow night and arrives on the third day. China is fifteen hours ahead.”
“Message us and send us many pictures.”
“I will, Mom. I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life.”
~ ~ ~
Clara met her driver and translator at the airport. The city welcomed her with heavy smog covering the mountains in a distance. The sky had no trace of blue. She could gaze into the sun with a patch of light and fuzzy layers of haze.
The concrete buildings with hanging signs stretching out into the streets slowly disappeared. The sight on both sides of the car turned into scattered cottages and fields. The car bounced on an unpaved narrow road.
A small village with about fifty two-story narrow houses came into sight. The red bricks crumbled from the roofs and the fences between the houses.
“We arrived, Miss.” The driver announced.
“Xiè xiè!”1 Clara surveyed the surrounding.
The driver led her to a doorway where a weathered face woman dressed in grey top and black pants waiting.
“Nǐ hǎo?”2 The woman dropped her clasped hands and nodded at Clara.
“Nǐ hǎo? Hěn gāo xìng jiàn dào nǐ.”3 Clara reached and held her arms.
“Huān yíng. Qǐng zuò.”4 The woman extended her hand toward a chair.
“Xiè xiè.”5 Clara nodded and approached the chair.
After greeting the woman, Clara had the conversation with her through the translator.
“I’m here to learn about why you gave me up for adoption.”
“I had no choice. The government only let each family to have one child. We wanted to have a son because the son carries the family name and passes down the generations. Many women had abortions when they found out they had girls. Some of them were into seventh months of pregnancy. I didn’t know you were a girl until you were born. The only way we could have a second chance to have a son was to send you to an orphanage.”
“Did you have a son?”
“I did. My mother watched him for twelve years. My husband and I went to the big city to work in a garment factory and sent money home to my mother. We came home every three months to see our son.”
“It must be difficult not to see your son.”
“There was no work in the village. The factories are in the big cites. When our son was twelve, he got in trouble with other boys and didn’t want to go to school. I took the last train ride to come home to take care of him. I didn’t go back to the big city.”
“I’m glad I came to see you. Here is some money gift. I’ll write letters to you when I go back to the America.”
“Thank you for coming to see me. I’m happy for your bright future.”
“Xiè xiè, Ma. Zài jiàn.”6 Clara hugged the stiff woman.
“Zài jiàn.”7 She grinned and nodded.
~ ~ ~
“Clara, welcome home. Tell me about your trip.”
“It was an eye-opening journey, Mom. I had the mystery locked up for so long. Understanding was the key to set it free. I now have the balanced perspective of my past and present, and the appreciation of you and Dad for giving me a better life.”
This week, Tina’s theme for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #110 is “Creativity in the Time of Covid.”
Early in May this year, I spotted the Monarch feeding on the Salvia flowers. It renewed my interest to create a butterfly garden. My hummingbirds feed on the Salvia which attracts many bees. For all these reasons, I bought several Salvia plants and planted them in different spots in my garden.
Milkweed is the host plants for butterflies to lay eggs. The bright color Tropical milkweed was my favorite, but it grows year-round in California, and interferes with Monarch migration and reproduction.
Several kinds of milkweed are California native plants. They die in the winter to encourage Monarch for migration. They come back in spring with fresh growth. After days of research and learned how to grow milkweed. I bought the Narrow Leaf and Showy milkweed.
Most milkweed seeds in North America need a cold moist stratification to encourage spring germination. Cold moist stratification is a technique used to simulate the real-world conditions a seed would receive outdoors after the frozen winter gives way to a warm, wet spring.
I wet a paper towel to make it damp but not dripping with water. Then I spread the Milkweed seeds out on the damp paper towel and fold it to fit inside the Ziploc bag, then placed it in the refrigeration for 30 days before planting.
The seeds were planted on July 10th and most of them grew into two or three inches in three weeks. The roots grew through the peat pods yet the seedlings were young. I added the extension of the pods with plastic cups filled with top soil and punched wholes at the bottoms for drainage.
The seedlings continued to do well. I transplanted the five or six inches ones to the soil. It has been hot with 97o F to 99o F the last days. It will be 102o F this Wednesday. I used the chicken wire to create a Cylinda shape around the young plants and put a semi-transparent cover on top with opening for water, air and light, but protects them from the direct heat.
One major area for most of the milkweed is exposed to the sun all day and the soil dries up fast. A cooler temperature would help the plants to establish. I transplanted some into bigger flower pots while waiting for a cooler weather.
There are other butterflies in my garden such as this Swallowtail which will benefit from the milkweed.
This has been a fun and learning creation of my butterfly garden during the pandemic. My hope is by summer next year, there’ll be caterpillars on the milkweed and butterflies fluttering in my garden.
This is the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12. Each week Suzanne Burke will 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 week #12 Image Prompt.
Thanks to Bryce Barker for sharing their FREE IMAGE on Unsplash.
“I had a wonderful time with you this weekend. Thank you for inviting me over for all the meals. Both your mom and grandma are excellent cooks.”
“We could have gone out to eat, but I know my mom and dad would love to have you around as much as possible. You surprised me by taking a third serving of the Mixed Berry Crisp pie.” Michelle giggled.
