Tag Archives: short stories

Interview with Author Chad Miller

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m Chad Miller, I’m originally from Philly and I’m a pharmacist. I live in Delaware with my girlfriend, Natasha. I first got into writing after I started reading for pleasure. The first books I picked up were the Shining and Cat’s Cradle (they’re very different from each other). I was in college at the time, struggling with my classes, got kicked out of the dorms (long story), and my friend, DK, wrote a short story and it blew me away. It was so well crafted, so interesting and it stuck with me. Even though we were interested in different subject matters, this gave me the inspiration to start writing on my own. I sat down and wrote a story, which an adaptation was included in my current book, The Void, and I’ve never stopped writing. That was 25 years ago.


What inspired you to write your book?

This book, The Void is a culmination of some of my favorite short stories that I have written over the past 25 years. My full-length novel, The Prisoner of Fear, is coming out on October 1st and my publisher (Hear Our Voice) and I wanted to get my name out there pre-release. Before The Void, I’ve had several short stories published in print anthologies and online, but nothing on this scale. Writing is my passion and these 15 tales in The Void show my writing journey.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I want some of the themes, morals, and feelings to stick to the reader, much like DK’s story stuck with me so many years ago. I want to elicit emotion, whether it be fear, sadness, or laughter. Most of my writing is dark, but I try to show a human element in my characters, something the reader might be able to relate to, to empathize. I don’t want to give the reader nightmares, I want to cause them sleepless nights as my tales haunt their thoughts 🙂

What drew you into this particular genre?

There is so much potential in horror. Yes, there are the slasher, vampire, zombie, and werewolf books, and there is definitely a need for these, but I tend to go to the more cerebral. I’m not tied down or boxed in relying on historical accuracies or limited to the physical world. The palate is literally wide open. I feel horror taps into human emotion, much like comedy does. You have to set the groundwork and have a low build to reach that crescendo, the high water mark.


If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

In my story Always There, I’d like to meet the ghost, Henry Keijman. First, I would love to learn about his journey in the afterlife, as I’m not a believer in ghosts, I think meeting one would blow my mind and I’d have a million questions. What did he see? Is there a concept of time? Also, he was a prisoner in the Holocaust. My Grandmother, Helen, was a Holocaust survivor so this subject matter runs deep with me. Recently I found an hour-long interview with my Grandmother with the Holocaust museum discussing in detail her experiences. I’d love to hear more of Henry’s story and hear how it related and differed from my Grandmother’s.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

So far, I’d say Facebook. There are so many writer forums and groups that are so helpful and supportive and helped me find several outlets. Now, I’m moving my focus to Goodreads as it is full of readers. I’m, currently learning how to build my base and use this platform to grow my audience. This is all a learning process. Recently, I got into the conversation about the thin line between advertising yourself verse Spamming, and where that line is. I’ve put out a few Facebook ads and most of the feedback was positive, but there are some trolls out there, which is an interesting experience.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

I’d say two things. Just write. Don’t listen to others, don’t listen to the doubt in your head, just get something down on the page. For me, writing isn’t painting a picture, it’s whittling. Sometimes it’s painful to start, and at first, it looks crude, but as the story gets honed, you can see the art come into view. Secondly, once you think you’re ready to publish, do your research. Whether you self-publish or go traditional (there is no wrong avenue) put in the work to how to be successful in this endeavor. Don’t just put it out there into the ocean and hope to be discovered, hope for a miracle. Odds are without putting in the legwork your work may get lost into the abyss, into the void (he-he, get it?).

What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?

My new book, The Prisoner of Fear is due out on October 1st, and its follow-up, Paroxysm of Fear will come out a few months later. This is a horror novel set in the late 1800s in Philadelphia and follows John Doyle and Thomas Braham as they investigate mysteries that the authorities deem too mysterious to investigate. There are monsters, insane asylums, and suspense. I’d say it’s a cross between Dracula and Sherlock Holmes. My current work in progress is a series of 3 Novellas, called Cerberus. I’d call it a spaghetti western with all its characters based on Greek mythological Gods. What is currently on my mind is a story based on a loose alliteration on Lizzy Borden. It will be called, Confession, but right now it’s just swimming in my mind.


About the Author

Chad Miller has a B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University and a Pharm D from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He’s a pharmacist and lives in lifeless Delaware with his girlfriend, Natasha and her daughter, Sasha, and his three kids, Killian, Willow, and Halina. His novel, The Prisoner of Fear, is being published by Hear Our Voice and will be out fall of 2022. His short story collection, The Void is available on Amazon now! His short story, The Thorn, is published by Sweety Cat Press and is included in the anthology, Beautiful: In the Eye of the Beholder and is out now available on Amazon. His short story, Guilty Pleasure, is published by ILA magazine and is out now. His story, The Nick was published in The World of Myth Magazine and won the story of the month. His story, Diseased, will be included in the anthology, Movement: Bodies in Motion, and will be out 06/01/2022. His story, Last Victory and the Manicure, will be included in the anthology, Year Four and will be out 01/23.


The Void

The Captivating Flames of Madness by Jeff Parsons Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Jeff Parsons takes readers on an exhilarating and chilling journey through 22 short stories that explore the moment that everyone in life finds that changes the course of their personal journeys forever in the book, “The Captivating Flames of Madness”.


The Synopsis

This book’s title comes from the reality that – like a moth to the flame – we’re all just one event, mishap, or decision away from things that could change our lives forever.

What would you do if fate led you astray into a grim world where you encountered vengeful ghosts, homicidal maniacs, ancient gods, apocalyptic nightmares, dark magic, deadly space aliens, and more?

If you dare, why not find out?

Read for yourself the twenty-two gloriously provocative tales that dwell within this book – but be warned, some of my dear readers have experienced lasting nightmares…

The Review

This was a memorable and engaging collection of short horror stories. The author has such a great command of atmosphere and tone, as each story strikes a balance between haunting atmosphere and captivating character growth. The unique structure of these stories and the range of sub-genres that this collection holds gives a wider range of readers a chance to sink their teeth into these amazing stories.

