Category Archives: Writing

Flights of Fancy – Serialisation – #Fantasy #Romance – The Other Side of Heaven by Sally Cronin – Free Book Offer

Sally generously offers her book Flights of Fancy for free. Head over to read the recent review by James J. Cudney IV, and email Sally at Sally.cronin@moyhill.com to request a copy.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Since I have just received a lovely review for Flights of Fancy, which was my first short story collection published in 2009 in paperback and audio with a later ebook edition. The stories were written over twenty years and scribbled down on odd pieces of paper… Over the next few weeks I shall be sharing the stories on Saturday and Sunday.

If you would like to read Flights of Fancy in one sitting rather than each week, please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and just let me know if you would like it in Kindle or Epub format. No strings attached.

The Other Side of Heaven

When Meg saw the cottage she knew that it was the one. She had visualised her dream house so many times in her head that it almost felt that she was coming home.

As soon as she had walked down the country lane that…

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – Miriam Hurdle, Jessica Norrie, Cynthia Reyes and Gwendolyn Plano

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

The first book today to receive a recent review is Miriam Hurdle for her collection Songs of the Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and BeatitudeAbout  Songs of Heartstrings

Human being has the willpower to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.

This poetic memoir comprises themes ranging from the suffering through an undesirable relationship, surviving an aggressive cancer, to the happiness in true love, the joy of parenthood, and gratefulness toward the Maker. Hurdle reveals the honest self-talk and reflects a heart filled with optimism, faith and trust. She illustrates the poems with her beautiful photos and paintings.

A recent review for the collection on Goodreads

Sep 14, 2019James rated it it was amazing · review…

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SoCS 2019.09.28 – Shades of White

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “ent” “ten” “net.” Use one, use two or use all three (bonus points for using two, double-bonus points for using all three). As Linda would say, use ’em any way you’d like. Enjoy! – Dan Antion

 

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Shades of White

Several years ago, we saw an advertisement for purchasing ten doors and get one free. It was attractive to me because some doors in our house were painted once in twenty-some years. The walls were painted twice. I wanted to have coordinated colors throughout the house. We took on this offer to replace eleven doors, purchase ten with one bonus. But then when I counted the doors, I realized we had sixteen doors. What? Sixteen doors? I couldn’t believe it.

Well, we picked eleven visible doors in the major flow of traffic in the house to have them replaced. We had to choose the style and color of the doorknobs, the pattern of the door trims and the style of corner pieces of the door trim. We also had to choose the color of the doors and trims. They would paint the doors and trims before installing them.

I wanted the white color. When the salesperson brought in the color chart for white, I didn’t realize there were so many shades of white. We picked one shade of white and kept the can with a little left-over paint. We marked it on the label. Two years ago, when we had another area in the house needed painting, we bought the same shade of white to match with the doors.

Now the house looks better with the same shade of white on all the doors.

 

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SoCS 2019.09.28 – Shades of White

 

 

 

Flash Fiction 2019.09.19 – Interlude

September 19, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an interlude. It can be a pause between two key moments, the pause between acts in a play, an intermission, or a temporary amusement. Go where the prompt leads you!

 

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Key Change

 

“Choir, that’s beautiful. All the parts blend well. We’ll add something to our rehearsal.”

“What? I just got all the lyrics memorized.”

“Wonderful, Liz, you can look at me rather than the music score.”

“What else do we have to learn?”

“We change key for the last stanza. The lyrics are the same. Chris composed the interlude. Now listen once.”

 “It sounds heavenly, but I can’t catch the note for the key change.”

“There are sixteen bars. Listen to the last bar. Hum the last note that takes you to the first note of the next stanza.”

“Got it.”

~

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Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction 2019.09.19 – Interlude

 

 

 

SoCS 2019.09.20 – Two Unwrapped Gifts

The Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday from Linda is “wrap/rap.” I used unwrapped.

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I gave two unwrapped gifts to myself when I graduated with the Doctor of Education in year 2000.

The first gift was two season tickets to six operas in 2001. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a radio. I listened to the news, ghost stories and other broadcast on my neighbor’s radio. There was a theme music playing before the news. After thirty seconds, the music faded as a female announcer came in to report the news of the day. That was the beginning of my classical music appreciation and I later identified the theme music for the news broadcast as the Overture of Bizet’s Carmen. I started taking voice lessons at nineteen years old and sang pieces of operatic music.

