Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 116

This week's picture prompt is concept art created by Gary Tonge for a psychological horror video game for CAPCOM. He has some incredible art - he also has a page over at Deviant Art which has some amazing images on it. 

There is definitely a spooky feel about this picture, and that is what I went with. I like how this one great. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.



The Forgotten

He stepped carefully across the hallway; he didn’t want to be heard. They wouldn’t be happy he was sneaking around downstairs, it wasn’t allowed after lights out.

He heard a creak from the upstairs landing, and froze. Would there be another? Was someone awake or was the house just settling for the night?

There was another. He rushed to the wall, hoping the shadows near the stairwell would shield him from view. He could hear his mother’s voice as she floated down the stairs in one of her fairytale evening gowns.

“We won’t be late this evening, I want to be back earlier. Teddy has his gala tomorrow night and I’ve still some prep to do.”

“Yes, dear.”

Teddy’s father trailed his mother in bowtie and tails – or his penguin suit as Teddy called it. They were going to the opening of the museum tonight. His father had grumbled about having to go but mother had insisted.

He watched them float out of the front door.

He missed them. His gala had been cancelled as had much of his life for several months after they had gone out that night. This was his only way of seeing them now.

He crept out of his hiding place and stood in the middle of the entrance hall, still staring at the front door. When he turned another figure was on the stairs, a young boy. He stifled a cry.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Oswald.”

“Oswald? You don’t live here!”

“Yes, I do, I’ve been here a while. I’ve been watching you.”

“Liar, I know everyone who lives here, all the new boys that are brought here and you’re not one of them.”

“Why don’t you ever speak to them?”

“Who?”

“Your parents. You watch them go almost every night, but you never call to them.”

“You can see them too?”

“Of course I can. I saw them my first night here. And I saw you, too, watching them. You’re Teddy Rosenblatt.”

“How do you know my name?”

“Everyone knows the name of the founder of Lost Boys Orphanage.”

“Orphanage? What are you talking about? This is a boarding school.”

“Yes, your uncle did turn it into a school after your parents died, that’s true, so he could keep on working and look after you at the same time. But then when you grew up and he died, you turned it into an orphanage, for other boys that had lost their parents.”

“Grew up? What are you talking about? I’m still a boy.”

“You are in your current form, yes. I think that’s because you lost your parents then, and your heart broke, something you never fully recovered from.”

“What do you mean, current form?”

“You don’t know, do you? You’re a ghost, Teddy, like your parents. You died. That’s why you should call out to them, you can join them now.”

Teddy looked down at his body and suddenly the memory of his life came to him; all the years that had gone by and how he had finally succumbed to a lung infection. He looked at Oswald.

“And you can see me?” 

“Of course I can. I’m a ghost too.”

“So you appear as a boy because you lost your parents as a child, too?”

“Oh no, I lost my parents when I was a baby. I died as a boy, here in this house when war came and it was bombed. The upstairs ceiling fell in.”

Teddy looked at the staircase. The luscious carpet, embossed satin wallpaper and oak banister rail melted away, revealing the bare bones of what was left of a derelict building. Panic rose in him.

“Am I too late? Will they be back tomorrow night?”

“They’ll keep coming back until you join them.”

“And what about you? When do you get to leave?”

“Oh I don’t. I’m one of the forgotten. No one knows I’m here.”



Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 115

This week's prompt is created by Kukubirdwei on Deviant ArtIt's a drawing of The Ifrit, a creature with origins in the Quran of Islamic religion, and Middle Eastern Mythology. It is said that they were among the races of Djinni created by Allah from smokeless fire. 

This one came ready formed in my head, making it an easy one to write. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.






Running

I couldn’t breathe; the smoke was thick and arid, the temperature had risen so high I was no longer sweating; the flames were licking all around me, any second I was sure I would combust. Then the flames parted and I saw movement, something coming towards me, something big, something aflame.

I sat up in bed clutching my chest, heaving great gulps of air. He was no longer coming. He was here. He’d found me.

I scrabbled out of bed, and grabbed what clothes I could, my mind racing. Could I outrun him? Where could I go and how much longer could I keep doing this? Everyone knew that sooner or later you had to face him; the Djinn was not to be trifled with, and I had trifled. I had been running for more than a century.

