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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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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There’s a lot to miss about growing older: strength, hair, elasticity. But a collection of poems by a bright young author will make you miss something a little less noticeable – the way the young look at the world. Voyages by Debjeet Mukherjee, an 18 year old writer, is a collection of poetry arranged in the most unusual manner. He arranges the poems by age, nothing new, but in a Benjamin Button like twist, the ages go backwards.
The collection starts with an inviting preface that encourages all, not just the elite or cultured, to experience the poetry of life. This transitions nicely into the poems themselves. Here, we find another added touch: small quotations at the end of each poem designed to carry “a message of what the preceding lines were all about.” Mukherjee takes this approach not because he deems his poems too complex for the average reader, but as a way to help readers learn to dilute the figurative language of poetry in general. And these poems are soaking in figurative language. Worn out topics such as love, friendship, and spirituality feel fresh when enlivened with Mukherjee’s metaphors, couplets, and symbols.
The one flaw in the collection is more due to editing than writing. It only takes a few sentences of the preface to notice some minor typos and some formatting issues move the margins from one page to the next.
But these small mistakes should not discourage potential readers. A highlight of the collection is “Prayers Alive in Hope.” The poem opens with a suppressed sense of rage as a “Syrian boy” prays “to the Lord to keep families safe, Not in this world, perhaps somewhere else!” Lines like these transport the reader. They allow us to see the world from a different perspective; from a background other than our own. The voyage that Mukherjee take readers on ends in a place of hope- that special kind that perhaps only the young can truly see.
Pages: 91 | ASIN: B07H4JJ47D
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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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Patricia Bossano and Kelsey Gerard’s Seven Ghostly Spins is an amazing collection of paranormal stories, some based on true events. Each of Bossano’s stories takes on a life of its own and features vivid characters engrossed in intricate story lines with the perfect blend of suspense and mystique. Featuring varying story lengths, Seven Ghostly Spins contains seven stories ranging from the story of a little girl who dies tragically in a theater during its construction phase to the more lengthy tale of a young man torn between helping a friend beat a drug induced mania and the fear of further enraging him. Each with its own unique set of characters, Bossano’s stories never fail to engross readers and transport them directly into the setting.
Perhaps the most touching tale in Bossano’s collection is that of “Alison.” Bossano tenderly relates the story of Alison’s fall from the scaffolding where her father is working to build the Egyptian Movie Palace in 1924. The first-person account is moving while at the same time beautifully tragic. Alison sees her own death, and readers are offered a look at the events leading up to her final moments through the little girl’s eyes. Bossano’s conclusion to the short story is especially lovely considering the present-day accounts of sightings of the little girl’s by theater patrons.
The short story entitled “Abiku” is the longest in Bossano’s collection of ghostly tales and is woven from an entirely different fabric than the others. Featuring more of a paranormal vibe, the status of main character seems to fluctuate between Matthew and Sophie. Matthew is a tragic figure who is not strong enough to stand up to the friend who is slowly but surely losing control of his morals. Sophie, the ultimate heroine in the tale, is burdened by the gift of visions. Bossano succeeds in making both Matthew and Sophie highly relatable characters despite their unique situations.
Gerard’s “She Caught a Ride,” is frightening in many aspects. The idea of initiating freshmen members of a volleyball team by forcing them into facing the ghost of a fifteen-year-old girl is one that chills readers to the bone. The fear of each one of the girls is palpable as each is eliminated from the task and a single girl is left standing to face the grave in the headlights. Gerard taps into that overwhelming sense of terror and manages artfully to grab the reader by hand and jerk them headlong into that dark and ominous graveyard scene.
Patricia Bossano has done it again. Her writing always takes hold of the reader and forces them into realms from the first paragraph. Gerard, an author previously unknown to me, has definitely captured my attention. The team of Bossano and Gerard cannot be beaten; their works tap into the dark side of one’s imagination and leave the reader hungry for more. I highly recommend Seven Ghostly Spins to any fan of the paranormal and, especially, readers looking for tidbits of ghostly truths.
Pages: 175 | ASIN: B07GGRNMT7
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All Roads Destined is a collection of stories from fantasy to science fiction with links back to your first collection. What was the inspiration for this collection of stories?
As for the Outposts, I wanted to continue on since I’d left it as a cliffhanger in All Roads Home. I then felt I wanted to bring more loneliness and some addiction awareness into the equation as these subjects, real or imagined, can be sad and frightful.
I felt that this book was a bit darker than the last collection. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?
I did want to go darker, bring more science fiction in but based off subjects that make people uncomfortable. Again the addiction issue, some odd poetry. As you said in your review, the short story The Crone was your favorite. It was also mine, too. And I love when something like that can just come upon me, the imagery and the way I want it to be read.
You also included a selection of poems in the section titled The Fragments. What was your favorite poem from the collection and how did you pick which poems made it into this collection?
The poems or fragments I write in between or even during a WIP. My favorites in this book were Clocks and The Water Globe, both having to do with the passage of time.
