More Indie Book Reviews

It’s time to share a few more reviews. Another eclectic bunch: short stories, a middle-grade gem, and of course, speculative fiction. I have a stack of reading for the holidays. I hope I can add a book or two to yours.

Flights of Fancy

by Sally Cronin

I’ve read several of Cronin’s books of short stories, and this collection of eleven tales is as enjoyable as the others. I inhaled it in a single afternoon, completely immersed. As usual, the author includes a wonderful variety of tales from touching stories of eternal love in The Other Side of Heaven and Curtains, to adorable cuteness in Henry’s Story, and humor in Psychic Parrot. Highly recommended for anyone who loves short stories and well-told tales.

***

Talon

by Gigi Sedlmayer

I had no idea how much I would enjoy this book. It seems appropriate for middle-grade readers with short chapters and a charming story, but will appeal to younger kids as a chapter book, as well as adults.

Matica is the ten-year-old daughter of missionaries in Peru. She has a disability that leaves her tiny for her age and socially isolated from the indigenous community. She befriends a pair of condors and her adventures begin, changing her life in marvelous ways. Matica is delightful, caring, and undaunted by these giant birds.

The setting adds to the book’s interest as well as the details on the condors. Matica interprets the bird’s “language” which adds a bit of magic to the tale. The pace is just right and the plot wraps up nicely with more to come. A wonderful first book in the series. Highly recommended.

***

The Gate

by D. L. Cross

An alien invasion is imminent, and Landon Thorne goes from being a recently fired college professor to a much sought-after expert. His unconventional theories on ancient alien astronauts have caught the attention of top-secret government operatives and a group of mysterious bad guys.

This is classic first-contact sci-fi, and Cross appears to have done her research. Combine fact with a dose of imagination and a bunch of ruthless characters, and this is a story that moves at a fast clip.

And those “ruthless characters” include just about everyone. The main characters are well-rounded, ambitious, competitive, and argumentative. And Cross has no problem letting characters cross the line and/or killing them off.

The Gate, the first book in the Astral Conspiracy series, leaves off with a cliff-hanger, so be prepared to read the next books to reach the conclusion of the tale. Highly recommended for readers of sci-fi thrillers.

***

More to come. Have a lovely holiday season and Happy Reading!

 

November Challenge Round Up

Pixabay image, artist unknown.

Oh, my. What amazing stories this month. Somehow, magically, when I thought up the Challenge, I knew I’d be diving into some wonderful creativity. I loved the mystery of the characters, the slow reveals, and how the “show” hooked me. I enjoyed every single one and was sad to see them end. Thank you to all who participated and to all those who stopped by to read. I hope you were as mesmerized as I was.

Here are the stories from November’s Challenge. I hope you enjoy them.

Ederren – Jagen

Cosistories – They

Trent McDonald – Final Battle

Kevin Parish – Satisfy Me

Stephen Tanham – The Unmelt

JP – Sorrow

Audrey Driscoll – The Network

Robbie Cheadle – The Blob

Jen Goldie – Tidbits for Starters

Teagan Geneviene – Untitled Tesla Punk

Sue Vincent – Questing Beast?

Kerfe – Go Away Now

Jane Dougherty – Shade in the Mist

HRR Gorman – Water Striders

Geoff Le Pard – The Triangulation of Superheroes

Len- Infinity

Diana – Dinner

Diana’s Nov. Writing Challenge: Dinner

pixabay image

I dragged the child through the forest by his grubby ankle. He howled and grasped at passing tree roots, but I gave him a sharp-hooved kick. I’d not tolerate his misbehaving ways. No, not I.

“Let me go,” he begged.

I flattened my ears and bared my teeth, newly sharpened for the occasion. I hung him upside down, my tail wrapped around one bare foot like a python. Quick as spit, I used my claws to peel off his clothes, and I tossed the rags into the fire. He wouldn’t be wearing those again. They were as grimy as he, so rank that a skunk would pinch its nose and flee.

Tired of his pleading and threats, I stuffed the flailing child into my pot and slammed down the lid. The worst of the ordeal was over but for the boulder to keep the youngster inside. That I’d planned in advance, and I used my knees when hefting it onto the lid. Earlier that afternoon, I’d prepared the kettle with an aromatic blend of woodland herbs mixed with salts and plenty of water for a long stew. Nothing less would do in this particular case. The parents insisted the lad was “tough.”

“Let me out, please,” the child cried and blubbered, but I didn’t care. His parents had given up and offered him to me, wanting no details regarding what I’d do to him. I sorted out the fire, pushing the embers closer to the pot. Not boiling, but hot enough to have him done by dinnertime. I placed a delectable casserole near the heat and satisfied, squatted on a rock. There was nothing left to do but wait.

“It’s dark in here,” the lad griped. “And it’s getting hot.”

I ignored the complaints until they fell silent, frittering my afternoon away with grooming while anticipating my supper. I combed my long beard and polished my horns, taking utmost pride in my appearance. Unlike one germ-ridden, flea-bitten child. Every now and then, I tossed a stick on the fire.

