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A moment to breathe (Friday Fictioneers)


PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

I often sit on these stairs. Freezing sure. But peaceful too. There’s a thick silence that falls over you when the air is cold and snow coats the ground. A moment of reflection. When I sit out here I don’t hear the screams or the thwack of skin contact. I just hear my own heartbeat, see my breath fog the air.

Everyone says being a superhero must be so exciting. The danger, the rush…

The bruises might heal quickly but I still feel them.

In the distance I hear a plea for help.

I stand up. Gotta go to work.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word count: 100

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Don’t fall asleep (Friday Fictioneers)


PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Silence.

My blood pounds. My heart thumps inside my chest. My breath is tiny gasps… too fast.

That’s the fear talking.

I clutch the wooden stake tighter, feeling splinters dig into my skin. In my other hand, I take refuge in my cross. I feel its shape press into my fingers like a brand.

All week the creature has not stirred. It took three babes last month. We swore it would take no more and have alternated the watch since.

Tonight, I watch.

Cold air chills the nape of my neck. I shiver.

A roar shakes the cobblestones.

It comes.

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

Word Count: 100

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Truth Hurts (Friday Fictioneers)


PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio

You could hear the crackle as flames consumed log after log, stick after stick.

We’ve been out here a while.

Since the landing.

Since they came.

The kids still think it’s a game. Camping with the whole town. “Everyone’s here, mom.”

Not everyone.

We hadn’t told them yet. Well, how could you? Everything has changed. No city, no government, no law. Everyone in town was just … gone. How do you tell them that? When they know it’s where Dad works.

Shit. I’m getting teary again. No use crying.

“Let’s go get more wood, mom.”

How do I tell them.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word count: 100

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Review: Uncanny Collateral by Brian McClellan

About the Book:

Alek Fitz is a reaper, a collection agent who works for the supernatural elements of the world, tracking down debtors and solving problems for clients as diverse as the Lords of Hell, vampires, Haitian loa, and goblins. He’s even worked for the Tooth Fairy on occasion. Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, Alek is the best in the game. As a literal slave to his job, he doesn’t have a choice.

When Death comes looking for someone to track down a thief, Alek is flung into a mess of vengeful undead, supernatural bureaucracy, and a fledgling imp war. As the consequences of failure become dire, he has few leads, and the clock is ticking. Only with the help of his friend Maggie—an ancient djinn with a complex past—can he hope to recover the stolen property, save the world, and just maybe wring a favor out of the Great Constant himself.

It’s a hell of a job, but somebody’s got to do it . . .

My Thoughts:

Read it now. I’m serious. This is a great novella that I wish was a heck of a lot longer.

Unique, clever, different. Its a buddy supernatural mystery that has all the best elements and none of the drag. Great fight scenes, creepy twists. Tight writing and brilliant characterisation. I thoroughly recommend it. I sure hope there is more coming in this world. If you like a darker supernatural story (with hints of the Dresden Files and The Burned Man series) then this is for you.

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One shot in the dark (Friday fictioneers)


PHOTO PROMPT© Sandra Crook

The gunshot echoed through the warehouse.

“Run.”

“No, I want to stay with you.”

She snapped her gaze to him. “I said move.”

Clearly her glare was more motivational than her words. Ted nodded and slipped from her side.

Now she could focus on the shooter. If he thought he’d stop her reaching the loom he had another thing coming. That fleece was hers. Or it would be, soon enough.

She ducked low and crept forward, her own weapon gripped tightly.

A shout, a shot, a scream.

Damn it. Ted was supposed to leave.

She ran back to save him.

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

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Word count: 100

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A rant about stuff

Ugh, it’s not often I feel the need to rant, but a few things have annoyed me this week and have put me in a mood. My rage needs an outlet. Don’t @ me. If you don’t want to read – don’t 🙂

I usually stay pretty positive on my blog… but I’m grumpy.

Two things set me off, I guess you could say and if you ARE reading this but think, nah… no rants for me today thanks, feel free to skip over and read some of my fiction stories. Enjoy… If you want to know more about what set me off, read on.

