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A weasel on a logI didn’t forget. Honest! I mean it is still Wednesday. Right?

If you get a sense of panic in my tone, you are right. You see, I was invited to participate in this wonderful blog hop by Shannon Esposito, someone I respect as a writer and like as a person. TNBT stands for “The Next Big Thing,” and is (was) intended to help spread the word about deserving authors. Unfortunately, Shannon did not count on my absent-mindedness, so I have broken the circle. Hopefully I won’t burn in Hell for it.

As part of the hop I was supposed to have five more authors lined up to also participate. I don’t see that happing at this late hour. Still, I feel obligated to at least try to make amends by carrying on with the spirit of the event.

What spirit is that, you ask?

This post will introduce you to five authors I can personally recommend. It is a way for readers (that’s you) to discover new authors, while revealing a bit about myself (beyond my forgetfulness).

I also want to share the praise of Shannon Esposito, who invited me to this hop, and mention that she is working on her newest project, “The Goddess of War.” You can read about it on her website, Murder In Paradise. Based on her other works I’ve already read I am fairly certain it will be a keeper. You can find her books both at her website and at Amazon. Check them out, please. And tell Shannon to please not stick a pin in that voodoo doll of me.

The Hop Thing

The original TNBT blog hop included 10 questions for me to answer. In keeping with the spirit I will do my best to answer them. Some of the answers may seem weasely, but it can be hard to get specific about the creative process.

The Questions:
1: What is the working title of your book?

The book I am working most actively on and I believe has the best chance of seeing the light of day is tentatively titled “Magellan Star Voyager.” Bet you can’t tell it’s science fiction from the title.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’m not sure where my ideas come from. (I know, weasely.) I get a notion, then things just sort of build upon themselves. Often times a character springs to mind, almost wholly formed, and they need their story told. I think my main character in MSV, Jenna Yorganson, was just such a person. She is the ship’s medical officer with a story in need telling.

3: What genre does your book come under?
I’m not saying (but you might find a hint in answer 1).

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Good ones. (Weasel!) Seriously, I have no idea. I know actors like I know neuroscience, which is not at all. Trust me, you never want me on your trivia team. Forewarned is forearmed.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Bad things happen when an interstellar colony ship gets whacked by a particle travelling at 250,000 km/hr or there abouts, particularly when there is a psychotic killer on board.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
None of the above. It is currently in rewrite. That’s not being weasely, it’s the simple truth.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’d guess about three months. If I have a story I can run with it generally takes me two to three months to hash out the rough draft (sometimes 30 days if it happens to be November), but the rewrites can take forever.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Oh, God. (You can see the weasely stuff coming, can’t you?) I don’t know that I can compare it to any book specifically. It draws on many universal tropes of both science fiction and mystery. Perhaps Alien, only the killer isn’t another species, but one of our own. Yes, Virginia, there really are monsters – they are usually human.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think this story was just something in me that needed to come out. As I said earlier, I get a vague notion, sometimes just a character name, or an idle ‘what if?’ thought, and I start mulling it over. The more I think on it, the more it grows until I finally have a rough idea of what I want to do in way of developing the story, and I can begin to write. What inspires me? Just about anything. This book in particular? Not sure, but I think it was Jenna, just popping into my head.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Magellan Star Voyager is a cross between an old fashioned murder mystery and science fiction action adventure. The crew of the Magellan are people much like ones you probably know, thrown into a near impossible situation. As in real emergencies some people rise to the occasion, and some crack. The active crew of the Magellan must try to salvage the ship, save as many of the colonists as possible, while trying to save themselves from one of their own.

If I had my act together you would have found five fellow authors joining in this blog hop next Wednesday answering ten questions about themselves. But there is no time to line them up, and I’m not about to blind-side them. So I give you the next best thing: five authors I think you should visit and get to know. Do be sure to bookmark them and check back with them often to see what they are up to. I only hope Shannon will forgive me for dropping the ball.

Five authors you ought to check out (and support!). Happy reading.

1. Kevin J Mackey, was an early adopter of Friday Flash and is one of the nicest people on the web. I have always enjoyed his flash fiction, haiku, and photos. I was excited to learn he has a novel coming out, and can’t wait to get my hands on it. The book is “Not By Dark Alone” and is being released even as I type. You can follow Kevin on his blog, or join in on his book launch right now over on Facebook.

2. Jeff Posey has a true talent for a good tale, well told. I enjoy his stories set in the world of the ancient Anasazi of the desert southwest the most. I became a life long fan while following his old Anasazi Stories blog. Jeff has since gone on to develop a wonderful indie online bookshop, with full fledged novels both ancient and contemporary, as well as collections of his short works. His debut novel, “Less than Nothing,” is the fruit of those old Anasazi Stories, and is my favorite.  I also thoroughly enjoyed his modern novel, “Anasazi Runner,” a story of personal perseverance and triumph. He also still posts flash fiction on his website. Be sure to check him out.

3. I quite enjoyed Clive Martyn’s debut novel, “Sunset Hotel.” Clive does a nice job of developing his characters as the suspense builds and the mystery unfolds. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a mystery – rather a horror/suspense, but mysterious things are happening. He keeps his readers apprised of his current works in progress (WIPs) on his website, where Clive bills himself as an author of dark fiction and poetry. From the synopses he is a man of his word. The two WIPs that seem to be furthest along right now are “The Hospital,” and “The Spirit of Trees.” “Sunset Hotel” is available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and  OmniLit.

4. I thoroughly enjoyed G. P. Ching’s young adult debut novel “Soul Keepers,” the first in her Soulkeepers Trilogy. With her first trilogy behind her she has embarked an a new YA series to keep her fans sated. The series, “Grounded,” begins with a novel of the same name and is set in the year 2067. The story revolves around a young Amish girl, Lydia Troyer, and a secret Government plan gone awry. Book One is available now. You can read more about it on Genevieve’s website, and like her Facebook author page.

5. Finally I want to recommend M. R. Sellars, the author of the well known Rowan Gant mysteries. I’ve known Murv for years, and while I can’t claim him as a close personal friend (more’s the pity), I have spent some time talking with him. He is always very gracious and giving and this is my opportunity to send some good karma his way. I highly recommend the first in his new Constance Mandalay series, “Merrie Axemas.” His latest Mandalay novel, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” is on my personal Christmas list. I also recommend the Rowan Gant novels. I’ve read them all. Murv’s books are available at fine bookstores everywhere and as ebooks. Visit his website and have a look around.

~

Photo by Kevin Law, via WikiMedia Commons.

 

 

 

 

 

Badge for The Split Worlds, an urban skyline under stars with the text "The Split Worlds it begins..."I am pleased to be hosting novelist Emma Newman today. If you don’t know Emma, she is charming, very talented, and author of the novel, 20 Years Later, a post apocalyptic mystery set in London . She is now working on what she describes as “a quirky urban fantasy” dubbed The Split Worlds. In the run up to the novel she is releasing a new story every week on different blogs around the world. I am fortunate to have her here on Mad Utopia this week. So, with no further ado I give you, Emma Newman.
~jon

This is the twenty-sixth in a year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. It’s also the second part of ‘The Necessary Witness’ which you can find here if you need to read that first.

If you would like me to read part two to you instead, you can listen here. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here.

The Necessary Witness – Part Two

Martin regretted the decision to chase the runaway shadow two minutes after they’d left the house. His chest burned and his feet hurt; he’d picked the leather brogues for a day of sitting at a computer, not impromptu heroics.

Paul was starting to leave him behind, but then it was his shadow, he was more motivated. That and the fact he played football twice a week let Martin forgive himself for wheezing so much. He worked long hours. He earned more too.

They had no choice; they could hardly hail a taxi and ask it to follow a rogue shadow. As the twilight deepened it was getting harder to keep it in sight, on a couple of occasions Martin thought they’d lost it, only for Paul to shout, point and take off again. When he stopped outside a terraced Georgian house in Pimlico Martin nearly cheered.

“It went down there,” Paul said, pointing down the steps leading down to the lower ground floor, presumably once a servant’s entrance.

Martin just nodded, propping himself up on his knees as his traumatised thigh muscles twitched. “What do we do now?” he panted.

Paul looked down the steps. “We sneak in down there.”

“That’s breaking in.”

“You want to knock on the door and ask them if we can look for my shadow in their basement?”

