‘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.  

Photos with Captions, To Make You Smile and Think

Time for another round of captioned photos. I hope some will make you chuckle, while others encourage you. Take care of yourselves!

Then I realize that I wasted the morning shopping . . . wait, do I hate shopping? Um . . . yes, I think. Now I’m sad again. 🙂

Review of Born In A Treacherous Time (Book 1 Of 3), by Jacqui Murray

Well, it’s Valentines’ Day weekend, and also one of the coldest months of the year up here, in Canada. It’s as though Mother Nature is either thumbing her nose, enacting vengeance for a serious jilting, or attempting to fire the flames of romance by freezing the body.

If you ask two, ten, a dozen, or hundreds of Canucks, you’ll get as many opinions, or maybe a shrug, followed by, “Dunno,’ sorry.”    

The story for todays’ review takes place where breath doesn’t freeze scarves rigid, nor are toques a staple, even in winter. We’re traveling to pre-historic Africa.

What Amazon says:

Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

My Turn:

Jacqui does a great job of instilling a vivid picture of what most certainly was the red in tooth and claw existence, quite literally, of early humans.

The first in a trilogy, a solid foundation is built for the next two books in this series. There is plenty of action, yet I found there were parts that grew too repetitive, and perhaps could have been left out.

I must be honest about the fact some of my personal beliefs about the ‘coming into existence’ of humanity are in conflict with certain views expressed. I’ll not argue them here, nor anywhere, as they are mine. No amount of debate will sway me, nor will I convince those who disagree. I think it’s best to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

Overall, the information presented in this book has been well-researched and conforms to the mainstream view. The main characters are well constructed and there is growth based on experience.

 I believe this novel achieves what it sets out to do. As part of a trilogy, the entire series will need to be taken into account. As of this moment, I’ll give it Four Stars.  

Meet Jacqui:

Bio

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years both in a traditional classroom and online. She is the editor of a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and author of over a hundred books to integrate technology into education. She is adjunct professor on tech ed topics for the University of California San Diego, Colorado State University, and others. She is a Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics.  She is the author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days as well as the prehistoric fiction, Man vs. Nature.

She’s best known as Ask a Tech Teacher, curator of the popular blog used by teachers, administrators and homeschoolers around the world. It is the go-to resource for advice, pedagogy, tips and tricks, freebies, help, reviews, and classroom materials in tech ed. She has been quoted in national newspapers such as the Washington Post and appeared in local education-oriented radio programs such as BAM Radio and CoolCat Teacher. Her blog has received many awards from organizations such as Common Sense Media and Ed Anywhere.

Jacqui is the voice behind Structured Learning webinars, providing training to teachers and administrators on tech ed topics like flipped classrooms, digital citizenship, Common Core Standards and tech, how to organize the classroom for tech, and age-appropriate tech to support curriculum and standards.

Her teaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: critical thinking. Start with organic conversations. Make technology authentic and encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Instruction is self-paced, differentiated and responsive to student needs. Lessons include Essential Questions, Big Ideas and self-reflection.

Jacqui works with teachers and school districts to integrate technology into their school curriculum and standards, running seminars on using tech tools in the classroom, introducing educators to popular ideas like the flipped classroom, differentiation, setting up the digital classroom, using tech in Common Core and more. She also writes articles and white papers for Districts to be shared on blogs, newsletters, and parent information guides.

Jacqui Murray has a BA in Economics, a BA in Russian, an MBA, and a California teaching credential. Before teaching, she worked in the business world for twenty years. She has a daughter who attended the United States Naval Academy and now serves as an Officer in the Navy doing cybersecurity, and a son who attended UC Irvine and serves as an Army SGT in the Signal Corps. She also has a brilliant Labrador Retriever named Casey—what a character. She spends most of her time teaching, reading, geeking, and writing.

