Capturing Enlightenment: A brief tale of humor

Buddy and Holly came bouncing up to Egbert, ready with any number of humorous things to say to tease him. Teasing Egbert was one of their favorite pass times. Buddy liked to say that Egbert wasn’t one of the brightest bulbs in the batch, and Holly usually commented on the squirrelly round glasses that magnified his eyes and made them appear to be popping out of his head, or the way that he stuttered when he talked. When they ran out of jibs on those subjects, they could always make fun of his name, telling him that his mother must not like him at all to give him a name like that; obviously, she didn’t love him or she would have given him a better name than Egbert, uh! Usually long before they got that far the tears were running down Egbert’s face. Sometimes he started tearing up as soon as he saw them coming.

That wasn’t the case today. Today, Egbert was actually happy to see them. He had something wonderful to show them and it was so special that once they saw it, they wouldn’t make fun of him anymore. “Hi Buddy! Hi Holly!” he said, heading over to meet them with a huge grin on his face.

“What are you so happy about, Egg Head?” Buddy asked.

“Yeah. You look ridiculous. That grin is almost bigger than your face. Close your mouth, so I can see you.” Holly said with a giggle.

“Wait until you see what I found!” Egbert said. “You guys aren’t going to believe this.”
            “Oh, right,” Holly replied. “What could you possibly have that would even interest us?”

Egbert grinned even bigger as he looked from Buddy to Holly, and back to Buddy again. He was absolutely beaming with excitement.

Holly looked over at Buddy uneasily. When he glanced back at her, the uncertainty showed in his eyes.

Finally, Buddy broke the silence. “Well, are you just going to stand there with that silly grin on your face or are you going to show us whatever it is that you found?”

Egbert came out of his reverie. “What? Oh, yes of course. Just wait until you see!” He turned, running back toward his house, leaving the two of them standing there in puzzlement.

They looked at one another. “What do you think has him so excited?” Holly asked through the side of her mouth in a hushed voice, but Egbert could still hear her.

“Probably some old seashell from the beach or something,” Buddy replied.

“I don’t think so. He wouldn’t show us something like that anyway because he knows we’d just take it from him if it was cool or smash it if it wasn’t.” Holly said. “Besides, don’t you think it’s weird that he hasn’t stuttered at all?”

Before Buddy could answer, Egbert came racing around the side of the house with a jar which glowed from within.

“A firefly?” Holly said in disbelief. “We’re supposed to be impressed by a firefly?”

Egbert shook his head. “It’s not a firefly.”

“Then what is it?” Buddy asked. “It sure looks like a firefly to me.”

“Does it look like a firefly?” Egbert said, holding the jar up higher, so that they could see better. They squinted as the light coming from the jar seemed to get brighter, much too bright to be produced by a little firefly. Finally, they turned away, unable to look directly at it.

“Actually, that doesn’t look like any firefly I ever saw.” Buddy admitted.

“I told you, it’s not a firefly,” Egbert said.

“So, what is it? What did you find?” Holly asked. Egbert now had their full attention.

Egbert beamed and grinned once more. “I found enlightenment! I was playing down at the beach, when I saw it sitting, half buried in the sand. I scooped it up and carried it home and put it in this baggie for safe keeping.”

Buddy was skeptical. “Enlightenment? How do you know that’s what it is?”

“Because I can feel it.” Egbert replied. “I know things now that I didn’t know before.”

“Like what?” asked Holly.

“Like I know that you guys aren’t really bad people. You only do all of those mean things to me because you don’t feel very good about yourselves.” Egbert replied.

Buddy and Holly looked at each other nervously. Then they looked back at Egbert.

“It’s okay. Don’t be afraid,” Egbert said. “I also know now that all the things that I dreamed about doing to get back at you came from petty feelings. I want you guys to be my friends, just like I always wanted, only now I know that I don’t have to change who I am to do that.”

Buddy shuffled from foot to foot nervously. Usually ready with a smart comeback to anything, it seemed he suddenly had nothing to say.

Holly eyed Egbert distrustfully. “What do you mean?”

