“Tales of the Normal”: A Flash Fiction Collection

Tales of the Normal

Tales of the Normal, by DeAnna Knippling is an intriguing collection of flash and micro-fiction that is anything but normal. In fact, I’ve never seen a collection of stories quite like this one. As with all short fiction, some of the stories don’t quite feel complete, but others may leave you haunted.

A flash collection gets a flash review. Tales of the Normal kept me reading and made me think. I give it four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Someone is winding up the “Clockwork Doll House”

Clockwork Dollhouse

Clockwork Dollhouse, by Jordan Elizabeth is a short steampunk tale which may give readers the chills. Robert has many secrets, but Jane’s clockwork dollhouse sees and reveals things Robert would rather stay hidden. But what is really going on? Who’s winding the dollhouse after all these years and setting the stage? Is it Ainsley, his niece, the ghost of his dead sister, Jane, or is the dollhouse haunted? And can it be stopped before the truth comes out?

A brief story which captivates. Clockwork Dollhouse is a tale of murder unraveled in short fiction format. Perfect for YA audiences. I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Halloween: Scary, but Fun

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People love to be scared, especially within a safe environment. That’s why the horror genre will always be popular. Sitting around trying to scare one another by telling ghost stories or urban legends is a passtime enjoyed and induldged by young and old alike. It’s one of the reasons Hallowen is a favorite holiday for many, with haunted houses and ghost stories and a monster around every corner.

But telling ghost stories to pass the time on a stormy night isn’t any type of new passtime. In fact, two hundred years ago, on a damp and dreary night, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstien was created on just such an occassion, when a challenge was issued to see who could invent the best scary story.  Today’s monsters may be digitally enhanced, but we still enjoy sharing their stories, searching for an inkling of fear or a rush of adrenaline to get our hearts pumping.

Dead Man's Party

That’s why I hope you’ll all drop in and join in the fun at the Sonoran Dawn’s Dead Man’s Party today on Facebook, where myself and other authors will be reading scary stories, playing games and holding giveaways. Many of the authors from the Dark Visions anthology, which I reviewed this past month, including Writng to be Read team member Jordan Elizabeth, and AtA panel member, Dan Alatorre, who compiled and produced the anthology which climbed up the ratings for best horror anthology rapidly following its release. I gave the anthology five quills and it is well worth the read. I’m excited to be reading a few of their stories for them, as well as my own The Haunting of Carrol’s Woods, and can’t wait to hear the audio recordings of the other’s stories, too.  I hope you will join us. It may be scary, but it will be fun.

Happy Halloween

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Writing for a YA Audience: Do ghosts really cast no shadows?

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Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with ghosts.  Recently at work, someone drew a house on a whiteboard and everyone added something to the picture.  I added a ghost screaming from an upstairs window.

Writing a short ghost story has always been a fun activity for a rainy afternoon.  After compiling two steampunk anthologies, I decided to take a turn compiling one on ghost stories.  I imagined it sitting on the shelves of local gift shops; the cover would show a ghost girl floating down a hallway of peeling wallpaper and cobwebs.  With this in mind, I reached out to my critique partners, author friends, writing workshop attendees, and writing club members.  They had a year to get me a short story or two.  I wrote a few, and as stories trickled in, I put them together in a word document.   We brainstormed ideas for a title and settled on “Ghosts Cast No Shadows.”

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Once I had a selection of almost thirty stories, I submitted the manuscript to the publisher.  The majority of the stories were accepted, but a few were rejected, and I had to break several hearts by telling writers their story didn’t make it in.

After the list of accepted stories was finalized, it was time for editing.  Each story went across the desk of an editor twice, followed by a once-over with a proofreader.  The proofreader was a different editor who could come into the anthology with new eyes.  With the editing process over, we got to work on a cover.  We’d originally submitted a worksheet of cover ideas, but the publisher felt a different style would be in order.  The talented Eugene Teplitsky put together the current cover depicting a man haunted by his past and plagued by death.  Ghost books, they felt, were too involved with Halloween.  They wanted our anthology to be marketable year-round.  This strategy meant we would need to change the title.  “Ghosts Cast No Shadows was shortened to “Cast No Shadows.”

Shadows Cover

The book was in place and the release date was set for October 6, 2016.

We organized a cover reveal and blog tour for the release.  Reviewers offered their services to help spread the word.  I tentatively set up signings for the end of October through December.   I had to hurry because my son was due October 18 of the same year.  I didn’t want any of the release buzz to fall through the cracks.  (I also naively assumed I would feel up to doing a signing despite just having a baby.)

The book came out to meet with rave reviews.  (You can read Kaye’s review of the book here.) The blog tour sparkled.  While the ebook sold, the paperback remained unavailable.  My son arrived earlier than expected, and in no way did I feel like doing a book signing.  They were postponed to the spring.  Because of technical difficulties, the paperback still wasn’t available in the spring, and the signings were cancelled until further notice.  When the paperback did release a year later, we were all set to push it.

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The group of us who live locally (listed in order as they appear in the picture above: Elizabeth Zumchuk, Joan O. Scharf, Tracina Cozza, Jordan Elizabeth, Jeremy Mortis, W. K. Pomeroy, and James McNally) did our rounds wearing matching CAST NO SHADOWS T-shirts.  The libraries welcomed us and in front of audiences, we talked about what inspired our individual stories and read the first pages.  We sold copies to eager readers.   Every October we do our rounds again.  We stand together in our shirts with the books open in front of us.

It feels so mysterious to stand in front of an audience telling the story of a ghost who wanders dilapidated hallways seeking a future she will never find.

