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.


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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Review of 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.

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