Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Guess WHOOOO is coming for dinner**

Baby Northern Saw Whet Owl


"Are you my mom?"






**but only if you're serving field mice!



Contest update: sorry everyone, I'm having a bit of difficulty getting out of the doldrums here. Probably cause I haven't been able to get out much the last few days. Social isolation is difficult enough withut fresh air and sunshine.
Hopefully today will get me back on track.

Monday, August 03, 2020

contest results delayed

I'm soaking my head in ice water to get on top of a barometric headache.
I'm hoping to be back among the living this afternoon.



Sunday, August 02, 2020

update on the geese!

New baby goslings

Having fun with the new family

Just a short month ago

Here they are now!

Some time back a friend of mine found some stranded "ducklings".

.
When the "ducklings" hissed, they revealed themselves as Canadian geese, not ducks, so off to the wildlife rescue folks down the road.

The goslings were introduced to a mom and dad and several goslings. They integrated into the family quite well.

And now, here they are!

No word on their plans for the last days of summer. 



Friday, July 31, 2020

The Particularly Diabolical Flash Fiction Contest

Back in the days of yore, publishing took the month of August off.

Not completely of course, clerks and stenos still handled phones and incoming mail, but everyone else left the city.

August is still the doldrums here, but it's been like that since March.

The only new thing is the lovely heat.
And humidity.
I need to make more friends in Maine!

Nothing to be done but torment writers with a particularly diabolical flash fiction contest!


The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these italicized words in the story (I took them from last week's entries)
fopdoodle (C.H. Reaver)
stickler (Jan R)
Requin (Matt Krizan)
timpani-Timothy Lowe
regale (french sojourn)

(NO Steve Forti extra prompt word this week.)

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

9. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.

10. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example:
"I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

11. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

12. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

13. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.


Contest opens: 5:40am, August 1, 2020
Contest closes: 9am, August 2, 2020

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?
Not yet! 
ENTER!
oh rats, sorry. Contest closed.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Small turtle, big journey





Here's a very small turtle on a very big journey.
Just what you might need to see today!

This coming up flash fiction contest promises to be a doozy.
I think one of the prompt words is regale.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Discombobulation is not my friend

I didn't like upheaval very much. (But then, who does?)
I particularly don't like it right now when everything else in the world is in disarray.

BUT, the gas pipes had to be replaced in the entire building so there was no avoiding discombobulation.  And today, this morning in fact, the circus arrived.

First thing, one of my coven rang me at 8:30am.
Voice mail recorded "I know this is probably too early..."
which is now the understatement of the year. I'd gone to bed around 4am.

But I was up, so I swilled V8, looked at my incoming email, checked my dayplanner, and thought about going back to bed.

Just as I did, the doorbell sounded.
Several times.

I figured a delivery of some sort, but no, it was the building super, holding a balloon. The circus was on its way.

I quickly washed the dishes that mysteriously appeared in the sink overnight. (I live alone.)
Swept the floor.
Regretted not taking out the recycling the night before.

Strapping young men arrived in masks and work boots holding a drill that was easily five feet long.
I not only step out of the way, I retreat to the office where the AC unit is running.

When I ventured back out, they'd moved the stove.


When the stove is where it's supposed to be, there's a wire shelf above it with pots and pans and baking dishes.


Now those were all in the sink.
And the wire shelving that serves as a pantry was covered (sort of) in plastic.

Behind the plastic is the toaster oven.

So, no water, no cooking, and distressingly NO BATHROOM.
The stove had been moved such that it blocked the bathroom door.

Under normal circumstances I'd have packed up and moved to the Hilton for the day.
Well, that wasn't in the cards.

I just went back to bed.

And when I got up, there was so much grit in the air, on the floor, on everything,  I was glad I hadn't washed the floor this weekend like I'd had on my list.

It took them another four hours to finish. I was able to manhandle the stove away from the bathroom door enough and step in for a moment, but yikes stripes what a day.

And the most dreadful part? All this began before I made coffee.

But there is a happy ending.

They're gone.
The stove is back in place,

I moved the dishes out of the sink.
The coffee is brewing.

And I have a new chair for the office!

New chair!
I assembled it this weekend!

Given my dreadful assembly skills, I'm quite pleased it hasn't collapsed.

I got absolutely no work done at all.

Have you been utterly discombulated before?
Tell us what happened and how you dealt with it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

It's almost August, where do you want to be?

It's 93 degrees here in NYC today.
The only saving grace is the humidity is half that.

I'm tucked into my office, reading.

Here's where I wish I was reading!



Of course, that's the Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary.

What sounds cool and inviting to you these days, as we get ready for the doldrums of August?

This weekend's flash fiction contest is going to have prompt words from last week's entries. I'm pretty sure timpani will be one of them.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Flash fiction contest results-FINAL

A very low turn out this week, the heat must be getting to us all!
There was no reduction in quality though; you guyz are bringing your A-game for sure.

Herewith the results

votre*astre

“Phew,” Ella said, a mild sneeze. A few cinders fell down the flue, powdering her nose. She scrubbed at it, smearing darker circles under sleepless eyes.

