Category Archives: Fiction Books

Young Adult Fiction Book Spotlight: The Heir of Claus by J. A. Adkins @rebelscribe

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Fiction/Young Adult Fiction/Action Adventure & Fantasy

the heir of claus

This is not the Santa Claus story you might be expecting.

Christopher Nicholas is an average fifteen year-old teenager…at least he thinks he is. But to be average he’d have to ignore his unique ability to see people’s names above them, or the way he seems to be able to know what is really in someone’s heart. Then, there is the fact that as he is about to turn sixteen, everything he thinks he knows about his life is about to be turned upside down.

Christopher Nicholas is the last surviving heir to a very old and powerful promise. And, he has a choice to make. He can choose to continue to live his life the way he wants as the world around him falls into darkness and a dark and evil force known as Legion achieves their plans to finally take over everything. Or, he can choose to accept who he is as the only one who can stop them and bring light back where only dark exists. He can choose to become THE HEIR OF CLAUS.

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“Umm…what was that,” asked Moe.
Silas’ posture straightened.  A grim and nervous seriousness overtook the relaxed, confident expression he had had on his face.  His eyes stared over my head toward the embattled corner where Alejandra and I first met.  “How certain were you that the door on the wardrobe was latched?”
The question was directed at Alejandra.  I didn’t expect to see fear in the face of the young woman like I did just then.  The color in her cheeks drained a little.  Her eyes were wide and filled with nervous uncertainty.  “Not very,” she answered.
“Were you followed?”
Alejandra shook her head once.  “No.  I…I don’t think so.  The park was abandoned.  It didn’t look like it had been used or occupied for many years.  I followed The Brute’s instructions and waited for an hour out of plain sight before drawing the door that led me here.”
I glanced at Moe.  I mouthed the words The Brute, curious about the random name dropped into the conversation.  Moe could only shrug his shoulders again.
Silas breathed slowly.  “What about between the doors?  Did you see anything?”
“Between them?  No, no.  There wasn’t anything between them.  I didn’t even see a gap or space of any kind to look for anything…”
The floors and walls trembled again.  It felt like the entire floor of the house was being pushed and pulled and then bounced against by something tremendous-a mountain maybe?
“If only that were true,” Silas said as the jarring quake faded.  “Many of the darkest creatures in the armies of Legion came from the corrupted spaces between the doorways.”
“Wait, the what,” I asked.
The hallway rocked again.  The small pieces of decoration on the nearby table slipped to the floor.  Glass shattered somewhere in the cold shadows farther up the hallway.  The plaster on the wall nearby cracked open.  A thin shower of dust rained down from the ceiling.  Each of our breaths caught when we gained our balance then heard the ear-splitting tear and then crash of something heavy and wooden being destroyed.  All of us were looking in the direction of the battle-scarred corner.  Each of use knew the terrible sound we had heard was the sound of the wardrobe Silas had mentioned being ripped open.
“What is happening,” Moe asked softly.
“If I had to guess,” Silas said as the floors and walls shook again.  It lasted longer this time, jumping in intensity for a heart-stopping second.  “…I would say that we’re listening to a very big round peg trying to fit itself into a rectangle.
“Is it going to get through,” asked Alejandra.
More wood exploded somewhere in the room unseen but not far off.
“Yes,” Silas said simply.  His stare was focused solely on the right-hand turn less than a dozen feet away.
“What do we do,” I asked, looking squarely at the old elf.
Silas finally took his eyes off the nearby corner.  He looked only at me.  “We run.”

About the Author:

ja adkins

J. A. Adkins is a guy you probably haven’t met yet. He’s a writer, artist, and retail veteran. Born in Texas, this wandering scribe dreams big, inspired to create new stories and the media to present them with. His hope is to fuel new dreamers and creators, even if that begins one page at a time. You might not know J. A. yet, but you will. Look for J. A. on Instagram: @wanderingblaze or on Twitter: @rebelscribe

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Interview with the Author:

How many books do you currently have published?
I’ve self-published 4 books.  Three of them are novellas and one, The Heir of Claus, is a full-length novel.

