Saturday, November 12, 2022

Authors - They're Everywhere!

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I went to the Northern Virginia Christmas Market at the Dulles Expo Center today. 

As usual, there were lots of crafts and artwork. There were also a number of authors and publishers showing their wares.

I saw:

I bought a mystery book from Dawn Brotherton (and she signed it!) titled The Obsession. I haven't read a mystery in a while and thought it might make for a nice change. Although the cover is different than what is shown on Amazon, the book received good reviews.

If you're in the area and want to talk to these authors, they'll be at the Christmas Market tomorrow, too (November 13, 2022). 

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone

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This little piggy went to market...

In truth, I do this every week. With Marie, of course. She is always looking for the freshest Swiss chard or the shiniest eggplant to include in a recipe she's found. So, each week we visit the local farmer's market in Burke, Virginia to pick up fruit, vegetables, eggs, ice cream (sometimes), and fresh seafood. The oysters we get there are the best I've ever had. It's not the cheapest place to shop, but the items we get are usually much better than what is available in the supermarket. 

Before I continue, I want to note this post will have nothing to do with artwork or writing or any of the things I usually blog about. 

This morning, we glanced into the Baguette Republic stall while making the rounds. I don't usually shop there as we don't eat a lot of bread other than bagels. They don't make bagels. This time, however, my eye spotted a package of lemon ricotta muffins. Something about them appealed to me. We decided they might be good to have during breakfast. 

While waiting in line to pay, I spotted a small olive loaf (boule) to try. While settling the bill, I made a big mistake. I nonchalantly asked of the man working the stall, "Do you ever do rye bread."

"We sure do," he said, pointing to some loaves on a table.

"Oh, I'll have to try that sometime."

"Why not today?"

As he picked a loaf from the table and brought it over to me, I thought he was trying to make an additional sale. But, no, he wasn't.

"Take this," he said. "For free."

"Huh? What? I don't want to be taking advantage here."

"You're not. I'm offering it to you. If we can't share bread, what can we share?"

Dumbfound, I walked away with a free loaf of rye. Not a sample or a half-loaf, but a plump loaf over a foot long. 

The rye bread from Baguette Republic

It wouldn't be so bad except this is not the first time they've given me something free. They deserve to get paid for their wares. A while back, we stopped by to pick up a bag of croissants and a few rolls. It wasn't a large purchase, so I didn't want to use a credit card since the fees are getting outrageous for the vendors (some have a minimum purchase amount posted now). I didn't quite have enough cash with me to cover it. The worker said, "That's okay, just whatever you have."

Maybe it's me. They see an older guy, hair askew and a little disheveled, and they think I'm short on funds. Perhaps I'll start wearing a tie to the market. On second thought, no, probably not...

I know the items they sell aren't cheap, but this is the DC area. Everything's expensive. And it could be they're hoping I'll like the bread and buy more next week. No matter the reason, it's nice to see someone, and perhaps a whole company, that isn't looking to squeeze every penny out of their customers. So, that's why I'm giving them a bit of a shout-out here. 

The lemon ricotta muffin from Baguette Republic

And, yes, the lemon ricotta muffin was really good. It was like eating a fluffy lemon cheesecake. And the rye? I've only tasted a small slice, but it is about the best I've ever had. The crust is chewy and the inside is soft.

Baguette Republic has a website and they also set up stalls in many of the farmer's markets in the DC area. Please check them out if you're in the area.

They also have jobs listed on their website. From what they say, it might be a good place to work. This is from the bottom of their careers page for a packaging team member position:

Why Should You Apply?
    •     Fun, yet professional, work environment
    •     Foot in the door if you are interested in learning a trade and working in the bakery down the road
    •     Three days off per week! (Ideal for college students)
    •     Free bread and cookies!

Free cookies?!? I just might have to apply!

As a disclaimer, I'd like to point out that I do not know the owner or any of the employees of Baguette Republic. I am not an investor in their business. They did not pay me for this article, though if they'd like to I won't stop them!

