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Raw, Sometimes Uncomfortable, But Realistic

Greg Wyss Author Interview

Sit Down and Have A Beer Again is an unfiltered publication of poems, short stories, and narratives portraying life in the 1960s and 1970s. Why was it important to republish these creative works into an anthology?

Rich Soos, editor of Cholla Needles Literary Magazine was the impetus for this collection. He was the publisher of my 1977 chapbook “Sit Down And Have A Beer” and he reached out to me in early 2021 and suggested that we republish my original chapbook along with all the other poems and stories of mine that were published back in the 1970’s. We both felt that the poems and stories had withstood the test of time and were relevant today. The small press scene of the 1970’s was an exciting and creative period in American literature. Unfortunately, so little of the work and so few of the literary magazines have been collected and preserved for the historical record. Hopefully, this collection will inspire other writers, poets and editors from that era to do the same.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Every poem and story in this collection is meant to shed an honest light on the emotions, vulnerabilities and struggles that everyday people battle. I was in my twenties when I wrote these pieces and they are raw, sometimes uncomfortable, but realistic expressions of a young man trying to find himself in the 1970’s.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

Though the poems and stories are reflective of the era, my hope is that the reader finds the themes, the honest feelings and personal struggles as relevant today as they were back then.

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

My current focus is on poetry and short stories. I am working on pieces that reflect the times we live in and are written from the perspective of a person who has lived a full life and still has something to say. Stay tuned!

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

The poems and stories that make up Sit Down and Have A Beer, the first chapter here, were in a chapbook published in 1977 by Realities Library. The stories and poems had been published in small press magazines impacting a small cadre of creatives in the country in those days.

The Small Press world of those days was the precursor to the internet – insane editors and publishers who believed that the established publications had simply lost touch with the creative reality of our nation. And, just like the internet, the small presses were eventually bought out by the rich folks who figured out the best way to beat them was to buy them out.

The second chapter of the book contains the other poems that were published in these mags but never collected till now.

The third chapter represents a small sample from When Life Was Like A Cucumber, the great novel about the early 1970’s that tells the story of a young man’s journey of self-discovery and sexual awakening as he tries to find his place in
post-Sixties America. The complete novel is available here on Amazon.

Incredible Outcomes

Giuseppe Scarpine Author Interview

The Dog Who Wanted to be a Bird follows the incredibly tragic life of Dog, who desperately wanted to be free to experience life. What was the inspiration for this fable?

In all walks of life, there is a tremendous drive to have unlimited choices in which direction one may choose. Humankind and the animal kingdom all strive for this freedom of choice to direct their own respective lives. The character of ‘Dog’ was a simple choice due to the fact that man and their canine companions are presently carrying on with thousands of years of evolution together; a symbiosis. Canines -evolved from wolves- have been able to develop a deep understanding of human behavior through millennia of observations and trained behavior. Likewise humankind has utilized this relationship as a form of protection and companionship that has proven beneficial mutually.

The Corvids (Crow, Jay & Magpie); having a higher intelligence than canines, coupled with tool making capability are far less understood due to the lack of symbiosis that canines experience. Ornithologists and the science community are researching these brainy-box birds presently, with rather incredible outcomes.

What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

The barter system is an antiquated method of the past. The conundrum facing Dog and her feathered friends was the concept of small rectangular pieces of paper ($money) that humankind uses to purchase objects such as automobiles, food and all types of material wealth. This puzzle (Capitalism) was finally solved by Crow as he explains to Dog-

“We see that these small papers are just a symbol of power. More paper equals more power. Men seek other likeminded men who also possess lots of paper. These become men of power. These men of power make the rules for the nation of their kind. The people with fewer or no pieces of paper are much more numerous by far, and they suffer as a consequence.”

ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.) These are a couple of the multitude of organizations that protect animal rights. Many abuses exist worldwide that are too horrible to list here. On the other hand, as many of us have observed, there are pets who receive preferential treatment from doting owners who lavish top veterinary care, premium food and living conditions that surpasses at times that of many of their human companions. This is a reality.