“Good point.”

They looked up and down the street, just like people who were about to do something illegal, then tiptoed down the stone steps. Paul tried the door, it was locked, unsurprisingly. Martin felt a surge of relief as Paul moved away from it. The urge to understand what was going on had been dampened by the fear of being caught.

Paul peered through the window then tried to lift the sash which only moved half a centimetre.

“Let’s go,” Martin said, ducking down as a car drove past.

“Hang on, there’s just the old catch, I can open it.”

He was getting a credit card out, Martin kept watch, feeling like he was ten years old again, stealing penny sweets whilst his best friend distracted the shopkeeper.

The window opened behind him. “C’mon,” Paul whispered and climbed in. Martin swore and followed him, not moving from the window until Paul had located a light switch and flicked it on.

The basement room was undecorated, cold but not damp, and filled with rows of bench tables like a school science lab. Shelves of bottles and small boxes filled one wall, there were test-tubes and beakers and round-bottomed flasks held in clamps on the tables, containing all manner of coloured liquids.

“It’s like that Hammer horror film,” Paul whispered.

“Which one?”

“I dunno, the one with the mad scientist in it.”

“Look,” Martin pointed over at a large glass bowl at the end of one of the tables. The foot of Paul’s shadow was draped over the edge, looking like a lone sock hanging out of a bowl of darkness. “It looks like it climbed in there.”

The rest of the shadow’s form was indistinguishable. “What the hell is going on here?” Paul said, staring at it.

Martin went to the shelves, reading the labels on the bottles. ‘Self-loathing’ described the contents of an elegant blue glass bottle with a wax seal over its cork. ‘Bitter regret’, ‘infatuation’, ‘sigh of broken-hearted’ – all the bottles seemed to have emotional descriptions. He picked up one of the packets and read ‘powdered iris-reticulata petals’ before putting it back. He noticed a box full of small purple perfume atomisers and a piece of paper resting on the top. “Fifty bottles of “Love’s First Bloom” – 5000 of the Queen’s pounds” was written in the same fluid script as the label on the packet. “I think this is a lab for making some weird-assed perfume,” he whispered, then heard voices coming from the other side of the door leading out of the room.

“Dr Tate,” a man said. “You’re teasing me.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” a woman replied. “I’m too professional. Let’s just say I work very hard to get the quality of product you expect.”

“Someone’s coming!” he hissed at Paul and hurried to the window. “Come on!”

Paul wasn’t moving. “I’m going to ask them what the f-”

“Come on!” Martin already had one leg out of the window, the high heels clipping down stairs making him sweat again. But Paul wasn’t moving, instead he was trying to grasp the sock-like shadow, his hand passing through it again and again. “Twat,” Martin spat and tumbled out of the window onto the flagstones outside. It was dark and getting cold and his brother-in-law was going to be arrested with the worst excuse in the world for breaking and entry.

Martin crouched below the window-sill. He heard the creak of a door and a pause that seemed to last a year. “Not you again,” the man sighed.

“Again?” Paul said. “Who are you? Why is my shadow here? Why do I even have to ask that question?”

“This is the third time this has happened,” the man sounded bored.

“Really? How tiresome,” the woman replied. “You do realise only the deluxe fool’s charm works with a shadow severance subject, don’t you?”

“Well that explains it.”

“Excuse me!” Paul yelled. “Will one of you please-”

His words were cut off somehow. “I have an alternative solution,” the woman said and then after a few moments; “Go home little mundane, and sleep it all off.”

Martin heard footsteps approaching the window and slid sideways, pressing himself as flat against the wall as he could. Paul climbed out and headed straight for the steps. The window was slammed shut and locked, Martin waited as long as he could bear to then darted up the steps back to the street.

“Paul!” he called and hurried to catch up with him.

“Martin?” Paul smiled at him, all surprise. “What are you doing here?”

“We were looking for your shadow, don’t you…” Martin trailed off, Paul looked like he was stoned.

“Come back to my place for a beer, the football’s on tonight,” Paul said and started walking again.

Martin watched, his guts churning. He turned his collar up and followed, watching his brother-in-law’s shadow restore itself with every street lamp they passed. He didn’t know what he was going to do, or even understand what had happened, but he knew he wasn’t going to forget about it.

Thanks for hosting Jon!

I hope you enjoyed the story. If you would like to find out more about the Split Worlds project, it’s all here: www.splitworlds.com – you can also sign up to get an extra story and get each new story delivered to your inbox every week. If you would like to host a story over the coming year, either let me know in the comments or contact me through the Split Worlds site. Em x

Author Emma Newman peeking ove the top of an open book

www.enewman.co.ukTwitterFacebook

 

Friday Flash Dot OrgThe other day I mentioned that the Friday Flash Report needs a new home. It now has one – Friday Flash Dot Org. I’ve had that domain name seems like forever, but never had a clear vision on what to do with it. I think the time has finally come to dust off the empty shelves and put some useful tools in the display windows. Friday Flash Dot Org is now officially open.

Now that it’s open what are we going to do with it?

Well for starters, it will host the Friday Flash Report. Other ideas kicking around in my head:

  • Host a Friday Flash Bookstore with links to participant’s points of sale. Many in the Friday Flash community are published authors, either as independents or with small presses. We can have a page set up exclusively to promote your books, on an opt-in basis of course.
  • Author spotlights, also as an opt-in, to showcase participants own favorites. I’m thinking a sidebar box generated via a collector. It would feature the author’s picture or avatar, a tweet length message, and then links to the author’s own three favorite stories. Like precious children, you want to boast on them.
  • A Debut Collector – you may or may not remember my post, We Were All Young Once. It highlighted everyone’s debut story up through May 24th, 2010. It was well received, but is way out of date. We could implement a Debut Collector and then people could register their debut Friday Flash for posterity’s sake.

These are just a few ideas I have for the website, the low hanging fruit if you will, which can largely be generated via collectors. I hope Friday Falsh Dot Org can evolve over time to become the true focal point for all concerns Friday Flash and help support and grow the community.

To that end it will need a volunteer staff to keep it running smoothly. If you are interested in helping contact me via your favorite method (email, Twitter, Facebook, Pony Express) and let me know which of the following positions you’d like to help fill (listed in urgency of need):

  • Newsletter editing (the ever popular Friday Flash Report – this consumes a lot of my time)
  • PHP programming (to automate some things, such as the afore mentioned newsletter, so it consumes less time)
  • Facebook coordination (cross posting the Friday Flash report and other announcements to the Friday Flash group page)
  • Guest posts (to help keep it interesting)
  • Web design (page layout, bookstore design, widget implementation, etc)
  • Artwork (occasional banners for major events or just plain old variety)

More than one person can jump in on any of these things.

We’re also open to other ideas on how we, as a community, can best use the website. If you have any suggestions feel free to share them. My email address is jstro@swbell.net, my Twitter ID is @jmstro, and you can find me on Facebook.
~jon

 

Dogwood FlowerTrees are in the bud. Grass is greening. The change of seasons is in the air. Changes are also coming to Mad Utopia. As I mentioned in today’s newsletter, I will no longer be doing the Friday Flash Report on Mad Utopia. I never intended Mad Utopia to become Friday Flash centric, but over time that is exactly what has happened. With my stories posted on Fridays and the Report posted anywhere from Saturday to as late as Wednesdays I sometimes feel I’ve painted myself into a box.

I enjoy Friday Flash too much to quit doing it. I still intend to post a story every Friday. I’d like to make it the full two years without missing a week. After that, I’ll still do them, but won’t feel the need to do one each and every week. I really need to start editing some of my completed novels and get busy on finding a publisher.

Don’t worry, I still intend to produce the Friday Flash Report, but it needs a new home. More on that tomorrow. (Yes, I’m a tease.)

So what can you expect on Mad Utopia from here on out? Well, a little bit of everything.

I really miss writing essays, something I used to do quite a bit of on my old site. And poems. I’d like to post some of my poems. You can also expect some articles on new technology, for when it comes right down to it I’m a science and technology geek. I also intend to do author interviews. Look for one soon.

