Tag Archives: Short Stories

Author Rj Sullivan original #shortstory guest post

 rj's angelsI’m pleased to share an original piece of flash fiction by author Rj Sullivan who is a mega awesome guy. This was meant to be featured on The Cabin Goddesses blog but she is taking a well deserved break, I’m sure Rj will be hanging out in the cabin at some point in the future. Stay tuned! I’ve read a couple of Rj’s books and must say I particularly love how his focus is on strong female characters. Rj is very in touch with his feminine side and I say the Little Mermaid Mug is to thank for that. So read and enjoy. Also leave some feedback. I’m sure Rj would love it.

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A funny thing happened while killing time in Broad Ripple…

Those that don’t live in Indy won’t care about the details, but suffice it to say, several of my long-time friends live north and east of Indianapolis. I am the only one of that clan to live south and west of downtown. One of my friends still lives in Broad Ripple, a place I used to visit frequently in my teens and twenties and now visit only a couple times a year.

Yes, that Broad Ripple. Fiona “Blue” Shaefer’s hangout prior to moving to the scary small town of Perionne, as referenced in Haunting Blue. Though an older, well-established suburb with many historical buildings, the presence of Butler University injects the area constantly with liberal youth often at odds with its long-term residents.

I took a trip north to meet up with my friends, and in a rare instance, we decided to group up in Broad Ripple. In a not-so-rare instance, being self-employed, I arrived in town a couple hours prior to my friends who all have to punch a clock. I thought I’d take advantage of the atmosphere to bring along the laptop (I really needed to replace that thing with some sort of pad–someday soon, I hope), find a coffee shop or restaurant, take in the local atmosphere, and see how it affects my muse.

Not many people know that the coffee shop Café Expresso as mentioned in Haunting Blue and Haunting Obsession really existed–past tense. It was a favorite hangout during my college years, a place for the more artistic type to meet during the day and, looking back, feel a bit insufferable about ourselves. Unfortunately, the little shop closed down around 1990 and so its legacy continued only in the pages of my stories, my little homage to a very cool place.

Or so I thought.

I barely had the presence of mind not to drive up onto the sidewalk when I saw the awning over a historical building in downtown Broad Ripple that declared itself to be the Café Expresso. I managed to pull over before embarrassing myself, and sat there for many seconds staring at the little shop and its ironic name. Dare I say…I felt like I’d seen a ghost.

Sometimes all you have is the cliché.

But that was nothing compared to how stunned I felt when I stumbled through the door to stare at the coffee bar….literally, a bar made up of several varieties of coffee beans behind see-through glass display containers, like a candy shop. The one element I recalled from the original place, and had put into my story. The booths and tables that gave my version a pub-like atmosphere… not so much….except….this new place had my revised layout.

Something really weird was going on, and I wondered if this was some sort of elaborate joke.

I heard a husky woman’s voice from across the room and froze. “Getting the usual tonight, Rebecca?” Literally, in mid-step, I simply stopped moving.

My brain wouldn’t accept what I was seeing. A woman in a black leather jacket proceeded to pull a fedora from her head and shake out waves of long, striking red hair. “Yes, please,” she answered, her eyes still hidden behind a pair of reflective sunglasses.

This has to be some sort of trick. Someone must have known I would be driving through and set this up. The only other explanation was that I had walked into a coffee shop of my imagination and now looked upon one of the major characters in my book series. And I knew Rebecca Burton didn’t exist. I’d made her up, along with everything else I was now looking at.

As cosplayers went, she was terrific. Mid 30s, stoic demeanor, and the perfect blend of Nell William’s and Bonnie Wasson’s interpretatoins.

As if on cue (and maybe it was) she looked up, did a double-take, and slowly removed her glasses. Her green eyes squinted at me, and her jaw slowly dropped. “What…are you…” Then words seemed to fail her.

I shook my head and approached. “Very good, Rebecca, or whatever your name really is. You must have practiced this moment for hours.

