Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology is Available Now

It’s officially Spooktober and what better way to celebrate than with a new collection of spooky stories?!

Cursed Collectibles is officially available through Amazon! The Kindle version is available now, with print and audiobook versions to come in the next couple weeks.

Click here to purchase Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology for Kindle 

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Spend an afternoon antiquing and it’s not hard to figure out why picking has become one of America’s fondest pastimes. It’s treasure hunting while connecting with history. But what if those treasures hunt us back?

From old books, to vinyl records, antique mirrors, vintage figurines, or a Bob’s Big Boy piggy bank, curses have no limits.

Featuring stories from D.J. Butler, Joy Auburn, Martin L. Shoemaker, Jessica Guernsey, John D. Payne, Jen Bair, Karen Pellett, Steve Ruskin, Tanya Hales, Lauren Lang, Frank Morin, Mike Jack Stoumbous, Kelly Lynn Colby, Jace Killan, Jo Schneider, Gama Ray Martinez, Martin Greening, Chris Abela, A.J. Mayall, Heidi A. Wilde, Shannon Fox, Lauryn Christopher, and Mark Leslie.

Edited by Angela Eschler

Cover art by Novae Caelum

And audiobook narrated by Shaun Smith and Hillary Andrus Straga

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to benefit the Don Hodge Scholarship fund. This scholarship helps aspiring authors attend Superstars Writing Seminars. Click here to learn more about the scholarship.

 

The Shell Collector

The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr

The exquisitely crafted stories in Anthony Doerr’s acclaimed debut collection take readers from the African coast to the pine forests of Montana to the damp moors of Lapland, charting a vast physical and emotional landscape. Doerr explores the human condition in all its varieties-metamorphosis, grief, fractured relationships, and slowly mending hearts-and conjures nature in both its beautiful abundance and crushing power. Some of his characters contend with tremendous hardship; some discover unique gifts; all are united by their ultimate deference to the mysteries of the universe outside themselves.

When I read All the Light We Cannot See, the writing quickly captivated me, wound its way into my heart, and didn’t let me go. Though I have yet to reread it, it remains one of my favorite novels and one I recommend over and over. You can read my original review here.

I was at the bookstore when my eyes fell on this beautiful cover. Only after I picked it up did I realize it was a book by Anthony Doerr.

I’ve been reading very slowly lately, hardly finishing anything. Just a season of life I guess.

So a collection of short stories seemed like a good idea. Like I might actually be able to finish one of them.

And finish one of them I did. I finished all the stories in The Shell Collector. And they each were as exquisitely lovely as All the Light We Cannot See. Each one a masterpiece of words and images and feeling. Each one a tantalizing mix of raw human stories and the incalculable beauty of the natural world. Breathtaking.

Though each story is unique in its own way, my very favorite story was the last one, “Mkondo”. Just a beautiful, moving story and the perfect choice to close such a fantastic short story collection. Other stories that stood out to me were “The Shell Collector” and “The Hunter’s Wife”.

If you’re looking for a new collection of short stories to enjoy, this is it!

Writing Updates: Shadow of the Magician and More

That’s a pretty cool sight, right?

As a writer, having all those words you’ve written in book format is really just an indescribable feeling. I can’t even accurately tell you what that feels like except damn good.

In May I finished the most recent draft of Shadow of the Magician. I’m really excited about where it’s finally gotten to and feel this is about the absolute best I can do with it, so it’s time to stop picking at it and start moving it forward.

It’s been heavily workshopped over the last year and change by my writing group and now I’m moving to the beta reader stage. As most of the readers in my beta group are 40+, I decided they probably didn’t want to read almost a 100,000 word book in PDF format. Plus one of my writing friends turned me on to the fact that yes, you CAN print on demand small runs of books for not very much money. I ordered from Lulu’s and ended up getting the books for about $10 a piece. I think the quality of the books turned out great, considering I’m entirely an amateur in terms of formatting books and making a cover. That wasn’t really my goal though, to create a copy that would be for sale. I just wanted something that would make it so much easier for my beta readers to read and (hopefully) enjoy.