The heart and core of this collection have to be the theme, which the main underlying theme the author delves into is the concept of one key event changing the course of one’s life in an instant. The characters range from shockingly sympathetic and relatable to terrifying, and yet each story delivers a well-rounded narrative that captures the passion and imagination the author delivers consistently while also bringing some depth and thought-provoking material to the horror genre overall.

The Verdict

Haunting, chilling, and entertaining, author Jeff Parsons’s “The Captivating Flames of Madness” is a must-read horror short story collection. The brilliant imagery and thrilling storytelling made this collection just fly by on the page, and readers will be hard-pressed to put down this eclectic and mesmerizing collection. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Jeff is a professional engineer enjoying life in sunny California, USA. He has a long history of technical writing, which oddly enough, often reads like pure fiction. He was inspired to write by two wonderful teachers: William Forstchen and Gary Braver. In addition to his book Algorithm of Nightmares, he is published in SNM Horror Magazine, Bonded by Blood IV/ V, The Horror Zine, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Dystopia Utopia Short Stories, Wax & Wane: A Coven of Witch Tales, The Moving Finger Writes, Golden Prose & Poetry, Our Dance With Words and The Voices Within.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJeffParsons/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jeff-Parsons/e/B00FIOQCY6%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/6860100.Jeff_Parsons

The Void: 15 Creepy Tales by Chad Miller Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A chilling collection of short stories exploring the darkest depths of humanity takes center stage in author Chad Miller’s “The Void: 15 Creepy Tales”. 


The Synopsis

Welcome to the dark world of Chad Miller. Presented before you are 15 dark, morbid, and sometimes humorous tales that explore the evil, depravity, and sickness that devours the human condition. Goodness and light exist in our world, but sometimes the darkness is inescapable, like a black hole, encompassing us all as we fall into the void.

We see an AI life form trapped in his computer cage, as the world has died around him. He’s in despair, his only eyes staring at his decaying creator as he’s forced to face the reality of eternal isolation.

Meet Ana. On the eve of her first day, living away from home in a college dormitory, she slumbers off to sleep on her first night. Ana receives a mysterious night visitor as he pulls up a chair to her bed, so that he can tell his tale. Ana’s father recounts the story of how he was stolen away from her life in a Nazi concentration camp.

And then poor Jared. He’s a pharmacist, overworked, never receiving a break. His overfilled bladder is ready to burst, but the demands of his job won’t allow even a minute for a bathroom run. See Jared’s horror in excruciating detail when his biggest nightmare comes true when he finally reaches the toilet.

The darkness is unavoidable, so pry your fingers from your eyes and take a peek inside. Enter if you dare…

The Review

This was a fantastic and diverse collection of stories. The author did a wonderful job of developing heart and emotions into a rich dynamic between character growth and narrative in such a short amount of time. The ways in which the stories varied and played out were what added to the diverse narrative the author was sharing. From the painful and horrific experiences of addiction and parenthood to the humorous yet identifiable problem of mother nature’s call to the tragedy of WWII and the horrors the Jewish people faced, each story connected a very relatable yet equally terrifying horror moment to our own lives and experiences.

The thing that stood out to me however was the author’s ability to utilize a strong sense of pacing in the narrative. Not one single story in the author’s collection felt rushed or incomplete somehow, which is quite unique when you consider the number of stories the collection features and how varied the length of each story is. Yet each story hit both the emotional and thrill factors that one would expect from a horror collection, and the author’s ability to transport readers into these stories so effortlessly was incredible to read.

The Verdict

Fast-paced, entertaining, and moving, author Chad Miller’s “The Void: 15 Creepy Tales” is a must-read short story collection that readers won’t be able to put down. The rich variety of characters and the relatable yet equally profound horror moments were an excellent exploration of the human condition and humanity as a whole, and the author’s talent shines so brightly that I cannot wait to read more of the author’s work in the future. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Chad Miller has a B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University and a Pharm D from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He’s a pharmacist and lives in Delaware with his girlfriend, Natasha and her daughter, Sasha, and his three kids, Killian, Willow, and Halina. His novel, The Prisoner of Fear, is being published by Hear Our Voice and will be out fall of 2022. His collection of short stories, The Void is now available on Amazon. His short story, The Thorn, was published by Sweety Cat Press and is included in the anthology, Beautiful: In the Eye of the Beholder and is out now available on Amazon. His short story, Guilty Pleasure, is published by ILA magazine and is out now. His story, The Nick was published in The World of Myth Magazine and won the story of the month. His story, Diseased, will be included in the anthology, Movement: Bodies in Motion, and will be out 06/01/2022. His story, Last Victory, will be included in the anthology, Year Four and will be out 01/23. Check out other stories on his website, chadmiller-author.com.

Twisted Reveries Volume II: Tales From Willoughby by Meg Hafdahl Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Meg Hafdahl takes readers on a twisted and macabre journey into the secretive town of Willoughby in “Twisted Reveries Volume II: Tales From Willoughby”, the sequel to Twisted Reveries. 


The Synopsis

Suspense author, Meg Hafdahl, delivers another collection of spine-tingling stories in this second volume of the Twisted Reveries series. Inspired by the first book’s Willoughby and Moira Kettlesburg stories, Meg takes us on a journey into the mid-western town of Willoughby where forgetting is a way of life. Delve into its macabre history and origins. Explore the strange and unsettling events that plague Willoughby’s unsuspecting citizens in this new collection of thirteen horrifically outstanding tales. 

The Review

This was a truly incredible, emotional yet terrifying collection of short stories. The horror genre is alive and well in this collection, with threats and dangers that sway from monstrous beings hiding in the shadows to more sinister and everyday human evils that the town of Willoughby draws towards it. Although this is my first foray into the author’s work and the Twisted Reveries series of short stories, the author does an amazing job of crafting narratives that feel both isolated and well contained on their own while also connecting to a more broad and small-town vibe and mythos.