What is your process like for writing short stories? Does it differ from longer novels?
There’s a certain pace with short stories that I prefer. I may be inspired to write a longer novel one day, just not yet.
Destiny is what we bring to the world where the roads are stained with tears and blood, and paved in eternal stone. In Part One, the continuation of The Outpost Trilogy shifts from post apocalyptic to science fiction. Part Two, The Enduring contains five dark fiction short stories. Part Three, The Fragments include fifteen poems of urgent struggle and destination. New York author, Lisa Diaz Meyer relates to the odd, macabre & funereal. ALL ROADS DESTINED is the second of her ALL ROADS trilogy.
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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All Roads Shattered by Lisa Meyer is the third book in the All Roads collection. This collection of dark fiction stories and poems begins with The Outposts III, which satisfyingly continues with the story of Georgia and Mitchell who we have been following through both books one and two. As we left them in book two to come to terms with their new life together, in this collection, Lisa picks up with the journey the two still must endure.
Then there is a three-part story in the form of People of Gods, a haunting selection of 12 pieces of poetry in the section titled Fragments, two further extended stories in the section The Enduring and finally, to end the collection, three small but perfectly formed short and simple stories which pack a huge punch in the section of The Oddities!
The Oddities features three ‘out there’ stories with Preacher, Crooks, and Helge. In a word, wow is what springs to mind when reading through each of them!
With Preacher, I never saw it coming at all, but the conclusion was oh so satisfying! Crooks was a great concept and equally mesmerizing. However, Helge had to be the most disturbing story of them all! I had, in fact, become so captivated by the last three stories that I wasn’t expecting the book to end when it did.
Helge produced some near awful visions in my mind as I read through, think Jack the Ripper style, back streets of grey and misty London; enough to give you nightmares. Yet, it was a tremendous and thoroughly satisfying end to a superb collection.
Having read both the first and second books in the collection, a part of me would have thought that perhaps by now Lisa may have run out of steam. After all, All Roads Home and All Roads Destined were for me, both 5 star reads. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
When you have read all three books, you may begin to feel that Lisa has a stronger connection to the futuristic sci-fi genre. This is perhaps because it is always the more extensive of stores and at the very beginning of each collection, with a continuation throughout the three.
However, in All Roads Shattered, the story I found the most compelling and atmospheric was Dinner with Myles. This was a story which I didn’t want to leave and could easily imagine Lisa writing a book based on this genre; such was it handled so well.
The ending to this story was, yet again, superbly accomplished by Lisa, as all her short stories have been throughout. However, I would still love for her to write a prequel to this one! Neil and Myles are wonderfully drawn, and complex characters and I could very well imagine them as partners working on crimes and investigating mysteries!
The great thing about reading Lisa Meyer’s collections is that each one gets better as you go along. That is particularly hard to achieve for many writers of such collections, but the All Roads Shattered collection is perhaps the most extensive and best written one yet.
It almost feels as though Lisa’s confidence has grown with each outing and this is therefore reflected in the intensity and broader scope of her writing. Her stories seem to expand and take on a deeper meaning in their unique genres in this collection, and I believe her writing style almost borders along the lines of perfection this time.
If you only manage to read one story, then Dinner with Myles should be that one. I can guarantee you that once you’ve sampled this nearly perfect piece of prose, you will feel compelled to read on.
Pages: 252 | ASIN: B0718Z38LD
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All Roads Home by Lisa Diaz Meyer is a fictional short story collection. Covering several genres, the book is divided into six parts titled The Outposts, The Enduring, The Oddities, The Particulars, The Fragments and The Play Versions. With each section and story being utterly unique, this book really is a mixed bag of offerings. Nowhere is this more obvious than, besides the four sections of short stories all varying greatly in their genre, the collection also consists of a part of poetry and The Play Versions which really are that: five of the stories in the collection written in play format!
The first section of the collection deals with a world that is hard hitting. In the story titled The Safe Room, this links back to the previous short story in its representation of women, cancer, and childbearing. With such stark descriptive passages of the cloning and curing process detailed, this section hits upon the more awkward of subjects that aren’t always spoke about comfortably.
Dealing with religion verse science, this section may be quite an eye-opener, considering its placing at the very start of the collection, but its subject matter does indeed turn the tables making you question just who, if anybody, has such a right at this stage.
The Enduring section starts off with a story which is most certainly that – enduring for its characters. What begins as a heartfelt story of a mother’s struggles quickly turns itself on its head when the story ends. However, nothing physical has changed, her situation remains dire, but she has found peace in her heart and mind and can now approach her situation from a more positive perspective. This story emphasizes Lisa’s ability to change tact and emotion in just a few short pages and sums up the book in its entirety.
All of Lisa’s characters, though only with the reader briefly, are very easy at catching our attention and therefore it’s easy to recognize their plight and see the story from their point of view. That Lisa can create such emotions in her readers through characters that appear fleetingly is a wonderful achievement.
