“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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“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.


Anthologies: An alternative path to publication

I’m seeing a lot of promotions for anthologies these days. This excites me because short fiction anthologies are a wonderful way for rising authors to gain new readers. If you look for them, there are plenty of opportunities for short fiction submissions and contest entries, and many of those hold the possibility of having your short story featured in a new anthology.

All authors want to see their work published, but full length novels take months or even years to craft and polish before being ready to consider publication. And if an author is considering the traditional route of pitching their work until they find an interested publisher, they could be looking at that manuscript gathering dust on the shelves for a very long time. Short fiction offers a chance for authors to get their names out there on multiple works in a much shorter period of time than it would take to write and publish multiple novels.

Even before I published Delilah, I had two short stories accepted for publication online. Then my story, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, was accepted by Zombie Pirate Publishing and it appeared in their The Collapsar Directive anthology. I learned very quickly that one difference in having short fiction published in an anthology, as opposed to being published online, was the spirit of comraderie among all the authors featured. The other cool perk of being published in an anthology was the invitation to submit to the next planned anthology. Hence, my story, “The Devil Made Her Do It”, appeared in the next anthology ZPP put out, Relationship Add Vice.

The trick to getting into an anthology is to read the submission guidelines and submit a story that meets them. Most of the time, that may mean writing a story specifically for that submission call or contest. When I was invited to submit a story for Dan Alatorre’s Nightmareland, the guidelines were pretty general, “horror”, and I happened to have a piece of flash fiction that fit into the genre. All it required was a bit of polishing and my story, “The Haunting of Carol’s Woods”, was ready for submission and acceptance. But, many submission calls are more specific.

For the above mentioned submission to ZPP for Relationship Add Vice, submission guidelines required a story that contained elements of romance and crime fiction. Chances are that you don’t have a story sitting in your files with those elements and you would need to create a new story to submit to meet these guidelines. I did have the beginnings of one, as it happened, but that certainly isn’t always the case.

The submission guidelines are important. Read and follow them carefully. Other than the type of story, they may include specific formatting requirements and other submission instructions. Many publishers are strict about their guidelines and will put down a story without finishing it, if the story doesn’t meet even one of the specifications. Of course, that doesn’t apply only to anthologies. Every submission you make should conform to the given submission guidelines, whether we’re talking about short fiction, novel manuscripts, articles or poetry. Why read something if the submitting author can’t even follow directions?

With each of these anthologies, I got that same feeling of comraderie and networking with my fellow authors. I love that feeling. Because anthologies, by definition, have several different authors, they also carry with them the advantage of widening the pool of possible readers. Each author promotes the anthology to their reader audience, so it is possible to extend your own reach beyond your own reader following and gain new readers who read your work in the anthology and want to read more. It’s a win-win for all authors involved.

Naturally, when I started WordCrafter Press in 2019, the first undertaking was to launch a short fiction contest and compile and publish the resulting anthology, Whispers of the Past. The submission guidelines required a paranormal stort story and the contest winner received a $25 Amazon gift card.

Spirits of the West

For 2020, the contest submission call requested a piece of short fiction with elements of both the paranormal and western genres. It may have seemed a weird combination to some, but to me, it seemed only natural. The old west is filled with ghosts and spirits, and my first novel was a western. I think it was the western genre that threw potential authors off, but what resulted from this genre combination were some very interesting stories, including two South African ‘westerns’ by WtbR team member Robbie Cheadle, “The Thirstyland Journey” and “The Ghost in the Mound”, and a science fiction ‘western’ by WtbR team member Art Rosch, “Clouds in the West”. This author of this year’s winning story is Enid Holden, and she has two stories included in the anthology: the winning story, “High Desert Rose” and another paranormal western, “The Queen of Spades”. And my contribution is a story I wrote specifically for the occassion, “Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”. “Wenekia”, by last year’s contest winner, Jeff Bowles and “Gunsmoke” by author Tom Johnson are also included. This unique collection of paranormal westerns have been compiled into the Spirits of the West anthology and scheduled for an October release.

