Posted in Author Spotlight

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!

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MOANA DESPEARA

DAY 1

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.

DAY 6

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. 

DAY16

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.

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THE AWAKENING

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.

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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.

http://www.dreamagik.com/

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https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/victorian-songlight-kathy-martone-phd/1134222514;jsessionid=55ACE2AF79811832054FE012FFDB1A27.prodny_store01-atgap14?ean=9781947381162

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51054900-victorian-songlight

Posted in wattpad

SHORT STORY A MONTH: MAY 2021

Hi everyone! I am going to start sharing some of my own work here on my website, something long overdue here. I have been participating in the short story a month challenge for authors online this year, and I wanted to share my story for May 2021. It is called Doorway, and is the first part of a duology. The second short story in this “miniseries” is coming in June 2021, and will focus on the main character’s adventure in two new worlds. This is a fantasy and sci-fi story that is acting as a tie-in for two of my own series, Nightmare Wars and The Legend of Electric Fusion, which I plan to tie together in the years to come. I hope you enjoy this little short story, and be sure to follow me on Wattpad to read more of my work. If you like what you read, please share and like my stories online. Thank you guys!

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Posted in reviews

Season of Love – A collection of four, seasonally-themed short stories by Kristine Raymond Review

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

Author Kristine Raymond brings readers four original short stories exploring romance in the various seasons of the year in the hit short story collection, “Seasons of Love”. 

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The Synopsis

Four couples. Four seasons. A lifetime of love.

Dogwoods in Springtime

Still in mourning three years after her husband’s death, Caroline Ballard’s solitary life in rural Kentucky is disrupted by a broken water line, of all things. As if the lack of running water wasn’t bad enough, her immediate attraction to plumbing contractor Rick Spencer unearths emotions long thought buried. Opening her heart to love for a second time, a malicious lie told by his ex-wife threatens to end the budding relationship before it begins.

Seashells in Summer

Having adopted her four-year-old daughter, Lily, at birth, Taylor Brightman is suspicious when former Marine Sergeant Grant Cutler appears on her Nantucket Island doorstep claiming to be the girl’s biological father. Wary of his motives, his good looks and charming personality win her over, but can she trust that she won’t lose custody along with her heart?

Aspens in Autumn

Ramsey Fiorentino is having a bad day. On the run for her life after witnessing a murder, she’s being pursued by none other than Bishop Hamilton, a private investigator hired by the person who committed the crime. When he catches up to her and the truth comes out, they flee to the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona to hide, but it’s only a matter of time before their newfound romance is tested in the wake of a deadly confrontation.

Snowflakes in Winter

When New Hampshire State Trooper Alex Ballard becomes stranded during a blizzard in the middle of the night, he seeks refuge at a local bed and breakfast, surprised to discover the owner, Chloe Mancuso, is the sole occupant. A passionate night spent in each other’s arms ignites feelings neither thought possible, but there’s someone else with his eye on Chloe and he’s not willing to share.

The Review

A truly fantastic collection of short stories, the author has done a wonderful job of creating well-rounded characters and evenly-paced stories that really capture the reader’s attention. The interesting thing about this collection is not only how the stories end up connecting to one another, but how each story incorporates various genres into the narratives, ranging from drama and loss to mystery and suspense, all against the backdrop of romance. 

The really interesting thing however comes in the use of seasons for the narrative of each story. Utilizing this storytelling device, the author has found a way to make the seasons themselves not only part of the tapestry of the narrative but characters themselves. The writing does a great job of navigating the subtle nuisances of each story’s narrative, ranging from building tension to passionate romance and so much more.