“Here,” Egbert said, holding the bag up closer to them. “If you just feel it, you’ll understand everything.” 

“That’s okay,” said Buddy, backing into Holly.

“What are you afraid of?” Egbert asked.

“I-it’s nothing.” Holly said, stumbling over her own feet to get out of Buddy’s path. “I-it’s just that, well…, w-what if you’re wrong?”

Suddenly, Buddy found his voice. “Yeah, that might not even be enlightenment at all. Even if it is, how do we know that that is something that we would want to have any part of?” He spoke bravely, but he kept backing away.

“Doesn’t everyone want enlightenment?” Egbert asked, truly puzzled by their strange behavior.

“I’m not sure that I d-do.” Holly said, stammering the words. “L-look at y-you. L-look at the ch-changes that it has m-made in you already. And l-look at m-me, too. I d-don’t know w-why I’m st-st-stuttering all of a s-sudden!” Tears streamed down Holly’s face. She turned, rushing out of the yard and down the street.

“Hey wait, Holly!” Egbert called after her. “I know a good speech therapist. I’ll give you her card.”

“I uh, I think I should go and see if she’s okay.” Buddy said, running out of the yard, as well.

As he watched him go, Egbert got another grin on his face, this one however, had a sly cast to it. “Tsk. Tsk.” he said, shaking his head. “My speech therapy finally paid off. I really thought that they would be more impressed.” He opened the jar and lay it down in the grass where two small winged beetles crawled out and seperated from one another before flying away into the night. “Imagine getting so upset over two little glowbugs.” Egbert chuckled to himself all the way back into his house.

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“Jaguar”: A thought provoking psychological thriller

Jaguar

Dreams: A journey into the unconscious mind.

For Eddie Reyes and his friend Maryellen, dreams are much more than that. Dreams are an avenue for learning. Dreams are a means of breaking through to parallel worlds and making connections with their friends, Africa Lee and Rafferty. Dreams are a way to control people and a weapon which causes madness. To those who don’t know, it sounds like a cool superpower, but it’s one that carries a heavy price.

For Eddie, it’s the only way to hunt down the Jaguar to save their friends and the rest of the Roam from the persecution of the jaguar priests. But the Jaguar has reached Maryellen’s father through his dreams in this world and he’s intent on keeping she and Eddie apart at all costs.

Can Maryellen and Eddie escape her father and the other traps set on this side by the Jaguar long enough to hunt the him down in his own dreams before he destroys the Roam, and both worlds in the bargain?

My Review

Although Bill Ransom’s Jaguar unfolds the story slowly and it takes a little while to put the puzzle pieces together to form an idea of how the characters are connected and how they fit within the full picture of the story, it is just odd enough to keep your curiosity raised and keep you reading long enough to see it all come together. And by then, you’re hooked. You have to keep reading to find out how it all turns out. You can’t put it down. And it’s a good thing, because if you don’t read through to the end, you will miss the big reveal that changes the game and raises the stake even higher for Eddie.

A well-crafted psychological thriller that will keep you riveted to your seat. I give Jaguar four quills.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Jaguar-Bill-Ransom-ebook/dp/B0054SLB88

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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.


Announcing the winner of the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest

Where Spirits Linger

The winner of this contest was supposed to be announced by the end of May, but as I explained in my last post of the month, all contest submissions were asked to make some revisions and I couldn’t determine a winner until that was done, so I’d have the revised stories to choose from. However now, that has happened. I have all the stories back with revisions and the time has come to reveal the winner.

And the winner is…

I’m happy to announce that the winner of this year’s contest is Christa Planko for her story “Olde-Tyme Village“. The winning story will be featured in this year’s paranormal anthology, Where Spirits Linger and Christa will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.


When I Was You: A thriller that will keep you guessing

When I Was You

When I Was You, is a well-crafted thriller by Minka Kent that will keep readers guessing to the very end. This story has all the twists and turns of a good thriller, and just when you think you know what is going on, the plot doubles back for you to realize how wrong you were. I’m not sure how to review this book without giving away spoilers, because it does keep you guessing.