In order to grow one needs to change, and this change is a little overdue. I hope you enjoy the new focus of Mad Utopia. I think I will.
~jon

 

Welcome to the new and improved Mad Utopia. Things have been happening behind the scenes here and I hope you like the changes. I have changed hosts, which gives my tech guru Susan a little more freedom to work her magic, and changed themes, which gives the whole place a spiffy new look. I hope you like it. I still need to do a few things, such as redirect my old site here and update my Google Analytics to track this site rather than the old one. The two biggest improvements right off the bat are that Mad Utopia is now a three column site instead of just two, and the pull-down menus work as intended (they were a bit flaky under the old theme).

The theme I’m using is called Suffusion, by Sayontan Sinha, in case you were going to ask. It is incredibly flexible. Susan found it and set it all up for me. She told me she did not have to do any CSS programing – it was all laid out simply by using the configuration tools. I highly recommend it and thank Sayontan Sinha for making his “hobby” freely available to all.

Content-wise the biggest change is the additional column, where I will be able to hawk the Best of Friday Flash – Volume One, Chinese Whisperings – The Yin and Yang, 100 Stories for Queensland, and any other works I happen to appear in. I’ll also be glad to run some goodwill adverts for worthy projects for charity, so if you are interested please contact me.

I have additional changes in the works, but it is too soon to talk about it just yet. Watch this space for an announcement, hopefully within a week or two. So please, change all those bookmarks and unsubscribe the old site and subscribe to the new site. And thank you all for taking the time out of your busy days to read my musings from time to time. Your feedback is what keeps me going.
~jon

 

Sorry I’m late again with the Friday Flash Report. I was hoping to polish off the Best of Friday Flash paperback production this past week and things did not go as expected. So I’m still struggling with CreateSpace along with my own frustration, and things bog down for me when I get frustrated.

Still no excuse, particularly when we had 83 great stories this week including 6 debuts. You may recognize a couple of last names in the debut list. Nothing like a little nepotism in election season, eh? Please welcome Emelie E. Strother, Randall Nichols, Angie LaPaglia McNeill, Tom Allman, Beverly Fox, and Zelda Martin to the ranks of FridayFlash. Drop in on their stories if you have not done so already and leave them an encouraging comment and have some leftover Halloween candy. But keep your hands off the Kit Kats — they are MINE.

If your story is not listed, please visit the #FridayFlash Collector and add the details. Then shoot me a note via email, Twitter, or courier pigeon, and I’ll add it to the list. I should warn you, however, we do have Red Tail Hawks in our neighborhood, so return postage is not guaranteed.

The Stories

YOU by Danielle Tauscher @storybydt ~ Unspecified ~

Writer Recluse by Jason Sullivan @jas_chronicles ~ Unspecified ~

Words Unsaid by Jason Warden @ShadowCastAudio ~ Slice of Life ~

What Goes Up by Angie C. @techtigger ~ Fantasy ~

Walking with Henry by Kathryn Eastman @katheastman ~ Mystery ~

Tricky Treats by Donald Conrad @NoddlaNocdar ~ Mystery ~

Trick Or Treat by Melissa L. Webb @melissalwebb ~ Horror ~

Tremors by Thom Gabrukiewicz @tgabrukiewicz ~ Horror ~

Tremors by Susan Helene Gottfried @WestofMars ~ Suspense ~

Till Death Do Us Part? by Laura Cummins @jacsmom ~ Humor ~

The UCF Stories #26: An Unwelcome Guest by Sam Adamson @FutureNostalgic ~ Fantasy ~

The Story by Diandra Linnemann @LaCaffeinata ~ Horror ~

The Stillness by Kari Fay @morganafiolett ~ Horror ~

The Skeletons in His Closet by Aidan Fritz @AidanFritz ~ Magical Realism ~

The Revenge of Emperor Li Long by Lara Dunning @LaraDunning ~ Fantasy ~

The Return by Laura Rachel Fox @LostLibraryGirl ~ Thriller ~

The Photo Album by Lauren Cude @NA ~ Magical Realism ~

The Perfect Silence of the Night by Denise Covey @pichetsinparis ~ Horror ~

The Lust, The Flesh by Maria Kelly @mkelly317 ~ Horror ~

The Green-Faced Witch by Eric J. Krause @ericjkrause ~ Horror ~

The Girl With the Ebony Eyes by David Garrett @carpedavid ~ Horror ~

The Fine Print by Cathy Webster (Olliffe) @Matthiasville ~ Unspecified ~

The Final Conversation by Alan W. Davidson @AW_Davidson ~ Horror ~

The Bank Job by W. M. Dowis @billdowis ~ Crime ~

Terrific Opportunity by Estrella Azul @EstrellaAzul ~ Unspecified ~

STONE by Linda Simoni-Wastila @drwasy ~ Literary ~

Spikes High by Tony Noland @TonyNoland ~ Slice of Life ~

Spawnfire by Jessica Rosen @jessrosenbooks ~ Unspecified ~

Soul Cake by Shannon Esposito @soesposito ~ Suspense ~

Snake Man by Mandy K James @akjames61 ~ Horror ~

Pumpkinhead by Steve Green @n/a ~ Horror ~

Pranks by dave graham @dakegra ~ Humor ~

Piggy by T.J. McIntyre @southernweirdo ~ Horror ~

Phantom Horse by Emelie E. Strother @n/a ~ Unspecified ~ Debut

Oh Brother by Tiffany Herr @herrvoice ~ Unspecified ~

Not the first conversation they shouldn’t of had by Randall Nichols @themojowire ~ Romance ~ Debut

No Such Thing by Stephen Book @StephenBook ~ Unspecified ~

Nightmare by S. May @yamnasus ~ Unspecified ~

My Tears by Crystal Boudreau @beingcrys ~ Unspecified ~

Monsters by Laurita Miller @LauritaMiller ~ Horror ~

Meme’s Lesson by Cathryn Louis @cathrynlouis ~ Unspecified ~

Lucky streaks by Harry B. Sanderford @Harry B. Sanderford ~ Horror ~

Little Piggys by Rachel Blackbirdsong @RBlackbirdsong ~ Literary ~

Lights Out by S. May @yamnasus ~ Unspecified ~

Life Lessens by Angie LaPaglia McNeill @myearthgirl ~ Slice of Life ~ Debut

LAFFING SAL by Anthony Venutolo @bukowskisbaseme ~ Horror ~

Keeping Watch by Michael J. Solender @mjsolender ~ Horror ~

Invasion by Danielle La Paglia @Dannigrrl5 ~ Horror ~

Interview with the Zombie by Tim VanSant @TimVanSant ~ Humor ~

Interminable Gloom by Rachel Carter @rachcarter ~ Slice of Life ~

Interment by Catherine Russell @ganymeder ~ Slice of Life ~

Initiation by Louise Dragon @WeezelWords ~ Horror ~

Hunting New Orleans by A. S. Boudreau @ASBoudreau ~ Unspecified ~

Hia Breoedd Part 5 by James Tallett @thefourpartland ~ Fantasy ~

Heel by Karen Schindler @karenfrommentor ~ Horror ~

Halloween, 1944 by Pamila Payne @mspamila ~ Horror ~

Halcyon Headgames by Anke Wehner @Anke ~ Fantasy ~

Haf of HERO8 – Episode 4 by Keith Dugger @KeithDugger ~ Unspecified ~

Guardian by Janet Aldrich @tec4_Cleveland ~ Magical Realism ~

Evolution? by Lyn Thorne-Alder @LynThorneAlder ~ Science Fiction ~

Elspeth by Tom Allman @yoohootom ~ Fantasy ~ Debut

Edge by Vandamir Windrider @Vandamir ~ Suspense ~

Duh by Beverly Fox @*none yet* ~ Horror ~ Debut

Dr. Frankenstein’s House of Pancakes by Monica Marier @lil_monmon ~ Humor ~

Don’t Look! by Zelda Martin @NA ~ Horror ~ Debut

Don’t Bank On It by Justin Davies @flyingscribbler ~ Cross Genre ~

Dead Air Time by J. M. Strother @jmstro ~ Horror ~

Days of The Dead by Johanna Harness @johannaharness ~ Fantasy ~

Cracking Eggs by Peggy McFarland @peggywriter ~ Magical Realism ~

Coulrophobia (Fear of Clowns) Sugar by G.P. Ching @gpching ~ Horror ~

Chow Min by annie Evett @AnnieEvett ~ Humor ~

Catherine’s Hill by Christopher Chartrand @ChrisChartrand ~ Horror ~

Captivation by Marc Nash @ExisleMoll ~ Literary ~

Bloody Mary by Eric J. Krause @ericjkrause ~ Horror ~

Benji by Emma Kerry @emma_kerry ~ Unspecified ~

Beets by S. May @yamnasus ~ Unspecified ~

APPARITION by Absolutely*Kate @AbsolutelyKate ~ Suspense ~

Annus Mirabilis by Christian Bell @christianbell37 ~ Unspecified ~

All Quiet by Nick Bryan @NickMB ~ Horror ~

A Mortal Halloween by Laura Eno @LauraEno ~ Humor ~

A Life in Books by Alison Wells @alisonwells ~ Literary ~

A Dark Snow by Galen Sanford @galensanford ~ Literary ~

14 nights, self-catering in the Room at Arles by Dan Powell @danpowfiction ~ Magical Realism ~

In the News

Congratulations to Laurita Miller, and her blog, Brain Droppings, which won the Canadian Blog Award in the category Culture and Literature, with a whopping 54% of the vote. Now that’s election news that will truly enthuse. To see all the winners, and to discover many new and wonderful blogs, visit the Canadian Blog Awards homepage. And be sure to drop in on Laurita to wish her a hearty congratulations if you have not done so already.

