88 Guys for Coffee by Diane Solomon

About the Book

This book covered a new-to-me topic: online dating. I know there are online dating sites, and I know one or two people who found their now-spouse on such a site, but I have never read a book about someone’s experience with online dating. It appealed to my sense of curiosity, which is why I decided to read it.

The Foreword makes it clear that this is a somewhat fictionalized account of the author’s online dating experience.

My Review

I’m usually not a fan of stories told in first person, but Diane Solomon did a good job writing this story in first person, and her style was very conversational. Therefore, the story was fun and easy to read.

The main character, Laura, takes this emotional roller-coaster ride, which causes her to question her self-worth and effects her self-confidence. However, she never lets go of hope.

As the reader, I couldn’t help but sometimes feel sorry for Laura and sometimes wonder why on earth she kept meeting guy after guy. Her determination kept me rooting for her.

Some of the men Laura met for coffee made me cringe, some made me laugh, and others shocked me, but every one of them was a believable character.

Some of the dating encounters seemed a bit too similar or repetitious.

If world view is of interest or concern to you as a reader, the world view in this book seemed to bounce around and not really come across clearly. Sometimes the main character’s world view seemed to be very secular, sometimes new age, and nearer the end, approached a Christian world view. Maybe Ms. Solomon did this intentionally to show a growth in the character of Laura, as she made her way through a period of several years of online dating, wading through disappointment after disappointment.

All in all, this book was very interesting. I enjoyed the conversational style. I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, the tips and advice that Laura’s two best friends offered her. The story also included some humor along the way. It was definitely a unique story, which, in my opinion, makes it worth the read.

I give this story 4 stars.

Flash Fiction Friday: All You Need is Jesus

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Note: Today’s Flash Fiction Story is a Special Edition. This story was written by my youngest son.

All You Need is Jesus

by Z. Barr

A seemingly never ending column of men stood before Archangel Gabriel, who stood at the pass to the wide open battlefield. Gabriel saw men wearing armor and swords and carrying shields. The men passed Gabriel, trudging with the weight of their armor.

As a new group of men passed Gabriel, a new sight caught his attention. “Why do you carry guns?”

One of the men hefted his gun. “These are what we need to eliminate the enemy, faster than those swords and shields. Those are but toys.”

The other men laughed.

Gabriel shrugged. Only he knew what the enemy was and what it took to destroy the enemy on the battlefield. He said, “You may pass.” He watched as the men, still, chuckling, went through the pass.

At the end of the line, walking all by himself, was a young man dressed in torn clothing. The young man stopped before Gabriel.

“You don’t have weaponry,” Gabriel mused.

“I don’t know how to use one. But Jesus called me, and so I … I came.” The young man lowered his head. “I guess I am here just to pull the dead from the battlefield. But I couldn’t ignore Him. I had to come.”

As the young man talked, Gabriel noticed that when the man moved, something on him sparkled like a star.

“But all I have is Jesus.”

Then Gabriel saw it—the young man wore armor. It was inconspicuous, but he was wearing spiritual armor. “Lad,” Gabriel said, “you may pass. All you need is Jesus. Go forth.”

The young man left Gabriel.

* * *

On the battlefield, the men stood in lines. They waited and waited, but there was no sign of the enemy.

“There is no enemy! We’ve been tricked!” These words rippled through the lines.

Gabriel watched the young man. He stood alone, staring off into the distance. Gabriel’s eyes moved to the young man’s line of sight, where blackness met the horizon, rapidly approaching.

The young man shouted, “The demons are coming! That is the enemy!”

The other men looked but saw nothing except the Archangel and the lad.

“What you men brought won’t work against demons,” the young man said. “We need to pray.” With that, the young man dropped to his knees. His spiritual armor started to glow and become more visible. His sword of prayer materialized in his hands.

Several minutes passed and the young man remained on his knees, praying.

Now the demons were closer than ever. Suddenly, an amazing thing happened. Blue tongues of fire fell from the sky devouring the demons. Blue flame formed a halo around the young man.