Connect with her and purchase your copy:

My Amazon author page

My Goodreads author page

My LinkedIn profile

My Ask a Tech Teacher Twitter page

My Writer Twitter Page

askatechteacher@gmail.com

Photos with Captions To Make You Smile and Think

Hey, just thought I’d bring out some photos with captions for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Welcome to the BLOOD/CRIMSON Blog Tour! @OverbeckRandy @4WillsPub @4WP11 @RRBC_Org

Meet Randy:

Dr. Randy Overbeck is a veteran educator who has served children as a teacher and school leader. For more than three decades, his educational experiences have included responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent and he’s lived the roles of many of the characters in his stories. An accomplished writer, he has been published in trade journals, professional texts and newspapers as well as in fiction, with his third published novel. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.

Connect with him:

Twitter Facebook Website

Purchase your copy:

Crimson At Cape May-Amazon.com

Crimson At Cape May-Barnes&Noble

Crimson At Cape May-BookBub

Your chance to Win!

(1) e-book copy of BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE or CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY (Winner’s choice)

(1) $10 Amazon gift card

For your chance at winning one of the awesome giveaways above, simply leave a comment below!

Nonfiction is about reality; fiction is about truth.”

Bestselling mystery author, S. J. Rozan, shared these words at a writing conference a few years ago, and this insight struck me. As an author, I argue that one important purpose of memorable fiction is to share the truths about life, love and sometimes even death.

I’m not naïve. I realize readers don’t choose a mystery or a thriller or even a romance because they are searching for insight or revelation. James Patterson is not a bestselling author because of his philosophical outlook on life.

Fiction lovers are not browsing bookshelves in bookstores—okay, checking out Amazon or BookBub listings during the pandemic—because they are searching for the meaning of life. They want to be entertained, to be scared to death, to be drawn in and forget their world, or maybe to fall in love inside the pages of their newest discovery.

But I also believe authors have an important responsibility. First, we need to assemble the essential ingredients to capture readers’ attention—a plausible story line (mostly), credible characters, a setting readers can enjoy, and most important, a compelling narrative. But I also believe if we, as authors, are fortunate enough to command our readers’ attention for hours of their precious time, they should come away with more than just solving the mystery, seeing the bad guy captured or even making their heart race. Fiction should convey a truth, sometimes even a truth that can’t be conveyed via nonfiction—at least not as well.

That’s why, when I wrote each of the ghost stories/mysteries in my Haunted Shores Mysteries series, I attended to the truth part of my novel as diligently as the ghost or mystery part.

For my new release, CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY, the second in the series, I placed my fictional murder at the center of an even greater, very real-world problem. As readers navigate through the mystery and try to solve the whodunit, they also come face to face with the disturbing reality of human trafficking, as the murder and the trafficking become intertwined in the narrative.

On this issue, a few details may illustrate why I felt compelled to center my tale in the ugly world of sex slavery, prostitution, and human trafficking.

  • Officials estimate somewhere near 4.5 million people are caught in the web of human trafficking worldwide.  While most of those sex trafficked in the U. S. come from other countries—principally Eastern Europe, Central America, and the Far East—a great many girls, teens and even younger, from the U.S.  go missing and end up in the sex trade.
  • Based on the best estimates, one out of five female runaways in the U.S. ends up being trafficked, upward from 3000 to 5000 a year or a new teen trapped every 100 minutes!
  • As recent news reports have revealed, manipulation and abuse of trafficked girls is not limited to low level pimps. Notables such as Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, and even Prince Phillip of England have been implicated in human trafficking scandals. 
  • Experts believe an astounding one million children are victims of sex trafficking worldwide.
  • Taken together, there are more people trapped in human trafficking today than at any time in history.

Her is a link to a brief article with some astonishing—and depressing statistics:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2019/07/29/12-trafficking-statistics-enormity-global-sex-trade/1755192001/

My hope is that when readers finish CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY,  besides encountering a new, engaging mystery, exploring an interesting and unusual resort location, indulging their romantic impulses, and perhaps even straying a bit into the spirit world, they have a better grasp of the “truth” I’m trying to capture…and maybe a better understanding of the world around them and themselves.

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the authors’ tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HEREThanks for supporting this author and his work!