An Ode to A Friend- #FictioninaFlash #WritingCommunity


Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash

It’s Week #22 of Suzanne Burke’s Fiction in a Flash Challenge

Write up to 750 words on the photo prompt. Go where your muse leads you. Check out some of the fabulous entries and join in here

An Ode to A Friend

It’s strange how empty my world is without you.

I realize now how much I took our relationship for granted. You were always there when I needed you. Offering comfort when I was miserable and laughter when I was down.

I don’t know what I’ll do now- I’m lost.

Alone.

Nothing can fill the void you’ve left behind.

I think back on our life together, all the things we’ve seen and places we’ve been. It won’t be the same without you.

Goodbye, old friend. You were faithful right up until the end.

With a final caress, I cover you up and place you in your final resting place- the same box your replacement arrived in.

Hello, I am your new Kindle. I can’t wait for our journey to begin.

#SundayStills- It’s a Bird’s Life


This week’s Sunday Stills Challenge- birds that visit your yard

Terri Webster Schrandt has a wonderful blog where she posts a weekly photography challenge. Check it out here

My Iphone doesn’t do these birds justice, but I thought I’d share some of my favorite bird pics, anyway. Some are taken from the beach about two miles from home- that counts as backyard, doesn’t it?

Young eagles flying above our yard. I grabbed up my cat before she became lunch!
A hawk stopping for a look-see
hummingbird in flight
Practicing yoga
Mallard and sandpiper
A pelican?
Seagulls standing guard

It’s chilly here on the west coast, this morning. How is it where you live?

The Long Road Home- #Fiction in a Flash #Challenge @amwriting


Suzanne Burke stimulates the imagination with her weekly Fiction in a Flash #Challenges!

You can read the participants entries and join in here

The Long Road Home

The creak of saddle leather and gentle sway of Maggie’s horse lulled her toward a long overdo nap. Two weeks and still no sign of the men she chased. The ruthless bastards had taken everything from her, she wouldn’t stop until they paid for what they’d done.

When she awoke, the sun had dropped behind the distant Texas hills coloring the sky in shades of magenta, burnt orange, and saffron. The air was cooler, whispering an early fall warning and she huddled into her loose-fitting jacket. She’d lost weight on this trek, lost some of her sanity, as well.

Images of her too-trusting husband swinging from a rope in the shed, face swollen, purple tongue protruding played a never-ending loop in her head. As did the attack from men they thought were friends. Men who’d dragged her to the floor and had their way with her in front of Sam and Jeff. Her boys.

The reason she couldn’t, wouldn’t, give up.

Grunting from stiff, aching, muscles, Maggie dislodged from the saddle and slid to the ground, her grip on the pommel the only thing holding her upright. Pins and needles in her feet assured her she was alive, as did the hunger gnawing at her belly. Didn’t matter though, nothing mattered except finding her sons and meting out the retribution they deserved.

***

A day and a half later, she came upon the cabin. Rough-hewn slats of gray wood made up the walls, smoke curled in a thin ribbon from the crooked chimney, and moss grew in a thick green blanket draping the eaves. A couple of beaten-down horses, she recognized as theirs, stood silently in a pen next to a dilapidated shed. She hurried to place a hand over the muzzles of her own mounts. They’d approached from downwind, but she didn’t want to take a chance on the animals announcing her arrival before she was ready.

It was dark by the time she had everything in place. The horses were tied in a ravine to the west, close enough to get to if she were injured, but far enough to keep them from panicking when the fireworks started. As she’d expected, Sam and Jeff were brought outside to use the latrine before bed. Her tired eyes feasted on their wiry frames. They looked so small next to the monsters shoving them forward. She ached to break cover and swoop them against her breasts, but reconciled herself to waiting until they were safe.

The moment the boys entered the outhouse and closed the door behind them, she set her plan in motion. Hefting a good-sized stone in her hand, Maggie sent it sailing through the air to smack the ground in the pen, startling the horses who reared up and danced away from the unseen threat. The men ducked, then ran for the nearest cover- the shed.

Next, she lit the fuses on the leftover fireworks Conrad had bought for the family to enjoy on the fourth of July. The sparks snaked across the ground and exploded, sending bright strobes of white, orange and red shrieking into the night sky. Not wasting a second, Maggie streaked across the uneven yard and dropped a heavy board over the door to the shed, sealing it closed.