Remember to send me your news, I’m always happy to spread the word. ~jon

The wrap

Thanks to all our readers. We love you. And please, if you enjoy a story leave comments when you visit. Writers love feedback almost as much as chocolate. Maybe more! Then go tell your friends to read it too. Help these writers grow.

You can subscribe to the #fridayflash hashtag (external link) on Twitter every week for more great flash fiction.

We’re on Facebook (external link) too.
~jon

 

Sorry the Report is late this week but I was on the road to help celebrate my sister’s wedding. Glad to report the wedding went off without a hitch though my knee may never be the same. That’s a different story for a different day.

As to FridayFlash, we had a great week with 81 stories in the Collector as of press time including 9 debuts. Please welcome Vincent Eaton, Zelda Martin, Dave Graham, Danielle Tauscher, Amelia Stone, Adam Maxwell, Kathryn Eastman, Amy McLane, and Raven Corinn Carluk to the ranks of FridayFlash. Drop by their websites, read their stories, and leave an encouraging comment.

If your story is not in this listing please visit the Collector and add your details. Then give me a nudge to let me know it’s there if you’d like it added to this week’s report. Otherwise it will show up next week by default, so it won’t be lost in the ether either way. Also, be sure to check out the news just beneath the listing, we have a lot of news this week.

The Stories

A Girl With Brains by Maria Kelly @mkelly317 ~ Horror ~

A Halloween Scare by Brainhaze @brainhazewp ~ Slice of Life ~

After All These Years by Stephen Book @StephenBook ~ ~

An Indelible Design by J. Timothy King @JTimothyKing ~ Unspecified ~

Aphrodite by Mandy K James @akjames61 ~ ~

Art in Public Places by Valerie Valdes @valerievaldes ~ Slice of Life ~

Asking for Absolution by Lyn Thorne-Alder @LynThorneAlder ~ Unspecified ~

Beauty Secret by Cathryn Louis @cathrynlouis ~ Unspecified ~

Breathless by Jessica Rosen @jessrosenbooks ~ Unspecified ~

Bucket by Dave Graham @dakegra ~ Science Fiction ~ Debut

Buried by Shannon Esposito @soesposito ~ Horror ~

By the Light by Donald Conrad @NoddlaNocdar ~ Horror ~

Cat Games by Sarah Hendrix @shadowflame1974 ~ Fantasy ~

Caveat Emptor by Melissa L. Webb @melissalwebb ~ Horror ~

Class of 1990 by Rebecca Emin @RebeccaEmin ~ Unspecified ~

Compatriots (3 of 3) by Katherine Nabity @katen ~ ~

Confession of a Vampire by Lara Dunning @LaraDunning ~ Horror ~

Crash by Emma Kerry @emma_kerry ~ ~

Dance With the Dead by David G Shrock @dracotorre ~ Horror ~

Death or Undeath by Amelia stone @Amelia_writes ~ Fantasy ~ Debut

DOORS by Danielle Tauscher @storybydt ~ ~ Debut

Dropped Stones, Skimmed Skin by Alison Wells @alisonwells ~ Literary ~

Graveyard Dance by Gracie Motley @gracecrone ~ Horror ~

Guan Yin by Mike Robertson @miker_lazlo ~ Fantasy ~

Hia Breoedd, Part #4 by James Tallett @thefourpartland ~ Fantasy ~

Horizon by Stephen Parolini @noveldoctor ~ Literary ~

In The Between by Jason Warden @ShadowCastAudio ~ Cross Genre ~

In Transit by Thom Gabrukiewicz @tgabrukiewicz ~ Experimental ~

Indentured Servitude by E. D. Johnson @geektreasure ~ Literary ~

Jessie’s Turn by Deanna Schrayer @deannaschrayer ~ Cross Genre ~

Killing the Furniture by Vincent Eaton @VincentEaton ~ Cross Genre ~ Debut

Life Skills by Lauren Cude @NA ~ Magical Realism ~

Literary Cage Fight by Dan Powell @danpowfiction ~ Humor ~

Mariana’s New Lover by Clive Martyn @clivem ~ Romance ~

Mom’s Phone by Eric J. Krause @ericjkrause ~ Horror ~

Near Miss by Laurita Miller @LauritaMiller ~ Horror ~

New feet by Rachel Carter @rachcarter ~ Magical Realism ~

Night of the Hunter’s Moon by Pamela Jo @TheresJustLife ~ Fantasy ~

No Laughing Matter by Adam Maxwell @ISayItsAdam ~ Humor ~ Debut

On Borrowed Wings by Angie C. @techtigger ~ Fantasy ~

Passage of Darkness by Annie Evett @annieEvett ~ Suspense ~

Peaches by Catherine Russell @ganymeder ~ Slice of Life ~

People Want Dark Fiction by John Wiswell @Wiswell ~ Thriller ~

Pterodon Drilling by Aidan Fritz @AidanFritz ~ Science Fiction ~

Quid Pro Quo by Justin Davies @flyingscribbler ~ Cross Genre ~

Red Ball by Vincent Eaton @VincentEaton ~ Cross Genre ~

RED LIGHT SPECIAL by Amy McLane @smolderingink ~ Cross Genre ~ Debut

Reminisce Once Too Often by Alex Carrick @Alex_Carrick ~ Humor ~

(running away with me) by Cathy Webster (Olliffe) @Matthiasville ~ Horror ~

Secure Facility Seven by Kari Fay @morganafiolett ~ Horror ~

Septum Elementum: Aeris [excerpt] by Vandamir Windrider @Vandamir ~ Fantasy ~

Slaves by Steve Green @n/a ~ Science Fiction ~

SNOWSTORM by Linda Simoni-Wastila @drwasy ~ Literary ~

Stingray by Rachel Blackbirdsong @RBlackbirdsong ~ Literary ~

Story Hunter by Benjamin Solah @benjaminsolah ~ Literary ~

Sub Two by W. M. Dowis @billdowis ~ Unspecified ~

Succubus by A.S. Boudreau @ASBoudreau ~ Unspecified ~

Sweet Talk by Zelda Martin & Harry B. Sanderford @Harry B. Sanderford ~ Humor ~ Debut

The Art of Listening by Laura Eno @LauraEno ~ Humor ~

The Big C by Tim VanSant @TimVanSant ~ Slice of Life ~

The Cosmologist’s Hangover by Marc Nash @ExisleMoll ~ Literary ~

The Digital Revolution by J.E. Ignatius McNeill @dreamrock ~ Science Fiction ~

The Empath by Raven Corinn Carluk @ravencorinn ~ Fantasy ~ Debut

The Great Chocolate Conspiracy: Episode 8 by Danielle La Paglia @Dannigrrl5 ~ Crime ~

The Hunter by Laura Rachel Fox @LostLibraryGirl ~ Thriller ~

The Inheritance by Johanna Harness @johannaharness ~ Fantasy ~

THE LOCAL HEROES: Escape From Pickman’s Grove by Al Bruno III @albruno3 ~ Adventure ~

The Man In The Barn by Rol Hirst @rolhirst ~ Slice of Life ~

The Peeping Parisian by Chance @Chance4321 ~ Humor ~

The Perfect Silence of the Night Episode 3 by Denise Covey @pichetsinparis ~ Horror ~

