Friday Fictioneers – Cast Off

PHOTO PROMPT © Susan Eames

Everything has changed—the way I fit into the world and how I move through it. In an instant, I have become old. I am invalid. Kind people offer help, and I feel anger. Inquisitive glances glide off me when I look up at them. I am a Teflon pan—nothing sticks to me.

If only I hadn’t climbed that roof. If only I’d left home five minutes later.

“We’ll remove the cast next week,” the doctor says, and I am summoned back to life.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – The Shadow

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter https://sarahpotterwrites.com/

The blankets hide us in warm safety. Your legs part when I put my hand on your thigh, and I feel the moist arousal. You offer me your virginity. Yet, I cannot. Or, I should not.

Three years planning and your five-thousand-mile journey stymied by a single look.

While you were already in the air, just half a day ago, I fell in love. I lack the wisdom to know what to do next.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Magic Door

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

They called it the magic door. Crowds would gather outside, peering in. When Harvey pushed his way to the front and squinted at the glass, all he saw was a dim hallway beyond, with some tatty overcoats hanging from hooks.

And then. The reflection of mama crossing the street, shopping bag swinging from her hand. Mama, dead these seven years. He whirled. But the street was empty.

Perhaps, he’d find her again if he went in. Throwing his shoulder against the door, he crashed through. Black and white tiles, and a flock of coats nattering like old ravens.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – the street

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The street is much like any other. Narrow. Scrawny dogs sleep on the sun-baked cobbles, and people cling to the cool of the shadows. History hangs heavy in the humid air. The rattle of Sennacherib’s chariots and the tramp of Caesar’s legionaries echo faintly, along with the brutal jeers of Allenby’s Tommies. The toll of ancient bells carries screams.  

I cannot love you here. The blood drowns my tenderness.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

144. Press launch of “spycop” novel

 The press launch for The Tears of Boabdil, coinciding with the opening of hearings in the Under Cover Policing Inquiry, has gone better than I could ever have expected. My publicists, Palamedes, excelled themselves in getting national news coverage in the Telegraph and the Express.

They also arranged a radio interview on BBC Scotland’s Lunchtime Live  which has 850,000 listeners.

I wrote opinion pieces in Readers Digest which has 280,000 unique visitors per month, and London Economic which has 3 million unique visitors per month.

London Economic also picked up the press released and ran with a news article on 2 November.

Have a look or a listen and let me know what you think

Friday Fictioneers – Hiding

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

The children are hiding. Again. Perhaps they think if they can’t see us, we can’t see them.

Lily can’t crouch. Her rigid spine forbids it. And so, she will be taken first. The art of concealment is less about being invisible than about blending-in.

Kids like to stand out. But not in ways that make them different. Lily is too different to survive.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Self-Interest

PHOTO PROMPT – © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

He stared at me for a moment in silence. Then, “Why would anyone do something that wasn’t to their advantage?”

I felt stupid, and scuffed my toes on the linoleum.

“Love?” I muttered, feigning interest in the cruet set.

He laughed. “Love is what we feel when another person satisfies our emotional needs.”

The killer move–I’d die for you. But I left it unvoiced. He’d only say I had a need to win the argument.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can fiend other stories here.

Friday Fictioneers – Escape

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E.Ayr

Afternoon lay, humid and heavy, on the harbour. Dogs slept in the quayside shadows, and even the air seemed to pant moistly.  

I wanted to escape and, suddenly, buying a boat seemed like a good idea. I dialled the number on the “For Sale” sign.

Oui?”

Je voudrais.” I began fluently, “um … vendre”. No, that was sell, not buy. Already, events had taken the wrong path.

Cutting the line, I collapsed into the wobbly metal chair.

 “Café, s’il vous plait,” I instructed the waiter, one of the few fluent phrases I commanded.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

143. What’s gone wrong with the Amazon “buy” button?

My book, The Tears of Boabdil, was published on 28 September, 2020. A few days later, its Buy button for the paperback disappeared on Amazon and was replaced by an Out-of-Stock notice. A week later, it was available through re-sellers but not direct from Amazon.

Even more bizarre, fluctuations in the Amazon sales rank for the book indicate that orders were still being placed.

But friends who had placed orders received e-mails from Amazon offering to refund the money. Estimated delivery dates for orders placed at the end of September range from November to the beginning of December. The good news is that some people, who pre-ordered in September, have now been told the order is being fulfilled.

I asked my publisher what was going on. They replied

“We have seen reduced ordering from Amazon since they have re-launched their catalogue of ’non-essential’ items after prioritising stock orders for household and medical essentials at the peak of the pandemic. As such, their goods in service has been put under pressure and they appear to be struggling to keep up with the demand for orders. We can expect to see continued reduced stock ordering from Amazon for the short term – which has affected the order times being reflected on Amazon’s website. All other UK book distributors and wholesalers – who supply bookshops – are also functioning as usual, if slowly, and we are running uninterrupted supply for all orders we receive.”

In April this year, Amazon was quoted in the Guardian newspaper denying this claim. Yet Amazon’s own seller central pages said “We continue to prioritize household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers”. An article in The Bookseller in March indicated the same stock-management issue.

A more conspiracy-theory-oriented explanation, having nothing to do with Covid, was offered by Writers Weekly. This article, dated March 16, 2017, alleges that the company has been pressuring print-on-demand publishers to use Amazon’s own print service by removing the Buy button from non-compliant titles. This doesn’t apply to my book which is not P-o-D, but the article notes in passing that “Amazon’s latest shenanigans have been affecting a variety of print on demand (and other) books for quite awhile now.”

I checked the situation of twelve other sample paperbacks. They comprised a mix of large publishers, small houses and self-published books. Four (one third of the total) were listed as out of stock or only available through resellers. Three more showed low stock. The unavailable books included Robert and published by Sphere. Two of the four unavailable titles were self-published books, one was from a small press, and one was published by Sphere—Robert Galbraith’s (pen name of JK Rowling) Troubled Blood, released in September 2020  So, there seems to be no correlation between the absence of the buy button and independent publishing, nor with lesser-known authors.

I’m persuaded that it is, indeed. a problem of stock management.

If you have books in print or have tried to buy a book recently, have you seen this problem?

Friday Fictioneers – Dirt

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

“It’s in the wrong place,” he screamed.

Seaweed draped the foreshore like a bad comb-over. I could see this wasn’t pretty, but it skewered Anton’s brain.  Once, when we’d taken up kitchen floor, and he glimpsed the terrible truth of soil beneath the house, he’d bawled that way.

“Just storm waves,” I explained.

But we had to labour all morning, returning every strand to its home in the water before he’d calm.

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 Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here