Tag Archives: fiction

Terms and Conditions [repost]

Rory wants to know the story behind this interesting picture and I don’t blame him. It all began long ago and far away…

demon guarding books

“I do love this house,” Giles told the agent. “Such a large yard and private too. But I’m afraid it’s out of my budget. I’m on a fixed income, you know.”

Samantha nodded. “Yes. They want a retiree. Someone to appreciate the books and art. And to agree not to change anything in the library. They’ll slash the price in half for you.”

“In half!” Giles grabbed the contract from her hand. “Do you have a pen?”

*

A month after moving into his new home, Giles felt restless. Insomnia had never plagued him before, but now he found himself wide awake several times a night, unable to sleep properly. He prowled the rooms, abiding by his promise not to touch anything. Except for the kitchen and master suite, which he’d been allowed to fix up to his own tastes, this was becoming a burden.

Faces in old photos on the walls stared at him, some quite hauntingly familiar. He dared not turn them over to check for info, for he had signed in writing he wouldn’t. But surely he could read a book from the study and put it right back in the same spot afterwards? Giles opened the door.

It was so musty in here, due to the lack of cleaning no doubt. He really shouldn’t have agreed to such ridiculous terms. The place needed a thorough mopping and airing out. Giles spied a frayed book on the history of witchcraft sitting on top of a shelf, not even tucked away. He picked it up.

*

Samantha let the widow peek inside the library. “The seller is willing to reduce the price substantially if you will agree in writing not to touch any of the books and art. He fancies that he lives on in them.”

“Oh, I understand,” Carol smiled. “Artists are so quirky.”

“They certainly are,” Samantha said.

~*~

Image source unknown.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Take Me With You [repost]

vampire wings black goth girl

For seven years, Kiara had toiled at Wolf Castle. She’d been grateful they took her in of course, that night she’d arrived, sick and bloody, with a broken hand. They had fixed her. Then they’d put her to work.

“Don’t think you’re here to learn secrets for petty revenge,” Lady Wolf had warned her repeatedly. “We have important tasks to fulfill. You’ll do as you’re told.”

But Kiara had learned the secrets and spells. She burned for revenge against the cruel man who had hurt her back at the pretty cottage by the sea, where she’d felt safe surrounded by flowers and lovely things, until that night. Here, all was dark and cold and ugly, but no one hurt her. Not in that way, not like her stepfather had.

Now, seven years later, Kiara was ready to return. Quietly, she packed a small bag with poisons she’d concocted from ancient books and a sharp knife she’d pilfered. She crept down the stairs and went around to the back door, the one they used to exit to the graveyard.

As she began walking past the crumbling stones, Kiara heard a noise, a breath. She stopped. Something brushed past her and she half-screamed.

“Quiet!” he hissed, moving his hood back so she could see his face. “They’ll find us.”

Kiara recognized Thorn, Lady Wolf’s strange son, who up until now seemed to communicate only with animals. His eyes glinted in the moonlight like a cat’s, and she shivered. “Why are you here?”

“I’ve been watching you,” he said. “I know you’re going back to the sea.”

Kiara couldn’t deny it. “I need to settle with someone.”

“I’ll help you.”

Kiara’s fury rose up. “He’s mine!”

“I want to watch.” Thorn smiled and white teeth glittered like jewels. “Take me with you.”

~*~

Image source unknown.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Quickies 12

coffee notebook pen write list

And we’re back to book reviews this time. I was considering dumping the Quickies because they don’t get many likes or comments compared to my other posts, but then I remembered idgaf about stats. I do care about writing stuff that people enjoy though, even if it’s only a few views at a time. So that’s all right. Besides, as you may remember, I have a goal of reading 100 books this year. I’m sort of on target at 60 right now, but that doesn’t give me much wiggle room ~ eight books per month for the rest of the year. Writing these mini reviews keeps me in reading mode. Oh, I almost forgot. I will include one movie! These three are all mysteries, of one kind or another…

1. The Influencer by Miranda Rijks. This 2021 novel has such a crazy mix of reviews on Amazon. But the most important review is right here, natch. I loved it. The story was jumpy and wacky, and I had no idea what was going to happen. Once again, we have to deal with the multiple first-person POV style, but I suppose I’m getting resigned to it. Loved the super-fast pace and unpredictable, fairly unlikeable characters, so I gave this novel 5 stars for holding my attention in a unique way. Every book doesn’t have to be bursting with lyrical prose and philosophical insights. This is simply a fun mystery. Well done.

