The Missing Bloggers

I got to thinking about the bloggers who have gone ‘missing’, with little or no explanation.

I miss their posts, their comments, and their occasional emails too.

Some of you will remember them.

Michel. https://raistlin0903.wordpress.com/

Kim. https://cadburypom.wordpress.com/

Abbi Osbiston. https://abbiosbiston.com/about/

Wilma. https://lolawi.blog/

That is just a selection of four of them, but there have been many others. I believe some of you followed those featured.

I am worried about them. In some cases, I have emailed them a few times, and received no reply. Others have left their blog open with the last post published showing the date of their departure, reminding me of the tale of the Marie Celeste.

It is not my place to pester them, but blogging is all about community, and caring about our blogging friends.

So if any of you see those links or pingbacks, please let me know you are okay.

Upcoming Anthology Publication: Oct. 1, 2022

A new anthology containing two stories from the talented writer and blogger, Liz Guffreau. It is available on the first of October. Please read the original post for more details and buying links.

Elizabeth Gauffreau

Click on the above image to preorder the ebook from Amazon.

I am very excited to share that two of my short stories will be included in an upcoming short story anthology, Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss: 

  • “Norfolk, Virginia, 1975: East Ocean View”
  • “Diary Omissions: The House on Edgewood Road.” 

To get a feel for the anthology as a whole, check out the video. I’m in very good company!

Would You Like to Help Spread the Word about the Anthology?

The Distant Flickers contributors are looking for a few blog “spotlights” to help launch the book during the months of October and November. To make it easy on anyone interested in doing a spotlight, we will provide the following:

  • Blog Header Graphic
  • Smaller Graphic
  • Book Cover
  • Book Blurb
  • Book Trailer
  • Short Excerpt (A different one for each spotlight post)
  • Universal buy link for the anthology
  • Meet the Contributors’…

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Photo Prompt Story: Easy Money

My thanks to Ed Westen at https://deartedandjody.wordpress.com/blog/ for this photo to use as a short story prompt.

Not that he knew the first thing about boats, but Dennis would try his hand at anything that didn’t involve hard work. Regular jobs were for saps, as far as he was concerned. Vince told him that for a grand each, they could buy old man Mackenzie’s boat that he used to use for fishing, and he would throw in the outboard too. Maybe even trailer it down to the boat dock.

During his last spell in prison, Vince had met a guy who knew other guys. They would pay good money to get things across from Mexico on Falcon Lake. Dennis was worried though. He had heard tell of criminals robbing people on the lake, even stealing boats. Vince laughed. “WE will be the criminals, you fool. Lighten up!” There were other worries though. Border patrols on both sides, American and Mexican. Vince lit a cigarette and shook his head. “How much d’you think those guys earn? I have contacts who have contacts. They pay the bribes, we make the deliveries. It’s easy money, my friend”.

When Mackenzie put he boat in the water and took his money, Vince produced two old fishing rods and a bucket of bait. He grinned. “Gotta have a cover story, just in case”. Dennis hoped he didn’t have to convince anyone he was a fisherman. He had never held a rod in his life. But his partner in crime was full of confidence. “You just leave it to me. I can drive this old boat, I know the signals to watch for, and I just need you to help load the goods and ride shotgun”. With that he showed an old assault rifle, stashed in a sports bag. “Locked and loaded, two spare magazines”.

Although his short army career had mostly been spent in military prison, Dennis at least knew how to use a rifle.

The first job did go easy. Vince’s contacts were on the Mexican side where he said they would be, just as the sun set. The packages were wrapped in plastic, and not too heavy, though Dennis was uneasy at the looks he was getting from the four silent men who were all wearing sunglasses. They slept on the boat that night, and crossed back to Texas at first light, transferring the packages into Vince’s Dodge Ram and covering them with bags of gravel. Then they drove to a motel in the middle of nowhere, and Vince went into a room to talk to different contacts.

As he dropped Dennis outside his apartment that night, he smiled as he handed over three thousand dollars. “There’s your money back, and lots more. Same again next week, I’ll give you a call”.

After counting the money, he took a shower and drove his old Renegade into town. There was a girl at Masie’s he had a hankering for, and he had enough money to pay for just what he wanted from her. With a good bowl of chili and a few beers inside him, he walked into the bordello waving hundred dollar bills. “Tell Charlene Dennis is here. If she’s busy, I’ll wait”.

The second job was even easier. Seemed like the Mex trusted them now, and there were no scary guys in sunglasses. The load was twice the size, and Dennis was sure the boat was too heavy. Vince smiled as he spoke. “You gotta stop worrying. This boat can take it. Might slow us down a little, but we’ll get across”.