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Just The Latest News

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It's been a while since I've put out a blog post. I haven't disappeared, but I have been busy—just not with writing so much. 

But others have! So, here's all the news that's fit to print...

Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash

First of all, Terri Deno has a new Kindle Vella project going. It's an historical romance story called A Hollywood Ending. It takes place in the 1970s. 

Here's the blurb:

Annie Crane knows just how lucky she is. Adopted by a wealthy Beverly Hills family, she is the kind of girl that does exactly what she is told. When tragedy strikes, Annie's world is turned upside down and she must find a balance between making her friends her family or giving one of them the chance of being so much more to her.

I haven't started reading it yet, but I'll get there. And you can find it HERE.

Miranda Kate has a new Kindle book on presale (available October 31st!). It's called Unsailable Sea (Tricky's Tales Book 2).

Here's the skinny on this one:

This is book two in the series of Tricky's Tales - make sure to read book one, Dead Lake, first.

Tricky by name, Tricky by nature

Buggeration! Without knowing it she’d been recruited into unearthing Carter’s bloody network, just as The Baron wanted!

When Lucien Dufray’s cat and flock of birds turn up at Tricky’s cabin, she knows something’s wrong. But when her crystal ball shows her one thing and Adric tells her another, Tricky becomes suspicious – which might be her natural state, but there was nothing natural about Dufray’s disappearance. Adric wants her to find him, but had Dufray been kidnapped or had he turned traitor?

Between her mother’s jade calling to her in the forest of Ferriston, The Rabble, an untrustworthy fae collective directing her to the Unsailable Sea, and her spy glass showing her Dimitry Stanislav, one of her mother’s murderers, Tricky is confused.

The only witnesses to Dufray’s exodus were his menagerie, so Tricky’s best friend Annie sends for an old friend, Nathan Rothschild, who can communicate with cats, and her ex-girlfriend, Safa Odeh, who can communicate with birds. Together they try and piece together what happened that night.

What they uncover is a plot deeper than the network’s underground bunkers, with more twists than Tricky’s sexual desires. Will she find Dufray, or will she risk capture? Either way she needs to keep her wits about her and remember she’s the tricky one.

Dead Lake is a dark paranormal fantasy novel set a few hundred years from now in a post-apocalyptic world. After a massive shift of the tectonic plates decimated the world and its population, life on the remaining landmass has returned to simple living, with money, rulers and religion no longer tolerated.

Michael Wombat has a new book out called Johanna & Sebaster's Big Day Out.

Here's what this one is about:

One's a high class raven. The other's a foul-mouthed feline. Together they must journey on a magical quest.

This hilarious new novelette comes with another twenty-one fresh, unpublished tales from master storyteller Michael Wombat. The title story itself is a magical extravaganza, but you will find herein adventures from every genre. They all have one thing in common: sheer entertainment. There is even an intriguing guest appearance from highly respected writer Victoria Pearson, author of the 'Strange Stories' trilogy of dark short stories and twisted fairytales.

So, what have I been doing? 

Not a lot, writing-wise. I did send out one sci-fi horror story which was rejected. I don't think the editors thought much of it, probably because they're evil aliens and my story was too close to real life for them. I can't come up with any other rational explanation.

I have been working slowly (I always work slowly) on a Kindle Vella story, but other things have gotten in the way. I'll continue it when I can. 

I have a few poems on Medium which you can check out via my Patreon site (public access on that page). Been looking at Substack and Simily, too. Maybe something will show up there eventually. Keep your ear to the ground!

But that's all for now! Thanks for stopping by!

Note: The Amazon links on this page all point to the US Amazon site. What can I say? I'm lazy...

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Shore Leave - It's All Over But the Recovery

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If you want to know how the Shore Leave convention went, I've posted four articles on Patreon. And there are pictures. All are free access, so anyone can read them.

The Shore Leave bunny logo

Here are the links to the articles:

If you have any problems with the links, just leave a comment and I'll check out what's wrong.