What stood out to me as a reader was the well-balanced and captivating protagonists found within the story. Each story had characters that readers could either get behind and cheer on to stop the threat they were facing, or grimace as the tables turned and the protagonist quickly became the antagonist. The complexities of each story’s protagonist and their backstory felt worthy of a short film or television anthology, and the twists and turns these stories take will have readers talking long after the final page drops.

The Verdict

Gripping, exhilarating, and thoughtful in its approach, author Meg Hafdahl’s “Twisted Reveries II: Tales From Willoughby” is a must-read collection of horror short stories that readers are not going to want to miss out on. The overall theme permeating this collection follows how every small town, every city, and even every person, no matter how beautiful and picturesque they may appear on the outside in the light of day, has the potential to hide great darkness and hardship within their foundation, which waits for night to descend to roam free to draw others into its web. A truly haunting collection of stories, this is one short story read you won’t want to miss. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Bram Stoker Award nominated Meg Hafdahl is the creator of numerous stories and books. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery and Horror and Eclectically Criminal. Her work has been produced for audio by The Wicked Library and The Lift, and she is the author of three popular short story collections including Twisted Reveries: Thirteen Tales of the Macabre. Meg is also the author of the three novels; The Darkest Hunger, Daughters of Darkness, and Her Dark Inheritance called “an intricate tale of betrayal, murder, and small town intrigue” by Horror Addicts and “every bit as page turning as any King novel” by RW Magazine. Meg, also the co-host of the podcast Horror Rewind and co-author of The Science of Monsters, The Science of Women in Horror, The Science of Stephen King, The Science of Serial Killers, and the upcoming The Science of Witchcraft lives in the snowy bluffs of Minnesota. 


Mixed Realities: 7 Stories That Will Make You Question the Universe by Naomi Augustine Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In a reality in which reality itself is proven to be a simulation and parallel worlds coexist with one another in the “system”, author Naomi Augustine explores the most puzzling, challenging, and captivating sci-fi and true scientific theories of our time in the book “Mixed Realities: 7 Stories That Will Make You Question the Universe.” 


The Synopsis

Get ready for a mind-bending thriller that will make you question reality as you know it. “Mixed Realities” is a collection of stories that poke at the squishy parts of our universe, human understanding, and our relationship with technology. Illustrated QR codes are embedded throughout the book to let you listen to the soundtrack on the fly.

Don’t trust your senses. Don’t even trust your measuring equipment. Reality is not what it seems.

Physicists were right. It turns out we live in a giant computer simulation and our world isn’t the only one. There are many others. In one world, climate change threatens humanity. A 10-year old refugee befriends an artificial intelligence in a city full of holograms and works together to solve the crisis. In another, an anti-social college student becomes suspicious of the existence of parallel worlds and figures out how to cross over. With the help of his new online friends, they set out to unravel the mystery behind the simulation and its mischievous architect. The perfect book for readers of science-fiction, “Mixed Realities” will challenge and entertain readers with each page.

The Review

What a powerful and moving collection of sci-fi short stories. The blend of technological marvels and themes of what it means to be human, the importance of real connections, and the definition of reality, all come together in a beautifully woven collection that spans over the course of a mind-bending narrative landscape. The characters are the perfect way of infusing humanity, hope, and emotion into the story as well, as each short story finds the right harmonious chord between the theme and the emotional connection the reader has to the people within these stories. 

The ideas and concepts that this narrative explores are not only unique but scientific theories and concepts that have fascinated me in particular for years. From the real-world impact, AR and AI technologies are already having on our modern world, to the idea behind the Multiverse and how it relates to our understanding of the universe as a whole, these themes are not only interesting but thought-provoking in their approach to the genre.

The Verdict

A beautiful and captivating road filled with hope, tragedy, and endless possibilities, author Naomi Augustine’s “Mixed Realities” is a must-read collection of short stories. The perfect balance of character development and theoretical exploration, this twisty navigation of the possibilities that exist within the confines of the sci-fi genre makes this collection just so entertaining to read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Naomi Augustine grew up in Japan and has a bachelor’s in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. She has spent the last 15 years as a physicist, game producer, and Augmented Reality R&D Lead at companies such as Raytheon, Riot Games, and Magic Leap. There she led the research, envisioning, and design of city-scaled use cases of AR. Her work has been deployed in areas of urban planning and climate change in partnership with the United Nations Development Program. She is currently the co-founder of QXR Studios, specializing in augmented and extended reality (AR/XR) storytelling in Los Angeles.


Fancy Shop by Valeri Stanoevich Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In author Valeri Stanoevich’s “Fancy Shop”, the author takes readers on a journey through the lives of a wide cast of characters as each seeks something personal, whether it is the pursuit of a dream, redemption, or paradise. 


The Synopsis

Short Story Collection.

The stories contain features of fantasy, urban legends, mystery, magical realism, penetration in the deepness of the human soul.

The characters are different: knights, anonymous people, dreamers, outsiders, crazy ones, technocrats, cockroaches, holders of secret knowledge. They crave for another world of dreams come true, inexpressible truths and oases of redemption of past guilt. On the way to their new identities, they move freely between reality and fantasy. They are in constant conflict with themselves, and the front line is the line dividing the two hemispheres of their brains. The stories are very short but each has a complex plot, provocative suggestions and a surprising end. Without in any way denying the traditional concepts of good-evil, simple-profound, they lead the reader into worlds in which paradox is a synonym of universal meaning.

The Review

This was such an engaging and creative collection of short stories. Told in a very abstract tone, the author really captured the theme of change that we all seek in our lives through a very wide range of different genres. From Gothic and magical realism to pure fantasy, the author highlighted the sometimes painful path to change.

