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Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology

Charli Mills Interview

Charli Mills Interview

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.

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The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 (Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology) by [Mills, Charli, Amore, Anthony, Bell, Georgia, Black, Sacha, Colvin, Norah, Fanning, Pete, Ferry, C. Jai, Glaessner, Rebecca, Goodwin, Anne]

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.

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My Name is Nelson

My Name is Nelson: Pretty Much the Best Novel Ever by [Fairchild, Dylan]

My Name is Nelson by Dylan Fairchild is a political thriller set in modern-day America. Nelson Troutman is a phenomenal scientist who has been working under the radar until one day he snaps at his treatment under his employer’s hand. Armed with an extensive background, tons of knowledge and access to weaponry equipment, Nelson moves into his familiar strip club with favorite acquaintance Tiffany Golden, where he sets up an office for himself. His plan is to begin exacting his revenge to teach both his boss and the thousands of bullies out there a lesson in how to treat people with respect!

From the very first page to the last, My Name is Nelson is a captivating read with spectacular prose throughout. The forthcoming action and story line are not immediately apparent in the first few chapters, as Fairchild develops our relationships with some fascinating and likable characters, such as the President Andrew Macintyre and his National Security Advisor Chet Addington, alongside Nelson’s favorite stripper, Tiffany Golden. There are also other enjoyable characters including a security guard named Walt and Julie the Presidents Science Adviser. I found I only had to read a few lines of each chapter and immediately felt a connection with every character in this thrilling story.

However, what I personally think is done to perfection in this book is Fairchild’s pacing as it all begins to come together. With many strands all initially unrelated, when the plot does start to take shape, each character and chapter is perfectly woven together, so much so that you continue to marvel at just how good Dylan Fairchild is as a writer!

It does feel at times, albeit naturally so, that the book weaves effortlessly between several genres, including that of political, thriller, sci-fi and even a hefty dose of humor! This only succeeds in making it a more approachable and enjoyable read for a broader audience.

Then there is the man himself, Nelson. When we are first introduced to him, it is perhaps not in the best of lights, more so as in awkward scenarios, as an odd guy who likes to frequent one particular strip club which is home to his favorite girl. However, Nelson is not your average strip club customer, and Tiffany has become more of a trusted companion and the club his safety net when things get tough with his boss, Hawthorne.

What follows is an enthralling, though peculiar, character whom you cannot help but root for as the story progresses, despite what Nelson intends to do. It does not take much for his character to pull you in and encourages you to begin thinking he just may have some form of entitlement, some sort of right, to continue on the path he has prepared for himself, after the way he has been treated throughout his childhood and indeed his adult life.

I could not find fault with this book and devoured it with enjoyment. My Name is Nelson is most certainly a worthy five-star contender.

Pages: 222 | ASIN: B07B4KCTYR

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A Covert Affair Book Trailer

A mole within the SEALs and I’m the one to find him. Simple for someone with my type of ability to read through lies. Everything was laid out, we had a plan. A good plan. Go in undercover as a reporter, gather intel, identify the mole and come home. But it didn’t turn out that way. Not even close. Of course, the Sr. Officer over the platoon in question is a former one night stand who became way too clingy. And to top it off his best friend, and my escort around the base is someone whom I desperately want clinging, without clothes would be preferred. The number of obstacles in this operation is too many to count but I have to find the mole, no matter what, my reputation within the CIA depends on it.

Who would have thought a quick-witted, hotshot CIA agent would be my kryptonite. But is she ever. From the moment, she walked into CO’s office I was hooked. She a drug and I’m the willing addict doing anything and everything just to get one more hit of her. She says we are a bad idea, that it would complicate things, what does she know. We could be great together. We will be great together. All I have to do is convince her we can play and get the job done too. I want the mole caught but I might want her just as bad.

A Covert Affair is a contemporary romantic suspense, standalone novel.

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The War Machine

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Voice of a Crimson Angel is an intimate and thrilling story that leads up to your debut military science fiction book. What was the inspiration that made you want to explore a prequel?

Creating VOCA was something that was on my mind for many years, but it seemed too monumental a task to handle. It wasn’t until I was in the midst of writing Ballad of Demise that I began to see a grand tale in the making. I took that single scene of Julissa Marconi from Reverence and then imagined what her life had been like up to that point and after. That was the only push for the new trilogy. Many reviewers asked questions about how the characters got to where they are, so I figured it was an opportunity to give them answers. It turned out to be a fun experience.