And he was right, though the load made the springs creak on the Dodge. This time, Dennis got five thousand, and his eyes lit up at all the bills as they were handed over. Vince grabbed his shoulder, hard enough to hurt. “Now you stay sensible, and don’t go throwing the money around. Don’t change your car, or go buying a fancy watch or such like. This could make us both rich, but we gotta be careful”.

By the time they made the fifth trip, Dennis had close to twenty thousand hidden away in a metal box buried near a tree. And he had been talking to Charlene about going exclusive with her, suggesting she could move into his place and stop working. When she asked where he got the money from, he touched the side of his nose and winked.

Vince sounded happy when he called. “This will be our last fishing trip for a while, and I’m hoping for a big catch. I’ll pick you up on Sunday, first light”.

Once the boat was loaded, they hid in their usual spot on the lake and had a few beers from the cooler before sleeping. The next morning at sunup it was hot, and Dennis was sweating more than usual. “How much do you reckon this time, Vince? This is the biggest load yet”. His friend shrugged. “Maybe ten grand for your end. Like I said, easy money”.

As they tied off the boat in front of where the Dodge was parked, four men walked from behind Vince’s pickup. Then a smaller person appeared, a woman. It was Charlene. She pointed at Dennis. “That’s him. Don’t know the other fella”. Vince looked at Dennis, and inclined his head at the sports bag. But the firing started before he could slide the zip.

Todd Mackenzie followed the rangers down to the edge of the lake. The younger one pointed at a boat half sunk. “This your boat?” The old man nodded.

“Was at one time, but I sold it to two guys I didn’t know”.

Photo Prompt Story: Clyde’s New Bike

My thanks to Ed Westen from https://deartedandjody.wordpress.com/blog/ for this photo to use as a short story prompt.

Esme was tired of her son’s pestering. Sure, he had worked at the lumber mill weekends to raise some money, but he was still going to need two hundred dollars from her to buy the bike. He said he wouldn’t ride it on the road, just as well at his age. But she just knew he was a reckless boy, and even riding on tracks in the woods might be dangerous. Who was going to help out if he went and got himself all busted up?

The sulking was the worst, and the whining. She hated whining.

“But ma, if I don’t say yes soon, that bike is gonna sell for certain. It’s only two hundred, and you know I will work at the mill to pay it back”.

They couldn’t have a meal in peace without him whittering on about that damn bike. And he had to trek all the way over to Chatsworth to buy it. She guessed it was those Weaver twins he hung out with. They both had bikes, and he was always on the back of one of those. When Cyde spent the whole weekend shut up in his room, Esme knew she would have to give in.

There was genuine delight in her boy’s face when she gave him the money. She hadn’t seen him that happy since before his daddy took off. Bo Weaver came by to take him to Chatsworth to see the guy selling the bike, and she waved them off with a shake of her head. “You boys be careful now, y’hear!”

Bo laughed at the small Honda, but Clyde didn’t give a fig for his teasing. He passed over the cash, and got the key and paperwork from the man. Between Chatsworth and home, there were some of the biggest woods in the state, and he had a mind to explore them. They bought gas on the corner, then Bo took his leave. He had to work the afternoon shift at the mill, so needed to get back to town. Clyde headed into the woods, the warm breeze on his face, and a new-found feeling of freedom puffing up his chest.

Roy Mullaney didn’t care much for people. Most of those he had met during a long life were as low as dog shit, in his opinion. He liked his own company, and only drove into town once a month for supplies. He was proud of his cabin, built it him himself on land he bought deep inside the woods. He lived on his veteran’s pension, and didn’t need much besides his books and his old dog, Barney.

Just lately though, he was bothered. Kids on dirt bikes tearing around on his property, showing no respect. They upset Barney too, set him off growling and barking. Most times they were gone before he could get to them, and sometimes if they saw him they would holler and-cat call, maybe even give him the finger. The notices didn’t stop them neither. PRIVATE LAND. KEEP OUT. Roy had placed them all around. Many times he found them ridden down, covered in dusty tire tracks.

He heard the engine from a way off. Sounded like the muffler had been removed, rasping like an angry wasp. Barney sat up on the porch, and his ears pricked up at the sound. A low growl sounded in his throat, and Roy petted him. “It’s okay, old fella. You stay here”.

Maybe Clyde had ridden the bike too hard, or could be that the man had lied when he said it was always reliable. But it stopped dead across some tire-ruts in the woods, and nothing he could do would get the thing started again. He had no choice but to push it, and it was going to take a very long time. Bo would come by and help him fix it, he just had to get it home.

When he saw the man walking toward him along the ruts, he was relieved. Maybe he had a car or truck nearby, and would help him out. Clyde stopped walking and raised a hand in greeting. “Hey, mister…”

He didn’t hear the blast that cut him short, just felt the impact on his chest. First he was looking at the sky, then blackness.