There are now ten of these review copies in the world. Maybe they’ll be worth something someday. At the very least, it’s worth something to me. To other writers, I highly recommend doing this to your work…I think going forward I’ll create at least a few copies of every book I finish. If your goal is to publish traditional and you don’t sell it, man the satisfaction of having that thing for yourself is so, so good. Like I could get addicted to it.

My goal with this book is to hopefully publish it traditionally. So the next step after the beta read is to review their feedback, fix it, and then begin the process of submitting to agents.

I’m crossing my fingers that I can finish the next round of edits in a timely fashion, get my materials together, and start submitting to agents this fall before they shut down over the holidays. We’ll see if my work schedule actually allows for that. But I am trying to restructure and reorganize to inject better balance in my life because what I’ve been doing, it ain’t workin’ for me and it needs to change in a big way.

Along with finishing this draft of Shadow, I also wrote and submitted a short story to an anthology. Really crossing my fingers it makes it in. That short story takes place slightly after the events of Shadow (though it features different characters) and will serve as a bridge into a future book in the same world (or maybe two). I haven’t started trying to plot any future stories yet. I have two ideas and I feel I could do them both or just do one if I don’t feel I have enough meat for the both of them. But I need to do a lot more reading and research to start developing those ideas to see if they amount to anything.

If you’ve seen me any time in the last two months, you’re probably floored that I actually managed to do this much on the writing front. But wait! There’s more…

I wrote a flash fiction story in the fall, something completely different, and had a grand idea to maybe start serially publishing more stories in that world on this blog. For all that this has been my personal book and writing corner for the last eight years (!!!), there’s a distinct lack of my own writing on here for general consumption which I think is kind of a problem. So I started outlining a longer short story or maybe a novella I could serially publish on here….but then it quickly started to feel like that story was going to be another book. Or maybe more than one book. In any case, I ended up finishing an outline for whatever that work ultimately decides to be when I dig into it. So I got that done too!

I also have a draft of another book I had written a few years ago, before I decided I wanted to dig in and finish Shadow. I still really, really like that story and that world and I want to go back to it. It’ll probably need a total rewrite because it’s been three years (or maybe four?) and the opinion of pretty much everyone who saw my writing in 2018 and 2019, is that along with everything else going on in my life, I made really big strides forward in my writing abilities. Yay for that, but it means any of these other projects I have from the past that I might want to pick up again need to be revamped. Le sigh.

My group has really encouraged me to start something new though and not get stuck trying to improve something old. I think they’re right because it was really, really hard and discouraging at times for me to work through everything I needed to do with Shadow. Sometimes I felt like giving up on writing entirely. But as I said, I still really like the draft story I have even though I wonder that with our current climate of political correctness and sensitivity readers, whether I should even be trying to tell that story.

What I do know is that I’m not going to start another book right away. I want to write a few short stories set before the beginning of Shadow and I should work on the query letter and crafting some synopses of different lengths for Shadow while I wait on the feedback from beta readers. I also have a few more small fact-checking related items to look into which will require some emails to different people.

 

One Horn to Rule Them All

One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology

Unicorns, with their single ivory horn, are elusive and magical creatures of myth. Yet even more elusive are the purple unicorns. First sighted at the Superstars Writing Seminar, their legend has grown year after year until it could only be contained in this anthology. Nineteen storytellers, including Peter S. Beagle, Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye, as well as new and rising authors, invite us into worlds both near and far, across a desert oasis, a pet shop, a Comic-Con exhibition floor, and more, and show us the many variations of purple unicorns, from the imaginary to the actual—and one very memorable half-unicorn, half-potato. One Horn to Rule Them All is an unforgettable collection of imagination and creativity. So, saddle up, and take a ride beyond the rainbow. 

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I didn’t mean to start reading another anthology so soon on the heels of Undercurrents. But while taking care of my neighbors’ cat, I found myself having to wait for the cat to come out from behind the bookshelf. Picked up one of their books to pass the time and wanted to choose something I actually owned…because you know, it would have been too much work to walk back across the street and get my own book.

Anyway.

Purple unicorns it is!