2. The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner, 2021. This novel takes place around the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It’s told in first person by “Sophie,” an Irish immigrant who is living in squalor in NYC and answers an ad for a mail order bride in California. Sophie is a quick learner, both in managing a household and also in mothering her new stepdaughter. She cuts her new husband a lot of slack, both because she is so grateful to have a decent place to live, enough to eat, etc., and also because he is a recent widower. There’s something extra-strange about the guy though and it’s interesting to discover along with Sophie exactly what that is. Funny thing (to me) is while this book doesn’t seem at first glance anything like the previous one, they have one huge element in common. Of course, I’m not saying what it is, for that will spoil the mystery of both! I recommend this one too. Reading about old San Francisco was as interesting as following Sophie’s story.

3. Pig, the 2021 film starring Nicolas Cage. Absolutely incredible movie. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Cage is fabulous as the strange recluse in the woods whose only companion ~ a truffle pig ~ is violently stolen. He revisits his past in Portland in order to investigate gourmet restaurants (they’re the ones serving frou-frou truffle dishes), and this journey brings him to terms with a tragedy that occurred there. We’re never sure exactly what it is, though we get a few clues. This is a hard movie to watch at times, with the main character always in a disheveled and beaten state, but it’s worth the discomfort. And it was great to return to the theater and view a movie on the big screen (I wore a mask). Looking forward to more!

~*~

Image from Pexels.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Loops [fffc]

Traffic cars freeways interchange loop

Jake splashes more scotch in his glass, absently noting that the bottle he bought yesterday is less than half full now. He shrugs, no longer deluding himself with the pretense that anything matters. The songs streaming from his Echo serve as a reminder of times gone by, while these lonely nights slip away like faceless cars on the highway.

After another hour of staring into darkness, Jake hears a ping. At first, he thinks he imagined it, but it comes again and he glances at his phone. It’s lit up with a message. From her!

“You’re back in. Meet me at the usual place for details.”

Instantly sober, Jake grabs his gun and heads out the door.

~*~

Image from Google Photo Frame.
Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

The Pledge [repost]

dragon bridge knight horse snow

Icefire the dragon heard the soft clop of the horseshoes through the snow and knew a knight approached his bridge. His sensitive nose sniffed out that this was a rider from the East, one of the King’s men. Under normal circumstances, Icefire would come out from under the bridge and burn up the knight, which would indeed be a pleasure. But these were extraordinary times.

Last summer, Icefire had met a princess in the forest. Not just any princess, but the fairest maiden ever born. Instead of being afraid of him, the little princess had given him a bouquet of flowers. Icefire had fallen in love! He’d given her his pledge of honor. Anything in the world that she wanted, he would do for her.

She’d asked only one thing: please don’t kill her father’s knights when they crossed the bridge.

Hmph. It certainly went against a dragon’s nature not to set fire to a knight, but Icefire had his bouquet of dried flowers to remind him of his promise.

~*~

Image source unknown.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Tiger

Tiger kitty cat

I’d imagined this moment so many times, but I never expected it to happen so dramatically. My book Ghosted came to the attention of a big influencer who gushed over it to all her fans. What a lucky break! Suddenly, I was on the best-seller list and money came pouring into my account every month. Next thing I knew, I was flying all expenses paid first-class to NYC for a signing tour and interviews. But not only that! I was also hosting Saturday Night Live, a dream come true. As my plane headed east, I composed a brilliantly funny sketch for my monologue. The flight attendants were awed by my presence, kept fluffing my pillows, and served me endless pots of delicious vanilla tea and buttery little cookies with rainbow sprinkles. My SNL gig was a big success, Brad Pitt kissed me at the after-party, and everyone everywhere kept saying how hilarious I was. A fabulous writer and a fantastic comedian! I was over the moon.