The Corvids insight into how the original occupiers in North America, who moved into their pristine wilderness were much more respectful of their precious water, land and resources. Especially their reverence to all animal life. The new European usurpers who traveled across the great sea were witnessed exhausting the land of its wealth and wildlife. This sad truth exists to this day.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

For some satire may be a hard concept to grasp. The themes to this novelette include friendship, religion, racism and faith expressed through the art of storytelling.

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

GEEZERVILLE- What Do I Do Now?

This novel (Dramatic Comedy), displays the life of a curmudgeonly ol’ geezer residing in a trailer park, who is not exactly who he seems to be…?

This novelette – The Dog Who Wanted To Be A Bird, is a satirical animal fable. The story touches on topics such as seen through the lens of Dog and her three avian friends (Crow, Jay and Magpie). Native American lore, capitalism and religion are a few subjects that illuminate the human condition. In the spirit of Storytelling, it paints the picture of Dog- a puppy mill Labrador retreiver runt. She is purchased by an abusive owner who does not make the effort to give her a name, so she is just called Dog.

Dog’s new life is spent in isolation in a remote area. Dog’s only interaction in her bitter, lonely existence is with three members of the Corvid family; Crow, Jay and Magpie whom she befriends. Through oral history the birds educate Dog on mankind’s advent into the New World, describing how the indigenous occupiers were eventually usurped by the invasion of another, new, two legged species from across the great sea. Dog eventually becomes enlightened to the political intrigue, rivalry and jealousies that exist between her feathered friends who are related to one another.

Dog and her friends of flight weave a story of their insights and observations into the species human, on co-existence, faith and the essence of life.

Liberator: The People’s Guard: Vol. 1

When duty calls, Tovarich Revanov answers. The zealous young man is a member of the Ruthenian secret police tasked with fishing out enemies of the communist state and clamping down on any anti-government uprising. This time, Tovarich has a peculiar mission: consenting to become a genetically enhanced state-sponsored hero. He approaches his new mission with his trademark commitment and gives his all to protect what he believes to be a just cause. But Tovarich soon begins to wonder if he is indeed on the right side.

Craig Weidhuner’s Liberator: The People’s Guard (Volume 1) is a fast-paced, action-packed novella that pits a totalitarian government against local rebels. It takes an interesting approach by featuring not just the regular tactics that totalitarian states adopt such as media propaganda but also unconventional tools like superheroes — quite imaginative, if you ask me. Weidhuner’s writing is direct and clear and reads almost like an action adventure comic that you can read to young kids at bedtime. This takes nothing away from the immersive experience the story offers, though. Weidhuner definitely has compelling ideas and I reveled in them. He excels at using his work to mirror the hypocrisy that dominates global politics and focuses on two superpowers which he doesn’t name but alludes to (you’d easily figure them out). He also does well at vividly presenting his characters. You can put a face to each key character and understand their personality.

Although Weidhuner got a lot right, and I enjoy the brevity of the story, I would have loved to have seen more depth in the plot and more time given to flesh out the fantastic ending. If you are down for some light reading featuring a good story you can blitz through in a few hours, you might want to check out Liberator: The People’s Guard: Vol. 1 because it is entertaining.

Pages: 98 | ASIN: B0BCPPDRPJ

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Prejudice and Misconceptions

Robbie Sheerin Author Interview

Tales from Another Dimension is a collection of short stories centered around classic science fiction themes. What was the inspiration for this collection of short stories?

I am constantly inspired to write. But some of the biggest influences are, Asimov, Heinlein, HG Wells, Robert Silverberg, and Dan Brown. I am also a huge fan of The Twilight Zone, X-Files, Spielberg, and Doctor Who.

What were some of your inspirations as a writer?

One of the major themes throughout these 10 stories, is that of prejudice and misconceptions of people, or things that are different than ourselves. I wanted to explore prejudice and other qualities that are not attractive.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

In the case of sci-fi, we are always quick to judge aliens, robots, and other beings, yet we don’t look at ourselves.

Each story in this book explores this from different angles, and hopefully makes us re-evaluate how we look at the world.