The Verdict

An emotional, heartfelt, and enrapturing read, author Kristine Raymond’s “Seasons of Love” is a must-read short story collection. Perfectly written for those who love romance stories that incorporate many other genres into their narratives and romantic pairings that draw the reader in immediately, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible collection today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

It wasn’t until later in life that Kristine Raymond figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up, an epiphany that occurred in 2013 when she sat down and began writing her first novel. Over a dozen books in multiple genres later, there are a multitude of ideas floating around in her head thus assuring she’ll never be idle. When a spare moment does present itself, she fills it by navigating the publishing and promotional side of the business. When not doing that, she spends time with her husband and fur-babies (not necessarily in that order) at their home in south-central Kentucky, gardens, reads, or binge-watches Netflix. To find out more, please visit her website at www.kristineraymond.com

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Posted in reviews

Ekleipsis by Tamel Wino Review

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

What happens when ordinary people give into their darker nature? Find out in this amazing collection of short stories from author Tamel Wino, titled “Ekleipsis”. 

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The Synopsis

The sun has finally set on humanity…

What happens when we give in to the darkness?

Ékleipsis is a debut short story collection written by Canadian author Tamel Wino, with hints of Chuck Palahniuk’s and Cormac McCarthy’s stripped, vivid writing styles. This gripping book explores the havoc wreaked when ordinary people abandon their humanity to pursue their darkest desires, and questions just how far people will go to follow their baser instincts.

Each story takes a version of a person we’ve known in our own lives and transforms them into something completely unnerving—yet all too familiar.

These dark, complex characters and twisted tales of the once ordinary will change your perception of humanity forever.

The Review

What a fantastic and well-written collection of short stories. The author does a brilliant job of delving into the darkest parts of human nature and allowing readers to see into the minds of these ordinary people who find themselves pushed into becoming their darkest selves. Pacing is key to this collection of stories, as each tale while short, does an incredible job of building the suspense until the twist ending comes and shakes the foundation of the narrative to its core. 

One story in particular early on that I enjoyed was Closing Costs. The author does a great job of taking readers into the classic affair story gone wrong while getting to see the story from a different perspective of “the other woman”. The author does an incredible job of making these characters feel both vibrant and real all at once and challenges the notion that far too often we see the masks of people they want to show the world, and rarely see the true face beneath the mask. 

The Verdict

A powerhouse collection of short horror stories that are both entertaining and enlightening all at once, author Tamel Wino’s “Ekleipsis” is a must-read book. The author truly is able to showcase the dark psychology of those who are pushed to their limits and those who take the plunge into their darkest desires and gives readers a thought-provoking thrill ride. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tamel Wino is a horror/thriller short fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on madness and human morality. He attended the University of Western Ontario, majoring in health sciences and psychology which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Joe Hill, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold, evocative narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.

When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic movies and travelling.

To get a copy of the book: https://books2read.com/ekleipsis

my website: https://ekleipsis.ca/

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ekleipsis29/

goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20895934.Tamel_Wino

book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuiVWiZP13s&feature=youtu.be

Posted in reviews

Torrents of our Time by Christian Fennell Review

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

Author Christian Fennell showcases his mastery of short stories in his latest collection, “Torrents of our Time”. 

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The Synopsis

Christian Fennell’s debut book, Torrents of Our Time, brings together a collection of 22 stories, most of which have appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. A gifted storyteller with a wide ranging audience, Fennell challenges the weakness in the heart of all our “truths”, while illuminating our dreams and our fears. These are stories that reside in the broken places of us, a stunning dance between our flaws and the beauty and joy of who we are, in this place now. Taken as a whole, Torrents of Our Time is a lyrical and page-turning narrative of love, loss, and pain.

The Review

This was a fantastic short story collection. The author has a superb way with words that is both poetic and thought-provoking. Each story is written in a way that allows the reader to interpret and feel their own emotions about the narrative rather than a straightforward story with a beginning, middle and end. 

One story in particular that I enjoyed as a paranormal and magick enthusiast is The Witch in the Woods, which plays on childhood fears and storytelling and the concept of bravery in the face of that fear. The elements involving the “witch” were great to see and the story ends on a shocking note, but the grander concept of false narratives blinding us to the truth and how stories can grow and take on a life of their own really resonated with me. The author’s expert use of imagery and character growth in such a short span of time really added to the thoughtful nature of each story being told. 