The men realized they’d been tricked, and shouting obscenities, hammered the door with their fists trying to break free. Knowing she only had seconds before the flimsy structure gave way, Maggie turned to the pile of wood she’d carefully arranged near the wall of the building. A strike of a match and the oil-soaked cloth caught, the fire quickly spreading to the dry kindling. A moment later, the wall caught flame, driving her backward away from the heat and destruction. The shouts became screams, then coughing cries for mercy, echoing the weeping in her soul.

Then silence.

Instead of guilt, Maggie felt joy sweep through her chest, pushing all the hate and pain and anger away. A phoenix rising from the flames.

“Momma, Momma,” Jeff cried, his stubby little legs carrying him to her side, Sam following close behind, his eyes reflecting the funeral pyre in front of them.

Maggie wrapped shaking arms around her kids and pulled them close. “Let’s go home, my loves. Let’s go home.”

The City of Dreams- Fiction in a Flash Challenge #writingcommunity #amwriting #flashfiction


Fiction in a Flash Challenge

Suzanne Burke came up with this inspiring weekly challenge. Read more and join in here

The City of Dreams

The iconic Hollywood sign was more garish in the bright California sun than Beth expected. She’d dreamed of this moment for so long, it didn’t seem real.

She reached for her cheap Polaroid camera, hesitated, then shrugged and quickly snapped the photo before the tour bus chugged out of the view point. Her parents might not care, but her young sister, Sara, would. She’d begged to come with Beth, but their father wouldn’t hear of it.

“If your sister wants to run off and get herself into who-knows-what kind of trouble, that’s up to her. She’s old enough to do what she wants. But you ain’t, and I say you’re not going anywhere.”

Yep, that was dear old Dad. Cripes, would it be so hard for him to say something nice? Just once? For as long as she could remember, their family had scrambled to keep food on the table. Yet, now that Beth had been offered a small part in a feature film, her parents acted as though she was betraying them in some crazy way.

Her mother cried buckets when Beth packed up her things. “Something bad is going to happen, I just knows it. You should be staying home, getting married, and raising a family like your daddy and I did.”

She’d wrung her hands and sank wearily onto the old feather tick mattress. “I already lost your brother, what am I going to do without you?”

The guilt had set in then. Beth’s brother, Marcus, had died in a farming accident the year before and it had destroyed the family. Daddy never smiled anymore, and Momma… she was a shell of the person she’d been. It hurt Beth to see them like that. All the more reason to earn enough money to take some of the financial burden off their shoulders. Maybe then they could start to heal.

She opened the camera case and pulled out a stack of pictures she’d taken since starting this journey. Some were obvious tourist shots, like the one taken at sunset on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though it thrilled her to think she might be there one day herself. She held up her latest, and most precious photo- the Hollywood sign. The epitome of all her dreams was within reach.

All she had to do was…

A sudden scream from the front sent Beth’s heart scrambling up her throat. She grasped the back of the seat in front of her and tried to see past all the heads. Was that…? Holy smokes, it was. Some guy stood at the front of the bus waving a gun in the air. He yelled something to the driver, spittle flying from his mouth. The bus lurched like a drunk on a sidewalk as the brakes were applied, bringing them to a dust choking halt on the side of a gravel road.

And that’s when Beth realized they were in serious trouble.

While she’d been looking at her photos, they had apparently left the paved highway heading into the city and were now somewhere in the middle of nowhere with nothing but scrub brush for company. Well, that and the black eighteen wheeler sitting on the side of the road like a hulking shadow.

The screams grew in volume as the front passengers were herded off the bus. That is until the man with the gun shot the driver. Blood, and Lord knows what, sprayed the window by his head. Things got real quiet after that.

