The Fissures Between Worlds: A short fiction collection to make you think

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Have you ever felt like things were just a little off? That’s just how the characters in Nick Vossen’s The Fissures Between Worlds: Tales Beyond Time and Space feel on a regular basis. Fissures Between Worlds takes the reader to worlds beyond the veil of time and space where the unlikely, the improbable, even the impossible can and does occur. When the veil is breached, people get stuck in endless time loops, and creatures which can’t possibly exist wreak havoc within our own realities. Nick Vossen’s unique styles of storytelling take readers on a journey which will make you ponder the possibilities. A short fiction collection which is anything but typical. I give Fissures Between Worlds five quills.

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.


Merry Christmas!: Welcoming Children’s Author Robbie Cheadle to the WtbR Team

Robbie Chaedle

Robbie Cheadle is a very creative mother, author and fondant artist, who thinks outside the box to find inventive solutions for life’s difficulties. I first met Robbie through Sonoran Dawn’s Dead Man’s Party Halloween book event, where I did a reading of her short horror story, The Willow Tree, via audio recording for the event. During her takeover, Robbie posted images of her delectable creations to promote her Sir Chocolate book series for children, which she wrote with her son, Michael. She uses these image of her baked creations as cover art and to illustrate the book series. I thought this was incredibly innovative, and I immediately wanted to know more about this woman, and it didn’t take long to decide that I wanted to add her to the WtbR team.

Robbie is my Christmas gift this year, as I’ve been searching for a children’s author to join the Writing to be Read team. So, starting in January, Robbie will be popping in the second Wednesday of each month with her new blog series on writing for children, Growing Bookworms. I can’t wait to see what she has to share with us, so let’s learn more about her.

Kaye: Your Sir Chocolate covers are photos of your own delectable desert creations, which is very creative. Which came first – the baking or the writing?

Robbie: I started with baking and fondant art quite a long time before we wrote the books, but pairing the two was an idea that only came later. I used to write poetry and descriptive passages as a tween and teenager. Emily of New Moon by LM Montgomery was my favourite book when I was a tween. Emily is a poetess in the book and her father is a writer. The book inspired me to write down my thoughts and feelings.

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Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey? How did the published works of Robbie Cheadle come to be?

Robbie: I never planned to become a published author when I first started writing the Sir Chocolate stories. My son, Michael, aged 6 years old at the time was having difficulties with learning to read and write. He was diagnosed with an auditory processing problem which made these activities difficult for him. He had the loveliest story ideas about a little man made of chocolate who lived in a land where you could eat anything, even the sand, trees and houses. In order to encourage him to write, I made up rhyming verse stories using his ideas. Together we wrote them down in handmade books.

I have always enjoyed fondant art and sometimes Michael would come and sit with me and make his own version of what I was making. We started making illustrations for the books by taking photographs of our creations. My nieces and nephews enjoyed the Sir Chocolate stories, so I tried them out with my Sunday school class of children. One of my friends at the Church suggested I send the stories and pictures to a friend of hers who is a publisher in the UK. Anne liked the stories and gave us a contract for the Sir Chocolate series of books.

Kaye: You talk about fondant art. I, for one had never heard of this. Could you explain briefly what fondant art is?

Robbie: Fondant is also called sugar dough and is an elastic type of icing, almost like modelling clay. This is the substance that cake bakers use to make figurines, flowers and other edible artworks for cakes. The items in the picture I emailed you are all made of fondant.

Silly Willy

Kaye: You’re the co-author, along with your son Michael of the Sir Chocolate book series for young readers. How did that partnership come about?

Robbie: Between the ages of 6 and about 9 years old, Michael and I continued to make up Sir Chocolate rhyming verse stories from time to time. We would be doing something like visiting an ice cream shop and an idea would come to us. We would then chat about the idea and develop it into a story. Michael has delightful ideas like the chocolate snow and the ice-cream rainbow fairies who feature in Sir Chocolate and the Ice-cream Rainbow Fairies’ story and cookbook which will come out in 2020.

Kaye: What’s the one thing you hope your son takes away from this venture?

Robbie: I always hoped that Michael would become a proficient reader and learn to enjoy books and reading. It is not easy for a child who struggles to learn to read to develop a love of reading. I am very happy to say that this has happened. Michael now reads on his own for about 30 minutes a day. We often read together with me reading my book of the day and him reading his current story. Lately, these are all Rick Riordan books.

Kaye: What ages are the Sir Chocolate series aimed at?

Robbie: The Sir Chocolate books are aimed at young children, aged 3 to 9 years old. They are lovely for beginner readers as they are comprised of rhyming verse.

Kaye: Each book in the Sir Chocolate series features a story and a cookbook. That’s an interesting combination. Would you like to tell us a little more about why you chose to pair the two?