 

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I hoped to see operas such as Carmen, La Bohème and La Traviata, and learn about less popular ones. Hubby likes mostly country western music, but he would go with me to see the operas. Part of the attraction to me was to dress up and be with other people who had the same interest. At the opera house, people could rent small binoculars at $7 each. We brought two binoculars with greater strength. I not only wanted to see the details of costumes but also the singers’ expressions.

Classical music was not Hubby’s taste, let alone opera. Many people enjoy classical music but have no interest in opera. The first opera we went, Hubby slept through the first half. I didn’t wake him even though his chin dropped to the chest. The only time I would interrupt was when he started snoring which didn’t happen. Snoring in a classical performance is rude to the performers and disrespect to the audience. People don’t cough or sneeze during the performance. They hold their breath and focused. When one movement is over, you’d hear people clearing their throats. The conductor waits until everybody quiets before he raises the baton. For the subsequent performances, I oriented him with the plots, so he watched the acts as if they were Broadway shows.

I stopped subscribing the tickets after three years when the popular operas repeated.

~

The second gift was a new car. I had a Honda Civic for about eight years. It had enough scratches and mechanical problems. It was about time to get a new car. I had ideas of the features in a new car that I liked, so I made a spreadsheet, listing on each row the specifications such as 4-doors, sunroof, automatic, CD player, and other items. On the columns, I listed four makes of cars – Infinity, Audi, Lexus, and Acura. At the bottom of the spreadsheet listed the price of each car. After the comparison and considered the pros and cons, I decided on the Acura. There were two determining factors, one of them was the price. I had to be practical after paying for three years of a doctoral program. Another factor was Honda had a higher rate of returning customers. Acura is the luxury car of Honda. I like Honda, so I would be happy with Acura. I bought an Acura.

 

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Hubby kept up with the oil change and maintenance year after year. We didn’t have any major problem with the car. Four years ago, fifteen years after I had the car, I started thinking about what I wanted to do. I would need to buy another car for my remaining life. When to buy it? The car needed new tires, and we bought four new tires. The tires were good for five years or 50,000 miles. I wanted to wait until close to the end of warranty to get a new car. A school principal told me he kept his Honda to 300,000 miles. My car should make it for several more years with the leisure driving after retirement.

In September 2018, we went to Las Vegas for a week. Upon our return, the car started to get overheated. Hubby tried to drive slower, but it made no difference. I didn’t want to leave Nevada and have the car die in the desert. Calling AAA was in order. The driver came in a tow truck. After his assessment, he confirmed that the radiator broke. The car needed to be towed. We were not near any exit to turn around. The tow truck went forward fourteen miles to an intersection, then turned around toward Las Vegas. The closest Acura dealer was seven miles passed Las Vegas. Well, my insurance covers certain miles of towing and I paid for the rest. The dealer couldn’t work on the car until the next day. We spent a night in that city where the dealer was and picked up the car the next day.

After replacing the radiator, I started to think of shopping for a car but didn’t feel the urgency. I was thinking about doing that within a year. I should have gotten a new car before September this year but I didn’t. Last Thursday, September 12, 2019 was the first week of classes at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a program for the retirees. On my way to California State University, Fullerton, the car was not running smoothly. I found a place to park and called Hubby. He said the car had some traction issue but not a big problem. I went on to my classes. On my way home, the car had bigger traction problem. I pulled over by the curb, stopped and restarted the car, made it go for half a mile and restarted again. When I made a left turn at an intersection, it stopped in the middle of the road. I rolled down the window, signaled the car to bypass me. After great struggle to restart many times, I was like dragging a pouting dog to go for a couple more miles. Two miles before getting home, the car said, “That’s it, I refuse to go any further.”

Hubby came right away. We called AAA and the tow truck came, towed the car to the dealership which was five miles away. This time it was the transmission problem. The manufacture doesn’t make the transmission for that model anymore. Getting a refurbished or used transmission cost $4,500. It’s not worth spending that kind of money when I’m overdue for a new car.

I got 217,000 miles and 19 years out of my Acura anyway. I’ll be car hunting and get another unwrapped gift for myself.

 

 

 

SoSC 2019.09.20 – Two Unwrapped Gifts

 

 

 

 

Two Hikers Found a message in a Bottle and Helped Rescued a Stranded Family

There was a CNN news update by Cheri Mossburg on September 11, 2019 about two hikers helped to rescue a stranded family. The family wanted to thank these two hikers and made the news on this day.

