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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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 subscribing to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


“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.


Don’t miss your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and have your story included in the next WordCrafter paranormal anthology!

Don’t miss the fast approaching submission deadline for the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest.

April 30th is right around the corner. We want your stories about ghosts, spirits, and things that go bump in the night.

Winner receives a $25 Amazon gift card and inclusion in the Where Spirits Linger anthology.

See full submission guidelines.


#Bookreview – Last Call and Other Short Fiction by Kaye Lynne Booth

Roberta Eaton Cheadle features a review of my short story collection, “Last Call and Other Short Fiction” on her “Roberta Writes” blog site today. Drop by and see what she has to say about the short fiction of Kaye Lynne Booth

What Amazon says

Six premium short storiesby author Kaye Lynne Booth. Stories in this collection has something for everyone witha mixture of time travel, suspense, humor, origins and speculative fiction.

Last Call- (Time travel science fiction) -Things aren’t going too good for Derek and he thinks his life is over, until he stops in for a Last Call. Will a bar in the middle of nowhere turn out to be his curse or his salvation?

Terror on the Mountain Trail- (Suspense) – It’s a perfect spring day until Kellie and Randy are attacked by a crazed man in the wilderness.

Earth Mother– (Origin Story)

A Turn of the Tables– (Speculative fiction) – Are vampires really invincible? One vampire is about to find out.

A True Hero- (Humor) – Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This one is heroic indeed.

Man of Her Dreams-…

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Craft and Practice with Jeff Bowles – Characters in Need of Color

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

I’m a big fan of color. Maybe it’s the art lover in me, but I can’t stand boring compositions. A little passionate red, cool and withdrawn blue, yellow to energize, purple to pacify. My stories are always full of color. I design them that way so I don’t get bored in the telling. Attention span of a cocker spaniel, I assure you. I figure if I’m getting bored, my readers don’t stand a chance.

In this edition of Craft and Practice, we’ll look at colorful characters. Where do they come from? How can we more easily create them? Let’s assume you find them preferable to stock characters that are functional but not especially inspired. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need much in terms of preparation. Outlines, character sheets, written histories, throw them all out for the time being. The trick here is to open yourself up, to trust your instincts and your ability to create something sort of magical and unique to your abilities, to your point of view. It’s not so much that preparation can hamper our ideas or dampen our expression of them. This is true some of the time, but not always. It’s more that the tighter we constrict our creativity―that’s constrict rather than channel; one is suppressive by nature and the other is purposefully expressive―the more likely we are to produce wooden and inflexible components.

Your characters don’t want to be inflexible. Trust me on this. They long to be unpredictable, passionate, full of life. Some writers like to work with a net. Perfectly understandable. It’s cleaner and in some sense easier. But I’d like you to consider the possibility that extra work at the conclusion of a writing project is worth more in the long run than an equivalent amount of preparation. The final product is bound to be less like everyone else’s stories and more like your own, and that’s a win in my book.

Let’s run a brief exercise to illustrate the point. Character A asks Character B for something to drink. Character A doesn’t visit other people’s homes very often, so the request doesn’t seem rude or presumptuous. Character B is a friendly sort, charitable in all the ways it matters, and if it’s possible to provide hospitality and comfort to Character A, then that’s precisely what Character B will do. Outcome: Character A gets to drink. Huzzah!

Notice that in just a few brief character descriptions, I’ve told you everything you need to know in order to enjoy the scene. Do you care what Character A’s first car was? Not unless it has direct bearing on the scene at hand. Do you care if your protagonist prefers Pizza Hut to Domino’s? Not as such, because they’re not eating right now. They’re, you know, drinking. What if childhood trauma involving fruit punch makes them thirstier than the average beverage enthusiast? I mean, that may be pertinent information. Put it in and see how it reads. In this way, story serves character, not the other way around. These imaginary folks living rent-free in your head, they might change their spots entirely by the time you’ve written THE END. In fact, we sort of need them to. It’d be damn boring if they didn’t. I’m saying the desired effect is best achieved organically. Think about your standard rising action chart

Notice the trajectory, one smooth line shot straight toward a conclusion. Don’t design your plot or your characters in this manner. Just don’t do it. Trust me, that line reads a whole lot better when it’s perforated, imbalanced, full of ups and downs, at last arriving at that ultimate destination. In real life, human beings do not proceed along a straight trajectory. Great actors know this. They understand innately to respond to moments as they come. One foot in front of the other, not all the feet all over the world all at once.