“Tsk.” The Prince chided, handing over a crisp white handkerchief. He liked her clean. The few times Ella had checked a mirror, she’d seen nothing that could be improved upon with scouring. Obedience came more naturally than obstinance, though, so she swept away the ash but left behind insomnia’s bruises. 
“He already flew away,” she said.

“Check again,” the Prince urged, holding a lump of coal in his hand. “I’m certain this was misdelivered.”

This is so deliciously subtle it makes me wriggle with pleasure.


B.I.Hirsch
Detective Norris fell on the ashen ice.

“Dammit.” She absently pocketed a charred paper scrap pulled from her hand.

“Arson?” Officer Franks helped her.

Norris shrugged. They shuffled to the first untouched home.

“See anything last night?” she asked when old man Forti answered.

“Tipped a few by the fire. Suddenly everything’s ablaze.”

“Here?” She examined the hearth, then tsked.

Norris patted her pockets before finding the scrap. “Phew! The stolen treasury linen with colored threads–useless without a security strip. I’d no leads until your fire. Bits flew up your flue to your neighbor’s roof.”
Always appreciate a shout out to "old man Forti"!

french sojourn
Through an arched window, a warm light invaded the underside of the cold stone stairway. It illuminated a blind old spider’s carcass, tangled in a regale spiderweb. His fool and Kent stood guard over him, from the convenience of a nearby chimney flue.

“Tsk-tsk, don’t laugh again fool, for he was tormented by webs of his own design.”

“His nephew, past curfew, flew to his daughter.”

“He waited for her, out of 800 he had only one true.”

“Surely, he knew she had 200 ravenous babies.”

“I blame his death on them, and Cordelia’s inability to visit on gossamer wing.”

I wanted to love this because it's gorgeous and subtle but I got tripped up by regale.
I looked it up and there are two definitions, the first to entertain, the second a sumptuous feast.
Verb and noun.

It's used here as an adjective so I was perplexe
d.

Steve Forti

“Let’s keep a level head here. We don’t know for sure if you have it.”

“But what if, Lou? I’m scared. I should’ve stayed in. It’s just… it’s too much.” After her outing, they’d barred the doors, locked the windows. Even closed the flue. You know, in case she concocted some floo powder and escaped that way. “Time is crawling trapped in here. Remember when summers flew by?”

The phone rang. Caller ID sent adrenaline through her achy body. Lou waited as she hung up.

“Phew. It’s just the flu. Few days of rest and plenty of fluids.”
too realistic for me!!
although a concoction of floo powder may be just what I need!


Timothy Lowe
“More timpani! And what’s with the pouting? I need less attitudes, people!”

“Fewer,” said a flueglhorn.

“Precisely!” said the man with the baton, who claimed to be a great-grandnephew of Tchaikosky. “We can’t do the 1812 overture if we’re busy correcting grammar!”

“B-b-but,” stammered a trombone. “We’re the Melbourne Grammar Symphony Orchestra!”

“Irregardless,” shouted the conductor. “Now play!”

Squeaks and squeals. A baton snapped in frustration.

“Jesus, people! We’re falling apart. Altogether, now!”

A shoe flew by his ear.

“Who through that? Nevermind! We’ve got to count skillfully, or --”

BOOM!

The cannoneer shrugged. “At least he didn’t split his infinitive.”

who through that indeed!!!
And more timpani should come with more cowbell, no? 



Colin Smith
We were breaking curfew to meet, but it was worth the risk. I crouched in the shadows of the ruined courthouse while searchlight beams flew overhead. In the distance I heard shots. Karen’s nephew was hit on the way last night. She won’t be out tonight.

I crept to the abandoned shack and slipped through the doorway. The others were already there, huddled close together. Flickering candlelight danced over our excited faces. Lin opened the book and, since only she could translate Chinese fluently, began, her voice quiet but strong:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”
ooh, this is masterful.
Very very subtle and powerful


Matt Krizan
Sand swirled around Chumly as the airship flew away.

“Whadja do?” A grizzled old man eyed Chumly curiously.

“Disagreed with her.”

“That’d do it.” The old man nodded. “Name’s Requin. I’m the caretaker here. An’ ‘fore you ask… I ain’t got no influence over t’Queen. C’mon…”

Chumly followed him to a shanty town of goatskin huts. “How many others are there?”

“Phew, these days? A hunnerd. Bit less, maybe.”

“Fewer!” a querulous voice cried out from a nearby hut.

“Quiet, Forti!” Requin held open a vacant hut’s flap for Chumly. “Welp, this ‘un here’s yers. Welcome to Carkoon.”

Honestly, I always get a laugh when entries have Mr. Forti and other blog readers on Carkoon. I know it says nothing good about me...but then again there's not much good to be said!


Jennifer Rand
"Phew! Fewer than I expected flew in. I got the flue closed just in time. Any more and we'd be finished!"

"Tsk-tsk. Get a grip, man. The deadly ones are red," he said, eyeing the tiny winged objects landing on his arm. Tears welled in his eyes as it dawned on him. Slowly he lifted his tinted safety glasses.
rose colored glasses by any other name.
This is very subtle.
not quite a story but terrific writing.


Mallory Love
The manor was on the outskirts of town. Everyone was en route. The nephew flew from Austin; the son drove from Boston. Nothing brought affluent families together as much as the last rites of a relative with a few hundred million to spare.