The Priest Hole by Icy Sedgwick @icypop ~ Horror ~

The Problem With Folks These Days by T.J. McIntyre @southernweirdo ~ Humor ~

The Transformation of Major Jack Garrison by Keith Dugger @KeithDugger ~ ~

The UCF Stories #25: Escape and Banishment by Sam Adamson @FutureNostalgic ~ Fantasy ~

Thoki & Lor 6 (honor among jerks) by Monica Marier @lil_monmon ~ Fantasy ~

Unchosen by Susan Cross @SusanJCross ~ Experimental ~

Verbosity’s Vengeance by Tony Noland @TonyNoland ~ Humor ~

Waiting for Don Juan by Kathryn Eastman @katheastman ~ Historical ~ Debut

Walking With Lady by J. M. Strother @jmstro ~ Slice of Life ~

Wasps by David Garrett @carpedavid ~ Horror ~

We’ll Just Talk About The Murder by Pamila Payne @mspamila ~ Crime ~

In the News

J. Dane Tyler will be celebrating the launch of his new release “A Moonlit Stroll” at a fabulous virtual book launch on Monday, October 25 on Facebook. Be sure to drop in and wish him well. Congratulations, JD. Best of luck with the release.

Seems things are always popping over at the NOT. Michael J. Solender is holding another round of the Feast Of Flash Contest this year.  The theme is “Thankfulness” and it is completely open to your interpretation. The winner will have $100 donated to the charity of their choice. Runners Up will have their stories published on the NOT the week of Thanksgiving. Be sure to check out the details.

Jim Bronyaur is working up another round of the 12 Days of Christmas Project again for this year. The submissions are open and there are still some choice days to pick from. Visit the 12 Days 2010 page for details on how to participate and follow the project on Twitter as  #12days2010.

Gloria Oliver had her short story “Art” accepted for inclusion in Norilana Books’ new anthology “Ladies of Trade Town.” You can read more about it on the Beacon News. The anthology is currently scheduled for release in July of 2011. Congratulations, Gloria!

Remember, The Great Chocolate Conspiracy continues over at Danielle La Paglia’s blog with Episode 8 in the blog tour. The next installment will appear on Friday, October 29th at Icy Sedgwick’s blog. You can keep up with developments in the meantime by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.

Also, remember to vote for the best Canadian culture and literature blog. I would never dream to tell you how to vote, so check out the particulars over at the Canadian Blog Awards webpage.  Or visit Laurita Miller’s fine blog, Brain Droppings, for a direct link to the poll.

Finally, my tech guru Susan Chambless sent me news that Barns and Noble has launched its own publishing arm with the perhaps unfortunate name of PubIt. For those of you who self publish, this is yet another outlet you can use to get your titles in front of readers. Check out the details on the PubIt home page.

The wrap

Thanks to all our readers. We love you. And please, if you enjoy a story leave comments when you visit. Writers love feedback almost as much as chocolate. Maybe more! Then go tell your friends to read it too. Help these writers grow.

You can subscribe to the #fridayflash hashtag (external link) on Twitter every week for more great flash fiction.

We’re on Facebook (external link) too.
~jon

 

We had really good turn out this week, with 83 stories reported in the Collector. Three of these were debuts. Please welcome Chris Kelly, Jason Sullivan, and Amalia Dillin to the Friday Flash experience. Be sure to visit and leave a comment on their stories. If you posted a Friday Flash and it does not show up in the listing, please visit the Collector where you can add your details, then ping me to let me know you’ve added it. I’ll be happy to update the list to include it.

The Stories

Worst Origin Story Ever by Harry Markov @harrymarkov ~ Cross Genre ~

Woman by Catherine Russell @ganymeder ~ Experimental ~

Wilful Misunderstanding by Anke Wehner @Anke ~ Humor ~

Why Mabel Stopped Going to Church by Cathy Webster (Olliffe) @Matthiasville ~ Unspecified ~

White Powder Scare by Mark Kerstetter @markerstetter ~ Unspecified ~

When You Wish by Emma Kerry @emma_kerry ~ Unspecified ~

Wet Umbrellas by Benjamin Solah @benjaminsolah ~ Literary ~

Wedding Magic by Lauren Cude @NA ~ Magical Realism ~

Walther P99 by Clive Martyn @clivem ~ Slice of Life ~

Very Mild Superpowers by Laura Rachel Fox @LostLibraryGirl ~ Horror ~

Valentia by Tim VanSant @TimVanSant ~ Horror ~

Up in Smoke by Stephen Book @StephenBook ~ Crime ~

Troll Serial #11 – Kreptus’s Explanation, part 1 by Mari Juniper @marirandomities ~ Fantasy ~

The Writer by Mandy K James @akjames61 ~ Slice of Life ~

The Vampire In Times Square by Monica Marier @lil_monmon ~ Horror ~

The UCF Stories #24: Dragonrise by Sam Adamson @FutureNostalgic ~ Fantasy ~

The Trials of St. Jerome by Thom Gabrukiewicz @tgabrukiewicz ~ Unspecified ~

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions): Angel Hair And Baby’s Breath by Al Bruno III @albruno3 ~ Horror ~

The new kid, Donny by Jim Bronyaur @jimbronyaur ~ Horror ~

The Nature of Power by Tiffany Herr @herrvoice ~ Literary ~

The Names by Marc Nash @ExisleMoll ~ Literary ~

The Mystery of the Witch’s Knickers by Alex Carrick @Alex_Carrick ~ Humor ~

The Lord Of The Manor by Kari Fay @morganafiolett ~ Unspecified ~

The Haunting of Nona by Shannon Esposito @soesposito ~ Suspense ~

The Great Chocolate Conspiracy: Episode 7 by Anne Tyler Lord @AnneTylerLord ~ Crime ~

The Giving by Rebecca Emin @RebeccaEmin ~ Unspecified ~

The Elevator by J. M. Strother @jmstro ~ Horror ~

The Egg by Chris Kelly @IndieChris ~ Fantasy ~ Debut

The Black and White Photograph by Eric J. Krause @ericjkrause ~ Horror ~

The Benton House by Jessica Rosen @jessrosenbooks ~ Unspecified ~

The Art of Blowing Bubbles by Adam Byatt @revhappiness ~ Slice of Life ~

The (R)Evolution of Smith by Katherine Nabity @katen ~ Unspecified ~

That Cold, Dark Womb of Stars by T.J. McIntyre @southernweirdo ~ Western ~

Temper by Laura Cummins @jacsmom ~ Slice of Life ~

Tattoo by S. May @yamnasus ~ Slice of Life ~

Swarm by Karen Schindler @karenfrommentor ~ Suspense ~

Starting Over by Danielle La Paglia @Dannigrrl5 ~ Slice of Life ~

SOMETHING BRAND NEW by Anthony Venutolo @bukowskisbaseme ~ Horror ~

Shedding by Emma Newman @emapocalyptic ~ Slice of Life ~

Shape Shifter Assassins by Mike Robertson @miker_lazlo ~ Science Fiction ~

Reach For It! by Harry B. Sanderford @Harry B. Sanderford ~ Humor ~

Rabbit Ears by Rachel Blackbirdsong @RBlackbirdsong ~ Literary ~

Possible Origins for Him. 7. by John Wiswell @Wiswell ~ Action ~

Picking up the tab by Steve Green @n/a ~ Horror ~

One Last Visit by Gracie Motley @gracecrone ~ Horror ~

One Last Drink by Nomar Knight @Nomar_Knight ~ Horror ~

Oh Super! by Annie Evett @AnnieEvett ~ Humor ~

Nocturnal Omissions by Maria Protopapadaki-Smith @mazzz_in_Leeds ~ Unspecified ~

Night and Day by Virginia Moffatt @VirginiaMoffatt ~ Unspecified ~

Needs Returned by Jason Warden @ShadowCastAudio ~ Horror ~

Necessities by Vandamir Windrider @Vandamir ~ Cross Genre ~

Minister of the Eyrie by Aidan Fritz @AidanFritz ~ Fantasy ~

Migraine by Sarah Hendrix @shadowflame1974 ~ Unspecified ~

Lunch With a Psychic by Kat Del Rio @katdelrio ~ Slice of Life ~

Larry Runs Away by John McDonnell @McDonnellWrite ~ Humor ~

Keep The Devil Close by Pamila Payne @mspamila ~ Unspecified ~

Just a Story by Laurita Miller @lauritamiller ~ Horror ~

It’s a Prison by Kat Del Rio @katdelrio ~ Unspecified ~

If You Build It by Nick Bryan @NickMB ~ Humor ~

Hysterica by Jason Sullivan @jas_chronicles ~ Unspecified ~ Debut

House-fishing: A Love Story by Carrie Clevenger @carrieclevenger ~ Romance ~

Homecoming by Amalia Dillin @AmaliaTd ~ Fantasy ~ Debut

Hia Breoedd Part 3 by James Tallett @thefourpartland ~ Fantasy ~

Her Smile by Michael J. Solender @mjsolender ~ Fantasy ~

Haf of HERO8 – Episode 3 by Keith Dugger @KeithDugger ~ Unspecified ~

Gnarly (another Claire Morgane tale) by Johanna Harness @johannaharness ~ Fantasy ~