The battle was won, with the prayer of just one man.

Only one man passed the test.

He had faith … in his Saviour.

Flash Fiction Friday: Someone to Lead Them

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Someone to Lead Them

by Kelly F. Barr

The children loved to sit in the story circle across the fire from Marta, the storyteller, just after dark and listen as she wove stories—scary stories, funny stories, stories of the history of Pattock, their village, and sometimes, stories of things to come. Tonight as the children gathered round, the night air was cool and the moon was full. Many adults from the village—those with children and those without children—gathered outside the story circle.

Dobbin sat on the left side of the circle, close to Marta’s spot, so he could watch her face as she spoke without having to look through the fire’s dancing flames. His heart pounded in anticipation as he wondered what type of story she would tell tonight.

The door of her cottage opened and Tetra carried Marta’s worn wooden chair out. Marta followed, the hem of her black skirt dragging on the ground, her soft leather moccasins making a shuffling sound as she sloughed along. She flopped onto her chair and drew her tattered gray wool shawl up over her shoulders as her silver hair and black eyes glimmered in the firelight.

When Marta spoke, her voice crackled like the sticks that first caught flame when Tetra started the fire, “Good evening children. Tonight’s story is a special one. One of great importance.”

Her eyes met Dobbin’s as she spoke the words ‘of great importance’ and Dobbin’s heart skipped a beat. Could tonight’s story be one of things to come? Could it have something to do with him? He sat up straight, eyes glued to Marta, ears straining so as not to miss a single word.

“From our brave young men, a great leader will arise and several will follow him. He will lead this group to seek help from those willing to come from Sektur, the village to the east.

Several children gasped. Marta’s story held Dobbin in rapt attention. Marta swung her head and locked eyes with him. “Dobbin, you will be the one to lead Olan, Gad, Bartok, Jinya, Prayjes, and Zeficleez. You must be quick as the trouble will come from the southeast, swift on your heels during your return journey.”

The six young men Marta had named stood and moved to sit around Dobbin. The six each reached a hand to touch one of Dobbin’s shoulders—their pledge to follow him. Dobbin nodded, the weight of responsibility settling on his shoulders.

That night, Dobbin tossed and turned. This was his chance to prove he could be a good leader, and for those going with him, to show they were now truly men.

The next day residents of Pattock busied themselves preparing for the upcoming war as Dobbin and his followers sharpened their weapons, packed food and other supplies for their journey. They must be prepared for the possibility of the Hestanauts ambushing them as they journeyed back to Pattock. When all was ready, they gathered in the center of the village and Dobbin led them out.

As Dobbin and his men entered Sektur two days later, heads turned and people stepped out of doors to see the group. Soon many were gathered, and a white-haired old man wearing a white robe, stepped forward. “Who are you and why are you here?”

Dobbin answered, “Sir, we are from Pattock. Marta has seen a vision that the Hestanauts will attack and sent us to seek aid from you, our allies. We need willing Sekturians to travel back to Pattock with us to help defend our village. Marta says the Hestanauts will be swift on our heels during our return journey.”

Rumblings rose from the crowd around the old man. He raised his hand and the people fell silent. “Prepare the evening meal. After we eat, I will ask for volunteers to help our neighbors in Pattock.” He turned back to Dobbin and his men. “Come. You will sit with me in my hut until the food is prepared. I am Kerrick, leader of this village. You can share your plans with me.”

About an hour later, they followed Kerrick to a long house where they dined on roasted meat and vegetables. When their plates were empty, Kerrick rose. He spoke to a young man, “Go and bring the rest of the village men here.”

A few minutes later, a large number of strong, fit looking men filled the long house. The old man raised his hand and the room grew quiet. “Sektur and Pattock have been allies for many years. Some of our sons have married their daughters and some of their sons have married our daughters. If the Hestanauts were to attack us, the men of Pattock would come to our aid.” He paused, allowing his words to sink in. “How many of you will help defend Pattock against the evil Hestanauts?”