Imagine going onstage with a dozen pages of notes stapled to your forehead. This scene should be easier to perform because you have at your disposal so much background information. Right? Wrong? Yes? No? How’s your performance? Natural or constricted? I mean really, is that stuff helpful, or is it dead weight? A given scene tells me I should be afraid of snakes. The next one tells me I’m falling in love with someone who owns a lot of snakes. The core of my character remains, but the dictates of motivation, action, and reaction are all over the map. Am I in love with snakes and afraid of love? No, of course not. My name is Character A, and I’ve just been bitten by a rattler. See? No preplanning required.

Here’s another classic scenario for you to consider. You can night drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas without ever seeing further ahead than the thirty feet of illumination provided by your headlights. The road is there, it promises to deposit you at your destination, but even it has no idea what will happen along the way. Maybe you don’t end up in Vegas at all. Maybe your characters have decided they’d rather go to Reno. Are you going to tell them no? They’ve already hit the ATM and booked serviceable lodging!

Thinking of your work in terms of performance is a good habit to cultivate. Just try it. Write a simple scene for which you’ve planned nothing. It’s not important where these characters have been, how much money they have, what their likes and dislikes are. All that matters is the spontaneous influencing the spontaneous. That’s the meaty part, the gold in the gold mine.

Fluff is a chore to read. If you don’t believe me, dig out one of your first serious pieces of writing and tell me how much of it is pertinent and how much ought to be nixed. I know, painful, right? Reminds me of the first piece of honest criticism I ever received, “I only have three problems with this story. The beginning, the middle, and the end.”

The good news about this craft is that there are a million and one ways to skin a cat. I’ll be back with more Craft and Practice next month. No cat-skinning required. See ya!


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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Time to bring the “Willow of Ashes” Book Blog Tour to a close

Willow of Ashes Book Blog Tour

Willow of Ashes has been a great tour. I’ve known Ellie about a year, and I learned things I didn’t know about her and her books. For this blog stop, we’re going to wrap things up and recap the highlights about the book. We covered the basics about this book in my introductory tour post on Day #1. This award winning fantasy novel is book one of the NecrSeam Chronicles series, and it is also available in audiobook through Libro and Google Play.

Willow of Ashes

Five kingdoms face destruction. Two brothers fight to prevent it. Their epic adventure of magic, love, and loss will become a timeless legend.

The five realms of Land, Sky, Ocean, Dream, and Death have been at peace for centuries, but that peace is threatened when dark forces seek to destroy it. The Gods have chosen a champion to protect the world, yet unexpectedly that champion was born as twin necromancers whose magic was split at birth. Only together would they be strong enough to survive what’s to come. But now one of them has died… and his soul became trapped inside his brother.

The coexisting twins embark on a journey across the five realms, determined to be normal again. But their quest of hope turns into a living nightmare when they stumble into an army of undead beasts that have been unleashed on the lands by a vicious sorceress. With the help of new comrades and a mysterious lady Reaper skilled with the scythe, they must fight for more than a new life. Now they fight for the future of the themselves.

Willow of Ashes is available on Amazon

Ellie Raine

Author Bio

“Writer’s Digest award-winning fantasy author Ellie Raine is a voracious BookWyrm when it comes to epic adventures, detailed world-building, and thrilling battles. Fueled by coffee-bean concoctions brewed by the finest caffeine alchemists in the land, she only emerges from the depths of these daring tales when she is summoned by her loving king and their darling daughter: the Dragon Princess Felicity, in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA.