What stood out was the wide array of characters each story used. Not only were many of the characters relatable and complex, but the theme of change with this rotating cast of characters really shows that no matter who a person is or what their place in the world is, we all dream of change, and for a wide variety of reasons as well.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, thought-provoking, and engaging, author Valeri Stanoevich’s “Fancy Shop” is a must-read collection of short stories. The breathtaking imagery, intense situations, and gripping tales of magic and wonder that accompanied these very personal and thoughtful character developments that explored the heart of all change in life made this a collection that readers will not soon forget. Be sure to grab your own copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Valeri’s is a moody and particularly well written book.  His prose is eloquent and artistic, as he shares his intriguing tales of mystery, melancholy and perhaps macabre.  Despite a wide variety of genres, which seem to range from horror to sci-fi to historical fantasy, there is a common style throughout, and at times, as he moves from one narrative to the next, it becomes a little difficult to discern between them.  That said, each of these little anecdotes is a distinct work of art and character.

He is a gifted author, with a talent for atmosphere.  This collection of short stories is best read of an evening, ideally by candlelight, while fully immersed; in any other setting, the metaphorical and philosophical feel of it may be a touch more difficult to engage.  They deserve no less than to be absorbed and indulged, and to do that you really need to get onto the author’s wavelength, which can best be described on occasion as abstract.  I realized very quickly into the first tale that there was concentration and commitment required to optimize the full experience of this wonderful piece of work. 

There is a sense of the very old and the yet to come in this anthology; future and past combine, feeling like they converge continuously – of course, that observation is a subjective feeling, rather than a statement of fact relating to any particular aspect of Valeri’s writing; it is just how this book made me feel. 



Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts by Elizabeth Kirschner Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Elizabeth Kirschner takes readers on an emotional journey exploring and bringing to light the subjects of addiction, abuse, and domestic violence in the collection, “Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts”.


The Synopsis

Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts is a raw and intense collection of intricately layered short stories that touch on the recurring themes of sexual violence, domestic abuse, mental illness, and addiction.

The characters are often cruel and inhumane with parents speaking in riddles to their abused children. The narrators are all women, usually unnamed, who have a lost, dissociated quality to them, as the details of their lives seem to fray.

As the stories develop, some of these narrators find love and normalcy, though not always happily. Violence pulses steadily throughout the collection, but it is the author’s hope that the stories not only reveal the breadth and power of her poetics, but also give voice to the disturbed, the dispossessed and the lowly in an elegant, lyrical form.

The Review

I absolutely loved that although the author did not write the collection to be that of poetry, the writing itself had some amazing poetic and heartfelt styles to it. The imagery and tone of each narrative really did a fantastic job of bringing the reader into these situations and allowed readers a chance to understand the circumstance of this narrative and the importance of speaking up and finding our own voice in this world. 

This was a truly emotional and heartfelt read. The themes and emotions the author touched upon in these narratives were so difficult to read about and discuss, but the conversation needs to happen, and this book does a great job of opening these discussions up. The author’s words and courage in delving into this subject matter are felt on every page and speak to the resilience and strength that they had in sharing this message with readers. The imagery was definitely the driving force behind these stories, however, as the stark nature of these scenes playing out in the reader’s minds made this topic a much-needed staple in literature these days. 

The Verdict

Emotional, heartfelt, and captivating, author Elizabeth Kirschner’s “Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts” is the must-read short story collection of 2021. The artful and very cinematic quality of the author’s writing and the important themes discussed within the narrative made this collection such an impactful read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Elizabeth Kirschner is the author of Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. It was brought out by Atmosphere Press in June, 2021.

Kirschner has published five volumes of poetry, most recently, My Life as a Doll, Autumn House Press, 2008, and Surrender to Light, Cherry Grove Editions, 2009. The former was nominated for the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Patterson Book Prize and named Kirschner as the Literary Arts Fellow in the state of Maine, 2010.

Her memoir, Walking the Bones was published by The Piscataqua Press, February, 2015. It was the winner of the North Street Book Prize for best work of nonfiction by an Independent author.

Kirschner has been writing and teaching multi-genres across four decades. She served as faculty in Fairfield University’s low-residence MFA in Creative Writing Program and has also taught at Boston College and Carnegie-Mellon University.

She has collaborated with many classical composers and this work is featured on numerous CD’s, including The Dichterliebe in Four Seasons, Schumann/Kirschner.

She currently serves as a writing mentor and manuscript consultant and teaches various workshops in and around her community in Kittery Point, ME.

Stay in touch with Elizabeth by visiting her website https://elizabethkirschner.com or by following her on GoodReads.

— Blog Tour Calendar

November 1st @ The Muffin

Join as we celebrate the launch of Elizabeth Kirschner’s story collection Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy for yourself.


November 3rd @ Create Write Now

Visit Mari’s blog today and read a guest post by Elizabeth Kirschner about the importance of writerly habits.


November 5th @ Bring on Lemons

Stop by Crystal’s blog today and read her insights into Elizabeth Kirschner’s book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts.


November 9th @ Mindy McGinnis’ Blog

Join Mindy as she shares author Elizabeth Kirschner’s guest post about how one’s thematic concerns or obsessions are presented, not stated.


November 10th @ Madeline Sharples’ Blog

Join Madeline as she features author Elizabeth Kirschner’s guest post about the invention and supremacy of character.


November 11th @ The Frugalista Mom

Join Rozelyn as she reviews Elizabeth Kirschner’s book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts. You can also enter to win a copy of the book for yourself.


November 15th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Kathy Pooler shares author Elizabeth Kirschner’s guest post about how the short story evolves.


November 19th @ CK Sorens’ Blog

Join Carrie as she shares Elizabeth Kirschner’s guest post about the mind behind the story, it’s circular as opposed to linear nature.


November 21st @ Word Magic

Join Fiona as she features a guest post by Elizabeth Kirschner about her obsession with language.


November 25th @ The Good Book Nook

Visit Polly’s Instagram page where she reviews Elizabeth Kirschner’s book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts.


November 27th @ Lisa Haselton’s Book Reviews and Interviews

Jon Lisa as she interviews author Elizabeth Kirschner, author of the book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts.