He tracked me by my fires. I had to reduce how often I was making them, but it was hard, they were my lifeblood. I hopped down the stairs of the apartment block, putting my shoes on as I went. Getting out of the city wouldn’t be enough I had to get out of the country.

I ran down the block, trying to flag a taxi. I had a holdall in a locker at the airport with everything in it. I had learnt to be prepared. Last time I wasn’t, and it had cost me my face. I got a taste of what my victims experienced. It should have made me more contrite, but it didn’t, it made me more liberal, taking less care, increasing the amount of victims.

The taxi driver dropped me off at the airport; I rushed to the lockers and fumbled my bag out. I walked quickly to one of the ticket desks, but it was too late: alarm bells rang out in the main foyer, people started running and screaming in hysterics. Smoke started to fill the hall. I couldn’t resist a smile, he had class.

I skirted around the foyer, keeping away from the worst of the smoke, but trying to catch a glimpse of the flames, because there were sure to be them, he needed them to make his entrance. I continued round, finding another exit, but as I approached people were running from that direction too.
This time I could see a flicker of orange reflected in the chrome of the desks lining that direction. It was increasing, as was the heat. I intended to back up, but I was always drawn to the spectacle; the dance of the flames as they bobbed up and down, as they caressed the surface and consumed everything they touched. He had me there; I was mesmerised. Fire had always been my first love, it had taken over everything: my home, my parents, anyone that came near me. I was its servant, it was my master.

And he was there. I could see his deep red eyes, encircled by a whipping circle of fire that spun to form his features and his torso. I had expected to feel dread, but instead I felt excitement. He was glorious, ablaze as he was; he was everything I wanted to be.

I felt nothing as he swept me up in his arms and took me in his embrace. This was a penance I would gladly serve.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Sleep, by M K Boers - Cover Reveal & Release Date

Finally the day has come that I can announce the release of my new book:

Sleep, by M K Boers

I have chosen a new pen name as this is a different genre from my previous books; It's a Psychological Thriller


It will be released on the 1st of September 2019. 

The kindle version is already available for pre-order.






Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 114

This week's prompt was a photo taken by Trashhand, a Chicago based photographer. You can find this post on his blog, where it tells us that it is a from an abandoned bank in Gary, Indiana. He also has a website and has a wonderful collection of interesting shots there. 

This story wanted to run away with itself. I had to cut it down and change the POV to get it to work as flash. Another story that I might have to revisit. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.



Empty State

When the children got off the school bus, and stood on the road, there wasn’t a sound, just the wind blowing the ash about. It was still pretty thick here as no one had bothered to clean it up. The land was unliveable now it had turned sour, having been on the edge of the blast zone of Big Yella, and why Indiana had become one of the empty states.

There were buildings, many of them just rubble, along the main street, but the bank was still intact, and that was what the class was visiting today. It was a fortified building created to house thousands of tiny metal and paper objects people perceived as valuable back then. Although their teacher, Miss Gilbert told them it wasn’t just a perception, they had had value because objects could be exchanged for them (or “bought” as she called it). But over time more and more were needed to get the same objects, so there were problems even before the blast.

The children were given special hats to wear in case of falling debris, and they were led into the bank through a big open room, Miss Gilbert called a “lobby” and then down some stairs at the back to an underground room. The walls were a mixture of the original orange paint and crumbling plaster, no one dared touch, and they gathered in the middle of the room, in front of a huge round iron door that led into what looked like a cage but had wooden slots covering one wall.

‘They called this a “vault” and this is where they locked away all the metal and paper they referred to as “money”,’ Miss Gilbert said.

‘What are those funny little boxes, Miss?’ asked Nancy from the back.

‘They were called “safety deposit boxes”. People would store things in them that were precious to them.’

‘What like pencils or sheets of blank paper?’ Marshall asked.

‘No, Marshal, back then those things weren’t precious, you could get them everywhere; people threw them away in their millions.’ The class drew a collective gasp. ‘No, the things they put in them were jewels, stones set in metals that glittered and were considered to be of value–”

‘Oh my great, great auntie used to talk about those!’ Penny exclaimed. ‘She said they were beautiful, people would wear them, but it became dangerous during the dark days, post-plume, because people would attack each other for them, and they all got broken down to be used for other things.’