It was a busy three days and it took a day to get back to my abnormal normal. If you have any questions about the conference, just let me know!

Thanks for reading!

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Preparing To Take Shore Leave

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The annual Shore Leave sci-fi convention is rapidly approaching. It's going to be live this year and not a COVID-induced virtual convention. Thus begins the frantic preparations needed to collect what I need to pack—which will be done at the last minute, of course. Part of that packing will include the books I'll be giving away. I've done this in the past and the books seem to evaporate as soon as the 'free books' sign appears. It doesn't have to be sci-fi—everything from poetry to romance just disappears. Many things have changed since the last in-person Shore Leave, but I'll bet this won't! 

Books I'll be giving away at Shore Leave this year.

This year, I will be giving away these books:
  1. Owl Eyes Motel by Barbara Avon
  2. If It Was New York, Summer 2009 by Terri Deno
  3. Dead Lake by Miranda Kate
  4. Death and Decorations - an anthology, contains my story A Home for Christmas
  5. Lonesome Train - an anthology, contains my story Momma Knows Best
  6. A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook (signed copy!)
  7. The Seren Stone by Lisa Shambrook
  8. Rollie by Michael Wombat
  9. Human 76 - a shared-world anthology, contains my story The Song of Aiden, plus stories by Lisa Shambrook and Michael Wombat, edited by Miranda Kate and Michael Wombat
Most of these are available on Amazon (which is where I got them - except for the signed copy of A Symphony of Dragons). Death and Decorations and Lonesome Train are only (and unfortunately) available from Lulu. But, if you are fast and lucky, you can snag a copy at Shore Leave!

There might be a couple of other books I'll add if I can find them. Seems like a few are missing. Maybe it's because I was hoping to have another book to offer with a story and poem of my own, but that didn't work out (as you can read here). And Terri Deno has been busy over on Kindle Vella, so no new paperback from Terri yet. Still, I think it's a nice mix.

I like to do these giveaways to help spread the word about these authors. I've either worked with them, learned something from them, or they've helped me out in some way. And as Shore Leave attracts attendees from all over the USA, these authors might get exposure to audiences they wouldn't normally attract.

As usual, the Shore Leave staff hasn't posted the programming schedule yet, so I won't know which writing panels I'll be attending until—well, I get there, most likely. I do know the filk session (sci-fi/fantasy/whatever folk singers) and the "meet-the-pros" party (author party) will overlap on Friday night. I'd like to attend both, so that will be a problem. 

Also, I won't be doing the art show this year. It seems I should have had plenty of time to paint and draw, but I've been occupied with other things the last few years. I do have a lot of ideas and a few sketches done, so maybe by Shore Leave 43 I'll have something worth showing.

Another change, too. In the past, I've always had the laptop with me as I visit various talks and events. I have occasionally used it to post blog updates live. This year, I'm going to use my iPad to lighten the load. It shouldn't make a big difference, but I'll let you know how this works out.


That's the plan. I'll keep you posted!

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

It's Almost That Time Again

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Yes, it's nearly time for the annual Shore Leave Convention.

The much-delayed Shore Leave 42 convention will be held on July 15 - 17, 2022 at the Delta Hotels Baltimore, located at 245 Shawan Rd., Hunt Valley, MD 21031. For the last two of years, Shore Leave has been a virtual convention due to COVID. This year, it will be live. If you plan to attend, however, and especially if you are coming in from out-of-town, be sure to read their COVID policy before departing. It is subject to change.

UPDATE July 13, 2022

Well, more bad news! Rober Duncan McNeill had to cancel his appearance at Shore Leave due to COVID. They've been able to get John Billingsley who has played in Star Trek, Star Gate, The Orville, The X-Files, and more on short notice. There are no updates yet on the photo ops page or schedule yet, but that's where it stands as of this posting. I've copied the latest guest images from the Shore Leave website.

UPDATE July 7, 2022

I hate to bring more bad news, but that's what I've got. On the Shore Leave web site they've posted: We regret to announce The Chromatics have been forced to cancel their appearance at Shore Leave.