November 30th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony as he reviews author Elizbeth Kirschner’s book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts.

December 1st @ McFly Book Bliss

Join Marisa as she features author Elizabeth Kirschner and an excerpt from her book Because the Sky is a Thousand Soft Hurts.


Purchase your copy now on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Also make sure you add this to your GoodReads reading list.

Melody of Your Heart by Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A short collection of short stories take center stage as themes of love, loss, and hope come alive in co-authors Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu’s “Melody of Your Heart”.


The Synopsis

Melody of Your Heart is a short story anthology that we wrote together. They are stories with themes of love, loss, and connection, exploring different kinds of love.

The Review

What a compelling and moving short story collection. This group of stories really does an amazing job of weaving together stories of love lost, love found, and the hope we find in the wake of loss. The chemistry between the authors and their writing style is felt in every tale, highlighting their shared experiences while also delving into the bond they built with one another.

One story, in particular, stood out to me right off the bat, and that was Walls. The story of a man sent to prison suddenly and forced to be separated from the person he loves, only to feel her slip away and the world starts to forget him entirely, really did an amazing job of highlighting the walls we often force ourselves into or are forced into when fighting for love. We try so desperately to hold onto what we had, that sometimes we lose sight of who we’ve become until you are the only one left behind in a world that moved on without you long ago. It’s a thought-provoking and mesmerizing tale that touches just the tip of the iceberg in this collection. 

The Verdict

An engaging, heartfelt, and thoughtful collection of short stories, authors Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu’s “Melody of Your Heart” is a must-read collection. The passion and eloquence with which the authors approached the narratives within these stories really showed the depth and love that the two authors brought from their own lives and into the tales. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Author of Cryptic Clockwork, an autographical collection of prose and poems, and Melody of Your Heart, a short story anthology about life, love, and loss. These works were compiled after his death by Tiffany Chu, in hopes they bring hope and encouragement to anyone going through dark times.

Born in England as Leonel M. M. Santiago on May 14, 2003, Renley lost both his parents in a fire that permanently damaged his vocal cords and lungs at the age of five, leaving him unable to speak. He became Justin Steele at the age of eight when adopted into the Steele family.

Through a shared love of writing, Renley met Tiffany Chu in 2020 and they formed a close friendship. At the beginning of 2021, even as his health rapidly deteriorated, he prepared to move to the U.S. and become part of the Chu family.

On May 18, 2021, he changed his legal name to Renley Nicolas Chu.

About a week after his eighteenth birthday, Renley suffered a severe attack leading to lung and heart failure; he passed away on the morning of May 25, 2021, three days before he would have left for the U.S.

Renley’s last wish to come home was fulfilled on June 1, when his ashes were brought to San Diego and scattered at Los Penasquitos Canyon.

He left behind numerous samples of his writing, both personal as well as fictional. Each piece he wrote exudes the rawness and authenticity of his heart, his emotions, his experiences. His style tends to be stream-of-consciousness and metaphorical with a sense of immediacy and strong emotion.

Rest in Peace, Renley Chu (May 14, 2002 – May 25, 2021) 




AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Kathy Martone Shares Her Short Stories & Essay

Hello everyone! I am so honored to be able to share a special post today. I was recently contacted by an incredible author named Kathy Martone, whom I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing and reviewing here on my site in recent months. She asked me to share a couple of her original short stories, along with one of her essays, and I thought this would be a fun new idea to share to you guys. Please enjoy these incredible stories and this essay, and if you enjoy them be sure to follow me on my website and follow Kathy as well. Enjoy everyone!




Her name was Moana. Moana Despeara. Outta nowhere she showed up and ruined my life. Just knocked at my door polly please as if she knew me. 

“Gimme a minute,” I said. “Be right there!” Looked in the mirror first; made sure my hair looked okay. 

Opened the door slowly. Peered out into the blindin’ sunlight. “Can I help ya, young lady?” Why I coulda been starin’ at a mirror, dat girl lookin’ so much like my own self, scat bit younger though. ‘Bout my height and weight, shoulder length curly hair – I be danged, with the same type barrette too – only her hair was bright yellow and mine mousy brown. 

Lookin’ like a stray cat, her head down and eyes at half mast, she peeked up at me through straggly hair and asked, “Kin I come in?” 

“S-s-sure,” I said surprisin’ myself. “Have a seat in the livin’ room.” Shuffled as fast as I could to folla her. Didn’t want her to think I was a pushover or nothin’. Eased my achin’ bones down onto the chair and stared at her with eyes full o’ questions.

“Uh-h-h, um, well, uh, I don’t rightly know how to say this,” she stumbled. “But I’m in need of a place to stay.” She stared right at me with her big green eyes, just like mine.

Met those big eyes straight on, didn’t want her to know how nervous I were. Why would a stranger knock on my door and ask fer a bed? Very odd. “Well okay,” I heard my voice speak out loud. “But you’ll have to pay; I ain’t got no handouts for no down and out youngster lookin’ fer a place to land. And I’ll need some information, if ya please.”

Sittin’ there watchin’ her fill out my list, I felt no jitters a’tall, a bit surprisin’ with me just axin’ this lost and fersaken’ girl into my home. Money’ll come in handy though, I thought to myself. Seemed polite enough; fingernails were clean; clothes a bit wrinkled but otherwise tidy; hair could’ve used some work.

“Thank you ma’am,” she said as she cleared her throat. “Can’t tell ya how much I ‘preciate this. Life’s been a bit of a struggle fer me, ya know? Havin’ a room of my own should make all the diff’rence.” Raisin’ herself up offa my chair, she yawned and stretched her back. “May I?” she asked, her eyes fillin’ with tears. 

“Oh yes, of course. Of course. Lemme show you.” Stood up as quickly as I could and showed her the way into the extra bedroom. “All yours,” I continued as I slipped her check, quiet-like, into my brassiere. “Bathroom’s on your left. Help yourself to the closet and dresser drawers.”

“No need,” she replied. “I don’t come with nothin.”