Three men stood outside, rifles resting on their shoulders, dark hats pulled over their eyes. Beth kept thinking, praying, it was all a mistake, or better yet, one of those action movies her brother had snuck out to the drive in to watch. But, inside she knew, this was no movie and she was no actress. She was a girl from Alabama who wanted to be home in her own bed waking from a nightmare with her mother’s comforting arms around her shoulders.

~~~

The detective frowned and squinted into the fading light. Three months and three separate disappearances. The traffickers were brazen. They didn’t even bother to cover their tracks this time; the clear treads of a semi were left in the dusty ditch line. Not that it would do them much good. There were thousands of trucks on the road every damn day. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.

He glanced down at the photo in his gloved hand. The Hollywood sign outlined in umber. Close to dusk then. So many came here in search of success. He could have told them Hollywood was the place dreams come to die.

Love’s Tempo- Fiction in a Flash #FlashFiction Challenge #WritersCommunity #amwriting


Love’s Tempo- Fiction in a Flash Challenge #18

This week’s photo prompt for Suzanne Burke’s Flash Fiction Challenge is a mysterious piece of sheet music and a woman holding a rose. You can take part here:

He was at it again. She rued the day she’d allowed him to buy the baby grand. Day and night, he lived for those damn ebony keys. He didn’t even share their bedroom half the time, preferring instead to sleep with his infernal music.

It was their tenth anniversary and she’d worked all day to create the perfect meal; chicken cordon bleu, garlic and chive mashed potatoes, savory roast vegetables, and his favorite dessert, bananas foster. And through it all, he’d played. She’d tuned out the actual melody years ago. It was either that or go stark raving mad. It was the same song, over and over and over again.

At first, she’d tried to take an active interest in his… let’s call it what it was–addiction. She’d join him in the den, offering input into the music. In return, He’d give her a vacant smile and continue the way he was, dark head bent lovingly over the keyboard.

Then she’d gone the opposite direction, ignoring him, going about her day as though everything was perfectly fine. Making excuses for his negligence. Alone, and lonely.

But, tonight was the end. She couldn’t do it anymore. He was turning her into a bitter shrew and she didn’t like it. After dinner, she was going to give him the separation papers.

“Hungry?” she asked with forced gaiety.

“Hmm?” he murmured, penning some notes onto the sheet music.

“It’s our anniversary. I made dinner.” Not quite as cheerful now.

“Can it wait? I’m close to a breakthrough.” He glanced up with a smile.

Her heart did that stupid leap, still affected by him after all these years. “Please.” She hated the entreaty in her voice.

“Sure, babe. I’ll be right behind you.” He turned back to the piano and she slowly returned to the kitchen. Picked up the heavy butcher’s knife, and waltzed toward the den, buoyed by the harmonious chords bursting down the hall.

She was surprised by how easy it was, the cold steel sinking like warm butter into his back. The tune he was playing turning strident, a cry for help echoing in her head.

Then nothing.

Blessed silence as the ivory keys turned red and his precious music died with him.

She yanked the knife free, his body slouched over the keyboard, and gouged deep lines in the shiny black finish. The shriek of steel becoming cries of agony- hers. It was his fault- all of it. He’d destroyed their love as easily as she’d just ruined his beloved piano.

Finally, she circled around to the sheet music, and was about to rip it to shreds when the title stayed her hand.

Love’s Tempo- an pledge to my beautiful wife, who loves me far more than I deserve.

Yours forever, honey

Slowly, painfully, she sank to the floor near her husband’s head and sliced her wrists. As she grew faint, their blood melded into an eternal chorus–the day the music died.

Fiction in a Flash Challenge 17- #WritingCommunity #amwriting @pursoot


Fiction in a Flash Challenge #17

The week’s flash fiction challenge is titled Message in a Bottle. Join here on Suzanne Burke’s inspiring blog: https://sooozburkeauthor.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/fiction-in-a-flash-challenge-week-17-new-image-prompt-join-in-the-funpursoot-iartg-asmsg-writingcommunity/

The sand is cool and grainy under my toes, a refreshing relief from the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. I’ve been walking this mostly deserted beach for hours, lost in memories of happier times.

I arrived as a visiter, but for the last twelve years this has been home. I’m not sure how I’ll survive without the wash of the waves, the briny scent, or the crimson sunsets, but I must. It’s up to me to continue the search.

Something green glints in the shallows and I pad out to investigate. It’s a bottle, half-buried in the wet sand, its cork pointing toward the North Star sparkling brightly in the evening sky.

Heart pumping, I tug until the sand gives up its treasure with a pop and carefully carry the fragile glass up the beach. Upon closer inspection, I spot a roll of paper inside the luminous green bottle.

“Sam, is that you?”