Authors can find calls for submissions or short fiction contests all over the internet these days. If you just look for them, you’re sure to find one that works for your writing style and preferences, or maybe one that offers a challenge and takes you into writing realms where you’ve never before ventured. In January, I’ll be announcing the theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, so be sure to watch for that, too. If you want to get your name out there, grow your audience and have people read your work, short fiction anthologies are a great start, or they can be a supplement to already published books. Find one that suits you and submit a story today.


Announcing the Winner of the WordCrafter 2020 Short Fiction Contest

WordCrafter Press

It’s taken twice as long as it should have, but I am now proud to announce the winner of the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. This year’s theme genre was western paranormal, requiring story submissions to contain both western and paranormal elements.  WordCrafter left the guidelines open to loose interpretation, resulting a wide variety of story submissions, in which the required elements were used in some very creative ways. It was a difficult choice, but I’m happy to congradulate Enid Holden on her wonderful story, “High Desert Rose”.

Spirits of the West cover image

As the winning submission author, Enid will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and her story will be published in the WordCrafter western paranomal anthology, Spirits of the West. We’re aiming for a release date sometime in October, so be sure and watch for it. The anthology will also include “Gunsmoke”, as a tribute to the author, the late Tom Johnson, as well as stories by several of authors from last years antholgy, Whispers of the Past.


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“X Marks the Spot”: A creative collection of pirate fantasies

, X Marks the Spot

The X Marks the Spot anthology is a treasure trove of pirate lore ripe for the reading. Tales of pirates from ancient times to modern pirates in unexpected forms, this short story collection is filled with pirate fantasy gems of the highest quality and craftsmanship. Sail the high seas of time, or pillage the vast reaches of the universe, or plunder the intricate pathways of cyberspace. With this gathering of stories, there’s no telling where the fates will take you.

Pirates come in all shapes and sizes, and so do treasures in this anthology of treasure and theft, edited by Lisa Mangum. I particulary enjoyed Tracy Leonard Nakatani’s “The Pirate’s Cat”, told not from the eyes of the pirate, but from the point of view of the cat, a tale of mayhem and narrowly averted disaster told with a touch of humor. For a look into the life a cyber-pirate, check out “Annie Spark and the Pirates of Port 1337” by David Cole.  It takes common sense and magic to find the treasure in Linda Maye Adams’ “Tidying Magic”. If your looking for romance and adventure on the high seas, “Princess Yum Yum’s Challenge” might be the tale for you. “Silver Future” is a tale of piracy in the vast expanse of space, with a surprise twist. “Harry the Ghost Pirate”, by Robert J. McCarter is an adventure story that touched my heart. These are but a few of the hidden treasures within this anthology.

Entertaining, and often surprising,  X Marks the Spot is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five quills.

Five Quills

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Marks-Spot-Anthology-Treasure-Theft-ebook/dp/B0864ZH1VX/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2N0IZIVN88VLB&dchild=1&keywords=x+marks+the+spot+anthology&qid=1586033054&s=books&sprefix=X+Marks+the+Spot+an%2Cstripbooks%2C439&sr=1-1


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 WordCrafter 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference

SiP Header

We’re all tired of staying at home during this recent crisis. It seems like everyone has been affected in different ways, but no one has gone unscathed. Our world has changed in recent times. We, as authors and lovers of the written word had many of our in-person writing events – conferences, conventions, and book fairs – cancelled due to the appearance of COVID 19. To to emulate all those events we look forward to each year and are missing out on now, and to chase away some of the boredom of social distancing and isolation, WordCrafter presents the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference on Tuesday, April 28 from 8 am to 8 pm.

This is a unique event, the first of its kind, and one you won’t want to miss. Free presentations and author takeovers will be occurring on the Facebook event page, and interactive workshops and panel discussions will be offered for a minimal fee on the Zoom platform. Interactive panel discussions and workshop session can be accessed individually for $5, or an all access pass to all interactive sessions can be purchased for $50. Tickets can be purchased on the Facebook event page. Watch for your Facebook event invite from me or one of the many wonderful authors involved with this conference. Send me a message through my WordCrafter page or through the event page if you have further questions, or if you would like a half an hour author takeover spot to promote your own work.