Brienne Dougray was attacked and robbed, putting a jolt in her self-confidence, making her feel afraid and vulnerable. To make matters worse, all of her friends have turned their backs on her and she has no idea why. It seems the only one she can rely on is Niall, a busy oncologist who is her tennant, whom she is developing feelings for. She begins to feel as if her life is not really her own when she learns there is another woman who is living her identity and Niall may not be the man she thought he was. These odd occurances have her doubting her sanity and she has to wonder if she really knows who she is. To solve the mystery of what is really going, is the only way to figure out who she really is and get her true life back.

Suspense and mystery keeps the pages turning in this well-crafted thriller. I give When I Was You five quills.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/When-Was-You-Minka-Kent-ebook/dp/B07PCR7SYF

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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.


And The Winner Is….

For the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest – You’ll have to wait and see

Where Spirits Linger

One of my biggest pet peeves is being fully immersed in a short story, only to have it end abruptly, like a slap in the face, leaving me scratching my head and saying, “Is that it?”. I am sure you know what I mean if you’re an avid reader, as most authors are. I think this is a problem found mostly in short fiction. Maybe the author cuts it short in order to meet a word count limit, or maybe they just aren’t sure how to wrap things up, so they jump right to ‘THE END’. No matter what the reason, the result is disappointment on the part of the reader, so it is worth the extra effort on the authors’ part, to take the time and effort to come up with the perfect ending for every story they write.

That’s why I’m postponing announcing the winner of the WordCrafter 2021 Short Fiction Contest, which I had planned to do before the end of May. I only had three entries for the contest this year. Each entry offered an excellent paranormal tale meeting the submission guidelines, but at the end of each one I found myself feeling disappointed, as if there should have been more to the story.

So, I’ve requested each author to revisit their endings and resubmit their stories before I make a decision on the winner. I’ve already received one story back with revisions and I’m waiting on the other two. When all three revised stories have been received, I’ll decide and announce the winner. These stories were all well written and I anticipate them being even better with the author revisions, so the decision won’t be easy.

Accepting Submissions: I want your ghost stories!

However, three submissions do not an anthology make, so I’m calling out for more submissions to fill the pages of Where Spirits Linger. Doesn’t every author have a ghost story hidden away somewhere? Contest guidelines asked for a paranormal tale with place being central element in the story. These new submissions won’t be eligible for the contest, so they will no entry fee attached. If you have a story that fits the theme, send it to me at kayebooth@yahoo.com, for a chance to have it included in the WordCrafter Press 2021 anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

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For the WordCrafter “Poetry Treasures” Book Blog Contest – That one I can tell you.

Poetry Treasures Book Blog Tour

For the Poetry Treasures Book Blog Tour, which ran May 24 – 30, we did a giveaway and three readers who followed the tour and commented will receive a free digital copy (.mobi, .epub, or .pdf) of Poetry Treasures! The three lucky winners are: Jules, Jill Weatherbolt, and Priscilla Bettis. If you are a winner, please contact me at KLBWordCrafter@gmail.com and tell me which format you prefer to receive your copy. (If you have already purchased a copy of Poetry Treasures, you may choose another WordCrafter Press book instead.)

Poetry Treasures had a great seven day tour with a guest post about the poetic inspiration behind a poem by a different contributing poet at each bIog stop. The anthology and the tour were amazing collaborative efforts among nine poet/authors and myself to create a unique and moving collection of poetry. Also many thanks to Miriam Hurdle, Ritu Bhathal and Teagan Geneviene for hosting tour stops to support the poets and the tour. Without their participation, this tour would not have been possible.

