Jeff’s Game Reviews – The Medium

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jeffs-game-reviews.png

Reviewed on Xbox Series X – Also available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S

Fear can be a tricky thing to nail down. From a storytelling perspective, it’s more complicated than basic jump scares and grotesque slight of hand. In order to really scare people you’ve got to get inside their heads, and that’s exactly what independent Polish game developer Bloober Team has tried to do in their latest Xbox exclusive, The Medium. The basic selling point is a new gaming mechanic in which the player is occasionally required to control their character in two different spiritual “realms” at the same time. It’s a cool idea, novel in the sense that dedicated gaming consoles have never been powerful enough to render this kind of thing before, but it’s also a little bit gimicky, and that’s hard to ignore.

Whether it’s the stunning and seriously disturbed environments found in the land of the dead, the screaming, groping, crying, ever-present monster who shamelessly plagues you wherever you go, or the expertly revealed mystery of the murder of one lively little dead girl, the game is seriously invested in freaking you out. Does it do its job? For the most part, but there’s not a whole lot of basic modern scare tactics in use here that we haven’t seen before. The game’s narrative is anything but perfectly realized, and certain technical shortcomings hurt the overall experience, but The Medium is more than the sum of its parts. This could’ve been a huge disaster. It’s not though, even if it is the brand new system’s first and only true exclusive. Watch our video review for a good look at the game in action:

Our hero, the eponymous medium of this ghost story, is a young woman named Marianne. We never really get the sense she’s super experienced at this gig, because contextually speaking, she seems to be using many of her incredible abilities for the first time. First time having an out of body experience, first time getting stalked by a giant, faceless, pan-dimensional demon with a serious skin fetish. I mean it, there’s this frightening and freakish dude who follows you around for the entire second half of the game. No attacking, shooting, bludgeoning, or stabbing for you. The only way to win is to keep running and hiding. Can’t we get a moment’s peace?!

More or less The Medium’s shortcomings boil down to this: the camera is locked off in old-school Resident Evil fashion, making navigation cumbersome and awkward. Additionally, puzzles and quests are never as smart as you want them to be. The much-touted split-screen mechanic of simultaneously dwelling in both the world of the living and the land of the dead is unique and visually striking, but it seems to be limited to the use of passing arbitrarily administrated spiritual barriers, blasting demon bat thingies with an electric shield bubble, and slicing through large sheets of skin with a bone straight-razor.

Ew, gross.

And yes, a terse and limited story about shame, fear, death, and rage is continuously hampered by narration that tells more than it shows. Truly, the dialogue and voice acting try to keep pace with bigger games of the genre, but they never quite get there. It’s kind of a shame, because there’s lots of scary concepts and dark emotional undertones percolating just below the surface. Moments of sheer terror be damned, Resident Evil and other genre master series are capable of nailing gameplay AND story, so what’s the deal here?

The one thing that truly elevates the overall experience is the atmosphere, which is rich, dense, and undeniably disturbing. It’s hard to imagine The Medium pushes the powerful new Xbox hardware to its limits, but the launch release is plagued by framerate issues and other graphical kinks, so push the Xbox it must. Even so, dense forests and a haunted Polish resort hotel are handled with style in both the material and ghost realms. You’ll have a good time playing this game, especially if you’re a horror nut, but doubts will continue to linger as to whether or not you’ll remember it once you put it down.

Jeff’s Game Reviews gives The Medium a final score of SEVEN out of TEN.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Day #5 of “The Click of a Pebble” Book Blog Tour: My Review

The Click of a Pebble Book Blog Tour

What they are saying on Amazon:

“This was a great coming of age fantasy story. I really enjoyed seeing these young characters struggle to survive in the aftermath of the massacre that leaves them only each other to depend on. Their journey drew me in and had me reading this entire book in one sitting, I’m looking forward to reading more books set in this fascinating world.”

The Click of a Pebble

In her Day #3 post for this tour on Robbie’s Inspiration, author Barbara Spencer talks about magical realism. I really loved her definition. She describes it, “Magical realism takes place in our world and follows its rules, except occasionally those rules are skewed.” I haven’t read a lot of magical realism, but what I have read have mostly were silly stories that were just kind of fun to read, with no real buy in because they were so ridiculous.

Not so with this skillfully crafted tale, which begins to lay a solid basis for the magical elements of the story. The Click of a Pebble had my buy in from the first pages and maintained it throughout the story. It was sweet and tragic, but there was nothing silly about it.

