Parker is running again. She thought she was done, but her past has found her once again. It only took one short note in an envelope to bring the life she had worked so hard to establish to a screeching halt. Miranda has been ghosted. She can’t imagine what she’s done to deserve it, yet here she is right before the holidays with no one to bring home. When her friends suggest someone from her past, Miranda is less than enthusiastic. Claire’s close-call wedding is a year behind her, and she is struggling to balance her four-year-old, her job, and her emotions. When she meets up with Drew, she begins to connect the dots she thought were long behind her. Kelsey, dealing with the prospect of impending blindness, is beginning to give up on happiness in all respects.
Thankfully in Love, a holiday anthology compiled and edited by Lezli Robyn, follows the plights of four young women all carrying emotional weights almost too heavy to bear. All four of these main characters offer readers relatable story lines and hope for happy endings. Robyn has managed to pull together four fantastic examples of short stories centered around family dynamics, the hectic hubbub of the holiday season, and of course, the chance to find true love.
I especially enjoyed “No Place Like Home,” by Anna J. Stewart. While somewhat more of a thriller than the other three stories, it offers readers who enjoy mysteries and an element of drama a little something to sink their teeth into from the first chapter. A close second is “Dog-Gone Holiday,” by Melinda Curtis. Curtis’s main character, Claire, is fighting to get over a marriage she never achieved. Her son is her world, and she isn’t sure what her future holds romantically. Claire is a highly relatable character with whom readers will sympathize.
“Second Chances,” by Kayla Perrin features Miranda, a young woman who rediscovers a love she never knew she felt after being ghosted by her current love interest. Miranda’s story is intriguing in that she is quite reluctant to rekindle a friendship she thought she lost after high school. Her story will make readers feel nostalgic for their own former friendships and almost-relationships. “Love Guides the Way,” by Cari Lynn Webb, is perhaps the most specific of the four stories. Kelsey, facing blindness, is dealing with finding love and the prospect of how her future partner may feel about her disability.
The four very different short stories within Thankfully in Love give readers quick but substantial stories, relatable main characters, and a sense of satisfaction. A great read for the holidays. I highly recommend Robyn’s anthology to anyone looking for a sampling of fantastic love stories.
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B08D3TBSTJ
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In the not-too-distant future, Mike Pence has ascended the ladder to the presidency, but the foundation that was laid during Donald Trump’s time in office still stands strong. The United States has become little more than a caricature of its former self as its people grow more and more extreme about almost literally every issue imaginable. Finally reaching a breaking point, the west coast declares its independence and comes Pacifica, prompting the northeast to consider following suit. As both nations adjust to the change, the stories that emerge range from terrifyingly feasible to laugh out loud absurd, with just a little of the bizarre thrown in for color.
And the Last Trump Shall Sound is a trilogy of novellas that explore a different aspect of the future of Trump’s America in the wake of Pacifica’s succession. Each entry is penned by a different author and as such, projects a drastically different voice. Although each story is connected and follows a linear timeline, using different authors helps to keep it fresh.
“The Breaking of Nations” by Harry Turtledove illustrates the first days of Pacifica and the struggles faced by its leaders. Of the three, this one is easily the most frightening for its plausibility and passages that read more like non-fiction at times. Turtledove paints the picture of a future devoid of any semblance of morality or democracy and the people who want desperately to salvage what they can.
In contrast, “The Purloined Republic”, by James Morrow takes a more absurd approach to solidifying Pacifica’s status as an independent nation, a couple of years down the road. Taking a page out of classic spy and espionage novels, Morrow’s tone is much more tongue in cheek as our heroine Polly agrees to go undercover in the hopes of undermining Pence’s legitimacy, even among the most devoted Americans. What follows is a series of events that can only be described as both ridiculous and wildly entertaining.
The final entry is “Because it is Bitter” by Cat Rambo, and this one gets weird. Set six years after the formation of Pacifica, it veers firmly into science fiction territory, and stops just short of portraying life in America as dystopian. It combines the implications of Trump’s future with a complete lack of privacy that raises plenty of questions about freedom and manipulation. It provides a fitting end to the trilogy as it leaves the door open for both hope and uncertainty.
For me, the opening story was the weakest of the three and made getting into the book a little slow, but it was nonetheless well written and a necessary read for the other two to make sense. I thoroughly enjoyed the differences in style and tone, and would love to read more from these writers in the future.