As I approached, she seemed to have regained her composure and motioned to the seat across from her. “Join me, R.J. Sullivan. I assure you I’m every bit as surprised as you are.”

Wow, she is good. “Okay, seriously, the act’s over. Who put you up to this? Stephen? John? Eric? Maybe Selah. This strikes me as the sort of thing she would concoct.”

“I assure you, this is no act, Mr. Sullivan.”

I looked around, half expecting to see the crew of What Would You Do step out any moment. “Come on, seriously. I hope I can use you for a book signing for cosplay.”

Rebecca’s eyes rolled. “I don’t cosplay, Mr. Sullivan. You, if anyone, should know that.”

“Okay, okay,” I laughed, then grew uneasy. “Still, the coffee shop, the awning, this is awfully elaborate for a practical joke.”

“I suggest you follow that train of thought, Mr. Sullivan. It’s amazing a person so dense is responsible for my existence.”

Okay, that comment stung a bit. “Hey, that’s not very friendly.”

“Sorry, it’s not very often one sees one’s creator walk through the front door. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to act.”

I considered, and then figured it would be better to go along and let them tell me in their own time. Clearly, whoever was responsible went through a lot of effort. “So you know who I am?”

“Of course, though I doubt the waitress does, or anyone else in this coffee shop. You gave me extraordinary perception, and I’ve been quite aware that I exist in two realities. There’s the one where I live and exist, where my actions impact the world I live in and those that reside in it.” She tapped her own chest, then motioned to me. “And then there’s your reality. The one where my reality is part of your imagination and put down in a series of paranormal thriller books.”

I laughed. “That’s terrific. Quite melodramatic. I could have written it myself.”

She released a sigh, the weariness in her demeanor showing through. “We can’t continue this way, Mr. Sullivan.” She extended her hand, palm up. “Take it.”

“Sorry, I’m a married…” Then her meaning became clear. “Wait…you mean, really… take your hand? Like…”

“Can you think of any other way to convince you?”

I felt the smirk come to my face. I couldn’t help it. This was too good. “Trying to hold my hand, Rebecca. You sly dog.”

She returned a humorless stare. She didn’t get it. Well, of course she wouldn’t.

“Okay, fine, here. I’ll take your—” As I placed my hand in hers, she gripped my fingers tightly, and the room suddenly spun out of focus.

“Listen to me, Mr. Sullivan. I’m really Rebecca Burton, I really have the power to influence your emotions. Since I know you’ve always wondered what this might feel like, I hope you enjoy the moment. But know that I’m not influencing you except to get you to accept this truth. I am Rebecca Burton.”

And, indeed, the room gently slipped out of focus and returned. My head swum, like fighting a bad cold, and a moment later, it cleared, and the reality of the situation sunk in. Of course she’s Rebecca. How could I have thought otherwise?

Then a second, competing thought. I’ve been manipulated by my own fictional character.

I released a sound, some sort of giggle. Or maybe a guffaw. Yes, let’s go with guffaw, because guys don’t giggle.

She released my hand, and the room returned to normal. “Wow…so….wow.” I released a breath, and tension left my body with it. “So…you’re really you. But…how?”

“An excellent question, Mr. Sullivan.” Her brows furrowed.

I waited. Come on, Rebecca, you’re the expert. You must have the answer.

And she did. “I suppose one could postulate a dynamic between the dimensions of our realities. Perhaps the point where your imaginative constructs would exist in your real world may sometimes create doorways that would allow you to travel to it.”

I considered. “Broad Ripple is a real place, but the café is not. But since I came here, and this is where the Café would exist, if it did, a doorway opened up, allowing me to enter.”

“Essentially, yes.”

“Or maybe it’s just a contrivance for a publicity blog,” I offered.

Rebecca ignored me. “In any case, I doubt you can remain here for long, and I have many questions.” She hesitated. “It’s not often one gets to ask questions of their creator.”

Her tone sobered me up. “I suppose that’s true.” I nodded. “Ask away.”