Your currently studying history at the University of Riverside. How has your major helped you write your story and develop your characters?

A TON. The sad but fascinating aspect of history is that the story of the oppressed vs. an oppressor is a familiar one. From ancient Rome to the Spanish Empire, to the British and French empires, superpowers have always had their reign unimpeded for decades before eventual collapse. I wanted to build up the history of the United Nation Republic before it too faces its ultimate crisis. Whether it is still standing when the dust settles is to be determined in future installments.

I also drew influence from the revolutionaries of old, people such as Che Guevara and George Washington. Once the VOCA trilogy is completed, I believe people will see the connections in a new light. History was also a valuable tool in discovering how a revolution starts. First come the words, then the fight to crush those words, and then bullets. The term ‘regime change’ is one perhaps not widely known by the average person, but it is an unquestionable factor in global history. The U.S. has often played a pivotal role in such operations, among them Guatemala, Vietnam, and Iran. The more I read, the more The Expansion seemed very possible.

When writing, do you look at current events, and use them as a springboard for ideas or try to incorporate them into your story?

Current events play a big role most definitely. In VOCA Part I, we see a world where warfare is basically common place. The majority of the people either ignore or don’t care about the conflicts abroad. Once again, I looked to the U.S. The U.S. has been involved in some sort of war for almost its entire history, from the Civil War, Spanish-American, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and now the war on terror. Vietnam was the first U.S. war to not split the American conscious on a massive scale. Since 9/11, the U.S. hasn’t slowed down its war game, now in Niger, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. Despite this, there are no longer large protests confronting this reality. As we listen to music and watch the latest films, the war machine goes on expanding.

These issues, primarily our war driven economy, were the focal points for me in writing the VOCA trilogy.

Any chance you’ll write a prequel that shows the rise of Chancellor Venloran? Kind of like how Star Wars episodes 1-3 showed the rise of Darth Vader? In either case, what do you think that would be like?

I actually have played around with this idea, and the framework is definitely there. I can imagine a young Venloran who sees his country struggling and decides to act. In a way, he’d be comparable to Joseph Halsey, which would be a great foil. It would take time to plan out, especially since I have much planned for the Reverence series. The idea is very tantalizing, though. As of now, I’ve only hinted at the rise of the UNR. For this envisioned ‘prequel-prequel’, I would go in depth to the formation of the UNR Party itself.

The evilest of deeds start with the best of intentions.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | GoodReads

Voice of a Crimson Angel Part I: Persecution (Reverence Book 5) by [Landeros, Joshua]Julissa Marconi’s life has never been quite the same since her husband slipped into a coma. Her relationship with her daughter is hanging by a thread, she’s lost all her friends, and she’s retreated to the bottle amidst her sorrows. Truth is, Julissa is struggling to find a reason to wake up in the morning. That all changes when the mysterious Dr. Neeson offers her a chance to discover the truth, and reclaim her life. With the help of the scheming Captain Halsey, Julissa finally has a reason to fight again. She’ll have to act fast, however. Her nation, the United Nation Republic, is hungry for aggressive expansion and the ravenous Chancellor Venloran will stop at nothing to achieve his own twisted goals. Return to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part I: Persecution, the long-awaited story that sets the stage for the entire saga.

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Literary Titan Book Awards March 2018

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.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by [McLellan, Michael A.]Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield by [Hoffman, Lawrence]

This Does Not Leave This House by [Coons, Julie]The Gumdrop House Affair (The Monk Mysteries Book 2) by [McKeever, Timony]

Life Sliding by [Mauldin, S.L.]Liberating Inner Eve: A Reflective Journey for Women by [Zawisz, Bozena]

The Guardians of Eastgate: Book 1 of The Seers Series by [Leclerc, Sherry]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

The Green Line Divide: Romance, Travel, and Turmoils by [Vally, Z]Voice of a Crimson Angel Part I: Persecution (Reverence Book 5) by [Landeros, Joshua]

The Separation by [Duffy, Thomas]Seeker of Time by [Buckler, J.M., Buckler, J.M.]

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Oppression Can’t be Compared

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree takes place in the 1860s and follows the lives of three people trying to find their way in post-Civil War America. What was the inspiration for your characters; the Henry the ex-slave, Clara and lieutenant Elliot?