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

“With the help of an ancient alien relic, a band of heros will save the universe from the tyrannical Galactic Realm.” 

The Orb is due out early next year. It will be a novella/novel, and will be part of a trilogy. It is a space opera full of fun characters, twists and space science. 

Author Links: Website | Amazon

How will HG Wells react when he awakes 200 years in the future on a strange planet, faced with a terrible truth?

Two young brothers make a frightening discovery about the neighbors.

Do robots secretly want to rule us all?

A scientist goes to extremes to change the future of mankind. But is it possible to change our destiny?

Tales from another dimension is a strange and fantastical collection of ten short stories. Robbie Sheerin is inspired by classic Sci-fi, invoking nightmarish twists and turns with each story. Travel to another dimension and meet strange characters, sometimes human, and at times not so human. They will make you question the solidity of the earth and mankind. Explore prejudice, fear, imagination, kindness, empathy, and human frailty.

The Christmas Keepsake

It’s a few days to Christmas, and Janelle Young finds herself uncharacteristically visiting her grandmother. With a job offer to move to California and an ultimatum from her boyfriend hanging over her head, Janelle seeks advice from Gram on her choices. Their conversations and reminiscing about Christmas lead to Gram narrating her story as a teenager, including how she met her husband in 1938. In 1938, toward the end of the Great Depression, Peggy Norwood is a brilliant chorister who dreams of taking center stage. When her mother’s illness worsens, Peggy has to choose between fulfilling her dreams and her dying mother’s wishes.

The Christmas Keepsake by Pat Wahler is a simple story of love, family, dreams, and choices. Although short, it is a holiday-themed story enjoyable for all ages. The author uses a simple style and symbolism in telling the tale of two generations and alternating between two timelines. The author explores the themes of faith, spirituality, and the magic of Christmas with mementos like the Christmas Ornament.  The book also features a heartwarming love story and evokes deep feelings of nostalgia, especially during the Christmas season. It is exciting how a marriage of convenience morphed into a meeting of soulmates.

In the end, it is clear that Janelle has made her choice after spending a day listening to her Gram. And although they walk different paths, Gram’s story has many lessons to be learned. The Christmas Keepsake by Pat Wahler is a reminder to follow one’s heart and be courageous in doing so. The characters also stress the importance of domestic family and the aftermaths of grief.

The Christmas Keepsake is a beautiful holiday short story. It gives readers that warm feeling of the season and emphasizes the importance of family and connections. This is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter day as you wait for the magic of Christmas.

Pages: 73 | ASIN : B0BFJKCPC1

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Alien Whispers

Alien Whispers: Conflict and Communion is the long-awaited third installment in the Milijun series by science fiction writer Clayton Graham. It is a century after the events that shook Laura and her son Jason´s world, when aliens appearing out of the blue and abducted them with mysterious intentions.

Laura returns to planet Earth to figure out what happened to her long-lost husband. Backed by her son Jason, now the leader of a longstanding alien organization, she soon realizes that things are not as they once were.

Earth has been taken over by a tyrannical regime—the oppressive Tellurians—with a power-hungry leader seeking world dominion. Humans and their alien allies find themselves oppressed by the current regime with no access to weapons, and their communications closely monitored. In addition, something strange is stirring on the moon where another alien group is actively preparing to take advantage of Earth’s precarious situation. Laura finds herself facing not only the Tellurian Empire but also the aliens preying on humankind from the shadows. Will she overcome these dangerous enemies, or will she succumb to whatever fate they have prepared for Earth and the universe?

Author Clayton Graham’s worldbuilding is absolutely incredible. Set 250 years in the future, the author had to imagine a world with futuristic problems and what it took to get to that point. Surprisingly enough, while intergalactic and alien elements are integrated into our future, many of our present-day issues are still on these characters´ minds. In terms of the writing, this is a steady, fast-paced novel: one event is followed after the other without dwelling on a single situation. This by no means signifies that it’s sloppily written; on the contrary, the author leaves no stone unturned and is incredibly detailed in his descriptions.