“Have you made up your mind about my story?”

The question caught me off guard. “The fact that you know I’ve been pondering several options means you have access into my insight already.”

“True.” She sipped her coffee and met my eyes. “Does that surprise you?”

I laughed. “Of course not. You’re good. I made sure of that.”

“And yet,” Rebecca said, “I’m much more than I need to be. For instance, all Rebecca Burton had to be in Haunting Obsession was a paranormal investigator, but you’ve given me many extraordinary powers. Quite useful, but hardly necessary.”

“Those powers came in handy during Virtual Blue.”

She nodded. “True. But you have a good imagination. You could have written in a workaround.”

“I could have, but I have big plans for you.”

“I know.” Then, after a short pause, “And that terrifies me.”

“You should like the next story. You and Blue have quite the fun adventure.” I was referring to Blue Shaefer, the protagonist of Haunting Blue and Virtual Blue. In Virtual Blue, my two main characters meet and interact for the first time.

Rebeccan pressed. “I know, you’re going to tell the story about last Christmas. But you have planned several stories and then canceled many of them. I’m not sure if I should be concerned.”

It was true. “I thought I’d write a few smaller books along the line of Haunting Obsession. I’m working up to a more epic story I thought of a few years ago. Back then, I didn’t think my skill level matched the challenge of the tale.”

Rebecca gulped, even though the coffee still set on the table at her side. “And now?”

“Now, I’m going to go for it. I think I’m ready now. And I think you are, too.” I reached out and patted her hand. “It’s going to be a grand adventure.”

Words erupted from her. “Not all the possibilities you’ve pondered go well for me.”

I’d never imagined Rebecca Burton with fear in her eyes, and the look unnerved me. “Yours is the most important story in what my readers jokingly call the ‘RJ-Verse.’ I don’t know how it ends, but it needs to be told.”

“Sometimes…I get very angry about that.”

I gripped her hands tighter, trying with all my might to imbue comfort, courage, contentment, into her the way she does with so many others. “It’s going to be okay, Rebecca. I write most of my tales in deep third person. I won’t put you through anything we both can’t handle.”

“Can you…tell me anything more than that?”

“Spoilers? Of course not. Who knows who’s listening in right now?” I patted her hand one last time before withdrawing mine. “I’m very proud of how you’ve turned out. You were sort of a seat-of-the-pants creation I added to over a long time, and because of you, a lot of people want to know your story and read my books. They want to know your tale almost as much as I do.”

“I’d like to know it even more.”

“Well,” I reached down and grabbed my laptop. “I suppose I should get on my way and start to write it, then.”

I stood and extended my hand. “Tell Blue hello for me.”

Rebecca took it. No tingles, no attempt to manipulate. “You probably shouldn’t try to find this place again.”

“I figured as much, but I’m glad I found it today. I guess there’s no way to get you to one of my book signings, is there?”

“I suspect these portals are exceedingly rare.”

I shook my head and headed toward the door. “Too bad. You’d look terrific handing out bookmarks.”

“Thank you, but I think you have bigger plans for me than that, Mr. Sullivan. Goodbye.”

I offered one last wave. “Goodbye, Rebecca Burton. I’ll see you again soon.” I exited.

I drove a few blocks down the road. I didn’t even bother to look in my rearview mirror as I drove away to see the building was no longer there, because that would be cliché. I pulled into a McDs, entered, ordered a giant Styrofoam Cup O Diet Coke, opened a new file on my laptop, and started typing.

Blue Christmas
A Blue Shaefer and Rebecca Burton Holiday Tale
By RJ Sullivan

Rj SullivanBiography: R. J. Sullivan’s novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, in 2012 and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale, in 2013. Seventh Star will release a new edition of Haunting Blue in spring 2014. R. J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction e-novelettes.

R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it. Check in to www.rjsullivanfiction.com to learn the latest.