Wellington wasn’t ready to die. But if he must, it’d be like he did everything else: on his own terms.

His family wailed phony sympathy, but their hunger for power was very real as they jostled each other to claim his attention. No one smelled the gas. Wellington drew one last breath before he struck the match.

"a few hundred million to spare" just cracked me up.


C. H. Reaver
"And I'm saying our nephew will be a bad influence on Timothy and John!"

His wife was displeased. "Karl doesn't talk like that out of spite." She turned to her kids. "I know it's...kind of difficult to communicate with your cousin, but I think you should try. Perhaps you could find a way to understand each other."

Tim snorted. "ROFL."
"Ew, no," said John.
"I had much rather bite the dust than speak another word to these fopdoodles," vociferated Karl indignantly.
I'm adopting fopdoodle forthwith.
I love this.
It's not quite a story but I don't care. It's hilarious!


Marie McKay
Her voice was velvet like the night sky. She'd read aloud 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' each evening. A dark joke. Residents gathered. Few listened.

She had one photo, a nephew's.

Her afternoons were unsettled; fragments of lyrical phrases left behind as she darted around. I wasn't fluent in Italian but understood enough to know how misunderstood she's been; to recognise those deep scars of othering a life of isolation brings.

Today, a surprise for her in the visitors' room:

"Gianno!" He recognised the voice from his childhood, the aunt's he'd only ever heard from a room next door.
I'm confused a little here. A surprise for her in the visitor's room makes me think she is seeing Gianno for the first time in a long time.

But he'd only ever heard from a room next door made me think they were both living in the asylum,
next door, unbeknownst to each other.

This is lovely lyrical writing despite my perplexion.


JanR
Oooh… what *is* this place?

Ssh! It is a library. There are books.

Err… and green lady with wings? And fireplace? With real fire?

Tsk! It is a *badly run* library. They cannot keep books safe when—

Um. You probably shouldn’t have said—

AAAAAGHHH!

Eeeek… help! Miss, my friend, she flew up the flue. I mean… that chimney, she vanished, there were purple sparks…

Heh. It’s just a spell that expels sticklers someplace sticky. She’s in the glue aisle at the hobby store. Unharmed.

Phew… hmmm… so this library is magical?

Ah. With an open mind, they all are.

Expels sticklers to someplace sticky???
Maybe the best line of the year.
Love this.

RosannaM
June 15, 2025

Dear Grandma Jones,

Thank u for my Huhwhyee trip. I flue over Twosday. I will stay fewer than fourteen days. Maybe to weeks. Uncle Jeffs nephew had the flew so he cant come with me. Sux for him. LOL.

I will go to the beech alot and may be learn to serf. OH! I saw see turtles. Their huge, but the natesure peeple wont let you near them. Hoola dancers preformed at a loo-Ow tonight. Cant wate.

Its kinda skary being a grown up now, but Mike Rows skewl looks cool.

Luv,

You’re grandaughter Brittany Ella (Jones)
I have a feeling I'm missing something about this one.

travelkat
The True Story of A Reluctant Chimney Sweep, Who Tumbled Into The Hearth, And Was Subsequently Mistaken For A Raven

There once was a bird from Nantucket,

Who flew down the flue in a bucket.

He said. “Phew, tsk this task,

There are few that dare ask,

Gulls don’t sweep a chimney, we duck it.”
Wonderful use of a title!




For the first time in years (I think) I have the winner right away: Colin Smith.

The subtlety of your entry was brilliant.
There was an entire story there without a word of it on the page.
That's brilliant writing.

Drop me a line and let me know what you'd like to read!


Thanks to all of you who wrote and posted entries.
It was a pleasure to read your work, and it was a welcome break from the tasks of the day.


I should mention that next week's flash fiction contest will use words from this' week's entries.

Of course fopdoodle will be one of them!


Friday, July 24, 2020

Flash fiction writing contest!

Mr. Forti chastised my use of or less rather than fewer  in yesterday's comments.
Ok, Mr. Forti, game ON!


The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:
few
phew
flue
flew
tsk

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

9. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.

10. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.

Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

11.. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

12. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

13. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.


Contest opens: July 25, 2:11am
Contest closes: July 26, 9am

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?
ENTER!
Sorry, contest is closed!



Thursday, July 23, 2020

Madame Panda, votre Uber est ici!

The Columbus Zoo tweeted
A red panda is missing from her habitat at the Zoo. She is not a threat to the public. If anyone near the Zoo sees a small red mammal with a long, fluffy striped tail, please contact the Columbus Zoo immediately at Security Dispatch: 614-582-1844. bit.ly/2CUMOd5
 They followed up with this:


So, where did she go?
Ten words or less! 

post in the comments column here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Cooper!

This is Cooper.
He's not my cat, and sadly, he lives far enough way that it's a train ride to visit him.
Of course, with the social isolation, even that's not possible right now.

So, his second assistant sends me photos. He's on her bookshelf here.
He's plotting, as you can see.


What's he plotting?
Well, that orange cylinder thing has treats in it.
And don't think for a second that Cooper doesn't know this.


First step, get it off the shelf.

Second step, gaze at the second deputy firmly, so she knows to open the container.