Her first book, Willow of Ashes, won First Place in Fantasy for the 2019 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Ebook Awards, as well as Honorable Mention in Fantasy for the 2019 Readers’ Favorite Awards.”

We had a lot of fun on Day #2 over at Roberta Writes, where Robbie Cheadle did a wonderful Q & A with the author, Ellie Raine. We learned how Ellie accidentally became an award winning author of a story intended to be a video game.

Day #3, we heard from Ellie, herself in a guest post on This is my Truth Now, where she talks about the inspiration behind this story and the Necroseam universe.

Willow of Ashes

On Day #4, I posted my review of this fresh and original new series starter. With traditional elements of storytelling scattered throughout, usually with an unexpected twist to them, this book was unlike any story I had ever read before. Fresh and original, with interesting and unusual characters you can’t help but like, I highly recommend this book.

The Day #5 blog stop was on Robbie’s Inspiration, with a guest post from Ellie, where she talks about what it’s like to revisit the early beginnings of the five book series of the Necroseam Chronicles. Willow of Ashes is that beginning, and it is so cool that this award winning novel is now available on audiobook, too.

On Pictures from the Kitchen, Barbara Spencer hosted Day #6, with a guest post from Ellie that was designed to help us understand the Necroseam universe, including a chart to help translat the Grim language.

That brings us right back here. I want to thank you all for delving into this fresh new fantasy journey on this tour. If you joined the tour later in the week and missed some blog stops, or you’ve followed with us all the way through the tour and just want to go back and revisit a stop, click on the links above. Willow of Ashes and the Necroseam Chronicles are definitely worth reading. If you’d like to learn more about Ellie and her books, you can check out the following links.

Check out the books!

Aizelleraine@gmail.comwww.

NecroSeam.com

wwwEllieRaine.com

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Willow of Ashes blog tour – Day 5

For Day #5 of the WordCrafter “Willow of Ashes” Book Blog Tour, Robbie Cheadle hosts a guest post from author Ellie Raine about what it’s like to go back and revisit her seriews beginnings, on “Robbie’s Inspiration”. Come join us and learn more about this award winning epic fantasy novel and the NecrSeam series, which follows.

Robbie's inspiration

Today, I am delighted to welcome author, Ellie Raine, to Roberta Writes for Day 2 of her Willow of Ashes blog tour with WordCrafter Book Tours.

You can read the other posts for this tour here:

Day 1: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/03/08/welcome-to-the-willow-of-ashes-book-blog-tour/

Day 2: https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2021/03/09/willow-of-ashes-blog-tour-day-2/

Day 3: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/03/10/day-3-of-the-willowofashes-bookblogtour/

Day 4: https://writingtoberead.com/2021/03/11/day-4-of-the-willow-of-ashes-book-blog-tour-my-review/

Ellie Raine’s Take on Revisiting her Series’ Early Beginnings

After spending the last 13 years writing the NecroSeam Chronicles to completion, going back to work on the first volume’s audiobook was an interesting nostalgia trip for me. A lot happened between book 1 and book 5. Similarly, a lot happened in my life throughout the whole endeavor. I’m really not the same person as the girl who wrote Willow of Ashes. I barely remember who she was.

But since I’m an indie author with the rare opportunity to work (extremely) hands-on with the narrators for the audiobooks (Matt Goodson &…

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Day #4 of the “Willow of Ashes” Book Blog Tour: My Review

Willow of Ashes Book Blog Tour

What they are saying on Readers’ Favorite:

“One of the most fascinating universes I have ever encountered… rich, mysterious, inviting and frightening at the same time. You will want to visit it again and again.” 

~Readers’ Favorite Review

Five kingdoms face destruction. Two brothers fight to prevent it. Their epic adventure of magic, love, and loss will become a timeless legend.

