Flash Fiction Friday: The Bike (Part 2)

Dan rubbed the hood of his brand new, cherry colored Chevy Corvette Stringray with a clean cloth, then stepped back to admire it. His chest swelled. He’d longed for one of these ever since he could drive. He leaned in to continue cleaning then—

A cough from someone at the end of his driveway.

His face fell as he turned, sparks flying through his mind, seeking the memory of how he knew this man. The guy was tall and thin, with a cigar that just barely dangled from his lips. Dan’s blood pressure dropped. Had it been twenty years already?

“Hello, Danny-boy,” the man said. “Good to see you again. Years have treated you well, I see?” At this, he glanced at the car, his gaze dripping with want.

Dan clenched his fists. “I—I—”

“Breathe, Danny-boy. You’ll give yourself a heart attack.”

The man’s mouth curled into a hungry grin that made Dan’s skin crawl. “Please, don’t take my car. I’ve worked so hard for it…so many years—”

“No worries. I’m not here for the car, Danny-boy.”

Dan’s shoulders slumped in relief, then immediately tensed again. “What do you want, then?”

“Dad?” a small voice came from the garage.

“Tyler, go inside the house. This doesn’t concern you.” Dan nodded his head and hoped the ten year old would obey, for once.

“Oh, but this situation very much concerns Tyler, Danny-boy,” the man crooned.

Dan furrowed his brow. “What do you—”

The most valuable thing you possess, Danny-boy. That wouldn’t be some rusty old car, now would it?” The man choked on his laugh. Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: The Bike (Part 1)

The neighbors were moving.

Eleven year-old Danny kicked a stone along the sidewalk. He squinted against the sun and watched men move furniture into the house across the street. This was the third time the house had sold in two years.

A shiver ran down his spine, despite the fact it was the first day of summer vacation. Place must be cursed or something.

Crash! The boy jumped and glanced at the U-Move truck. His eye caught the glint of something shiny sitting in the back. Could that be…?

He stepped closer and got a solid look at the magnificent treasure. His heart sped and palms went sweaty. Bright red paint, polished aluminum frame, thick knobby tires. This was it. This was the exact bike he’d asked for at Christmas. The one he didn’t get—which was going to make for the most boring summer ever, this year. His heart sagged.

“Like it, eh?” a low voice sounded from behind.

For a second time, Danny jumped. His cheeks went hot and he pretended to look away.

A man, tall and thin, older than Danny’s dad but not really old, stood at the base of the truck. A cigar wagged at the edge of his cheesy grin. Danny swallowed.

“It’s okay, son. Any boy your age would drool over a baby like this.” The man patted the bike gently.

Danny tried to look like he didn’t care.

The man rocked on his feet for a second, then, “Tell ya what. How ‘bout I give it to you. Free of charge.”

“But—” The boy’s brows pulled tight. “Doesn’t that belong to someone—?”

“As a matter of fact, no. It’s left over from another move. Doesn’t have an owner currently.” The man eyed Danny and puckered his lips. “Unless, of course, you would like the job.”

The boy turned his empty pockets out. “But I don’t got any—”

“No problem.” The man held up a hand. “Won’t cost you a penny.” He scratched his chin in thought, even though it was obvious to Danny he already knew what he would say. “How ‘bout this: I’ll let you have the bike now, then in twenty years I’ll come back to collect payment.”

“Huh?” Danny scrunched his face up the way that annoyed his mom so much.

The man patted the bike again. “I’ll let you have this baby, then in a few years I’ll stop by for payment: The most valuable thing you possess.”

Danny bit his lip. The most valuable thing he possessed? What would that even be? He didn’t have much, other than those collectible baseball cards from his dad and the expensive wrist watch he never wore. And twenty years? How would the guy even find him? He wouldn’t be living in his house anymore!

The boy smiled. “Deal.”

The man with the cigar gave a nefarious grin in return, as he rolled the bike toward the boy. “See you in twenty years, then, Danny-boy.”

To be continued…

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

sollers-217867

Photo credit Unsplash by Sollers

 

Book Release: “The Gold Son” by Carrie Anne Noble

Hey friends of Caffeinated Fiction! Today I’m super excited to have a visit from author Carrie Anne Noble to discuss her new release, “The Gold Son.” Read on to see what inspired a story about leprechauns and how you can get your hands on this highly-anticipated YA novel!

Noble-TheGoldSon-24766-FT

Thank you for being here with us, Carrie Anne. Tell us three interesting (possibly little known?) facts about yourself!

  • I am currently the foster mother of a grumpy but adorable hedgehog called Chuff, while her owner is studying abroad.
  • If you keep me up past nine at night and give me Coke and chocolate, I will become quite silly and prone to fits of giggling. This may or may not be a good idea.
  • While riding the school bus to middle school, my best friend and I used to make up fan fiction about Han Solo, in which he’d always fall madly in love with one of us.