Normally, it would be enough to know a guest or guests won't be there, but the wording left me concerned. When I went to their web site, I found this: Shore Leave SF Con - APPEARANCE CANCELED due to illness and injury! That doesn't sound good. I have no other details at this time.

UPDATE July 5, 2022

More info on the Shore Leave guest list: We regret to announce that BarBara Luna has been forced to cancel her appearance at Shore Leave.

It appears her son (Brian Anthony Luna) passed away - no cause given.

UPDATE July, 2 2022:

Got this info from the Shore Leave folks: We regret to announce that due to professional commitments, Laz Alonzo has canceled his appearance at Shore Leave.


As you can see, there are a good number of actor guests coming. I only know a few of them as I don't follow all (hardly any?) of the shows, but there should be someone you'll find interesting. They haven't given any specifics on how the photos will be taken for those wanting a picture with a star. Awesome Con had a mix with masks for some and plexiglass screens for others. You'll need to watch the site or contact them if you have questions that might affect your desire to attend. Here are the photo prices:

Single Actor Photo-Ops Prices

Brandon Routh $65
Aimee Garcia $55 
Adam Baldwin $65
Summer Glau $65
Laz Alonso $55 (no longer available)
Gates McFadden $55 
Jessie Usher $55 
Robert Duncan McNeill $45 
BarBara Luna $45 (no longer available)
Eddie McClintock $45 

Combo Photo-Ops Prices

Arrow Duo (Routh/Glau) $110
Firefly Duo (Baldwin/Glau) $105 
Trek Combo with Gates McFadden and Robert Duncan McNeill $80 (added July 6)
The Boys Duo (Alonso/Usher) $95 (no longer available)
Star Trek Trio (McFadden/McNeill/Luna) $105 (no longer available)

As always, there will be a lot of writers selling their wares! Here is the latest list of authors attending Shore Leave:
  1. Chris Abbott  
  2. Danielle Ackley-McPhail  
  3. Rigel Ailur  
  4. Lorraine Anderson  
  5. Derek Tyler Attico  
  6. Diane Lee Baron  
  7. Christopher L. Bennett  
  8. Ken Carpenter  
  9. Alan Chafin  
  10. John Coffren  
  11. Russ Colchamiro  
  12. Greg Cox  
  13. Kathleen David  
  14. Peter David  
  15. Keith DeCandido  
  16. Kevin Dilmore  
  17. Mary Fan  
  18. Kelli Fitzpatrick  
  19. Michael Jan Friedman  
  20. Phil Giunta  
  21. Rande Goodwin  
  22. Robert Greenberger 
  23. Glenn Hauman  
  24. Andrew Hiller  
  25. Heather Hutsell  
  26. Amy Imhoff  
  27. David Mack  
  28. Christopher D. Ochs  
  29. Susan Olesen  
  30. Joshua Palmatier  
  31. Scott Pearson  
  32. TJ Perkins  
  33. Roberta Rogow  
  34. Aaron Rosenberg  
  35. Jenifer Rosenberg  
  36. Hildy Silverman  
  37. Ian Randal Strock  
  38. Dayton Ward  
  39. Laura Ware  
  40. Howard Weinstein  
  41. Richard White  
  42. Sherri Woosley
  43. C. Alex Young
All author guests, including any science authors, will be at the Meet-the-Pros Party on Friday night from 10pm to midnight. I've put links to some of their "official" websites in the list, but I've never seen so many unsecure sites in my life (http instead of https), so some browsers may balk at bringing them up. Some sites haven't been updated in years. I guest website maintenance isn't a priority for authors.

There will be an art show this year, but I won't be selling. I didn't have time to add anything new and I'd like to have more than just a few pieces to hang for the trouble of setting it all up. "Next year, for sure," he said.

I will, however, be giving away books again! More on that in a later post.