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?
My favorite book to write so far has been the The Heir of Claus.  It actually started off as a story I didn’t want to really write but became a project that continually tested the limits of my imagination and story-telling abilities and surprised me every day as the plot unfolded in new ways I hadn’t forseen.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?
I am.  I’m currently working on the sequel to The Heir of Claus, called Heart of Ice.  I hope to have it ready for release by the end of 2018.  But my next release will be a second edition of another book called AN EPIC!…or Something as well as its second volume.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
What I enjoy most about writing is the creation process itself.  Fleshing out ideas and seeing how they develop is so much fun.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
I do get writer’s block.  It tends to happen when I’m overthinking a concept.  I can see the idea in my head, but can’t figure out how to translate it onto the page.  I tend to deal with it by going back and re-reading previous chapters to re-sync my narrative voice, etc.  I listen to music, or sometimes just step away and go hiking or go see a movie.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?
I have, in both Heir of Claus and my other major project, AN EPIC!…or Something.  In AN EPIC!…, that story is being told by myself and a few other friends.  I have very little control over the characters and can be surprised by the direction my co-writers take them.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Least favorite? Why?
My favorite character is probably Christopher from The Heir of Claus.  His personal conflicts are easy to identify with.  He’s flawed and just trying to figure things out while trying to balance his personal expectations and the expectations of the world around him.  He’s a hero, but he’s also not one.  My least favorite is probably the main character from the first book I self published, The Dangerous Life of Arthur Gale.  That character and book need a lot of attention and care to get them to a level I’m much more satisfied with.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?
My favorite scenes to write are any of the scenes with Christopher and his aunt in the The Heir of Claus.  I think about the dynamics of a mother/son relationship and the extra strain of it being a mom who isn’t a mom and son who isn’t really her son.  I think about my mom a lot when I write those scenes, are good times and bad, as well as all the sacrifices she made for me and the family.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?
The main lesson I have learned is persistence.  You just have to keep going, even when you feel like you’re up against that mental and physical wall.  The biggest obstacle holding you back is yourself.  A little bit of writing everyday goes a long way.

If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why? I would recommend The Heir of Claus to start with.  It is a fun and fairly fast-paced book that I think has something for everyone, from struggling to understand belief and religion to dealing with teenage angst in a strange new time.  Plus, it’s the first in an exciting five book series.

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?
I love reading both fiction and non-fiction.  Lately, I have been reading more non-fiction, especially books on early American history. But I also love reading the Disc World novels by Terry Pratchett and the Michael Vey books by Richard Paul Evans.

What about television shows? Movies?
My favorite TV shows include Seinfeld, Arrested Development, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate SG-1.  My favorite movies include Contact, the Dark Knight Trilogy, and the original Ghostbusters.

Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?
There are two, actually: The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan and Strength to Love by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.. The Demon Haunted World was a book I first picked up in high school and taught me a lot about to intelligently and honestly question the world around me. Strength to Love is such an enlightening and up-lifting book. I re-read it regularly.

Can readers find you at any live events, such as book signings or conventions?
Not yet. But that is something I’m looking to change over the upcoming year.

Horror Book Spotlight: The Unholy Dead by Sylvester Murray

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Horror, Fiction, Literature & Fiction, Occult

the unholy dead

A cold Northerly breeze blew bitterly, chilling them to the core, as Meghan and her partner Jason, crept silently. Overhead, dark clouds drifted and blotted out the full moon, casting the cemetery into a murky blackness, yet further on, they could see a storm brewing. Lightning danced in the sky as they hurried along with the desire to read the tombstones that brought them out in the middle of the night. Some of the graves were hundreds of years old.

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“Come on guys, we talked about this and you promised we were gonna give this thing a real shot. Think about how much this video could change our lives. I’m talking money, exposure, maybe even chicks. We’ll be like a real life Indiana Jones or something. Just wait a couple more….”

Suddenly, he stopped talking and looked down at his stomach. Then looked back up again at John and Ed as blood poured down the sides of his mouth and he toppled to the side, clutching his throat and gasping for breath. Ed and John watched his body drop and then their eyes travelled slowly upwards and they stared at the thing standing above Richard. It was human, yet not human. It opened its mouth and a thin guttural sound came out from its throat as it snarled at them. John pissed on himself as the both of them stared at it. Then it lunged and went after John, who was the closest person to it, grabbing him with a speed that was unnatural and tearing at his neck with a strength that had him pulling out John’s Adam’s Apple when his hand came away. Instantly, he fell on the body and began to paw at his chest, ripping his clothes away until he could get to the skin beneath. It broke through his rib cage like it was play dough and ripped his chest wide open. Then it pushed its mouth into his chest and began to feed on his intestines, so focused on this one action, it seemed to have forgotten about Ed.

The sound of a shot being fired made it lift its head. Then a second shot hit it right in the chest and it looked up to see Ed holding Richard’s gun and firing it. Another shot went wild, and Ed cursed, tears running down his eyes as he pressed down on the trigger, emptying the clip into the creature. “Die, die you evil son of a bitch,” he sobbed loudly as he kept shooting at it. Each bullet that hit the creature had it jumping back a little until it was a few feet from the body. Then Ed pushed on the trigger one more time and heard a clicking sounding, the chamber of the gun now empty of bullets.

