‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge 2021.’ Week #43. By Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #IARTG #WritingPrompts #WritingCommunity #FlashFiction

Happy Friday! The long weekend is here, yay! Here is my take on talented Author Suzanne Burkes’ weekly Fiction In a Flash Challenge.  Authors are invited to write a short story about the photo shown. Please click on the above link to go to her blog site. Thank you so much, Suzanne for hosting this regular challenge!

Photo prompt:

“Captain BriIlaagisetogainalihandet! They’re closing in on us!”

“Argh! Landlubber knave! How many times do I hafta’ tell ye, not to call me by that name! It’s hyphnatted now!”

“What?”

“Shortened! Like yer life, if ya’ call me that agin! It’s Bilgerat that I goes by, on these seas.”

“Um, right, of course. Meant no offense, sir . . .  ah, Captain Bilge rat . . . er, I mean Bilgerat. It’s just that, well, do you think it was wise to steal the light house keeper’s secret recipe, for peanut butter brittle? He’s set the Royal Navy on us, and—”

 “Ye be a quakin’ in yer booties, I see. Got nary a stomak fer the high stakes game of the buccaneer!”

“Ah, sorry, I’m a bit new at this. Oh hi, by the way, my name’s Rick. My first time working on a pirate ship, and all. We haven’t met, but I know—”

“Pirate! Ne’er use that word on this ship agin, or you’ll be shark chum! Got it! It’s not jus’ fer my sake, but yur’s too. Ya’ know, a man can’t do this fer’ever and some day ye’ll be walkin’ off into the reel world. Git yerself a wench an’ settle down, have a coupl’a kids an’ then you’ll be needin’ a job. ‘Magine puttin’ pirate on the resume! Argh! Best to put buccaneer, sounds best.”

“Um, Okay. Actually, speaking of shark chum, are you quite finished with dragging Bertrand behind the ship. I mean, it’s been a day since he broke into your stash of chocolate coins. You know, the ones you thought were real, until they melted in the sun.”

“Bah! I knew they’re choc’late, scallywag! I did! Don’t ye be eyeballin’ me that way. Who told ya’ that lie? Argh! Ne’er mind! Firs’ n’ fourmos’, do not be questionin’ my discipline means. Secondly, he’s floatin’ on a piece of crate from the croissants we stole from the French bakr’y. But yer right ‘bout that. He’s slowin’ us down, so best to cut ‘im loose. Take your sword, lad.”

“Wait! Bertrand makes delicious waffles, and he knows where to get the best cream and strawberries.”

“I know’ ya’ picaroon! It’s jus’ an espression! The blade is fer the ‘gulls. Keeps ‘em from getting too close an’ usin’ yer ‘noggin’ fer an outhouse!”

“Oh, yes, Master, Bilgerat. Nasty things, those birds. But before I go, I want to—”

“What? Know ‘bout if it was worth the recipe? Yay, I say! My Nanna used to make it best, and this here keeper says his is better, it’s all o’er the seven seas! See my tooth? The last one, and I’ll not be wastin’ it on brittle with the taste of sea glass. I swore an oath to dear Nanna, that I’d steal the recipe and find the truth. If it’s better, I’ll burn the recipe. No one bests Nanna!”

“Oh, you’re doing this all for your Grandmother, how swee— I mean swashbuckling, of you. But there’s one more thing.”

“Speak of it, then shutpan your mouth, an’ do as your told!”

“Well, um, how do I put this, you seem to be moderately good, sort of, at your job. You turn that large wheel thing, like a pro, but perhaps you need some brushing up on your navigational skills.”

“Ye be talkin’ yerself to the plank. Can ya’ swim?”

“Um, I don’t think that’ll be necessary, either the plank or the swim.”

“Nec’ary! I’ll tell ye’ what is that! As long as yer under these sail’s, I be tellin’ ye what’s that!”

“Okay. Fair enough, but I think someone might have a slightly different opinion.”

“An’ who might that scallywag be? I’ll send him to the Locker!”

