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.
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Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries by Julie Kusma is a collection of short stories that are delightfully unnerving. Ranging topics like beastly transformations, death curses, and demon hunters are all masterfully crafted to create raw emotion. Quick warming: These stories do have violent and disturbing scenes that I don’t think are appropriate for children.
My favorite story of the bunch is probably “By Induction”, a story about a woman who fully believes that she can curse people to their deaths by putting their name in a jar and putting that jar in her freezer. When her curse strikes again, she has a change of heart and decides to curse another. No spoilers, but it is a great short story.
Another great one is the titular story, “Stuck That Way.” A father is showing his young boy how to create a corporeal form in parts, but the mother warns against it, because she does not want him to become trapped inside a body and disappear from their plane of existence. It’s quick, unsettling, and a commentary on human life. Fantastic work.
The writing is very strong overall, and Kusma does well to develop setting and motivation for her characters before twisting the reader’s expectations and toying with the seemingly inevitable ends. She also does well by making the characters think and act very logically. It’s pretty easy to understand why the characters make their choices, even if the results are not positive. If there was a weakness in the writing, I would say that the rare moments of action are sometimes not clearly described, but these clear up quickly and efficiently.
I’ll be looking forward to more work from Kusma, and I hope that the next set of stories are just as chilling and unsettling.
Pages: 83 | ASIN: B088JT34CT
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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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Are birds like humans? What are they really like and where did they come from? Are we really so different, or, as parallel species, can both birds and humans join equally in the care of our beautiful world? A preview and reflection on the latest findings about what birds – and we – ultimately are. Prepare to be surprised, illuminated, and delighted.
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Antithesis is a collection of fascinating science fiction stories offering a variety of intriguing scenarios that explore humanity through different lenses. What inspired some of the stories in your collection?
I am a science fiction nerd who grew up reading and idolizing the masters of sci-fi; Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert just to name a few. I also loved science fiction periodicals and read many lesser-known voices who contributed their stories. Inspiration in general came from wanting to remind myself why I love sci-fi, telling stories with a nod to the past. But I also wanted to make the subjects and themes of the stories relevant and timely. In effect, social commentary masquerading as nostalgia.
I really enjoyed the diverse and interesting characters in the stories. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
My day job is being a screenwriter. Character in film, television and video games is what excites me the most about storytelling. If people love your characters (even the evil ones), they will go along for the ride and enjoy the experience. Now, diverse characters lead to differing points of view and unique perspectives, which will hopefully challenge the viewer or reader to examine their own beliefs. If a character has you questioning a preconception, then he/she/they/it has been well developed.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this collection?
Though Antithesis has six unique stories, they all revolve around humanity and the human condition. I wanted to explore what it means to be human. Our strengths, our weaknesses, our flaws, and our beliefs. Even when looking at non-human characters, I wanted to use them as a mirror to our own world to show areas where we as a species were either excelling or failing.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on volume two of Antithesis. It will include the continuation of three of the stories and a few new ones as well. Hopefully, it will be out mid-2022. I’m also working on an adaptation/novelization of one of my own original screenplays that was never produced. Antithesis is my first book, and I enjoyed writing it so much that I’m being drawn more and more to literature. Stay tuned!
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My Aunt The Vampire, by Paul Bird, is the sequel to One Mad Rooster and is a lively collection of short stories that follow the hilarious and heartwarming events of one boy’s life. Within this humors collection for young teens, you’ll find him convinced his aunt is a vampire, battling haunted fireworks, and trying to outwit his English teacher.
Paul Bird does a great job of getting inside a teenager’s mind. It allowed me to connect with the protagonist because he felt authentic. It is that awkward age between childhood and adulthood where you can believe one thing, even when logic is rearing its head and telling you that your belief is wrong.
At the beginning of each chapter there is a picture that is associated with tit. They are cute pictures without being too childish and really brings life to these stories. Author Paul Bird also starts each chapter with a paragraph or two in the middle of the action and then goes back in time a little to help explain what’s going on. This can be a little disorientating at first but he does handle it well and everything within the story connects with that particular story.
While this is a collection of stories, all of the stories do have the unifying thread of having the same protagonist. It is a little difficult to keep track of when the events happen in the protagonist’s life, as I was not sure when these things were happening. But otherwise these were entertaining stories that felt grounded but still imaginative.
My Aunt The Vampire by Paul Bird is a well written collection of fun stories that will appeal to anyone looking for a lighthearted read with organically humorous situations.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07MY2B8PX
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The Silver Sphere follows a writer who finds a derelict AI which is the beginning of a wild intergalactic adventure. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
The novella began with a wisp of an idea for a short story on my blog. I’ve done this before. In every case, the story stayed short. I presented it as a single blog post. For some reason, The Silver Sphere refused to be relegated to a single post. It grew into a seven-part novella.
This is a riveting novella that is just under 50 pages. What inspired you to break this story up into seven parts?
The story grew to five continuing blog posts. After the fifth post, I said to myself, “Wait a minute. Only your wife and daughter plus a few friends are going to keep up with the story. Why not make it into a book?” So, I did.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I’d say friendships and emotional connections. I believe the world-ending scenario had to come, at least in part, from the threats of COVID and extremism prevalent and lurking in today’s world.
What can readers expect in the next story in the series?
The next book contains fourteen episodes. It’s twice as long as the first. I’m introducing a third main character. I have a bigger canvas that allows for more character development. It seems many of the reviews I read asked for these enhancements. The new book is titled, “Cataclysm–End of Worlds.” I expect to release it in early October 2021. I’m being deliberately coy about including more details.
PS–The Silver Sphere episodes are no longer available for free on my blog (www.davidgittlin.com).
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I have been reading poetry for much of my life and Palmer Smith’s The Butterfly Bruises exceeded my expectations. The Butterfly Bruises is filled with poetry and short stories- all of which are emotive and captivating. The book is divided into sections, with each story or poem having a different length or theme. This made for an easy read. I think any reader would be able to find a short story or poem that they would love in this melodic collection.
These imaginative poems and short stories revolves around relatable, sometimes heart wrenching, topics. This is a great book to start with if you are not familiar with reading poetry or short stories, The Butterfly Bruises flows with ease and is easily comprehensible. While you read the book you will often reflect on the choices you have made in your life or consider how events could have turned out differently. Palmer’s writing allows you to paint a picture in your mind of how the poem or story is occurring. This, in my experience, is a rare talent for an author to achieve.
One thing to note is some of the stories and poems are dark, but these poems were my favorite because they were written tastefully. Palmer did a great job with allowing the reader to reflect and not judge for what their opinion may or may not be. Palmer kept my attention throughout the entire book.
The Butterfly Bruises is definitely a book I would read again for its striking imagery, creative stories, and its thoughtful themes.
Pages: 176 | ASIN: B093Z25LMW
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