The five realms of Land, Sky, Ocean, Dream, and Death have been at peace for centuries, but that peace is threatened when dark forces seek to destroy it. The Gods have chosen a champion to protect the world, yet unexpectedly that champion was born as twin necromancers whose magic was split at birth. Only together would they be strong enough to survive what’s to come. But now one of them has died… and his soul became trapped inside his brother.

The coexisting twins embark on a journey across the five realms, determined to be normal again. But their quest of hope turns into a living nightmare when they stumble into an army of undead beasts that have been unleashed on the lands by a vicious sorceress. With the help of new comrades and a mysterious lady Reaper skilled with the scythe, they must fight for more than a new life. Now they fight for the future of the realms themselves.

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Willow of Ashes

When I picked up this Willow of Ashes, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I was about to enter a fantasy realm, but I didn’t realize I was about to embark on fresh and different fantasy adventure unlike none I’d ever explored before. As I said in my introductory post for this tour, it is easy to see why this fantasy novel won the 2019 Writer’s Digest Award for best self-published eBook, once you begin to emmerse yourself in the story. Raine has masterfully crafted this epic fantasy adventure in a universe that is fresh and original in Willow of Ashes, which is book 1 of the NecroSeam Chrinicles series. In a universe where ears an tails are all the fashion, but probably a dead give-away in a poker game, Raine’s characters are well-developed, interesting and unusual, drawing us in as we meet each one and get his or her portion of the story. There are many ‘aha!’ moments as the details unfold and the pieces begin to fall into place.

In this story, we meet the future Reapers of Grim, Xavier, Alexander and eventually, Willow, none of whom are what you might expect. Oh, you may find them to be cloaked figures, who wield scythes, but underneath they are adolescents on the verge of adulthood, unsuspecting players in a vicious and deadly plot that is bigger than anything anyone on their world has ever seen. If their mysterious foes, who are always lurking in the background, are successful, it could mean the total destruction of their world, and to make matters worse, they may be the only ones who can stop them.

The story begins when Xavier’s soul is ripped from his body as he thrown over a cliff, and it only gets more difficult from there. Raine throws every obstacle she can think of at our protagonists and their companions, at every turn of the page. The two brothers have the ability between them to resurect the dead, or send them on to their next destination, which might be a good thing, since they now share one body. On a search for a ghost gone missing who might have information about Xaviar’s missing body, they gather a troop along the way, including their reptilian friend, Jaq; the cat-eared son of the ghost they’re looking for, Octavious; and and a fire-wielding fox/wolf girl, Lilli, who are fellow apprentice Reapers; a resurrected rabbit-eared ghost, Vendi, bound to serve them, and her weapon crafting uncle, Henry. Together, they prepare to take on a powerful and clever enemy, who controls the soul eating Necrofera and Rock Dragons that can crush buildings and destroy whole villages.

Willow of Ashes

Ellie Raine has skillfully created a fresh and original fantasy universe, with a diverse array of captivating and unique characters. It is easy to see why this was an award winning novel, as the characters draw you in and each individual storyline comes together to form the intricate weaving of the bigger story, as a whole. I give Willow of Ashes five quills.

Five Quills

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Willow-Ashes-Necromancer-NecroSeam-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B07BN9XMQQ

If you joined the tour late, you can visit the blog stops that you missed here:

Day #1 – Introductory postWriting to be Read

Day #2 – Interview with Ellie Raines and Robbie CheadleRoberta Writes

Day # 3 – Guest post by Ellie RainesThis is my Truth Now

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Day 3 of the #WillowofAshes #BookBlogTour

Willow of Ashes Book Blog Tour

For Day #3 of the Willow of Ashes Book Blog Tour, we’re over at This is my Truth Now, where James J. Cudney IV brings us a guest post from author Ellie Raine about the inspiration behind Willow of Ashes and the Necroseam Chronicles universe. I hope you’ll join us there.