Tag Archives: contemporary fiction

Coming September 23rd-A Short Story & Novella Collection by Red Haircrow

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From the author of “The Agony of Joy”, winner of the  Global Ebook Awards 2013 in Best LGBT Fiction, Variance is a collection of ten short stories and novellas by Red Haircrow ranging from contemporary to fantasy, the surreal and thought-provoking to the innocently poignant.

Although some see “variance” as suggestive of disharmony, it can be the reality of achieving, understanding, expressing and conveying a variety of emotions, schools of thought, relationships, personalities, and more, without limitation, exhibiting the ranges possible within one’s being.

As a story collection, Variance displays the range of a multi-talented poet and author who has been described as having a “magnificent command of language” and “a gift for descriptive prose.”

  • Publishing first at Smashwords
  • Words: 66,334 (approximate)
  • Language: American English
  • ISBN: 9781301063123
  • Price: $5.99

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Contemporary Fiction

Night Shift

The Caravaggio & The Swan

The Coat: Secrets of a Hatcheck Boy

Convenience Store Romance

Fantasy

The Angel of Berlin (Urban)

A Lieutenant’s Love (Historical)

Katrdeshtr’s Redemption (Dark/Vampire)

Surrealism

We, The Dead (Visionary)

Children of Light (Ancient)

The House of Doom, Dreams and Desire (Sensual/Horror)

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Filed under Announcements, Anthologies, Books, Contemporary Fiction, Dark Fiction, Fiction, GLBTIIQ Interest, Historical Fiction, Short Story Collections

Kaleidoscope World by Tomica Scavina

17253407Review: If open in the genre, it is a story that catches the interest immediately. And within a few paragraphs, if not a few sentences, the mood and tone is set: a young woman, somewhat listless, dissatisfied, unsure yet at the same time, knows or feels action needs to be taken. There is a palpable feel of helplessness combined with a carefully contained frenzy of mania that may strike at anytime, yet no one around the individual may ever know.

The author accurately invokes the behavioral after-effects an adult can display when having experienced strong or continuing trauma as a child and/or teen. All the little thoughts, the impressions, the observations all mostly unspoken that cross the mind all referencing back to those times. Internally you think yourself insane, but you are actually one of the most sane because you daily, hundreds of times, have to face and overcome memories that might drive another crazy. Or, in this case, you can embrace a special kind of madness and make it work for you simply because you cannot find a way to be rid of it successfully.

Descriptions, something I often note, were in balance in my opinion. There are times when the story, the characters, the scenes needed more details, yet didn’t slow the pace and flow. Other times, a minimalist tone allowed for more focus on the emotions, the dialogue, arcs leading to the climax. Kaleidoscope World was balanced and enjoyable in that, with the only thing even somewhat of a hinderance being the length of paragraphs at times. I felt especially with certain dialogues and thoughts of Dahlia, the main character, they could have had more impact were structure different.

Invocative, beautiful but also agonizing in raw but necessary emotion, especially for those of us who have had to trod similar paths…or may still be doing so.  This story could be anybody’s: a close acquaintance or even a past lover you never could understand but wanted to, a brother or sister…a parent. Quite outstanding and unforgettable.

Description: A collector of kaleidoscopes and lousy relationships, Dahlia Kasper leaves her possessive alcoholic mother and moves from New York to Barcelona. In search of lost bits of her childhood, she starts living in an apartment where her father was murdered when she was four. As soon as she enters the apartment, strange things begin to happen.

Her favorite kaleidoscope becomes a gateway to another dimension where she encounters a ghost of a famous physicist from the 19th century who tries to persuade her that reality is like a moth-eaten sweater – full of holes. He needs her to help him plug up these holes and save the world from vanishing, while the only thing Dahlia really wants to save is her sanity.

This is just a part of Dahlia’s problems. An elderly cello-playing neighbor turns her emotional world upside down and her longing for lost home takes her further that she ever imagined she could go. To collect all the scattered kaleidoscope-bits of her life together, Dahlia needs to go through an intense inner transformation that takes courage and a sharp sense of humor.