Pages: 257 | ASIN: B086Q1M8VQ
Tags: alternate history, And the Last Trump Shall Sound, anthology, author, book, book review, bookblogger, Cat Rambo, donald trump, dystopia, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Harry Turtledove, James Morrow, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novella, political, read, reader, reading, science fiction, short story, story, writer, writing
Women in literature shape both poetry and prose in unique ways. The experiences they bring with them and the depth to which they feel and are able to express are unmatched. Within the pages of Her World: A Compilation of Women’s Works From Around The World, you will find a vast array of literature, compiled in one anthology and ready for consumption by eager readers the world over. If it is inspiration you seek, Her World delivers. If you are looking for someone who shares your story, there is no doubt the authors within have a shoulder for you.
Her World: A Compilation of Women’s Works From Around The World, an anthology of various types of reading complete with artwork and photography, packs a powerful punch. From the first pages of Her World, readers are taken on journeys of self-discovery and introduced to reflections on trauma and how those events have shaped the writers’ lives. In addition, readers find themselves immersed in a world of strength and advocacy where the very voices of the writers carry weight.
I was most impressed by the variety of text within the anthology; it captures readers’ interest from the beginning and never wavers throughout. Each and every voice, no matter the length or type of writing, stands out as bold and resilient. From stories of traumatic childhood events to cancer diagnoses and seizure disorders, each and every author and poet stands tall in the end as an individual with a story and voice worthy of being heard.
Much can be learned from the journeys of each of these women. While not every poem and story is necessarily autobiographical, there is an intense feeling of life experience that emanates from each. Relating to the authors’ works will be unavoidable. They are all of us.
There is a sense of empowerment that rises from each and every selection. While some can be triggering for readers, the authors’ intent is clear, and the cathartic effects are strong. I recommend Her World: A Compilation of Women’s Works From Around The World to anyone looking for a different take on empowering women. Looking at the journey of women via their own life experiences, their prose and poetry, and their artwork is as enlightening as it is powerful. This is a collection of artists that should not be missed.
Pages: 186 | ISBN-10: 173457044X
Tags: anthology, author, biography, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Her Place Any Region, Her World, inspirational, kindle, kobo, literature, memoir, motivational, nonfiction, nook, novel, poem, poetry, read, reader, reading, short stories, story, women writers, womens fiction, writer, writing
Winter Chills is a collection of seasonal ghost stories that entertain and spark the imagination. How did the stories in this collection come together?
This collection was a collaboration between 4 writers who met through the #WritingCommunity on Twitter. I (S.J.) was in the process of starting up 8N Publishing, and a conversation with D.B. Carter led to the idea for this book. Derek R. King and Natalie Reeves-Billings were invited to contribute because I’d seen some of their work and was very impressed with it. I thought our individual styles would mesh well to create a cohesive overall book.
Winter Chills was born.
The Holiday Party was my favorite story from the collection. What was your favorite story from the book?
Thank you so much! It took me a lot of false starts before I was able to write The Holiday Party, so it really makes me happy to know you enjoyed it so much.
It’s hard to pick a favorite. Each story is special to me for different reasons. I think they all work well together, as a whole, even though we wrote them separately without knowing what everyone else was writing.
I’m very proud of how it all turned out.
What was the inspiration for your story, ‘The Holiday Party’?
I have a friend who’s a paranormal investigator. I’ve gone on a couple of public ghost hunts with him and it was a fascinating and peaceful experience. It really made me wonder ‘what if?’
I took that feeling and tried to apply it to the progression of the story.
Do you enjoy writing short stories, or do you prefer to work on longer novels?
It had been years since I’d written a short story, so trying that out again was a bit of a challenge for me. Every word and action has to count in a short story. You don’t have the luxury of tens of thousands of words to build up to the climax. You only have a few thousand. If you don’t start in the right place, or relay the right events, it won’t work. It was a challenge, but I really enjoyed it.
I’m working on a new series of novels now, but also starting a short story for a future collection. It’s good to keep the writing skills sharp by trying different things from time to time.
In the spirit of seasonal ghost stories, this wintry collection will send a tingle down your spine, but may also warm your heart.Six short stories range from waiting for a mysterious midnight train, attending a party with an unexpected guest, a life-changing reunion for a miserable family, receiving a holiday greeting unlike any other, a visit from an unusual group of carolers, and a journey through a blizzard with a twist. Grab a blanket, your favorite hot drink, and settle in for some Winter Chills.