This has been a huge undertaking to organize and set up an event such as this one, but I haven’t done it alone. Without my 22 talented presenters, this event couldn’t happen. We have a great line-up, with international bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Kevin J. Anderson presenting the keynote on the interactive platform.

Kevin J. Anderson

And that’s just the beginning. Take a look at the talent that has lined up for presentations, workshops and panel discussions.

Mario Acevedo

Award winning and national bestselling speculative fiction author Mario Acevedo will be offering a presentation – “The Power of Motivation: What Your Characters Do and Why”

Alatorre Bio

USA Today bestselling multi-genre author Dan Alatorre will be a member of the interactive book marketing panel discussion.

Chris Barili - B.T. Clearwater

Multi-genre author Chris Barili will be presenting “Writing in the Face of Adversity” and giving an interactive workshop on “Writing Across Genres”.

 

L.D. Colter - L. Deni Colter

Award winning fantasy author L.D. Colter will be offering a presentation on “Short Fiction”.

Candido Bio

World builder and speculative fiction author Kieth R.A. DeCandido will be offering an interactive workshop on “The Business of Writing” and he is the moderator for the media tie-in interactive panel discussion.

DeMarco Bio

Award winning novelist Guy Anthony De Marco will be a member on both the short fiction and world building interactive panel discussions.

Anthony Dobranski

Fantasy and science fiction author Anthony Dobranski will offer two presentaions, “How to Swim Upstream: Not being in the mainstream of your market/genre” and “Working with Others: How to direct others in a project”. In addition, he will offer two interactive workshops. “Business Class Tarot” and “The Savage Horror of Writing Back Cover Copy”.

Jason Henderson

Author for young readers, Jason Henderson will be presenting “Story Ideas and the Choices You Make” and moderating the interactive book marketing panel discussion.

Kevin Killiany

Media tie-in author Kevin Killiany will be a member on the interactive world building, media tie-in, and short fiction panel discussions.

L. Jagi Lamplighter

Award winning young adult fantasy author L. Jagi Lamplighter will be on the interactive panel on world building, and moderate the interactive short fiction interactive panel discussion.

Lawless Bio

Award-winning science fiction author J.R.H. Lawless will be a member of the book marketing interactive panel discussion.

Jonathan Maberry

Award winning and New York Times bestselling multi-genre author Jonathan Maberry will be a member on three interactive panel discussions: short fiction, world building and media tie-ins.

Bobby Nash

Award winning multi-genre author Bobby Nash will deliver a presentation on “The Importance of Promotion”, as well as being a member of both the media tie-in and book promotion panel discussions.

Nye Bio

Science fiction and fantasy author Jody Lynn Nye will offer a presentation on using humor in science fiction and fantasy writing, “Bringing the Funny: how to apply humor to your writing” and she will be a member of the world building interactive panel discussion.

Ellie Raine

Award winning fantasy author Ellie Raine will sit on both the short fiction and world building interactive panel discussions.

Art Rosch

Award winning multi-genre author Art Rosch will offer a presentation on “Creating Villains We Love to Hate”.

Sean Taylor

Award winning multi-genre author Sean Taylor will offer a presentation on “Visceral Story Beginnings”.

Vandenberg Bio

Science fiction author and marketing expert Alexi Vandenberg will be joining the book marketing panel.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Award winning poet and author Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer offers a livestream presentation “The Gateway to the Unknown: A Poetry Thought Shop”.

Rick Wilber

Author and educator Rick Wilber will be a member of the short fiction interactive panel discussion.

Dave Wolverton - David Farland

Award winning and New York Times bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Dave Wolverton/David Farland offers a”Promoting Your Book BIG” and he is a member of the interactive book marketing panel discussion.

You can find a full schedule here. I do hope all of you will join us for this unique writing event. It’s the first of its kind and we could be making history. You can be a part of it, too. Join us.


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Are You Up To The WordCrafter Challenge?

Ghost Miner

I wanted the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest to be a challenge, to motivate authors and writers to reach outside their comfort zones and write a short story in a genre they maybe hadn’t tried yet. But, from the low number of entries received thus far, I’m wondering if I didn’t scare a lot of writers off when I named the genre as paranormal western.