‘That’s right, Penny. In the museum we are going to next week you will be able to see the remains of some.’ There were shuffles of excitement. ‘But we haven’t finished here yet. Besides jewels, they put paper items in, too, but not blank paper, they were papers with writing on that related to ownership of buildings and land, and distribution of belongings after death.’

‘What like we still do? My Pa went to a dish-out last week, we got some great tools!’ Jefferson interrupted.

‘No Jefferson, they only left things to their family members or people that were special to them. It was always about the individual then, never the community. They called those paper’s “a Will” because the owner “willed” that those people got those things. People had a lot of things back then, far more than they ever needed, but they didn’t believe in sharing as we do now, they believed in keeping it all and gathering it around themselves.’

‘Sounds cluttered, Miss.’

‘It was, Nancy. They filled their homes with them covering walls and floors. Some of the houses were really small, too. Nothing like the big open meeting houses we all reside in today, but then families lived separately, apart from each other.’

‘I don’t think I would have liked that, Miss.’

‘Me either, Marshall, me either. Anyway, back to the “vault”. You can all step inside and take a look around, but be careful, no touching.’

By the time they had finished looking round and had returned to the bus, they were ready for lunch back at the homestead. These trips were the highlight of their year, one of the few days they got a chance to look outside the living zone and try and understand what life must have been like when there had been billions of people living on the planet. The few pockets of humanity left were considered the only valuable thing now and the collective well-being was paramount. Visiting these places served to remind the new generations of that. 





Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 113

This week's prompt taken by photographer Silena Lambertini from Italy. She has some fantastic photos on her site, with so much atmosphere. We will be revisiting her work. 

This was one of those stories that I had no idea was going. I also didn't know how it was going to end until I wrote it. I love it when that happens. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.




Free Fall

She was trying to work out how she got here. It was cold and everything was snow covered. The last thing she remembered was lying back to sleep on the plane. Had they crashed? If so where was the wreckage? Had she been flung out somehow? Why couldn’t she remember?

It was foggy, maybe that’s why she couldn’t see any of the wreckage. And although the sun seemed to be up in the sky, it was diffused and muted. Everything was a dull white.

She waded through the drifts of snow. Her legs numb with the wet cold. She had no real sense of direction other than moving towards the sun. She could see something on the horizon but it was just a smudge. Was it a house or some kind of building? She hoped so. She’d die if she stayed out here too long.

As she drew closer she could see it was a stand of trees, a small copse forming a tight circle. Maybe she could shelter inside, but there was something odd about them; despite the snow everywhere they had none on them. There was no breeze shifting the dense fog, so what had moved the snow off? Their sharp twig-like branches reached up to the skies resembling people up in arms, frozen in mid argument. There was no rustle from the branches, the snow and fog muffled everything.

She approached, the silence felt like something tangible as though waiting, pregnant with expectation ... but for what?

She stood on the edge looking into the circle. It looked no different from outside: the snow was thick and undisturbed. But there was something caught under the snow, an edge peeking out. It was red, it looked like material. Was it something from the plane? Some evidence that she’d been on a plane and it wasn’t just in her imagination?

She stepped inside the ring of trees and immediately felt the air shift. The fog was gone the sunlight was bright, even glaring. The item was still there, if anything it was more apparent. It was definitely material.

She stepped to it carefully, the crunch of her feet the only sound in this lifeless place. She squatted down. It looked like part of a coat, a corner sticking out. She put her fingers on it. They were numb and she couldn’t be sure of what she was feeling, so she tugged it and it resisted. It wasn’t small, and the weight of the snow had pinned it. She pulled harder, taking more of a handful of the material; it still didn’t give. She brushed some of the snow away, revealing it to be what she had thought: a coat. But it also revealed a hand; a white alabaster coloured hand.

She stood up with a jerk, her cry blunt and short. The little girl was wearing a ring – her ring. She looked at her fingers, she had no rings on. And despite the cold, a chill ran through her. The coat looked familiar too, like one she’d had as a child. It had been her favourite.

She knelt this time, working the snow away where she thought the head must be, and sure enough blonde hair was revealed, just like hers. She slowed as she uncovered the face, brushing gently, and revealed her eight year old face.

She stared into it. The eyes flew open causing her to jump back with a yell. They focused on her face.