Posted in Interviews
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Without Fear of Infamy is an anthology of poetry published by Scurfpea Publishing. What was the collaboration process like on this anthology?
It’s a very competitive submission process and I am very thankful that a few of my poems were chosen for this new anthology. Collaboration has been a great learning experience for me as a writer and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
My favorite poem was Be Every Color of the Sun. What inspired this piece?
IT came from a rare feeling of positive self-esteem I was experiencing at the time. I think this makes it stand out because a lot of us struggle daily to find those moments in our lives.
Besides your own, what is your favorite poem from the collection?
One of my favorites is Tempering Grief by Brit Graham. I really love her vivid descriptors and her overall style of writing. This one stood out to me as one I could personally relate to having experienced heartbreak in the same manner before in my own life.
Each year since 2010, Scurfpea Publishing has produced an anthology of poems. It’s a juried competition with a different editor each year and no entry fee; consequently, each anthology has a distinct flavor all its own. This anthology includes poems by: Charles Luden, Katie Alexander, Steve Boint, Lin Brummels, Raymond Byrnes, Jennifer Carr, Craig Challender, Susan Spaeth Cherry, Kevin Cole, Jason Freeman, Jerome Freeman, Brit Graham, Monica Gulbrandson, Roberta Haar, Carol Hamilton, Constance Hoffman, Brenda K. Johnson, Leone Kayl, Ivanna Kusijanovic, Jennifer LeBlanc, Charles Luden, Mary Ann Marko, Elissa Mittman, Marsha Mittman, Rosemary Dunn Moeller, Marcella Prokop, Larry Person, Marcella Remund, Lisa Rinaldo, Bruce Roseland, Barbara Schmitz, Dan Snethen, Gloria Sofia, Brad Soule, Jennifer Soule, Linda Duede Starbuck, Douglas Starr, G.M.H. Thompson, Norma C. Wilson, June Tuff Witte, and Susan Zueger.
The Red Grouse Tales by Leslie W. P. Garland is a book comprised of four short stories. Each story starts off with a quote followed by someone telling that particular tale. Each story revolves around the theme of religion. However, the theme is not heavy or overtaking the tale. Each short story starts off slow complete with building suspense and a twist ending. Each story has its own unique lesson one can learn and think about, making them slightly philosophical. While each telling is different, the main theme is good and evil, which gives the reader a lot to ponder.
I enjoyed this collection of stories and would recommend them. One of my favorite parts of these short stories were the fable-like feeling. They each told a story with a surprising lesson attached to each. I also greatly enjoyed the way the stories were written. Each had a way of telling a story through another person, which made the reading interesting and fun for me. I think it was a nice, added detail that gave it a more authentic feeling of sitting around and hearing a tale as well as making it seem more like a fable.
This book consists of four short stories. The Little Dog is the first one, which I felt, was a great story to start off with. It hooked me in the book itself to see what the rest of them have to offer. I think this short story in particular really set up the rest of the book as it was suspenseful and thought-provoking. It contained one of the more interesting ideas I have come across in a book: What is evil? According to this tale, evil does not have a conscious. I had to pause and think about this for a bit afterward because it was such an interesting concept to propose.
The second was The Crow, which I also greatly enjoyed. The contrast between the teenager and the older man in the story was stark, and I liked to see those differences between the two of them. I think this one was my favorite out of the four as it showed you how unique perspectives can be.
I also found The Golden Tup to be particularly interesting. I think it was my second favorite out of the collection. It was told in a suspenseful and fun way. The White Hart was not of any particular interest to me, personally, when compared to the others, but it fits in with the other tales and tied them together nicely.
All together, I found this collection to be immensely entertaining.
