A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Lucky Quarter — Stephen King

So what have I been listening to on my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

luckyquarterDarlene Pullen, who is a struggling single mother with two children (a rebellious teenage daughter and a sickly young son) and a lousy job as a maid, is left a tip of a single quarter with a note saying that it is a “lucky quarter”. She takes a quick gamble on it and finds that it brings her some small luck. Moving on to a real casino, she keeps trying her luck, and soon she’s winning thousands of dollars. All seems to be going exceedingly well until she suddenly reappears back in the hotel room, left with nothing but her lucky quarter. All of her success was a fantasy. As her two children come to visit her at work, she lets her son have the quarter, and as he uses it in a gamble, it starts to pay off just as it did when Darlene was fantasizing.

I did like this story but it wasn’t the favourite of mine in the collection. Still worth the listen!

Rating: 3.5 stars

SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Possession of Nina Grey

Maynard Blackoak’s The Possession of Nina Grey released last week by Phrenic Press

ThePossessionOfNinaGrey_MayNardBlackoak

Love is an obsession; possession it’s one true desire. If you found your lover to be unfaithful, what would you do? Would you seek revenge? Perhaps confront them reasonably to discuss the truth behind such infidelity? Or would you take matters into your own hands… or in Nina’s case, your own mind?

Where the heart beats the strongest, the psyche sometimes slips into abysmal madness prompting one to perform heinous, unthinkable acts. What drives Nina that one step too far? Perhaps the answer lies in the shadows that lurk between genuine adoration and insane jealousy – the grey areas.

Not all cheeks can be turned the other way, and not all truths are what they seem.

Click on the cover to be taken to Amazon! All Phrenic Press titles are exclusively available on Amazon for borrow and purchase!

SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT: Bent Metal

The lovely and talented Nina D’Arcangela saw the release of her short story Bent Metal via Phrenic Press this week!

PhrenicPress_BentMetal_NinaDArcangela_CoverWhere does reality end and dreamscape begin?

Woken each night by the sounds of screams and twisting metal, Lauren must relive the panic and fear of discovering her brother’s broken body on the asphalt. But each morning, she finds it’s only a dream… One she doesn’t want to keep having.

At what point does a dream become a nightmare, and what if the nightmare was more than a figment of her subconscious?

Click on the cover to be taken to Amazon! All Phrenic Press titles are exclusively available on Amazon for borrow and purchase!

Five Line Friday: The ‘Tates Have Eyes

This is a story I submmitted for a specifically themed anthology and it was declined for publication based on word length. No worries, it’s all part of the life as an author. So here are the first five lines of “The ‘Tates Have Eyes’.

The pantry door opened so slowly, it was almost imperceptible to the small dog that lay on the hearth, warming its old bones on this cold morning. With the cock of an ear and the raise of a single furry lid, Angus watched the subtle shift with intense interest. Wafting over his senses was the unmistakable scent of dampness and earth; reminiscent of many moments spent clawing and scraping in the huge backyard he owned.

With a quiet whimper he lifted his head, his intent to bark out a warning, but he was only a small dog and sometimes small dogs knew their place. He could have stood and run to wake the household, but that would put him in danger.

It’s something I will likely re-write because I have a better way to end it, but that’s the way this world works sometimes!

Nine Questions with… Jeff Hollar

Today I welcome Jeff Hollar, author of the YA short Keldane the Cursed. Hi Jeff, why don’t you take a moment to introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

Born and raised in Lima, OH, I left home in 1980 at the age of 18 for the US Army and served 14 years as a Russian linguist and set foot on six continents. Following the Army, I spent a dozen years doing everything from lawn inspections to emergency dispatching to mainframe computer operations to telephone customer service in St Louis, MO. I returned to my home town in 2007 and work as a uniformed security officer. I met my wife Lisa on the job and married her in 2009. With two stepdaughters and a 3-year-old son around the house, life is never boring.

I can certainly imagine that life is never boring. Tell is about your writing process?