  • Kindle Edition Available at Amazon
  • Published December 30, 2012
  • ASIN: B00AVC7SDY
  • Source: Author

Author Profile

Tomica Scavina (1975) is a psychologist, who, at some point in her life, felt that her professional life was squelching her creativity. She diagnosed herself as “overly normal” and returned to her forgotten love of writing fiction to unleash her creative streak. This resulted in three novels.Tomica lives in Croatia and for now the only one in English is Kaleidoscope World. It is a psychological thriller with elements of mystery. If you find anything “normal” on its pages, let her know – she’ll find a way to cure it. Find out more about Tomica on her website: www.tomicascavina.com

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Cemetary Street by John Zunski

Review: With a variety of situations that happen in all levels of the society you live in, no matter where you are in the world: angst, pain, love, death, Cemetary Street is set in what I would consider Anytown, US, but what I understood to be emotionally engaging to some, didn’t grab me. I could certainly feel the power of the author’s vision in this “slice of someone’s life” tale and what they wished to present, yet the “all-American” theme especially when including military life has never been one I identified with or care for. Characters were vividly drawn and detailed, no doubting that, and the story moved forward with good pace, and obviously a clear plan, I felt Cemetary Street was a great debut effort, but just wasn’t my type of read.

 

Description: “In a world of presumptuous people, irony is alive and well,” concludes James Morrison, the narrator of this touching coming of age novel. A view Shannie Ortolan – James’s longtime friend, sometimes lover, and full-time obsession – wouldn’t argue. From their first encounter as teenagers until Shannie’s death, experience the twists, turns and enthralling characters that populate Cemetery Street.

On the cusp of the new millennium, James fulfills a promise. Reenacting a childhood ritual, he places a mud pie upon a grave. This simple act triggers powerful memories. Meet the people that shaped James’s life. Shannie, who among other things, introduces him to the sport of dodging freight trains. Count, the cemetery caretaker’s son, helps James navigate the minefields of adolescence until destiny is met in Desert Storm. Russell, an aging blind African-American, guards a horrifying secret behind a cloud of cigar smoke. Diane, Shannie’s mother, a college professor dispels the notion of tweed jackets and elbow patches. Steve Lucas, a mortician’s son, who despite bizarre obsessions, stands by James during his most challenging times.

Laugh, cry, and blush as James recounts events of a late twentieth century American life.”

 

Author Bio

John was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia. In 2003, he sailed across the country in a U-haul and settled in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. He is the Author of four novels. Cemetery Street is his first. His second, Shangri-la Trailer Park will be published in the fall of 2011. Dirty Bum for President – the story of a unique candidate and Nightwatching – a ghost story, will be published in 2012. He is currently working on Cemetery Street’s sequel, Montana Rural.

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World Trade Center Writers by John Blandly

Review: This book is special and distinct, let me say that first, and I found it hard to determine exactly what genre it was although the main players were part of a writing group the likes of which I hope never to join. Unpredictable authors, slightly psychotic and in some cases, just plain weird, maybe they’re normal after all.

“World Trade Center Writers” has an unusual beginning where the presumable author is speaking directly to the reader. Mostly a mixture of dialogue with plenty of one-liners and comedy that, one supposed, was of the tongue-in-cheek variety, characters were whisked on and off the page presumably to move along the plot of the story, which is both abrupt and strangely compelling.

I didn’t rate this one because I didn’t know how to rate it. All I can say, if you’re interested in quirky, almost surreal reads, download a copy of the fast-moving “World Trade Center Writers.” Sure to provoke a strong reaction, whether one thinks it drivel or the most innovate piece of writing they’ve read in a while, WTC might leave you in a quandary, as it did me.

Description: A gorgeous literary agent, who has trouble keeping her clothes on, stalks a writers’ group. Charlotte, the leader of the writers’ group, asks Bernard, a group member, to dispose of a dead body in her hotel room. She says Felicity, the literary agent, shot the guy. Bernard doesn’t want to get involved. Then Charlotte says she can get his book published.

Published September 16th 2010 by John Blandly

Published/Available at Smashwords

Source: Author

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Interview & Review of Robert Dunbar’s “Willy”

Review: At a home for troubled youths, a young man struggling with his own emotions becomes integrally involved with Willy, another young student with problems of his own, both internally and externally, past and present. I found the narrative to be admirably in character at all times, yet the style didn’t work for me. For me it very difficult to move through the book though certain descriptions and ideas did stand out, and I understood the method and reason behind the choice.

The language used was very visual, often intense yet believable in an ordinary way so that when you realize the suspense has built, it’s almost a surprise. You’re surrounded, and find yourself entirely immersed in the drama the main character is experiencing.