‘You’re here, at last. Come, join me.’

The hand with the ring lifted up and reached out. Dumbstruck, she took it.

Then she was falling, tumbling over and over, the ground rushing up to meet her, the air around her full of debris and screaming people. The plane had crashed; she just hadn’t experienced it yet. She knew where she would land. 



Monday, 24 June 2019

Review: The Reaper's Bride, by A J Richmond

The Reaper's Bride (The Reaper Chronicles #1)The Reaper's Bride by A.J. Richmond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to have seen this book in its developmental stage, so I was already excited about it before it was transformed into its current polished state.

It's a hard book to categorise. Paranormal? In places, but spooky? Only a little bit. Humorous? Definitely. It's an adult contemporary paranormal fantasy.

Two old women, Mildred & Molly go to funerals to critique them and fantasise about their own, until one of them sees something she shouldn't be able to see - the Reaper. When he realises he wants to recruit her and turn them into his helpers, only downfall is she won't join alone.

A J Richmond creates funny, and vivid characters that enthrall, and carry you through the book. And gives the read a glimpse into an imagined afterlife. I would love to meet James on a dark night - or Angel. They were captivating.

The only downfall is that it's left on such a huge cliffhanger! I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.

If you want funny and slightly spooky, this is the book for you.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 112

This week's prompt is a sculpture, sold on Etsy by Dellamorte & Coin New Jersey, Apparently it glows in the dark and can be used as a nightlight! 

Sometimes the biggest shame about flash is you have to cut all the bits that add more characterr. I had to cut down on her drunken comments and state, as well as lose some of the background story. Fortunately the essence still worked. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.





Drunk or deadly?


Row upon row of doors, but all of them locked. How had she ended up here? One minute she was partying with the rest of them in the big ballroom, the next she was up here, trying to navigate her way out of this labyrinth of corridors.

Vicky was drunk, she had to be. It’s the only thing that explained the sudden switching and chopping about, like her eyes could only see in snapshots. They didn’t call it blind drunk for nothing.

She’d look down one corridor, looked back and the carpet had changed colour or the paintings were in a different order. She knew she’d had a lot to drink but this was beyond that, she was also losing chunks of time. She wasn’t registering walking from one corridor to another.

Vicky really needed a pee, it must have been why she came up here in the first place, in Johnny’s dad’s oversized mansion; a surprise to all of them. You’d get lost in here even if you weren’t drunk. She started trying all the doors along the next corridor. It had a blue carpet. Finally at the end one of the doors opened.

It contained a formal looking bedroom suite, which looked unoccupied, and a door leading off it which Vicky hoped was an ensuite bathroom. It was. But when she glanced back at the room while closing the door, the furnishings had changed colour and position, and then so had the bathroom layout when she shut the door and rushed to the toilet.

She sat on the loo and put her head in her hands while she went, hoping to clear it, but it didn’t help, it started spinning and she felt sick. She opened her eyes, finding it incredulous that the bathroom had changed again. Someone had to have spiked her drink.

But the mirror over the basin hadn’t changed. In fact it had been the only constant since she stepped in. It was a fancy ornate one, probably antique with a carved wooden frame depicting cherubs – or were they demons? Their faces moved in the low light through Vicky’s incoherent perception.

After she flushed, she went to wash her hands. The sink worked perfectly, but try as she might she couldn’t see a reflection in the mirror. It was unnerving. It showed the bathroom – or another bathroom seeing as the decor in it was drastically different from this one.

Vicky shook her hands out in the basin looking round for the towel and that’s when it happened: drops of water hit the surface of the mirror and it rippled ... actually rippled. She was losing her mind, she was sure of it. She flicked the water at it a second time and set off pools of ripples.

She lifted her finger to touch the surface, the tip disappeared. She withdrew it sharply, wondering if it was water or something more deadly, like mercury. Her finger looked fine. Shit, whoever had spiked her drink had used some serious stuff.

But she couldn’t resist, she put her finger in again, and then her whole hand. The liquid seemed to stop after a point. Did it come out the other side?

Vicky contemplated it for a second and then stuck her whole face in. She held her breath and pushed hard, feeling a popping sound as her ears came through, as well as a rush of music. It was the ballroom! And they were all there!