Curtis Whitson, his thirteen-year-old son and his girlfriend, Krystal Ramirez went backpacking at the Arroyo Seco River in central California for the Father’s Day weekend. Their goal was to reach the Arroyo Seco narrows, float through the water shoot and down the waterfall before joining friends to float the last couple of miles down to a campground. After two-and-a-half days, the family reached the narrows, a spot in the river surrounded by solid rock up to 40 feet high on each side. But the water currents were too strong for them to pass through. After trying to hike up and over, Whitson and his son kept hitting dead ends. There was no way out.

The family couldn’t see anything past the canyon walls, but they heard voices on the other side. They tried yelling for help. They carved a message on a stick and throwing it over. But they realized a stick wouldn’t be enough.

Whitson spotted a lime green water bottle and carved ‘HELP’ into the exterior of the plastic. Ramirez, his girlfriend had scratch paper. She scratched out a note and popped the paper inside the bottle.

 

The family carved 'HELP' on a green bottle

The three made sure to include a note in the bottle

The family went back up the river to a small beach where they had stopped earlier for lunch. They floated down from the beach in about two minutes, but it took about 30 minutes to get back upstream. After they got to the beach, they spread out a blue tarp in a clearing and assembled white rocks to spell out “SOS.” As the sun set, they used a headlamp to keep that message illuminated.

 

SOS

After midnight, the sound of a California Highway Patrol helicopter woke them up. Someone said over the loudspeaker, “This is Search and Rescue. We have found you.” The rescue crew told the family to stay put and stay warm. They arrived early the next morning to bring them to safety.

The rescue officer told Whitson two men found the bottle and hiked two miles to their campsite to give the message to the site host. Flight Officer Todd Bainbridge said the crew used night vision goggles and FLIR (forward looking infrared) technology to spot the campfire and located Whitson and his family. The two hikers left before the rescue team arrived.

Whitson and his family are grateful for the two hikers and the crew member who saved them. He wanted the news media to help him find the two hikers who found his family’s message and saved their lives.

 

 

 

SoCS 2019.09.07 – Cruise Experience

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “weigh/way/whey.” Use one, use ’em all, bonus points if you do that last thing. Enjoy!Linda G Hill

 

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We travel regularly, planned the itineraries on most of the trips and joined tours on four trips. Several months ago, my husband and I wanted to explore a different way of travel. We checked out some cruises and booked a short cruise for the Labor Day weekend which was last week. This is the shortest available, from Long Beach, California to Ensenada, Mexico.

Friends told us this is a party cruise. My interpretation of a party cruise is seeing some young people singing, talking, dancing and laughing. School started in August and college students and school-age kids are in school. They wouldn’t be partying last weekend on a cruise.

We boarded the ship last Sunday night. The ship stopped at Catalina on Monday. It anchored offshore and people took the boat to go ashore. We had been to Catalina several times, so we strolled along the waterfront, visited the gift shops.

 

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Catalina, California

The ship was in Ensenada on Tuesday and Wednesday. We bought tickets for a city tour on Tuesday. The tour bus took us to La Bufadora which is a blowhole on the Punta Banda Peninsula. We watched the water exploded upwards from a sea cave. The height of the explosion depends on the tide. We had one hour there. After staying for ten minutes we didn’t see a dramatic performance, so we went to the restaurant to wait for the group to return. The bus dropped us off at downtown, the tourist area, for another hour. There was not a lot of shopping I wanted to do. The tour guide told us to be careful about food and drink, so we didn’t get any of those.

The dock is right by downtown area, so it took us a few minutes to get back on the ship. That night after dinner, my husband had a stomach problem all night.

On Wednesday, the ship was at sea all day. People stayed on the ship going nowhere. There was a small scale of entertainment such as vocal solo with guitar or keyboard, standup comedy, and movies. People gathered in the pool area and cafeteria, eating and drinking. Oh, now I see the party, a big party. I know there are about 60% population in the US is over weighed. Yet I had not seen the concentration of these folks until this day on the ship. Several ladies seemed to have more weight than their legs could carry, so they were on wheelchairs (they might have other problems).

My husband continued to have a stomach problem and stayed in the cabin all day. I didn’t pay extra to subscribe the internet or phone services. I stayed in the cabin and read the only paperback with me. Every hour or so, I walked around the ship, grabbed some fruit or a piece of bread from the cafeteria. It seemed forever to wait for the nighttime. We packed our bags and went to sleep early.

 

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On Thursday, the phone rang for the wake-up call at 6:45 a.m. It took us twenty minutes to dash to the line. We were the first one hundred people to get off the ship.

It was not a pleasant experience for our first cruise. It will take us a long time to get over with it before we consider another cruise.

 

SoCS 2019.09.07 – Cruise Experience

 

 

 

 

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