  • “Girl’s books”
  • Reading an article about getting rid of libraries at school

OK. First dot point first. I had a lovely conversation today about early readers and middle grade readers and kids who are more advanced readers than their ages predict they should be and kids who are a little behind in their reading. In the course of the conversation I heard a comment that I have overheard many times at bookshops and libraries, and it never fails to get me hot under the collar. I was told that it was hard to give a book about a girl character as a gift to a little boy because the dad has said in the past…

“He said… “You can’t read that… it’s a girl’s book.”

Cue screech of breaks as I jump to my feet, soapbox under my arm… Say what now?

In Australia and many countries around the world there is a “misogyny” problem or a “family violence” problem or a “violence against women” problem. And there is a current drive to “fix” this problem by education…

Here is some education for you. When a person says to a four/five year old boy that the book he picked to read is “a girl’s book” you are telling them three things.

  • You are different to a girl
  • You are better than a girl
  • You don’t want to be a girl because…girl’s are bad

GASP…. But all I said was that it was a book about princesses or unicorns or mommies and he wouldn’t want to read that…

Lets look at that…

  • A book about princesses, unicorns or mommies… a book about a girl
  • He wouldn’t want to read it.

HE PICKED THE BOOK TO READ…

HE WANTED TO READ IT

Now Little Ben, or John or Victory who is holding his book about a girl thinks he did the WRONG thing. So in his head a girl’s book = bad

Not only are you projecting your belief of what he will be interested in onto him but now he is thinking he made a mistake. All he wanted to do was read the book, with you, and he feels he has “disappointed” you.

Girls are the same, but you might find more girls are happy to read a book about a boy than the other way around.

I gave a panel talk once and I asked the question, “How many children’s books/picture books do you have at home or that you have bought for someone else’s kid (BOY OR GIRL) that have a girl main character. Not a secondary character… but main character (And I’m counting animals books… are the animals female or male?) Picture books are generally pretty wide spread but MG for 6 to 8 year olds and 8 to 12. Do a search and see.

Its getting better in book stores and by publishers. But what about you? What do you have at home?

Do you buy a range of books? Do you have both girl led and boy led books? When you buy a book as a gift… do you choose girl led books as often as boy led books?

When you read little Johnny or Qing to sleep, do you mix it up and read about girls as much as boys?

Then I asked the question.

Is the child you are reading to a girl or a boy?

Does this change the book you read… why?

SOOOOOO many girls read and are read books about boys… But when you turn the tables, how many little boys are read books about girls?

See, this is the thing. Parents of little boys – I love you. I do, but you gotta step up. From birth. Are you reading books about boys AND girls? Remember little Ben who was told “Don’t read a girl’s book?” This is what he hears…

  • You are different to a girl
  • You are better than a girl
  • You don’t want to be a girl because…girl’s are bad

And politicians and teachers and parents wonder why we have societal issues where women are fighting to be seen and be equal?

Gee – I wonder where they get that from?

Don’t decide what your kid will want to read… let them decide… then read it with them… and SHARE the joy of reading! Let them spend this happy time with you, cuddled to your side, having an adventure WITH YOU… just don’t tell them what they want to read because YOU don’t want to read their choice.

Many many times a small child 1 – 3 yrs… boy or girl… will pick a book that looks cool, to have their special mommy or daddy time reading 1 on 1… NOT because of the girl or boy on the cover (not until they learn which books are bad or good because of what we tell them.)

Here is a task… check your book shelves…

Wait… Do you have books and bookshelves? Please tell me you do.

Books teach empathy and put the reader into the HEAD of a character. If all of those characters are boys… How do you expect them to see the girls in their lives?

How do you expect them to treat the girls in their lives?

WHOA!

Yes, that is what you are saying…. every time time you make that comment. “It’s a girl’s book” or “It’s a boy’s book” You are telling them the other is what they are not, so whatever they are must be bad.

Cause guess what… ? Girls hear that too.

  • You are different to a boy
  • You shouldn’t read “boy’s books” – WHY? Why are girls books different to boys books? They aren’t… but suddenly I think they are.

And when they see there are SO MANY more boys books? They hear “It’s not important for you to read about yourself. Read about a boy. Because boys are better…” I wanted to read about knights and monsters and dinosaurs when I was little… Not many girls books about that way back when – thank HECK this is changing. Is it little wonder I grew up wishing I was a boy?

