Short Story Personal Challenge #3! The Playdate. #writingcommunity #shortstory #challenge #indieauthor

Here’s my third short story challenge coming in at just a touch over 1000 words. My husband came up with this week’s word, ruthless. This image caught my attention.

I discarded the first ending because it felt too expected. This one worked for me 🙂


I forced a smile and turned away from the picture. I swore the yellow eyes were still watching me. I nervously stuffed a cucumber sandwich into my dry mouth. Big mistake. It caught in my throat and then burned. I could taste the hot peppers as I coughed. I was positive I was going to die.

“Are you okay, Sandy?” Jessie’s clear blue eyes showed concern as she handed me a glass of water.

“Yes, I just swallowed wrong.”

Bobbie clung to my arm while Freddie sat on the couch with the same terrifying expression as the picture. This playdate was taking a dark turn.

“Freddie, why don’t you show Bobbie your room.”

Freddie smiled. “Sure, I can show him my new ax.”

I cleared my throat. “Ax?”

“He asked for it for his birthday, but it’s been put away. He knows we don’t play with weapons when we have guests. Right, honey?”

Freddie let out a loud sigh. “Yes, Mommy. No real weapons on playdates. I remember. But can we show him later?”

Jessie winked at me. “Maybe later.”

I gently detached myself from Bobbie’s tightened grasp. “Maybe we should go with them.”

“We’d just be in the way.” She waved. “You two be good.”

Bobby followed Freddie down the hall like he was on death row and making that last walk to his end. I was with him. The house was decorated like a haunted house, and the windows had dark drapes keeping the light and world out. What wasn’t black was gray and the pictures… I shuddered. These were things of nightmares, including the so-called school picture of Freddie.

I sipped my water, trying to think of something to compliment in her house, but I drew a blank. “It’s so kind of you to have us over. You didn’t need to go to all this trouble with these sandwiches.”

Jessie offered another one. “Please, help yourself.”

“I didn’t know we’d be eating. We just ate lunch, and I’m stuffed.” I patted my stomach.

“I forgot to say something. My fault. Can I get you more water?”

I set my empty glass down. “No, I’m fine, thank you. So, are you an artist?”

Jessie set down the platter of her little cucumber sandwiches. Her face lit up like a flashlight, pointing right into my eyes. “I am! I did all those photos and would love to make it into a business someday.”

“Your own business, what a great idea.” I stood up and walked over to a wall that was covered with Freddie. All had the same theme of him holding an ax. “So, you take the pictures and then add in the effects?”

“Oh, I never Photoshop a picture.”

I held a frown behind my plastic smile. “You certainly have a way of capturing the shot.”

Jessie clasped her hands together and squeezed next to me. “Thank you. Would you like to see my studio?”

I glanced at the old grandfather clock. Only fifteen minutes had passed since we had arrived. “Sure, I’d love to see it, but maybe we should check on the boys first.”

“I say when it’s quiet, you leave them alone, right?”

Against my better judgment, I nodded. She led me down a dark hall into a lightless room and flipped on a light.

I gasped.

“I know, isn’t it wonderful! I’ve got it just the way I wanted it.”

“Wonderful,” I mumbled, taking in the horror.

The walls and ceiling were black, and two round lights were on a stand looking much like angry headlights waiting to shine their light on their victim. A rounded black chair was pushed against the gloom, while off to the side was an assortment of black clothes and props that included hands, legs, guns, knives, axes, and a guillotine. The farthest wall had metal shackles. A powerful scent of copper hit my nose as pain tore through my gut. I needed to get Bobbie out of this madhouse.

Jessie smiled and put a hand on my shoulder. “That will pass soon.”

The room spun as I sunk to the floor. “What are you talking about?”

“Your human-ness, silly. What I put in your water is returning to your beautiful form. I tried to make it easier by showing you the picture of Freddie.”

My muscles spasmed like a seizure, and suddenly the room was too bright. I closed my eyes.

“I’ll get the light. I know how bright the earth is for us. You’ll stay here until the ship arrives. That way, you don’t have to wear all that makeup, contacts, and worry about the sun damage.”

When the spasms stopped, it all came flooding back to me. I volunteered for this. I secured a relationship and then married a top-ranked government employee. In my deepest sleep, they were able to extract the important secrets I had obtained. Bobbie wasn’t supposed to happen, of course, and the poor thing will have to live with the shame of being part human. I reached up and stroked my leathery face. I was back.