I have always been an omnivorous reader. From horror to historical and most genres in-between. The American western is genre that seems to have sort of faded into obscurity over the last thirty years or so. I suppose I can understand why. A lot (not all) of it had become dusty, formulaic, trope-worn, overly-romanticized, and historically inaccurate. I set out to write a story set somewhere between the gold rush and the turn-of-the-century. Something with a different kind of hero from the gunfighter or bank robber. Something that would dust off the genre, add some real humanity, and hopefully spark some renewed interest in this fascinating and sometimes troubling time period.

Henry as the main protagonist was an easy choice. I read a short once, about a man who was freed after the civil war and went on to become a well-known cowboy in Texas. The man had a remarkable way with horses. He was the inspiration for Henry. The challenges African Americans faced even after they were freed from slavery were monumental, and so many extraordinary men and women overcame this adversity and went on to live noteworthy lives.

With Clara I wanted to highlight challenges that women of the period faced. Their oppression can’t be compared equally to African American’s enslavement, but neither can it be marginalized. I also used her character to showcase the disconnect between wealthy easterners and the reality of what was going on in the rest of the country.

John Elliot’s inner conflict wasn’t that uncommon for soldiers both during the civil war and the years following. I have read truly heartbreaking letters sent home disillusioned soldiers from the period, particularly ones from soldier’s involved in what could arguably be called the Native American genocide.

This novel gave a good view of life in 1860s America for slaves and Native Americans. What were some themes you tried to highlight throughout this novel?

Mostly that things aren’t always as black and white as we have a tendency to make them out to be. The world is made up of a lot of greys, and the difference between right and wrong isn’t always easy to see. We live every day with prejudices we’re blind to and sometimes it takes extreme circumstances for us to even realize it.

Henry and Clara’s relationship is touching but anchored with fear and a desire to find their way to the right side of things. What served as the basis for their relationship while you were writing?

Henry and Clara’s relationship is one of self-discovery for both of them. Henry begins to forgive himself, and finds that he is still capable of love. Clara discovers that her prejudices were misinformed. Her interactions with Henry, and his honesty, later affects how she later handles John’s disturbing revelations.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I have two novels in the works. One is a contemporary drama about a twelve-year-old whose parents both die tragically less than two years apart. He’s subsequently injected into the foster care system and eventually runs away hoping to find an estranged grandparent who lives off-the-grid in Montana. The second is about a man searching for his daughter years after a global catastrophe. Both novels should be released in 2019.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | GoodReads

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by [McLellan, Michael A.]

In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still…

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion. 

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

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Voice of a Crimson Angel Part I: Persecution

Voice of a Crimson Angel Part I: Persecution (Reverence Book 5) by [Landeros, Joshua]

The fifth installment of the Reverence series, Voice of a Crimson Angel, by Joshua Landeros is both an intimate and thrilling look at the lead up to his debut military science fiction series. Julissa Marconi’s life was pulled apart after her husband went into a coma. Her relationship with her daughter is on the brink of falling apart, friends have disappeared from her life, and the only solace she finds is at the bottom of a bottle. This all changes when Dr. Neeson offers her an open door to change her life and with the help of allies like Captain Halsey, and she grabs the opportunity to fight. The ever-scheming Chancellor Venloran has his own designs afoot for the expansion of the United Nation Republic.

With this new trilogy Landeros is giving background and context for his series, while also showing that the ever present villain of Venloran has been around for a long time in all of his power. If you’ve already read all the way up to Ballad of Demise, then this is another superb excuse to dive back into this torn apart world of super soldiers and war.

Landeros still manages to deliver on his strengths of dialogue and action. The beginning of this novel might start slow, but it picks up that familiar fast pace I have become accustomed to from this writer. Still heavily leaning into the military science fiction legacy, Landeros uses this to full effect in the near future of the United States and pushes it further with the backstory development of characters we haven’t either met or gotten fully developed in past stories.

While, the ending clearly makes room for a sequel, the novel itself is still satisfying on its own merit. It will be a treat to see where this new series goes and if there is something new waiting for us at the end, which we can hope. This stage setting series should please fans of the books and of science fiction in general with the way it keeps to the best tropes, while making fresh the well trampled ground of such narratives. Landeros keeps pushing his world deeper and expanding the horizon of both the characters and story line while managing to give readers a ride they won’t soon forget.