A wavery voice from my past jerks my attention away from my find.

Could it be?

The woman I never thought to see again, picks up her skirts and runs toward me, her silver hair flowing like a moonbeam.

With a joyous bark, I bound toward her, the aches and pains in my old bones forgotten. She came back.

“Oh, Sam,” she cries, falling to her knees to wrap frail arms around my neck. “I can’t believe I found you.”

I want to tell her I’ve been searching and searching for her, too, but of course I can’t. Instead, I whine and lick her chin in greeting, my tail swishing the sand.

“It was the cancer, boy. I’ve been in the hospital all this time. I thought I’d lost you.” She puts her head to mine and weeps.

A long while later, she slowly rises and, with a hand on my back, follows me over to the green bottle.

“What do you have there, Sam, a treasure?”

I already found my treasure tonight, but I bark and push the bottle toward her.

“Okay, okay.” She chuckles. “I get the message.”

She carefully works the cork from the bottle and tips the paper into her hand. Unrolling the missive, she reads, “Whoever finds this note, know this; there is no greater gift than love.”

As my old friend and I make our way down the beach, I sigh, contented for the first time in months. The bottle is right, love soothes the soul.

Bitmoji Image

#SundayStills- Orange is the Theme of the Day #Photography


Sunday Stills is on Hugh Roberts #blog!

Hugh is covering while Terri Webster Schrandt is away, and chose the theme- ORANGE- for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge. Check out Hugh’s photos here: https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2020/09/06/what-do-you-think-of-when-you-hear-the-word-orange-sundaystills-photography

How about the brilliant orange duvet cover on our bed?

Orange parrot tulips

Orange shirt- grandson’s birthday

Orange maple leaves

Orange fall colors- painting from a favorite artist of mine, Leonid Afremov

Gingerbread display raising money for Habitat for Humanity

The cover of my second novel!

What does orange mean for you?

The Land of the Free- Fiction in a Flash Challenge #amwriting #WritingCommunity @pursoot


Fiction in a Flash Challenge #16

Suzanne Burke came up with this beautiful photo for this week’s prompt. Read the entries and join in here: https://sooozburkeauthor.wordpress.com/2020/09/04/fiction-in-a-flash-challenge-week-16-new-image-prompt-join-in-the-fun-pursoot-iartg-asmsg-writingcommunity/

The full moon rode a crest of diaphanous clouds in the midnight sky, turning the snow into a diamond-encrusted field stretching as far as Luna could see. A soft wind ruffled her fur and sighed through the pines, increasing her loneliness.

It had been two weeks since she’d plunged into the freezing cold river. By the time she managed to slow her headlong journey through the angry waves, she’d been miles from her family. Crawling up the bank, Luna took refuge under a fallen tree and shivered until sleep took her under.

Three frosty days later, hunger drove her from the makeshift shelter. Stiff and aching muscles protested, but she shook, sending ice projectiles flying in all directions, and hobbled into the forest. A wounded rabbit provided the nourishment she needed and strength coursed through her veins.

Now to find her way home.

Instinct sent her feet flying upriver, back toward the snow-capped peaks of the Mackenzie Mountains. Wawatay followed her nighttime journey, the spirits dancing their way into the next world, the blue and green streaks lighting her way.

A shot rang out, kicking up the powdery snow near Luna’s tail. She yelped, and dodged to the right. What was tha… Bang. The echo resounded off the trees, knocking snow from the branches. Her pulse leaping in fear, she took flight, running full out away from the horrible noise. She ran, and ran, until her breath sawed in and out of her mouth, and still she ran.

Dawn was breaking the night sky apart by the time Luna slowed to a stop, tail tucked between her legs. Hopeless, she lifted her head and howled at the gods for leaving her out here all alone. A moment later, an answering call traveled on the wind.

Could it be?

Afraid to hope, Luna watched and waited until a pack of wolves loped into view. The big male in the lead had a distinctive coat of black fur with a silver streak down the back- her father.

Luna took off at a mad dash, yipping with joy. Her family surrounded her, licking and nipping their love and affection. Somehow, some way, she’d defied the odds and found her way home here in the land of the free.

The Stories These Walls Could Tell- #FictionInAFlash #WritingCommunity @pursoot


Soooz Burke has found a wonderful photo for this week’s challenge! You can read more and join in below:

The wallpaper hangs in jagged strips from the walls, faded jacquard prints of a more dignified time. Cobwebs drap from the dilapidated ceiling, and I try not to imagine how big the spider is that created them.

Tom and I won this house at auction, before…

The floors creak beneath my sneakers and are gray with dust and grime, but they look original to my weary eyes. The drive took hours and all I can think about is a warm bath and soft bed- neither of which I’ll find here. I’ll go back to the small town I’d passed through soon, but first I need to finish what I started.