The Click of a Pebble is the tale of three children, Yost, Zande and TaTa, the only survivors of a massacre of their people. Ripped away from all they have ever known, they must stand together and go on, holding on to who they are in a place where things are new and different and try to fit in. They quickly learn that they dare not reveal their true origins, or risk falling prey to the same bigoted thinking that brought on the demise of their clan, because they are different, gifted. As they grow to know the family which welcomes them into their home, they begin to develop attachments with those around them and feel as if they belong. But, they are carinatae, children of Zues and what lies ahead for them is very different from the futures imagined by those who take them in.

The Click of a Pebble

Barbara Spencer has done a marvelous job of drawing the reader in and making her care about the characters, masterfully weaving historical detail into this wonderful coming of age fantasy. It touches on issues that ring true for many of us, at the same time portraying a time and culture in detail, with well developed characters readers will relate to. As the first book in her The Children of Zeus trilogy, Spencer does not tie everything up with a nice bow, but instead chooses the perfect point in the story to close off this chapter and leave the reader with a need to learn how all the loose ends will be resolved. I give it five quills.

Five Quills

In case you missed a blog stop along the way on The Click of a Pebble Book Blog Tour:

Day #1: Writing to be Read

Day #2: Patty’s World

Day #3: Robbie’s Inspiration

Day #4: This is my Truth Now

The Click of a Pebble

Get your copy of The Click of a Pebble today.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Book you WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Feral Tenderness – Just My Opinion

Feral Tenderness Book Blog Tour

Feral Tenderness, by Arthur Rosch, is a poetry and photography collection like no other I’ve ever encountered. I can say this with confidence, because I am the editor and compiler for this book, however it exempts me from posting my opinions of this collection on Amazon. But Writing to be Read is my blog, so I’d like to tell you about this interesting and unique collection of creativity here, taking into account that the author is a friend of mine, so the opinions expressed are likely to be biased. Be that as it may, I’m proud to associate myself with this work of creativity, a collection of poetry and photography worth more than just a casual glance. Arthur’s works need to be savored, like a fine wine, simmered over, like a sweet glaze, and appreciated for their unique and delectable flavors.

As I’ve mentioned on several occassions, Arthur Rosch sees the world in a unique way. Through his creative endeavors, those who care to look are allowed a glimpse of things through his eyes. His photography is amazing. The images that he captures with his lense say so much in a single moment. His poetry, on the other hand, is often a lengthy, social commentary on higher powers, human behavior, or the world at large. Yet, even his short poems seem to have a lot to say.

To illustrate my meaning, the following poem is minimal, yet it speaks volumes. It is my favorite of Arthur’s short snippits of poetry and the only one for which a true companion photo was also available from his photo library for inclusion in the collection.

Dewdrops
Dewdrops on spiderwebs:
sit lightly with life

Little Web

Another of Arthur’s profound poems, “Stars“, declares, in part, (I did mention that some of his poems are rather lengthy, too much so to be reprinted here in full),

” …Stars know what they are.
Stars are alive and individual,
quirky with personality,
often pulsing and drawing
gravity blood, gas and heat,
combining with other stars
combining and mating with other
stars and forming unions of
higher imaginations
in order to serve the Master of Stars… “

Another poem is an expression of nature, as seen through Arthur’s eyes. This one is one of my personal favorites.

Hunted By The Hawk

Make joy from stones.
Make wit from mud,
make humor from blood.
The tiny finch flies crazily,
for the sheer fun of it,
though it knows, each morning,
that it’s hunted by the hawk.
We too, each morning,
are hunted by the hawk.

The cover image for Feral Tenderness also came from Arthur’s photo library. With this photo, I was able to create an awesome cover design, if I do say so myself. We created cover images using several of Arthur’s photos, but in the end, this one grabbed both author’s and publisher’s hearts.

Feral Tenderness Cover

The poetry and photos featured in this collection are so varied in subject matter and tone, that several book promotions with very different appeals seemed applicable to me. I used one of Arthur’s photographs for the background of one of them. Can you guess which one? Let me know in the comments which you like better.

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


The Santa Claus Stories: Where the legend begins

The Santa Claus Stories of L. Frank Baum

I love reading origin stories, which set the groundwork for all like stories which come after. Although the legend grows and changes down through the years with each retelling. The legend of Santa Claus is one that I hold near and dear to my heart, and I truly enjoyed allowing The Santa Claus Stories of L. Frank Baum take me back to where it all began.