But then he contacted me, demanding to know if Ghosted was about him and threatening to sue if I didn’t split my profits with him. He began saying online that the novel was totally based on our relationship, and I had to clarify to the media that we didn’t even have a relationship, which I guess made me sound kind of cold. He went on a talk show and cried, so everyone began feeling sorry for him. Soon, people started grumbling that I was a bad person and had no regard for this poor, sad man. My sales plummeted and I began getting hate mail. Other exes read my older books and announced that those were also based on actual people. My doorbell rang this morning, but instead of the usual fan mail, flowers, cupcakes, etc., it was a process server handing me 25 summons to appear in court. All the exes were suing me for libel! It was going to cost millions!

I slammed the door and it fell off its hinges. The process server grinned like a maniac as it began to rain. I realized that he was my high school creative writing teacher. Lightning flashed across the sky and struck him. I laughed like the demon I am as he crumpled to the ground, but then a tiger appeared behind him, growling and snarling at me. I backed into my house, which now had no roof, and the tiger followed me, chasing me from room to room as my house turned into a maze with no escape. The tiger grew larger and larger leaping over the hedges in the maze, cornering me in a garden where the flower petals were made of bad reviews of my books. My chest grew heavy with despair as the tiger pounced.

Then I woke up and got ready for work.

~*~

Image of Tiger is mine.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Quickies 10

coffee notebook pen write list

Welcome to my quick reviews ~ a mix of short takes on some of the movies and books I’ve recently watched or read. Note that I don’t have a problem blabbing spoilers, so if that bothers you, skip this post.

1. Serious Moonlight. This is a 2009 romcom directed by Cheryl Hines (Larry David’s wife in Curb Your Enthusiasm). Wikipedia labels it a “black comedy,” but it seems like a standard kooky Meg Ryan romantic comedy to me. Meg plays workaholic attorney Louise whose husband Ian (Tim Hutton) has grown depressed with their life, cheats on her, and wants to split up. Louise isn’t having any of that ~ she literally ties him to a chair and forces him to remember their good times together. Complications ensue in the form of a lawn care dude (Justin Long) who opportunistically decides to rob their house while they’re fighting. He ties up Louise and dumps her in the bathroom with Ian, and he invites his friends over to party. It’s obvious that Ian still cares about Louise at this point. When Ian’s girlfriend shows up all pissed off because he didn’t meet her at the airport to fly to Paris as he had promised, she gets thrown in the bathroom too. But now Ian has decided that Louise is right and their marriage can be saved, they should try for a baby again, etc. During the ordeal, I wondered if Louise orchestrated the robbery, but then it seemed she didn’t. However… at the last scene, I wondered again. Hmm! Fun flick, though preposterous.

2. A Friend Like That by Marissa Finch. This 2021 novel literally kept me up all night. Well, that’s not really fair ~ I was simply having one of my bouts of insomnia and grew bored of playing Scrabble and solitaire on my phone so I began to read a book. I absolutely admire any mystery type novel that misdirects so skillfully that I incorrectly predict how it will end. That’s not easy to do! And I’m not talking about slapping on a random solve that has NOTHING to do with the preceding clues because that’s a hideous cheat and the writer should be dealt with a la Stephen King’s Misery. Finch wove a complex character-driven tale that kept me wondering while at the same time going deep into the mindset of the protagonist. I guessed right abut one of the revelations, but the big reveal was a complete shockaroo. It made total sense though, which is the most important thing. I went aha of course it would be like that… clues abounded. I enjoyed this book so much and highly recommend it.

3. Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult, 2005. Late to the game, I recently “discovered” Jodi, who has been popular for over a decade ~ and my own daughter has read tons of her books. I love Jodi’s writing! It’s so infused with meaning ~ this is what I try to do and generally fail because I’m too addicted to snappy dialogue that barrels along into clever wordplay. Jodi stops and ponders the implications of each thing, which makes the book almost like a philosophical treatise at times. The book is structured like so many lately ~ multiple POVs in first person, alternating between chapters. I have given up hating that because apparently this is how things are now, and it’s pointless to fight it. Hell, maybe I’ll join in and write a novel with this annoying structure just for laughs. And I’ll kill off people too! Remember how our English teachers told us never to write “And then I died?” Now we can, woohoo! Not that Jodi does, but some have and I’m just ranting. Vanishing Acts kept my attention from start to finish. It’s a “tight” book overall, focusing on the intricacies of one family’s dynamics, except for the prison scenes. I really enjoyed those and learned many random facts about prison gangs and drugs and such, none of which I’ll probably ever need for either bar trivia quizzes or my own poetry, but one never knows!