I do wonder how COVID will affect things. This convention, and Awesome Con (now taking place in DC), seem to be doing okay (the Shore Leave hotel block was booked up long ago), I did notice in the Parsec newsletter that the Confluence convention in Pittsburg may not be doing as well...

(borrowed from a Facebook post by Randy Hoffman)
Confluence (July 29-31, 2022, at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel, is happening in less than two months and the music track is shaping up to be exceptionally good this year. However, both preregistrations and hotel reservations in our room block are lower than they have ever been this close to the event dates. PLEASE IMAGINE NASTY TRIPLE UNDERLINING HERE: Unless a lot more folks come to the con than we're currently on track to bring in, the convention organization will lose a lot of money and this year's Confluence will be the last.

Time will tell. Confluence is mainly for writers. They don't bring in the TV/movie celebrities, and that may be part of it. If I get an idea about this from the vendors or my own experience, I'll pass it on.

That's all for now. So, until next time...

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, April 18, 2022

Nothing To See Here

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That's right. Just keep moving along...

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

To be honest, I've been a bit busy the last couple of years. For the most part, though, not with writing or artwork. I'm hoping that will change soon. 

The last story I had accepted, Closure, has disappeared into limbo. My story, Closure, was accepted by Thirteen O'Clock Press for inclusion in their X6 anthology. Editing was finished. The cover artwork had been revealed. All the stories had been sent to the editor for publication, including a tiny poem I'd written that had been missed in an earlier anthology. And we waited for it to appear in print. And then we waited some more. The publisher has vanished. Nobody is sure if he is still alive. Attempts by myself and the editor to reach this person have not been successful. In this era of COVID, that might be a bad sign. The website hasn't been updated lately. The last Facebook post is over a year old, and shows the cover of the anthology.

Facebook post from March 28, 2021

So, it looks like I'm out of luck on this one. I haven't decided if I'll submit the story elsewhere or save it for inclusion in a self-published collection. The same goes for the poem.

I had submitted another short story, The Dark Side of the Moon, to an anthology back in February. I received a rejection just a couple of weeks ago. Although it's difficult to get a read on how a publisher feels about a story from a short rejection letter, I have the distinct impression they were not impressed. That might end up on Patreon. If the story really is that bad, it won't matter if I post it there. Nobody reads my Patreon posts anyway. 

All of this means you can read my latest stories absolutely nowhere!

I still have old stuff out there. You can find anthologies published on Amazon with my stories HERE.

There are a few anthologies via Lulu, too, with my stories:

There you have it! Everything you need to know!

Someday, I'll have some real news to report. Until then, you'll have to rely on the brief musings I have on Medium

Thanks for stopping by!

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, March 21, 2022

Shore Leave 42 - For Real This Year?

Some of you may know that I've attended the Shore Leave Star Trek / Sci-Fi convention in the past. For the last two years, the physical convention has been cancelled due to COVID and only Zoom interviews and such have taken place. It appears Shore Leave will be live in 2022 as long as nothing changes.

What does this mean?

Live guests and authors will appear and there will be the chance to talk with them, get pictures and autographs, and have a more normal con than has been possible for some time. 

Note: I had just pasted their photos into this post when the line-up changed. Denis Lawson and Jewel Staite will no longer be able to attend due to other commitments. But the Shore Leave folks have arranged for a few other actors to come instead (Summer Glau, Laz Alonso, and Jessie Usher)!

Here are the guests currently expected for Shore Leave 42:

Shore Leave 42 actor guests. Image from the Shore Leave web site.
Shore Leave 42 actor guests.
Image from the Shore Leave web site.

The convention doesn't have a schedule yet, but more than 40 authors have stated they plan to attend. It's likely there will be many of the same panels as in the past, but as so much time has gone by since the last convention, I'm hoping for a few new and interesting ones.

As always, I plan to have a few pieces of artwork ready for the art show. I will also be giving away a few books. I'll have more on that at a later date.

Shore Leave 42 will take place at the Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley from July 15 - 17, 2022, but the website states that the room block for the convention is already sold out. So, if you're planning to go and don't have a reservation, you'll have to find rooms elsewhere. 