For me, The Enduring was a favorite section. Packed full of emotions, there is one story where the action begins, plays out and ends in a matter of just two short pages! If you’re not too sure whether this selection of stories is for you, I urge you to read The Christmas Break first. Immediately this highlights Lisa’s fluidity in prose as well as her ability to create a fascinating collection of characters, and all within a few short sentences.
With superb powers of observation, a beautiful and haunting writing style on many of the pages, alongside an ability to push topic boundaries (Hitler and Jesus at a dinner party, need I say more!) this is truly a collection you must read for yourself.
If Lisa is this good at creating such an enthralling collection of short stories, I can only imagine what she would be like with a full-length fictional novel!
Pages: 280 | ASIN: B00WVWFL86
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The Congress of Rough Writers is an anthology that showcases flash fiction from a diverse set of writers. What was your inspiration for putting this collection together?
Carrot Ranch started as a sandbox — an online place to invite other writers to play for the sheer joy of creating literary art. The weekly flash fiction challenges created a safe space for writers to explore and push into their craft 99 words at a time. Maybe it was Julia Cameron’s teaching that we can be creatively healthy as we gain experience. We created a literary community with diversity that blows my mind every week. It’s uncoached and has no expectations beyond meeting the constraint and boldly going where the prompt leads. The writers inspire me to work with their material in an artistic way, to show how individuals of different backgrounds, genres, and levels can collectively create a powerful vision.
I’m a little jealous because you got to work with so many talented writers on this project. What was the development process like in putting this work together?
Right? The Congress holds some amazing talent. That’s what made me think of calling them the Congress of Rough Writers in the first place because I felt like Wild Bill Cody gathering talented riders from around the world and getting to play with their feats. The development process included coordinating with Sarah Brentyn who developed the structure from my crazy ideas to pull together memorists and fictioneers and build from their original material. I’ve become enthralled by the challenge of putting together collections of 99-word stories, and it’s like a secondary artwork to me. Norah Colvin developed my ideas for building community and wrote a clear and compelling educational component. We had a great challenge throughout the process to uphold different styles of English from global writers. C. Jai Ferry line-edited the entire book and several other Rough Writers served as editorial advisors. It’s not easy melding world styles but we succeeded. It’s breath-taking to work with a large group of writers beyond submissions.
I enjoyed how this collection showcased stories that were only hundreds of words long but managed to inspire some thought-provoking ideas. What was your favorite story from the collection?
Just as any reader acknowledges, we often pick a favorite based on how it personally resonates. For me, that one story is Pete Fanning’s original 99-word “Normandy.” He manages to express what the combat veteran’s experience is like as he ages. The story gives me shivers every time I read that final line, “I was alone on that beach.” I’m a spouse of a combat veteran and we’ve had hard times. We are finally getting him VA care although it’s a fight every step of the way. As my spouse’s advocate, this is my battle. So, to read Pete’s story to a group of combat veterans and their spouses, there was not a dry eye in the room. This is the power of literary art in 99-words. Pete nailed it.
Do you plan to put another anthology together?
You bet! Right now, I’m working with 33 Rough Writers on seven new parts that will focus on what writers can do with serial material. We had several writers create returning characters or write follow-ups to interesting story developments in previous 99-word stories. I’ve invited these writers to craft complete three-act short stories up to three thousand words long. I’ve invited writers to write narrative essays to tell the real story behind a 99-word BOTS (based on a true story). Memoir expert, Irene Waters, will help me develop that section. Educator, Norah Colvin, returns to help craft a new educational component that encourages writers to use their material in clever ways beyond a single use. We are also playing with three acts by piecing together three 99-word serials. Instead of creating chapters from prompt-linked flash fiction, I’m arranging hundreds of 99-word stories into 10-minute reading collections and connecting the stories in surprising and compelling ways. And, because Carrot Ranch is about making literary art accessible, I’ve invited 26 more writers as Friends to respond to new prompts. Each writer will include a 99-word artist’s statement in the new collection. It will publish in November after a rigorous editing process. I’m so excited to be working with such talent and passion for literary art.
Witness great feats of literary art from daring writers around the world: stories crafted in 99 words.
Flash fiction is a literary prompt, form, and tool that unites writers in word play. This creative craft hones a writer’s skills to write tight stories and explore longer works. It’s literary art in thoughtful bites, and the collective stories in this anthology provide an entertaining read for busy modern readers.
Writers approach the prompts for their 99-word flash with creative diversity. Each of the twelve chapters in Part One features quick, thought-provoking flash fiction. Later sections include responses to a new flash fiction prompt, extended stories from the original 99-word format, and essays from memoir writers working in flash fiction. A final section includes tips on how to use flash fiction in classrooms, book clubs, and writers groups.
CarrotRanch.com is an online literary community where writers can practice craft the way musicians jam. Vol. 1 includes the earliest writings by these global literary artists at Carrot Ranch. Just as Buffalo Bill Cody once showcased the world’s most daring riding, this anthology highlights the best literary feats from The Congress of Rough Writers.
Posted in Interviews
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