We had some great words for Jeff yesterday:

Master of the Watch

moxie
Gumption
Normal!

omnipresent
intrepid
dauntless

audacious
persistent
comfortable

charmer
interloper
curiousfriendipity

temerarious
peripatetic
chutzpah-ish (or chutz-paw-ish?)

rambler!

Mine was boulevardier.



Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Jeff!

Jeff!

This is Jeff.
Jeff is not my cat.

This has not stopped Jeff from:
strolling into my house
jumping into my car
napping on my deck chairs
making himself at home in my planter boxes
sassing the dog in the dog's backyard

My next-door neighbors came home and found Jeff sleeping on their bed, which surprised them, as Jeff isn't their cat, either.

Last year, when my house was being remodeled, one of the carpenters told me everyone loved my cat. This confused me because my indoor-only cat spent her days safely locked up upstairs, far away from the construction zone. It turned out Jeff waltzed inside to inspect the remodel and befriended everyone.

I keep meaning to tell Jeff's official family that we should attach a camera to him to see everywhere he goes.


Jeff and  Waylon

Jeff

Jeff and Waylon

When I sent a reply to Kelly for sending me these pics, I was so happy to find what I think is the perfect one word description of Jeff.

What would be yours?

Monday, July 20, 2020

Flash fiction prelims!/UPDATED

You guyz are brilliant.

NLiu
Nov 30th

A Kalispell resident reported a "shady-looking guy" with a large dog was standing in her neighbor's yard and staring at her house. Upon investigation, police discovered the interlopers were in fact a life-size inflatable Santa and Rudolph. When pressed as to why she had not mentioned the man and his animal companion were glowing brightly, the resident said she "didn't want to alarm anyone".
This was a reader favorite! 
Gotta say, I loved it too.

Steve Forti
Wife arrested for stabbing husband blames his “repeated terror”.

It started with a pencil. He found another one. Called it his “Number Two Number Two”. Later, her ballet outfit was too tight, cut off feeling in her legs. So he threw it out. Her second favorite outfit was even tighter. So he got rid of her “Number Number Two Tutu”, too.

Officers say the final straw came this afternoon when the husband, exiting the bathroom, announced that he had just taken his second favorite follow up defecation. Or, as he put it, his “Number Two Number Two Number Two.”
I don't want to encourage Mr. Forti.
He will just keep punishing us.

AJ Blythe
A Eureka man called 911 to report a missing house. He’d come home from the pub to find his house gone and another in its place.

I meant for you to make stuff up AJ, not tell people things that happened to me. Although thank you for disguising by saying man and Eureka.



B.I.Hirsch 
Charges against a local school bus driver for violating a restraining order were dropped Wednesday. Agnes Bleaker of Pine Street reported the crime, Monday, when she returned home from work.
“It's my g— d— ex, Jerome,” she told 911. “He dresses like Big Foot whenever he's horny. I told him enough already.”
School officials immediately helped police locate the driver who was arrested.
Officers responding to the scene noted the crime was still in progress and the actual perpetrator was a black bear.
The children on the bus were located and will be sent home. They appeared unharmed.



There are no words for this video, and the story was ripped from the headlines!


InkStainedWench
A Flathead coffee shop has filed a missing bear report with police after discovering its mascot missing Tuesday morning. The animal was absent when employees arrived, and a 50-lb bag of Liberica beans was found torn open and half empty, police said.

The bear is described as black, 5'8” tall (when upright), and 317 lbs. The public is urged to notify police if the bear is spotted; although not considered armed, he is likely to be quite jittery. He can be lured with salmon or a macchiato, and answers to the name of the shop, Brew Inn.

It took me three reads to get the Brew Inn joke. I'm clearly befuddled (nothing new there.)
this is hilarious!

BrianH
While the city of Dumerville reels at the theft of the World’s Largest Bale of Hay, a new lead has emerged. Local police report that at 22:48 yesterday, a suspect was apprehended for vandalism of dictionaries at the Dumerville Library. Emma Lowett Bulb (56) later confessed to stealing the city’s prized roadside attraction with the intention of “springing a friend,” a Mr. Moran of St. Albinus County, recently arraigned. The attraction has not been recovered, but a police spokesperson confirmed that search parties are active. Ms. Bulb is being held pending bale.
You go stand over there with Mr. Forti, my nemesis.


Colin Smith
12:30am Terrified lady reported home invasion. Suspect entered through second floor bedroom window. 100 Grove Lane.

1:02am Officer called for backup. Two aggressive, possibly rabid, individuals. One appeared to be wearing a police uniform. Attacked during routine patrol. 100 Grove Lane.

1:34am Officer called for backup. Three aggressive, possibly rabid, individuals. Two appeared to be wearing police uniforms. Attacked during routine patrol. 100 Grove Lane.

2:10am Officer called for backup. Four aggressive, possibly rabid, individuals. Three appeared to be wearing police uniforms. Attacked during routine patrol. 100 Grove Lane.

3:00am Fire at 100 Grove Lane. Arson suspected. Kalispell priest arrested.

Clearly I'm missing something because this one eludes me.
Help! 

Ok, got it! Vampires!
I'm clueless about vampire stuff, sorry Colin.

this is the kind of writing that gets "great stuff, just not for me" on query responses.