She pushed her arms through, too, with the intention of climbing in – why the hell not, quickest way back, beat going back along the corridors. But somehow she couldn’t get her torso up and through, and when she went to move her arms back to leverage herself, she couldn’t. They were stuck out in front of her. She tried to wriggle, but it was only her back end moving.

She looked outside herself for help. She could see her mates, and hear them, but she couldn’t move ... and she was beginning to have difficulty breathing.

She saw Becky and Richie come over.

‘What an awesome mirror! It really looks like someone’s trying to climb out. God this place is full of cool stuff, wonder where his dad gets it all?’

‘I’d love to have a house like this full of quirky shit. Can you imagine buying anything you want?’

They wandered away again, but Vicky was too weak to watch them go. Instead she was beginning to drift out of consciousness, her last thought being that at least they’d have something to remember her by.



Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 111

This week's prompt is an image by an artist called ZjChun, in China. The best I can understand it, they sell art on a site called DH Gate, and this is a DIY diamond painting kit. I'm not quite sure what that is, but it looks great! An inverted version is in various places on the web sold as wallpaper for your computer. 

I explored a different idea here, and had to edit it hard to bring it within word count, but I still think it works. 
The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.



Electric Souls

We saw them at night from our mountain location. They shimmered in the moonlight, reflecting the glow, intricate patterns outlining them: horses. Each of them had their own design; it must have taken someone hours to paint them – or so we thought.

We were new to the land. Our ship had wrecked on a shore that appeared on no maps, on a landmass that was more than just a coral cay: it had undulating forest-covered hills and mountain peaks. We were baffled by where the storm had thrown us, but we recognised the creatures we saw, the decorated horses leading us to suspect there were tribesmen.

We journeyed inward keeping watch for any signs of people, but there were only animals. The horses weren’t the only ones to glow; a strange effervescence covered all living things. At night it looked like a celebration.

The horses sensed our presence, throwing up their heads and whinnying in our direction, on occasion running towards us, but veering off at the last moment. It was mystical and intriguing. We were drawn to follow them.

Then one night a herd approached our camp, trotting slowly and surrounding us. The six of us stood, back to back, unsure of their intent. Then a voice spoke, one we heard with our minds not our ears.

We have tried to make contact by vocal means, but you don’t seem to understand us, so we are hoping non-vocal works. Please indicate if it does.

As leader of the group, I raised my hand and spoke, “Yes, we can understand you, although we don’t know how.”

We are speaking to your souls with our minds, and although we understand your spoken words it seems you don’t understand ours. You seem lost in our country, can we assist you?

“What is the name of this land, it is not on our maps?” I opened the papers I had with me and proffered them.

One of the horses stepped forward, its glowing flower-like decoration obscuring its colour. It looked at the papers then lifted its head.  We don’t know these markings; they make no sense to us.

“Are there other men here?”

Men? What are they?

“Creatures like us?”

No, there are no creatures like you here. We know our ancestors were enslaved by creatures like you, but they were freed when the creatures brought about their own destruction.

“Ancestors? How long ago?”

There is no knowing, our history is told through our connection to the soul, all I know is it was before our beginning, before we developed our electric souls and let them glow bright – before all creatures did.

“Electric souls, what are they?”

Your energy within, all living things possess it. It grows and develops as you do. It is part of our existence and connects us all.

“So we possess this too?”

All living things do.

“Can we learn to develop this?”

It’s possible. To begin you all need to place a hand on our necks.

Five horses stepped forward. We looked at each other, knowing that this was the only way forward, there was no way back. We needed to live alongside them. We each stepped to a horse closest to us and tentatively placed a hand on their necks.

Close your eyes and feel only with your heart, concentrate on the energy within your body. Listen with your inside ears. We will do the rest.  

We all did as we were directed. I bowed my head and concentrated on my breathing and my heart beating. I felt like I was waiting, but I didn’t know what for. The sounds of the forest grew louder and the temperature rose, starting at my feet. Then I heard a gasp from one of my companions and opened my eyes. He was looking at me in awe. I looked down at my hand and saw a blue pattern decorating it all the way up my arm. It was different from the one on the horse I was touching, it had a different cursive scroll. Then there were more gasps and I saw all of us were experiencing this. A feeling of euphoria consumed me and I smiled, seeing the same reflected in my ship mates. Then I could hear them, and they could hear me, and I could hear the thoughts of all the horses around me, like the babble of a river in the background.