“We did it,” I tell my husband, sure he can hear me wherever he is.

The baby moves beneath my breasts and I gently rub the spot, my throat tight when I feel a tiny heel. Tom wanted this child so much. That and the home he’d grown up in. It’s bittersweet to know we’ve succeeded.

“It’s everything you said it was,” I say, continuing my one-sided conversation. “The fireplace is huge. No wonder you thought Santa got stuck up the chimney.” I trail a finger along the mantle. “Baby’s stocking will look lost on here.”

The tears that are never very far away wet my cheeks. It’s been five months, but I miss him still.

I always will.

With renewed determination, I climb the surprisingly sturdy staircase and enter the first room on the right- Tom’s childhood bedroom. A warm sensation flows over me and my tears dry as peace descends. He’s here, I can feel him.

The room is empty, other than an old blue chest shoved under the stained window. My heart flutters wildly and I’m suddenly scared of what I’ll find.

“Go,” a ghostly voice intones, his breath warm on my ear.

I startle and stumble forward. “Always so bossy,” I grouch with a smile.

The lid is heavy. I have to work to get it up, and then I sneeze as a musty fog rises from the interior. “Geez, Tom, you could have warned me.”

He chuckles from over my shoulder. I can almost feel his arms around me and baby.

His baseball hat from seventh grade sits on top the pile of memorabilia. My fingers tremble as they trace the Saints emblem. Who would have thought he’d go on to have a successful career in the NBL?

Alongside the hat, lay an autographed baseball bat, and below that, the reason I’m here. A leatherbound journal. My husband’s thoughts and dreams in his messy script fill the pages, front to back.

The house will be baby and my future, but this journal? It’s my link to the past and is truly priceless.

The baby rolls, creating a wave across my stomach and my dearly departed husband laughs.

His family is home.

The Final Countdown- #FictioninAFlash #Challenge


This week’s Fiction in A Flash Challenge

I’ve been enjoying the many posts inspired by Soooz Burke’s wonderful prompts to the Fiction in A Flash Challenge and decided to give it a try. You can read more and join in here.

The Final Countdown

Four.

Three.

Two…

Any moment now and the final performance of my career will begin. I can’t complain, I’ve had a good run, but I wish I was more prepared.

I’ve wasted so many opportunities. Chances to live, love, create meaningful connections.

Instead, I’m here the way I’ve been most of my life- alone.

It’s not all bad though.

I’m more successful than I could have dreamed. People know my name. They cheer for me. Buy tickets to see me.

I’m famous.

I wonder if any of that will matter now.

One…

The gates open and I step through.

My afterlife begins.

#BookReview- I Wouldn’t be Surprised by @DLFinnAuthor #Fantasy #Suspense


Do you ever wish you could take back your words? Janice and Dale Hart sat around the dinner table laughing at silly “I wouldn’t be surprised” jokes that included UFOs, Bigfoot, hand-delivered food, and serial killers. A week later, an innocent plate of food is left on Dale’s truck in the middle of the night. That’s only the beginning, and the presents go from harmless to life-threatening. Will the Harts find help in time to survive an evil bearer of “gifts”? Find out in this paranormal thriller.

Biography

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Review

This short story packs a punch!

Janice and Dale live in their dream home on a piece of land deep in the woods. They enjoy the privacy, or at least they did, until strange things begin to happen. A plate of food left without a note, power outages, a strange hole in the yard, all are eerie and unexplainable.

When the danger escalates, Janice and Dale must fight an frightening assailant before he kills them, and receive help from an unexpected source.

This is a quick read- possibly because my fingers flew over the pages- but contains all the elements for a good thriller. The author does a superb job building suspense and the touch of paranormal adds just the right amount of mystique to turn this into a must-read!

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 
Bitmoji Image

Visiting #CanadaBeaches- #SundayStills


Sunday Stills Photo Challenge

Cathy Ryan from Picture This is hosting the #SundayStills challenge while Terri Webster Shrandt is away. This week’s theme- beautiful beaches. You can join the challenge here.

Stormy waters facing Fisgard lighthouse

Whether stormy or calm, the beach near our home is fascinating.

Posing

Logs from the mills up island drift with the currents and land on the shore to weather into driftwood or return to nature.

Herons

Herons, ducks, geese, and even the occasional swan enjoy the bounty from the sea provided at low tide.

Woodpecker created from driftwood
People love to feed the birds

Or accept nourishment from their human friends.

Birds of a feather…

Some of the driftwood pieces are huge!

Ever-changing, our coastline is never boring ❤

#CoverReveal- Hiding Cracked Glass by @JamesCudney4 #Suspense @Shalini_G26


HIDING CRACKED GLASS BY JAMES J. CUDNEY

Series Name: Perceptions of Glass

Book #1 Name: Watching Glass Shatter

Book #2 Name: Hiding Cracked Glass (cover reveal for this one)

Publication for Book #2:

Next Chapter, October 8th, 2020