Matt Krizan

A man was found dead this morning in his Kalispell home. Several prominent members of the community who attended a dinner party at the man’s home the previous evening are being treated as persons of interest. While the exact cause of death is as of yet unknown, a number of suspicious objects were found in the vicinity of the body, among them a candlestick, a rope, and a lead pipe. The investigation is ongoing.
Yes, for this one I had a CLUE!


CED
A Kalispell man was arrested for terrorizing the downtown area in an oversized ant costume. He claimed to be following all local COVID regulations by "social insecting, wearing a mask, and maintaining six feet."
I'm still laughing at this one.
The six feet thing is priceless.


Marie McKay
A woman called 911 to say her sister needed to report a missing person. When asked who was missing the woman explained it was herself. She confirmed she had taken a number of wrong turns on the drive to her sister's which meant her sister wouldn't have clue where she was.
How is it you and AJ Blythe know this much about me?


Just Jan
2:24 pm: A birthday cake was reported missing. The baker claimed that a neighbor’s goat had butted its way into the party right before the disappearance because it was “jealous of my two-year-old granddaughter.” The toddler, who appeared inconsolable, was apparently fine after a nap. The goat is still on the lam.
I'd be wailing like a banshee if my cake was stolen by a scofflaw goat!

JanR
Fri, Aug 15, 1057
By Kenneth MacDuff
Police were called to 9 Fife Street by a man who had “lost all his pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop.” He wanted to invite the cops to a chicken dinner.

Wed, Nov 1, 1508
By Desdemona Moor
The substance that neighbours reported as “foul charms or minerals that weakens motion” turned out to be calcium tablets.

Thurs, April 23, 1607
By Anne Hathaway
A woman called to ask if her husband could be cited for getting history wrong. He couldn’t. He had a poetic license.

Well, the police blotter IS a classic!

Michael Seese
Local noted numismatist Penelope "Penny" Reed died yesterday in the parlor of her Roosevelt Avenue home.

Police suspect foul play to be involved, as Ms. Reed’s body was discovered with 96 Morgan Dollars crammed into her mouth. No other weapons were found, as Ms. Reed was widely known to have an abnormal fear of hammers, baseball bats, tubas, and other blunt instruments.

According to Police Chief Lincoln Nichols, "Clearly the killer understood the old adage. If you can't beat 'em, coin 'em."

Services will be held at the Washington and Jefferson Funeral Home.
You too can join Mr. Forti in the corner.
Smart wordsmiths the lot of you.


I'm laughing too hard to pick just one.
Help me out. Tell me your fave, and if I left anything out.

oh! And what is Colin's about??? thanks for all your help on that one!


Update: sorry this update is so late. I was chained to my desk today working on revisions with a client.
I finally got the pages done about 9pm and had to take a short break before diving in here.


I read all these again, and it's still hard to choose just one!

In the end I had to go with the entry that is so clearly about me and my sister: Marie McKay!

Marie, let me know your mailing address and what you like to read these days. I think all of our tastes are changing a bit during these interesting times.


Thanks to all you who took the time to write and post entries.
It was great fun to read them all, and made for a nice break from reading over the weekend.

I'm making serious progress on my queries and requested fulls, thanks to all of you generously helping out with blog content for a while.

 
 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Flash fiction contest inspired by bears!

Laura's comment on this post about bears
I’m guessing this story didn’t run in the Flathead Beacon Police Blotter. With items like, “The golfer on the sixth green at a local course turned out to be a black bear,” it’s one of my favorite newsfeed subscriptions.
prompted me to think it would be fun to have a flash fiction contest!

Write a police blotter item for the Flathead Beacon:

No prompt words.

Just 100 words or fewer.

The other rules apply:

1. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

2. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

3. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

4. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

5. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

6. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.


7. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

8. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

9. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

10. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: Saturday July 18, 6:17am
Contest closes:Sunday, July 19, 9am

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?
Not yet! 
ENTER! 
Rats! Too late; contest closed!



Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Letter from Paris

I returned to Paris last month while France was still under quarantine. From the beginning, it felt like I had stepped into a post-apocalyptic world.

Under normal circumstances, every seat on the plane would've been taken, but these are not normal times. I had the entire row to myself and there was no trouble finding overhead space for my carry on.



At the airport, Charles de Gaulle, there are trains on the lower level that take passengers into the center of the city. Not one person was to be found.


Patrick with my suitcases in one of the almost empty halls. Only the Vigipirates were there to check that 'everyone' was wearing a mask.

In the evening Patrick and I drove around Paris, a warm summer evening normally bustling with life – there was none. We passed the Eiffel Tower lit with no one to admire her but myself.


We drove toward the Louvre; the Seine was as quiet as the boulevards. No Bateaux-Mouches filled with tourists, no flashing lights from cameras or cellphones capturing a moment in time. At the Pont des Arts, I watched a young couple admiring the view of the Île de la Cité while another couple strolled toward the Left Bank. Four people on the walking bridge where crowds of people would normally be.

The cafés were dark, the quays and the boulevards empty. Seeing Paris this way was more than a shock, this was Paris after all. It was almost summertime and the Coronavirus had done what sub-zero temperatures and snow covered grounds in the midst of winter could never do – stop Parisians from going to the theater, the cinéma, strolling the streets, or meeting friends in cafés and restaurants.