R.J. can also be found on Facebook, his publisher Seventh Star Press and his books can be purchased on Amazon in print and ebook

The Rebecca Burton Series So Far (in character chronological order):

Inner Strength (short story)
Haunting Obsession
Backstage Pass (a Seventh Star Single)
Virtual Blue

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Did you ever wish you could escape to a virtual world? What if you could…but then couldn’t get out?
Two years after her deadly clash with a vengeful ghost, Fiona “Blue” Shaefer still can’t shake off the trauma of that night. Moving to New York with her father didn’t help. Neither did absorbing herself in her college classes. Not even her poetry provided the solace it once did. She convinces herself that ending her relationship with Eugene “Chip” Farren, her long-distance boyfriend and final tie to the horrors of that night, might bring the closure she needs. Blue travels to Bloomington to break the news to Chip in person, but her timing couldn’t be any worse.
The Sisters of Baalina, vengeful cultists who practice a new form of “techno-magic,” have targeted Chip’s multi-player videogame as the perfect environment to cast a dangerous spell to free a demoness from the very pits of hell. In the process, their plan may trap Blue in a prison of the mind with no locks, no bars, and no escape.
Book Two in the Adventures of Blue Shaefer.

THINGS WITHERED author @Susiemoloney lists her fave short stories @chizinepub

I love short stories. Because Susie Maloney has a new short story collection coming out I thought it would be nice to hear what short stories she enjoys, which ones have made that stay with you forever impact.

Thanks so much to Susie and ChiZine publications for indulging my curiosity and allowing me to share more of the awesome that ChiZine has to offer.

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A middle-aged realtor trying to get ahead any way she can. A bad girl pays for cheating with a married man. A wife with a dark past lives in fear of being exposed. The bad acts of a little old lady come home to roost. A young man with no direction finds power behind the wheel of a haunted truck. From behind the pretty drapes of the average suburban home, madness peers out. Stories of suburban darkness from the award-winning author of A Dry Spell, The Thirteen, and The Dwelling prove that life can turn on you, or you can turn on it!

 

My Favorite Short Reads, by Susie Moloney author of Things Withered, stories

 

 

1. “For Esme, with Love and Squalor,” from Nine Stories by JD Salinger

 

This was one of the first short stories I remember reading. My grandfather—a great man, an avid reader, but usually more of a sci-fi kind of guy, had the book kicking around his messy office. I picked it up because I liked the word “squalor.” Having lost my mother that very spring, I imagine I identified with Esme on a spiritual level. Actually wore my grandfather’s wristwatch for a while after that, but no one ever got the reference. Not even after I told them. Book I read right after that was The Diviners by Margaret Lawrence. I was 11. Kids. They grow up so fast.

 

2. Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates

 

While not a short story exactly, Black Water is a super quick read at 160 mind-blowing pages. I’m a pretty big JCO fan, even though she can be hit-and-miss. Black Water, her take on the Chappaquiddick event, actually made me feel like I was drowning while I was reading it. I read it in a single day, unable to stop. Whenever I would put it down, I would feel dizzy and frightened. It is an absolutely visceral book and a must-read for every young woman. Few write real horror like JCO. I’d also recommend Zombie by JCO. Terrifying.

 

3. “Isabelle” from CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders

 

I do love me some misery and George Saunders might be the king of the long-faced story. I’m also partial to young boy protagonists because I am the mother of sons, and I find boys to be terribly, painfully vulnerable in a way that I’m not sure girls are. I think girls are mentally stronger than boys right from the start.

 

4. “Trucks,” from Night Shift by Stephen King

 

The first story in King’s first collection is one of his best, even if it’s not really one of his most popular. They made a super-crappy movie based on the story, which I think, ruined it forever. Do not see this movie! Instead, re-read the story of vehicles taking over the world, one diner at a time. King tends to overdo the Everyday Hero character, but in this particular story, the everyday hero reminded me a bit of my dad at a time when we weren’t getting along very well. I don’t remember the name of the character, but he narrates. Let’s just say The Narrator might have saved my dad’s life, because I was reading a lot of true crime fiction at the time.