“Feeling better?” Jessie wiped off the rest of her makeup. The beautiful deep red around her yellow eyes and almost transparent white skin was a relief to see.

“Yes, much. Is Bobbie…” I couldn’t find the words to ask.

Jessie smiled. “He looks like us, thankfully. Although we had to give the poor baby the human drug immediately after birth and adjust some memories. Nothing can pierce his skin now that his beauty has been restored too—like those old axes.”

I grinned. “Thank you, Jessie. When does it start?”

“In a week. We are gathering our spies now and have all the information we need to simplify it. This planet will make a great second home once humans have been rendered docile for our food supply. Thanks to you, we found the perfect virus that won’t affect us. Our alliance appreciates your service.”

I stood up, slowly finding my balance again. “Thank you it was an honor. I’m glad you could continue your artwork; the humans must have made great subjects.”

She brightly smiled. Her pointed teeth shone like stars. “Yes. Their surprised look when they realized what was about to happen was the best. Let’s go to the boys and have a nice snack. Too bad no one will get their mail today.”

I laughed and swayed my tail. “Great! I’m hungry.”

It was good to feel myself again, and I couldn’t wait to get back home. Bobbie had a new world to explore where beautiful darkness ruled.

Next week is back to book reviews that will go through September! This was fun, and I hope you enjoyed it. I might try this again in the future.

Embrace your inner child, D. L. Finn!

#TANKATUESDAY WEEKLY #POETRY CHALLENGE NO. 240, #THEMEPROMPT #haiku #haiga #writingcommunity #indieauthors #poems #nature

Here’s Colleen Chesbro’s Tanka Tuesday Weekly Poetry Challenge #240. It is a theme prompt that was provided by Vashti Quiroz-Vega, Lullaby.

I took a picture of my visit to the redwoods this summer and added a haiku 5/7/5 which makes this a haiga.

picture of redwood forest and a poem. the forest's sweet song caresses my weary soul with healing beauty.

Short Story Challenge 2! THE BONSAI @WritingCommunity #shortstory #personalchallenge #indieauthor

Here is this week’s personal short story challenge. It’s only a few words over my 1000 target. The word Bonsai was chosen by my daughter, Danielle. I searched using that words and picked this picture.


The fog slowly crept in and covered the landscape in a dull gray. The distant lighthouse’s mournful warned the ships of land. The gentle sway of the ocean had always been my meditation, but today the sound grated on my nerves.

I turned my attention to the bonsai that Henry had named Blossom. It had been a wedding gift from Henry’s parents. Blossom had stood at the edge of the cliff for more than forty years. Here is where I scattered Henry’s ashes last week. Sitting on the bench made out of driftwood that he had made right after retiring three years ago didn’t bring me the closure I desired.

Our golden years were cut short by aggressive cancer. I was left with an empty ocean view house and Blossom. She was the closest thing to kids since I could only miscarry babies, not have them. After losing four, we couldn’t bear any more loss. We let that dream go. We became each other’s everything, and now I was lost without his easy smile or quick wit.

Dr. Denny’s declaration rang hollow this morning. “You’re in perfect health, Mrs. Duffy. You’ll live to be 100 years old.”

I had smiled, but inside I almost wished it had been bad news. How could I live for thirty more years without the one person who made life worth living?

A sudden chill ran through me, and I pulled my knitted cap down over my ears and zipped up my coat higher.

“I should have brought my scarf today, Henry.”

A lone seagull dove past me, screeching toward the open water. The cold filled me, and I stood up. “Henry?”

I scanned the area. Nothing. I shook my head as a gust of wind tore the hat off my head.

“Hey!” I chased the blue hat as it headed for the cliff. “Come back here!”

My foot slipped on a rock, and I started sliding toward the edge. My only hope was grabbing Blossom. I had one chance, or I’d be painfully joining Henry. My hand reached and missed the tree, and my foot was off the cliff. Everything moved in slow motion as I prayed for a miracle.

What happened next, I’ve never shared with anyone. Blossom bent toward me, and I swear her branches were reaching for me like hands, right as a huge blast of wind blew in from the ocean. A branch wrapped around me as I collided with Blossom’s trunk. I hugged the tree as tears ran down my face.

