Posts Tagged ‘Short Stories’

Review of When the Hero Comes Home

July 11, 2011

When the Hero Comes HomeWhen the Hero Comes Home by Gabrielle Harbowy & Ed Greenwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s not what you usually think of, is it? What happens to the hero after it’s all over. But that’s the subject of the utterly fantastic anthology When the Hero Comes Home, edited by Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood, and published by Dragon Moon Press. I came to this knowing I’d like at least some of it, because Gabrielle is an incredible editor and I already love JM Frey’s writing. What I didn’t expect is that I would like–that I would love–all of it. (OK, total honesty, I have no stomach for zombies, so the little bit of that in a couple of stories, I didn’t like, but I’m clearly in the minority with the zombie-ickies, so don’t mind me.)

There’s such a wonderful diversity in these stories. Sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, it’s definitely a new experience with every story. And there are some real flashes of brilliance in here.

Keeping Time by Gabrielle Harbowy I read first, because she’s my editor and I idolize her but I’d never read anything by her. I was so pleasantly surprised, both by the compelling storytelling and by the ending. The Once and Now-ish King by JM Frey I jumped to next, since I already love her debut novel, Triptych. That. One. Rocks. So insanely clever and funny.

There’s such raw, real humanity—and inhumanity—in The Evil that Remains by Erik Buchanan. Brine Magic by Tony Pi was unique, fascinating, and moving. One and Twenty Summers by Brian Cortijo left me gasping for more—and those were not tears, really they weren’t. But, Brian, when you write more of this one, I want first dibs.

The imagery and emotion of Ashes of the Bonfire Queen by Rosemary Jones was so real that I find myself still thinking of it, feeling it, more than a week later. Mirror, Mirror by Phil Rossi was such a creepy-realistic look at the human psyche and the things we do and are capable of. And if I’m ever capable of writing the rich prose Erik Scott de Bie does in Oathbreaker, a Tale of the World of Ruin, I’ll die a happy writer. The best part of that one wasn’t just the beautiful drapery, but the way it revealed a fascinating story set in a world far more well-imagined than you usually expect in a short.

Full Circle, by Steve Bornstein, may well be my secret favorite. I’m a sucker for a well-told second person POV and this one is pitch perfect. Steve also builds an great story from very little real info to start on, letting the surprise unfurl with the story, without leaving you scratching your head wondering what’s going on. Just the delicious thrill of I-know-I’m-going-to-love-this-as-soon-as-I-figure-it-out.

Those aren’t all the great things about this anthology, or even the best, simply the ones that stick out to me over a week later when I finally had a chance to write this review. Don’t do yourself the disservice of missing this one. It’s an amazing experience.


View all my reviews

#5MinuteFiction Week 57

June 28, 2011

What is 5MinuteFiction, you say? It’s an adrenaline-fueled, instant-gratification sort of writing contest. Sound fun? Great! Get in there and get dirty!


The Rules

* You get five minutes to write a piece of prose or poetry in any style or genre

* You must directly reference today’s prompt: duck

(Note: The prompt is the word. The picture is for decoration/inspiration.)


* Post your entry as a comment to this post.

I’ll close the contest at 1:45. That gives you 5 minutes to write and ten to accommodate the vagaries of relative time, technology, and the fickle internets. If you are confused or just want to whine, feel free to email me.

At the close of the contest, this week’s guest judge, Kathryn Magendie, Author, and Publishing Editor, Rose & Thorn, @katmagendie will nominate five finalists.

I’ll put the nominees in a poll, and at 9:00 EDT tomorrow I’ll close the poll and declare the winner.


For updates, you can subscribe to my RSS Feed, “like” my Facebook Page, or follow me on twitter.

What’s the prize? Usually nothing. But this week’s guest judge is offering a copy of one of her novels, Tender Graces or Sweetie, to the winner!


A Few Notes:

* In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box or notepad. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry. If your entry doesn’t appear right away, email me sometimes comments go into the suspected spam folder and I have to dig them out.

* I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.

* This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.

Because I Said So: When the Hero Comes Home

June 23, 2011

At least that’s the default answer when my kids ask me “why?”

So, yeah, that really doesn’t have anything to do with this post. This is a plug for a book. Yep. When the Hero Comes Home. But it’s not just because it’s co-edited by my fantabulous, editor Gabrielle Harbowy at Dragon Moon Press. Or that it includes a story both from her and an author I’m very proud to know and promote regularly JM Frey, author of Triptych. Plus stories from authors I’d like to know, like Todd McCaffrey and Phil Rossi. I’m also plugging it because it’s good.

Really good. This isn’t a real review, not yet. That’s only because I haven’t finished it yet. But last night I read Gabrielle Harbowy‘s and JM Frey‘s. Gabrielle’s was a fascinating story painted in such evocative language.  JM’s had me dying laughing. So incredibly smart and funny. I can’t wait to get home and read some more.

You should check it out. Really. I’ll wait.

When the Hero Comes Home


You’re welcome. Enjoy it.

Guest Post – Interview with Robert James Russell by… Robert James Russell

January 27, 2011



Hi: Is that your first question?

No, you just make me nervous. So…who are you? My name is Robert James Russell, and I’m the co-founder (along with Jeff Pfaller), of the new quarterly literary journal Midwestern Gothic.

Uh…what’s all that about? Well, we strive to catalog and show off the very best in  Midwestern fiction.

What in the hell is Midwestern fiction? Good question. It’s, you know, fiction from the Midwest, a geographical region covering roughly the very western part of Pennsylvania, through Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, down to Missouri, over to Kansas and straight up to North Dakota (with everything in between, of course).

Well, what do you mean by “Gothic”? Gothic can mean a few different things.  First, it can refer to “Gothic fiction” which combines elements of horror and romance.  Second, it can, as with Southern Gothic (a literary subgenre),  mean the inclusion of less-than-admirable characters and, more often than not, big sweeping (and at one time controversial) social issues and themes.  We at Midwestern Gothic take away from the latter definition a sense of realism, and that is what our Gothic is based on—we want real life in the Midwest, good, bad, or ugly. And, even if the pieces aren’t physically set there, we want to see how the Midwest has shaped so-and-so as a writer, causing you to produce the pieces you have.

So what is it you’re looking for? Just what I said: We want real life, about or inspired by the Midwest, written by those who have lived or currently do live here. Poetry or prose…bring it on.

When’s the deadline? The deadline to submit for our first issue is February 18th. We will not look at any titles after that date.  Period. (Well, unless we owe you a favor or something.)  The first issue will be printing at some point in March (details on a specific date to come).

Oh, yeah, and what’s with wanting photos? On top of trying to become THE compendium of Midwestern writers and fiction, we really want to catalog the Midwest through different people’s eyes, and year-round we accept photo submissions on our site.  Once you submit, assuming it’s what we’re looking for and not harmful in any way, we’ll post to our site. Four times a year we’ll scour our archives and choose an image to be the cover of the next issue of Midwestern Gothic. Fun, huh?

Got anything else to add? Not really. We’re excited to start this journal up, and we really think we’re doing something different here.  Check out our site for even more info, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and if you are from the Midwest, or have lived here, do send us a piece—we’d love to check it out.

Last question: Do you want to go out sometime? No. You’re not my type.