PreSale / Amazon Link:

Pending from Publisher

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54399989-hiding-cracked-glass

About the Book

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved. 

 

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

·       Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

·       Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

·       Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

·       Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

·       Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

·       Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

#NewRelease Last Chance Beach- Summer’s End #Romance #SummerReading @KathleenLawles6 @JoanReeves


LAST CHANCE BEACH: Summer’s End will make you want to book a vacation to the island of legend and love, the place where soul mates find each other and love at first sight happens all the time!

Hot August Night by Joan Reeves, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

When they met, it was hate at first sight. Now they’re stuck in the same overbooked beach cottage and horrified to discover they have the hots for each other!

Something New by Liz Flaherty, USA Today Bestselling Author

Their lives are planned out…until they’re not! Are they in love or just stuck in a habit?

I Do…Again by Nancy Fraser, Top 100 Bestselling Author

At a high school reunion; old flames meet again. Can they re-ignite what they once had and take a last chance on love?

The Man in Gull Cottage by Caroline Clemmons, Top 100 Bestselling Author

She faces a hard decision; he encourages her to choose with her heart. Will the solution drive them apart or into one another’s arms?

That One Summer by Maddie James, Top 100 Bestselling Author

It’s the typical annual week on the beach with the girls—until her summer fling from 20 years back shows up. He’s the one who got away. She’s the one who couldn’t commit.

Romancing the Spouse by Jan Scarbrough, National Bestselling Author

The kids are grown; her husband has an important career, and she wonders if she still loves him, and if he loves her. Can she turn back the clock to save her marriage?

Blue Sky Summer by Kathleen Lawless, National Bestselling Author

Of all the beaches on the coast, who shows up on her beach? Him! A former competitive surfer runs into her former love, and revisits all the reasons things didn’t work out for them before.

Hangover Husband by Bonnie Edwards, National Bestselling Author

She wants divorce—he doesn’t. What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas!

One Last Shot by Marcia King-Gamble, National Bestselling Author

She’s hiding from the paparazzi. He’s the guy next door, an amateur photographer. Will he accept tabloid money for pictures of her? Or will he choose love over jumpstarting his career?

Secondhand Hearts by Kathryn Hills, Award Winning Author

Kat must convince her Gran to move to the mainland, but Gran—and hunky neighbor Ben—want Kat to take over the B&B and antique shop. What will it take for Kat to stay? Some of Gran’s special island magic?

Paradise Perfume by Connie Vines, Award Winning Author

She returns to Last Chance Beach to begin a new life. He’s a single dad on vacation with his pre-teen daughter. He’s worried  his daughter may become too attached to her, but maybe he’s the one whose heart is at risk.

Dreams of the Past by Laura Hunsaker, Award Winning Author

Can dreams of the future erase her nightmares of the past? She’s looking for a fresh start, but he’s rented the same beach cottage. One bed, two people? Whatever will they do?

Beach Kisses & Sunset Wishes by Nora LeDuc

He’s handsome and in town for only 2 weeks. She wants someone interested in a fling. He wants someone interested in a ring.

Can’t Buy Me Love by Hannah Rowan

She won the big lottery, but doesn’t want anyone to know. He’s a fixer-upper specialist who’s also keeping a secret.

                                                   ***

Grab your limited-time-offer collection here for only 99cents. https://amzn.to/3hJseeT

I LOVE Kathleen’s cover, don’t you?

Welcome to the blog, Kathleen Lawless. Can you tell us the inspiration behind your story in the Last Chance Beach- Summer’s End box set?

Like so many authors, I tend to pull real life experiences into my books.  I was only four or five when I watched my mother rescue a young boy who was drowning at the beach where we spent our summers.  That memory has never left me and finally it worked its way into BLUE SKY SUMMER, my contribution to a box set with 13 other bestselling authors.  LAST CHANCE BEACH: Summer’s End is a binge-worthy beach read collection for only 99 cents. 

***

Of all the beaches on the entire coast to see him again. . .

What are the chances?  Former competitive surfer, Alisha, heads for Last Chance Beach, where no one knows who she is. 

No one except Mark.  Talk about a blast from the past, and the worst kind of luck she chose this island for her vacation. 

When Mark sees Alisha on the beach, memories come flooding back, along with the pain he felt when she dumped him.   Her actions might have been well intended, but the results were a disaster.   

They’re older now.  Are they also wiser? 

Here is a snippet from my second-chance romance, BLUE SKY SUMMER.