~*~

Image from Pexels.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Networking [repost]

“Let’s all toast to another great quarter!” Mitch raised his glass. “To Global Imports.”

Wendy smiled and raised her water glass. She was new and hadn’t made a sale yet, but their confidence was infectious.

Bob frowned at her. “You can’t toast with water. It’s bad luck.”

“I don’t drink,” Wendy said. “But I’m really happy to be here at Global, and in fact I have a couple leads to follow up on next–“

“Why don’t you drink?” Larissa asked. “Are you in AA?”

“You can’t ask her that!” Mitch said. “It’s a human rights violation or something.”

But they all stared at her anyway, and Wendy felt obligated to say something. “I’m not an alcoholic,” she said. “But I just don’t feel well when I drink.”

Bob laughed. “You’re obviously not drinking the good stuff! This is top shelf bubbly, Wendy. C’mon, just have half a glass.”

She waved his offer away. “No really. I’d rather not. Thank you though.”

Larissa rolled her eyes. “Whatever. No point in inviting you to come to the picnic on Saturday. People will think you’re weird and snobby if you’re not having beers like the rest of us.”

“Unless you’re pregnant,” Bob said. “Are ya?”

“Bob!” Mitch admonished. “I told you guys ixnay on the personal questions.”

Wendy felt uncomfortable with the group but gamely stayed until they finished the bottle, which was only another few minutes. She walked slowly to her car, wondering what her future was going to be like at Global Imports. Short, most likely.

“Excuse me,” a man said.

Wendy turned around. “Yes?”

“Hi, I’m Tom, and I’d like to give you my card. I know your coworkers and I couldn’t help overhearing a bit of the conversation where they were pressuring you to drink.”

“Oh, well, they were just being friendly.” Wendy didn’t want to badmouth her new company after only a week of work.

“I’m sure. But consider calling me for an interview. We sell non-alcoholic cider and would love to have you aboard. Ask for me.” He smiled. “I’ll remember you.”

“The girl who rejected top shelf bubbly.”

“Has a nice ring to it.”

~*~

Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction 18.

Image credit to Nik MacMillan at Unsplash.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Sky Blue and Black

sky

Although I strive to be serene and even-tempered, the truth is that my moods do swing wildly from blue (optimism) to black (pessimism). I don’t think this is some sort of chemical imbalance as much as a reaction to specific circumstances. Take today, for example. I’ve been really tired lately, even though I have managed to get a normal amount of sleep most nights. But yesterday I literally crashed at 8PM. I went to bed then and woke at 4AM with a raging migraine. IDK why. It could be anything from too much sleep to too little, from the weather to to caffeine. I know it can’t be alcohol because I haven’t had any in ages. Point is, I was in a really dark mood from this nauseating, throbbing pain. I decided I would take a sick day and cancel on my friends tonight.

But then I took sumatriptan and anti-nausea meds, plus put some magic Chinese green elixir on my neck and forehead. Idk what this magic elixir actually is, but it helps, even though (as my doctor points out regarding Icy Hot, which is very similar) it could simply be a way of agitating my nerve cells so I don’t notice the pain so much. It’s not a drug, so it doesn’t really DO anything, except it seems to alleviate some of the worst pain, that’s all I know. And by the time it began wearing off, the migraine med had kicked in. So I went from feeling really bummed out to being happy or at least feeling neutral and deciding I’d go to work after all and hang with my peeps tonight.