“Only one other thing. Don’t never touch that chest in the corner, ya hear?”

“Sure ’nuff,” she mumbled.

Not waitin’ round to hear more, I made my way back into the livin’ room and grabbed her application. Heard her door shut behind me. Big sigh of relief. No time to waste on other people’s problems. Or so I thought.


Ever’ night since she arrived, its the same thing what happens over and over like some old movie replayin’ itself on the wheel o’ one of them old fancy movie projectors. Moan groan weep. Moan groan weep. Bedsprings creakin’ like a buncha tree frogs. All to the up and down of my own simmerin’ pot of unrest. Don’t that woman never sleep? 

Right round 5:00AM ever’ mornin’ things go quiet. Real quiet. Like graveyard quiet. Don’t never see her durin’ the day. But then I never see her a’tall. Gotta wonder where she goes, what she’s doin’, who she’s talkin’ to. Always locks her door, though. Not that I’d snoop; I’m ever mindful o’ my rights n’ wrongs. 

DAY 15

Middle o’ the frickin’ night. Sittin’ here starin’ at that dang door. Can’t get no rest no more. That suzy cutesy what paid for my bed ain’t got no worries ’bout who she bothers. Got so many black circles ‘neath my eyes, why you’d think I was some kinda monster from one o’ them ghost tales my dear old marm used to read to me. The kind that scared my little ticker so bad, couldna’ sleep back then neither. 


Tossin’ and turnin’ in my bed, sleep still playin’ hard to get. Don’t know how many more nights like this I kin handle. Guess there ain’t no way to ‘scape these demons what haunt my private spaces. But where do these downheartenin’ feelin’s come from? Just makes no dang sense! Used to be, I was so chatty happy. Ever’one always said so. Where did all those bubblin’ up with joy experiences go to? This just ain’t like me a’tall. Just cry, cry, cry. All the durn time. Stupid stupid tears wettin’ my pillow night after godawful night.

DAY 18

When did it become so dang hard just to git outta bed? Coffee sounds good; legs movin’, left right left right left right. Kitchen light on, eyes half shut, coffeepot on. Amazin’ how the aroma of gurglin’ caffeine can be so calmin’. One o’ the few body pleasin’ happenin’s done left to me, surely. Mebbe this missy who shares my house done brought down a curse on me. Wonder when was the last time I had some fun? Just seems as so I don’t have none no more. Just always feelin’ low and fraught with worry. 

Ah, what’s this? Moana’s key? Wonder what that sassy frassy’s up to? Come to think on it, she ain’t paid her rent this week. Why surely she wouldna’ checked out without so much as a bye and bye, without collectin’ her deposit. Guess I’ll think on that later; coffee won’t stay hot forever. 

DAY 19

Surely feels good to get some rest fer a change. Ain’t heard one peep from that girl fer two days now. Guess she’s surely gone after all. Should I or shouldn’t I? Why, this house b’longs to me. I have ever’ right to open that door! Makes me a might nervous though – what if she be lyin’ inside deader ‘n dead? Oh, best leave things be! Standin’ here with both my eyeballs glued to her door ain’t doin’ me no good no way. 

DAY 20

Ain’t lately heard nothin’ more from that room. Why’s my hand shakin’ so? Such foolishness ain’t suitable for one such as me. You’d think I stole m’self into this here house or somethin’. Deep breath. Ever so slow – why, glory be, the door’s open!

Raise m’sef up on my toe tips and ease inside, quieter’n a mouse. Room’s dark, curtains drawn against the risin’ sun. Flip the light. Eyes wide open in surprise. Why those be my clothes on that there bed! Whip my gaze ‘cross the room. Chest wide open with my belongin’s scattered ever’where! What the blazin’ devil, I begin to curse. 

Grabbin’ the lavender underlies and matchin’ brassiere from the tangled bedclothes, I march into the bathroom and flip that light switch. Lookin’ at my reflection in the mirror, all the color drains from that face peerin’ back at me. That face! It’s Moana Despeara. Moana Despeara who’s been inhabitin’ my house, my clothes, my soul.



The dream began like all dreams – shrouded in magic and mystery.

My black haired sister and I walk hand in hand as we head for the dark woods. The deep silence of the forest quickly descends and we are swallowed by the vast network of trees. Entering a large open glade lit by the pearlescent glow of the full moon, we lie down on a moss covered stone and fall asleep, entering the dreamscape as one. In the dream we stand in a large meadow in the middle of a forest. The full moon casts her alabaster net strewn with stars across the firmament, her luminous halo transforming the scene into a mythical landscape of unparalleled beauty. Soon we are confronted by a massive wild boar with ivory tusks who charges at us and carries off my beloved sister. Overtaken with fear, I awaken from the dream to find that my sister is gone. 

I rouse myself from the dream, confused and disoriented. Who is this dark sister of mine and what happened to her? Her tortured cries as the beast carried her away linger in my head. Glancing at the clock on the table beside my bed, I see that it is only five minutes past midnight, the witching hour. Dare I return to the land of sleep? Can I save this mysterious sibling of the murky moon? And how does one go about such heroic efforts with wild beings who inhabit the shadow realms? 

My heart beats a staccato rhythm against my chest wall as I contemplate this scenario. Fearful of facing the moon beast again, I decide to get out of bed and read for a bit. I pad my way into the pitch black confines of my kitchen looking for a glass of wine to calm my nerves. Not wanting to blast myself back into full consciousness with overhead incandescent light, I grope my way along the granite counters until I find the bottle of red wine where I left it earlier. Somehow just holding onto the dark vessel gives me a small measure of comfort, as I slowly begin to orient myself back into non-dreaming reality. 

I hold the cool glass of ruby liquid close to my heart as I tiptoe out of the kitchen and into my living room, where I search the bookshelves for something to occupy my thoughts. The fact that I stand here bathed in moonlight – that same crown of light that highlighted the inexplicable kidnapping I just witnessed – does not escape me. Blindly I let my fingers play along the spines of the books before choosing a thin volume of unknown title. 