Pages: 207 | ASIN: B079H4FBKS

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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by [McLellan, Michael A.]

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, by Michael A. McLellan, takes place in the 1860s and revolves around the lives of three people trying desperately to find their way in post-Civil War America. Henry, a man freed from slavery but never free from the horrors he endured, finds himself assisting Clara Hanfield in her quest to reunite with Lieutenant John Elliott, the man she loves and her father loathes. All three are caught up in the government’s plot to push the Native Americans from their land once and for all. Fate has dealt quite the hand to Henry, and his introduction to Clara and her mission to find John poses yet another obstacle to Henry’s quest to find the freedom and peace he deserves.

McLellan’s writing is simply breathtaking. The richness of the language he gives his characters immediately reels in the reader. The exchanges between Henry and Eliza are tender, and her early attempts to refine his speaking habits are affectionate and determined. The trials the two endure to survive as slaves in the South and their attempt to escape the lynch mobs running rampant tore at my heart. McLellan’s words ring all too true. Henry and Eliza’s story is painful, tragic, and well-crafted to convey the horrific circumstances of the era.

Clara’s rescue by Henry is one of those moments in the book worth rereading. Henry, for all intents and purposes, is making amends in any way he can for the loss he has suffered and the guilt he feels for that loss. Sweeping in and pulling Clara from the hands of the enemy, Henry begins a friendship he never could have seen coming. Theirs is a touching relationship punctuated with fleeting moments of light-hearted banter and anchored with fear and a fierce desire on both their parts to find their way to the right side of things. Clara, described as being much like her father, uses it to her advantage as she faces insurmountable challenges on her journey with Henry. Hers is a character refreshingly unlike any other I have read in the genre of historical fiction.

Randall breaks my heart. He is one of those characters the reader will root for from his first appearance. Without giving away too much of Randall’s subplot, I will say that from those first moments of indecision with Clara at West Point. I wanted to see Randall come out on top. The backstory involving his own child and his love for Clara makes for a unique connection and offers the reader all the more reason to admire Randall.

I am giving In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. McLellan has written a piece of historical fiction incorporating elements for every reader. His plotlines involving a family divided and the tragedy surrounding Henry’s life as a slave intertwine to create a beautiful story of friendship, trust, and stand as a testament to the strength of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book to any fan of novels from the Civil War era. McLellan’s characters are truly unforgettable.

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B071YMXDQL

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End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise – Book Trailer

The resistance fighters have suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Chancellor Venloran. With many of his enemies dead or imprisoned, the Chancellor is ready to move to the final phase of his scheme: The International Summit. The historic event is just hours away, drawing leaders from all over the world to the United Nation Headquarters in New York City. Venloran believes peace through dominance is at last at hand.

At the same time, Will is hell bent on launching an assault on that very night, though the remaining troops are weary and few in number. The renegade cyborg has the help of tech experts Alex and Bri, along with pilot Gabriella, but the opposition may be more than they can handle. Awaiting any threat are the Chancellor’s deadliest soldiers, among them the cyborg hunter Aliss Howard and Will’s very own former superior officer, General Kane. Looming in the back of Will’s mind is the reality that innocent people will have to die to see his vengeance finally realized.

As both sides prepare to collide, none are aware that an unscrupulous politician, Secretary General Vanzetti, is eager for the bloodshed to begin.

Check out the finale of the End of Knighthood Arc and prepare for a thrill ride. The Reverence Series transcends the science fiction genre and will entertain readers of horror, war, fantasy, and even the western.

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Literary Titan Book Awards February 2018

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.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

Neutral Space by [Tran, Rebecca]Braxton Snow P.I. (The Snow Adventures Book 1) by [Estes, Danny C]Phoenix by [Chugpai, Arti]

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger: Volume 1 by [Hayes, Misty]The Dragon Grammar Book: Grammar for Kids, Dragons, and the Whole Kingdom by [Robinson, Diane Mae]

Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery (Jack Donegal Mysteries Book 1) by [Clark, Susan Joy]Empyrean (The Brin Chronicles Book 3) by [Cronin, Jim]Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32 by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

Serial K Returns by [Gallagher, Brian]The Fall of Lilith (Fantasy Angels Series) by [Quiroz Vega, Vashti]

Grandma's Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist by [JohnEgreek]

Dreaming on an Arabian Carpet by [Martek, Igor]The Victory Perspective by [Kellett, E.J.]

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

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