Did you ever wonder where Santa Claus comes from, or how he got to be Santa Claus? Ever wonder how he came to deliver toys to children all around the world? Or why he only delivers one night out of the year? Or why he wears red? Or why he comes down the chimney? Or where his magic comes from? The Santa Claus Stories of L. Frank Baum answer those questions and more. And I’m guessing that not many people today are aware that Santa Claus was in attendance for Princess Ozma’s birthday party in the land of Oz, along with Dorothy and Toto, the scarecrow, the lion man, the tin man, and many other of Baum’s colorful and memorable characters.

The literary value of classic stories such as these is beyond my abilities to describe. Although I feel unqualified to rate classic gems, such as this one, these stories left me with a good feeling inside. Here is born the true spirit of Christmas and you can see the origins of the Santa Claus legend offered here in many contemporary Santa Claus stories. In Baum’s telling, his reindeer don’t fly, but they do wear bells, and magic is in the air, as Santa toils to make all of the toys for the children year round by himself. Over the years things have changed a bit, but I think the magic is still in our hearts, if we look for it.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.


Treasuring Poetry – Meet fantasy author and poet, Diana Peach and read my review of Sunwielder: An Epic Time Travel Adventure

Welcome to the first Treasury Poetry post of 2021.

Today, I am delighted to welcome fantasy author and poet, Diana Peach, who is sharing one of her own poems and discussing poetry.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

Thanks so much for the invitation to participate in your Treasuring Poetry series, Robbie. I’m honored. I think of myself as a writer of prose and a dabbler otherwise, but I love poetry and believe no creative effort is ever wasted.

This is a super hard question! I have poems that I think are well-crafted, poems that evoke personal feelings or memories, and poems that reflect a particular time in my life. Since “I don’t know” isn’t an acceptable answer, I’ll go with this one:

Flight of faith

When I was a child, I could fly

you and I hopped in dirt-road afternoons

faithful

and the dust-wind flung us over seas of wheat

scuffed shoes skimming the feathered awns

we whipped around the corners of the barn

in a home-sewn world of farm-hewn hands

our secret futures soared

***

In the veins of my hands

the blue brooks of time stream by

Somewhere on the way, I unlearned how to fly

and trod worn paths through autumn’s lea

snapped night’s brittle ice

shards of fractured faith

glinting in my wake

***

Today’s morning purls in plumrose

cast on a withering season’s stark debris

spangled with winter’s gilded rime

a new path of violet ice wends to the horizon

fragile, fissured, a wish yet unbroken

my secret future soars

faithful

and I wonder if I might

fly one last time

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

In my twenties, I used to have flying dreams rather frequently. They were the most vivid dreams of my life. I was truly flying. I could feel the wind on my face as if I was awake and standing outside on a breezy day. The sensory experience was exhilarating.

This poem is based on one of those dreams. In the dream, I was about 10 years old, an unremarkable child of the dusty American plains. Every day, the school bus would drop my friend and me off at the side of the dirt road, and as soon as the bus drove away, we would hop a few steps, then pick up our feet and soar over the fields, our brown shoes skimming the wheat. Despite our ordinary lives and pervasive poverty, we were extraordinary. Life was full of magic and promise, and nothing could hold us down.

Then I stopped having flying dreams and haven’t had one in nearly 35 years. This poem is about that amazing childhood belief that anything is possible, about its loss, and about the yearning to fly again.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I enjoy Colleen Chesebro’s weekly syllabic poetry challenges. The poetic forms provide structure, and for me, they’re like puzzles as I search for the words that conform to the syllable count, structure, prompts, and personal meaning. But my favorites among the poems I’ve written are all free form. They’re harder

for me to craft, but they feel more organic, untouched by stylistic constraints. They’re pure gut, emotion, and inspiration.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

Probably free form poetry, though any kind of poetry has the potential to make me gasp at its beauty. I love vivid imagery and poignant emotion, poems that illuminate the human condition in a way that pierces my heart. I like poems that stir something personal, or that draw me in and grab hold so that when I finish reading, I feel like I’ve stepped outside myself into someone else’s experience.

Do you think your poetry compliments your other writing or do you see it as an undertaking that stands alone?

Complements, definitely!

