A Moment on the Edge ~ #Mystery #Anthology #BookReview

6411705I’m not going to pretend that this was some life changing anthology, every story a priceless gem to learn from and cherish for a lifetime. I will say, however, that despite the less than stellar rating on Goodreads (3.86), this is not an anthology you want to read unless you are looking for more authors to add to your ‘to read’ list.

I think that this anthology is underrated (and under read) because many of the stories (and authors) are older. (I’d hate to think it’s because all the authors are women.) Some readers may consider them out of date. But can you ever really say that Shirley Jackson’s talent for creating suspense and Susan Glaspell’s biting insight are any less enjoyable because their stories were written so long ago? Not in my opinion. Not every story in this anthology is great, but there were many that I enjoyed, and I’m glad I read it. 5 stars!

Hilde at the Ghost Shore by Paula Cappa ~ Short Fiction Review

Hildie at the Ghost Shore: A Short Story by [Cappa, Paula]A good short story should leave a reader who is also a writer breathless to create their own next piece of short fiction, and this story did exactly that for me! It’s not really my style – mixing in blatant elements of the supernatural – but I totally didn’t suspect a thing or see the ending coming, which always makes me a fan. The writing is enjoyable, the story well crafted – needless to say, Paula Cappa has a new fan and I’d like to read more of her work.

As an added bonus, this short story is FREE on Kindle. As a double added bonus, another short story  – Abasteron House – is included in the free download. I didn’t like the second story as much, but it was again well written and masterfully crafted. 4.5 stars!

Blue Ringed Octopus Delight by James W Brown ~ Short Fiction Review

24241631While the premise of this story was certainly interesting, I love the title, and I enjoyed the story, I can’t say that I’ll be reading the novel that this short story was an intro for. The main character is fun – sharp, witty, wry humored – and the writing isn’t bad, but I’m not a huge fan of pulp noir, and that’s what this reads as. This is going to sound sexist, but I have to be honest – while reading this, I thought to myself, “This writer would definitely appeal more to male readers.”

However – if YOU are a fan of this style of writing, I suggest that you give this quick little story a chance. It’s not completely unpredictable, but I smell a writer who’s only going to get better and more inventive with time, which is always a good thing! 3.5 stars!

The Book Case by Nelson DeMille – Short Fiction Review

The Book Case (Kindle Single) by [DeMille, Nelson]It was the title of this short story that caught my attention. I recognized the (best selling) author’s name, it was free for Amazon Prime members on Kindle, and then I read the synopsis – not only is this a case about a book, someone is actually killed by a book case. How could I resist? I couldn’t!

This story is fun! A little cutesy (how could it not be with the double entendre), but with sharp wit, biting humor, and a nice little mystery to solve. It was a quick read that left me smiling. What more can you ask for? 4.5 stars!

Double Cross by Jeffery Deaver ~ Short Fiction Review

Double Cross (Kindle Single) by [Deaver, Jeffery]I saw this offered free on Kindle and thought to myself, “Hmm. The author who wrote The Bone Collector. The Lincoln Rhyme series. This can’t be bad.”

I feel like I stand corrected.

Maybe that’s too harsh. Or maybe not. The bottom line is I didn’t like it. I felt that the style was poor. I get the whole ‘writing in the voice of the character’ thing, but in this instance, in my opinion, it fell flat. The plot left me gasping for air – not because it was so suspenseful, but because it was stale. And the ending???? I thought that they made it clear that the ploy used in this ending was against the law in creative writing 101.

Short stories are hard. I get it. But reading them shouldn’t be. I was really disappointed by this one. At least it was free. 3 stars.

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood ~ Short Story Fiction Review

22642472What can I say about this collection of short stories by notorious author Margaret Atwood? I have mixed feelings. The first few stories are interrelated, with characters mentioned in one story featured in the next. I love the idea. I didn’t love the stories. I’d give these a rating of 3.5 to 4.

However, the later stories in the book appealed to me more. Enough to redeem the book for me as a whole and make me glad that I read it. Enough for me to understand the longevity of Atwood’s career.

Some of the stories in this collection are more genre than literature. It is these stories that capture the reader’s attention and takes their brain by storm. I give these stories 5 stars. The book as a whole, 4.5 stars.

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014 ~ Book Review

wpb14One of my goals for this year was to win an award for one of my short stories. Maybe an O. Henry Award is a bit ambitious, but when I stumbled across this anthology, I thought I might as well read what the competition was up to. That said, book read, I’m thinking I might focus my efforts on mystery story awards. It’s not that the stories in this book weren’t good, because they were, it’s just that with a short story, where an author has a very finite amount of time and space to make their impression, what resonates with me are stories that linger. By that I mean stories that I’m still thinking about days, weeks, months, sometimes even years later. I don’t feel that any of the stories in this anthology will linger with me.

This is, perhaps, (probably and most likely) a personal issue. Literature is writing about everyday life in a way that you strike a chord with the reader. You present something that they can relate to, something they identify with and thus make your impression, making the mundane memorable. In genre writing, such as mystery, you have the unfair advantage of crafting a plot that doesn’t necessarily have its roots planted in reality. Real life doesn’t impress me nearly as much as a plot twist that blindsides me, leaving me shocked and breathless. The last short story anthology I read was Eighteen by Jan Burke and I thought it was incredible. It’s been two months and a few of the stories are still as fresh in my mind as if I just read them. I can still recall most of them. I’d be hard pressed to remember any of the stories in this book next month. Again, my biased and personal opinion. Four stars.

Christmas in November – The Bram Stoker Awards

stokerIt’s time for the annual Bram Stoker Award recommendations which, for a voracious read like me, is like Christmas in November. Imagine having your inbox filled with the year’s best short stories, anthologies, novels and poetry collections – for free! This year is especially exciting because I have a story that’s been recommended for the ballot – That’s my name wpsmeegleright there with Steven King and a posthumous story by Shirley Jackson (author of The Lottery, The House on Haunting Hill – trust me, you’ve probably read something by her!).

It’s an honor just to be nominated and have my name up there with the greats. That said, after seeing my name with them, I was overcome by the strangest feeling. Like wproosterSmeegle in the Lord of the Rings, I want it! I need it! I wondered if I was at a disadvantage because my story is a detective mystery instead of a more classic things-that-go-bump-in-the-night, creature or ghost horror story. I was anxious because I’ve spent the last year using my spare time to write instead of (gasp) networking with other writers. Sadly I’ve made few friends with my fellow HWA members.

wprooster1In all honesty, it’s not what winning the award would do for my career as a writer, but what it would do for my confidence as a writer. A little validation can do wonders for the soul. But, alas, reality is a game of numbers, and I am but an army of one. If any member of the HWA reads this and is interested in reading the story, please let me know and I’ll send you a copy (necessary shameless plug). I would be ECSTATIC to get on the formal ballot. Seriously, I would strut around like a rooster for a week. I’d even wear a humiliating costume and send you a copy of the video if you helped (desperate shameless plug). But if I have to live with just receiving the recommendation , that’ll be ok too.