Forever by Clive Martyn @clivem ~ Horror ~

Flintlock Roulette by Icy Sedgwick @icypop ~ Adventure ~

Fences by G. P. Ching @gpching ~ Horror ~

Don’t Touch That Dial by Rol Hirst @rolhirst ~ Horror ~

Departure by Anke Wehner @Anke ~ Fantasy ~

Damn Shame by Chris Hayes-Kossmann @ruzkin ~ Crime ~

Curiosity: a fairy tale in two parts (2) by Valerie Valdes @valerievaldes ~ Fantasy ~

Criminals by J.E. Ignatius McNeill @dreamrock ~ Adventure ~

Cool. by Daine Salmon @Sayer ~ Science Fiction ~

Comfort of Friends by Linda Simoni-Wastila @drwasy ~ Literary ~

Clockwork Pumpkins by Kate Frost @frostkat ~ Steampunk ~

Beating the Odds by T.S. Bazelli @tsbazelli ~ Humor ~

Among The Stalks by Melissa L. Webb @melissalwebb ~ Horror ~

Air by Elijah Toten @authoreit ~ Unspecified ~

Adventure! by Tony Noland @TonyNoland ~ Fantasy ~

Accident by A.S. Boudreau @ASBoudreau ~ Unspecified ~

A Bakers Dozen by Brainhaze @brainhazewp ~ Slice of Life ~

In The News

Just two items in the news this week, but they are both good ones.

Laurita Miller’s blog, Brain Droppings, has been nominated in the Best Culture & Literature category for the 2010 Canadian Blog Awards. The polls close at noon tomorrow, October 17th, so skedaddle on over there if you want to have any say in the matter. To vote click on the category title (Culture and Literature) and it will take you to the poll. Congratulations on the nomination, Laurita, you well deserve it. Here’s hoping for the very best.

Laura Eno released her newest book this week: Don’t Fall Asleep: A Dream Assassin Novel (Volume 1). Somehow I managed to sleep through the launch party at her blog, but it looks like everyone had a good time. Laura always throws a nice party. Don’t Fall Asleep  is available on Amazon here. Check it out. Congratulations, Laura!

The wrap

Thanks to all our readers. We love you. And please, if you enjoy a story leave comments when you visit. Writers love feedback almost as much as chocolate. Maybe more! Then go tell your friends to read it too. Help these writers grow.

You can subscribe to the #fridayflash hashtag (external link) on Twitter every week for more great flash fiction.

We’re on Facebook (external link) too.
~jon

 

Sorry this is so late. We celebrated the birthday of my youngest this weekend, she’ll be away at college when the actual date rolls around, then I had trouble connecting to my server. Yeah, I know — excuses, excuses. But there is no excuse for not having anything to read. We’ve got eighty-five stories this week, including four debuts. Please be sure to visit our debut authors: Emma Kerry, David D Sharp, CellatSea, and Dave Ashby-Styles. Please leave them a warm welcome in the form of a comment. Some freshly baked cookies might be nice too.

A few of these stories may be late arrivals from last week. I forgot to check until Wednesday. By then I figured it was too late to add them to the previous list, and held them for this week. Of course I wasn’t planning on being so late with the list. Sorry about that.

If you add a story late to the Collector it’s always wise to ping me with a DM on Twitter to call my attention to it. My gray cells aren’t what they used to be. If you had a story and it does not appear in this week’s listing, please visit the Collector and add it. See previous note on pinging me.