These mood swings happen with my hobbies. I was so into painting for a while and spent a bunch of money on art supplies. I painted every time I had a free day. But none of my work came out as good as that random rainbow tree I did at my daughter’s house. I guess that was pure luck. I hate everything else I’ve done and have thrown it all away. Every time I go to the art tutorial Facebook page I see all this FABULOUS stuff, with people going oh hi this is my very first attempt… what do you think? Idk if it’s BS or what, but these pieces are all SO GOOD. This has made me super discouraged and I haven’t painted for over a month. I don’t feel it’s irrational. It is the absolute truth that my painting isn’t good; it’s also true that you can’t improve without practicing. But I’m 60 and have no desire to spend decades practicing art. My idea was to have a few fun hours painting here and there and end up with projects I liked to look at. That hasn’t happened, even when I try to closely follow a tutorial. It’s like when I was 11 and spent a summer drawing doggies from a you-can-draw-doggies book. No, I can’t fucking draw dogs! ARGH!

As far as writing, I swing wildly between believing I write well and that I’m just awful. This isn’t a compliment-fish; there is nothing anyone can say to change my mind either way. It’s all about my mood. I recently reread Switching Positions and think it’s really funny. But then I read a couple of my more “serious” romance pieces and think they suck. I can’t seem to portray the intense visceral chemistry and unbreakable emotional attachment between my protags the way other romance writers can. Maybe because I’ve never experienced that in real life, lol. Actually, in Ghosted, I got close (though it’s more of a mystery than a romance) ~ I put a ton of work into Ghosted, and it’s OK, I guess, but then I read Jodi Picoult’s Vanishing Acts a few days ago and am like holy crap this is so excellent! I can never even dream of writing anything on that level. Now I don’t feel like finishing any more of my crap in progress. My OCD screams at me to finish, but I don’t always listen to my OCD. Maybe I’ve written enough and should just start watching TV like a normal person, even if my selfidentity is kinda wrapped up in the writer label.

I feel like turning comments off for this post because I really DO NOT want any compliments about my writing. They’re just going to seem patronizing to me right now. I’d like to hear commiseration on mood swings though. Then I might not feel like such a weirdo. Do you one day decide you’re great at X thing and the next day believe you are terrible at X? Please elaborate. I really don’t enjoy the motion sickness of careening between blue and black. Jim’s prompt of sky today inspired this word vomit, so you can blame him. I immediately thought of this Jackson Browne song when I read his post, and no I’m not going to C&P a pile of Wikipedia text here when everyone is capable of looking up JB facts themselves if they are interested. I’m just writing about ME and, to me, this song is about the search for self, whatever that is, and while mine sometimes seems clearly defined, other times it’s as elusive as a whisper in the rain…

You’re the color of the sky
Reflected in each store-front window pane
You’re the whispering and the sighing
Of my tires in the rain
You’re the hidden cost and the thing that’s lost
In everything I do
Yeah and I’ll never stop looking for you

In the sunlight and the shadows
And the faces on the avenue
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
Sky, sky blue and black

~*~

Image is mine (I think).

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Getting the Message [ffs2]

Mountain couple bird

“It’s so beautiful up here, isn’t it?” Janice leaned back in blissful repose. “Just us, fresh air, peace, and quiet. No TV, no dogs barking, no telephone ringing.”

Jerry leaned over and gave her a kiss. “To be clear, what you’re saying is that our normal life is a bit too noisy for you?”

“You got my subtle message?” Janice smiled. “Yes, our life is way too noisy and too hectic. It annoys me so much when your boss interrupts our weekends every five minutes with another ridiculous trouble ticket. I swear, he has no respect for your free time.”

“He can’t find me on this mountain, that’s for sure.” Jerry laughed. “No signal!”

Janice sighed with pleasure. “We should definitely do this more–” She paused. “Hey, what is that bird, Jerry? He’s flying straight toward us.”

Jerry stood up as the bird circled and landed in front of him. “Some kind of crow? A raven? Holy cow, Janice, he has a paper tied to his foot. Hey, little guy, what you got there?”

“What is it, Jerry?” Janice peered over her husband’s shoulder as he removed the tiny scroll from the bird and unrolled it.

“It’s a message from my boss. He wants me to return ASAP because one of our clients has just been hacked and their whole system is down.”

“Ugh! Can’t you just pretend you never received it?”

The raven cawed and held out a pen.

“No,” Jerry said. “I have to sign for delivery. Sorry, honey.”

~*~

Photo by Warren Wong (wflwong) on Unsplash.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.