Both hands now fully occupied, I take a seat on my red velvet Victorian couch and sigh deeply. Setting the wine glass and book on the coffee table, I lean back against the plush red and purple pillows and gaze up at the ceiling while trying to whisk away the cobwebs of dream memory in favor of some concrete facts – like I’m here, now, safe, now, in my home, now, no wild-eyed monsters here. 

Some moments later, feeling a little less anxious, I take a long sip of the Italian wine savoring its warm slow journey down the pipe of my esophagus and into my solar plexus. Exhaling fully, I let my eyes wander over to the chosen volume still lying on the table. I lean forward to position the glass of wine next to the book as my consciousness wavers between realism and mysticism. Placing my right hand on the green cover, I close my eyes and bring the text onto my lap. The trepidation of facing yet some new additional horror makes me nervous about opening the novel. But I am fully awake, I remind myself, fully awake and safe at home. 

Determined to conquer the demons who occupy my mind, I grasp the hardbound copy with both hands and open my eyes to read the title. Werewolves of London screams silently back at me, my eyes wide with fear and shock. Quickly I drop the bewitched volume back onto the table and gulp down the remaining wine as I careen violently between nightmare and sleep, magical beings and concrete facts, bewitchery and reality.

Leaving the book and the now empty glass of wine on the antique wooden table, I race back into the bedroom and dive under the bedclothes seeking safety and comfort. How much time passes, I do not know. But I eventually find myself dreaming once again.

I am asleep on the moss covered stone in the moonlit garden. The sound of some savage creature barreling through the underbrush awakens me. Holding my breath and casting my eyes about for a place to hide, I spot the white tusked wild pig with beady, red-rimmed black eyes. He stands at least 6 feet tall and his breath fogs the air about him with the smell of rotting flesh. Motionless, he remains standing at the edge of the forest, simply staring at me. 

The entire jungle goes silent as the censorship of death and rebirth takes charge. No more chattering cicadas, no more rustling branches, no more hooting owls. Just the stillness of graveyards and timeless journeys into space. Spinning out of control as my thoughts try to grasp the scene unfolding before me, I am stunned to see my dark haired sister seated upon the back of the beast, smiling at me. She wears a mask of exquisite beauty, black and red sequined feathers glittering in the moonlight as they frame her own ebony eyes. The scene fades as I lose consciousness. 

Later I awaken to find a bag made of animal skin and filled with masks. As I spill the contents onto my green carpeted bed of stone, a group of women gather in a circle, dancing before me, their black and red feathered veils shimmering in the pale light of the moon.

I awaken in my bed, the morning sun peeking around the window frames and brightening up my room. Lying on top of my bedspread sits a black and red feathered mask dotted with sequins and crystals.

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Still Not Dead Yet

Kathy Martone

   Standing in front of the full-length mirror, I stare at the image looking back at me.  Who is she, I often ask myself.  This older woman with graying hair, wrinkles around her eyes, parchment paper-thin skin, old age spots.  And yet, she looks oddly familiar, this unedited version of myself.  I decide I don’t like her and try to banish her from my life.  But she is persistent and returns every time I look in the mirror.  Make-up, youthful clothing, and hair dye both seem to move her to the corners of my eyes where I don’t have to look at her square on.  This has worked for several years but now she has invaded my inner space, talking to me from inside my head.  There is no escape, it seems.  I feel trapped.  Nowhere to go.  Nowhere to hide.  Destiny is in control.  

   As I begrudgingly accept her presence – this uninvited and unwanted caricature of myself – I am pleasantly surprised to discover how much I enjoy her company.  Often witty and humorous, serious and introspective, she lays out the contradictory puzzle pieces of the map of my life, her ongoing narrative providing depth and wisdom to the flat contours of my memory.  She speaks to me of a life lived and another life to come.  She reminds me that there is much more to this human existence than I ever considered, inviting me into a dance of understanding and wisdom, a song of pain and beauty, all intertwined around a central axis of soul fiber – the true source of human nourishment, she explains.

   And so, I sit myself down in front of this reflection and ask her permission to speak.  Silently nodding, her upturned mouth and twinkling eyes signaling her assent, we begin crafting our relationship – a relationship that will survive beyond eternity.  My teacher, my Self.  The unfolding of the chrysalis of enlightenment, nourished in the womb of silent introspection.

   We begin our wordless dialogue, this Other and Myself.  Telepathically, I complain about her intrusion into my life.  “I don’t like being invisible,” I begin.  “I want to be seen and recognized, understood and valued.  When I walk into a room, no one pays any attention, whereas when I was young and beautiful, heads always turned whenever I entered a room.  I miss the power of physical attraction,” I finish with a sigh.  

   Almost hidden behind folds of skin that inhabit her orbits, her eyes widen with mirth and undeniable interest as she moves closer to me.  “Why, my dear,” she clucks thoughtfully.  “You’re describing the state of emptiness and humility that accompanies spiritual evolution.  Why would you bemoan such gems of transcendence?  This is what we’re all after in this life journey, is it not?  Our time is better spent exploring the invisible realms not complaining about them!”

   Gulping down feelings of shame and embarrassment at not having understood this obvious truth, I bow my head and try to gather my thoughts.  Memories of my childhood begin to flood my mind/body system – a tsunami of images, thoughts and emotions swirling and crashing along the fault lines of old scars and threatening to reopen ancient wounds.  My eyes begin to well with tears.  “Why is my life still so difficult?” I almost yell at her.  “I thought life was supposed to get easier!  My childhood was hell but this is not much better.  My body talks to me constantly – which is really annoying – and  demands so much of my attention.  As you know, I have always been anxious but now there is so much more to worry about – like having enough health insurance to pay for all the necessary maintenance for this bag of bones.  And what will happen to me if I should fall and break a piece of this fragile skeleton?  I feel so fucking vulnerable and everything is harder than it used to be.  Wasn’t I supposed to be feeling stronger as I age?  No one prepared me for this and I’m not happy about it, let me tell you!”