 

5. “The Things They Carried,” from The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

 

This is a dark and terribly sad story about a platoon of soldiers in the Vietnam war. I had a grandfather and two uncles who had fought in wars, and my uncles had been in Vietnam. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I re-read the book and realized how poignant and profound talismans can be. A deeply frightening book.

 

6. “The Emperor’s Old Bones,” by Gemma Files

 

Gemma Files is one of those writers who is always a pleasure to read, even if you don’t read horror or spec fiction. She’s a flawless writer, twisted and complicated and her stories and characters are always very real. I read “The Emperor’s Old Bones” online, but I’m familiar with her work from many other sources. The steely-eyed, amoral subject of this story is perfect, there’s something incredibly intimate about the way Files writes evil. She’s always a kind of surprise, a writer for both readers and other writers. When I grow up, I wanna be Gemma Files.

 

Susie Moloney is the author of four novels of horror fiction. Her first collection of short fiction Things Withered, stories will be released in December 2013 from ChiZine Publications. Things Withered, stories is available everywhere, in all formats.

The Beacon by A.B. Shepherd book tour – #review #giveaway

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Welcome to my stop on The Beacon book tour. This great book by author A.B. Shepherd is one that I’ve gotten to read. Its awesome 🙂 I totally recommend checking this one out. I’ve got my review below and have a look at the giveaway as well. The tour is running through the 14th you can see the others taking part here

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Blurb
This novella contains discussion questions making it ideal for book clubs.

A book that will leave you questioning what you believe.

Shipwrecked on an isolated island…

How far would you go to help a new friend? Would you kill someone?

How do you know what is and isn’t real?

When The Beacon beckons safe harbour isn’t guaranteed.

Buy on Amazon

This read rocks. Yes rocks. It’s my first by the author and talk about hooking me in. I was sure I knew what was happening throughout only to be totally throw with each turn of the page. I didn’t even realise something right in front of me the whole time till it was pointed out to me after I was finished. The Protagonists name isn’t given at all and I totally didn’t notice. This doesn’t detract from the story, as I mentioned I didn’t even realise until after it was pointed out and it just added to the mystery.
I love the attachment created to the main character and her friend for that matter. I loved that I was sucked in and how odd things were the never knowing what was real and what wasn’t. I appreciate when a short story is able to capture me so much in such a short time. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy mysteries and a good short story.

About the Author:
“Never stop dreaming or reading.” – A.B. Shepherd
A.B. Shepherd grew up in Lansing, Michigan, but moved to Australia in 2009. She now lives in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia, with her husband and their imaginary friends. She can usually be found seaside at Port MacDonnell, or lost in a fantasy world.A.B. Shepherd author photo BW-2
Lifeboat is her debut novel.

Her second book, is a novella titled The Beacon.

If you’d like to learn more about A.B. Shepherd please visit her website at http://www.abshepherd.net/

A.B. loves to hear from readers. Feel free to email her at TheRealABShepherd@hotmail.com with your thoughts regarding her books, or anything else that takes your fancy.

You can also connect with her on Twitter @ABHPShepherd and on Facebook

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A Menu of Dead by Lucy Pireel book blast and giveaway

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Welcome to the A Menu of Death book blast. I’ve got a great giveaway to share and author Lucy Pireel has created a fun top 10 creatures she’d like to meet. I have a few of them on my own list. Who or what are on yours?

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Top Ten of creatures to meet
sentient zombie

A real vampire. I’d love to pick its brain for details on how the supposed rush of drinking a human’s blood really feels.

A ghost, just because I really, really want to know if there is life after this.

An ugly ass demon. What can I say? I have a morbid kind of curiosity. 🙂

A succubus, or incubus. I’m not fussed about the gender. I just want to learn a trick or two. Just to use in future books of course! Research, purely for research!

A serial killer with a twist. Again research 🙂 I want to know what makes such a mind tick.

A Trea, (read A Menu of Death) I’d like to ask how they will replant all the trees humanity has killed. If I get the chance that is.

