A Few Changes to this Blog

This is a photo I used before here on the blog, from Unsplash.

I have tried to have a set schedule of posts here on my blog, but that’s kind of gotten left by the wayside. Every now and then, I have to take time to re-evaluate what I’m doing here based on life circumstances or just a desire to freshen up the blog.

Right now, in my life, my time is divided between family responsibilities, finishing the school year with my youngest son, my writing, and reading and writing book reviews. Although my Wordless Wednesday photo posts were very popular, since Covid started, I don’t go many places and therefore don’t take very many photos anymore. So, for now, Wordless Wednesday will not appear. I hope to be able to post them, at least occasionally, in the future.

I am planning to start a monthly e-newsletter where I will give updates on my upcoming novel, self-editing tips for writers, and other goodies. I should have that all figured out and set up for you to sign up for it here on the blog by the end of the month.

So, for now, I will continue to post lots of book reviews, and anything else that I feel pressed to share, but it will all be either writing related or stuff that’s going on in my life. I also hope to get back to writing Flash Fiction pieces for Fridays.

I hope you all are well, and that if you’re a writer, that you are continuing to write.

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 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.

Flash Fiction Friday: Love by Messenger

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Love by Messenger

by Kelly F. Barr

When Tracy stopped walking and looked around, she was in the middle of a wheat field. All she could see were golden stalks of wheat being blown into waves by the wind all around her. The sun was warm on her head and face. Her knees buckled and she collapsed in a heap and sobbed.

What was she supposed to do now? How was she supposed to live without the love of her life? How had this happened? Questions tormented her thoughts as the sobs wracked her body.

When the sobs subsided and Tracy had no tears left to shed, she closed her red, swollen eyes and covered them with her arm. Sheer exhaustion soon plunged her into sleep, but when Austin stepped into her dream, she gasped and sat up. The sun hung low in the sky. How long had she been asleep?

She scrambled to her feet and started back through the wheat in the direction she had come. Austin went with her—in her thoughts. Austin, tall and tan with sun-kissed golden brown hair and a dazzling white smile. At least that’s what he looked like in the photos he sent, but were the photos real?

She met Austin online. He sent her a private message on Messenger. He seemed so kind, caring, and interested in her. She knew the dangers of talking to strangers online, but Austin had a way of drawing her in. Online, people could portray themselves any way they wanted. They could use fake or photo-shopped photos.

Austin told her he loved her just a month after they started speaking to one another. She was thrilled and doubtful at the same time. She hadn’t had any luck finding a good man in person. She knew people who had found their boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé, or spouse online. Of course, they used online dating services. Were those services any safer or more reliable?

Two days ago, Austin suggested they meet in person, but he lived in Arkansas and she was in Pennsylvania. He said he’d come to Pennsylvania but needed help to pay for the airline ticket.

He’d asked her to send $200 via Western Union.

She wasn’t sure why that bothered her so much. She knew airline tickets weren’t cheap. So, why was she so leery of sending the money? Was it her old-fashioned ideals that the man should be the breadwinner and take care of the woman?

That’s when the doubts, fears, and questions started pounding in her brain with a relentless rhythm: what do you really know about him; how do you know he’ll really use the money toward a plane ticket.

Yesterday Tracy had messaged him and said she couldn’t talk to him anymore, that she thought it would be best if they ended their relationship.

Austin’s response was immediate. Tracy, baby, what’s wrong? Did I say something to hurt you? Please, I’m in love with you. I don’t want to lose you. I thought if we could spend some time face-to-face, we could get to know each other better.

Tracy tried to make some sense of the situation. How could she consider a man she had never met, “the love of her life”?

After a night of tossing and turning, Tracy stumbled to the bathroom and splashed cool water on her face, relieving the grittiness from her eyes. She took a shower and dressed in her favorite shorts and t-shirt then rambled to the kitchen, poured herself a cup of coffee, grabbed her cell phone from the counter, and texted Austin.

Good morning. I’m sorry I ran like a scared rabbit. I will send the money today. When will you arrive?

I’m so happy you changed your mind. I will arrive on Wednesday and plan to stay until Sunday. I will make a reservation at the Country Inn and Suites on Route 30 in Lancaster. Will that be convenient?

Tracy smiled. He would be a half hour’s drive away. She texted, Perfect.

Wednesday afternoon Tracy’s cell phone rang. “Hello.”

“Hello baby. I just got into my hotel room.”

Austin’s smooth baritone voice made her heart skip a beat. “Okay. How about I pick you up in an hour and a half? That’ll give us both a chance to freshen up and give me driving time.”

“See you soon.” Austin hung up the phone.

Tracy showered and dressed in a pale yellow sundress and white sandals. She grabbed her purse, keys, and cell phone, slipped out the door and into her blue Honda Fit and was on her way.

When she arrived at the hotel, she checked her hair in the rearview mirror before stepping out of the car and making her way to the hotel lobby.

She stepped into the hotel and scanned the open room. She moved toward a green settee across from the elevators. Before she reached the settee, a tall man, who had been sitting on the gold chair next to the settee, stood and stepped toward her.

