Short stories are sometimes just what the doctor ordered. It is, however, difficult to find an author who can successfully convey an engaging plot, well-developed characters, and a neat and satisfying conclusion in a few short pages. Loyst R. Streeter has the remedy. In his Fireside Stories, Streeter delivers fifteen unique short stories, each complete with fantastically drawn characters and plots that move swiftly after grabbing readers’ attention within the first paragraphs. Streeter masterfully writes on a variety of topics and manages to effortlessly cover everything from the Bible to intrigue and mystery.
Fireside Stories, by Loyst R. Streeter, is a must-read–period and no questions asked. I found myself immediately lost in one story after another. Streeter simply has been gifted with the ability to capture readers’ attention, swiftly create an emotional bond between readers and main characters, and still manage to surprise readers every time. Each short story is the ideal length and somehow manages to leave readers both satisfied and wanting more.
I have to say, I was not expecting to become as invested in Streeter’s stories as I did. Right out of the gate, I read the first short tale, “The Thief,” believing I could see exactly where and how the story would end. The author, I feel, has a talent for predicting how readers will perceive his characters, and he takes them on a journey that ends with a sudden and much appreciated twist.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to choose a favorite among Streeter’s stories. While his stories are a wonderful mix of genres and each contains memorable and relatable characters, they are all fantastic reads in their own right. If I had to choose a standout among the fifteen shorts, I would have to say “The Stranger” resonated with me. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I reread it. Streeter is a real gem for fiction fans.
Readers will have a difficult time finding another short story writer who delivers so completely. Streeter’s stories stick with you long after reading and beg a reread. I highly recommend Fireside Stories to anyone looking to fill some rainy afternoons or those relaxing moments before bed. Streeter’s stories are amazingly satisfying and truly memorable.
Pages: 175 | ASIN : B09LJ4KPMP
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Two Faces of Janus follows a brash aristocrat as he navigates the perilous politics found in 2 B.C. Rome. What inspired you to write a story about Lucius Antonius?
I’ve always found the legacy of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) to be one of the most compelling accounts about political corruption, betrayal, and family tragedy. Iullus Antonius was the only son of Mark Antony who Caesar Augustus spared and raised almost like a son in the imperial court. When it came to light in 2 BC that Augustus’s daughter, Julia, was having several affairs and that Iullus was her primary lover, the emperor demanded he commit suicide.
Very little is known about Lucius Antonius except that he had to conceal that he was exiled in Massilia (modern-day Marseille) for his father’s crime as a traitor. I often wondered how Lucius reacted to his father’s disgrace and how it impacted his life. Answering this question inspired me to write the historical fantasy series, The Curse of Clansmen and Kings, and Two Faces of Janus. Lucius is cast as a villain in the series, but his back-story propels what he does and hopefully makes him more relatable.
Why did you feel a short story format worked better for this story rather than a full length novel?
The short story allowed me the opportunity to explore the immediate impact that the death of Iullus Antonius had on his son, Lucius, and for rest of the immediate family. The revelation of how Lucius was devastatingly impacted will be unveiled in the fourth book (Skull’s Vengeance) of my historical fantasy series. Further, I’m also considering a standalone historical fiction novel about the earlier life of Lucius Antonius.
What surprised you the most about Lucius Antonius real life story?
Though Lucius had to conceal he was exiled in disgrace for his father’s crime, the senate decreed that all honor be paid to him at this death. His ashes were laid in the family sepulchre of the Octavvi. This suggests that he was able to restore his standing in Rome. There is conjecture that Lucius’s son/grandson was Marcus Antonius Primus, a general who secured Rome for Vespasian to be emperor after Nero’s downfall.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am completing Book 4 (Skull’s Vengeance) in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series which should be released later in 2022.
Posted in Interviews
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All beings radiate a life force, but some have an additional Mystical Force – a force that grants them special gifts, be it magical essence, demonic aura or spiritual power. While some consider these people to be gifted, there are others who feel these powers are unnatural. Mystical Force is a fantasy series, dealing with themes of prejudice and racism.
(Vol.1 Stranger in a Strange Land):
Shi-ria is brought to Earth by a sorceress named Zolida as part of a prophecy. There she meets Mystic, Noonien, Tokijin and Rose and must save a bunch of kidnapped demons from smugglers while the Order wants to destroy them. Meanwhile another sorceress named Scarlet Knightwalker wants to prevent this to ensure a dark future doesn’t come true.
(Vol.2 Angels and Demons):
Sister Rose and Tokijin are attacked by another demon (Jimomaru) and his sorceress ally (Aanjay) as revenge for them being persecuted by humans. Shi-ria, Mystic and Noonien are needed to help when Tokijin is placed under a spell and forced to attack Sister Rose.