We arrived at the Place de la Concorde. Never had I seen this place empty of cars and people, but there wasn't a single car or person in sight. I had the strangest feeling I had stepped into the Twilight Zone. On the Champs-Élysées, two people on electric foot scooters made their way down the large avenue with only a small amount of traffic as we headed toward the Arc de Triomphe. I told Patrick, let's go home. I had seen enough for one day.




Thank goodness Paris has slowly opened up once again and life has come back to the city. Every person on the bus had a mask on. Seating is staggered unless you're with someone.


This was the view outside from the back of the bus

It's a different story near the Pompidou Center and other touristy spots. Many people wear a mask, many don't.

But, at least, life has returned to Paris. (Saint-Eustache church near Les Halles.)


And the cafés and terraces are coming to life once again.

---LynnRodz

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hello Bear!

Monday morning, June 22nd.

I woke  that morning, thinking maybe there's a bear outside.
I looked out my window and ... nothing.
A few minutes later, the same thought.
This time, when I looked out my window there was a bear. IN THE TREE. 

I spent almost an hour watching the bear, who proceeded to climb down and then lumber around the yard looking for tasty treats. Apparently my landlord had left out one tiny dish from a Father's Day cookout. 



I named the bear Bruno. I've since had two more encounters with her/him. Once while out on a mindfulness walk and the other driving home. I will never get tired of seeing a bear in the wild!




I find it interesting how we have the almost primal urge to name things.

One of the most fun things about writing a novel is all the naming that must occur.
Do you have a system for naming characters? Do you change names of characters?

And what have you named that isn't alive?
My mum, whilst being wooed by my dad, took one look at his rather forlorn auto and promptly named it Puget, the sound car.
Of course they lived in Seattle.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Social distancing with bears

My favorite romance writer Kari Dell posted a link on Twitter to this:
WEST GLACIER- A Kalispell woman in her thirties was running on Huckleberry Lookout Trail when she collided what is believed to be a young grizzly bear.

A release from the Glacier National Park says the encounter happened on the morning of  Saturday, July 11 about four miles down Huckleberry Lookout Trail and was reported to dispatch around 9:00 am.

The woman was running with two other people and was the lead runner when she and the bear collided.

Both the woman and the bear tumbled together off the trail,

Clearly this writer does NOT know how to tell a good story because after this highlight, the narrative just continues blithely on.
and after they were separated, the bear ran off.

Rangers who checked the scene determined it was a surprise encounter with no further issues, and there are no other reports of the bear or additional encounters on the trail.

The trail has been posted by rangers for bear frequenting, but the trail is not closed

The woman sustained minor, non-life-threatening, injuries to her head and arm and was able to walk back down the trail with friends and meet rangers as they arrived at the trail head.

She was able to get herself to the Kalispell Regional Medical Center for further treatment and evaluation.

And again, a great missed opportunity.
What did she say when she presented herself at the ER?
Then again, this is Kalispell, maybe they see "lack of social distancing with bears" more often than we'd think.

Glacier National Park is reminding visitors that the park is home to black bears and grizzly bears, and that trail running in grizzly habitat is dangerous because runners traveling quickly and quietly through bear habitat have a higher risk of surprising grizzly bears at close range.

Trail running is discouraged by the park to protect the public and bears.

Those hiking in the park are encouraged to hike in groups, make noise when hiking and to have bear speak accessible and know how to use it.

I googled "bear speak" cause who wouldn't but found nothing.
If anyone out there knows what bear speak is, please let us all know.


And of course, the great missing line in this story is: "The bear could not be reached for comment."

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday!

Intern Ty

Bad Advice by John McIntyre


Intern Ty and I are lolling about on the couch.
We take breaks to read the essays in Bad Advice by John McIntyre to each other.

What are you doing on the summer Sunday?


Saturday, July 11, 2020

Monarch part 2



Remember the monarch?

He/she emerged this morning. It was so cool to watch! I'm so excited because it's the only monarch I've seen this year. But it was a successful rearing from the caterpillar I sent you last week until now. I'll do the release this evening once it's completely furled and the wings are dry.


Blog hiatus update: I'm almost caught up on requested fulls. Thanks to all of you who've helped me with blog content while I get the backlog under control.  

Friday, July 10, 2020

Casey!

Casey!
This is Casey, who is no longer with us, but a favorite memory is her frequently joining my wife in reading at the kitchen table. She had a preference for mysteries, as I recall.--Ray Rhamey

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Bentley!


Bentley!

This is Bentley. He is a neighbor’s cat. He’s very dapper in his bow tie. His parents are the brother and sister-in-law of the people from which we recently purchased our house. Bentley stares in our front screen door, waiting for the previous owners, Uncle Walt and Aunt Liz to give him treats. When we don’t let Bentley in the front door, he tries the back slider. My wife is not a fan of pets, but I am. I look forward to my new nephew visiting his Uncle Kregger  

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Precious!

Precious!

For those of you following along at home, my Foster kitty Precious was adopted last week. She was with me for 4 1/2 months - way longer than the typical foster situation, due to the pandemic making the usual adoption events impossible, and enough time for her to capture my heart.

