Friday, November 11, 2022

A picture is worth a thousand words

This Week's Newsletter
YA Romance Whodunit
Ashleigh's YA Reads           Ashleigh's Romance Reads          Ashleigh's Whodunits

This week's newsletter contains the following features:
(Feel free to skip ahead to what you want to read)

What's new with Ashleigh?

As you know, I love participating in National Novel Writer's Month. This year, I decided to be a rebel and edit a large project for the month of November. However, as usual, last-minute inspiration struck on October 30th.

For some time, I have wanted to try my hand at flash fiction. The last time I tried, I ended up with a novel. So I wanted to try again.

But this time, I had a specific project in mind. I found an image suitable for the season and wrote a flash fiction for this newsletter. But did you realize I send out three newsletters at a time? One for young adult readers, one for romance readers, and one for mystery readers.

So I decided to write three flash fiction stories: one for each newsletter. All three use the same image.

My goal for 2023 is to share these stories with you each newsletter instead of (or maybe in addition to) my little blurb about what I've been doing since my last newsletter. Each story will be independent of each other, not an ongoing story.

So without further ado, I present:

The Park Bench

(jump to your favorite genre)

The Park Bench: A Young Adult Romance

Brown wooden bench surrounded by autumn leaves

Amber loved jogging through the woods. She inhaled the crisp autumn air, enjoying the sound of leaves crunching underfoot. She was the only runner this morning. The path was peaceful.

Closing her eyes, Amber sighed. Why couldn’t everything in her life be as perfect as this morning?

But even her jog had to be flawed. Her foot slipped beneath her and she lost her balance. Snapping open her eyes, she thrust her arms in front of her to break her fall.

She landed in the brush on the side of the path. Plenty of leaves were around to break her fall. She took a quick mental inventory of all her body parts. Everything was intact. She was more embarrassed than anything else.

“Are you okay?”

Amber turned toward the voice. A boy about her age was hurrying along the path from the opposite direction. Oh no. Had he seen her fall? She could feel her face grow warm as he kneeled beside her.

“What happened? Is anything broken? I know first aid.”

Amber couldn’t help but laugh as she shook her head. “No. I’m fine. I wasn’t watching where I was going and tripped. But I’m not hurt.”

“Well, lemme help you up.” He took one of her hands, reaching around her to grab her opposite elbow as he stood.

As soon as Amber got to her feet, she took a step away. “I promise. I’m fine.”

The boy looked around, pointing to the nearby wooden bench. “Let’s sit for a second.”

Amber rolled her eyes. What part of I’m fine did the boy not understand? But, he was kind of cute. It wouldn’t hurt to talk to him for a minute.

The boy dusted the leaves from the bench before sitting. Amber settled on the opposite end, angling herself to face him. The wood was cool and Amber could feel the morning dew seeping into her pants.

The boy looked around before turning to her with a hesitant smile. “So, uh, do you run here often?”

Amber nodded, trying not to laugh. He was so cute. “Yeah. Every morning.” She pointed toward the south trailhead. “I live near the end of the trail.”

He pointed in the opposite direction. “We just moved in over there.” He frowned, looking in both directions before swearing under his breath. “Now I’m all turned around.”

Amber giggled. “Elm Street or Maple?”

The boy pulled out his phone. “Uh, not sure. We literally moved in yesterday.”

“Do you run a lot?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I was on the cross-country and track teams at my old school.”

Amber got to her feet with a smile. “So, I guess that means I’ll see you tomorrow?”

The boy stood. “Oh. Yeah. I guess so.”

With a wave, Amber jogged away. She had only taken a few steps before the boy called out to her.

“Hey. I never caught your name.”

Not breaking her stride, she looked over her shoulder with a smile. “I’ll tell you tomorrow!”

As she turned her attention back to the path, Amber smiled to herself. She was looking forward learning his name as well.

The Park Bench: A Romance Story

Brown wooden bench surrounded by autumn leaves

Chloe raced along the path, not even sparing a glance for the other runners along the path. She didn’t have time. She could hear Kevin’s pounding footfalls behind her. And they were getting closer.

By the time she reached the bench that marked the half-way point of the trail, Chloe was out of breath. Panting, she brushed off the leaves and collapsed on the damp wood. A moment later, Kevin sat beside her.

She smirked. “I win.”

He smiled. “That’s the fifth time this week. I think you deserve a prize.”

Chloe could think of many ways he could reward her, none of which were appropriate for a park bench where someone could pass by at any moment. Biting her lip, she sent him a coy smile. “What’d you have in mind?”