“Tracy, what a pleasure to finally meet you in person.”

Her breath caught in her throat. Austin stood gazing at her through bright azure eyes. He looked exactly like his pictures, only more strikingly handsome in person.

Austin took another step toward her, and she could feel the warmth from his body. She inhaled the woody scent of him. She wondered what it would be like to be held in his arms, then he lowered his head and placed his lips on hers.

The kiss was soft, gentle and brief. Tracy found herself wanting more.

“I hope you don’t mind my greeting you with a kiss. I’ve been dreaming of kissing you for several weeks now.” He took her hand in his.

“No. I don’t mind. It was nice.” She smiled at him. “So, are you ready for dinner?”

“Lead the way.” He swung his arm in an arc and bowed slightly.

Tracy took Austin to her favorite restaurant, P. F. Chang’s. They shared Mongolian beef, Oolong Chilean Sea Bass, and Singapore Street Noodles. The waiter boxed the leftovers for Tracy to take home.

“That was delicious. I can see why it’s your favorite restaurant.” Austin patted his flat stomach.

“Tomorrow I’ll take you to a restaurant where you can try traditional Lancaster County fare.”

Tracy drove to Long’s Park, parked the car, and they got out to walk. They ended their walk by the large pond in the center of the park. The sun was low in the sky and the breeze chilled Tracy. She had forgotten to bring a sweater. She crossed her arms over her chest and put her hands on her upper arms.

Austin stepped behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Better?”

“Mm-mm. Much better.” She leaned back into him. After a few minutes, she turned to face him. “This is the largest park in the area. They have summer concerts on Sunday evenings. It’s a great way to come and spend a relaxing evening enjoying some great music. Too bad you leave Sunday afternoon.”

“I’m sure I’ll be back again before the summer is over.”

“Really? How will you afford the airfare?”

“Tracy, I don’t ordinarily have money issues, but my parents are getting older and starting to have health issues. My mom was in the hospital recently, and Dad isn’t very good at housekeeping. Therefore, I hired a housekeeping company to clean my parents home once a week. I paid a couple months in advance before I decided to come for a visit. I could’ve waited until I saved the money again, but I didn’t want to wait. As soon as I have the money, I’ll pay you back.”

“Don’t worry about it, Austin. I’m sorry. What you do with your money is really none of my business.”

He placed a finger under her chin and lifted so that she looked in his eyes once again. “It is your business if we’re going to have a serious relationship. We need to be completely open and honest about everything.” He ran a thumb down the side of her face and over her lips. “You’re beautiful.”

His lips descended to hers and he kissed her, a longer, more passionate kiss than earlier, and she slipped her arms up and around his neck. He pulled her closer.

When the kiss ended, they were both breathing hard. “I guess we should get back,” Tracy whispered.

The next three days passed quickly. Tracy was quiet over breakfast in the hotel restaurant Sunday morning.

“Dollar for your thoughts.” Austin broke the silence.

She grinned. “I thought it was supposed to be a penny.”

“Pennies don’t buy anything these days.”

“I was just thinking about how I almost threw all of this away out of fear, and now I don’t want you to go.”

“I don’t want to go either, but I promise I’ll be back.”

“Can we really make this work? I mean, there are so many miles between us, and you have your parents. You can’t leave them.”

Austin reached across the table and took her hand. “What keeps you here?”

“It’s all I’ve ever known. I have friends and a job here.”

“What about family?”

“I’ve always been the family outcast. I never really fit in, so once my grandparents and parents were gone … well, I have no family ties.”

“We’ll have to give it some thought. All I know is that now that I’ve found you, I don’t ever want to lose you.” He squeezed her hand.

That night, Austin called her when he arrived home. That was the beginning of nightly phone conversations that went on for a month. Then, Tracy asked, “Austin, what are your thoughts about me moving to Arkansas?”

Tracy heard an intake of breath on the other end of the phone line, then an exhale. “Are you sure?”

“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. I can take care of everything here and arrive in Arkansas in three weeks.”

“I will be waiting.”

Additional Book Review Posts


Hi Everyone. I want to make you all aware of my new addition to this blog. I have been posting Book Reviews here on my blog on Mondays. However, as I have become a much more sought after Book Reviewer, reviews won’t be posted soon enough if I don’t add another day for Book Reviews.

Therefore, from now on, Book Reviews will be posted on Sundays AND Mondays, beginning this coming Sunday — tomorrow, when my review of The Chosen Ones by Lisa Luciano will be posted. Then, for those of you who enjoy reading my Book Reviews, be sure to stop by and check out my Sunday and Monday Book Review posts every week.

Thursday writing prompt

Here is the first response to this month’s writing prompt which was posted earlier today. You can find the writing prompt post right below this post. I hope you all enjoy it, and I hope you will be encouraged to try your hand at writing something for this prompt as well.

Stine Writing


This photo prompt comes from Kelly at https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/11546674/posts/2799580154


Through the deep woods we go strolling

Sweetly talking of love and hope

Silent ‘cept the sound of our feet

Although air is humid, we cope.