When the sun slid behind the autumn leaves, I knocked the boulder from the lid and peeked inside. The aroma was delicious, and the child perfectly done, his skin rosy and wrinkled. I wrapped my tail around his skinny body, lifted him from my pot, and set him on a level stone.

He glowered at me. “You’re mean.”

“And you’re clean.” I shooed his little naked self away. “Off with you. Scamper home to your parents. My casserole is done and so is your bath.”

***

I hope you enjoyed the story.

For those who celebrate the holiday, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

See you in December!

Writing “The End”

Pixabay image

I imagine all artists – writers, painters, composers – come to a place in their work when they (in one form or another) jot down those two words: “The End.”

Naturally, the end of a first draft isn’t the END. There are months of rewrites and edits ahead. The collection of words I’ve tallied up on my laptop is still a work-in-progress.

But the story is done. The plot has wrapped up. The characters have completed their arcs and in some cases have died. Even my happy endings don’t come without pain, suffering, and loss. They are always bittersweet.

When I write “The End,” it’s emotional. As I scribble this post, days after penning that last line, my eyes gloss with feeling. And there’s no single reason.

“The End” comes with a sigh of relief and a wish to tell someone the powerful news. It’s a milestone. More than a year’s creative work coming to its conclusion.

But, for me, there’s also an odd sense of grief. I don’t know what to do with myself.  I’m restless. My sense of time shifts; my focus suddenly flutters away. I can’t sit, can’t move on. The story that consumed my thoughts and hours is over. The pressure to write, to capture my characters’ thoughts and hearts and sacrifices before they slip away, dissipates. I know the story now from the beginning to the end. The characters I have lived with and come to love have nothing more to say to me. They journey into their futures without me. Inside my head, I’m… alone.

Writing is, for many, an emotional undertaking. I’ve felt this way with every first draft.

I finished my first draft on November 18th with an additional 26,722 words. My NaNoWriMo challenge is done. I’m grieving.

And prepping for the less intense application of my craft.

Do you have any emotional reaction to writing “The End?” I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Infinity

I’m so glad Len took up the November challenge. I hope you enjoy his story and the interesting slant he took with the point of view. 🙂 Happy Reading and good luck to all the NaNo participants out there.

Len's Diary

Responding to Diana’s prompt ‘ Write from the point of view of a creature that doesn’t exist in the “real” world. ‘
https://mythsofthemirror.com/2019/10/31/a-november-writing-challenge/
With a shout out to Dwight of Rothpoetry. I got hooked on his line “the intersection of infinity’
his poem on this can be seen here
https://rothpoetry.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/the-intersection-of-infinity/

Once upon a time, at the intersection of infinity, I chanced upon a tiny planet circling a tiny star. I was surprised to discover strange forms of elemental creatures had evolved on this planet. These elemental forms scrambled around the planet devouring each other in an effort to sustain its existence. I marveled at the myriad of design of the various forms and how they adapted to land, air and water. I had no idea that the creation of space, time and matter outside of the spiritual realm would produce such anomalies.

I observed these strange shapes for a time…

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The Triangulation Of Superheroes #novemberwritingchallenge

I’m always delighted when Geoff takes up a challenge and applies his unique humor. Have fun with his story. Happy Sunday.

TanGental

This is written for D Wallace Peach’s November Writing Challenge

‘Hi, Bat, you okay
to take a call?’

‘Who is it, Alfred?’

‘The Mayor of
Gotham. Sounds a bit angsty.’

‘He’s always
angsty. Put him on.’

The Bat smoothed his cape and noticed a tear with annoyance. You just couldn’t get a decent cape these days. A couple of conflagrations, maybe a small Armageddon and pfft! You’re off to Bat About Town again.

‘Hi,’ the Bat
recognised the nasal congestion that distinguished the mayor from the normally
aspirated. ‘That you, Batman?’

‘Mr Mayor? How’s
Gotham? My spies tell me it’s still predominantly crime free and peaceful.’

‘Indeed so.’

The Bat waited and
then said, ‘I sense a ‘but’ coming…’

‘Better than a
butt kicking.’ The speaker laughed then coughed and finally rather too obviously
spat.

It was a different
voice but another familiar one. ‘You on the line too, Chief…

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Water Striders

I’m so glad that HRR let me include this story as part of the November Challenge. It’s fabulous. Enjoy. 🙂

Let Me Tell You the Story of...

insect water strider

Skri water walks over to me. “Lookit – those things are on the island again.”

The short-limbed creatures watch me from the shores. I do not bounce as if to play, do not acknowledge them. Instead I reach below the surface to grab a chunk of algae. “I thought nothing lived on land.”

“You know what the elder says?” Skri leaned in close. “She thinks they’re monsters.”

The materially-rich monsters move as if to avoid scaring us. There’s something knowing about them, something intelligent, but they’re absent the holiness of water.

I shudder. Nothing with a soul walks on land.

Divider

This sci-fi flash was written for the November 7th Flash Fiction Challenge on the Carrot Ranch. Water Walkers was the theme this week, and that made me think of water strider bugs. I invented an alien that is bigger, intelligent, and walks on water. The land creatures are supposed to be…

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