I love poetic prose, and when I’m reading fiction, I’m prone to highlighting passages in books where the word choice, imagery, metaphors, or phrases make me swoon. Poetry emphasizes beautifully crafted language, including its sounds and rhythms. It requires a writer to capture and convey the core essence of a story. I think poetry fosters an underlying sensitivity to those aspects of writing in general, and prose benefits from the same attention.

Thanks again, Robbie, for the invite and for allowing me to share my thoughts and muse over this lovely artform. Happy Writing to all the poets out there.

Thank you, Diana, for being my Treasuring Poetry guest. I really enjoyed your poem and insights into your poetry writing.

Sunwielder: An Epic Time Travel Adventure

What Amazon says

In a land on the brink of war, Gryff Worden discovers his family slaughtered, his farm in ruin.

Mortally wounded, he stumbles upon a timekeeper, an old woman of the northern forests, one who tracks the infinite paths of each life. She offers him a sunwield, a medallion promising to return him to the pivotal choices that swayed his life’s journey. Her only condition—he must wear the bronze charm until the end.

Now his story remakes itself, casting him backward in time to moments of decision and death. His old life gone, he no longer remembers the purpose of the medallion burning his chest. As he uncovers the sunwield’s power, new choices lead him on an epic adventure through war, death, friendship, life, and love.

My review

I do not read a lot of fantasy books, but I make an exception for D. Wallace Peach as her books are extraordinary and unique.

Gryff Worden is an ordinary man who just wants to help his uncle and aunt raise horses on their farm while raising his own family. Gryff adores his wife and two children, but there is bad blood between Gryff and the son of the Earl who rules his area. The hostility is emanates from Brant Loden’s side only, but it changes the course of Gryff’s life.

Gryff’s country is attacked by an aggressive nation who want to enslave his people and he is eventually morally wounded and his family murdered by enemy soldiers. At the time of his death he is visited by an elderly prophet who offers him another chance at life if he accepts the sunwielder, a bronze medallion which allows him to go back in time and revise decisions he made thereby changing his life’s path. I thought this concept was clever and unique. I have read other books where the hero can go back in time, but this particular method and the limited number of life choices offered by the sunwielder was something quite different and fascinating.

Gryff is a wonderful character, he is a good man and tries to do the right thing in all situations but he is human and, therefore, susceptible to various human failings like anger and resentment. It was most interesting to experience his going back in time and having to try an alternative approach when his previous choice failed. As Gryff moved further along his path, his choices improved and his self control and discipline increased allowing him to make better choices earlier and without constant intervention.

There is a love story thread that runs through the book and this is intriguing as the reader doesn’t know how his relationships with his wife and with his lover are going to turn out – his destiny in this regard is unclear for most of the book.

There are a number of characters in this book and it provides great insight into the frailties of men and how arrogance, greed, and hunger for power can destroy individuals and the people around them. Good leadership is a strong theme in this book and the importance of strategy and leadership in war and battles is highlighted.

The author writes the most beautiful and powerful prose and even without the incredible story, this book would have been worth reading just to experience the skillful writing. I highly recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and those who enjoy excellent writing.

Purchase Sunwielder: An Epic Time Travel Adventure

Sunwielder: An Epic Time Travel Adventure by [D. Wallace Peach]

Amazon US

About Diana Peach

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Contact and purchase links

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982

Twitter: @dwallacepeach

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


“The Wolf Leader”: An origins story of sorts

The Wolf Leader

The classics were written in another era and literature was viewed differently than it is in modern times. The language, although often lavish and eloquent, can also be pretentious and difficult to decifer. There are some sixteenth century words that are just plain confuddling to my twentieth century brain. Over the past year, I’ve tried a few times to read the classic authors. After all, their works survive them over centuries, and set the historical standards of contemporary literature. But I couldn’t get through The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft due to all the pretentious purple prose, and although I finished the first story in The Mysteries of Edgar Allen Poe, I had to put it down or risk dying from sheer boredom. While clearly a predecessor to murder mystries which came later, such as Sherlock Holmes, I found Poe’s style too dry to be considered entertaining.

With The Wolf Leader, by Alexandre Dumas, I did not find this to be the case. In spite of a few words which required defining, I had no trouble following the flow of the Dumas’ story. Alfred Allison did a fine job of translating this classic novel and Jonathon Maberry does the literary world a service by bringing it back into print. Dumas’ style is more along the lines of a Don Quixote, silly but entertaining type of story, than the borishness of Poe’s Detective Dupin, or presumptious fluff and verbage of LoveCraft’s Chtulhu Mythos.