It’s one of those combination genres that have risen up in recent times, also called weird westerns, that has both elements of western and elements of paranormal. I presented it as western ghost stories, because the old west has plenty of potential for ghosts. (Mark and Kym Todd’s Wild West Ghosts is filled with the stories of many real life characters whose ghosts are said to haunt the west today, if you’re looking for inspiration.)  However, I fear our friends abroad may be shying away because they just don’t know a whole lot about the American western frontiers.

While westerns usually take place in the American west, they don’t have to. The movie Quiggly Down Under, with Tom Sellak comes to mind, taking place in the Australian Outback, but with plenty of western elements. Every country has its own frontier history that helped to shape it, some may be still developing their frontiers. So, let me re-itterate, a western does not need to be set on the American frontier, but it does need to have some of the elements of the western genre. Man (or woman) against the elements, man (or woman) fighting for justice in an untamed landscape where the only law may be what he (or she) can manage to dole out. Western characters lead nomadic lifestyles, carry guns, ride horses, drink whiskey and face their own mortality, sometimes on a daily basis.

Weird westerns tend to use these elements, but they add elements of the paranormal or speculative fiction. I’ve reviewed a few and found their authors to be quite creative in combining the two genres. Chris Barili’s Hell’s Butcher series features a gun toting Marshall who is tasked with keeping all the outlaws in hell and tracking down any who happen to escape into the realm of the living. In DeAnna Knippling’s Chance Damnation is a paranormal western fantasy, where hell breaks through and wreaks havoc on the western frontier. And a book that I’m reviewing this month is Death Wind, by Travis Heerman and Jim Pinto, tells a tale of ancient Indian legends come to life. (You can catch my review of this book on Friday, March 20th).

So, with this in mind, I’m asking each of you to re-consider entering your own paranormal western short in the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. It’s only $5 to enter, and the winner will be featured in the resulting anthology and receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Other entries may also be included in the anthology by invitation, so get those entries in to me by April 30. There’s still time, and you can find the complete submission guidelines here: https://wp.me/pVw40-49e


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 know other writers that might be interested, please share.


“Death Among Us”: A collection of short fiction mysteries

Death Among Us

Death Among Us – An Anthology of Murder Mystery Short Stories, compiled and edited by Stephen Bentley is a curious collection of stories, indeed. As I’ve mentioned before, the problem with short fiction lies in telling a complete story in a condensed form, with beginning, middle and end, and it’s one of my peeves when I walk away from a short story and it doesn’t feel complete, or it feels as if it ended too abruptly, as if the author was in a hurry to wrap things up. Some of the stories in this collection are like that, and some were more telling than showing. A few I didn’t feel really fell into the category of murder mystery at all, but for the most part each one kept me engaged despite all that. (That’s another thing about short fiction; you don’t have to keep your reader engaged for a long period of time, but that also means that you have less time to hook them and reel them in.) And there were some stories in this collection, which I’ll talk about in a minute, that were really well written and I was able to immerse myself in from start to finish.

Of particular note, Michael Spinelli’s No Man’s Land is the tale of a desert manhunt for a gruesome serial killer. It’s well-crafted, and built tension and suspense all the way up to the surprise ending. The two stories by L. Lee Kane, A Deadly Lady and Stop Me If You Can, are really two parts of one tale of abuse and revenge, crafted so that the first part offers the motive for what happens in the second. And Justin Bauer kept me fully engaged clear through Sales Meeting, although I felt the ending was tied up a little too neatly. This is not to say that the other shorts in this collection weren’t good, but these three are the ones that stick out in my mind the most.

I will also mention that there are three stories included by Writing to be Read team member, Robbie Cheadle, in this murder mystery collection: Justice is Never Served, An Eye for an Eye, and The Murder of the Monk. Robbie’s stories are each inspired by factual historic events that have to make one wonder and tell the tales the way she imagines them to have happened.

Overall, this anthology was entertaining, (and, after all, isn’t that the point?). I give Death Among Us four quills.

four-quills3

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.