“I was just eating fruits. Berries are rich in antioxidant. Your grandma made it with no crust, so there was not so much carbohydrate.” The saliva rushed out under Dave’s tongue.
“I know you’re an expert in the food business. My mom and grandma were happy when you appreciated their cooking. Grandma is making desserts only these days.”
“Dessert is the best part of the dinner.”
“I’ll tell grandma you liked her dessert. I know you told her already. She’d like to hear it again.”
“Your grandma always has a pleasant smile. She seems to be content.”
“Yeah, nothing seems to upset her.”
“Where’s your grandpa?”
“Well, he left Grandma before I was born, so I’ve never met him. Grandma was retired when I was four and Rob was six. She moved in with us and watched us kids after school. It was when both mom and dad were working”
“I’m sure she loves you and it makes her life happier to be with you kids. Did she ever talk about your grandpa?”
“She didn’t when we were younger. We didn’t know the difference anyway. She talked to me when I got older. She said Grandpa was in love with someone at work and they went away.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Your grandma must be mad at him.”
“She said she was sad but not mad.”
“Were they married long?”
“I would say it was a long time. Twenty-five years.”
“I can’t imagine what it was like. Did she talk about being lonely or think about remarry?”
“After marrying Grandpa for twenty-five years, she didn’t think she could love anyone else the same way.”
“She gives all her love to you and Rob. No wonder she is so happy.”
“Grandma is honest. She shared with me about how she worked on forgiving Grandpa. To forgive someone is not an overnight thing. She had to stop blaming Grandpa or herself. She had to get rid of the unhealthy emotions and let go of Grandpa. Once she let go of him and let him be responsible for whatever happened, her heart felt light and happy again.”
“It was an incredible story.”
“I know. I wish you could stay and be here for her 70th birthday party. It’s a holiday tomorrow.”
“There were a few things to do tomorrow before the office opens on Tuesday. I hope she likes the birthday present I gave her.”
“Yeah, I’m sure she will, but I want you to meet the rest of the family.”
“Christmas is coming up. I’ll be back for the party. Okay, I’m walking toward the gate right now. Can I call you after I arrive?”
Dave went up to the counter at the gate.
“Hi, I’m late. I wasn’t looking at the clock.”
“Oh, sir. Yes, you’re too late for the boarding.”
“I’m sorry, would you call to hold the door for me?”
The ground attendant talked on the phone, then turned to Dave and said, “Sorry, sir. The captain said the door was closed. I can reschedule the flight for you, so you won’t be charged for the cancellation and re-booking.”
“Okay then. Do you have the same schedule tomorrow?”
“Hmm, yeah, I do. You’re all set. You should receive an email with a new confirmation number.”
Dave pressed a speed dial number.
“Hi, Michelle. It’s me. I’m turning around. I’ll be at your grandma’s birthday party tomorrow.”
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge theme from Amy for this week is “Under the Sun.” It’s about photo captures anywhere under the sun. I applied the theme to both indoor and outdoor.
Last year in June I babysat my granddaughter, Autumn, by myself while my daughter, Mercy, and her husband went to Iceland on vacation. Some friends said I was brave. Some said it would tire me, but I could handle it. The advice was, “When she sleeps, you sleep.”
Mercy made a spreadsheet of suggested daily schedule and activities, a list of her friends and phone numbers, the doctor and phone number. My mind was at ease without worrying of what to do to fill the days. They rented a car even though I wasn’t planning on driving.
They took a late afternoon flight to arrive early the next day to make the most of their trip.
“I missed Autumn already. Please send us a lot of pictures.” Before boarding, Mercy sent me a message.
“I will do that.” I returned her message.
When Autumn woke up in the morning, she looked for mommy and daddy. I said, “Mommy will be back. Daddy will be back.” She said, “Daddy went to work. Mommy went to work. Daddy will be back. Mommy will be back.”
We went to the park in the afternoon. There were kids playing with the water feature. I looked at the backpack, there was a change of clothes, no I let Autumn play with other kids.
The next day before nap time, Autumn had a temperature of 101.2. After she woke up from the nap, the temperature went up to 103. I kept Mercy updated. Deep down, I regretted to let Autumn play with the water for too long on the previous day. I hoped her temperature wouldn’t prolong. Most of all, I didn’t want Mercy to cut their vacation short.
I called Mercy’s friends to pick up a few items from the store for me. They came after work. One of them was a nurse. She checked on Autumn and wrote some instruction for me. The other friend bought what I needed, plus some Popsicle.
Autumn had a good night sleep. I put her on a soft diet, plus the Popsicle. We didn’t go to the park and just did some quiet activities around the house. By the afternoon, her temperature came back to normal. It was such a tremendous relief for me. My first-time babysitting Autumn full time was okay. I’m glad Mercy didn’t have to cut their vacation short.
“It seems to be a 24-hour thing.” Mercy messaged me.
“I think so. I’m glad it was a 24-hour thing.” I returned the message.
The remaining days, we went to the park, the library, and walked around the neighborhood.
Mercy and Will had a fabulous trip. We exchange messages and photos many times a day. They got home in the late evening on their return. Autumn was excited to see Mommy and Daddy when she woke up the next day.