The Wolf Leader is a Faust meets The Wolfman story. Contempory werewolves have grown well beyond what Dumas envisioned, but in his work, one can see the origins from which they sprang. Thibauld is a peasant shoemaker, angry at the injustices he feels he has suffered under the hands of French burgious land owners, who makes a deal with the devil, or in this case, the black wolf, to have all of his wishes granted, for the price of one hair per wish. Each time he wishes for something, one hair on his head turns fiery red, and his wishes seldom turn out as he intended. Instead of being rich and loved, as he had desired… well, you can see where this is headed.

The reason we can foresee what’s to come in the tale described above is that we are familiar with the story of Faust, so we might read it and think it a bit tropish with the ‘deal with the devil’ thing. There are no silver bullets or full moons in this tale, but Thibauld does eventually take the form of the black wolf and there is a lot of howling, so it may even be the first werewolf story ever penned, as Jonathon Maberry points out in his introduction. As such, it could could be the trope setter for an entire genre.

How many quills do I give to a classic work of literature? I’m not sure I’m qualified to rate this work which has survived the centuries. The very fact that is has survived speaks volumes more than any opinion I could ever give.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Leader-Alexandre-Dumas/dp/1680570935/ref=sr_1_1?crid=114AEZE3A6ZPK&dchild=1&keywords=the+wolf+leader&qid=1609757995&s=books&sprefix=The+Wolf+Lea%2Cdigital-music%2C200&sr=1-1

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Looking Back on 2020 and Forward to 2021

2020 has been an difficult year for all of us as Covid 19 turned lives upside-down. Here at Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, we saw some great accomplishments, in spite of the fact that my genre theme schedule fell apart half-way through the year on the blog and content was a little more sporadic. I had to figure out how to adjust to my own “new normal”, which life changes brought my way, but they also led me to remember who I am. Now, I’ve analyzed and regrouped, and I’m ready to head into the new year with new ideas and projects.

WordCrafter’s 2020 Virtual Writing Conference

One of the biggest things for WordCrafter was the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference back in April. We ended up with twenty-two distinguished authors, offering live stream and video lectures, and interactive workshops and discussion panels, with free content for the Facebook event and a Zoom platform for the interactive stuff. We had a good turn-out with only a few glitches, and we’re preparing to do it again in 2021.

WordCrafter Press releases in 2020:

Ask the Authors

In April, the Ask the Authors writing anthology was released after two years of compilation. This book is an ultimate writer’s reference with tips and advice from twenty-two authors, and it started right here, from a 2018 blog series of the same name. In November, the print edition of this book, (and all WordCrafter Press books), became available, as well.

Spirits of the West

The Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology resulted from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and was released in October. The winning story, “High Desert Rose”, was written by Enid Holden and is included in the anthology. The theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest was announced and WordCrafter Press is now taking submissions to be considered for next year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

Hidden Secrets and Last Call

Two of my own books were also released. Last Call and Other Short Fiction is a collection of my short stories, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, is now available in print on Amazon, but the digital edition can be purchased through other retailers. In the coming year, I will have a story in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, and I’m working on a new book, The Outlaw and the Rockstar which I hope will be ready to release before the end of 2021.

Raise the Tide

WordCrafter Press‘ first stand alone author’s book was released in December, Raise the Tide, a devotional book by James Richards. We also look forward in anticipation to adding the January release of a massive poetry collection by Arthur Rosch, Feral Tenderness, to this list.

Feral Tenderness

Writing to be Read 2020:

We had some great guests on Writing to be Read. On “Chatting with the Pros”, my author guests featured Diana Raab, Amy Cecil, Cherokee Parks, L. Deni Colter, and Kevin J. Anderson. I’m hoping to transform this blog series into a podcast, which can be accessed through the blog, in the coming year, and I hope you all will join me there. Other authors interviewed in 2020 included Mark & Kym Todd, Jade C. Jamison, and Alan Dean Foster. The most viewed interview was with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant. Interviews fell by the wayside along with the genre themes, but I’m planning to bring back author interviews for 2021, and I’m working on a new blog segment, “The Authors’ Covid Coffee Clache”, which will address issues of the pandemic specific to authors.