Carefully, I moved my fingers and then the rest of my body. Nothing felt broken, just bruised. I lay there for a moment taking long, deep breaths to calm my racing heart.

“That was a close one, Henry.”

Black tennis shoes were suddenly next to Blossom.

“I wish I could help you up, Darcie.” came the familiar voice.

I sat up so quickly I hit my head on the bottom branch.

“Careful, sweetheart.”

I rubbed my head where a bump was already forming. “I either have brain damage, or I’m dead.”

The loud laughter that I so loved drowned out the ocean. “Neither.”

I moved a branch and saw the man I loved in his 30s. “But you’re dead. How can I see you?”

He shook his head. His brown curl that I had loved to play with bounced around his ear. “In my panic to stop you from going over the cliff, I was able to communicate with Blossom. She offered her life to the wind to save you.”

Using the tree that had split in two, I pulled myself to standing where I was eye to eye with Henry. It was unnerving I could see through those beautiful eyes. “Blossom?”

“Yes. I had no idea that was possible, but I’m grateful to her. I wish it could have been me to save you, but I didn’t know how. She did. Wise tree.”

I shook my head. “I don’t understand. How can you bargain with the wind?”

Henry gestured to the landscape. “The wind and the world are alive where I am. Anything is possible. Blossom is with me, using the last of her strength to help me talk to you.”

“I’m so confused. Our tree is a spirit? Can I see her?”

“Yes, a spirit, but is too weak right now to appear to you. She wants you to know she’s eager to play with our children.”

I caught my breath.“Our children are there?”

He held out his arms. “Of course, they have always stayed close to us.”

“This is crazy.”

His face softened, and he reached out. All I could feel was the cold, not his warm touch. “As much as I want you here with me, I know you still have so much good left to do. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He started to fade. “Blossom says you’ll soon find what you are meant to do next and plant another bonsai next to her. Its soul will watch over you. Bye, sweetheart.”

“You can’t leave.”

“I can’t stay. Be happy.”


Then he was gone. I dragged myself to the bench, collapsed onto it, and let the tears flow. The winds kicked up, finishing the destruction of the bonsai. I slowly made my way back to the house. As I climbed the stairs, a small furry black kitten was crying by the red door. I scooped it up.

As soon as the kitten was settled in a warm box, I went back to look for the mother and the rest of the kittens. I never found them. This was what Henry was talking about—my love of animals. I always wanted to have them and take care of injured ones but Henry’s severe allergies had prevented that.

Now I could volunteer at our local wildlife rehabilitation center or foster unwanted pets. First, though, I had a little guy to take care of who had a home with me. He was purring contently in his warm blanket after gobbling down some tuna. Maybe I would start an animal sanctuary. There were so many possibilities, thanks to Blossom’s sacrifice and Henry’s love. I wouldn’t let them down!

NOTE: Next week will be my last short story challenge for a few weeks. I have book reviews to offer instead. The word I will be working with is ruthless provided by my hubby.

I’m visiting with Rox Burkey. Stop by and say hi!      LINK

Embrace your inner child by hugging a tree! D. L. Finn


Here is Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday Weekly Poetry Challenge # 239, Ekphrastic, Photo Prompt. The image was chosen by fellow poet, Cheryl.

I went with the tanka: 5/7/5/7/7.

meteor shower

wisdom streaks silver
across the inky canvas
we seek its knowledge
but worship indifference
a missed opportunity

Short Story! My personal challenge. #writingcommunity #shortstories #indieauthors #theboy #challenge #writing

This week I decided to do something different and challenge myself. So, I searched pictures on Canva using the word scary. This image intrigued me. Then, I wrote a short story to go along with it. My goal was to keep it under 1000 words. I only went over by a couple of words 🙂

When I first wrote this, I didn’t like it and wasn’t going to use it. The next day I went back and started reworking it and got this version.boy in hood walking down foggy lane.


Bella snapped the picture right before the boy disappeared. Although she’d been the only one to see him, now there was proof.

For the last two weeks, she’d seen the boy in the same place, right after the school bus dropped her off by their private road. He wore jeans, a grey hoody, carried a black backpack, and never looked back or spoke. Then he would vanish into a heavy mist of fog.

She couldn’t wait to show her mother the photo.