(Vol.3 The Kolri and the Koldar):
Shi-ria, along with police detective Shinjo are transported back to Shi-ria’s planet, Thalia. Now Shi-ria must return Shinjo to Earth, while at the same time a dark cult (the Koldar Warriors) learn about this and want this power to magically teleport to any planet across the galaxy so they can spread their dark theocracy and destroy all “infidels”.
Posted in book trailer
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Cataclysm: End of Worlds follows Jacob and his AI companion as their discovery of a dead body sets them on an adventure where the fate of worlds hangs in the balance. What inspired the setup to this novella?
I wanted to introduce a love interest for Jacob, and it seems the mystery element injects itself into my stories when I’m not looking. I did not intend to start the story with a dead love interest. The idea came to me as I was writing the first chapter. The death-to-life angle appealed to me, and I thought it would add interest to the story.
What are some challenges that you enjoy taking on when writing novellas?
It’s a challenge to face the unknown. It’s also very scary. It requires faith and gumption, and some degree of insanity. I used to write outlines. Now, I throw down pages of story ideas. It’s more fun this way. It’s also scarier. There is always the lurking fear that what I’m writing will suck. I think the first two books were well received. I’m trying (hoping) not to disappoint in Book 3. It’s certainly a challenge.
What were some ideas that you were excited to explore in this book?
I wanted to deepen the characters, their backgrounds, and their relationships. I believe these factors pushed the plot forward into multi-faceted and unexplored areas. I particularly liked the idea of Amy’s resurrection and Arcon’s evolving consciousness. I liked how, in some ways, the book seemed to be writing itself. That was a new experience.
This is book two in The Silver Sphere series. What can readers expect in book three?
I will be introducing a fourth character to the team. The plot will be more complex. I hope book three will go to at least twenty chapters (parts). I’m working out the middle and the end of the story as we speak. The story may end as a trilogy. We’ll have to see what happens.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: adventure, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Cataclysm: End of Worlds, david gittlin, ebook, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, novella, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, short story, story, writer, writing
Cataclysm: End of the Worlds is the subsequent novella to David Gittlin’s The Silver Sphere series. Picking up right where the last novella ended, Cataclysm follows Jacob and Arcon after they save the Earth from destruction. Much like its predecessor, this novella too jumps straight into the story. Not long after a very brief recap, we see that Jacob and Arcon spot a body in the ocean. Upon further inspection they discover that the body is a woman who is dead, however, Arcon has different plans and decides to revive her by occupying her body. The duo from the first novella now becomes a trio, with Amy joining Jacob and Arcon on their mission to send a signal to Aneleya, Arcon’s home planet, to finally get rid of the Krondorians.
It is not necessary to read The Silver Sphere in order to understand this story. The author tends to just jump straight into his story with just enough explanation to place things and understand enough to read this story as a stand alone novella.
Cataclysm wastes absolutely no time and dives into a completely new mission. Although I thought the romance between Amy and Jacob needed more development, I think this is mostly due to the novellas short length, I still enjoyed the characters overall and found them equally entertaining on their own.
This story thrusts readers into the middle of a science fiction adventure, which is one of the reasons why I love novellas, but the author seems to understand that there is no room for fluff and keeps prose and action sharp as a tack as we hurdle through this exciting story. I was pleasantly surprised to also find some humor shine through in moments throughout the story.
The previous novella left me wanting more because it was such a short sneak peak into so many possibilities, Cataclysm left me wanting more because of the plot twist at the end. I’m not sure if it’s because of David Gittlin’s engrossing writing or the compelling storyline but these stories just beg to be told in a much larger novel. I can’t wait to see where this story goes and get more of this exciting story in a follow up novella.
Pages: 82 | ASIN: B09H3PZ65F
Tags: adventure, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Cataclysm, david gittlin, ebook, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, novella, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, short story, story, writer, writing
The Good Book follows the Polish Dragon on a hunt for a missing bible that holds a devastating secret for the Russian Orthodox Church. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
There have been many books and news stories about the Roman Catholic Church and all of its mysteries and accusations of wrongdoing but I had never really seen anything about the Eastern or Russian Orthodox Church. Perhaps the reason is because there is a much smaller following than the Roman Catholic Church. So I thought, why not do a mystery which includes them and a mysterious bible that could bring embarrassment to the church if the secret is ever discovered. I tried to include the similarities and the difference of both churches so the reader could get an idea of how similar they are yet very different.
Do you follow a formula for your mystery novels or do you try to make them all different?