“Oh, that would be the lighthouse keeper. You see, we did a full circle and—”

“My ship! Weigh anchors! Argh! It be too laaaatttteee!!!”  

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge 2021.’ Week #39. By Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #IARTG #WritingCommunity #WritingPrompts #FlashFiction

HELLO EVERYONE AND WELCOME TO AUTHOR SUZANNE BURKE’S “FICTION IN A FLASH CHALLENGE!” EACH WEEK SHE FEATURES AN IMAGE AND INVITES EVERYONE TO WRITE A FLASH FICTION, OR NON-FICTION, PIECE INSPIRED BY THAT IMAGE IN ANY FORMAT AND GENRE OF THEIR CHOOSING.  MAXIMUM WORD COUNT: 750 WORDS. IN ADDITION TO RUNNING A WONDERFUL BLOG, SUZANNE HAS WRITTEN MANY EXCITING BOOKS. PLEASE A HAVE A LOOK AT HER SITE: WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

Here is my contribution, enjoy!

“Thirty-three!”

“Huh? What? Aghh! Not this again! How do you even know? Oh, you did not just roll your eyes at me!”

“Look behind us.”

“I’m looking.”

“You see that second light on the structure, behind our car?”

“It’s out, so what?”

“Well, Freddo, that’s one thing, and bad enough. Also, your cranial excellence, that’s how I can tell we’re in car number thirty-three.”

“Gosh, Jake. You need serious help. Not everything has to be an even number.”

“Nice redmark on your left check, where you slapped it. Want me to give you one on the right, to match? It’s driving me crazy.”

“Ha. Ha. Funny guy. You know that those scissiors are probably sticky, from the cotton candy, right.”

“Nope. I carry wipes, for just such an occasion. Already cleaned them while we were standing in line.

“I guess you would have had time, since you let that family of six go ahead of us, because you wanted to be an even number in the lineup. You should have just waited until then, to give your cotton candy a trim.”

“Don’t know how you ate that bird’s nest. I mean, the stuff was so . . . poofy!”

“Hey, we’ve stopped.”

“You know Fred, your ability to state the obvious is astounding. Wait, we’re  sitting at forty-one degrees!”

“Annndd, oh, never mind.”

“How do I know? See the strength tester, you know, the game where you use a sledgehammer to ring the bell? It’s ninety degrees, and we are at forty-one, by comparrison.”

“Will you cut that out! Stop rocking this thing! You can’t move it up or down, genius!”

“My scissors! Oh please land straight up!”

“Look out, down there! As if they’re gonna—”

“Yes!”

“Hey, the ferris wheel operator looks mad. He’s yelling up at us.”

“Pshaw! Who cares what a man with an uneven goatee has to say. I mean, look at that thing. Hey! I hope you have a suitable filter on your OKCupid profile selfie! Ouch! That hurts! Gonna leave a bruise on my arm.”

“Would you like one on the other, to match? Oh! We’re moving again. Why are you closing your eyes? I didn’t know that you’re afraid of heights.”

“Not the height. Can’t look at the skyline. I mean, it’s so different from up here. So, chaotic.”

“Those dastardly city planners! I mean, why didn’t they consult you, before allowing such diversity. Jake?”

“Ya?”

“We’re descending. You can look, now.”

“Oh, good. I need to get out of here, ‘cause those corn dog signs are crooked.”

“Don’t look.”

“Don’t look, Fred? You do realize that by saying that, I won’t be able to unpaste my eyes from them. The ground!”

“Hey, Jake. The ride is hardly stopped! You can’t just, sorry folks! He doesn’t mean to shove. He’s just gotta follow the straightest path to the car. Oh man, why through the fountain?”

“I found it Fred! You did a great job parking in section ‘B’! It’s number two in the alphabet, and the bumps are symmetrical. But why, oh why, did you have to buy a hatchback? Five doors? Really?”

“It came out to an even 14,000, after tax. Thought you’d be happy about that, at least. Hey, you know what comes in pairs? Feet! Yours in particular. Get the picture? What’s that? ”

“What’s? Hey! You locked me out! Why are you pointing to the backseat? It’s  got a bench seat, three seatbelts, and way too close to that weird hatch thing. Oh, alright.”