Every evening after we both had dinner, I’d settle on the sofa and dive into my Netflix list. Precious would join me, rubbing on me and demanding petting. If I stopped too soon, she’d tap my arm. Then she’d collapse against me and purr herself to sleep.

 I dang near became a Foster Failure, but I’m thrilled that we found her Forever Home. I kissed her head and wished her a long, happy, healthy life with her new family. Now I’m ready for the next homeless kitty that needs me.--Claudie Wilson

Hiatus update: I finally got to the post office yesterday. The pandemic has made this usually-easy task into quite the adventure. I used to be able to drop packages in the corner mailbox. About a year ago New York changed all drop boxes into letter slot only. Nothing thicker than a business envelope fit through the slot.

So, ok, no problem. I just hopped on the L-train to First Ave, skipped up the steps to the PO, dropped the packages, Bob's your uncle. It took an hour all told, but ok.

Then with the pandemic, there was no more getting on the subway.
And I didn't even know if the post office was open.

So I dawdled.
Then, when I knew I was coming to beautiful downtown Queens, I remembered there is post office close by that didn't require getting on the subway. So I hauled the packages in my suitcase and then today, got on the bus to the PO. (The bus will need to be a separate tale!)

I got to the PO and the line was out the door and down the block. The idea of standing in line stopped me cold. But then I realized, those folks were waiting for window service. I just needed to drop off. So I walked up to the door. And was met with a terrifying sight: a ten year old girl with a skateboard who had clearly been dragged to the PO with her mom, and was now looking at someone intent on Cutting the Line. I've seen danger before, but I tell you, a shiver ran down my spine.

I paused before finning the door and said to her "I just need to drop these envelopes in the bin right there. I'm not cutting the line, I promise."

She graciously nodded, and I went in.

There was one window open and more than 20 people in line.
I've never been more grateful for stamps.com than I was at that moment.

Packages in the mail.
Back home on the bus.


Thanks again to all you helping with blog content while I catch up.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Mare-Bear!

Mare-Bear!
This is Marilyn! 

a.k.a. Mare-Bear. She is probably about 13 or 14 years old and is our newest clinic cat. As per our usual, when our former clinic cat, Mia, passed, even though we were all heartbroken--it was only a matter of days before the Universe presented us with another ancient feline that no one seemed to want anymore.

Well, guess what? We wanted her. And she has fit right in. Ever since day 1, in a very un-cat-like manner, she waddles around, completely unafraid of her new surroundings and loud noises and strangers scooping her up and flipping her upside down to give her a belly rub. She was so unconcerned (esp. about the noises) that at first we thought she might be deaf. But no, that's apparently just Marilyn.

This picture is flattering (she likes to pose), but she's actually as round as a basketball and unfortunately has extremely arthritis knees. But she's so happy. She is one of the most content cats I've ever met. Every morning she shuffles around to get the most pets per person. I am proud to say, I'm one of her favorites. We give her therapy laser sessions for the knees and of course, all the pets possible.

Hope you are hangin' in there and maybe not descending into madness like I am. These times, sheesh!

--LennonFaris


Hiatus update: I am reading my eyeballs out, and getting caught up on email, all while helping Intern Ty build his skill set. Very glad to have content provided by all y'all!

Monday, July 06, 2020

Flash fiction contest results

This was a really interesting experiment!
Did you like the change?



UPDATE: 

Thanks to all of you who entered. It was a terrific round of stories; one of the best in a long while.
I hope you liked it too.


I like Unknown's entry from the start.
Somehow it just captured the zeitgeist.

So, BrianH (revealed in comments) if you'll email me with your mailing address and what you like to read, I'll get a prize in the mail to you.


Thanks again to all of you who took the time to write and post entries, and comment on the results!

 -----------------
Herweith the results

Kudos for using all three prompts
Kitty

Special recognition for reference to The Wire
Timothy Lowe


Special recognition for innovative use of empties

CraigF
Tess Rook


Special recognition for OUTSTANDING new word
luciferin
travelkat


Shout out for reminder that Corona didn't always mean virus
Colin Smith


Long list
Luralee

I folded the empty bags and put them away.
"...Orchid cactus, Hon, I said when you find an orchid cactus at the grocery store, you bring it home. Not a--" I flapped my hand at the prickly thing on the counter. "--I don't even know what to do with this."

"Eat it? It was in with the lemons."

"You're braver than me. Doesn't even look like food."

"Excuse me?" The prickly thing unrolled, waved a very dingy mob-cap, and took a bottle of Rit dye from her apron pocket. "May I borrow your washing machine?"
Michael Seese
The off-gray three-piece pinstripe, welded to his eternally hollow core, glummed through the door.

"BUZZ!" blared the beleaguered buzzer.

"RED!" flashed the fidgety light.

"Negative!" called out the monitor, counting the days left until infinity. "Next."

Practiced smile plastered to her vacated visage, the pastel pantsuit waved involuntarily to imaginary followers in corporeal form as she lilted through the scanner.

"Another negative!"

"Holy cow, that's a lot of empties. I don't get it. Where are their souls?" asked the minion in red.