The Verdict

Overall, this was a must-read collection. The author’s work is profoundly impactful and really draws the reader in. Each story has something for every kind of reader, and the author’s writing really is creative and emotionally powerful in its delivery, making this a one of a kind read that cannot be missed. Be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christian Fennell writes literary fiction and essays. His short story collection, Torrents of Our Time, is scheduled to be released by Firenze Books, October 6, 2020. His novel, The Fiddler in the Night, January 2021.

Christian’s short stories and essays have appeared in a number of international magazines, literary journals, and collected works, including: Chaleur Magazine, Litro Magazine, XRAY Literary Magazine, Dreamers Magazine, Spark: A Creative Anthology, Kind Writers Anthology, Liars’ League London, Wilderness House Literary Review, and .Cent Magazine, among others.

Christian was a columnist and the fiction editor at the Prague Revue. He is currently working on his second novel.

https://www.christianfennell.com/

https://www.instagram.com/christianfennell_/

https://www.facebook.com/Christian-Fennell-103446968171343

Posted in reviews

Were We Awake by L.M. Brown Review

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

A series of short stories illustrate the world people thought they knew is not what it appeared in author L.M. Brown’s novel “Were We Awake.”

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The Synopsis

In each story of this collection, events make the characters understand that their world is not as it seemed.

In Hidden, the discovery of an affair between her father and aunt is only the start of finding hidden secrets for Hazel.

What it Means to Be Empty-Handed is narrated by a fourteen–year-old daughter of an alcoholic. Her denial and elaborate imagination starts to disintegrate when she lies to the wrong person.

In Crashing, a middle-aged woman lives a life of servitude until she hits teenage boy with her car.

A thirty-year-old murder takes its toll on the victim’s family in Walking A Country Road.

The stories are set in Boston and Ireland.


The Review

Author L.M. Brown does it again, creating a wonderful collection of stories that are both connected and illustrate the way life constantly throws people curve balls, turning the world they knew into a completely new one. A collection that showcases that things are never simple or what they appear. 

One of the truly engaging stories of the collection has to be Hidden, which delves into the complex family life of Hazel when she discovers her father and aunt are having an affair. Yet as her family life implodes, new secrets reveal that things are not as simple as they first appeared. The story is a prime example of how life is often lived in shades of grey, with people often living complicated lives in an attempt to find peace and happiness. The author beautifully illustrates the pain, the shock and the confusion that comes from having a person’s world turned upside down, and perfectly taps into the emotion and complexity of humanity as a whole. 


The Verdict

A fairly average length read with completely dynamic characters and stories that feel both personal and connected, this collection of stories is truly unique and wonderfully captures the author’s unique writing style and voice. A collection that honestly showcases the ever changing landscape of the world we live in, both the world at large and the world we create for ourselves. A dramatic journey through life’s greatest challenges, this is a fantastic collection readers will not want to miss, so be sure to grab their copy of Were We Awake by L.M. Brown today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She grew up in Sligo. Ireland, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, a dog and a bearded dragon.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaBrownAuthor/

https://amzn.to/33xLrJz

Posted in reviews

The Gravedigger by Rath Dalton Review

A young boy’s struggles against an abusive father and a mother struggling to care for herself and him in WWII era America takes center stage in author Rath Dalton’s short story, “The Gravedigger”. 

The Synopsis

A German boy, Dirk Armen Bohler, vies with his father during the depression years. Squeezed between poverty and a failed father figure, he struggles to find his place.

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The Review

In just a few pages, the author does a magnificent job of highlighting the struggles of women and children during a WWII era, especially those with absent or abusive fathers who sought only to take and never provide for their family. Mirroring the sudden encounter with a gravedigger, the young boy’s journey into adulthood and finding his place in the world is highlighted by his struggle to protect himself and his mother from their father, and to be the opposite of his father in every way. 

Between his father issues and the poverty that took many during the war by surprise, especially when rationing began, makes this quite an engaging read that feels like a personal character study of a young man that often went unnoticed in those days, and became quite heroes in their own right. 