Reaching into the pocket of his running shorts, he slid off the bench. As he got on one knee before her, he held out his hand. “Will you marry me?”

Chloe stared at the diamond ring on his palm. The morning light made the gem sparkle. Her eyes watered at the sight. It was the most beautiful sight Chloe had ever seen in these woods.

“Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!” She threw her arms around him, sealing the deal with a kiss.

As he slipped the ring on her finger, she narrowed her eyes at him. “What would you have done if you had gotten to the bench first?”

He shrugged. “I would have let you win again.” He got to his feet, extending a hand to Chloe. “Race you back?”

Chloe frowned. “What do you mean again?”

He wiggled his eyebrows. “On your mark.”

“No, seriously. Have you been letting me win all week?”

“Get set.”

Chloe didn’t wait for him to finish. She sprinted back along the path. She was faster than Kevin, right?

The Park Bench: A Mystery

Brown wooden bench surrounded by autumn leaves

“So then I said, What do you mean you lost the keys to the patrol car?”

Adam laughed at his friend’s joke, even though he lost track of how many times he had heard it. The two men had been jogging this same path every morning for nearly thirty years and Mark told the same story at least once a month.

As was their habit, they stopped on the wooden bench that marked the midpoint of the trail. As Adam dusted off the leaves, he unearthed a length of rope. Frowning, he held it before his friend.

“Huh. Wonder what this is doing here.”

Mark glanced around. Adam saw the change in his friend’s eyes. He was no longer his running partner. He was all cop.

Mark squinted at the trees on the other side of the path. “Is that a shoe?”

Adam looked where his friend was pointing and shrugged. “I don’t see anything.”

Mark crept closer to the tree in question. Swearing, he pulled out his phone. “We’ve got another one.”

Adam raised his eyebrows. “Another what?”

Mark didn’t answer immediately. He was too busy calling dispatch. It wasn’t until he ended the call and started using his camera to take photos of the scene that he looked at his friend over his shoulder.

“Remember I was telling you about that serial killer? This looks like another victim. I can see the strangulation marks around her neck.”

Adam held up the rope in his hand. “You don’t think this—”

Mark sighed. “Yeah. Good thing you found that rope. Make sure we have someone get your prints so we can rule them out. This is the first time we’ve found the rope. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the guy left some prints.”

As Mark returned his attention to the crime scene, Adam smiled to himself. He knew the police wouldn’t find any fingerprints. He always wore his gloves.

I would love to hear your feedback. What do you think of the story? But more importantly, what do you think about having a short like this each week?

Hartfield Chronicles

Hartford Chronicles
Season 4 of Hartfield Chronicles has arrived!

When Melinda is invited to join a new dance class, she sees this as her big break, a chance to advance her skills. Before she can accept, however, another kind of break stops her in her tracks.

Pat wants to be the supportive boyfriend, but his efforts seem to be making Melinda uncomfortable. He can’t go to his own friends for advice, because they can’t understand.

After Melinda calls for another type of break, she and Pat must examine their relationship to determine whether they are meant for each other.

Hartfield Chronicles follows the lives of Melinda, Pat, and their friends as they navigate their way through boarding school life. Each episode features two stories, one from Melinda's point of view and one from Pat's, along with an excerpt from Melinda's writing journal. New episodes are published every Friday.

Here's what you missed:

(Click on the chalkboard to read)
Episode 103:
Hartford Chronicles
Episode 104:
Hartford Chronicles
Pat has a party and everyone's invited Pat sings his song for Melinda

Want to get notifications
when the next episode is released?

Follow me on twitter

As a thank you, you will receive access to bonus chapters from the Hartfield Chronicles.

Want early access?

Members of the Hammerhead club receive episodes one month early.
Check out the website for more information.

Free Books

Marduke Burning

Marduke Burning
A Suspenseful Christian Dystopia Short-Story

The floating city of Marduke hovers on the brink of a fiery cataclysm—and the town doctor must tip it over the edge

The gargantuan engines of Marduke are the only thing standing between the floating city and the blazing inferno a thousand feet below. When town doctor Caleb is called in to see a man sick with "the Burning", something happens that changes everything. In order to save their little floating world, Caleb has to destroy the life-sustaining engines and plunge the city into the flames—and the entire city of Marduke will stop at nothing to thwart him.

Love Seasoned

Love Seasoned
Hidden Beauty Book 5

Who says love is only for the young?

After Denny Ashley lost his wife to brain cancer, he never imagined he'd get another chance to find someone. That was just fine with him. As a long-haul trucker, he was used to being alone. When a vivacious florist enters his world, Denny hopes he can do love justice.