Don’t forget to check out the news section just below the listing. ~jon

The Stories

A Girl’s First Time by Melissa L. Webb @melissalwebb ~ Horror ~

A Sharing Hand by brainhaze @brainhazewp ~ Slice of Life ~

A Step Too Far by Rebecca Emin @RebeccaEmin ~ Science Fiction ~

A Walk by Laura Rachel Fox @lostlibrarygirl ~ Slice of Life ~

Alone by Deanna Schrayer @deannaschrayer ~ Cross Genre ~

Alpha & Omega by Shannon Esposito @soesposito ~ Literary ~

Are You My Wife by Rachel Carter @rachcarter ~ Literary ~

Armor by Lyn Thorne-Alder @LynThorneAlder ~ Fantasy ~

Around the world by Diandra Linnemann @LaCaffeinata ~ Slice of Life ~

Black Thursday by Christian Bell @christianbell37 ~ Unspecified ~

Bobby Jones by Carrie Clevenger @carrieclevenger ~ Historical ~

Brains and Skulls and Ringing Bells by Susan Cross @SusanJCross ~ Unspecified ~

Bright Hands by Stephen A. Watkins, Jr. @swatkinsjr ~ Fantasy ~

Broommates: Dead Man Talking by Valerie Valdes @valerievaldes ~ Fantasy ~

Came to say Hello by Denis Vaughan @inshin ~ Mystery ~

Candid Career by Susanna Khoo @susk ~ Unspecified ~

Contact by Neil Shurley @thatneilguy ~ Unspecified ~

Damn Headache by Linda Simoni-Wastila @drwasy ~ Literary ~

Death of Privilege by Michael J. Solender @mjsolender ~ Crime ~

Departures by Susanna David @sad19 ~ Humor ~

Dogfish by Maria Protopapadaki-Smith @mazzz_in_Leeds ~ Unspecified ~

Edgewise by Travis King @travisking ~ Unspecified ~

Employee Relations by Laura Eno @LauraEno ~ Fantasy ~

Epitaph by Wulfie @wulfshado ~ Horror ~

Fade Into You by Kat DelRio @katdelrio ~ Romance ~

Family Town, Part 1 by Gracie Motley @gracecrone ~ Suspense ~

Fever by India Drummond @IndiaDrummond ~ Fantasy ~

GOBLINS by Monica Marier @lil_monmon ~ Fantasy ~

Granddads Attic by Annie Evett @annieEvett ~ Slice of Life ~

Great Gams 5 by J. Dane Tyler @DarcKnyt ~ Suspense ~

Handsy by Tomara Armstrong @2maraA ~ Horror ~

Hexing the Sexing by Penny Goring @triplecherry ~ Literary ~

HIGH TIDE by Denise Covey @pichetsinparis ~ Literary ~

Hunting For Truffles by Marc Nash @ExisleMoll ~ Historical ~

Insight by J. M. Strother @jmstro ~ Suspense ~

Just like me by T.S. Bazelli @tsbazelli ~ Slice of Life ~

Killer invitation by Karen Schindler @karenfrommentor ~ Unspecified ~

Life Lessons by Vandamir Windrider @Vandamir ~ Magical Realism ~

Love on the Piccadilly Line by Emma Kerry @emma_kerry ~ Unspecified ~ Debut

Lucien and Serenna by Angie C. @techtigger ~ Fantasy ~

Marie & George: Walkies by Lena S. @DarthFormal ~ Slice of Life ~

Miss Grimmer by Penny Goring @triplecherry ~ Experimental ~

Modus Operandi by Donald Conrad @NoddlaNocdar ~ Horror ~

Monday by Rachel Blackbirdsong @RBlackbirdsong ~ Literary ~

Mr. Luck Goes Fishing by Katherine Nabity @katen ~ Fantasy ~

On the mudflats by Virginia Moffatt @VirginiaMoffatt ~ Unspecified ~

Perception by Anke Wehner @Anke ~ Fantasy ~

Phantom Pain by Walt White @waltw ~ Action ~

Pirates Don’t Play Easy by Catherine Russell @ganymeder ~ Fantasy ~

Princess Jenni, Hero to All by Eric J. Krause @ericjkrause ~ Unspecified ~

Remedy by Louise Dragon @WeezelWords ~ Horror ~

Ruby Tuesday by Cathy Olliffe @Matthiasville ~ Slice of Life ~

Semantic Memory by Leigh Barlow @LeighBarlow ~ Science Fiction ~

Shadows inside boxes by Jason Coggins @thehedgemonkey ~ Horror ~

Snow White Skin by Chris Blanchard @blanchardauthor ~ Fantasy ~

Something In The Attic by Icy Sedgwick @icypop ~ Fantasy ~

Spill Into Oil by John Wiswell @wiswell ~ Unspecified ~

SUITCASE TO ISTANBUL by Absolutely*Kate @AbsolutelyKate ~ Adventure ~

Switch by Lyn Thorne-Alder @LynThorneAlder ~ Fantasy ~

The Caveman in the Flower Bed by T.J. McIntyre @southernweirdo ~ Horror ~

The Death of Art by Jason Warden @ShadowCastAudio ~ Cross Genre ~

The Inheritance: Part 4: The Message by Isabel Joely Black @TheCharmQuark ~ Cross Genre ~

The Kitmvat Ritual by Lauren Cude @NA ~ Slice of Life ~

THE LOCAL HEROES: The Way Of The Ninja by Al Bruno III @albruno3 ~ Adventure ~

THE MERMAID by Monsterbat @n/a ~ Fantasy ~

The Mill by Elijah Toten @authoreit ~ Unspecified ~

The Pit by David D Sharp @aweeadventure ~ Suspense ~ Debut

The Sum of Jack and Me by Kemari Howell @Kemari ~ Literary ~

The Thirteenth by Jessica Rosen @jessrosenbooks ~ Unspecified ~

The Waiting Black Mariah by Alan W. Davidson @AW_Davidson ~ Crime ~

The Youth of Today by Jacky Fowler @JackyHSF ~ Slice of Life ~

They Can’t Kill Us All by Nomar Knight @Nomar_Knight ~ Horror ~

This Badge is a Pistol by CellatSea @cell_at_sea ~ Experimental ~ Debut

Tombstoning by Aidan Fritz @AidanFritz ~ Fantasy ~

TWENTY BUCKS by Anthony Venutolo @bukowskisbaseme ~ Literary ~

Two-Week Notice by Michelle Frank @wickedmoxie ~ Unspecified ~

UCF Stories #16: The Tome of Levelling (Part 1) by Sam Adamson @FutureNostalgic ~ Fantasy ~

Universal Warrior: Atherean Defenders Ep. 2: Angels of the Atherean by Avery K. Tingle @Ironman1176 ~ Fantasy ~

Unsung Hero by Peggy McFarland @peggywriter ~ Magical Realism ~

Why I’m Overweight by g.p. ching @GPChing ~ Slice of Life ~

Wicked Sun by Danielle La Paglia @Dannigrrl5 ~ Horror ~

Wind Over Water by Mike Robertson @miker_lazlo ~ Crime ~

Woman-Son by Alison Wells @alisonwells ~ Literary ~

Words of Wisdom from Ari Noshuns by Alex Carrick @Alex_Carrick ~ Humor ~

Wormhole by Dave Ashby-Styles @seekers_story ~ Science Fiction ~ Debut

In Other News

Karen Schindler had her poem, j, accepted for for inclusion in Fag Hag –A Scandalous Chapbook of Fabulously-Codependent Poetry. You can read all about it (and read j) on her blog, Miscellaneous Yammering. Congratulations, Karen.

Dan Powell’s story, Piece by Piece, was accepted in the Editor’s Challenge at Up the Staircase. It will appear in the August issue. Way to go, Dan!

It’s time to vote in Deanna Schrayer’s Birthday Writing Contest. Many of the #fridayflash community of writers are taking part, so tool on over there and vote for your favorite story. And wish Deanna a happy birthday while you’re at it. Happy Birthday, Deanna.

Michael Solender’s Dog Days of Summer Flash Writing Contest is still open at the Not. You have until August 15th to get your entries in. You have to be a follower of his blog, Not From Here, Are You? to enter, but otherwise it’s open to all.

The wrap

Thanks to all our readers. We love you. And please, if you enjoy a story leave comments when you visit. Writers love feedback almost as much as chocolate. Maybe more! Then go tell your friends to read it too. Help these writers grow.

You can subscribe to the #fridayflash hashtag (external link) on Twitter every week for more great flash fiction.

We’re on Facebook (external link) too.
~jon

 

Part 1 (to start at the beginning)

The Client
The Butler

Part 2

The Associate
The Notebook

Part 3

The Cop
The Reporter

Part 4

The Boss
The Old Flame

Part 5

The Maid

I tooled on over to #17 to see what the results of my little conversation with the insurance agent would be. I parked on Oakwood, just around the corner, where I could keep a discrete eye on the driveway. Sure enough, before long Mr. Marino showed up, raising a cloud of dust as he whipped up the drive. He slid to a stop and flew out of the car and about bolted to the front door. I found it interesting that he didn’t need to knock – he let himself in with his own key. Hmm.

I wasn’t particularly surprised when my cell phone rang a few minutes later.

“Mann.”

“Mr. Mann?” It was Mrs. Jones. She sounded upset.

“Yes ma’am?”

“I’d like to talk to you.” Her voice was low and forced, like she was trying to keep control. Mr. Marino must have told her of my suspicions.

“Sure, ma’am. Talk away.”

“Not on the phone!”

“OK. You want me to drop by?”

“No.” That was definite. “Where are you? Are you at your office?”

“No ma’am, I’m out in the field following up some leads.”

“Well, I want to see you. Now.”

“Oh jeeze, ma’am. ‘Fraid I can’t get back to the office before, oh, three o’clock. Well, maybe two-thirtyish.” I looked at my watch. It was just before noon. I figured if I gave them some time to stew, they might do something foolish that I could follow up on.

“Two-thirty! Where on earth are you?”

“I’m heading out I-85 to see a man about a dog,” I lied.

“What?”

“Bruno.”

“What?”

“Best scent hound east of the Mississippi, ma’am. Bruno’s out on a farm in mid-state. I think he could help us find your husband. You do still want me to find your husband, don’t you?”

“Well, of course. Well, no. Why yes!” She was obviously flustered. “That is to say, I want my husband found, of course.” Ah. The subtext there was pretty obvious. Found, but not by me. She was going to fire my ass.

“I see,” I said. “Well, if I hurry, I can get back by two-thirty. Of course, any speeding tickets count towards expenses.” The phone clicked off in my ear. I hung up and watched the front door.

The door opened and Mr. Marino stepped out onto the stoop. Mrs. Jones stood on the threshold, and they talked – heads close together. Then she leaned forward and gave him a long and deep felt hug. As she closed the door he turned and dashed back to his car. He wasted no time hitting the road, again raising a cloud of dust. I put the key in the ignition, figuring to follow him when a car suddenly came out from behind the house. It was Mrs. Jones, driving her Mercedes. Unlike Mr. Marino, she seemed to be in no particular hurry. She turned the other way on Park and then, to my dismay, turned left onto Oakwood. I slunk down in my seat as she drove by, but she didn’t seem to have noticed me. Whew. That was close.

Now what to do? Follow Mr. M, or Mrs. Jones? Marino had already passed out of sight, so I figured I’d best follow Mrs. Jones. So once again I put the key to the ignition. Once again I stopped before firing her up. Another car was coming down the driveway!

This was one I hadn’t seen before, a late model Buick. It was driven by none other than my old friend Robert, and he seemed to be in a hurry. He squealed out onto Park and headed off in yet a third direction. Hell! What to do, what to do?

Then a thought struck me. This would be a great time to search the house.

#

I could see through the side panel beside the door that the security alarm had not been armed. They had all been in such a rush to leave they hadn’t bothered with it. That made my life simple. I tried the door knob, but it was locked. So I headed for the back door, where I was less likely to be seen. If Murphy couldn’t pin a homicide on me he’d be perfectly willing to settle for breaking and entering.