Robbie: Sir Chocolate is a little man made of sweets and sugar. All the characters in the books are made of edible products as well as all the houses, trees, flowers and even the rivers and the rocks. As all the illustrations are made of cake, biscuits and sweets, it seemed natural to provide the recipes to make some of the goodies in the book and make the books into a series of first cookbooks as well as a story.

Kaye: You also write supernatural and horror for adult audiences, and you had two stories published in the recently released horror anthology, Dark Visions. (See my review of Dark Visions here.) Another interesting combination: horror and children’s stories. Is there a story behind how you ended up writing in those two genres?

Robbie and DVRobbie: I entered a short story for children in one of Dan Alatorre’s writing competitions and it won an Honourable Mention. I really liked the critique on my story that I received from Dan so when another competition cropped up a few months later I decided to enter. The topic for that one was horror so I thought I would give it a go. That was when I wrote The Willow Tree. Dan again provided an excellent critique in respect of the story. I entered The Haunting of William into his most recent horror competition in June 2018. That was how I came to write darker stories. I discovered that I enjoyed writing this genre and now I am writing a supernatural/horror YA book. I have just exceeded 50,000 words.

Kaye: I can think of many differences in writing horror and in writing for children, but are there also ways in which they are alike?

Robbie: The Sir Chocolate stories all have a villain ranging from the trolls in Book 1 to the candy stripped Roc in book 5. All stories generally have a heroic character and a bad character so there is a common thread between the two genres. The difference is that in the Sir Chocolate books the “baddie” is generally redeemed and becomes a contributing member of Chocolate Land. In my current book, the evil characters are not redeemed.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a horror story you’ve ever had?

Robbie: I have just written a horror story about cockroaches which infest a working microwave oven and gain unnatural powers as a result of the microwaves they are subjected to. I think that is about the most unusual story I have written to date but I have only been writing for just over two years and I only started writing horror this year.

Open a New DoorKaye: In addition to writing children’s stories and cookbooks, and adult horror, you write poetry. And you have a poetry collection out with Kim Blades, Open a New Door. What type of poetry can we expect to find in this collection? How did that collaboration come about?

Robbie: Kim Blades and I are both South African poets. Our collection is about life in South Africa and is divided into four sections entitled God bless Africa, God bless my family and friends, God bless me and God bless corporates and work. Each section is divided into poems about the good, the bad and the ugly of our experiences in each of these areas of our lives.

Kaye: What is the most important quality in a poem for you?

Robbie: I like poems that are simply written and have a strong message. I try to write my poems along those lines. I don’t believe a lot of “highbrow” language is necessary in a poem for it to be an emotional and evocative piece of writing.

While the Bombs FellKaye: You have another collaboration with Elsie Haney Eaton, While the Bombs Fell. It’s about life during World War II, which is quite different from the Sir Chocolate stories. What age audience is this book aimed at? Would you like to talk a little about it?

Robbie: Elsie Hancy Eaton is my mother and While the Bombs Fell is a fictionalized account of her early years growing up during WWII in a rural town in England. It features the deprivation caused by bombing and rationing and the other hardships experienced, but it also provides a lot of insight into the small pleasures people enjoyed during the war in the way of a Christmas pudding, the ingredients for which were literally saved up for most of the year, swimming in favourite spots along the river Waverney and learning to knit. The reason this account is fictionalized and not an autobiography is my mother was aged 4 to 7 years during the war and so she can’t remember all the fine details. I supplemented her memories with a lot of my own research.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of writing for children?

Robbie: Marketing the books. Indie authors and writers with small publishers find it more difficult to get their books into stores and in front of the eyes of children. Children generally don’t use social Medias and, therefore, we are marketing to the parents and not to the actual child. Impulse buys are fewer as a result. I try to visit schools and Sunday Schools, but my time for these events are limited due to my work requirements.

Kaye: What other activities do you find time for when you’re not baking or writing?

Robbie: I am a qualified chartered accountant with a full time job and two sons. Any recreational time I have that isn’t spent with my family is used for writing, baking and blogging. I have two blogs, one for my children’s books, light poetry, baking and fondant art called robbiespiration.wordpress.com and one for my adult writing and darker poems called robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com.

Thank you so much Robbie for chatting with me here today. It’s been a pleasure, and I’m thrilled to have you on board. I look forward to your Growing Bookworms blog series. I have no doubt that you have some interesting things to share with us.

Welcoming Robbie to the Writing to be Read team is my Christmas present this year, and adding her blog series will be a great way to start out the New Year, too. You can learn more about Robbie and her writing and art one her blogs or click on the links below:

Sir Chocolate book series: https://www.facebook.com/SirChocolateBooks/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1542170868&sr=1-1

Bake & Write: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/author/robbie-cheadle/

Or look her up on social media:

Twitter: @bakeandwrite

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robbie.cheadle.7

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cheadlerobbie/

I hope all my readers will help me welcome this creative children’s author to the Writing to be Read team and be sure to catch the first segment of her Growing Bookworms series on January 9th.

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“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.