I try to follow the plan that something happens that the police or law enforcement can’t really deal with or the statute of limitations has run out and the only recourse is to hire the Polish Dragon P. I. to help solve the case. Although on occasion it is necessary for law enforcement to be involved and the Polish Dragon must learn to sidestep those investigations so as not to interfere and at the same time use some former contacts to aid his investigation. And as I am sure that my books are read by many age groups I try to limit the profanity and the sexual overtones.
What are is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and how have you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges I face is how to make my stories longer and get them to a full novel. I have taken several courses and spoken with several well-known authors on how I can do that. Hopefully my books will begin to get longer and I can finally get to the point of publishing a full novel rather than novellas. The other challenge is marketing, as I am a self-published author, all of that falls on my shoulders. So I am taking classes and workshops on how to maneuver that aspect of publishing my books.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on another Polish Dragon mystery that deals with the Native American so called Voluntary Relocation Program by the Bureau of Indian Affair back in the 1950s. It will involve a missing person and conspiracy to defraud the government and Native Americans.
Posted in Interviews
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In this modern take on classic Greek mythology, Rizwan Asad creates a world poisoned by darkness in this short novella, Dio in the Dark. Dionysus, “Dio,” is over thousands of years old, and yet, in the twentieth century, he has chosen to play the role of a young adult. Sadly, over the years, he has become moody and depressed; constantly at odds with his father, Zeus. Night after night he explores the city of Toronto going from one party to the next in a haze of alcohol-induced numbness and crowded by sweaty, dancing bodies. One night, after partying and drinking, Dio spots a woman tied to a bridge. He rescues the woman fated to be sacrificed to the darkness only to discover that without her sacrifice the world would be destroyed. With his father missing, it is up to Dio to save the world from an unknown entity.
The author’s passion and creativity are shown through his vivid, descriptive writing. Asad creates an air of humanity around the gods, displaying the worse and the best parts of people. For some minor characters, Asad stays true to their original depiction in Greek mythologies and does it well. Asad changed some of the stories and information from the original mythologies to conform to his story making this an intriguing twist. For example, Semele, the princess of Thebes was not tricked by Nyx (Goddess of the Night) but Hera (Queen of the Gods) when Hera discovered Zeus’ infidelity. Though, true to the mythology, after Zeus killed Semele, he sowed Dionysus into his thigh and gave birth to him. In Dio in the Dark, Hades is portrayed as one of many antagonists. His role in the story was a little confusing. It is hard to tell if it is Hades who kidnaps Zeus for the sake of a bargain he made with Apollo, or if it was Nyx, to prevent him from stopping the end of the world.
The structure of the story is similar to a murder mystery, revealing pieces of the story bit by bit making the reader want to read more. Asad has creatively recreated these stories and the reader can tell a lot of hard work and love was put into this novella. There’s no definitive antagonist and protagonist, though Dionysus is a strong contender for the role of protagonist. I would’ve liked for the story to have been longer so I could’ve learned more about the characters.
Dio in the Dark is a great short story that takes the reader on a mythical adventure.
Pages: 170 | ASIN: B09FFR4M6D
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Polish Dragon P.I.: The Good Book follows Suzie and Tom, a pair of investigators who are attempting to track down a Bible that was stolen from Andy, Suzie’s friend. What starts as a typical crime/mystery story quickly turns fantastic and thrilling when the investigators discover that Andy’s father was killed by someone looking for the book. A mysterious caller who is seemingly following Tom’s every step also adds to the intrigue. Can the investigators find this book and protect the rest of Andy’s family before it’s too late, or will the power players involved get their way? Most importantly, what is this book holding that has the attention of so many?
This book is a quick but no less thrilling read. It is smooth from cover to cover, which speaks to the quality of writing. This is a straightforward cozy mystery, but the entertainment value and revelation of information will keep readers engaged throughout the story. While the mystery at the heart of the story is uncomplicated, the story is well-structured, so you will be able to turn pages easily.
Where the story really excels is the escalation of the stakes. I don’t want to ruin anything, but there is much more than a simple bible at the crux of the plot, and the way that the author reveals the rising tension is masterful. As those pages turn, you will feel the rising tension in your chest, hoping that the characters are successful by the end.
This is a fantastic installment that fans of author Steve Zimcosky will surely enjoy. Polish Dragon P.I.: The Good Book is quick and fun entertainment that is easily consumed. I really enjoyed the strong, straightforward writing style.
Pages: 221 | ASIN: B09DN3QPG5
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, cozy mystery, crime fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, novella, Polish Dragon P. I. (The Good Book), read, reader, reading, Steve Zimcosky, story, suspense, thriller, whodunit, writer, writing