You are now one with us. We are connected. All souls together.  


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 110

This week's photo prompt was taken by Alan Chaput, a Cozy Mystery author who lives in Savannah Georgia. I really love this image.

Took me a while to find something original, I had a couple of false starts, but I like what I finally came up with. Hope you do too.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.



Bricked

She passed it every day on her way to school, and every day she was sure something had changed about it, but she couldn’t define what. Was it the tone of the blue? Was it the pattern of bricks in the blocked up panel? Was it just the panel that was bricked up or the entire door? No matter what, it caught Amy’s attention.

When she turned twelve her dad gave her an old Smartphone of his and she started taking pictures of the door. She’d review them at the end of each day, but couldn’t see any differences between them. Maybe the shade was darker or lighter, but she put that down to the time of day.

Then one day one of the bricks had shifted. She brought up two pictures next door to each other. One was definitely further over than the other, but was it just the angle? She took more pictures, but they all looked the same.

Then one day the sticker on the right hand side of the door had gone. It didn’t mean much, but the door looked different, bigger somehow as though it was taller and wider. She pulled up some older pictures and did some calculations. There was a difference in centimetres: it was 3 wider and 2 taller. But how could a door grow? It was insane – or was she?

Then the bricks in the panel started moving. They rotated clockwise, taking two weeks to make a full rotation. It had to be an illusion. Amy planned to mark one of the stones to find out.

She took a purple marker with her, but when faced with the door she hesitated to approach it. She didn’t know why, it was a door for goodness sake, not a living thing. But a part of her didn’t quite believe that.

When she moved towards it she held her breath and quickly drew a doodle on one of the prominent bricks. She hurried away, half expecting the door to reach out and grab her. She chuckled at her childish fear as she took out her camera and held it up to capture the new marking.

But it was gone.

She looked from the phone screen to the brick. There was no sign of it. She scowled, how could that happen? Maybe it had been too small.

She got the pen again and returned to the door, without hesitation this time, bending slightly to draw another doodle. She covered half the brick to be sure. The sound of the pen against the brick was reassuring.

She stepped back and reached for her phone, keeping her eyes on the design the whole time. She flicked her eyes back and forth while she opened the camera app. She brought the phone up slowly, keeping her eyes on the brickwork until the last minute. But as soon as she looked at the screen it was gone, both from the phone image and the actual door. This was mad!

Her annoyance overrode her fear. She stepped back to the door immediately. She put her hand on the bricks as she drew too, as though this would somehow keep the doodle from disappearing. The marker was drying out a little against the stonework as she scribbled furiously, her concentration focused on its tip.

It went dark and she looked up. She was on the other side of the door, inside the derelict house. She closed her eyes and opened them again. Nope, she was definitely inside.

She glanced round; the windows were boarded up, strips of light cutting through the cracks of them to illuminate the barren hallway. She looked at the door. The panel was indeed the only part of it bricked up. She pulled on the handle, but it didn’t budge. She called out, but her voice sounded strangely muffled, the dead air not transporting it.

Then in the corner by the door leading into the back of the house she spotted a skeleton in ragged clothes, and another under the staircase. They weren’t full size, they weren’t adults, they were children like herself.

When she took a closer look one of them had a camera next to them, an old 35mm one like her dad used to have. It seemed she wasn’t the first to have become fascinated by the door. She turned back to look at it. Is that what it did, drew children in? She looked back at the bodies on the floor. And was this her destiny?  

Monday, 3 June 2019

Review of Talon of The Silver Hawk, by Raymond Feist

Talon Of The Silver Hawk (Conclave of Shadows, #1)Talon Of The Silver Hawk by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been a while since I've read a Raymond Feist novel and it was lovely getting back into his style of writing and how he develops characters.

This is the first book in a series, and really it is a set up for the series to follow on from. It focused on one main character, Talon of The Silver Hawk, who loses his entire clan at the beginning of the book and then is selected to be trained to make him ready to serve the Conclave of Shadows, a mysterious group we never really understand the full intentions of in this book, but it coincides with Talon's own desire to pay his debt of survival and avenge the demise of his clan.