The plot is thoroughly engaging, and while it is the third installment in the series, it is a standalone novel, which means that you can read it easily enough without having read the previous books. I would, however, recommend looking through the rest of the series to get a better view of the characters´ growth and history. I highly recommend this book for its great world and storyboarding.

Alien Whispers: Conflict and Communion (Milijun Book 3) is perfect for anyone looking for a thrilling read, but especially for die-hard sci-fi fans who will undoubtedly thoroughly enjoy this hidden gem.

Pages: 466 | ASIN : B0BBLGWS1S

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The Dynamic, Tragic And Beautiful City

Phil Rosen Author Interview

Life Between Moments is a collection of short stories that turns the lives of everyday people into a compelling drama through the use of sharp writing. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this book?

I wanted to write a collection of different stories that, when read all together, conveyed a sense of the dynamic, tragic and beautiful city. But the book is extremely focused on individual characters, because great cities I find are driven by everyday people trying to get by. In my view, the most interesting stories are usually those that happen in snapshots of everyday life. Those are the most relatable.

My favorite story from this collection is ‘To End a Tragedy’. Do you have a story from this book that stands out to you?

“To End a Tragedy” is my favorite, because I feel like the two main characters resonate with my own life. The challenge of finding happiness and meaning in work, the discovery of enjoyment in day to day, and the realization that there’s no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing a path in life.

The story “Society Debut” also stands out to me because I do think it is unique because it’s written in second-person. I aimed to really put the reader in the story as the main character, to immerse them in a role within the story.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I do my best to use my fiction to explore how ordinary people can find happiness in their lives and meaning in work. Those are two of the biggest challenges we all face, and I see these stories as an attempt to pin down those themes, based on how the characters navigate the same obstacles you and I and everyone face.

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

Not sure yet on this one! It will be a novel, but at least a couple years away.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Bestselling author and Business Insider senior reporter Phil Rosen delivers a stylish debut work of fiction.
A Manhattan writer discovers a miracle in a slaughterhouse. A never-ending night unfolds in a jazz club. The best doctor in the world wants to forgo everything to pursue obscurity. A broken marriage realizes its vulnerabilities.

This collection of striking, atmospheric stories is populated by people that grapple with the fears and uncertainties that define everyday life. In sketches ranging from the grandest heights of society to the anonymous city streets, characters discover their demons, confront heartbreak, and stumble through life in dreamy, oppressive New York.

As you turn through pages of spare prose and smart dialogue, these stories will give you a fresh glimpse into an old city, and remind you why tales of the Big Apple have resonated for centuries.

Casualties and Survivors

Casualties & Survivors takes this stance: life cannot be seen as black and white, as every situation always has gray areas. One could argue that there will always be casualties and survivors, whether the loss of a friendship or an opportunity. However, there are times when people die, leaving behind the survivors, who must endure the loss.

In a series of short stories, Len Joy takes the reader on a journey of lost love, opportunities, and coping with the void of someone no longer around. While there is a backdrop of tragedy and melancholy to each tale, each story presents new opportunities for the survivors, though not always in the way they expect. You’ll encounter tales of an artist coping with the loss of his lifelong love, only to experience another side of this journey with a surprising twist. Another tale follows how a couple develops a relationship over a simple object, a trash can.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and each story’s unique plot and character dilemmas. While some of the stories were shorter than others, I mainly found them more gut-punching and vivid, as they quickly built momentum and anticipation of what was to come. Other stories were a bit longer, which allowed for more character and setting descriptions, leaving a strong visual impression of well-crafted scenes, such as a Christmas tree lot, the naked winter yoga, and an artist’s sparsely furnished apartment. Len Joy creates lasting moments that stay behind with the reader for a fantastic reading experience.

Len Joy’s writing style is clear and concise, which makes for easy, enjoyable reading. The recurring message in Joy’s stories is gut-wrenching, realistic, reassuring, and comforting. The author leaves the reader curious about each character’s future and what’s in store for them. While, at times, the author uses explicit language in some scenes, fans of short stories will enjoy the loosely threaded stories and how they interact with each other throughout the book. 

Pages: 178 | ASIN: B0B92QYYYV

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