I would love to claim that I am an incredibly organized, prolific and dedicated writer but that would not be the case. Writing for me happens around a full-time job and family and such so the plain and simple fact is I write what I can, when I can.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

The genre I currently write in is…whatever. I have published a YA fantasy collection, a horror/zombie anthology with my wife Lisa and a collection of dark-themed holiday tales so far. My current works-in-progress include: science fiction, paranormal thriller, vampire western, fantasy and dystopian horror. I have written flash pieces in romance, erotica and humor. So, I have written successfully in quite a few genres and can’t imagine a stone I have left unturned.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Only 5? Hmm. Ok here goes:

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: This is, to my best recollection, the first book I ever owned and the first book I was able to read all by myself.

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: I recall reading this when I was about ten and loving it. I was something of a cold, logical, analytical child and so Holmes showed me that wasn’t always a bad thing.

Conan/Tarzan/Doc Savage: I know this is three in one but they were wonderful pulp fodder for a young boy and may be responsible for my own desire to write serialized collections.

The Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings: I first encountered Tolkein in 7th grade and these books helped to reinforce and cement my life-long love of epic fantasy.

I am keeping an open slot for book 5. I read prolifically and would always like to think somewhere out there will be an immensely enjoyable read that will deserve my adulation but that I just haven’t read yet.

Great choices! If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

I don’t know that any of the things I have worked on so far could be easily cast. I don’t have a lot of respect for the acting chops of most of the folks out there right now. I suspect, should any of my books ever come to needing cast, I would have to go J.K. Rowling and introduce complete newcomers to my audience.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I would, knowing me, consult a calendar to figure out just how darned long I’d been asleep. To date, I’ve enjoyed very little commercial or critical success with my writing and I obsess about checking stats on such constantly. So, for something to make the NY Times list, I would have been frantically tracking its ascent and wouldn’t be especially surprised.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Not so much anymore. When I first returned to writing a bit over two years ago, I couldn’t write much unless I had a good beer buzz going on. I’ve grown beyond that now and actually don’t write much when I indulge. I do probably smoke a bit more than usual when I’m writing as I take thinking breaks.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Please refer to the remarks about my creative process. Between work and family and such, I play some online MMORPG games, watch some TV and probably sleep too much. I may not lead quite the exciting life but I like it.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

I am going to cheat a bit here and include ten lines. I’m doing that because I routinely post to a group called Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday Snippet where authors post ten-line snippets of a work-in-progress. So, it was easily available to post here. It is from a serialized science fiction collection called The Blackstone Rings:

Little was known of the Blackstone Rings. That they were vastly ancient and manifested portals to other places was known. Where those portals connected to was unknown.

Explorer VII, transited the Kiev Ring, into unknown space. Two days of mapping and he returned to the ring to wait for a known portal home.

He whooped when sensors identified the Space Needle near the Seattle Ring. He lined up his approach carefully. Waves of nausea and horripilation washed over him as transit began.

He never had a chance to react as the Ring cycled mid-transit, slicing Explorer VII neatly  in two.

Thank you Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions. At the moment, Jeff is touring the bloggosphere in support of Keldane the Cursed. Let’s take a moment to take a sneak peek on the inside… Don’t forget to click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!

Did you ever wish you had the ability to use magic and cast spells to do anything you wanted to? Well, so does Keldane. Unfortunately, just being the son of the most powerful magic user the world has ever known doesn’t come with any guarantees. It’s not without very good cause he’s known to his classmates as Keldane the Cursed.

If you’d like to connect with Jeff, you can find him on Twitter.

Don’t forget to join me next week when I welcome Sara Brooke!

Book Review: Words with Fiends by Matt Schiariti

“When Morgan receives an anonymous invite to play his favorite mobile word game, he readily accepts. He quickly finds himself wishing he hadn’t. As the rules of the game bend and twist, so does his mind. The search to discover the mystery opponent’s identity soon becomes his whole world, but some questions are best left unanswered.”

I received this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review. Thank you Matt!

Words with Fiends is a short story written by Matt Schiariti and I will admit that I had no real idea what to expect as I had never read anything written by Matt before. I was pleasantly surprised by the strong voice throughout the entire piece. It’s a great story with a solid premise and great timing. I loved the usage of a common cultural experience as a backdrop to the horror contained within. With that connection in place, I found myself really feeling for Morgan, the main character. His self-torture and palpable fear were both very much in tune with the story matter as it unfolded. It’s a great short and I look forward to reading more from Matt in the future.

Rating 4 stars

You can find Words with Fiends on Amazon.