Dobbin held his breath and the muscles in his neck and shoulders tightened with tension as they waited. Two men stepped forward, then three more, then five. Soon, there were two hundred men standing in a line before Kerrick.

Kerrick smiled. “Good. This is good.” He waved his hand, drawing Dobbin to him. Dobbin quickly stepped up beside Kerrick, who placed a hand on Dobbin’s shoulder and faced the Sekturians standing before them. “This is Dobbin. He will lead you to Pattock. Prepare and get some sleep.” He turned to Dobbin and his men. “You can bed down in here.”

* * * * *

In the gray light of early morning 200 Sekturian warriors entered the long house.  Dobbin called Bartok to him and approached the man who seemed to be in charge. He said, “My name is Roedan. I am a Sekturian leader.”

Dobbin charged Bartok and Roedan with leading the party, while he, Jinya and Olan formed the rear guard, watching for Hestanauts.

As they began ascending a rise, Bartok and Roedan heard Dobbin cry, “Hestanauts!”

The front half of the group hastened their pace, while the rear half fell back to battle the Hestanauts.

The Hestanauts–large meaty men–hit hard with clubs. But as Dobbin, Jinya, Olan, and several Sekturians shot arrows, numerous Hestanauts fell. When they fell, the Hestanauts began to retreat.

Dobbin and his men turned and raced to catch up with the group Bartok and Roedan led. But the Hestanauts weren’t finished yet. They ran toward Dobbin and the others, axes in their hands. With their long, muscular legs, they gained on Dobbin and the others quickly. Dobbin’s heart leapt into his throat as several Sekturians and Gad fell around him. The battle yells of the Hestanauts combined with the screams of pain from the injured were deafening.

The Hestanauts began losing steam. “Run!” Dobbin ordered his men as he began to run with all his might.

Soon Dobbin’s group had widened the gap, and Dobbin looked back over his shoulder to see the Hestanauts halted. Many were bent with hands on their knees, sucking in deep breaths.

When Dobbin led the group of men into Pattock, the village cheered. With the announcement of losses, the village grew solemn. Tetra clapped Dobbin on the shoulder. “Well done.”

The Ravenstone: The Twain by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey

The Ravenstone : The Twain by [Diane Solomon, Mark Carey]

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book for my honest review.

About the Book:

The Ravenstone Part 2: The Twain by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey is the second book in their “Ravenstone” series. It is a fantasy story. The two main characters, thirteen-year-old twins, Nadia and Aidan must time travel several times throughout this book in order to do what they have been called to do. They must face dangers and an enemy they thought they would never see again.

My Review:

The Ravenstone Part 2: The Twain was even more exciting than the first book. This time there is more adventure and danger for Nadia and Aidan. A couple situations the twins find themselves in had this reader on the edge of her seat. There is a very fascinating chapter that involves a unique twist. The twist includes a dilemma that disturbs Nadia until closer to the end of the book, where another character explains what really happened to Nadia. I really liked that character’s explanation. The story is very well written, although I did notice more errors in this book that should have been caught by an editor than in the first book, there were not so many as to distract me from the story. Ms. Solomon and Mr. Carey did an excellent job creating tension and suspense in this story. They also created some interesting characters for Nadia and Aidan to interact with in the story.

This story addressed natural disasters and global warming in a unique, interesting, and plausible way. It was a fun and exciting read.

The story held my interest and kept me turning pages, especially in the last third of the book when the tension and suspense were at their peak. Before reaching the end of the book, I found myself hoping there would be another adventure for Nadia and Aidan in the not too distant future, and the ending definitely points to that possibility.

I highly recommend this book, as well as the first “Ravenstone” book, for anyone who enjoys fantasy stories that include time travel, suspense, and adventure. Also, both books are clean reads and are fitting for ages 10 through adult. I would also recommend them as family read alouds.

I give this book 5 stars.

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

It’s “Writing Prompt” Thursday. I really hope more of you will begin to participate in this activity. It’s wonderful practice for those of you who write as well as an opportunity to share your writing with others.