To my delight I found the back door was not even locked. I knocked, very lightly, just so I could say that I knocked, and pushed the door open. The kitchen was empty so I slid in as quiet as a cat. As I tried to close the door behind me I bobbled one of my crutches. To my dismay it clattered across the tiled floor. I winched and waited, but the house remained silent. So I closed the door and struggled to retrieve my crutch, trying not to bend too much in the middle. My ribs screamed in silent protest.

Once I was recrutched I considered what to do next. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, so I had no real plan of action. I’d just go over the whole place quickly and see if anything jumped out at me. I decided to start in the study, mostly because it was the one room in the house that I had seen before.

The study was sparsely furnished, lots of books, a desk and chair, and a few other scatterings of furniture. I went to the desk. It was locked. I decided against forcing it and browsed over the books on the shelves. Unlike the books at Mr. Jones’ bookstore, these were fine books indeed. Most were leather bound with titles like The Iliad, The Works of Shakespeare, A Tale of Two Cities and the like. No cheap mysteries or romances here. I pulled down a gilt-edged tome titled Hard Times by Charles Dickens. I flipped it open to the title page and saw it was printed in London by Bradbury & Evans in 1704. I don’t know Jack about rare books, but I’d be willing to bet this baby was a first edition.

“Who the hell are you?”

I about jumped out of my skin and the book went flying. I grabbed for it and bobbled it two or three times before snatching it from mid air. I whirled around to face a heavy set black woman in a white uniform, losing my crutches in the move. I was busted. By the maid.

“Mann. Max Mann.” I had to talk fast before she called the cops. “Mrs. Jones hired me to find her husband.” She folded her arms and scowled, unimpressed. “I dropped by to talk to Mrs. Jones and… well it looks like she’s out, so I thought I’d read a book while I waited for her to get back.”

She marched across the room and firmly removed the book from my grasp. She inspected it, wiped off the binding as if I had contaminated it, and carefully put it back on the shelf. She turned to find me struggling to bend down for my crutches. Bless the woman for she took pity on me, picked them up, and handed them back. “Well if you mess up her books she’ll fire your sorry ass. Damn, she doesn’t like anyone messing with her books.”

“These are hers?”

She folded her arms again and looked at me like I was stupid.

“I just thought… well with the bookstore and all…”

“Hell no. Mr. Jones don’t know a first edition from the Sunday paper.” She lovingly caressed the spine of Hard Times with her rag and smiled. “Oh, he buys ‘em for her all right, but it’s Mrs. Jones that finds ‘em. On the web. Yea, she do love her books.”

“She reads these?”

“What the hell do you think? Of course she doesn’t read them. Hell, she’d get her finger oils on the pages. Shit mister, that book costs over a thousand dollars. You don’t read books like that!”

“Oh.” I decided to change the subject. “So tell me, um… I’m sorry. What’s your name?”

“Helen.”

“So tell me, Helen, do you know when Mrs. Jones will be back?”

She shrugged. “Hard to say. You just missed her. She had to run out to the store to get another steamer trunk.”

“A steamer trunk?”

“Yea. She’s gonna take a trip and damned if one of the steamer trunks isn’t missing.”

A lump formed in my stomach.

“A trip?”

“Yea. She’s going on a cruise. With Mr. Marino.”

“Oh?” Now wasn’t that interesting.

#

I headed back to the office convinced Mrs. Jones had killed her husband and was now preparing to flee the country. According to the maid, she and the insurance agent were going on a ten day Caribbean cruise. Due to leave the day after tomorrow. They could drop out of site at any port along the way and never be seen again. Just one thing bothered me. Why the hell did she hire me?

The Sister

I swung by Carl’s for a burger and fries before heading back to the office. I had plenty of time on my hands, since I wasn’t expecting Mrs. Jones till around 2:30. So I took my time and had an extra cup of coffee. As I sat there drinking my joe, I ran over the facts in my head. Over and over. And the more I looked at it the more I began to think my old buddy Cliff was right. But no dame was going to stick me for a murder I didn’t commit. Still, I’d have to be careful and watch out for the set up.

I killed a little more time so that I could get back to the office fashionably late. After all, I was supposed to be out in the field. If Mrs. J showed up early I didn’t want to have to explain why I was already there.

I drove past the office and sure enough the red Mercedes was parked out front. Nobody in it. I drove around to the alley and parked in my usual spot out back. I would have liked to hoof it up the back stairs to make a show of trying to be on time, but my leg thought better of it and I grabbed the elevator instead.

She was waiting for me out in the hallway. She whirled around at the sound of the elevator dinging. I hustled out, but before I could say anything she closed the gap between us and took a slap at my face.

I grabbed her wrist in mid swing, and to heck with the crutches. This dame had slapped me once. She wasn’t going to get away with it a second time. “What the hell is that all about!” I panted.

She struggled to free herself and tried to slap me again. Again, I caught her wrist and this time she let loose like a bobcat, flailing at me wildly with both hands. I had a good hundred pounds on her, and there was no way she was going to get to me. She tried a knee to the groin, but expecting it, I turned my hip in time and blocked her. She stopped as suddenly as she had started and all at once collapsed against my chest, bursting out in tears.

Now I felt awkward and helpless. Mrs. Arens, the accountant across the hall opened the door to see what all the ruckus was. I gave her a hapless look while Mrs. Jones continued to weep into my chest. Mrs. Arens retreated with a slam of the door.

“Come on, lady, what’s this all about?” I cajoled.

“You… you,” she gasped between sobs. “You’re a beast, Mr. Mann!”

I held her away from me and looked her in the eye. “And how ya figure that?” I asked.

“I talked to Alex,” she was finally beginning to compose herself again. She jerked away, and tidied herself, daubing at her eyes. “He told me what you said.”

“I see,” I said.

“How could you?” Her face began clouding up again. I made a move towards the office hoping to avoid another scene out in the hallway. “Alex told me that you think I killed my husband!” She gasped for air and managed not to cry.

“Well, ma’am, I’ve got to consider all the possibilities.”

“All the possibilities!” she shrieked. Several of the office doors popped open and heads poked out. I tried to shush her, but she would have none of that. “All the possibilities! How could you? How could you even think it! He’s my husband, Mr. Mann. And I love him very much.”

“All right, I understand.”

“No you don’t! And then,” she got even louder, “you accuse me of sleeping with Alex!” Her arm tightened and I could see another slap coming. But she managed to restrain herself. Barely.

“Well, ma’am, you gotta admit it looks a little suspicious…”

“What looks a little suspicious?” she demanded.

“Well, you and Alex seem to go way back,” I said. “Through three husbands, it seems. And he seemed mighty at home by the pool the other day. And now you’re going on a cruise together? Come on. What am I supposed to think?”

“You men are all the same!” Her lip began to tremble again. Tears were welling up in her eyes. “Your minds are in the gutter.”

“I see.”

“No, you don’t see, Mr. Mann. You can’t see beyond your tawdry little…” Tears began flowing and she collapsed against my chest. She looked up into my face with the most wounded look I think I’ve ever seen on a person. “He’s my brother, Mr. Mann!”

You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.

#

I finally got her into the office and managed to calm her down. I apologized to her for accusing her of sleeping with her brother, and tried to explain that seeing as I did not have all the facts, it just looked pretty bad. Then I asked her about the sudden Caribbean cruise. She explained that there was nothing sudden about it at all. She and her brother always took a Caribbean cruise around this time of year and had booked the tickets months ago. Seems Murphy had already questioned her about the cruise and by the tone of her voice I could tell she did not think much of my pal. But he had cleared her to go. Evidently Murphy was satisfied that she was not a risk to flee. Again, I explained that I had not had all the facts, so things looked bad, and told her she could have been a little more forthcoming and have avoided all this discomfort. At length we hashed out all our differences and she rose to go. She looked around the office and seemed a little puzzled.

“Well, where’s the dog?” she asked.

“The dog?”

“Bruno. Aren’t you going to bring him over to the house to get the scent?”

“You want me to bring Bruno over to the house?”

“Oh course, Mr. Mann. I want you to find my husband.”

Man, was I confused.

~

Next week – Chapter’s 11 & 12: The Beagle, and The Waitress

Just two more installments. Yet to come: Part 5 – The Beagle, and The Waitress; and Part 6 – The Collar

You can find other exciting serialized fiction on the web via the #TuesdaySerial tag on Twitter, or visit Inspired by Real Life, for a weekly listing.
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