FREE BOOK TODAY ONLY

This scary-story anthology has multiple authors, character arcs and themes. What could be better in the month of magic, mischief, and, sometimes, mayhem?

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

NEW for HALLOWEEN and FREE today on Freebooksie!

A scary anthology from me and my bestseller author friends plus stories from rising stars!

FREE TODAY ONLY!

https://www.freebooksy.com/

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When I looked we were the 3rd one on the front page!

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The New Book a Break Anthology

Buy a book of stories and help a great cause: to end malaria. The price goes up 15 October, so order soon and often, as the holiday season is coming and these make fine gifts!

curtisbaussebooks

With Our Eyes OpenFancy a trip to Pluto? Or a fearful drive along a stretch of country road? Unless you prefer to go to church with a strange woman in green tights, her hair alive with electricity. Here you have 34 stories, each one a journey, whether funny or frightening, real or figurative, shared or dreadfully alone. ‘They had a long journey ahead of them’ was the prompt: the writers here, from award-winning authors to exciting new talents, took it and made it their own. Sit back and enjoy the scenery, then, as the stories open your eyes to destinations you’ll want to go back to again. Bon voyage!

The stories in this anthology were selected from submissions to the second Book a Break short story competition.  The proceeds from this book go to the Against Malaria Foundation.

The 2017 Book a Break short story anthology is available for pre-order now on…

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I Know What I Did Last Summer . . .

For those number of you who have inquiring minds and want to know

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This mantis is ready for the creepies and goblins, as it’s already preying on a ghost. (CREDIT: Archive of bad puns.)

(hi, hubby o’ mine!), here’s a round-up of a few things that have been on my mind of late, what I’ve seen, read, or been working on and so forth. Let it henceforth be know as a Smorgasblurb, or daisy-chain of what’s-its, widgets and, quite possibly, the world’s best collection of literary bric-a-brac.

1. Are you nervy, irritable, depressed, tired of life? Don’t keep that up! Here’s a short, down-to-earth post by author Dan Alatorre to help dispel the writer’s imposter syndrome that all some I have been feeling this summer and into the now-autumn.

2. Followed by the not-so-flattering assessment, albeit literary, of the United States’ commander in thief, by the ever-creative Rebecca Solnit (“The Loneliness of Donald Trump”) and available on Literary Hub. My favorite turn of phrase is in the very last graf: “The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego . . . One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall.” And that, folks, is how you bring it on home (whether you agree with the message or not).

3. I’ve had quite a few “close, but no cigar” with my writing this year, so the main thing I’ve got in the pipeline right now is a short story in the Biketopia anthology of feminist speculative fiction. (Yes, that.) But seriously, Publishers Weekly has said it’s “…a deeply moving and powerful anthology. ” Wow! 

P.S. Have you got anything close to publication or recently published? I know for a fact that some of you do. So consider this your pop quiz! Your chance to blast your own horn. Please feel free to comment in the ol’ leave a reply section below. And thanks!

4. A couple weeks ago I was pursuing one of my hobbies by perusing a nearby community’s town-wide yard sales. There was an old truck parked across from a church, and I don’t know why, but I stopped to look at the wares situated among the dust. Nothing there was probably anything anyone would need or want, but the woman tending them kept engaging me, imploring me to take a look at this or that. So, I got to talking with her and, unfortunately, concluded that she most likely has some level of mental illness and lives in her truck (long story) with these two kittens she says she couldn’t bear to leave at home because they got scared. Anyhow, without trying to sound sanctimonious, have you ever looked around you to everyday people and situations? We seem to not see images we are regularly exposed to, with them fading bit-by-by, day-by- day. Perhaps it’s something as simple as misplaced keys or something vastly more important: an invisible person or unjust situation or environmental problem that just keeps persisting in a sad state mostly because of apathy.

In short, have you tried helping anyone or anything in need lately?