 

Can you share with us a little about your “writing path?” Have you always enjoyed writing? Do you prefer to write YA or are there other genres that peak your interest, as well?

From an early age, I enjoyed making up stories, plays, fictional newspapers, and comics. At 11 or so, I attempted my first novel, and I also wrote numerous, ridiculous short stories about a pair of rabbits called Mildred and George around that time. (They had a terrible marriage, let me tell you!) In high school, I moved on to poetry. After a bit of a break (during which I got married and then had babies to attend to), I took a writing course—which gave me the confidence to pursue writing again. A few “practice” novels later, I wrote The Mermaid’s Sister–and the rest is history!

I really like the YA genre and plan to stick with it for the foreseeable future. The teen years are so much about becoming who we are, discovering what we really feel and want and believe. I think there’s a lot of beauty in that confusing mess of a time, and endless story potential.

That said, I do have an idea for a Middle Grade science fiction book (about a dachshund) I’d like to write eventually. Continue reading

Book Review: SPARK by J.M. Hackman

This week, I am honored to have the chance to review Spark: The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One by J.M. Hackman! Hold on to your seat! This action packed YA fantasy novel will take you places you never expected and will leave you yearning to read the next book in the series!

Spark_cover_med_res

The Synopsis:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil. Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello, Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time? And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?

The Review: 

This YA fantasy novel is filled with fun (Can you tell by Brenna’s sarcastic wit in the synopsis?), adventure (Romping around an alternate reality will do that to you!), and suspense (Will she be able to save her mother and return the Veil, or will there be a price to pay?)

Brenna is your average 21st Century teen–her favorite shoes are Chucks, she’s always on the search for waffles, and she tosses around adolescent-attitude like it’s confetti–until she’s drawn into a hidden world she never knew existed! Once in Linneah, we are introduced to a cast of characters that will keep you on your toes! From faithful griffins to questionable royal figures, Brenna must learn to navigate a new culture and find her purpose in this unfamiliar alternity. Baldwin (the hottie!) is always a source of attraction (and tension) and she can’t decide if his presence on the quest for the Veil hinders or helps. Hackman’s twists and turns within the story–and a villain with a secret you won’t see coming!–will keep you glued to the book. And wait until you meet Anna! She’s sure to become a favorite character for all! Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: No Trespassing

No Trespassing.

Mary Ann read the words allowed as she and her three friends stood on the sidewalk outside the abandoned, dilapidated Cape Cod.

“So, the old witch finally died,” Sammy said. At thirteen, he was the oldest of the group.

Sarah crossed her arms. “Oh posh, Sammy. She was just an old lady. Weirdly reclusive and totally mean to anyone who walked by, but still just an old lady.”

“Yeah, but she’s been around forever. I mean, at least as long as we’ve all been alive.” Thomas scratched a hand through his shaggy brown hair.

“We’ve only been alive for twelve years, Tommy. That’s not forever.” Mary Ann pushed her glasses up her nose.

“Whatever.”

“Well, I’m going in.” Sammy walked around the side of the house as the rest of the group sprinted to catch up.

“But—” Sarah whisper-yelled as she glanced around for nosy neighbors.

“You can’t just—” Mary Ann pled in a high-pitched voice.

Thomas just laughed. At five feet ten inches, he was the thinnest and tallest in their class, always ready for an adventure.

“Sam!” Mary Ann begged. “Would you just—”

“Too late,” Sammy sing-songed.

He jiggled the latch on the backdoor and it swung open. Amid protests from the girls, the four slipped inside the dark house.

“Whoa,” Sammy said. “This place hasn’t been dusted in a while. Gross.” He dragged a finger along a tabletop and cringed.

Sarah huffed. “Be nice, Sam. She was super old. Like, a hundred or something.”

“Yeah, and she was also a witch, remember?” Thomas gave her wink and laughed.

“Doesn’t look like a witch lived here,” Mary Ann said. “This place looks normal.”

“Normal?” Sammy held up a bowl filled with animal bones. “Does this look like something in your house?” Continue reading

Four Ways to Give Your Fantasy or Sci-fi Character a Name

Hello friends! The SFF post I wrote over at AlmostAnAuthor has gone live! Visit here to glean a few ideas on how to choose a name for your characters. I’ve had a busy week moving into my new home in North Carolina! Yesterday was official “signing” day and today we have a team of people coming to help us unload our moving pods! Yippee! Hopefully the next post I write will be from my official writing desk!! Prayers appreciated!

Happy writing friends!

a3fantasycolumnunsplashnasa

Photo credit Unsplash by NASA

ACFW New Releases–May 2017

Wow. When did it become…erm, May?! Did I blink or was it just January a month ago? No? Okay, maybe not. BUT the good news is, at least there are some rockin’ new titles out from fellow ACFW authors this month! Check them out and gather your summer reading list! Yippee!!