Treasuring Poetry

Robbie Cheadle’s poet guests included Sally Cronin, Colleen Chesebro, Victoria Zigler, Sue Vincent, Annette Rochelle Aben, Christy Birmingham, Kevin Morris, Frank Prem, D. Avery, Geoff Le Pard, and Balroop Singh. Of course, each segment on “Treasuring Poetry” are filled with poetry examples and includes a review of the poet’s latest poetry collection.

Growing Bookworms

Robbie Cheadle’s “Growing Bookworms” has great ideas for promoting literacy in children. Topics discussed “Making Learning the Alphabet Fun“, “Reading and Mathematics“, obtaining a balance of parental approval, “Sir Chocolate and the Valentine Toffee Cupid“, the benefits of singing and rhyming verse for children, “Teaching Children to Read“, “Introducing Non-Fiction to Children“, “The Future of Education“, “The Great Roald Dahl“, “Chapter Books vs. Short Stories for Children“, “The Joy of Nursery Rhymes: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat“, and “Incorporating Reading into Christmas Activities“. The post with the most views this year was a “Growing Bookworms” post from 2019, “Developing Imagination and Creativity Through Reading“, and in fact, it is also the post with the most all time views.

Words to Live By

On “Words to Live By”, Jeff Bowles offers up his thoughts on writing and life, and writing life. In 2020, he reflected on “The Creator in the Creative“, “The Kid in the Machine”, “Sex, Love, Warfare and Death“, “Fear, Creativity, and that Pesky Pandemic“, “Love in the Time of Covid“, “Be Here Now (Sanity for the Modern Writer), and”Creative Legacy“. The most viewed “Words to Live By” post was “The Big Chill“.

Mind Fields

With Art Rosch’s “Mind Fields”, you never know what the topic will be, but in 2020, they included “T.V. Addicts Annonymous“, “Nightmare with Tracphone“, “The Power of Villians in Story Telling“, “The Big Grief or Computer Wipe-Out“, “The Air in the Sky“, “Obsession: Craving Flashlights“, “Curvature: An Essay on Discernment“. The most view “Mind Fields” post was “Am I Real“.

Super Heroes and Supervillains

In May, Jeff Bowles took over the spotlight as he took over the Super Heroes and Super Villians theme, with a look at “The History and Evolution of Comic Books“, “The Rise of the Comic Book Film“, “DC Comics Gets Animated“, “D.C. Comics vs. Marvel – Rivalry and Inspiration“, and a celebratory posts for comic books and super heroes, “Look Up in the Sky!

Craft and Practice

Also in May, Jeff introduced a new blog series “Craft and Practice”, filled with great writing advice, which covered topics such as “The Revision Process“, “To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish“, “Writing for Catharthis“, “Story Synthesis: The Ultimate Tool in the Tool Kit“, “To Comma or Not to Comma“, “The Odds and Ends of Worldbuilding“, and “What’s the use of Trunk Novels“. The most viewed “Craft and Practice” post was “Should You Write Every Day?“.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews

Jeff’s Movie Reviews” covered The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey“, Hamilton on Disney+, Bill and Ted Face the Music, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The most viewed movie review post was for 1917.

Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews

“Art’s Visual Media Reviews” covered Homeland, Better Call Saul, 13 Reasons Why, Just Mercy, 13 Reasons Why (the later seasons), a critique of Marvel movies, and The Secret: Dare to Dream, but the most viewed review was a life review in “My Life with Jazz“. Unfortunately, “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews” will not be appearing in 2021, but Art’s “Mind Fields” will be appearing twice a month.

My book reviews included Missing: Murder Suspected: True Crime Stories Brought to Life, by Austin Stone On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin L. Shoemaker; Saint, by Amy Cecil; Heat: Book 1, by Jade C. Jamison; Old One Eyed Pete, by Loretta Miles Toleffson; Death Wind, by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto; Severed Wings, by Steven-Elliot Altman; X Marks the Spot, an anthology of pirate fantasy tales edited by Lisa Mangum; Indominable, by J.B. Garner; Echo One, by Mercedes Lacky, Denis K. Lee, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere; the audio edition of Shadow Blade, by Chris Barili; Love/Madness/Demon, by Jeff Bowles; In the Shadow of the Clouds, by Jordan Elizabeth; Keeper of the Winds, by Jenna Solitaire with Russle Davis; Inspirational Visions oracle cards, by Judy Mastrangelo; The Freedom Conspiracy by Nathan B. Dodge; Disappeared, by Lucienne Diver; Fool’s Gold Rush, by Tim Baker; Terminal Sequence, by Dan Alatorre; Gunslinger, by Edward J. Knight; and Clay House, by Jordan Elizabeth. The top viewed review was Hold Your Fire, an anthology edited by Lisa Mangum.