Our opportunities to be loving and helpful to our fellow humans abound (and not only during natural disasters): to earthquake victims in Mexico, for Puerto Ricans who might not have potable water or electricity for weeks or months, Rohingya families driven out of Myanmar/Burma, bombed-out Yemeni people starving to death or dying of cholera, or innocent people rotting into the rubble of Syria. It turns out, if we look, I mean really look, we will probably find that there’s a literal neighbor of yours or mine who is silently in need. It can certainly be very depressing and soul-submerging to confront all the violence and hatred in the world; you’re only one person, right?! But . . . Whatever you do, just try. 🙂

5. Now, on to a much more pleasant topic. If you love fantasy, fae, and fairy tales like I do—you’re probably a super-fan, in fact, as I feel like I can never learn enough from all the world’s cultures—you will want to support Enchanted Conversation, a fairy tale magazine. Not only does this publication pay authors, but its editor/creator Kate Wolford helps keep the word percolating about how fairy tales and fabulism resonate and enrich our lives today . . . whenever we see an Emperor with No Clothes or a squirrel digging hundreds of tiny nut-graves all over our yards to prepare for cold weather, a figurative army of furry ants guarding against unprepared grasshoppers. Please chip in to their Fundrazr campaign now (there are rewards beyond just knowing ‘you did good’!) and if you’re a poet or fiction writer, consider submitting to the “Godfather Death” issue now through Sept. 30th or the “Elves and the Shoemaker” taking subs in November.

6. Well, this is rather long, isn’t it? Here’s one more, and just in time for the scary month of October! Stitched Smile Publications is seeking your horror-themed stories for two different paying open calls, one about the Seven Deadly Sins and another about a drive-in pulsing on the warty split-lip of damnation. I’ve not worked with them before, but they’re listed on Duotrope and have a history of in-genre publishing with a stable of many authors. Good luck if ya do construe a boo or two for them, much like the mantis on the ghost above. And, with that, I’m in copywriting mode!

ONE FINAL WORD Hang in there, everyone; help is on its way (with apologies for the crudulous advert at the beginning)!!

Do you miss summer already, too? (A ramble and a flash fiction piece)

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A small mantis watches me & vice versa.

Let’s see. In summary, my summer’s been about parenting, copywriting, parenting, parenting some more, mowing grass, seeing a few critters here and there, working at weeding, parenting again, a too-short vacation and time with my husband, and, (unfortunately) a car wreck (bright spot is that no one was injured beyond minor aches).

I hope your hot or dry or windy or wet season has been much more fruitful or at least enjoyable. How’d you spend it?

Here’s today’s vignette, followed by a flash fiction piece . . .

As tides of laughter and shrill screams cascade over LEGOs and reverberate off walls into my writing room (a.k.a., the couch; tomorrow, it might be the kitchen table), I realize, with some mush of sadness and trepidation, that yet another summer is ending.

But I’m ready. It was a busy season; not necessarily a creative writing-productive summer, although I did do a bit of copywriting for the dough.

In a few days, I hope to have a few fascinatin’ features and facts about my friends’ endeavors (like this one) the last few months, as I (I hope) fall into a more regular pattern of blogging about all things literary, spec-fic, ghosty, dystopian, horror-ific, and whatever fancy strikes me in the head that day. [Also, in short, I’ve missed reading & commenting on your blogs! What can I say; full-time, full-on summertime parenting takes precedence.]

Anyway, less rambling and more story-ilization, right? Here’s an odd little throw-away that I hope you’ll enjoy; coincidentally, it has both fire and fury in it (but was written months ago for a 100-word challenge I couldn’t cut enough for).

*****++++*****

Hot Fur

GENRE: Weird, futuristic, dystopian

By Leigh Ward-Smith

“As you know, we’re here to commemorate the crumbling of 21st century institutions. To a man, you each had a role in slaying the dragon that is—or should I say was?—the prevailing mentality.”

The crowd bellows a series of whoops and howls, but fidgety coughs, footshuffles, and unholstered AugReal guns give them away.

Rich, you’re losing ’em. Do something dramatic.

I pull out the cannister hidden behind the flag-strewn lectern. “You all know what this is!” I waggle the can to massive cheers.

“And this.” The realization of the clear tub’s contents spread like our accustomed rolling blackouts.

The chant went up: “Pour it, pour it!” From there, the spark was mere formality.