May 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard — Under bright blue skies, wedding bells ring–fulfilling sweet dreams, impossible wishes, and joyous new beginnings among these three new stories. (Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishers)


Sprouts of Love by Valerie Comer — An overzealous community garden manager delivers more than the food bank manager can handle. Can love sprout amid the tsunami of vegetables? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Summer Dreams by Delia Latham — God’s love…reflected in the waters of the Pacific, and in the eyes of a young couple who walk its moonstone shores. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican]) Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Doctor’s Office

The already cramped doctor’s office is packed. Seriously? I check in and grab a seat near the window.

A copy of In Style magazine with an attractive blonde on the cover catches my eye. I flip past Lose 10 lbs fast! to the recipe section. That’s always the best part, anyway.

Whispers distract me. I glance up. A little girl with dark hair that hangs in her face and ragged clothes that have seen better days, sits directly across. She’s barefoot, feet grimy and scabbed. I hide my disgust. How did they let her in like this? She quietly talks in the ear of the elderly woman beside her. The woman puts her hand to her head, moans, then grabs her stomach.

“Beatrice!” the nurse says from the door.

The elderly woman fights to walk to the nurse, hunched over as she shuffles.

I bite my lip. That was…strange. Whatever. The next recipe calls my attention and I ignore the room around me for another minute.

Until those whispers return. Those whispers.

My gaze jets around the room.

The girl has changed seats. She sits near a young man, now. He wears ear buds, his chin bobbing up and down to the beat of his music. The girl leans in. Whispers. His eyes glaze then crinkle as he grabs his chest, his side. The guy pulls the ear buds out and leans over, elbows on his knees, hands on his head.

“Jeremy!” the nurse says.

She stands at the door with a clipboard in her hand. He struggles to his feet and lopes after her, his jaw flexed the entire way. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This is weird. Too weird.

Once more, I shove my nose back into my magazine but I keep an eye on the girl and her movements from behind the pages. She moves from one person to the next. Each time she whispers. Each time the person reacts like they’ve just been stricken with sudden illness. Yet, no one comments on her presence, or even acknowledges her, for that matter. Not a single person looks in her direction.

Like she’s not real. An apparition.

I suck in a breath and my stomach clenches. I’ve had enough of this. It’s time I told the receptionist and got this girl kicked out of the office.

I toss the magazine on the table, grab my purse and—

The girl sits beside me. I can’t see her eyes from the way her stringy hair covers them. I cringe. A scent of something rotted drifts over, something sour and moldy. I cover my nose and lean away.

She whispers. Words I don’t understand. Can’t comprehend.

Pain lances across my forehead, shoots through my gut. My muscles go weak and my throat lights on fire with heat.

“Linda!” The nurse calls me.

I look beside me.

The girl is gone.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

IMG_9993

Photo credit LL Zimmerman

ACFW New Releases–April 2017

Don’t miss out on this month’s new releases from fellow ACFW authors! Pick up a new book to read over spring break!

April 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:
sandpiper-cove

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

oh-baby

Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

General: Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: The Neighbor

Anya slid her fingers through Fabio’s thick curls, marveled at his broad chest. How had it only been twenty-four hours? The love of her life had swept in, whisked her away to paradise—

Jessica snorted and tossed the paperback on the sofa before she headed to the kitchen for coffee. Ridiculous. Romance novels were all the same—perfectly plain heroine meets perfectly chiseled hero and they fall in love immediately. Not reality.

She leaned against the counter, sipped her beverage and sighed. Then again, who was she to judge, right? She hadn’t had a date in over a year. Apparently perfectly plain Jessica wasn’t perfect.

Charlie, her cat, rubbed along her leg. She picked him up and nuzzled him. “You would be the perfect man if you were human, wouldn’t you?”

If only finding a man was as easy as picking a cat. Heck, she didn’t even need a six-foot-four model named Fabio with jet black curls that fell to his shoulders, thick biceps and straight alabaster teeth. She’d take Mr. Average with a dad-bod, who was balding.

Jessica showered, got ready, unloaded the dishwasher, and folded a load of towels. Maybe someday Mr. Wonderful would appear.

“Have a good day,” she whispered to Charlie before she headed out the door of her apartment.

As she locked her door, she heard bangs from the new tenant as they moved in across the hall. She turned to leave and—

“Hello, beautiful. I’m new here.” A man with dark curly hair, the broadest shoulders she’d ever seen, and a smile that would put Jake Gyllenhaal to shame, towered before her.

Her jaw dropped.

The man smiled. “My name’s Fabio. I’d love to get to know you.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

man-979980_1280

Photo credit Pixabay by Olichel