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.
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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.
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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?
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A Most Diabolical Plot, by Tim Symonds & Lesley Abdela, is a modern addition to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous Sherlock Holmes series which feels as authentic as the original. The authors of this intriguing collection do very well in telling new stories while remaining true to Conan Doyle’s style and approach – not an easy thing to do. A Most Diabolical Plot is a collection of six stories featuring both new and classic themes, as well as characters that fans of the genre are sure to fall in love with. Each of the stories is unique and each story feels fresh as the reader progresses through the adventures.
If we were able to take Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and place him in this century and then tell him to write as though he were living in an earlier era, he very well might come up with lines such as the ones found in A Most Diabolical Plot. Language-wise, Tim Symonds and Lesley Abdela hit the mark of the late 19th Century style employed by Doyle, but it is in the modern approach and conversations between characters where things begin to get interesting. The authors easily succeed in making the reader feel at home in a world long past, while not sacrificing the tone required to make the genre work.
The use of backstory which comes about in the mind of the narrator, Dr Watson, is also cleverly carried out. There is just enough information injected into the stories to both inform the reader and connect the new stories to classics that Holmes’ fans will already be familiar with. The first story in the series is a perfect example. It is a continuation of The Empty House which was part of famous book, The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Colonel Sebastian Moran is back to battle wits with everyone’s favorite detective!
Apart from the convincing language conventions used in A Most Diabolical Plot, the clever connections to the original series, and the wealth of complex imagery help in setting the scene, Symonds and Abdela did well to replicate the story arcs found in the originals as well. The beginnings of each of the six stories, go into great detail to set up the cases and atmosphere. Then, when the reader is situated securely within the story, Sherlock and Watson work their magic as only they can.
A Most Diabolical Plot is an easy book to recommend. It checks all the boxes that a good detective novel styled after 19th Century entertainment should. There is mystery, excitement, intrigue, and even a bit of reverence for the clever Mr Holmes. All in all, it is a riveting read which deserves a five star rating. The authors are sensitive to the needs of their fans, both new and those familiar with the famous series, and it seems they had a lot of fun putting these stories together.
Pages” 148 | ASIN: B07L8JH61K
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The Contest and Other Stories by Joe Dibuduo and Kate Robinson is an amazing book about finding yourself and doing what you love. The book has some amazing and inspiring stories such as one that introduces a man named Peter. A banker who longs to have a career in art and the approval of his uptight father. He may get the chance with an untimely death in the family that will send him on a journey of self-discovery. There are also stories that tie into the main story. One, in particular, is about Vincent van Gough and the struggles he had to overcome to become the artist we know today. This book examines the struggles, trials, and accomplishments we all face and delivers a positive message that no matter what life throws at you, you have to make yourself happy. Don’t let what someone else thinks or feels about you matter because at the end of the day it’s about what you think or feel about yourself.
The Contest and Other Stories written by Joe Dibuduo and Kate Robinson is very inspirational and heartwarming. I love how the writers captured the struggles that each individual character went through, the longing for approval and acceptance of others and their fears of the unknown. I felt that the layout of the book could have a better structure. One moment I was reading one story and then the book jumps into another. Without some orientation, this can be a little jarring. One example of this is in The Contest; there is a painting of Van Gogh that was used in the contest and then immediately we go into a story about Van Gogh.
After each chapter the authors leave you with a cliffhanger that makes you want to keep reading. Even though this book jumps back and forth between stories, it’s a minor quibble, and I find this book worthwhile in all aspects. I would recommend this book to anyone that feels like they aren’t good enough or feel like they need some encouraging words. This is an engaging and entertaining read that will leave you with a positive feeling.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B07HY21GKS
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Seven Ghostly Spins is a collection of paranormal stories written by you and Kelsey E. Gerard. What were some decisions that went into picking the stories for this collection?
Three of the stories; Carolina Blue, 205 ½ 25th Street and Alison, date back to the years I spent in Northern Utah. They were originally published in 2012-2014 as part of the Tales from Beyond anthologies, compiled by D. Hattingh. Ever since that project was completed, I began thinking of a collection of my own—to be based not only on true legends, but paranormal experiences as well.
At around the middle of 2017 the title for the new collection came to me; Seven Ghostly Spins, prompting me to remaster the original three and identify the other four.
In keeping with the “Haunted Ogden” theme, Kelsey E. Gerard submitted She Caught a Ride, fulfilling the based-on-true-legends requirement. That left me with the paranormal experience requirement, and for those I turned to my own memories and wrote By the Iron Gate and A Curse Lifted. Abiku is the novella among the short stories—the base idea for this thriller came from an ancient Yoruba belief and it includes supernatural and paranormal elements that I thought would make a proper central piece for this collection.
My favorite stories from the collection is ‘Alison’ and Gerard’s ‘She Caught a Ride’. What was your favorite story from this book?
Thank you! I am so pleased to hear you enjoyed these tales. I love each story equally though for different reasons. If I must pick a favorite, I would say Carolina Blue is my special, tragic friend.
Each story was intriguing and well developed. Where do you turn for inspiration for writing?
Two of the stories are rooted on personal experiences, while the others came to me through reading, and research. I found inspiration in a vivid nightmare and a real walk in the moonlight. In my godmother’s parting gift, and in assignments to explore Ogden’s haunted, colorful history. In the case of Abiku, all it took was an image—an illustration caught my eye and the short lines describing it spawned all the characters and circumstances in the novella.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next project is a philosophical fiction/comedy entitled Daughters of the Bride, slated for publication on Mother’s Day 2020.
To recover from the unexpected death of their father, the ‘weird sisters’ cling to one another and to their widowed mother; the ‘head witch.’ However, no traditional mourning rituals await them.
Blindsided by the love their mother claims to have found, mere months after the death of her husband of 50+ years, the three women flex their powers and embark on a distressing journey of reflection; to know themselves and the mother they thought they knew.
Amid the hilarity of the head witch’s disconcerting return to a youthful attitude, difficult questions must be asked. Genetic memories must be acknowledged and banished. Painful feelings must be expressed, and life-altering decisions will be made because, at the end of their journey, their new reality must be embraced by all.
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