Personally, for the homo-erotic content some readers or reviewers mentioned, I must be eclectic or very open-minded or it’s a Berliner thing, but the interaction that happened seemed entirely normal to me (that’s a good thing) and representative of adolescent exploration that simply isn’t often admitted by those who may feel threatened by the spectrum of sexuality after they become adults. For the dark psychological aspects, perhaps because I’m a Psychology major and have worked with severely troubled children and adolescents in the past, the story didn’t seem overly heavy or dark to me. Seen too many things far worse.

I found “Willy” to have a unique voice and perspective that certainly would appeal to many readers.

Description: In an isolated school for boys with emotional problems, a disturbed adolescent struggles against a mire of superstition and oppression. Then he meets Willy, and the other boy – charismatic and strange – saves him … or damns him. WILLY, an atmospheric novel of suspense by the author of THE PINES, THE SHORE and MARTYRS & MONSTERS, becomes both an evocation of painful growth and a dark psychological thriller.

Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 24th 2011 by Uninvited Books
ISBN:0983045720
ISBN13: 9780983045724
Source: Author
For availibility of work, please visit Robert Dunbar’s website http://www.dunbarauthor.com/

Interview

Robert Dunbar in his own words:

What genre do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I’ve written a lot of things, everything from – you should pardon the expression – straight literary fiction to suspense and science fiction, though primarily of course I’m known as a horror writer. Personally, I prefer the term dark fiction, because it feels so much less restrictive. As for why I write what I do … I’m not at all sure how to answer that. An artist’s work is like a fingerprint – each one is distinctive. Critics are always comparing my work to that of other writers, often with hilarious results. I hear ‘Stephen King’ a lot, which always cracks me up. I mean, I know it’s meant kindly, but I can’t even think of another author with whom I have less in common. And sometimes these comparisons are extremely flattering, if a bit puzzling. Just this year, I’ve gotten everything from J. D. Salinger to Flannery O’Connor. Personally, I don’t think I write like anyone else … which is as it should be.

 What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When am I not writing?

 Where do you hang out online?

These days, my favorite virtual hangout is probably the Literary Horror group at Goodreads – running that has been very stimulating. It attracts a very smart, very engaged group of people, lots of teachers and librarians and writers. (Okay, so the writers may not be as smart of all that: we do our best.) My personal site remains www.DunbarAuthor.com, but I’ve now got a fan page set up on Facebook for Uninvited Books, and that’s also been great fun.

 What would you like readers to know about you the individual?

Dunbar the person as opposed to Dunbar the writer? I don’t think I can make that distinction. It’s all so intimate, all that passion and discipline. How could it not be? Writing is an identity issue, not an occupational one. (I’ve always told aspiring writers that if they can do anything else they should. This is way too hard a life for anybody with a choice.) Do you understand what I mean? This isn’t just my life, it’s me, all of me, and whatever pride I take in my work is ultimately beside the point.

My books have often annoyed the hell out of populist reviewers, but a more literary crowd has always praised me in the most amazing ways. (What was it Churchill said about having enemies? That it proved you stood for something?) Truly, the accolades can be quite alarming, not that I don’t love them. What writer isn’t thrilled at finding words like “masterpiece” and “superb” in a review? But some of the most meaningful feedback has been from readers, you know, comments online or at lectures and signings, that sort of thing. People often voice their astonishment at how much sheer humanity my underclass and minority characters possess, which I normally interpret as a sad comment on the usual stereotypes. (The horror genre is only slowly emerging from a long reactionary period.) Recently, I heard from a reader who marveled that I write about gay characters who seem like regular human beings. That really moved me. And, yes, I think that indicates a lot about what kind of a writer I am … and what sort of a person.

No, the question wasn’t designed to make a distinction, as I believe every individual can be such a variety of things, there is no reason for writer or writing to make them specifically different from others. As I live and move among those search for higher and wider gestalts of thought and being, yes, I understand what you mean.

“write about gay characters who seem like regular human beings”

I found that a very interesting statement, both with critique and admiration for the expression. I would have to say that is positive on the person’s part, though in a homo-ignorant kind of way, and in general for your writing, a plus, as I’ve not seen your work in general added to “m/m fiction” or gay fiction lists. I’ve experienced the fact far too many readers don’t seem to be able to differentiate between fiction that contains real gay situations and characters from those that are entirely fictitious or make gay characters into caricatures. So that the boundaries of gays as “regular human beings” has become blurred, when that is what we are anyway.