The Verdict

This is a powerful and emotional tale told in a very short amount of time. For a reasonable price, readers are treated to a period drama like no other, capturing the raw vulnerability of those struggling back home during the WWII years while also showcasing a unique coming of age tale that highlights the strength and sacrifice many made during that tumultuous time. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of author Rath Dalton’s short story, “The Gravedigger”, today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Hello, if you read some of my work and enjoyed it, you might try posting a review on Amazon.com. Positive reviews help independent authors greatly. If you didn’t like what you read, feel free to email me at rathdalton@gmail.com and tell me where the holes are. It’s always good to get feedback. Thanks for being a reader.

– Rath Dalton

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WiqONi

Posted in reviews

Beyond the Tolbooth: A short story of Human Resilience by Stephen Parkes Review

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

Author Stephen Parkes once again takes readers on a journey through one of the strangest 18th century cases you’ll ever read about in the short story, “Beyond the Tolbooth”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A short story of human resilience. 18th-century Margaret Dickson hangs for her crimes and lives to tell about it.

The Review

What fascinated me about this story was the way the author delved into the tricky notion that not all history is set in stone. Exploring Margaret’s story, readers will instantly see the way rumors and half-truths led to the tragic circumstances of Margaret being sent to prison and later executed for them, only to survive the ordeal. It’s really a telling story, as back then a woman could be imprisoned and even executed for something as simple as concealing a pregnancy. The truth behind her story is not fully realized, and the author pinpoints these inaccuracies and allows readers to come to their own determination about who Margaret was and whether or not she truly was guilty.

The Verdict

A unique story of fighting for the truth, pinpointing historical fact from assumption, and the shocking reality that nothing is foolproof in the criminal justice system, and Margaret is one of the few people to have ever survived the most popular form of execution, a public hanging. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of Beyond the Tolbooth by Stephen Parkes today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Stephen Parkes (1960 – ) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Stephen earned a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of law and a Ranger tab from the U.S. Army. He is a former Weapons platoon leader with the 2d Ranger battalion. He is one of very few individuals to experience a long-drop hanging (in his case more than eight feet) and live to tell about it. He was twice convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, a knife, and spent four and one-half years in federal prison and county lock-ups. Stephen was certified by the State of Florida as a habitual violent felony offender in 2008. These days, Stephen is an honorable man and husband. These days, Stephen lives free and prospers.

https://amzn.to/2TXQFtx

Posted in reviews

The Donut Hypothesis: A Cop. A Criminal. And Their Donuts by Stephen Parkes Review

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

In a unique origin story, author Stephen Parkes takes readers on an informative and humorous journey to discover the history behind the preconception regarding police officers and a certain breakfast pastry in “The Donut Hypothesis”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A short story about a cop, a criminal and their donuts.

The Review

In just a couple of pages, (5 to be exact), the author explores the secret history of the donut, from it’s original name that never stuck, to the way it was incorporated into the image of police officers. What’s most fascinating about this story is that the author takes such a simple and strange story concept, and in just a few pages makes it entertaining and fascinating all at once. Readers won’t be able to help being intrigued and by the books end, will find themselves chuckling as they read the author’s final words.

The Verdict

While a short read, the story itself was unique and very entertaining. A fun story that delves into one of the criminal justice systems most underrated secret histories, readers will instantly fall in love with this story. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of Stephen Parkes short story “The Donut Hypothesis” today!

Rating: 8/10

About the Author

Stephen Parkes (1960 – ) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Stephen earned a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of law and a Ranger tab from the U.S. Army. He is a former Weapons platoon leader with the 2d Ranger battalion. He is one of very few individuals to experience a long-drop hanging (in his case more than eight feet) and live to tell about it. He was twice convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, a knife, and spent four and one-half years in federal prison and county lock-ups. Stephen was certified by the State of Florida as a habitual violent felony offender in 2008. These days, Stephen is an honorable man and husband. These days, Stephen lives free and prospers.

https://amzn.to/2SLg392