"My bad. And that's the last time I make a bulk deal with the Congress," muttered Satan.
Leah Ning
When you spot an orchid cactus at the grocery store, you bring it home. You figure the plant might make you less lonely.
You blink. The cactus on your nightstand has bloomed and its flower is pink. You can’t remember if you like pink.
You blink. The flower is shriveled, the cactus an unhealthy yellow.
You blink. You’re lonely and can’t remember why.
The heap of rotting plants in your garage pricks your memory like cactus spines.
When you spot an orchid cactus at the grocery store, you bring it home. You figure the plant might make you less lonely.

KD James
"Is it my turn to do the laundry, or--"

"DIE!" A shoe hits the faded linoleum.

"What?"

"DIEDIEDIE!!" More splats.

"I think you got it."

"Did you see the size of that thing?!"

I eye the squashed mess. "One might argue it's larger now."

"GAH! It'll haunt my dreams, with all the others. We've gotta move."

"Right. The laundry, is it--"

"YES. But I'll take this turn, the next FIVE, if you do cleanup here."

I fake a shudder, think of my secret stash of roaches, my even more secret Laundromat-phobia, and sigh dramatically. "If you insist."



Finalists

NLiu
Anonymous tipoff. We follow it, watch the schoolkids from our unmarked car.

"Holy cow, that's a lot of Empties," Linda whispers.

She's right. They stare at nothing. Normal kids avoid them.

Night. We return, investigate. Nothing - until the books. Paper shouldn't glow red in the dark.

Linda pokes one. "What are they?"

The light clicks on. We freeze.

Man's in the doorway: frayed cardigan, worrying grin. "People say books take your mind new places. It's no metaphor now."

"That's diabolic!" But... Hogwarts. "Can I--"

Linda's quicker. Pages flash. Her soul vanishes.

He sighs. "They only go to Michigan."
Unknown
“I’m just not sure I’m ready, honey.” I hated having these discussions while we ran.
“Look, when you spot an orchid cactus at the grocery store, you bring it home. Period.”
“Ok.” I raised my hands in defeat. “All I’m saying is we don’t know how to take care of it. Or how big it will grow.”
“Well,” she grunted as she hurdled a rock, “I bet we can figure it out.”
“And you are certain it’s an orchid cactus?” A tree branch forced me to duck.
“Pretty sure. Why?”
I glanced back. “It’s gaining on us.”


Steve Forti

“Electromagnetic pulse. Like in The Matrix. Fries all electronics. Power grid, internet, communications. Everything.” He patted the crate. “And this baby’s a doozy.”

“What’s the target?”

“Jakarta.” He pointed to the map. “This circle here? That’s the effective zone. Everyone there goes dark.”

“Holy cow. That’s a lot of EMP.”

“Ties
the record from the Seattle incident in ’23. Thought about topping it, but I respect the classics.”

“True dat. When’s it going off?”

“9am tomorrow. Right on the anniversary.”

“But today’s the 8th.”

“What?”

“We’re flying west. We passed the international date line. It’s 8:59am right now.”

“Oh sh-zzzzzzztttttt……………………”


Jennifer Rand

When you spot an orchid cactus at the grocery store, you bring it home. "If it dies," the directions state, "so will YOU!"
Your superstitious nature warps your senses. Fearing for your life, you strictly adhere to the instructions:
"Five drops of purified water at three second intervals twice daily as the sun rises and sets."
You forgo vacations and social engagements to preserve your life.
But one day you forget, landing you--not surprisingly--in the hospital! Desperate, you call your roommate.
"Marjorie, water my orchid and hurry!"
"You're kidding," she responds. "You know that thing's plastic, right?"


Matt Krizen

Week 1: You give the kids homework and take them on walks. You reorganize your closets.

Week 3: The kids watch TV, argue and fight. You find a website that delivers wine to your door in under an hour.

Week 9: The kids painted the dog. You’re not sure when. You spot an orchid cactus at the grocery store. You bring it home and call it George.

Week 20: The news says it’s safe, but George doesn’t believe them. He’s usually right about such things. You still think about the kids, on the odd occasion when you have no wine.

Help me out here and tell me who you think should take the prize!
And if I've left anyone out, mention that too.











Sunday, July 05, 2020

Happy Sunday!

I am ensconced in beautiful downtown Queens for a reading retreat.
Intermission is a round of laser tag with my furred accomplice.

This is the standoff.
Cue theme music from The Good The Bad and the Ugly!

Friday, July 03, 2020

Flash Fiction Contest!

My clients have learned to fear email from me that has the subject line: I have this idea!

I revised that from "I have this great idea" several years back when I realized I should let them decide if it was great or not.

So, I have this idea!

Instead of prompt words, how about a choice of three prompt sentences?
(great, right??)


These rules apply:


1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use one of these prompts in the story. It does not have to be the start or the finish, BUT the words must be in order. You don't need to include the author of the phrases.


when you spot an orchid cactus at the grocery store, you bring it home.—Luralee
"Do the laundry or die!" —french sojourn

holy cow, that's a lot of empties. —nightmusic
3. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

4. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

5. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

6. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

7.  Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.


8. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.

9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.

Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"


10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.


Contest opens:  9am, Saturday, 7/4/20

Contest closes: 9am, Sunday, 7/5/20


If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!
ENTER!
Rats, too late!
Contest closed.