Doll Power (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Doll Power (Sunday Photo Fiction)

doll heads
Photo Credit: J Hardy Carroll


 Lana was the perfect trophy wife. She reminded Edwin of his glory days when he was young and virile. Edwin spared no cost in keeping up the illusion. A personal stylist ensured Lana wore fashionable clothes with flattering hairstyles. Spa treatments kept her skin pure and her body desirable. Lana’s beauty gave Edwin the edge in business. His associates wanted her and would do anything to bed her, but only he could have her.

It was the ultimate power trip.

Then small lines appeared around her eyes and Edwin no longer felt virile or young. Before long, Edwin found a newer, younger version of Lana.

Men underestimated Lana because of her looks. She superbly played the part of a doll while learning from Edwin the art of business: know your enemy; know their capabilities. Lana knew Edwin’ enemies very well.

The brutal murder of Edwin Hartley shocked the world. The crime baffled the police and with few clues, the case turned cold.

In the Hartley home, a bust of Edwin’ head stood on a pedestal near the west window. What remained of Edwin’ body was buried in family crypt.

For Lana, this was the ultimate power trip.

CCFC – The Letter J

CCFC – The Letter J

It’s Saturday morning and although I have a million things I need to do, I took some time to have a little fun with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. This week is Letter J. The rules are the photo subject must be least 6 letters long. The “J” can be anywhere in the word, and using an adjective to extend the length of the word is perfectly OK. I had lots of ideas but couldn’t find time to photograph so I had to settle for some vacation photos. There is always next week.

Many thanks to Cee’s Photography for providing the opportunity to play around with photography in a creative way.  If you are interested in joining Cee’s Letter Challenge, check out this link Challenge

My first ‘J’ photo is Alligator Jaws. This was taken in Belize. 

Alligator Jaws

The next “J” is beautiful Jamaica. This was taken from the top steps of Rose Hall, the home of the famous ‘White Witch of Rose Hall’. 

Jamaica (1 of 1)

My last ‘J’ is Juneau, Alaska and the Mendenhall Glacier.

Glacier Juneau (1 of 1)



Fright Night (Friday Fictioneers)

Fright Night (Friday Fictioneers)

Photo Credit: Roger Bultot

Lydia, are you sure you know where you are going?

Alice lives on Togas Pond, a five-minute drive from downtown Augusta yet Lydia, my GPS, has directed me into the middle of Nowhere Maine.

Never trust technology with a British accent.

Lydia tells me to turn left onto a dark, gravel road. Near the end, a streetlamp shines on a lone house.

I’ve seen plenty of horror movies and refuse to get out until I know it is the right place.

Alice waves from the front door. I can’t help wondering if there are seed pods hidden in the shed.



Friday Fictioneer’s is a weekly challenge to write a complete story in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and Roger Bultot for this week’s prompt.


A Ducky Mystery (Sunday Photo Fiction)

A Ducky Mystery (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Ride the Duck
Photo Credit: Al Forbes

Ride the Ducks? You must be kidding!

The amphibious vehicle known as a ‘Duck’ is popular in cheesy places like Branson Missouri, but I never imagined dignified London stooping so low to attract tourists. Yet here I am, sitting in the back row listening to the Captain tell corny jokes as he pointed out London’s favorite tourist spots.

My reason for riding a Duck have little to do with sightseeing. Two weeks ago, my sister Carol disappeared in London. After days of unreturned voice messages, I checked her credit card account and discovered the last purchase was the London Duck Tour. Carol is not a fan of organized tours, preferring to discovery unfamiliar places on her own terms. Concerned, I booked a flight, hoping to uncover clues. The tour through London told me nothing and I running out of ideas.

Suddenly, the Duck splashed into the Thames and I remembered something important. When Carol was five years old, she nearly drowned when our boat overturned. Since then, Carol has refused to get on a boat. Nothing in this would possess Carol to take this tour on her own.

My blood ran cold as I realized Carol was in terrible danger.

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Al Forbes (A Mixed Bag) for providing this week’s challenging photo.

On a personal note; I am a Ride the Duck fan. We rode our first Duck in Branson Missouri when my children were small. I’ve noticed that more places in the U.S. now have Ducks but I was surprised to see one in London. But where there is water, there are Ducks.  For history and military fans, check out the Wikipedia page on the original  DUKs,

Below is an original DUK. A trip through an outdoor military vehicle museum is included with the Branson tour.

Orig DUK
photo credit: Susan Spaulding

Below is one of the original Branson Ducks.

Branson Duck
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding




Slowing Down

Slowing Down

Photo credit: Susan Spaulding.

I remember a family vacation when my children were young. We were traveling from Oklahoma to Colorado and about three miles down the road, a small  voice from the backseat asked, “Are we there yet?” At the young age of five, my son had already learned to focus on the end result. Patience was not his virtue

This is expected of children; they don’t have a good concept of time or how long things take. They lack experience, which is the building block of judgement. Over time they learn basic truths about time, such as the school year is too long and summer is too short;

We adults know better, except when it comes to change. We understand change takes time but we don’t have the patience to see it through. Our five year old self questions how long it will take. We tire of the questions, so we give up.