Judging the Spurs

I was also honored to be a judge for the Writers of America’s Spur Awards and I reviewed my top six picks, and the winner of the western romance category, The Yeggman’s Apprentice, by C.K. Crigger. These were the best of the best, and I was honored to be given the opportunity to read and review them.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Also, in 2021 Writing to be Read will be a host for the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, so we’ll be keeping you up to date on several new releases as they come out. Robbie Cheadle will bring us a new blog series on nursery rhymes and fairytales, “Dark Origins”, and I plan to bring in a new series, “Writer at Work”, which will talk about different issues that writers face. Subscribe to this blog with one of the buttons in the upper right-hand corner to be sure not to miss this great new content or the tried and true content of continuing series on Writing to be Read in the coming year.

Dark Origins

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!

From Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


My favourite Christmas poem and a review of Pass the Turkey by Sue Vincent

Treasuring Poetry

This is my final Treasuring Poetry post for 2020 and I am sharing my favourite Christmas poem, an extract from How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss. I love this piece of his lovely Christmas story because it really illustrates what Christmas is all about. I love how the Grinch was unable to stop Christmas from coming because Christmas is in our hearts and souls and its not about the gifts, the food, the Christmas tree or even our families. It is about us, as individuals, and our own personal relationships, beliefs, and aspirations.

10 Dr. Seuss Christmas Quotes: The Grinch Quotes 🎄
From Dr Seuss Christmas Quotes: The Grinch quotes

…So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!”
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”…

Ani, the small dog, and her two legs, Sue Vincent, know all about Christmas and making the best of it. Ani, with the help of Sue, has written a number of lovely rhyming poetry books, one of which is Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas. This is one of my favourite poems from this book:

Pondering

Dear Santa, I’m a little dog who doesn’t do religion.
I’d rather chase a tennis ball or terrorise a pigeon
Than argue over who is wrong or maybe who is right…
It seems a silly way to me to get into a fight.

I know the Christmas story, ’cause she told me long ago,
About Joseph and Mary when they had nowhere to go,
And that’s the bit that got to me, ’cause someone found a place,
Although they slept with beasts and not with others of their race.

According to the tale we’re told, they slept beneath a star
And shepherds brought their lambs to see and kings came from afar.
They gathered where the Baby lay, beside the ox and ass,
While angels sang above, they knelt in wonder on the grass.

Now, that’s a lovely story that the world will celebrate…
And then go back to living in their prejudice and hate.
They look askance at strangers if they wear a different skin…
I wonder if the Babe returned, if they would let Him in?

You know, I have to wonder, if there’s any point at all,
In putting presents on the tree or trimming up the hall
Unless they feel the Christmas spirit bringing love and peace
And know that it is in their hearts hostilities must cease.

I know, I’m just a small dog and my voice will not be heard,
I’m only good for cuddles and to chase a ball or bird.
But maybe when you visit you could tell them while they sleep
And give them just a bit of your compassion they could keep.

It would be nice to think it could be Christmas every day
(Without the preparations and the bills they have to pay)
But being gentle with each other, giving Love a place
Within their hearts and in the smiles they’d wear upon their face.

Much love,
Ani

You can read more about the small dog here: https://thesmalldogs.blog/

My review of Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas

Pass the Turkey!: The Small Dog's Christmas Kindle Edition

Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas is a delightful book full of Christmas cheer. Ani, the small dog, is reflecting on Christmas’ past, present and future through a combination of letters to Santa and poems. The perplexities of ‘fake’ Santas, the ‘theft’ of a favourite sofa, and gifts of tennis balls and a chicken flavoured biscuit, all require Ani’s consideration. Her naughty secrets are also revealed such as the time she ate all the left over turkey and salmon and fell through the ice in the pond [it was shallow]. The indignities of baths and having to wear reindeer antlers are also shared.

Join Ani and her two legs, Sue Vincent, for a glorious romp through advent and Christmas Day.