Remember, no disrespectful or degrading comments will be posted here about anyone’s writing, as all comments must be approved by me before they post. This site is for encouraging and helping writers. It is a place to lift each other up.

The prompt for this month is:

Suzy ran from the house, letting the screen door bang behind her. She ran to her favorite hiding place.

This can be used anywhere in your story. It doesn’t have to be the first sentence.

Remember, if your story is 500 words or less, please post it in the comments section below. If your story is over 500 words, please email it to me at cre8tiveme07@gmail.com and I will create a special post for it here on a Saturday, or you can post it on your own blog or website and post a link to it in the comments section below.

Also, remember, you have until the first Thursday of October to write and submit something for this prompt — plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing!

Timeless Tuesday — History Related to my Novel

The photo above is of Samuel Clemens, better known as “Mark Twain” a famous author. During the time of the Pony Express, Samuel Clemens took a stage coach across the west to Virginia City. Along the way, as he looked out the stage coach window, he saw a Pony Express rider. He wasn’t a published author at the time, but it wouldn’t be long.

In what became Mark Twain’s second book, Roughing It, he wrote of his adventures and described what the West looked like in 1860 and 1861. In so doing, he unintentionally wrote much of what we know about the stations of the Pony Express during that time.

Mark Twain said of a Pony Express rider, “The pony rider was usually a little bit of a man, brimful of spirit and endurance.”

He wrote an entire chapter about the Pony Express in Roughing It.

The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain by Diane Solomon & Mark Carey

The Ravenstone is the first of a two-book set of fantasy stories by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey.

About the Book

Aidan and Nadia, thirteen year old twins, find a mysterious mirror while they are supposed to be cleaning out the attic. When the image of an old shaman appears and attempts to communicate with them, they are stunned. Then they find the Ravenstone, and this is the beginning of their adventure to a time and land of Celtic princes and a shapeshifting raven.

My Review

This is a delightful story about twins living in a wonderful home with loving parents. They have a quirky grandmother living nearby as well, and their family history is fascinating and holds a bit of mystery of its own.

Diane Solomon and Mark Carey did an excellent job of creating characters that pull the reader into the story right from the start. Their personal lives and their travel adventures keep the reader turning page after page. The story is very well written and well edited as there are no errors to cause a reader to stumble out of the story even for a moment.

As Nadia and Aidan travel back and forth in time, the reader is often kept on the edge of their seat wondering things like: will they get back to their own home and time; will they be captured; will they find what they are looking for.

The story is clean and acceptable for middle grade and up, and would even make a great family read aloud. It would also be a great gift for your avid reader.

If you like stories with mystery, adventure, and time travel, you’ll enjoy The Ravenstone.

I give this book 5 stars.

As a book reviewer, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Timeless Tuesday–History Related to my Novel

The Pony Express never made a profit, and it had a short life — only 19 months.

As you will read in my novel, the Pony Express began on April 3, 1860.

Some of the highlights of the life of the Pony Express:

The Pony Express delivered President Abraham Lincoln’s March 4th inaugural address to California in the fastest time ever — just 7 days and 17 hours. The message it brought was news that helped the state stay loyal.

In April 1861, The Pony Express delivered the word that the Civil War had begun. The Pony Express brought news of battles and lists of the dead and wounded to anxious westerners until the Pony Express’s last run in November 1861.

Due to the completion of the transcontinental telegraph, the Pony Express officially shut down on October 26, 1861, but it made it’s last run on November 20, 1861.During its time of operation, the Pony Express completed 300 runs each way over 600,000 miles and carried more than 33,000 pieces of mail.

The Pony Express lives on today–in books and movies, and in the hearts of people who love its history.

The National Pony Express Association rides a 1,943-mile route that is as close as possible to the original trail. It is a 10-day, round-the-clock non-stop event and more than 500 riders participate. But today’s Pony Express riders use short-wave radios and cell phones to spread the news of their journey.