 

Your Writing Process

 

Why do you write?

For the same reason I breathe. Sorry – that sounds so pretentious. It’s the truth though. How else could I live?

It doesn’t sound pretentious to me in the slightest, but merely honest. But then, where I’m from, we just tell it like it is.

 Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read. You wouldn’t think that would be such a radical suggestion, would you? Sadly, it seems to be. So many “writers” apparently just skip that whole business of learning their craft. I can’t really think of any other discipline where this happens so often. Not in music. Nor dance. In art class, they begin by teaching you to see. You study the masters. You learn perspective and anatomy and composition, and only then do you begin to paint. But pretty much anybody can click on “spell check.”

 Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?

I work as many hours a day as I can. Beyond that, no, I don’t count paragraphs or pages. But it’s always a battle. Everything in life makes demands on your time, your strength, your passion, and you have to resist. Your will becomes a machete for hacking away all the inessentials, so that you can carve out a space for yourself, for your life, your real life, and you must protect that fiercely. The battle never ends.

 

Your Books

 

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

There are four right now, and several others in the works. My favorite? Tough call. Probably the best known is still THE PINES, which continues to attract devotees. It’s always a thrill to hear it referred to as a “modern classic.” But in many ways, I prefer THE SHORE. (It has a smaller but – if anything – more rabidly intense group of admirers.) But WILLY and MARTYRS & MONSTERS are the ones closest to my heart, probably because of the autobiographical aspects – WILLY most of all.

 Do you outline your books or just start writing?

All writers outline … even the ones who don’t know they’re doing it. Somewhere inside there’s a blueprint. Personally, I need to create that framework, or else the details of a book just proliferate out of control. The trick is – having created the thing – to ignore it, not to let it inhibit the process. What dancers call flow, you know, when it’s just coming through you … when you don’t even have to think about it. You have to trust your instincts enough to know when to let go.

Well, I’ll have to disagree with you there, but maybe because I don’t care for generalizations involving an infinite “all.” I don’t online some of my work, it comes as it wishes.

 How does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover?  What is your favorite cover of all your paperbacks?

Now you’ve really hit a nerve: this used to make me cringe. The original cover for THE PINES had a bloody stump on the cover, and the gore was actually embossed. But that book has had so many editions that I’ve lost track. Through the years, I’ve had good covers and bad ones. Even some generic ones. But all the titles from Uninvited Books, like – WILLY – feature sophisticated, elegant artwork by Chas Hendricksen … who happens to be the love of my life. (Just wait till you see the cover for the new edition of MARTYRS & MONSTERS that’s about to come out.) I am a very lucky writer. People can check out Chas’ cover designs at www.UninvitedBooks.com.

 

Your Characters

 

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Those are not mutually exclusive options. I’ve had lengthy relationships with people who turned out to be largely imaginary. Most of my fictional characters are far more substantial.

I had to smile. Those weren’t intended to be, but rather a point from which the author could expand upon.

 Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?

No, they tell me who they are.

 Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?

All of them.

 Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?

So many. A particular one? There’s the nameless narrator of WILLY of course. Beyond that … how about two? There’s a pair of boys in MARTYRS & MONSTERS – Timmy and Conrad – who have always just broken my heart, maybe because of the way they constantly hurt each other. They’re junkies. Timmy hustles. Con is a thug. These kids have “doomed” written all over them. But they’re in love. And part of me wants so desperately to believe that this could save them. I often feel them inside me, those two, and they turn up in my dreams a lot.

A huge thank you to Robert Dunbar for taking the time to reply to this set of interview questions, and for his patience regarding my intercontinental move that forced me to delay posting his review and interview, the latter of which was completed by him several weeks ago.

Author Bio:

Robert Dunbar is the author of the supernatural thrillers THE PINES and THE SHORE, both of which garnered profoundly postive reviews. He is also the author of MARTYRS & MONSTERS — a collection of his short fiction — and a new dark literary novel WILLY. He has been called “the catalyst for the new literary movement in horror” and “one of the saviors of contemporary dark fiction.”

Dunbar has written for television and radio as well as for numerous newspapers and magazines. His plays and poetry have won awards, and his short fiction has been widely anthologized.

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Dark Fiction, Reviews