Mother was sitting on the porch in the old wooden rocking chair, sipping her iced tea. The hair went up on Bella’s arms when Mother’s bloodshot eyes fixed on her. “Why do you have my camera?” Her words slurred together like they were in a wind tunnel, but the leaves on the trees were still.

“I borrowed it to get a picture of the boy. I got it. Look, Mother!” She held the camera up, hoping she was wrong about Mother’s condition. The last three years had been peaceful ones since Mother remained sober and took her meds.

Mother slammed the drink down hard, shattering the glass. “Liar! There’s no boy out there, and stop calling me Mother. You know I hate that word.”

Bella sighed when blood dripped from her mother’s hand. That scary woman had returned. “Sorry, Stella. You’re hurt. Where’s Dad?” She scanned the area, hoping he had come home early.

“Gone. He got tired of raising another man’s brat. I wish I’d never had you thirteen years ago.” Stella sank into her chair and started weeping. Tears mixed with her blood into a tie-dye swirl of insanity.

“He is my dad, and he wouldn’t leave without me!” Bella’s jaw clenched in a painful spasm that she gingerly rubbed.

Stella’s sorrow turned into a cruel smirk. “I had plenty of boyfriends in my day. I was very popular. When I got pregnant, your love-crazy dad offered to marry me. For a while, I thought I loved him back, but I was wrong. He left both of us. Good riddance, I say. Now, go do your homework or whatever it is you do and leave me alone.”

Bella wrapped her coat tightly around her slim body. The red trees brought the colder days and the hope of the holidays. There was none of that at this moment as she tucked the camera into her backpack while Stella stumbled into the house.

The last time Stella was here, she tried to run over Bella in their driveway. Dad had given her an ultimatum; get help, or they were leaving. After a year of full-time treatment, Stella was gone, and Mother came home. Although Mother lacked warmth, things had been okay until now.

The high-pitched vibration of more breaking glass came from inside the old gray house, which hurt Bella’s soul. She turned away from the place where second chances had seemed possible and walked back down the tree-lined driveway.

When she got to the road, the boy was there again. Instead of going to town, she raced toward him. There was an overpowering, musky smell, like the cologne her father wore.

“Please talk to me. My mother is sick and needs help.”

For the first time, he stopped but didn’t turn around. “She killed me, you know.”

“What?” Bella reached out to him, but he stayed out of her grasp.

“Run!” the boy screamed and disappeared.

She heard their van start. Its wheels squealed down the driveway. Bella did what the boy told her—she ran.

“Time to join Daddy!” Stella screamed.

Bella veered off the road, hoping to make it to the forest and away from her crazed mother, when an excruciating pain shot through her body. Then nothing.

When she opened her heavy eyes, her father was kneeling next to her. “You’re safe now, my little Bella. I’m sorry, I wasn’t there to protect you.”

Bella sat up, feeling no pain. “She’s drinking again.”

“I know, and it’s obvious she stopped the meds and therapy. I can’t believe I missed Stella’s return.” He buried his face in his hands.

“It’s okay, Dad.” Bella patted her dad’s arm.

The boy stood behind her father. His hood was down, and he appeared to be about ten years old, with the most beautiful green eyes, messy brown hair, and a huge grin. She smiled and waved. He returned her gesture.

“Can you see the boy, Dad?”

He gathered Bella into his arms and held her like he used to do when she was a child. “Yes. His name is Jake.”

“Jake? You told me to run. Thank you.”

Jake’s smile faded, and a shadow crossed his face. “I failed you.”

“How?” Bella frowned and met her father’s brown eyes. He nodded toward the old cedar tree and flashing red lights. Their van had plowed into the tree, and her mother was being loaded onto a gurney. “Is she alive?”

“Yes. Her body will recover, but I’m not sure about her mind. I’m going to set you down now if that’s okay?”

“Sure, Dad. I feel fine.”

Tears ran down Jake’s face, and he put his hood back up. After a loud sniffle, he said. “Bella deserved to live, not that woman.”

“I…” Bella stopped when her father pointed to the wreck. There was a familiar person between the car and the tree. “I’m dead?”

“Yes, sweetheart. We both are, but I think you’ll like it where we are going. Right, Jake?”