“Umm . . . can you change the radio volume to an even number, please. Ah yes. No! Yes! Knock it off! I can see your crooked smile in the smudgy rearview, you know!”

***On the side***

How many of you actually counted the cars on the ferris wheel? 🙂

Photos with Captions, To Make You Smile and Think

It’s hard to believe that we’ve arrived at March 3, already. Seems like a blink since we were in our homes, ringing in 2021, COVID style. As vaccinations roll out and the most vulnerable are innoculated, we cling to the hope of showing this pandemic the back door.

While you wait, here’s a few photos and captions that I hope will take your mind off things. Enjoy!

I’m hiring them to build our addition. It’s going to cost large, in worms and dryer lint, but so worth it!

There’s nothing wrong with the occassional ‘Dad Joke’. 🙂

Very proud of my daughter, as she learns different forms of art.

Review of Life Is Like A Bowl Of Cherries, by Sally Cronin @sgc58

It’s the start of another weekend and in the early hours of Saturday morning, my thoughts turn to current events. In a previous blog, I mentioned the light verus the dark side of life, and encouraged my readers to watch for the helpers of this world. These people go above and beyond, to serve others and make this world a brighter place.

Today, I have the prvilege of reviewing and introducing such a person. Though, I suspect, she needs no introduction to most. 🙂 Meet Sally Cronin.

Here’s what Amazon says:

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.

The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.

Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.

My Turn:

The full name of this book is actually, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I had to shorten it, because when I put this on my website blog, it limits title lengths.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories, sprinkled with meaningful poetry, each pertaining to the pervious story.

Flipping the pages into each new chapter, was to be whisked into another era, another life, a 180 degree ‘about face’ into vastly different circumstances; some good, others, less than stellar.   

What remained constant, was the quality of connection I had with every character. They were real people to cheer on, pity, dislike, and congratulate. Valuable life lessons were skillfully interwoven in the fabric of every tale.

I deal with certain faulty world views, due to past experiences. When I first began to read this book, and things were going right for the character, I honestly waited for the other shoe to drop.

 I was pleasantly shocked and pleased when the footwear remained firmly affixed and tied! My thought, Is this all there is? The question was posed in a positive and grateful way. I was very pleased. Why shouldn’t life be like that? Such a refreshing change!

I finished this book with a feeling of happiness and peace. There is still good in this world.

Thank you, Sally, for the salve. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. This is what the world needs.

There is no question that this book deserves FIVE STARS!

Meet Sally Cronin:

I have enjoyed a nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, Malta, South Africa, USA and Spain, before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, I wrote and published my first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about my weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 11 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

My first book release resulted in a radio interview in Spain that led to four years as a nutritional consultant for an English language station, and this was followed by four years with my own health show and Sunday morning show on local radio station in the UK and then as station director, newsreader and presenter for an online television station.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books and from 2002 I have been working with authors on their book launches and publicity. At that time it was very much physical book launches and press coverage locally to stimulate national interest.. Today it is very different with a global market via the worldwide web.

As important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others within our community. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog, linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

Connect with Sally and purchase her books:

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Amazon.com

Amazon.uk

Goodreads

Twitter

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge 2021.’ Week #37. Entry Part 8) by Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #IARTG #WritingCommunity #WritingPrompts #FlashFiction

HELLO EVERYONE AND WELCOME TO AUTHOR SUZANNE BURKE’S “FICTION IN A FLASH CHALLENGE!” EACH WEEK SHE FEATURES AN IMAGE AND INVITES EVERYONE TO WRITE A FLASH FICTION, OR NON-FICTION, PIECE INSPIRED BY THAT IMAGE IN ANY FORMAT AND GENRE OF THEIR CHOOSING.  MAXIMUM WORD COUNT: 750 WORDS. IN ADDITION TO RUNNING A WONDERFUL BLOG, SUZANNE HAS WRITTEN MANY EXCITING BOOKS. PLEASE A HAVE A LOOK AT HER SITE: WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

Here is my contribution to this week’s prompt. Enjoy!