   The old woman in the mirror stares at me, unblinking.  Soon a tear slowly cascades down the hills and valleys of her wrinkled and sagging face.  Now I’m really ashamed of myself.  I didn’t mean to upset her.  But I keep quiet, holding my breath and hoping for more pearls of wisdom.  Standing shakily on spindly legs and grasping her walking cane with her gnarled fist, she turns and inches away from the glass, disappearing from my view.  Where could she have gone, I wonder.  Soon, the sound of distant music makes its way to my ears – the soft strains of a flute and a violin floating gently in the air and wrapping itself around me like a cocoon of remembrance.  But remembrance of what?  Surrendering to the magic of the calming melody, I close my eyes only to jerk them open again as I shield my eyes from the bright white light that floods me.  Out of the luminous glow comes a voice – the now familiar inflection of my elder self.  “Do you remember now, my Sweet One?” her words ring in my ear.  “Do you remember who you really are?  For, without the crucible of pain and suffering, without the burning away of all things mortal, you would never recall that, at your core, you are a Being of Light.  Everything else is irrelevant.  This envelope of skin and bones is simply a distraction and inhibits us from the knowledge of our true essence.  Yes, life is painful for everyone.  And I grieve with you the intensity of such suffering but remember, there is always a reason.  You’re being called to remember that you are more than flesh and bone, you are much more than you ever thought you were.  And bless the fires that have purified you!”  As the music fades away, so does the light.  The reflection of my wise elder stares back at me, a beatific smile radiating from her holy face.

   “But why does it have to be so hard?” I blurt out without thinking.  Slapping my hands over my mouth, I hope she has not heard my careless utterance.  

   “It really doesn’t have to be,” she whispers, her words like thin sheets of parchment paper blowing in the wind.  “Remembering is often the key to release.  Remembering the trajectory of your past with its joys and its pain, its suffering and its delights, will help you to navigate more easily the path of your present and that of your future.  But you must season your remembrance with the sweetness of compassion and self-love.  Sprinkle liberally with that awareness that only comes from years of experience.” 

   Covering my face with my hands, I pull my focus inward, searching and seeking, always looking for the elusive answers to the meaning of my life.  Peeking through my splayed fingers, I’m amused to see the Crone, hands covering her own face, eyes forward, staring back at me.  I chuckle; she echoes.  Pulling her hands down from her face, she looks at me questioningly.  “I just…..I just really hate it….I don’t understand why I’m still struggling with the same issues that plagued me when I was younger.  Wasn’t I supposed to evolve?  I mean, I’ve spent most of my life seeking consciousness and self-understanding.  I immersed myself in the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and made a 6 week pilgrimage to Tibet.  I’m still in therapy and meditate regularly.  But I seem to be standing in the exact same spot with the exact same challenges.  What gives?”

   “Spiritual and psychological transformation take time, often many life times,” she replies.  “It’s a process, not a product.  From where I stand, it seems to me that the only thing missing from your profound journey is empathy for yourself.  Humans never thrive unless they are seen for who they truly are – Light Beings repeatedly caught in the struggle to emerge from the restrictive human experience.  You would do well to enlarge your perspective and excise the judgment.  And now, I’m getting tired.  Shall we take just one more question before I retire?”

   Breathing deeply to collect my thoughts and prepare the query I have purposely left for last, I gaze lovingly into the eyes of my new spiritual friend.  “So, what about death?” I ask.  

   “What about it?” she shoots back with a thin smile creasing her thin lips.

   “Well, uh, I was just thinking,” I begin haltingly.  “My mortality is always lurking around the edges, reminding me that my time is short.  And – I have so many things I still want to do with my life.  I’m curious about death and yet, also afraid of being in pain, afraid of being afraid.  I‘m just not ready….”  My voice trails off.

   “So, with all those past life memories you’ve excavated – soul journeys, if you will – you don’t trust that death is a welcome doorway into another dimension, another life experience?  A chance to further the work you have only just begun in this life?  Death is not an ending, just another beginning – and one that you’ve experienced before.  You survived death in the past and you’ll survive it yet again.  Remember.  Its always about perspective – seeing the future from the perspective of your own ancient and eternal past.  Does that help?” she asks as her form begins to dissolve, like particles of sugar in a glass of water.  Left behind is the reflection of a woman just a bit younger, still with wrinkles and graying hair but a more acceptable and not so decrepit version of myself.  I breathe a sigh of relief – not that old yet.  And definitely not dead – yet.


About the Author

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.  She and her husband also manage two small BnB’s in their charming turn of the century village.

Before retiring in 2015, Dr. Martone was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys.  Prior to this, she was the director of a small mental health clinic and then she served as company psychologist for Southwestern Bell Telephone.  She taught classes at Colorado Free University, The Jungian Ministries International, Naropa University, and Iliff School of Theology.  For the past 35 years she has studied with Richmond K. Greene, past chair of the New York Jungian Institute.

The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  As a Jungian psychologist and shamanic practitioner, energy and depth of meaning are very important to her.  So frequently she will accent the tapestries with symbolic objects, such as old pieces of jewelry, the lining from a purse that belonged to her grandmother, or a piece of ribbon she wore as a little girl.  Layering these materials into a meaningful image evokes for her the multi-layered realms of dreams, myth and metaphor.  Like the magical nets of ancient shamans, these colorful tapestries ensnare the features of her dream spirits as they stare back at her from their watery dimensions.  Her work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  The book chronicles the author’s relentless quest for self understanding and provides a blueprint for other seekers who are looking for spiritual enlightenment while grappling with painful life experiences.  Written in easy to understand language, the book explains how various spiritual and psychological practices were brought together in an alchemical blend to produce a potion of timeless healing.  Weaving its way through such healing practices as psychotherapy, shamanism, Buddhism, Jungian thought and dream work, the reader is given a clear map for psychological and spiritual change.