Jake wiped his tears away. “Yes. It looks amazing, but I stayed here hoping to stop her from doing this again. It wasn’t a deer your mom hit two weeks ago, and she buried me over there.” He pointed to a grove of trees next to the accident. “I was running away from one drunk mom and got killed by another. I hope they find my body someday. Even my mom deserves to know what happened.”

Dad grabbed Bella’s hand. “Time for all of us to go.”

Jake scooped up her other hand, and they started walking. Soon, the world they left behind was forgotten as peace and love filled their souls. They entered a golden light where three beautiful angels waited for them. Their journey had just begun.

I will be doing this again next week. My daughter provided the word, bonsai for the picture.

The Newsletter will be coming out at the end of this week. Watch for it if you are subscribed!

Embrace your inner child by reading a good book! D. L. Finn




#TANKA TUESDAY WEEKLY #POETRY CHALLENGE NO. 238, #SYNONYMSONLY @ColleenChesebro #cinquain #butterflycinquain #poem #achase

Here is Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday Weekly Poetry Challenge #238, Synonyms Only. The two words to work from were: Sanctuary & Follow.

I first came up with the line “collapsing onto the altar.” So, I decided this fit nicely into a Butterfly Cinquain 2/4/6/8/2/8/6/4/2. The picture was chosen for the dark mood.


I ran

bare feet bleeding

beaded white dress ragged

collapsing onto the altar


Their cruel chase would continue

No longer my wedding

everyone dead

I ran

August Book Reviews Part 2! @teagangeneviene @pamelawight @RobertaEaton17 #ASMSG #WritingCommunity #bookreviews #mustread #indieauthors







A Ghost and His Gold

by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Michelle and Tom moved into a house that had once been the home of a Boer family. During their housewarming party, they played with a Ouija board and innocently opened the door to the past. From that night forward, three ghosts stayed and changed their lives, sometimes in terrifying ways. There was now a soldier from each side and one soldier’s daughter, Estelle, sharing the house with the couple. The past was my favorite part of the story, and Estelle’s narrative was riveting and heartbreaking. The storyline leads to why the ghosts wanted to be heard. This is a fantastic historical fiction with so much incredible detail mixed in with the current timeline where the past can be resolved. I learned a lot about South African history and applauded the author for how realistically the war was presented. If you love historical fiction mixed with a modern paranormal timeline, you will enjoy this read.

Flashes of Life: True Tales of the Extraordinary Ordinary

by Pamela Wight

“Flashes of Life” is a charming collection of real-life tales. Ms. Wight shares micro-stories that are broken into eight sections and come from all stages of her life. Each one is a quick read that touches on everyday life. I could relate to each story. I found myself shaking my head in agreement with some of these tales, and a couple had me laughing out loud. I appreciated the gratitude weaved in, and it left me pondering on my blessings. The well-crafted writing brought me into Ms. Wight’s world, and I felt like I was sitting next to her on the beach, talking about life. A fantastic glimpse into the world of a daughter, mother, wife, friend, and grandmother. I highly recommend reading about these extraordinary ordinary tales!

Dead of Winter: Journey 7, Revenant Pass

by Teagan Riordain Geneviene

Journey 7 begins with a prologue that is pivotal to “Revenant Pass.” It not only explained what happened, but what is possible. I love how the reader gets to view the world through the evil eyes of Arawn for a bit. It offered an insight as to what the Deae Matres are dealing with. The group is still trapped in Realm of the Dead, and Emlyn is drawn to explore. This dark world is described beautifully in its chilling drabness. The group’s will to survive captures my attention while I’m rooting for them. I can’t wait to see where the next installment goes, and I’m enjoying my journey!

I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. It doesn’t feel right leaving a review in that case, but I have been known to email the author:) Life is too short not to enjoy every book you read!

Embrace that sweet inner child by reading a good book this summer! D. L. Finn

#TANKATUESDAY WEEKLY #POETRY #CHALLENGE : POET’S CHOICE #237 @ColleenChesebro #tanka #poetry #poems #nightsky #bluelights #writingcommunity


We have blue lights reflecting off the trees next to the back deck. It’s a spectacular combination of the twinkling stars above and the bugs that fly through the light beams that add to the night show!

This is a picture I took while laying on my lounge chair stargazing. It was the inspiration for the Tanka Poem below.

pine trees against night sky with blue lights on them

encroaching darkness

retreats into the forest

beneath stars soft glow

Brilliant blue beams decorate

my piece of eternal night