Flash Fiction Friday: Drowned


Above and below and inside me. Tendrils grasp at my hair, my arms and legs, pull me ever deeper. My chest is surrounded by a thousand pounds of nothing and everything, all at the same time. Pressure so intense, my lungs will burst at any second, will finally put me out of this misery. Will finally send me to a watery grave.

I open my eyes, which is exactly what I don’t want to do. The world around me is fuzzy and dark, except for that one bright spot, the one my body insists on fighting toward. It would have been so much easier to just die, to give up and relieve this agony inside my chest. But no. My skin forces my Will to comply, to urge itself toward that stupid light.

And then…


Swallows me whole and burns my lungs and screams at me to wake from the dream. The one where I am sure I will die.

I’m alive.

Frigid liquid clings to my limbs, mocks my stubbornness at life. At my attempt to survive. I kick and punch and gasp. That ridiculous brightness laughs from above, like it knows my future, my past. My present.

On instinct my body flips and folds, as I search for the boat that carried me. The one that sank. The one that left me alone in the middle of the ocean. It is nowhere in sight, in a hurry to find a new home on the bottom of the sea.


“Hello there.”

I twist, blinded once more by the sun.

A lifeboat floats beside me, a man twenty-four or forty-six or sixty-eight, inside. He reaches to me, sun darkened skin covered in sweat or water or a combination of both. My hand–the traitor–reaches back before my brain can tell it, ‘No!’

He grunts, and heaves, his muscles in a quiver. Unsteady. Uncertain. Unspoken trust for a stranger. My body falls inside, pain an echo through my elbows and knees as I bump and jostle the wood planks of the floor. I roll over. Breathe.

My heart races, fingers and toes buzz, vision fades in and out.

“Th-thank you,” I whisper. My eyes close and I rest my head on the bottom of the boat.

“Not sure that I can offer much help.” His voice is gravelly, like it hasn’t been used in years.

I blink, sit up. “B-but, you saved me. Of course you helped…”

Melancholy does a waltz across his brow. His shoulders slump. “Only prolonged the inevitable, really.”

A breeze whips across my back, chills my clothes to my skin. “What do you mean? You’re here to rescue me, aren’t you?”

The man shakes his head. “I’m sorry but no. I saw your boat, thought that maybe you would be the one to save me.” He swallows. “You see, I’m stranded, too. I’ve been floating here for days.

“We’re alone out here. Your boat was our only hope.”


©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016


Photo credit Unsplash by Padurariu Alexandru

Author Interview: Kelly F. Barr

This week I had the privilege of interviewing Kelly F. Barr! I met her at Scribes Oasis, a writing group we were both part of in Lancaster, PA. We became fast friends and I’ve valued her encouragement and inspiration in the time that I’ve known her. Welcome Kelly!


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Lancaster County, PA, and I still live there with my husband, three boys and our black Labrador Retriever. I am a homeschool mom of three wonderful boys, although two have already graduated from our homeschool and moved on, one to college and one to a Bible school. I love to read, take photographs, and write fictional stories. I love spending time with my family playing games, watching movies, talking or taking walks or family vacations. I love the Lord and hope that he will use my writing to touch other people’s hearts and lives. Lastly, one of my dreams is to live on Chincoteague Island, Virginia.

At what age were you bitten by the writing ‘bug’?

I began to like to write when I was assigned to write a “Pioneer Journal” in 5th grade, so I would’ve been ten years old. However, I didn’t really start doing a lot of writing until I was 12+. My seventh grade English teacher said that I had writing talent and told my mom to encourage me in my writing. I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories in my teen years and dreamed of becoming a published author one day.

Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: The Bookstore

Dust mites play on waves of sunlight. The few sharp rays that cut through the dirty window are a spotlight on weathered bindings of ancient books. The used bookstore is a hole in the wall, set in the most remote part of downtown, off the most remote back alley I can find. Books explode off each shelf, tower in stacks against each wall. It’s a wonder anyone can find this place.

But somehow I did.

I mill around the musty section in the back, “Gardening” and “Self-Help.” Gardening can be considered therapeutic, I guess. A tickle in my nose demands that I leave this place at once, but the treasure of an undiscovered bookstore won’t allow it. Another tickle and I stifle a sneeze.

“Bless you,” comes a male voice from the next aisle over.

A gasp catches in my throat and my heart speeds. I’m not alone down here?

“Thank you,” I mumble, then shove my nose back into the offending pages.

“Looking for Romance?” he says again.

I blink. “Excuse me?”

He laughs. “I mean, are you looking for a romance novel?”

My cheeks burn and suddenly I’m happy he’s a whole aisle over. “Oh.” I tilt the book in my hand. Construction of Castles and Cathedrals. Nope, definitely not romance. “Erm…art.” Architecture is considered art, right?

“If you like medieval stuff, there’s a good one over here. About a knight and a maiden. Castles, too, of course.” The humor in his voice makes my belly twist and warm. This guy sounds cute.