How we view time is part of the problem. In Western cultures, time is viewed chronologically as a straight line.  It reminds me of a Gantt chart:  we plot our lives from birth to death, with milestones in between.  Other cultures view time as Kairos; things happen at the right or opportune moment. Time is circular, which means no more missed opportunities. Life will present what we need, when we need it.

One of my mentors, James Clear, says that when we decide to change we should not focus on the end result but rather on the process itself. For example, most of us focus on the scale when we attempt to lose weight and can become very disappointed when the scale doesn’t move. Instead, our focus should be on doing the things that will lead to weight loss: tracking what we eat, tracking our exercise, checking in daily with ourselves or others. If we place our focus on what we need to do, we will eventually get the results we desire.

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

The ancient concept of detachment is one I have been trying to embrace, especially in my writing. In the past, when others did not find what I wrote excellent or inspiring, I would get discouraged. Now, I release my writing and ideas into the world and do my best to let go of how and when they are received. I’m not perfect at this but I strive to be better.



At five years old, my son (and I am sure myself) were impatient for life’s next great adventure to arrive. At 60, I am more content to take life a little slower and let the adventure unfold on its own. Life will give me what I need, when I need it.

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit   


all photos are the property of Susan Spaulding and cannot be reproduced without permission.




A day at the beach

A day at the beach

Every afternoon, Tommy and his mother strolled two blocks to the beach. At three years old, Tommy displayed a remarkable talent for building sandcastles. His father boasted that Tommy was ordained to become the next Frank Lloyd Wright. His practical mother pretended no such grandeur. To her, Tommy was just a little boy who loved playing in the sand.


Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding
Seminole Justice (Friday Fictioneers)

Seminole Justice (Friday Fictioneers)

Photo Credit: Sandra Crook

Under the shade of the Execution Tree, the stoic Lighthorseman pinned a white paper heart on Pul-musky’s chest and placed a blindfold over eyes. Killing another man carried the ultimate penalty and Seminole justice was swift. In the gap between life and death, Pul-musky regretted  the night he killed John Proctor in a drunken brawl, if only for his family’s sake. His pounding heart muffled the sound of the executioner’s gun fire. With precision, the bullet hit the white paper target. Pul-musky’s blood soaked the ground, feeding the Execution Tree for the last time.

Friday Fictioneer’s is a weekly challenge to write a complete story in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and Sandra Crook for this week’s prompt

 This is the story of the last execution of a Native American by the Seminole Tribe police force, the Lighthorsemen. The Execution Tree stood in Wewoka, my Oklahoma home town. It was cut down in the 1920s but salvaged for history and now is on permanent display at the Seminole County Museum. Another symbol of justice, the Whipping Tree, still stands in front of the courthouse. Below is a photo I took during a recent visit.

Seminole Whipping Tree in front of Court House, Wewoka, OK
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding
Muster Station Message (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Muster Station Message (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Photo Prompt: Al Forbes

The warning blasted throughout the ship:

This is not a drill. Proceed to your muster station.

How can a ship sink when the sea is calm and the weather fine? I learn from panicked voices of a fire on deck one. I hear the word ‘bomb.’ The situation is surreal. I retrieve my lifejacket and head toward Muster Station 3 where I notice both men and woman boarding the lifeboats. How can that be? Isn’t it always women and children first? Then again, my only experience with a sinking ship was the movie Titanic.

A young woman catches my attention. I grab her hand, hoping she will prove strong enough for us both. When it is my turn to board the lifeboat, I turn to my companion to say we will be okay; instead she shoves a worn leather book at me. Before receding into the crowd, she mouths: make sure it gets into the right hands. The lifeboat plunges into the ocean and I never see the woman again.

As we motor toward safety, I open the book and read words more frightening than the sinking ship:

Citizens of the United States…. you are in danger.

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Al Forbes (A Mixed Bag) provided this week’s challenging photo. 




Brotherly Love (Friday Fictioneers)

Brotherly Love (Friday Fictioneers)

Photo Prompt – Douglas M. MacIlroy

Gilbert fell from his chair when the email arrived. The attached photo of one of North America’s rarest birds was the holy grail among ornithologists. His brother George, unskilled in the art of bird identification, did not realize the value of such a find. He must be warned.

“Whatever you do, don’t release that bird!”, Gilbert gasped in the phone.

Gilbert underestimated George’s abilities and his need to right past wrongs. A course in Photoshop taught George all he needed to know to pull off the prank. As the small bird flew into freedom, George laughed.


Friday Fictioneer’s is a weekly challenge to write a complete story in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and Douglas M. MacIlroy for this week’s prompt