If you missed this wonderful tour or maybe only missed a few of the stops, you can visit them at the links below:

Day 1 – Writing to be Read – Guest post by Jude Kirya Italaki

https://writingtoberead.com/2021/05/24/welcome-to-the-wordcrafters-poetry-treasures-book-blog-tour/

Day 2 – Robbie’s Inspiration – Guest post by Victoria Zigler

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2021/05/25/wordcrafter-poetry-treasures-blog-tour-day-2-featuring-victoria-zigler/

Day 3 – But I smile anyway – Guest post by Goeff Le Pard

https://butismileanyway.com/2021/05/26/poetry-treasures-blogtour-featuring-geofflepard-bakeandwrite/

Day 4 – Teagan’s Books – Guest post by Frank Prem, plus a review by Teagan Genevienne

https://teagansbooks.com/2021/05/27/poetry-treasures-anthology-from-roberta-eaton-cheadle-kaye-lynne-booth/

Day 5 – Zigler’s News – Guest post by Kevin Morris, plus a review by Victoria Zigler

http://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2021/05/day-5-of-wordcrafter-poetry-treasures.html

Day 6 – Roberta Writes – Guest post by Annette Rochelle Aben

https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2021/05/29/day-6-of-the-wordcrafter-poetry-treasures-blog-tour-annette-rochelle-aben/

Day 7 – The Showers of Blessings – Guest post by Colleen M. Chesebro

https://theshowersofblessings.com/2021/05/29/poetry-treasure-blog-tour-featuring-colleen-chesebro/

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Craft and Practice with Jeff Bowles – Narrators of a Different Color

Craft and Practice

Each month, writer Jeff Bowles offers practical tips for improving, sharpening, and selling your writing. Welcome to your monthly discussion on Craft and Practice.

There’s an entire school of thought behind the use of standard third-person perspective in narrative fiction. Often enough, beginning writers are encouraged to see it as their go-to, which isn’t horrible advice. Let’s do a quick POV lesson, in case your memory is hazy.

First-person: I walked to the lake.

Second-person: You walked to the lake.

Third-Person: He walked to the lake.

Conventional wisdom says most readers stomach lucky number three best. I think that might be a load of hogwash, but let’s assume it’s 100% correct. What would be the benefit of writing fiction—or creative nonfiction, for that matter—from a quote, unquote “nontraditional” perspective? Your own edification, right? And maybe something else.

Third-person is the norm because it provides helpful breathing room between us and our readers. It’s easy to tell a story this way, natural. We’re used to it, having read it a million times before. By the same token, I have noticed it’s become increasingly more common for storytellers to dabble in other modes. First or second-person, past or present tense, limited omniscience or full-blown mind-of-God territory. First-person present tense, by the way, is notoriously apt to cause chaos.

“I write on the blog post for a bit, and then I check my email. It occurs to me I’ve never met a sultan of Saudi Arabia, so it’s possible these diet pills are phony. Oh well. I chuck them in the trash and head outside to clear my mind. It smells like a forest fire out here. Hey, what gives?”

This is stream of consciousness stuff, easy to write but difficult and unwieldy to beat into proper shape. All the verbiage points to me, me, me, now, now, now. It can get same-same after a while, difficult to chew through. Not always, but often enough.

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your new forest fire/phony diet pill story is perfectly well written, thank you very much. You did the job, tale told effectively, end of discussion. In that case, one crucial question comes to mind. Is your narrator any fun to read?

What do you mean, what do I mean? What’s a fun narrator supposed to sound like? Well, I guess they can be any of the following: idiosyncratic, faulty, confident, psychotic, mentally sound, likable, unlikable, funny, unfunny, jaded, naïve, a super focal lens, an individual with something to say, a personality worth delving into.

Maybe you’ve never considered it this way, but in my humble estimation, narration of this kind is a blank check. Most things worth achieving sound unlikely at first. Think of it like speed dating. You known instantly upon sitting across from someone whether or not you’d enjoy their company. Is your speed-dater worth engaging in conversation? Are they fun to listen to?

Gut check time. How well do you write dialogue? I only ask because I’ve realized throughout the years not everyone is as keen on it as I am. Sharp and amusing with zero fat left to trim, that’s my favorite kind. But what’s yours? Informative but not dull? Wacky and a bit irredeemable? More importantly, do you think you could extend a few lines of it to encompass an entire story? I’m willing to bet you can.