Yellow lilies bloom in the brush

Waving so softly in the wind

Love blossoms here alongside us

Happily showing there’s no end.

©2020 CBialczak Poetry

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Special Post Saturday: Short Story Review

The Infinity Order: Changing The Past With Time Travel by [Ben McQueeney]

My normal book reviews are posted on Mondays here on my blog. However, this is a short story that Ben McQueeney requested a review for, so I decided to post it as a Special Saturday post.

The Infinity Order by Ben McQueeney is a short story that is a fast read. It is an interesting twist on time travel. It is an engaging story that keeps your mind active in following what is happening while also contemplating the outcome. Then comes a surprising twist that makes the story quite unique.

You can read this story in an hour or less, but it may keep your brain engaged for an hour or more afterward. If you like time travel, fantasy, and stories with twists and surprises, you’ll enjoy this short story.

Special Post Saturday

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Reviewer’s Note: I received a free e-book of this short story for my honest review.

This short story by Ben McQueeney is a bit gory for my liking. However, it is well written with an interesting story line. It is a dark fantasy story. The main character is a barber with a strange curiosity that he attempts to assuage during his free time. This story is a bit reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. It is a quick, easy read. If you like dark fantasy, you’ll like The Fae of Darkwood: A Tellusm Tale.

Special Post Saturday


Photo by Robin Canfield on Unsplash

Here is a Flash Fiction story that was submitted by C. S. Wachter for last Thursday’s writing prompt that was to include the words “if looks could kill”. Thanks for submitting, Chris!


The Eye of the Dragon
by C. S. Wachter

Sam’s breath funneled in through his nose and hissed out between his teeth. Each long stride carried him farther from camp and his friends. His lungs began burning a mile back, but still he continued; the crashing noises behind him driving him forward on weakening legs. Five minutes later, the forest opened onto a rock-strewn valley surrounded by cliffs. Though the track he ran followed no set course, he couldn’t shake the feeling the creature had herded him to this dead end.

Trembling, he released a curse. He flung his arms up and fisted clumps of sweat-dampened hair as he bent over and struggled to take deep breaths while scanning for a place to hide. He sent a quick glance over his shoulder. The creature hadn’t given up but judging by the muffled roar it was far enough behind that Sam could pause in his headlong rush, take a moment to fill his lungs, get more oxygen into his blood, and plan his next move.

Sweat dribbled down the center of his back and tracked through the dirt on his face from temples to chin as he focused on a darker splotch in the mottled gray rock face to his left.

The ground beneath him vibrated and heavy thumps rattled through his chest. Out of time. He pulled in the deepest breath he could manage, set his sights, and sprinted in a straight line toward the dark opening, praying it was more than a figment of his imagination.

Cool, damp air enfolded Sam, sending a chill through his overheated body. Before him gaped a black hole, behind him, a dragon roared its disappointment. Several more roars sounded before silence fell.

Inching his way forward, Sam moved deeper into the cave. Lightning flashed. No, not lightning. Steady light flooded the cave. And laughter. Brian’s laughter. Brian—the brother Sam had left back at camp and feared for.

More voices came.

Happy Birthday!”


Brian strode forward, laughing. “That was the absolutely best simulation. You should have seen your face. By the way, bro, you probably didn’t notice, but there are surveillance cameras all through that forest. You said you were up for an adventure. Happy Birthday, bro.”

Still chuckling, Brian reached out to plant a hand on Sam’s shoulder, but Sam stepped back. If looks could kill, his brother would be roasted by a dragon’s fire in the next second. 

Thursday’s Thoughts,Questions, and Comments About Writing


Photo by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

Though I have received no thoughts, questions, or comments from anyone, I will post today and hope it will encourage you to leave thoughts, questions, or comments about writing in the comments section for me to cover in future posts.

Writing is a solitary activity for the most part, and sometimes a writer can feel quite lonely. A writer can become discouraged staring at a blank page or a blank screen for a long period of time when nothing comes to mind to write or type.

Writers face other struggles as well — wondering if their scene or story is well written; what could they do to improve it; could they have chosen better words; is the pacing of the story too fast or too slow; are my characters likeable and relatable; etc.

Writers need each other. If you’re a writer who has ever spoken to another writer about writing, didn’t that conversation exhilarate and excite you; inspire you to sit down and write; let you know you’re not alone in your writing struggles; encourage you in knowing that you can be a writer?

That’s what I want my Thursday posts to do.

In addition, I’d like to have an occasional “brainstorming” Thursday post, where we just share ideas for stories, settings, characters — things to get our creative juices flowing. I also will post a writing prompt the second Thursday of the month, beginning next week, and ask you to use the prompt to write something and share it in the comments section for everyone here to read and reply to — only encouraging responses will be accepted. Any harsh or negative responses will be deleted. It is acceptable to say something like, “This part in your story is a bit slow. You could speed it up a little by…” OR “I didn’t really like this part or this character because…” These types of comments can be helpful to the writer instead of hurtful. They can help the writer improve their writing. We can all learn from one another.

I really hope you will join me on these Thursday posts, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I know I will.