If you follow me on social media, you know I kind of have a thing for unicorns. And kind of absolutely love that unicorns are a hot trend right now. Which makes One Horn to Rule Them All an anthology that was years ahead of its time.

Overall, I really liked this anthology and not just because of the unicorns. I thought all of the stories inside were great in their own way and there were a couple that got me interested enough to look up the authors to see what else, if anything, they had written that I could buy. There were also some very, very imaginative stories in this mix which was neat. I liked the stories in Undercurrents, but I felt like there were some genuinely wacky concepts that worked amazing well in One Horn to Rule Them All.

As another fun treat, my friend (and neighbor) has a story in this anthology that she’s been expanding on…and we got to read it in writer’s group over the summer!

African Folktales

By Roger D. Abrahams

Nearly 100 stories from over 40 tribe-related myths of creation, tales of epic deeds, ghost stories and tales set in both the animal and human realms.

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My goodness this was a long, hard slog!

This was my second attempt at reading more mythology, fairy tales, and folk tales in my effort to increase my awareness of storytelling archetypes. I started with Native American stories and enjoyed that far more than the African ones.

It could be that, having grown up in a Western Plains State, the Native American story-telling structure was already part of upbringing. I didn’t feel like it was, but I just had such an easier time following and digesting what I was reading.

I have been picking away at this book for over six months. And it was pretty painful.

I think I had two problems with the African folktales: 1) the names and 2) the names of animals or things that I had no idea what they were.

Many of these African folktales including a song component and our a repetitive structure, similar to nursery stories like Goldilocks and The Three Bears or The Three Little Pigs. And whenever that would happen, I would find myself trying to skim the story and then getting confused.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011

Edited by Dave Eggers

The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, the very best pieces are selected by a leading writer in the field, making the Best American series the most respected—and most popular—of its kind.

I’m not sure where I picked this book up, but I’ve had it for quite awhile. It was one of the those books I’ve always meant to casually read, leaving it on my nightstand, and reading a story now and again. But I ended up reading them one after another.

It was a great collection. A mix of fiction and non-fiction, essays and memoir and comics.

Some of my favorite stories from the collection (fiction):

-“The Deep” by Anthony Doerr

-“Weber’s Head” by J. Robert Lennon

-“Pleiades” by Anjali Sachdeva

 

Some of my favorite non-fiction entries:

-“Second Lives” by Daniel Alarcon

-“An Oral History of Adama Bah” by Adama Bah

-“Game of Her Life” by Tim Crothers

-“Solitude and Leadership” by William Deresiewicz

-“What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?” by Charlie Leduff

-“For Us Surrender is Out of the Question” by Mac McClelland

 

Bodies

Bodies by Osmond Arnesto

The first printed collection of the author’s poetry and prose. Also featured is a short story on the joys of accounting. For the lonely, the lost, and everyone who has ever known the feeling.

I met Osmond in a few of my writing classes at UCSD. He always impressed me with his comic and heartfelt way of dealing with deeply icky, deeply uncomfortable, and deeply taboo subjects. A mix of theatre actor, stand-up comic, and all-around nice guy, his writing sparkles with that unique something you sadly can’t bottle and sell.

Recently, Osmond self-published his very first work, a collection of poems and short stories. I was delighted to see the short story included as one that had been work shopped in one of my classes.

His poetic voice and style is very well established; his unique way of putting poems together reminds me perhaps of what it might have been like to read a young William Carlos Williams or Juliana Spahr. If you’ve never read those two poets, I highly recommend checking them out.

At 54 pages, my main complaint with this collection was that there wasn’t more. I admire Osmond’s ability to attack difficult subjects and break them into something comedic, however squeamish, while displaying impeccable talent, poise, and extreme breadth of knowledge. There are easter eggs scattered throughout his work for the careful reader, some of them denoted with foot notes. While the ease of movement of the work suggests a hasty dash-off, bearing that beautiful fluidity of stream-of-consciousness, further examination reveals how meticulously every line and sentence have been constructed.

Osmond is off to teach English in Japan for a year, which I’m sure will prompt many more hilariously wonderful poems and stories that I for one can’t wait to read.

His book is available through Amazon or as an e-book through Lulu’s.