Roy racked another shell into the pump shotgun as he carried on walking. But once he got close to the boy, he knew he wouldn’t need it. Back at the cabin, he got a shovel and some rope, and Barney jumped into the passenger seat of the pickup as he drove off.

He buried the boy under the big tree, then used the tow hitch of the pickup to drag the bike over the branch next to the other ones before tying it off.

If the signs didn’t work, maybe this would.

Comments Changes On WordPress

Since posting recently about not being able to leave comments on blogs I follow, I have managed to cure that problem by using the Reader to comment on posts where that was happening.

However, there seems to be something else happening with WP, double comments.

When someone comments on my blog posts, I get an email notification. That’s as it has always been. But now when they reply to my reply, I get two emails containing that reply. One is notified as a reply to my comment, the second one notified as a ‘new comment’ on my blog post.

To add to that, I am also getting notifications about my own comments, as if it is not my blog. “Beetleypete has left a comment”.

This has trebled the amount of emails I receive in the space of two weeks, as sometimes there will be six email notifications about one comment and a reply.

Has anyone else noticed this development, or is it just affecting me?

A Photo-Edit Thank You.

When I posted my holiday photos recently, I was upset that a photo of Julie and Ollie was spoiled by leaving in a plastic shopping bag, and Ollie’s drinking bowl. Here is the offending photo.

(All three photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Two very kind blogging friends offered to edit the photo so they could not be seen, then sent me the edited result. I have no idea how to do this, so for me it is like a magic trick!

From Ed Westen. https://deartedandjody.wordpress.com/blog/

From Fraggle. https://fragglerocking.org/

I am very grateful to them both for their time and trouble, and I will have them printed soon.

Another great example of helpful community bloggers.

How Animals Perceive The World: Sound And Sight

If you have a pet, you may want to watch this short film. It examines how various animals, insects, and birds (including cats and dogs) hear and see the world that surrounds them, in a very different way to human perception. There is some science to listen to, but even I could understand it.

My friend Antony sent me the You Tube clip, and I think many of you will find it fascinating.

Guest Post: Haunted Halloween Holiday by Robbie and Michael Cheadle.

Robbie and Michael have a new book out! Just in time for Halloween too.

Robbie and Michael Cheadle are delighted to present their new book for children, Haunted Halloween Holiday. This book, for children aged 5 to 9 years old, is illustrated with Robbie and Michael’s fondant and cake art and introduces new fantasy characters including Count Sugular, Witch Honey, and Baby Howler.
You will also find our old favourite, Sir Chocolate, featured. He’s in the thick of the Halloween Party, helping the Nougat Clown brothers, Hoot and Flute, deal with Toot’s anxiety and depression.

Clink on the link to listen to a short reading from Haunted Halloween Holiday:

About Haunted Halloween Holiday

Count Sugular is delighted when the Sugarpop Bats invite his family to a Halloween party at the Haunted House. He and his wife, Witch Honey, decide to hire a caravan and enjoy a weekend away with their family.
Includes some fun limericks to introduce the various characters.
You can find the book trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fr5OxyUfd4

Purchase links
TSL Publications: https://tslbooks.uk/product/haunted-halloween-holiday-robbie-and-michael-cheadle/
Lulu.com: https://www.lulu.com/shop/michael-cheadle-and-robbie-cheadle/haunted-halloween-holiday/ebook/product-vd5778.html?page=1&pageSize=4

About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.
The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.
In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ
Robbie Cheadle Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle
TSL Publications Robbie Cheadle Author Page: https://tslbooks.uk/product-tag/robbie-cheadle/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bakeandwrite
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SirChocolateBooks
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Photo Prompt Story: When Johnny Comes Marching Home

My thanks to Fraggle, from https://fragglerocking.org/ for this photo prompt. It has taken me a long time to getting round to using it.

Michigan was a long way from the south, and young John didn’t recall ever seeing a slave. But those rebs had started a ruckus by firing on a fort somewhere, and he had a mind to join in before it was all over. He talked to Caleb about it, and that boy was as keen as mustard. “Reckon we’ll have to lie about our age, John. But pa says they need a lot of soldiers, and they needs them now. Can’t see them bothering too much about a year or two”.

The recruiting sergeant shook his head as they stood in front of his desk. “You gotta be joshing me, boys. Why don’t you go home to your mommas afore they wonder where you got to?” The boys faces coloured red, and they put on their hats and walked off in a sulk.

His older sisters teased him when he got home, and mom cuffed him around the head. “What d’you think you’re playing at, boy? I never heard of such a thing. Soldiering at your age? And your pa dead but a year after that accident. Now get washed up for dinner!”