BLOG_anarchy bear by Gerry Lauzon

Image by Gerry Lauzon, Creative Commons license 4.0 (CC By 4.0).

“Gentlemen, witness the death rasp of the 21st century and all her attendant scum!”

As flames lick the air, I pull a fast-disintegrating specimen out with tongs. I shake a clump loose, and the pallid throng wriggle onto its fallen char.

“It’s Burn-a-Bear Workshop now, ain’t it, boys?!”

END

A Mostly Wordless Wildlife Wednesday

No matter what you call it, I hope you all are enjoying Summer Solstice (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, that is)!

While gardening a few days ago, I looked up and lo and behold . . . visitors . . .

Well hello there, raccoons

 

And then the four cubs saw me and proceeded to climb up this tree. I estimate them at about 3-5 pounds/each.

 

Raccoons in tree

 

Finally, I lured them down with half of my lunch (bread and pear-applesauce). It was quite fun for this animal-lover. I hope their mom was alright (foxes have been afoot lately).

 

Raccoons came down

Have a wonderful, not-hellaciously-hot summer!

 

And now, huzzah for life-saving soap

EcoSoapBankBelieve it or not, but there’s actually a lot of good news out there, on both micro and macro levels. People helping other people, sacrificing their time, money, or even their lives for others. The thing is, sometimes you have to dig for the positive stories.

Out of this seeming dearth of positivity and light, Damyanti at the Daily (w)rite brainchilded and then created the We Are the World Blogfest (WATWB).

WATWB (or #WATWB in twitterspeak) aims to take the digging out of the equation. That’s less hassle and more heart-warmers and smiles for you!

On the last Friday of every month, anyone who’d like to participate and link up to the We are the World Blogfest can do so—provided you have a positive news story to share with others. As I understand it, the WATWB story does not have to be one you reported on, but more like a feel-good piece of information or narrative you’d pass along to a friend or relative to cheer them up or inform them.

Soap pumperI recently read about an organization that is addressing some of my favorite subjects—bacteria, viruses, and epidemiology—in a very tangible and humanitarian way. It’s called the Eco-Soap Bank. You might have seen this organization or its founder, Samir Lakhani,  reported on in various media, because of his recent CNN Heroes award.

In short, when Mr. Lakhani was studying in Cambodia he observed a baby being soaped up in a bathtub with common laundry detergent, because normal bar or hand soap is prohibitively expensive in poor areas of the world. Soap is a basic barrier to blocking disease, and hand-washing a seemingly simple action to prevent disease spread, especially waterborne disease. Did you know that diarrheal diseases KILL approximately 525,000 children worldwide under the age of 5 years every single year (World Health Organization, May 2017 data)? Of course, this problem is accentuated in some parts of the world with less or even no access to clean drinking water, vaccines, and something as taken-for-granted (by most of us) as soap.

Well, Samir saw that need and he tackled it by founding Eco-Soap Bank, which addresses three problems at once. First, it recycles old soap from hotels and other donors that would otherwise go to waste (pulling collected scraps together that are then thoroughly sanitized). Second, the soap bank provides jobs and education to women in so-called developing countries so they can fully care for their families. And third, that recycled, sanitized soap freely goes out to hospitals, schools, and communities that would not otherwise have access to or be able to afford it. So far, Samir’s Eco-Soap Bank organization has donated sanitized soap to a projected 661,000 people and counting (recycling 24,000-plus pounds of soap in the process).

My final thought is, simply enough: Wow! If young people like Samir are in charge of our planet from here on out, the future looks much healthier and brighter indeed.

If you’d like to help Eco-Soap Bank or find out more about their efforts, please visit their Web site.

Likewise, Damyanti features a ton of other wonderful and worthy news contributed by co-hosts and friends. Get in on the good news the last Friday of every month!

Friday Fictioneers: House-Called

It’s not often these days that I get to participate in Friday Fictioneers, but I love the photos Rochelle chooses, as well as reading what people come up with. And so, this fantasy drabble sprang forth. Hope you like it.

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PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

House-Called

genre: fantasy

Pearl placed the last of the enchantments. Each spike brimmed with unseen poison; every adamantine bar thrummed with mojo enough to keep terrors at bay. Continue reading