Feist provides plenty of action throughout this book, even though you know the full story is yet to be told in a future book. He builds places, cultures, characters and worlds, drawing the reader in, preparing them for the next book in the series - and it works, I am ready to jump into the next book in the series, fortunately I already have it.

If you like to get stuck into a good fantasy series, this is for you.

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Reviews - The Indie Author Mindset by Adam Croft

The Indie Author Mindset: How changing your way of thinking can transform your writing careerThe Indie Author Mindset: How changing your way of thinking can transform your writing career by Adam L Croft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book, aimed at the self-published author, reiterates that it is about the mindset all the way through, despite giving an awful lot of information about the process of marketing and selling your books and how you can go about it. And it is, within the first chapter I realised how I could change my mental approach where my writing was concerned and with it how I approach marketing my book, helping me see the path ahead. He talks through the thought process for both sitting down and writing every day as well treating the marketing side as a business.

Adam Croft provides an outline of how he works to explain the thought process, and is completely transparent about what sort of income he achieves with the approach he uses. I found it refreshing to be able to get a full insight. A lot of authors are closed about this - especially in the traditionally published arena - and it gave me hope that an income was indeed achievable.

Croft's approach also made me feel optimistic about being a self-published author, and that it wasn't unattainable. But he did made me smile when he said it was about content and if I was reading this not having yet prepared 2-5 books to be published, that I was better off putting this book down and going to write them!

I felt this book gave me hope. I didn't feel overwhelmed as I do often when reading a lot of books on self-publishing, with all the details and data analysis and how to work the system. Adam Croft made me feel it was all possible. And how to develop the mindset that you can become a successful self-published author.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 109

This weeks picture was taken by James Wheeler, a photographer from Canada. This is Lost Lake in the Whistler Resort, Whistler, Canada and it's pretty magnificent. Definitely makes me want to go there! You can view more of his pictures over on the 500px site.

I've gone a bit mushy this week, in contrast to last weeks. This picture was too beautiful to taint.

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.


Promises Under the Stars

Their anniversary trip had been a huge surprise. Lucy hadn’t expected anything from him, not after all these years, and certainly not with how dead their marriage had become. But he’d booked one of their dream vacations, or should she say his. Paul had always wanted to go ski-ing in Canada and here they were. She wasn’t a skier, but he’d even considered that in the booking: he’d picked a resort that was also a spa. It meant he could ski while she lounged about in hot tubs and had massages.

Again the level of thought he’d put into struck her. Lucy hadn’t seen the likes of this since they first met, some twenty-three years ago. It was a complete contrast to recent years where he made social arrangements behind her back, only telling her the day before so she either couldn’t join or was left unprepared.

A couple of times she’d found out by accident through a friend of his, or once her mother-in-law. People didn’t expect a man not to tell his wife about family gatherings, and when she’d challenged him, he was never sorry, he made out it was her fault with some remark like “I didn’t think you’d be interested.”

She pushed away the bad feelings that rose from the memories and walked further along the jetty. It reached out under the expanse of moonlit sky, the lake beneath like glass on this breathless night. She breathed in the crisp night air.

She wanted to let go of all the hurt he had done her, but it was hard. She didn’t know if she could trust him not to repeat it. He hadn’t said anything to indicate this change: he was still silent, empty of opinions and emotion, yet cheery and friendly in his usual vacant way. And she went along with it as she always did, because what else do you do? Anger and bitterness are such useless emotions.

She heard footsteps behind her on the jetty and knew it was Paul, instinctively tensing. She waited for him to stop a few feet away and his silence to manifest into something tangible, as it often did, unless she turned and broke it. But tonight he didn’t do that; he came right up behind her and slipped his arms around her waist, pulling her in. The movement took her breath away.

He snuggled his head into her shoulder, something he’d never done before, and whispered, ‘Hey you, it’s beautiful out here.’

‘It sure is,’ she replied, wrapping her arms over his and hugging them.

‘Penny for them?’ he asked.

‘What my thoughts?’

‘Yep.’

She pulled her head back to look at his face. “You’ve never cared before.”

He lifted his head to meet her eyes. ‘I know. And I regret that. I’ve taken you for granted – for years. I want to change that.’

She pulled her whole body back this time so she could turn and face him.