Things changed after Bull Run. Despite being the same age, they took Caleb. Well, he was a head taller, and they ignored the lie.

December was as cold as always, and John made up his mind. Come the new year of sixty-two, he would try again. The Federal Army was losing all over, and didn’t seem to have the sand to stand against those rebs. Some said it was bad generals, ’cause the rebs had better ones. John would read the newspapers he found thrown down in the streets, and became more determined he just had to go.

When the news came about Caleb, he was shocked. Hard to imagine Caleb gone, and in some place in Missouri that he had never heard of. Truth be told, John didn’t even know where Missouri was.

Two days later, he got up when it was still dark. Sneaking out, he took a spare shirt, and some bread from the larder, before making the long walk into Detroit. It was still cold, so he walked fast to stay warm. Someone at the edge of the city told him how to find the recruiting office, and he managed to keep the directions in his head in the city he had only been to once before in his short life.

The queue was small, and once the doors opened he was soon inside. This time, nobody mentioned his age, or that he was so short. Some doctor in a white coat looked him over, pronounced him fit for service, and he was sent to wait in a wagon with the others. Sitting on the rough plank, he swallowed hard. He was in the Union Army, 15th Michigan Infantry.

For the rest, it was mostly a blur. Training to march, training to carry and shoot the heavy rifle, trying to get on with the others who were mostly city boys from Detroit. They ragged him a lot, and made him do the unpleasant jobs. It was no never mind to John, as he would soon be fighting the rebs, and avenging Caleb. Then he had the blue uniform, and felt he stood taller in it. The rumours were all around the camp. They were heading south and west.

Mississippi.

The next few days were all about marching, wagons, and trains. Sergeant Kraus pushed him awake as he dozed on a station platform. Kraus laughed, his teeth stained dark from chaw. “Hurry up and wait, little John. Hurry up and wait boy”. On the last train, John felt the heat down south. Packed into the carriages, it felt hotter than hell for October, and then they had to march to the defences at Corinth. He sweated right through the stiff uniform, and his backpack and rifle felt like they would drag him down to the ground. He saw his first artillery shells exploding as they dropped onto the works around the town.

Rebel shells.

Inside the dugout, they had to parade for Captain Stagle. He set his jaw, and told them the worst. “Boys, Van Dorn is out there with his rebel army. He reckons to attack soon, and we are going to be waiting for him”. He waited for the ragged cheer that followed. “I am pleased to tell you that we will be at the front. We are going to be outside the earthworks, and give those rebs a nasty surprise. Come on the fifteenth!” The next cheer was heartier, but John knew they were all hungry and tired.

All they had that night was hard biscuit and beans. And they had to sleep on the ground between the rebs and the trenches. Sergeant Kraus roused him at first light, and all he had was the water in his canteen. The humidity was awful, and he could not even recall the last time he had washed himself.

When the enemy artillery started just after nine, the only relief was that that death was falling on the defences to the rear. It was close to lunchtime when John saw his first reb, as they swarmed in front of him screeching that terrible yell. Sergeant Kraus shouted at him, “Fire your rifle, boy!” Then Kraus fell dead with a minie ball through his head.

John fired without seeing a target, and reloaded. But the rebs were upon them, and the company was running back to the trenches. He ran with the others, and didn’t see the man who fired the bullet into his back. Just felt the earth in his mouth as he fell, screaming in pain.

The Union Army won the battle of Corinth, after a hard fight.

But Johnny never marched home.

Sunday Musings After A Holiday

It has felt like a long week since we got back. The intense coverage of the aftermath of the Queen’s death has worn me out, with the increasingly monotonous 24/7 repeats of film tributes about her life. Not being a Royalist, I can only hope all this will come to an end after Monday’s funeral.
Somehow, I suspect it will not.

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The old saying, “I need a holiday to get over my holiday” rings true. Despite a very enjoyable time, it doesn’t really feel as if we are refreshed and relaxed. The few days since we got back have seen us both quite tired, and not really in the mood to get on with anything. As for Ollie, he is still sleeping more than ever, and reluctant to rise from his bed in the mornings.

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There have been a couple of wet dog walks, as the exceptionally dry summer has been replaced by the arrival of a definite autumn. It has felt cold too. Dropping from record temperatures well above 30c to a daytime best of just 14C has been something of a shock. At least we no longer have to have a fan running to get to sleep at night.

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I have put the last of the holiday photos up on the blog, and started to write the remaining photo-prompt stories from photos received in 2020. By the end of the month, I should be ready to start the next fiction serial.

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Just to remind us that Covid-19 is still very much an issue, I received an invitation to book my annual booster innoculation. The first slot available was at the end of November.

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Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope you have a peaceful and enjoyable Sunday.

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