         Alisha spread out her beach towel and lowered herself onto it, straightening a floppy sun hat to shade her face.  It was the first time this week she’d ventured to this particular cove, home to the island’s surfers.  The break was small this morning, and the few surfers in the water looked like beginners.

         She leaned back, resting her weight on her hands, and tried to remember what it had felt like the first time she’d caught a wave.  One initial rush of freedom, and she had been hooked.   

         She’d barely settled in to watch the action and live vicariously through others, when she saw a newcomer walk to the shoreline with a board under his arm.  Something about his long-legged, self-assured gait took her back fifteen years, and the first time she’d seen Mark.

         She gave her head a shake.  She hadn’t thought about him in years.  Much.  Just because this surfer was the same height and coloring . . .

         As he positioned himself on his board and headed for the break, she pulled out her binoculars, more to reassure herself it wasn’t him. 

         She zoomed in, and the bottom fell out of her stomach.  

         It was Mark! 

Kathleen Lawless blames a misspent youth watching Rawhide, Maverick and Bonanza for her fascination with cowboys, which doesn’t stop her from creating a wide variety of interests and occupations for her alpha male heroes. 

 Her hero, Steele, in UNDERCOVER, is a modern-day cowboy, so when she was wooed by a man called Steel— while he’s not a cowboy, he is an Alpha male and her forever hero.  Which is why all of her stories end Happily Ever After.

Not that she can ever stick to just one genre.  So many stories to tell—never enough time.

With close to 30 published novels to her credit, she enjoys pushing the boundaries of traditional romance into historical romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction and stories for young adults.        

Sign up for Kathleen’s VIP Reader Group to receive a free book, updates, special giveaways and fan-priced offers.    http://eepurl.com/bV0sb1

Exploring the Weird and the Wild on #SundayStills #Photography


Aerial shot of helicopter flying over power lines

Weird and Wild Photography Challenge- Sunday Stills

This week, Terri Webster Shrandt challenges to find the weird and the strange in our photos. You can join the Sunday Stills challenge here.

I’m also participating in Becky B’s July Squares challenge. You can check it out here.

I was playing with an app on Facebook and came up with this weird and wacky photo of… Me!

Hello, Miss birdy, why don’t you ever fly away?

This wild hummingbird sat and talked to us for quite a while.

Wild cloud formation

Weird and wild moss hanging off a tree near the lagoon.

Weird and wild car seen on our travels.

My weird and wonderful Mickey dog. He was a 3lb. Mexican Chihuahua with a gimpy front leg, skin that turned pink in the winter, black in summer, and a tongue Gene Simmons would be proud of.

Oh, Canada- #CanadaDay #Celebration


Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Happy Canada Day!

To celebrate our country, I thought I’d put together some fun facts, videos, and a few famous Canadian quotes to share with you.

Did You Know…

  1. Some of the world’s greatest superheroes come from Canadian imaginations, including Superman and Wolverine!

2. Quebec produces more than 77% of the world’s maple syrup.

3. If you write a letter (in any language) to North Pole, Canada, H0H 0H0, Santa Claus will answer.

4. 20% of the world’s fresh water is in Canada and we have the most lakes.

5. In Banff National Park there are overpasses for wild animals- seriously!

6. 30% of Canada is covered in trees and thick forest.

7. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Canada was -63 in Snag, Yukon.

We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life.

William Osler

I truly believe that we have infinite levels of power that we don’t even know are available to us.

Michael J. Fox

We must come to the point where we realize the concept of race is a false one. There is only one race, the human race.

Dan Aykroyd

Stay safe everyone!

Home is Where the Heart Is- #SundayStills #Lifestyle


Where is your happy place?

Terri Webster Schrandt invites us to share our homes on this week’s #SundayStills challenge. You can see Terri’s photos and join in here.

For many years hubby and I dreamed of downsizing our home to an RV and traveling wherever the wind took us.

In 2012 we bought our 5th wheel garage hauler and began the process of bringing our dream to reality.

Spacious master bedroom with pull-out closet
Marble countertops and stainless steel sinks
Fireplace and entertainment center next to double-door fridge
Garage with full back screen and two dropdown queen-size beds

It took a lot to give up most of our ‘stuff’ in order to downsize to a 45 foot trailer, but we were determined.

We put the house we loved up for sale…

Our home

And gave away or sold our furniture and knick-knacks. I had a beautiful fountain outside (you can just see it at the corner of the house) but it was too big and HEAVY to bring with us. Hubby had a garage FULL of stuff to go through. Mom lived in the basement and made the decision to move with us instead of going to a senior’s apartment (Yay!), so we had to go through her things, as well.

Me on our back deck with a crabapple and lilac in the foreground