You can download the current flyer HERE.

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, February 14, 2022

Dark Fantasy On Sale! Dead Lake

Okay, the sale is over, but you can still check out Dead Lake with the links below!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you're looking for a little dark fantasy to read, do I have a deal for you!

Miranda Kate, author of many horror and science fiction stories, is offering her latest book, Dead Lake, for only $.99 for the next week! It already has 3 five-star reviews!

Dead Lake is a dark paranormal fantasy novel set a few hundred years from now in a post-apocalyptic world. After a massive shift of the tectonic plates decimated the world and its population, life on the remaining landmass has returned to simple living, with money, rulers and religion no longer tolerated. If you've followed Miranda's blog you may already be familiar with the protagonist of this novel, Tricky. 

For a little bit more of what to expect, here's Tricky's situation:

Sometimes it pays to be tricky
Damn and blast! That rancid piece of excrement, Carter, has had her ransacked out of Clancy!

Tricky returns to her cottage to find it turned upside down. An action that means she’s got three days to leave the district or face punishment. Randolf Carter, head of the district, is spreading lies and suspicion about her kind, making life difficult. But it wasn’t just an ordinary ransacking – they were searching for something.

Using her gifts, Tricky traces the energy left by the men and spies another creature’s energy among it: a jackdaw. Swift and wily, it’s pinched her precious gemstone, a piece of black obsidian. But at whose bidding? Communicating with birds is a rare ability and she knows all who possess it.

Tricky wants her stone back, but coming up against people like Carter won’t be easy, especially when he’s got one of her kind in his employ. But she’ll handle it, oh yes she will. She'll just have to be careful and a little bit tricky. Good thing she is then, isn’t it?

Adept at working with energy and time as well as communicating with trees, Tricky is lured into something bigger than ownership of a gemstone, and finds out that sometimes it pays to be a little bit tricky.

The book will only be on sale for a week, so don't delay! 

Miranda Kate

Here are a few of her books available on Amazon!

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge on Medium - Customer Service

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NOTE: This week, I've posted an entry for Miranda Kate's Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge on Medium (with free access so you don't have to be a member to view it). It is titled Customer Service. So few people are looking at my blog these days I have a better chance of someone reading it on Medium or Patreon. I chose Medium this time. So, after the intro below, you'll find a link to the story on Medium.


The story that follows is for a flash fiction writing challenge posted each week by author Miranda Kate. This is week number 235! You can click on this link to see the prompt image and rules.

This is from Miranda's post:

"This week's picture prompt is by artist Dan Luvisi over on Deviant Art. He made this for his science fiction book, Last Man Standing: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter - this is the character Hex. I initially only found a picture of the head of this saved, and it is all over the internet as wallpaper with all the colours enhanced, but when I found the entire original, I much preferred it as it offers so much more. Plus, crediting is SO necessary, so that the artist gets recognised and in this case, a fellow writer gets referenced. Sadly it looks like the book is out of print otherwise I would have bought a copy." 

The challenge asks for a story less than 750 words. My story has 479 words (not including the title), just in case you were counting. This week's tale has a bit of light humor...

Link to Customer Service on Medium (free access)

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, January 14, 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge On Medium - Dark Winds

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NOTE: This week, I've posted an entry for Miranda Kate's Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge on Medium (with free access so you don't have to be a member to view it). It is titled Dark Winds. So few people are looking at my blog these days I have a better chance of someone reading it on Medium or Patreon. I chose Medium this time. So, after the intro below, you'll find a link to the story on Medium.


The story that follows is for a flash fiction writing challenge posted each week by author Miranda Kate. This is week number 234! You can click on this link to see the prompt image and rules.

The prompt image brought to mind the 1928 silent film titled The Wind starring Lillian Gish (her last silent film role). This is a flash fiction tale along those lines, but with a dark ending more like the original story than the movie.