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Interested in reading CAST NO SHADOWS?  The book is available on Amazon or you can get a signed copy off Jordan’s official website.

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  CAST NO SHADOWS is her third anthology published by Curiosity Quills Press.  Jordan can be found wandering the empty houses and shadowed woods of Upstate New York searching for ghosts.


Dark Visions: A Horror Anthology You Won’t Want to Miss

Dark Visions

October is the month for scary things, and a horror anthology filled with spine chilling short stories from over thirty authors is the perfect read for the season. The release of Dan Alatorre’s compilation of Dark Visions anthology is October 15th, and you won’t want to miss it. In addition to a wonderfully original and entertaining  prologue, and his own story, “The Corner Shop”, Dan has lined up a slew of writing talent to include in this tomb of short horror tales.

Not only does this anthology have a very cool cover, (Check it out above), but it also has some very well crafted short fiction, some that will stay with you in times to come. These shorts cover a wide spectrum of horrors; nightmares, voodoo, vampires, apparitions and spirits, and even demons. The stories found here prey upon your inner fears, making brief little ditties from the stuff of nightmares.

None of the stories I read from this collection would rate less than three quills, meaning even the mediocre stories are pretty good. Among my favorites are “The Devil’s Hollow”, by Adele Marie Park; “Road Kill”, by Ernesto San Giacomo; “Behind the Leather Apron”, by Alana Turner; “The Bloody Dagwood Tree”, by Dabry Farmer; and “Ice Cream”, by Geoff LePard.

Not to say that other stories in this volume are not noteworthy. Many of these stories will keep you awake at night, including: “The Haunting of William”, by Robbie Cheadle; “Nightmare”, by Lori Micken; “Swimming”, by Frank Parker; “Lucifer’s Revenge”, by Christine Valentor; “What If”, by Geoff LePard; “Ghosts of Tupelo” by Sharon Cathcart; “Where the Black Tree Grows”, by M.D. Walker; “The Right Time to Move”, by Jennifer Ruff; “The Stranger”, by Allison Maruska; “The Storm”, by J.A. Allen; and “Spirit Lake”, by Sharron Connell.

I may be difficult to please when it comes to short fiction, because I like my stories to feel complete and often short fiction fails  on those lines, but most of the tales in this collection did not fail to satisfy. Most of them were also a little creepy, which is essential when it comes to horror. And, did I mention it has a really cool cover? Put all of that together, and I give Dark Visions five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“Kissed by Literature”: A YA collection of short fiction

Kissed by Literature

Like many authors, Jordan Elizabeth started out writing short fiction, and in Kissed by Literature, she offers us a generous sample of paranormal and speculative shorts. The trouble in writing short fiction comes in making the story feel complete, with a beginning, middle and end, using a minimal number of words. It’s not an easy thing to do, and while there are stories included that feel a little rushed in the pacing or end abruptly, as can only be expected  in a collection of shorts of this size, those that do feel complete hit the mark and give readers goosebumps. Among them, my favorites include House of Sixty Bells, a ghostly mystery solved; Satin, a tale of paranormal friendship with ulterior motives; and Lock the Door, the story of a husband’s guilt following his wife’s murder.

A delightfully eerie collection of paranormal and speculative stories, I give Kissed by Literature four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Writing for a YA Audience: CLICK YOUR CONVERSE HEELS TOGETHER

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When I write contemporary young adult stories, I draw on my own experiences growing up.  A huge part of my childhood involved wearing Converse sneakers.  Okay, you’re probably thinking that’s a sad childhood, but bear with me.  I was always obsessed with shoes.  I liked the old-fashioned ankle-boot style.  I liked the shiny Mary Janes.  I hated regular sneakers.  They weren’t cute enough.  I endured sneakers only for gym class.

In Junior High, I started seeing the other children wearing Converse sneakers.  They came in all sorts of patterns and colors, and they went over your ankle.  They were unique, and even though almost everyone had a pair, everyone had a DIFFERENT pair.  Some kids even wore mismatched sneakers or used fancy laces.  I went home to tell my grandmother I just had to have my own Converse sneakers.  (If you aren’t familiar with Converse sneakers, you have got to check out their incredible selection.)

She took me to the coolest sneaker store in the mall (I don’t remember the name of this wicked awesome store) and got me…a pair of knock-offs.  They were black and came below my ankle.  I fell in love with them because they had a side-pocket.  I wore those sneakers until they fell apart.

In the meantime, my grandmother and I went to the nearby outlet mall.  We would go once or twice a year.  At their shoe store, I saw a beautiful array of colorful Converse sneakers.  She bought be an official, high-top pair.  They were black with white pinstripes.  I wore them so much they started to fall apart…so now I don’t wear them much to preserve their life.

After that, I got a pair each time we went to the outlet mall.  I even got a pair that reached up to my thighs!  I now have twelve pairs altogether in my collection.  Converse is still my favorite brand of sneaker.

Why am I talking to you about my Converse obsession?  Well, Converse sneakers were a huge part of my childhood, from shopping for them to wearing them almost every day.  I loved wearing them to gym class with fishnet stockings.  I always write about my young adults wearing Converse because that’s what I wore.  I didn’t realize how prevalent the brand featured in my writing until an editor called it to my attention.  I went back through my writing and almost every girl character has a pair at one point in their individual stories!

If you were writing about shoes, what shoes would you mention?  What shoes are most important in your life?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  Her latest book, a post-apocalyptic novella entitled ROTHAM RACE, released July 14th fron CHBB.  If you’re wondering if it features Converse sneakers, you will have to read it to find out.

You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.