Don’t forget

Kids don’t have money of their own. They have birthday money (perhaps) or gift cards or an allowance. They rely on OTHERS for cash, right? So, in many cases, kids are unable to buy the books they want to read. Which means relying on grandma or uncle Bob or mom and dad or aunt Jilly to BUY them books to read. YOU ARE CHOOSING THESE BOOKS FOR THEM… So what are YOU choosing?

What are you telling them by your choice?

What about the library…?

In a library… LET THEM CHOOSE the books they want to borrow.

Don’t critique their choices. Don’t cast judgement. Don’t let them hear you tell them they are making a BAD choice.

And to the parents and grandparents and friends and authors who DO do this, who buy books of all kinds and promote reading to their kids, who are excited to share any book with their child… I LOVE you. Keep being awesome. And talk to your friends and family. Keep this awesome going and pay it forward!

SIGH – First rant over – BUY BOTH and READ BOTH 🙂 That’s all I’m saying.

RANT TWO

I am ALL for STEM. In fact, I am a big fighter and supporter for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for EVERYONE… girls and boys.

But getting “rid” of libaries? UGH! The article below really got me steamed.

And perhaps not in the way you might think. You can read the full article at the link below. Before you read my opinion of it. And of course – feel free to form your own opinion. 🙂 I actually don’t have a problem with the article itself but what it signifies on a broader level. I am seeing this more and more, Getting “rid” of libraries. It’s hip right? ugh! NO NO NO. Local municipalities are doing it, schools (private and public) are doing it. It’s just bad, bad bad.

What the what?

Look, I am all for open learning, and self driven learning. I am all for group work and ethics and anti-bullying, social studies, staying safe on line courses, creative thinking, science, biology, sport… I am all for STEM and study time and robotics (cool). I think kids should be empowered to “have a conversation” and so on, and hey, it looks like the kids at this school are doing great, so, yay for that. And yes… This is a private school so… well… I guess if you want to pay for exclusive and think that no libraries is all about better learning, then yay, go you and all your lovely money.

But think about what this means.

A library has a RANGE of books, that children and adults can BROWSE in their own time. And the books that INTEREST them may not be the books that are a part of the “significant selection of fiction and non-fiction books” They may be the books that only interest a select few. They may be books that teach kids about other kinds of thinking. They may be comics, or magazines, or graphic novels, or LGBTQI or religious or POC, or westerns or sci fi or fantasy or classic. And what about history books! OMG! and geography… kids don’t even know where they live these days! And politics? Okay, yeah… tough crowd. Kids maybe be at a higher reading level or a lower reading level for those who are slower to develop. Or English as a second language. Books might be silly, or comedic or… ah, I could go on. My point being, libraries are a place to see things you may not have thought about, or known you want to know about until you see it.

They replaced the library with a…

“learning centre” where students can discuss ideas and learn technology, such as 3D printers and robotics.” “If you think about it, you don’t need to go to a library to do research and you don’t need a librarian to talk to you about interesting literature or books.” “ While the school still offers a significant collection of fiction and non-fiction books, librarians have been replaced with “change adopters” who host discussions …” (Snipped directly from the article “Schools that excel: No detentions, no libraries, no problems for this girls’ school” written by By Charlotte Grievein the Sydney Morning Herald 25th March 2019 if you didn’t read it…) Hyperlink to the article is above.

We have a problem with reading in this country! Adults and children are not learning how to read… Gee… taking the books out of the libraries should help that. (Written with heavy, heavy sarcasm.) Some of these kids don’t have books at home or have never seen one! Parents both work… when when can they read?

REMOVING libraries means removing a kid or an adult’s time to explore, time to research, time to choose, time to direct their own learning. If you have a massive range of covers to choose from then you can choose to read about anything you like. SEEING the covers will peak interest, will grow a fascination, will aid in the ability to see difference. Having a “significant collection” is great but WHERE are the kids going to find them? If they are not IN the library, where exactly are they going to PUT the “significant” books? In a corridor? Where do the kids SEE them? Are the “significant selection” of books hidden in a basement? and WHO chooses what is significant? Taking away the Librarian too? OMG don’t even get me started. You don’t need a librarian to talk about literature and books? SAY WHAT?