I shove the book I hold back on the shelf and take a step.

“That is, if you enjoy romance.” The man’s voice is forceful.

I wince and stop in my tracks. Did he not want to meet me? Why invite me over, only to scare the heebie-jeebies out of me? “Uh, yeah. I’m down for a good romance, once in a while.” I clear my throat.


“Mind if I come over?”


Okay, this is weird now.

I walk around the corner. The aisle is empty. Other than the million books that line each side of it. My brow pushes together and stomach sinks. Well, Mr. Cute Guy certainly isn’t interested in anything long term.

A book sits on top of all the rest, slipped neatly against the top of the shelf, but stuck out just enough to catch my eye. I pick it up. The Knight and His Maiden. Well, that guy was literal in his description.

I crinkle my nose and put it back, turn to leave–

“You sure you don’t want the book?” His voice again.

My feet spin in place. Nothing. No one. Not a single soul here. My heart pounds in confusion.

“Take the book. I think you’ll find you need it.”

I reach out, take it in my hand. Flip open the cover.

“Wise decision.”

My jaw drops.

The book holds the voice of my companion.


©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016


Photo credit Unsplash Eli Francis

Book Review: A TIME TO RISE by Nadine Brandes

Here it is! My official review of “A Time to Rise” by Nadine Brandes, the final book in the “Out of Time” series! It releases THIS FRIDAY! So read on to hear all about it, and then get your running shoes on so you can run to the bookstore and buy it!

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What more can you sacrifice than your life?

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least…that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world? Continue reading

Flash Fiction: The Woman in the Mirror

There’s an old lady staring at me. I’ve tried to ignore her, but each time I glance out the corner of my eye, I see her staring. Watching. Planning something behind those hollow eyes.

So I don’t look.

The room is strange. White and sterile with a scent of something stringent. It must be a hospital room, I conclude. But how did I get here?

Jason. I’d been in the front yard with my brother, Jason, playing a game of ball. But I must’ve fallen asleep because I just woke up and I woke up here. In this white place that smells like things that are clean. Too clean. So clean it hurts my nose.

I shift in my bed and the same ache I felt earlier screams through my bones, echoes in each muscle. Why do I hurt so badly?

A turn of my head and a glimpse of movement. There she is again, that old lady with the salt and pepper hair and skin so sallow she could almost be translucent. Stop staring. Stop looking, I want to say. But I don’t. I don’t even swallow. My throat feels raw, like I forgot to drink for a million years.

Then a click and a swish. The door opens. A tall man dressed in more white with a stethoscope around his neck enters. Definitely a hospital. What the heck did Jason do with that stupid ball?

“Christi,” he says. He knows my name.

I open my mouth but the croak that leaps out doesn’t make sense, rips more pain throughout my already weakened body. He grabs a glass of water from the side table and quickly rushes to set it to my lips.

“Here, this will help.” His smile is kind, lined. So much like Dad’s….

“Mom–” I finally choke out.

He sucks in a quick breath, his jaw tense. “Christi, she’s not here. She…” another tense breath, “…wasn’t able to come.”

The doctor sits on the edge of my bed, his gaze dim. “There’s something you should know. You were in an accident and you’ve been in the hospital ever since. You’re okay, but your recovery has taken longer than expected.” Another pause. “You see, you’ve been in a coma, Christi. Do you know what that means?”

I nod. I am almost eleven, of course I know what that means.

His lips press tight. “You’ve been in a long time…it’s hard to explain.” He exhales, then his eyes meet mine. “It’s been thirty years, Christi.”

The world stops it’s rotation, all sound sucked from the room as my heart beats, thuds, pounds inside my chest. I turn my head, look at the old lady next to me.

I look in the mirror.

The old woman is me.


©Laura L. Zimmerman


Photo Credit Unsplash Mario Azzi

Fantasy and Maps: ‘Almost an Author’ Blog Post

Hey guys! My blog post on the Almost an Author website is up for the month of October! This month’s topic: Fantasy and Maps–Does Your Story Need One?

Well, does it? Click here to find out! And feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts on books and maps and all that fuzzy stuff!

Happy writing, friends!


Photo credit Unsplash Andrew Neel

Flash Fiction Friday: Stranded

Two-hundred twenty-two days.

Or was it two-hundred twenty-three? I’d lost count.

Didn’t matter. It had been more than seven months since my boat had sunk, since I’d managed to find my way into the dinghy. Had resurfaced on the beach.

The lone survivor. I’d searched, begged to find someone, just one. But none were found.

I shoved my feet through the grainy sand, the once seductive tropical appeal of beach life now nothing more than a daily nightmare. Clothes tattered and threadbare, my skin had developed into a hardy leathery brown to keep it safe from the sun. Beneath the constant sunburn, that was.

A foam filled wave washed across my feet and I sighed. Months I’d been here, months of fighting to stay alive. Mornings spent in the early light to catch fish, days spent scavenging for plants and fruit. Terror filled nights as I curled up in a ball and prayed none of the animals that echoed in the distance found me.