A few of my favourite verses:
“I’ve tried to help with household chores,
I’ve laundered all my balls,
I’ve chased the pigeons form the shed
And spiders from the walls.” from Request

“She’s like a puppy when it snows
We just go out to play…
And if she wraps up warm enough
We might stay out all day.” from Wishing for the White Stuff

“The windows are all closed at night
The keyhole seems to small
To wriggle through with turkey
And a brand new tennis ball.” from Chimneys.

You can purchase Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer currently living in the south of England, largely due to an unfortunate incident with a map, a pin and a blindfold. Raised in a spiritually eclectic family she has always had an unorthodox view on life, particularly the inner life, which is often reflected in her writing, poetry and paintings.

She maintains a popular blog, https://scvincent.com and is currently owned by Ani, the inimitable Small Dog, who also writes.

Sue lived in France for several years, sharing a Bohemian lifestyle and writing songs before returning to England where the youngest of her two sons was born. She began writing and teaching online several years ago, and was invited to collaborate with Dr G. Michael Vasey on their book, “The Mystical Hexagram: The Seven Inner Stars of Power”.

Since then she has published a number of books, beginning with “Swords of Destiny”, a magical tale set in the ancient landscape of Yorkshire. Her retelling of the Egyptian myths, “The Osiriad”, came shortly afterwards along with her collaboration with Stuart France. Together they have written the Triad of Albion, the Doomsday trilogy and the first books in the Lands of Exiles series.

These books tell a true adventure in a fictional manner. They are at once a journey into the ancient and sacred landscape of Albion and the story of a growing and rather oddball friendship.

The Triad of Albion was followed by the Doomsday trilogy and France and Vincent are now working on the three books in the Lands of Exile series, where the adventures of Don and Wen stray down the paths of fiction.

They have also published a number of graphic works together exploring folklore and legend, as well as writing independently. https://franceandvincent.com/

Sue, along with Steve Tanham and Stuart France, is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, an international modern Mystery School that seeks to allow its students to find the inherent magic in living and being. https://thesilenteye.co.uk

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


“Hold Your Fire”: An anthology of creative sparks

Hold Your Fire

As with other WordFire Press anthologies I’ve read which were edited by Lisa Mangum, Hold Your Fire is an exceptional collection of stories, written by an all star cast of authors, that kept this reader turning pages in anticipation from one story to the next. Each of these stories were so enjoyable that it is difficult to pick favorites to be included in this review. They are all unique and delightful sparks of the creative imagination.

Hold Your Fire includes unique, thought provoking stories which you will find nowhere else. “Splendid Mirage: The Seeker’s Tale”, by Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart tells a tale of a never ending quest and the one who carries it’s great burden. “The Fire Sermon”, by Mary Pletsch had me pondering the fine line between a blessing and a curse, when the characters that inhabit this story show their true inner sparks. In “The White Feather”, by Shannon Fox, it takes a touch from beyond the veil to pull Jae from her grief over the death of her friend and re-spark her creativity. Venture into the fairytale land of Kat Kellermeyer “The Last Waking Princess” or endulge in a tale of mentorship and friendship gone awry, with “Bow Drill”, by Jace Killan. Other contributing authors include: Brian Corley, Kristen Bickerstaff, C.J. Erick, Wayland Smith, Alicia Kay, October K. Santerelli, Tanya Hales, Raphyel M. Jordan, Mike Jack Stoumbos, Kitty Sarkozy, Melissa Koons, and M. Elizabeth Ticknor and Rebecca E. Treasure.

Hold Your Fire has stories in a wide variety of themes and genres, so your sure to find something that will spark your fancy. All are well crafted and quite entertaining. I give it five quills.

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.


“Clay House”: A Middle Grade Paranormal Horror Novel

Clay House

Sometimes evil dwells in the land itself, and it can burrow deep, laying dormant for a long time. But it always awakens eventually.

Moving to a new home is never easy, especially when you have to deal with a not so nice step-father, and the house is old and spooky. The town is quick to fill her in on the mysterious stories about her house, and when she finds a cemetary in her new back yard and her little brother Mark starts behaving oddly, Tatiana begins to get scared. The increasing cruelness of her step-father, leads her to uncover another kind of secret. Now all she has to do is figure out what to do with what she knows.

The bonus story, “Olney”, which is included with Clay House, is equally well-written with a similar theme, providing extra reader value for your book buck.

With two brave young heroines and two spine chilling ghosts, resulting in two well-crafted stories filled with twists and turns to keep readers guessing, I give Clay House five quills.

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.