So who (other than your English or Lit teacher – who is in the middle of class where there is a set curriculum to get through, writing skills, word choice, naplan testing to prepare for, class discussions on bullies, and fake news and how to spot persuasive texts, bias… I could go on) do they have time to talk to about the different types of texts? Who do you ask about history and research and how to FIND what they are looking for? To understand plagiarism and how to correctly reference your material? To tell you a good book to read about space or horses or magic? Who is there to ask? When there are no librarians only “change adopters?” or STEM specialists – who can teach you about coding or robotics, or web-design (which again – awesome) Can these “change adopters” help you with your homework or how to read?

Cause guess what… The English teacher is busy enough with the standard school material they have to teach, individual learning plans, reports, sport, meetings, H&S training, how to use an epipen, school emergency drills, camp, athletics day and so on (and probably way way more?)

Libraries are for EVERYONE… and are used for many different things, but primarily to explore and learn.

For private schools perhaps this is not a big issue but for some kids, school libraries are the only place they can go to find a book.

These days room decorators and cleaning shows are all about “throwing out the books” These days kids DON’T have books at home. Sure they have tablets or phones. But do they have the money to purchase an e-book for their phone or tablet? Not many have that kind of disposable income. Or a credit card for that matter. They rely on parents for that. More choice being taken away from kids. How do they get their hands on it?

A library or a school library is a place where kids can go to choose their own books. Not books that are gifted to them, where they are told to read what the well-meaning gifter “thinks they would like.”

Getting “rid” of libraries is getting “rid” of so much more than “just books” its getting rid of choice and identity and help, and making it hard for low income people to HAVE choice or help or just a place to go.

Rant over but continue the discussion if you want to. 😁

Be kind to each other.

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Holiday (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

I wondered if it was the colors or the drugs? It was possibly both. Everything swirled and juked, danced in a spirally wave that was certainly not natural. Unless it was?

Holidays on Earth were trippy. It was my second visit, but there was so much to see You couldn’t capture it all on one trip. I dangled the semi-conscious human from my arm. “Do I get another prize?”

The carnie stared wide eyed. Perhaps he didn’t understand. I shook the body. “Another prize? Maybe an old human this time?”

He pointed.

“Oh, yes. Excellent.” I loped toward the screaming.

 

 

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt post

Word count: 100

STILL IN BIRTHDAY WEEK!!!

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Review: All Systems Down (Cyber War) by Sam Boush

About the Book:

24 hours.
That’s all it takes.
A new kind of war has begun.

***

Pak Han-Yong’s day is here. An elite hacker with Unit 101 of the North Korean military, he’s labored for years to launch Project Sonnimne: a series of deadly viruses set to cripple Imperialist infrastructure.

And with one tap of his keyboard, the rewards are immediate.

Brendan Chogan isn’t a hero. He’s an out-of-work parking enforcement officer and one-time collegiate boxer trying to support his wife and children. But now there’s a foreign enemy on the shore, a blackout that extends across America, and an unseen menace targeting him.

Brendan must do whatever it takes to keep his family safe.

In the wake of the cyber attacks, electrical grids fail, satellites crash to earth, and the destinies of nine strangers collide.

Strangers whose survival depends upon each other’s skills and courage.

 

My thoughts:

Oh my freaking gosh… okay so apart from the nightmares I started having after only reading a few chapters? What a terrific and terrifying book.

Sam Boush has scared the daylights out of me. There is nothing more scary than life as we know it ending in an instant. Power out for a few hours? We all deal with that… but what if it’s out for days on end… Everywhere? What else stops if we have no power? I hadn’t realized and now I kinda wish I didn’t know.

Add to that no internet and I can’t think of a more apocalyptic tale with a greater power to scare.

This multi point of view story is well layered. The POV scenes and settings well written and characters deeply developed. The characters are all believable. Their behaviors terrifyingly real and the world is described as it is today. Which is scary in its own right. Because I can’t imagine what I would do in such a situation.

How quickly do we as a world and we as a people become monsters given the right set of circumstances? It’s a horrible question that plays out in this story.

I do not want this to happen.

But I believe it could.

Read it now…

 

 

The Butterfly Stone – Another review

And just to even things out – here’s a lovely review for The Butterfly Stone

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