The simple truth is most writers create bland characters by default. Not you, of course. Perish the thought. Mentors and teachers might encourage us to pre-fill character sheets or go to public places and write down snatches of conversation we hear. I’m not saying that’s bad advice, but I can confidently tell you it’s more efficient and effective to let characters tell us who they are rather than to impose our sizable wills upon them. Don’t bloat yourself up with too much preparation. On the fly, hit the page and let your creations speak to you. A little honest individuality is enough to distinguish your work from the work of others, and that’s a good thing.

Rule makers have tried to enter this arena, but I don’t think they’ve done a great job setting any concrete prescriptive measures. Is addressing your reader directly breaking the fourth wall? No, not really. If you think about it, first-person narration divorced from context is unnatural anyway. It was much more common in centuries past for authors to speak to their readers through narration. As we discussed earlier, stability is easy to achieve by providing a little breathing room. This is a blank check, remember? Anything and everything is achievable, provided you’ve got the skills to stick the landing. That’s the thing about experts. If they tell you something can be done, they’re most certainly right. If they tell you it can’t, they’re most certainly wrong.

Style remains essential in this domain. My final advice is this: If you’re currently working on something you’ve written in first-person, try playing with your style a little, write it like you’d write some nice extended dialogue, just as far as you’re comfortable, nothing too crazy—unless you like crazy. You might just surprise yourself. Scratch that. Your narrator might surprise you.

Don’t be stiff or formal. Get into the nitty gritty and pour a serious helping of personality gravy on those otherwise boring and bland mashed ‘taters.

On that note…

See you next time, everyone. Have an awesome May, will you?


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!


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Growing bookworms: The importance of historical fiction for kids

When I was in high school, history was an unpopular subject. It was so unpopular, in fact, that when the time came for the Grade 9’s to chose their subjects for Grade’s 10 to 12, the school paired history with typing, home economics and business economics so that the girls who chose this less academic combination were compelled to take history. This was how I ended up in a history class with mainly girls who hated the subject. I loved history and I took it through choice. My other subjects were maths, accountancy, and science. In South Africa, English and Afrikaans were compulsory subjects at the time.

I never really understood why my peers didn’t like history as it was a subject always loved. I’ve said it here before, however, that I was a very wide reader from a very young age and I read a lot of books set in the past. Among my favourite books by a South African author, were the collections of short stories by Herman Charles Bosman. This is what Wikipedia has to say about Herman Charles Bosman:

Herman Charles Bosman (5 February 1905 – 14 October 1951) is widely regarded as South Africa’s greatest short-story writer. He studied the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain and developed a style emphasizing the use of satire. His English-language works utilize primarily Afrikaner characters and highlight the many contradictions in Afrikaner society during the first half of the twentieth century.

On reflection, I realised that I have acquired a love of history because all the books I had read allowed me to include the facts and dates I learned into the fascinating backdrop I had acquired of life at the time. I could visualise the homes, lives, and loves of the Afrikaner people I learned about during the sections on the Great Trek and the Boers wars though my reading of Charles Bosman’s works. I also read books by South African Boer War veteran, Deneys Reitz.

My learning of international history including the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution (including the Luddite uprisings), and the Tudor period were coloured by my reading of certain books, in particular, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and Shirley and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I found it easy to remember my history because I entwined it with my understanding of life at the times as presented by these great novels.

I was delighted when I discovered that history is a popular subject at the college for boys my sons both attend. Gregory chose to take history to matric (along with IT, maths, advanced maths and science which shows that its mixes well with any subject combination) and Michael looks set to follow in his footsteps.

I am bowled over by their history curriculum and the amazing why they learn about the past through source documents, cartoons, and many other interactive and interesting modes compared to my school days of rote learning. My sons are also taught history from the perspective of how historical events have influenced the present which makes this subject a lot more useful. It helps them to see how people’s actions and reactions have set the path for the future and resulted in both the good and bad in society we see today.

I believe it is vital for kids to understand history in an expansive and wide context so that they can value the freedoms and benefits their forefathers fought and die to leave as their legacy. For example, what young girl would not value her vote if she knew about the suffering and hardships of the suffragettes who paved the way for the achievement of this equality for women.