Do I miss our home? Yes. We worked hard to make it beautiful. We had the basement renovated for Mom. Ripped up the carpeting and installed gorgeous wood flooring. We removed the old, tired siding and replaced it with fresh, white vinyl siding. The deck and fencing were replaced with stronger, better versions. DH built flower beds front and back and we planted trees. It was our home.

But our dream beckoned…

We made the move to Vancouver Island, bought Mom a trailer so she could have her own space (right next door) and haven’t regretted it for a minute!

It didn’t take us long to fill up the new yard!

Joy of Plants- #SundayStills #Gardenlife


Climbing Hydrangea

Sunday Stills Challenge- Plant Life

This week’s photo challenge by Terri Webster Schrandt is one after my own heart! Stop by and check out her lovely pictures here

Our garden may be small, but it’s mighty 🙂

Strawberry and raspberry beds- loaded with berries!
A mixed be of lavender, sage, Hot Lips Salvia, apple and peach trees, and more- all in a 4X4 bed!
Peony- the first one I’ve ever had bloom!
Clematis
Center of a strawberry- fascinating
Cherry tree highlighted by a gorgeous cloud cover
Figs

I better quit now, though I could go on forever. I love my garden ❤

Straight lines- #SundayStills #photography


Straight Lines

Terri Webster Schrandt has given us an interesting challenge this week. Find straight lines in your photos! You can see her images here and join in the challenge.

This ivy covered building looks straight, until you compare it to the power pole (or is it the pole that’s not straight?)
The water and horizon are straight- the log, not so much 🙂
Docking station for the big oil and gas rigs
Wisteria growing on straight gazebo posts
My version of a hummingbird’s straight beak

Okay, your turn- let’s see what you’ve got 🙂

Saturday Satisfaction #amwriting #gardening


I Finished the Damn Book!

May was such a messed up month for me, I was getting seriously worried whether I could finish the book I had up on pre-order in time to fulfill my obligations.

It came down to the wire, but I got it done and feel good about the outcome 🙂

Now I can breathe again, and with views like these in my backyard- relax.

Virtually Gone Releases JUne 12 on all your favorite retail sites!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085PQTV69

International: https://books2read.com/VirtuallyGone

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/virtually-gone-a-mended-souls-novel-high-tech-crime-solvers-book-6-by-jacquie-biggar

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52329219-virtually-gone

Exclusive Excerpt

Matt sat next to a middle-aged university security guard and stared at the video playing out on a desktop computer screen. It was brain-numbing work, but he held onto the hope one of these recordings carried a usable ID of their suspect. Investigators had gone over footage taken from the general area of Gina’s attack, but at the time, they hadn’t realized they were dealing with a serial offender. With the new information received, he and Connor were going back over the evidence with a fine-tooth comb.

The timestamp on the top right of the screen said it was eight pm, shortly before Gina’s final class for the night had ended. She’d told them her routine was to take a path cutting across campus in order to arrive in time to catch the transit bus she needed to get home. There were safer routes, such as the bus lane outside the security building, but at that time of the evening she would need to make several transfers, which made her nervous. It was sadly ironic her careful choices ended up placing her in the crosshairs of a criminal.

After her shock today, Connor had offered to drive Gina home and wait until someone could come over and be with her, so she wasn’t alone. Every time Matt thought about the photo and frightening message she’d received; it made his blood boil.

The cops can’t save you, sweet Gina. See you soon.

No wonder the girl was scared; the bastard was stalking her.

While Connor had interviewed each of the individuals outside on the grassy rotunda with them, he’d snapped pictures to go over later. Their tech guy, Bob, had come up empty at tracing the number to where the photo originated, but they’d expected that. The perp hadn’t made many mistakes to this point, he wasn’t going to hand himself over on a silver platter. But he’d given them another clue—Bob had explained even burner phones came with a unique serial number, and given time, he could find out whether their suspect had used the phone to browse the web, make calls, or even if he carried another ‘regular’ phone with him. Phones constantly communicate with cell phone towers, whether in use or not, and therefore left a digital footprint that could be traced back to the distributor.

“Wait. What’s that?” Matt straightened and strained to see the grainy figure moving in and out of the shadows on the video. “Back it up a bit, will you?”

The guard paused the footage and rolled it back a few seconds before hitting play again. This time, they focused their attention on the hunched form in dark clothing, head covered by the hood of his jacket.

“Does it seem as if he’s waiting for someone to you?”

The guard shrugged. “Maybe he’s got a buddy.”

Or maybe he was waiting for Gina.


Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!