Pages: 347 | ASIN: B018VWOVIU
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He wanted to visit the outer world. To explore what was true? Or to make the truth his reality? He didn’t know if he was thinking wrong or right. False or true. It could only be tested after crossing the LABOON and reaching to the other side, but how? “How is it even possible for such a person like me?” He would often think a person who had a mind filled with only strict satanic rules of the Old Nicks to follow and systems to follow. And what about the wall!! Any person who wants to go outside or wants to come inside had to climb a wall that was much higher than the old world ‘statue of liberty’. And there was only one high gate to the city from where people could enter and leave. Since the establishment of LABOON, nobody from inside has ever successfully made it to the outside world. Sometimes rumors were heard that someone tried to come inside from the outer world but by doing so, they lost their lives. Nobody could cross that high security, and if someone was caught while crossing, he would be thrown to a big ground filled with deadly ants; the ‘little devils’ who would eat him up in a bit of second. Such high ground security with a free hand to kill anything if it’s suspicious. The dust spies spied and recorded every single moment around the wall and in the city. There were robots who would immediately fire and extinguish anything, anytime if it sounded suspicious. They had an eye from every angle. Satan was everywhere. You couldn’t hide, you couldn’t fool them. If you do anything wrong you’ll surely die. Who could dare to pass such a high security gate and a system that catches you, instantly. But….. What if someone from outside comes inside the Satanic city and change the way of living here. The way the people think, the way they see outer world. Alan had these questions in his mind ‘Do aliens or monsters or even other humans really exist outside the wall? Surely, there is life beyond the Satan’s rules.” ‘Don’t know what life it is beyond this box we are living in. Where to find it and how it actually looks like’ He would often think to himself.
Posted in book trailer
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The Contest and Other Stories is a collection of inspiring stories that got me to think and reflect. What was the inspiration behind this collection?
JD: I originally wanted to create a coffee table art book with all paintings connected to a framing story.
KR: Around 2007 or 2008, Joe started bringing these quirky short stories inspired by paintings to the critique group in Prescott, Arizona that we both belonged to.
In February 2011, he shared his draft and invited me to assist with the project as a co-author. We continued to work on polishing the stories and the connecting novella together. In our bios, we say that he has the vivid imagination and I have the word-whacking polish, but the truth is, we both contributed to the imaginative creation and to the nuts and bolts polishing and editing. We multiplied our mind-power by working together!
What were some themes you find yourself exploring in your short stories?
JD: The relationships artists have with drinking, higher consciousness, and insanity.
KR: As Joe says, some of the stories explore the artists’ lives directly in the genres of magical realism, dark fantasy, horror, the paranormal, and alternate history, or as a fabulous motif. The other stories were developed using a painting as a prompt, but have no relation to the artist or their work. Those stories explore life challenges and transitions such as birth, death, falling in love, relationships, family life, and work, also through the medium of various fantasy genres. The connecting novella explores the archetypal overbearing father who insists that his only son follow in his footsteps, while the son rebels to make his unique contribution to arts and literature.
What is the collaboration like between the two of you?
JD: Long distance.
KR: By the time Joe and I started working together on this project, he lived in Arizona and I had landed in California. So we shared thoughts and drafts for The Contest and Other Stories via email.
Will you be putting together another collection of short stories?
JD: We’ve been working on solo projects lately. I completed a connected short story collection in 2016 titled Story Time Karaoke @ The Chicagoua Cafe.
KR: I’ve been working on stories inspired by dreams and a novella created entirely from a series of dreams, with a working title of Loop: Life is But a Dream.
As for other joint projects, Joe and I just published a humorous dystopian sci-fi novelette, Space Race: Robot Rebellion in the Future Wild West (Tootie-Do Press, 2018). We also have a YA story, Thirteen, published in an anthology called 31 Nights of Halloween (Rainstorm Press, 2011). Neither of these stories fit the theme of The Contest, so we searched for other alternatives for publication.
Inspired by the works of international artists, this collection contains nineteen spellbinding Young Adult – New Adult magical realist, paranormal, slipstream, alternate history, and fabulist tales linked by a novella: Peter John Rizzo, a 1960 graduate of Yale University’s journalism program, inherits a floundering art magazine from his uncle, John Rizzo, with the provision that he must increase the circulation or forfeit all assets to creditors. Peter Rizzo, Pete’s father, is a banker who scorns careers in the Arts and Humanities, and is jealous of his late brother’s influence upon his wife and son. Classic Art Expose’s devoted but unorthodox editorial assistant, Jason, and two university interns, sisters Shirley and Evie, help Pete start a monthly short story contest with artwork prompts, hoping to expand and save the business. As the four friends publish the winning (and sometimes disturbing) stories over the following eighteen months, Pete battles his father’s attempts to ruin his business and his reputation, and in the process, discovers a sordid family secret. What else could possibly go astray?
Posted in Interviews
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