I wonder how many British children know that compulsory education for children aged 5 to 14 years was only introduced in 1918. How many American children know that compulsory education laws were only passed by 1900 and then only in 32 states, with the other states following by 1930. 1930! That’s less than 100 years ago.

Modern children are so fortunate to have an education and the opportunities for self improvement that come with it. It isn’t equal for all yet, but there are lots of people who believe passionately in educating children and who work really hard to implement change and improvements in education.

Understanding and learning about real people in a historical context makes their passions, sufferings and beliefs so much more compelling. It is difficult to hold on to prejudice if you’ve read novels like I am David by Anne Holm, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Patton.

Historical books also teach children interesting information about how people survived in the past. I’ve always remembered the chapter from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder when Pa cleaned his gun and made bullets. There is also a chapter about how Ma made butter and coloured it yellow. Little House on the Prairie has a scene when Ma is helping Pa build their new log cabin and a log falls on her foot. The difficulties and dangers of life on the frontier were illustrated; there was no help to be had for an injury or if the family fell ill.

I learned a lot about the limitations of medical knowledge in the mid to late 1800s through my reading of the What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge. I will never forget Katy falling out of the swing or Amy contracting, and nearly dying from, Roman fever. Such scenes induce great feelings of empathy and compassion in the reader.

It is for all these compelling reasons that I wrote While the Bombs Fell, a fictionalised biography of my mom’s life as a young girl growing up in a small English town during World War II. I wanted to capture and preserve her memories of life for ordinary people living through this extraordinary time so that others, children in particular, could read it and remember how life was during that time.

What are your thoughts about historical fiction for both children and adults? Do you see value in learning about history in through a good story?

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, 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.

Robbie has also published books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

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 “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.


Shadowland: Not just another horror anthology

Shadowland

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Shadowland-horror-anthology-Under-Book-ebook/dp/B08P569SY1

Shadowland is the latest release in the Box Under the Bed horror anthology series, compiled and edited by bestselling author Dan Allatorre. Pick up any of the anthologies in this series and the reader will not be disappointed, but the collection of tales featured in Shadowland may have outdone those which came before. From the creative minds of Dan Alatorre, Betty Valentine, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Christine Valentor, Jessica Bakkers, MD Walker, and Alison Marushka, each story is creatively crafted to fit into the premise of the anthology as a whole, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fit precisely to do their part in the creation of the picture as a whole. This anthology has the potential to be made into a television series, with each individual story becoming a single, or even multiple episodes.

The mysterious and eccentric Dr. Aumental teaches a very special class, where students are excused from their other classes and sent on all expense paid travels to research dark folklore and legends as subjects for their term papers. The research takes students to the far reaches of the globe, searching for the truth about voodoo magic, demons, spirits of the dead, the cave dwelling Hojimaa, Hookman mythology, the monster under the bed, phantom cannibals, the Jersey Devil, and more. Any legend lurking in the shadows is fair game for the investigative skills of Dr. Aumental’s selected students. Certainly, this class must produce some very unique term papers, but why does the professor go to such lengths and what does he do with the information they contain?

Each of the dark tales in Shadowland easily stands alone on its own merit. Together, they form an anthology collection that goes beyond a common theme to help fulfill an overall premise that leaves itself open to endless possibilities. I give this horror anthology 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.


Deadlines, Reminders and Announcements

Last chance to enter the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest!

Where Spirits Linger

The deadline to enter the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest is April 30th, for a chance to have your short paranormal story included in the 2021 paranormal anthology, Where Spirits Linger. The entry fee is $5, and the author of the winning story receives a $25 Amazon gift card and inclusion in the anthology. See full submission guidelines and send me your ghost stories. There’s still time. Hurry!

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There’s still time to get tickets for the 2021 WordCrafter New Beginnings Virtual Writing Conference

2021 WordCrafter New Beginnings Writing Conference

Join us for a free Facebook pre-conference promotional and social book event on May 3rd, where you can meet conference presenters and other authors, learn about their latest releases, play games and enter giveaways! You can reserve your spot on the Facebook Event Page to join in on the fun from the comfort of your own livingroom or wherever you happen to be.