‘And what’s brought this on? Forgive me if I’m a little sceptical but your promises are often just words to suit the moment.’

‘I understand you feel that way, and you think this is out of the blue, but really it’s been in my head ever since Rob lost his wife last year.’

‘Your brother?’

Paul nodded. ‘They supported each other so much. She did so much for him. In every conversation I’ve had with him since he’s mentioned it, and it made me look at our marriage. I saw how little I support you, and how much you do for me. I haven’t appreciated it. I’ve only ever seen what I did. ‘

Lucy was silent. A part of her was unbelieving, but another part wasn’t – it hoped.

Paul looked into her eyes. ‘I want this trip to be a fresh start for us, a new beginning. I want to try and rekindle what we had when we met.’

Lucy opened her mouth to speak, but he interrupted her. ‘I know you have doubts, I know that I’ve promised things before, but let me show you this time.’

‘Actions speak louder than words? You’ve finally heard me, then?’

‘Yeah, maybe I’ve finally heard you.’ He stepped forward, hesitantly, his arms open. She stepped into them and let him pull her in, her head tucked under his as they both looked out at the full moon. ‘It’s the perfect night to begin our new life together, too.’

Lucy squeezed him, tears rolling down her face. This really was a dream vacation. 



Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 108

This week's picture prompt was created by Russian Illustrator Anton Semenov - He calls this Auschwitz, in his 'City of Decay'  collection. He has some incredible work - very dark though, but I might have to revisit! Anton's personal website contains more creations.  

This week, not a story I wish to expand on! LOL But it's a while since I've had a nice dark tale. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here.

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.




Rats

I was sitting at my desk when I first noticed the sound. I wasn’t sure if it was a new sound, or whether it was something I had only just registered. But to register it now meant it had to have changed, right?

I tried to identify the location it was coming from. It was a pretty large loft, but with my desk under the skylight I tended to ignore the dark corners. They were full of dust and storage boxes only the cats ever bothered investigating, although coming to think of it, I hadn’t seen Minxy go that way for a while.

Was it getting louder? I couldn’t be sure. It could just be me tuning into it. It was more than a buzzing, it was a strange humming – not electrical; like a collective of people chanting in the distance, but a long way off.

I opened the skylight. Nope, definitely not coming from outside. When I shut it, it definitely seemed louder. Then a scratching sound joined it.

It had to be the cat. I got up to walk towards the corner it was coming from, but as I turned to face it, I heard the cat flap. I paused looking towards the stairs. Was it Minxy? A pitiful miaow could be heard. Yep, it was Minxy. My head flicked back to the strange clawing sound. I felt the hair lift on my arms, and my stomach clenched. I had to do this; I had to find out what it was.

My rational mind tried to de-escalate the rising panic: it’s just an old kids toy, maybe a battery left in there, giving off one last dying cry, or vibration.

But the irrational wasn’t working with it: you always take batteries out of everything before putting it away, you know that.

I took a few steps closer.

Maybe a bird’s caught.

Maybe it’s a giant rat that’s going to eat you.

I picked up an old hockey stick poking out of one of the boxes as I inched closer.

I’ll hit it with this.

What if there’s a horde of them?

I was almost there.

What’s the collective noun for rats?

I don’t know! You and your damn writer brain!

I raised the hockey stick above my head as I reached the box. The scratching was distinct now; something was definitely trying to burrow out.

‘ Mischief! It’s a Mischief of Rats!’ I shouted out loud as I kicked the box.

The lid flapped open and the sound stopped, the sight that greeted me making everything stop.

Faces: all their tiny little faces staring up at mine with their red-ringed, hollow eyes. I dropped the stick and opened my mouth to scream but it remained in an O, no breath moving in and out until the sound resumed: the humming. But I could see it wasn’t really humming, they were saying something, over and over, a mantra of some sort. Then their little hands came up and I saw them grip the open edge of the box. They were going to come out.


My paralysis broke and I turned to run, but I slipped on the hockey stick and fell hard on my back. I tried to scrabble backwards but it was too late, they were out, and flew at me, smothering me before I could move any further. Their voices rang in my head as I felt them trample and tear at my body, and then I was flying, out of my mind out of my body, watching myself be devoured as I floated up to the roof and through. Their words making sense now: ‘sustenance, sustenance, sustenance ...’