A zombie! But I’ll have to keep my axe at hand for if its hunger gets out off control. (again read A Menu of Death)

A genie. Just because I’d like to make a wish of my own. 🙂

A victim turned victor. Again to get in the head of that person and find out how their mind worked at the moment they decided to change things around.

A dragon. Come on, be honest! Who wouldn’t want to meet a dragon and live to tell! 🙂

Underneath the veneer of humanity lies darkness. Eight deadly tales that explore dark desires in which some do what it takes to obtain what they want, while others are led by events. Wishes gone wrong, unhealthy obsessions, and cravings to sate. A Menu of Death will take you on a blood-curdling journey that you may not survive.

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Amazon US / Amazon UK

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Author Stephen Zimmer new releases

Author Stephen Zimmer has some great new books out, both are short story collections. Hellscapes is horror while Chronicles of Ave is a fantasy short story collection which ties in to his Fires In Eden series.

The covers are amazing as always with Seventh Star Press releases and great ways to sample his work.

Hellscapes

 

Journey into realms of darkness and explore the regions where angels fear to tread! Welcome to the Hellscapes, featuring tales of the infernal in settings where the horror never ends and the inhabitants experience the ultimate nightmare.

In “Blood Dreams” follow the tale of a woman who knew great political authority and influence in life, as she discovers the reward awaiting her in the next world.

“The Grove” welcomes a new arrival, a wealthy man who is looking forward to a weekend of indulging in lust and libation, as he has for many years in this secluded convocation for the elite. Something is different this time, though, and he soon finds that his visit will be taking a very different turn.

In “The Smallest Fish”, the story is told of a ruthless business mogul who finds himself in an abandoned, ruined version of the city he knew well, in life. This city won’t be remaining vacant for long.

“Drowning in Tears” tells the story of a young man’s unhealthy obsession for a suicidal girlfriend that leads him on a path of severe transformation.

The final tale of Volume 1, “Lords of War”, follows the story of a man who wielded military power on a worldwide scale as a Secretary of Defense, who now learns the deeper nature of war and what kinds of monstrosities it breeds.

Hellscapes, Volume 1 is the first release in an exciting new themed horror collection from Stephen Zimmer, the author of the Rising Dawn Saga and Fires in Eden Series.

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Escape into the wonders of Ave in this first collection of short stories featuring the fantastical world from the Fires in Eden Series by Stephen Zimmer.

“Into Glory Ride” tells the story of a young Trogen Warrior who is called to go up against insurmountable odds when an Elven raid strikes his homeland. The Trogens have only begun training winged steeds for combat, but time is of the essence and a momentous choice has to be made by the young warrior.

In “A Touch of Serenity” a conscript laborer working on a massive wall constructed under the orders of the Divine Emperor begins to hear ghostly voices asking for help. His response leads him on a journey that will test his courage, wisdom, and compassion.

In “Moonlight’s Grace” a young man goes to help his people when a Midragardan raid strikes Gael. He seeks to prove his worth to the chieftain whose daughter he loves with all his heart.

The novella-length “Winter’s Embrace” follows a warrior-monk into the depths of dangerous woodlands in the heart of winter. There he will find his faith tested in ways he never anticipated, when he must help a forest witch against an enigmatic, immortal being known as the Undying.

“Lion Heart” introduces the heroic Sigananda of the Amazu people, who must confront things that transcend the laws of the physical world when powerful Wizards threaten his homeland.

In “Land of Shadow” a knight who is part of a band of Avanoran mercenaries discovers how perilous the mysterious Shadowlands are when they undertake a journey to locate a site to build a fortress.

A world of wonder beckons to be explored and fantasy enthusiasts are invited along for the journey in these half-dozen stories from the world of Ave!

Also be sure to take further adventures in Ave in the Fires in Eden Series, beginning with Crown of Vengeance, Book One!

Hellscapes is available on Amazon

Chronicles of Ave is available on Amazon