Then on May 4th & 5th, the interactive portion of the conference will be held, with interactive workshops & panel discussions will be offered by talented and experienced presenters, including Keynote speaker Paul Kane. Tickets can be purchased for $5 for individual sessions or a full event pass at the discounted rate of $50 for all 13 sessions. Visit the WtbR Event Page, right here on Writing to be Read, to see the full line-up and author bios, and purchase tickets. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we plan to learn a lot, too, so reserve your spot today.

I can’t offer a preview, because the conference will be live, but I can offer a sample from the 2020 WordCrafter Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference to whet your appetites. Below is a video of the Visceral Story Beginnings interactive workshop with Ellie Raine. Ellie jumped in to present this workshop after the originally scheduled presenter was unable to attend. I think you did a fantastic job of picking up the ball.

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Announcing the release of Poetry Treasures, the WordCrafter poetry anthology featuring poetry by 2020’s author/poet guests on “Treasuring Poetry” blog series with Robbie Cheadle, right here on Writing to be Read.

Nine creative and talented poets have come together to produce this unique poetry collection, each one is truly a poetry treasure.

Poetry Treasures

2020 “Treasuring Poetry” Featured Poet/Author Links:

Sue Vincent (December)

Sue Vincent (April)

Geoff Le Pard (October)

Frank Prem (August)

Victoria Zigler (March)

Colleen M. Chesebro (February)

K. Morris (July)

Annette Rochelle Aben (May)

Jude Kirya Itakali

Roberta Eaton Cheadle (Host)

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“Unmasked”: An appropriate short fiction collection for a pandemic era.

Unmasked: Stories of Risk and Revelation

This pandemic has changed a lot of things for everyone, including what we wear and how we interact with others. Who hasn’t walked away from an encounter with someone, who we know, but didn’t recognize under their mask? Who hasn’t struggled to understand a situation properly due to the fact that we are unable to read someone’s facial expressions beneath their mask? (I have often wondered over the past year how the deaf have adapted since they cannot see any lips to read.) The necessity of wearing masks has made simple social interactions more difficult in many ways, and added an element of mystery to everyday interactions, when we are fortunate enough to be able to interact under government restrictions.

Masks may hide a lot of things, but they can also be revealing in some ways, as you’ll see if you read the new WordFire Press short fiction anthology, appropriately titled Unmasked: Stories of Risk and Revelation. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson, this collection of short stories offers many different ways to look at masks and some surprising revelations about what may be hidden beneath the mask. There are many reasons to wear masks. Sometimes they are the key to awakening super powers that we never knew we had, as in the first story by Seanan Maguire, “Pygmalion”, or perhaps the mask grants the ability to hide in plain sight, as is the case in “I Have No Name”, by Andi Christopher, or perhaps a mask holds a savior in disguise, as in “The Green Gas”, by Liam Hogan or “The Fog of War”, by Edward J. Knight. In “The Faces of Death”, by Ed Burkley, masks hold the past, or perhaps predict the future.

Masks are a form of disguise, camoflauge for what truly lies beneath, an illusion which covers what is real, as in “Framing Marta”, James Romag or “Death by Misadventure” by John M. Olsen. A mask may take the form of the shadow of a soul searcher, as in “The Quota”, by Tom Howard, or that of a self-aware sex-bot, as in “Qualia”, by Russell Davis, or a shadow creature, as in “Shot in the Dark”, Brennen Hankins. Masks can hide the true identity, as in “Pagliacci’s Joke”, by Travis Heerman, or perhaps enhance the strengths of the persona underneath, as in “La Marionnette, by Alicia Cay or “A New Purpose”, by Rebecca M. Senese. The parallel post-pandemic world of “Speakeasy”, by Keltie Zubko, hits close to home and removing the mask may not be worth the risk after all.

My favorite story from this collection has to be “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”, by Eugie Foster. A tale which takes place in a world where masks are the norm, with individual personas that are imprinted on the wearer so that they may live a different life each day.

In Unmasked: Tales of Risk and Revelation, each story stays true to theme and they are filled with surprises. I found this anthology quite entertaining and enjoyable. 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.