The challenge asks for a story less than 750 words. My story has 596 words (not including the title), just in case you were counting.

Link to DARK WINDS on Medium

© 2022 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 232 - The Fishing Trip

Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!

This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. She posts an image as an inspirational prompt for writing a story. This is from Miranda's post:

This week's photo is another by Florence Caplain, a French photographer. She says about it: 'I would be a princess and I would sail on the emerald on a prodigious throne.'

Here's a link to the prompt image. Sometimes the story makes more sense if you see the prompt image. If I'm lucky, it might make sense whether you see it or not. Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 662 words for those who are counting. A little Southern noir this week.

The Fishing Trip

Bobby pulled his bass boat up to the dock. He turned to slip a line over a piling when a large, black boot came down on top of it. Bobby looked up to see Sheriff McCauley staring down at him.

"Been doin' a little fishin', Bobby?"

"What's it look like?"

The sheriff looked into the boat. "I don't see no fish."

"Weren't bitin'."

"Well, when it's hot like this, sometimes they don't. Bite, that is." The sheriff fanned himself with his hat as damselflies circled the dock, then leaned over and smiled at Bobby. "You know, if I was a young man your age with a pretty girlfriend, I'd be sittin' in the shade with her sippin' an iced tea. Or maybe a lemonade. That's what I'd be doing'. And it's a hot day. Hot enough to make a fella sweat."

Bobby tossed the line around the piling to avoid the sheriff's boot, the tied a knot. He never looked up. 

"And yet here you are, Bobby Higgins, on the hottest day of the year, fishin'. I don't even see any bait."

"Threw it in the water. Wasn't catchin' nothin' anyways."

"I see."

"Look, Sheriff, I got things to do."

Bobby tried to step onto the pier, but the sheriff put up his hand to stop him.

"Now, Bobby, I'm just trying to understand things here," Sheriff McCauley pleaded, holding out his hands. "Instead of spending time with your girl, you're out here working up a sweat. Of course, that might be because nobody's seen Cassie since last night. I don't suppose you've seen her, have you?"


"Come to think of it, the last person she was seen with was Steve Taylor. They were dancin' down at the Gator's Nest until almost midnight, so maybe you're not the best person to ask anyway."

"Maybe you should ask Stevie, then, shouldn't you?" Bobby paced as much as he could in the tiny boat. "He's your little golden boy, isn't he? What is he? A cousin, twice removed? I'm just here so you have someone's ass to kick every now and then."

"Trust me, Bobby. If all I wanted was an ass to kick, there's plenty of 'em around these parts that deserve it. I'm just havin' a polite conversation with a fishin' buddyespecially since I haven't been able to locate Steve Taylor, either."

"Buddy? I ain't never been your buddy."

"Sorry you feel that way, Bobby." The sheriff scrutinized the boat again. "You'd think you would have at least brought a cooler full of beer along. Plenty of room up front there," the sheriff said, pointing towards the bow.

"Didn't have the money."

"Curious," the sheriff said as he pondered the open space. As he did, a damselfly landed on the bow. "You know, there's an old wives' tale that says a damselfly won't land anyplace except where a damsel herself would sit." He smiled at Bobby. "Think that's true?"

"Wouldn't know, Sheriff."

"Yes sir, lots of empty space in that little boat. Not even an anchor. I was sure you'd at least have an anchor."

Bobby shrugged. "Maybe I lost it."

"I'm not much of a boatin' man, but I hear anchors are pretty useful things. They can help hold your place when you're in a current." The sheriff looked directly at Bobby. "Or they can hold things down."

"Sounds like you're on a little fishin' trip yourself, Sheriff. So, if you don't mind, I got places to be."

"Well, I just have one more question before you go." The sheriff bent down and pulled a small piece of crinoline stuck on a screw on the side of the boat. "If two people get into a boat at the dock, don't you think it's best if two people get off a boat at the dock?" There was a pause. Bobby swallowed hard. "You know, Bobby, it really would be in your own interest to remember where you 'lost' that anchor."

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