Yet not a single plane came overhead, no search parties to find little old me.

With a groan, I stood. My belly grumbled, screamed to be filled. Something it never quite was, anymore. As I walked toward the trees that lined the island, I snagged the now dull knife so I could cut down whatever fruit looked to be ripe. The one thing I’d managed to do right before hopping off that doomed voyage–secured something sharp.

Ten yards into the forest I heard a noise, something off, unfamiliar from the norm. Were those voices? I stuck a finger in my ear and wiggled it. My mind had to be playing tricks on me.

But no. I heard it again. Words, whispers, then a laugh. Someone was out here with me. Not an animal. A human!

“Hello!” I yelled, a crazed run in the direction of the sound.

“Hello?” a female voice shouted back.

Every fiber in my body vibrated now, my head in an elated spin. There were people? Was this a rescue?

“I’m here!” I shouted louder, although a lack of hydration caused my throat to close so it came out as more of a croak.

I brushed a large leaf aside, stumbled into a clearing. Two teenaged girls stood together, both in bikinis and sarongs slung across their hips, cell phones in hand.

My eyes widened. “You have phones? Can you call someone?”

“Call someone?” the short blonde said, a wary look to her friend.

“Yes! I’ve been stranded here…stuck here! You’re here to rescue me, right?”

The blonde opened her mouth to speak but her jaw remained open, a look of horror in place.

“Um…we just came from the resort,” the other girl said. “The one on the far side of the island? I’m not sure why you thought you were stranded. But…” Her melancholy gaze drifted to her friend, then back again.

“This island is inhabited. You can get rescued any time you want.”

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016


Photo credit Unsplash by Mickey O’Neil

The Drama of Writing YA: My Guest Post with Kelly F. Barr

Hey guys!! I’m super excited to have the opportunity to Guest Post on another blog today! Please check it out and show my good friend, Kelly, some love for hosting Caffeinated Fiction! Check out her Flash Fiction and other posts while you’re there. She’s a great writer!

You can find the blog post here. And feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘The Drama of Writing YA’! 

Happy writing, friends!


Photo credit Unsplash Annie Spratt

“A Time to Rise” Tour: Giveaway #2!

Ready for another giveaway? Once again, it’s time to celebrate the release of “A Time to Rise” (Book 3 in the Out of Time series) by Nadine Brandes!

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Last week, as part of the “A Time to Rise” Tour,  I gave away “A Time to Die” magnetic bookmarks to go along with your brand new copy of “A Time to Rise”releasing October 14th! Congratulations to Olivia L. for winning that awesome prize!!

This week’s giveaway is even bigger! Bookmarks are fun and useful, but they don’t have a purpose without a book! So, this week I’m giving away a paperback copy of “A Time to Rise” by Nadine Brandes! Yahoo! What better way to celebrate the release of a book than by giving that book away, right?

So, who wants a free copy of “A Time to Rise”? Enter to win! Simply click on the link below to enter this contest! Next click on the box you want to enter (ex. ‘1 Free Entry’), then the check marked box.The box you’re in should grey out, telling you that your entry for that box is complete! You can earn up to 22 entries!

This contest is now over. Congratulations to Jessica J. for winning this book! Yay! 

You can earn additional entries by sharing on social media! Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post and follow this blog to receive more entries!

Hope you enjoy this contest! Happy reading, friends!

The fine print, blah, blah, blah: Contest ends Sunday, October 9th 11:59pm. Winner will be notified via email. Winner must claim prize w/in 48 hours of notification. Caffeinated Fiction is not responsible for lost or damaged prizes. Prizes cannot be swapped out. This contest is for U.S. residents only. 

Book Review: BURNED by Cyn Balog

Finally!! I’ve been waiting for the release of this book for years. (Yes, that’s an “S” on the end of that word!) Exactly two years ago I read the first release in this series, “Drowned” by Nicholla Reilly (Cyn Balog‘s YA pen name.) (You can find that review here.) I immediately fell in love with the story and contacted her to beg for the next one! It’s taken some time, but the prequel to the first book–“Burned”–was released in August! Read on to find out more about Cyn Balog‘s latest release!



Spoiled, pampered Aliah has found her way to someplace very different from her technologically-advanced underground world. A place where people fight for survival, and even the king is a violent savage. The inhabitants of this place are all coming to terms with a frightening reality: Inch by inch, the kingdom of Tides is dying.

But are these people truly lost? The more time she spends with King Wallow, the more she begins to settle in, and forget the life she left behind. Still, this kingdom is not kind, and there are horrors and secrets behind every wall. Is it possible to survive, or is finding a way back home her only chance?

The Review: 

5 Stars out of 5!!! 

Holy smokes, this story is fantastic! I simply love Cyn’s writing style and knew from the start that her stories are always well developed with great characterization. And this book didn’t disappoint!  Continue reading