Gwendolyn Whitaker has loved and lost before. She's experienced both heaven and hell when it comes to men. She is rightfully confused when Denny Ashley starts to turn on the charm. Suddenly, she must decide if she can handle love seasoned by time.

Just as Denny and Gwendolyn are putting their pasts into perspective, Gwendolyn learns she must face a monster more powerful than anything she has ever encountered. Will Denny tame his own ghosts and be by her side. Should she dare ask him to after all of the blows he's been dealt?

If you believe in second chances at love under the most trying circumstances, you will adore this clean and wholesome romance featuring an older couple.

Love Seasoned is fifth in the Hidden Beauty Series and can be read as a stand alone novel.

Secrets at Safety Cove

Secrets at Safety Cove
A beachside Thriller

She wanted safety, but all she got were secrets.

When Emma flees her past to Safety Cove, she settles in to finish writing her breakthrough book. She grows fond of the small beachside town, getting to know the neighbours, even the distressing ones that threaten her to leave.

But when she finds something unspeakable in the shed, she realises that there is more than just heavy morning mist that hangs over the small town. There are secrets that, once uncovered, are dangerous to know.

Would you like some free books in exchange for an honest review?

Mysteries & Romance

Want more free books? Check out these giveaways!

Bookmars are for Quitters - Romance Coming of Age Giveaways - YA
Take a thrill ride - Mystery Mystery & Thriller Giveaway - Mystery

Do you have Kindle Unlimited? These books are free for you!

Young Adult KU Reads

Other Books on Sale


Lovelorn: The Complete Series

A loveless marriage. A rekindled friendship. A second chance at love.

Trapped and alone in a life full of regret is how Rachel feels in her loveless marriage to her high school sweetheart. Her very wealthy and powerful husband stopped being sweet over the years, and she stopped defending herself. With sudden confidence to attend her high school reunion, she reconnects with old friends and one, in particular, Jake. Rachel, Jake, and her husband were inseparable in high school, but after graduation, they went their separate ways.

Remembering the feeling of freedom and young love helps Rachel to gain the confidence it takes to step out of her comfort zone, breaking the barriers her husband put around her. But when he finds out she's talking to Jake, he has plans of his own.

Will Rachel overcome her fear of leaving the caged life she has become so used to over the years? Or will she finally step out on her own to find the true meaning of life and love?

Crimson Moon Hideaway

Crimson Moon Hideaway
Love's Stage

Rina Cassanova loves being on stage and singing for the crowds of patrons in the Cave bar at the Crimson Moon Hideaway. When the song ends and she walks off the platform, she remembers what she is and hides from the world. Her fears take over and she becomes a recluse until he stumbles into her oasis.

Ren Michaels was tired. The constant touring, the screaming fans, the demands on all his time. Fate stepped in and he found himself stranded outside the Crimson Moon Hideaway. He vaguely remembered hearing about the resort for Paranormals but hadn’t expected to end up finding his purpose.

Rina didn’t want a rockstar coming in and taking her place, but when the fear of singing takes her to a dark place only Ren can step in and save the day. When it’s time for him to continue on his rockstar journey, can she say goodbye? Or will he give it all up to sing in a bar and stay with her?

Down the River

Down the River
The Belle Âme Chronicles

The body they buried is the least-threatening part of this marriage...

The Washingtons are the artistic, hippie family that everyone knows and side-eyes. Holed up in their own private compound, affectionately christened “Belle Âme”, the Washingtons keep to themselves unless it is time for one of patriarch Nathalian's stage performances.

But their hand in a murder one-year-prior weighs heavily on the minds of Nathalian and his wife, Blythe. The fragile mental state of Nathalian’s younger brother, Edwin, and the constant chaos brewing around their teenaged daughters only exacerbates their nerves. And with the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of Blythe’s cousin Georgia on the horizon, the Washingtons feel their lives devolving into chaos.

When signs point to Georgia’s return, Blythe and Nathalian team up to uncover the truth. But can they do so without also revealing their darkest secrets and tainting the one thing that they care about most: their marriage?

You may also be interested in these books

November Book Parade - All Genre Romance Sale - Romance
Women Authors Celebration Sale - All Genre Tasty Treats - Romance
Romance a New Read - Romance Mystery & Thriller Sale - Mystery

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Check out my books

Adjusting to a New Life A New Home Innocent Bystander Camp Piquaqua Elephant on My Chest
Mooncrossed Kayaks, Kisses & Monsters One Night in Sedona

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