“You hear that?” Mandy twisted her red locks into coils. Her wide-eyed expression moved her freckles, like dozens of islands shifted by an earthquake.

Dan put his ear against the door.

“Careful! What do you hear?”

“Chewing.” An icicle lodged in his spine.

“What? Dan Beamish! I can’t take it any longer! I’m calling Mom and Dad! I want to go home! George Binks was right, this place is haunted!”

“My gosh!” Dan jumped back. His jaw became a flag in the wind.

“Stop blubbering, out with it! You’re scaring me!”

“You should be.”

“Stop it!” Mandy’s eyes were red. It reminded Dan of the time he’d drew mustaches on her Barbies, with permanent marker. “Tell Uncle Bill! He’ll know what to do. He’ll call Mom and Dad to pick us up!”

“Don’t be such a wimp. Don’t you want to see what it is? Maybe it’s a Snog, just like in one of your silly books. Besides, Uncle Bill is away this afternoon. Mom and Dad are in the Bahamas.”

“I’m NOT a wimp, you’re just stupid! My books are NOT silly. Snogs are NOT real. Whatever’s in there, is! We should wait until Uncle Bill returns.”

“Get me something to defend myself.”

Mandy crossed her arms and scowled at her older brother. He was stubborn, just like his father, that’s what Mom said. Mom’s always right about Dan. She sighed. “Fine, there’s a croquette mallet in the hall closest.” She stomped down the ancient steps. Stupid, old, haunted house. Why couldn’t they’ve gone to Aunt Rita’s cottage on the beach? Oh, because Danny the Pansy was allergic to the sand. Whoever heard of such a thing?

She returned with the mallet to find Dan testing the doorknob.

Mandy performed a fake curtsy and handed the mallet over. “You’re lance, noble knight.”

Dan rolled his eyes. He counted to three, via the scenic route. “Two and a quarter, two and a half, two and three quarters, three!” He charged in screaming, mallet raised overhead, Brave Heart style.

Something large ran through what could only be described as a trash bin. Dan looked around, shocked by the mess. Uncle was a neat freak, but this was an episode of Hoarders.

Wind gusted through an open window. Papers blew across a desk and onto a floor that could have been hardwood. A huge lump moved underneath the pile, heading straight for him! A terrible hissing and growling came from the thing.

Dan’s arms lost feeling and the mallet struck his knee as it dropped. He was nailed to the floor.

“Dan! Get out!”

He tried to back away, but tripped on a power cord, that brought him and a desk computer, crashing to the floor.  

A yellowed New York Times paper, a foot from his face, burst off the floor, to reveal a hideous nightmare of bloody teeth and fur.

The eyes were blacker than the pavement, velociraptor sharp claws, and a hiss like a thousand water snakes. It stood on it’s hind legs, belly fur covered in blood. The thing was about to rip him apart! His mind flashed back to all those nature shows he’d watched. What to do? Run . . . seriously? Play dead? No, he’d be dead. Act submissive, lower your eyes and bow your head . . . quick! He raised himself to a kneel and bowed, face to the floor. It was terrifying, exposing the back of his neck.

“Dan! What are you doing! Have you lost your mind?”

“Showing respect. Being submissive.”

It didn’t work. The thing hissed and moved towards him. Dan could feel and smell its hot and stinky breath . This was it, his life for hers. “Go, Mandy! Run! It wants me and you can still get away!”

The beast moved closer, coming in for the kill bite, just like a lion. It would be a less painful way to die.

Dan was ready too.

Something swept past his head. The creature let out a squeal and then began to whimper, as it fled.

“You rascal!” Uncle Bill yelled.

His new favorite uncle held a broom, as he chased the thing out the window. He shut the window, turned towards them and said, “Blasted racoon. Should have closed the window. Got into my bowl of ravioli again!” He held up an empty can of Chef Boyardee’s “finest” pasta. He looked embarrassed.

Dan smacked his head when he noticed the “blood”’ matched the color of the pasta sauce.