“Shit,” he said, as he looked up to see that the creature was already back on its haunches, staring at him with eyes that glowed black. He turned around towards the gate and ran for his life, taking about three steps before he felt a bony hand curl around his ankle. Ed screamed out loud, begging and pleading for his life, even as the creature scampered up Ed’s body to rest on his chest and began to claw at him.

Meanwhile, the camcorder laid on its side, silently recording everything that crossed its path.

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About the Author:

sylvester murray

The author is a hopeless romantic who lives in a quaint little seaport town—just minutes from the ocean. In 2004, he won the Joseph G. Pietrantoni Outstanding Employee Award from Duke-based in Durham, N.C,-and the following year he won the Duke University and Health System Presidential Award, presented to him on April 28, in the Washington Duke Inn by the school’s president, Dr. Richard H. Brodhead. He is an accomplished songwriter, poet, and an author of 15 published books in different genres that include, Audio books, Cooking, Science fiction, None fiction, Drama, Romance, Mystery, and Horror. He enjoys hiking, fishing, and leisurely walks along the beach. When life unwinds from it hectic pace, he busies himself with various writing projects.

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Fiction Book Spotlight: Las Hechizadas by Anne Garcia

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Literature, Fiction

las hechizadas


When Juan Romero decides to visit his Abuela in Aguas Puras he doesn’t realize the magical healing powers that exist in the high mountain valley. His journey to reconnect with his family’s past transforms his life and the lives of generations to follow. He becomes involved in a battle to save the valley from a multinational mining company and the struggle threatens to destroy “Las Hechizadas,” or healing women, and their way of life. Twenty years later his sister, Silvia, makes her way from the U.S. to again discover the secrets of her family’s past, but in contrast to her brother what she learns finally sets the universe straight and the women of the valley are once again in balance. Anne Garcia weaves her own experiences of living in South America into this magical novel that connects us all to the extraordinary women of the valley of Aguas Puras.

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Sofia arrived just as the altar was receiving its final touches. Those who are not familiar with altars often think of them as objects of pagan rituals, however, an altar is a personal sacred space where anyone can offer and receive blessings. In this case, it was a family altar, welcoming not only Sofia, as a new member, but the unborn child into the family. Abuela had built it around the same base her great-great grandmother had made and that had been used for each generation since. The path leading to the altar was aligned with stars. Each woman who attended the ceremony to welcome the new child placed a gift at the base of the altar decorated with photos of several generations of children, interwoven with daffodils, bring the higher powers to bless the child. A loaf of bread to stave off hunger, a bottle of wine to attract everlasting joy and laugher and, stems of birds of paradise to attract creative energy were only some of the many offerings Sofia was led to the front of the altar and seated on a hand painted stool. Abuela began o light the candles made with Echinacea extract to boost Sofia’s immune system. The other women hummed a calming melody and circled Sofia. No one knew what she was asking for or thinking, but it was none of their business so they didn’t wonder. When Abuela was done she took a glass jar from her bag and smeared a lavender salve on Sofia’s forehead. The blessing was to pass Abuela’s knowledge on her grandchild. Again, her secret desire for a girl reappeared. What she didn’t know was that Sofia, too, wanted a daughter. She placed a crown on Sofia’s head and the women left her alone to present her own offerings and prayers.

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About the Author:

anne garcia

I am a bilingual teacher and author in Colorado. Writing and reading has always been my passion and as part of my teaching I have documented my thinking as the years have passed. I have written one professional development book for ESL teachers and contributed to a book on comprehension strategy work. Currently I am working on a title that documents the importance of partnerships between community-based organizations and schools. In my free time I also write fiction. My first novel, Las Hechizadas, is available in paper book and on Kindle. I am also writing two new bilingual children’s books.



Christian Fiction Feature and Author Interview: Forget Me by Chelsea Vanderbeek @Chel_Vander

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Young Adult Fiction, Christian Fiction

Cover - Forget Me, Chelsea Vanderbeek jpg

Sabine is a budding poet who was practically born with a pencil in her hand. Though her intelligence and maturity far surpasses that of those around her, she lacks the confidence and social graces to come out of her shell.

She’s been forced on numerous occasions in the past to slip inside the glass double doors of Hilltop Baptist Church. The youth group was her mom’s idea, really. A shot-in-the-dark way for Sabine to try and make some wholesome friends in a wholesome place. Not that it ever worked out… At least she was usually able to make it out with minimal negative attention as her plain-old invisible self.

This time was different. She always hoped it would be different, but not like this.

When Sabine decides she’s had enough of this life, she ends it and becomes more visible than she’s ever been before. Is it possible she wasn’t as forgettable as she once thought? The only way to find out is to watch the aftermath unfold, and no matter the outcome, she can’t do a thing about it. No one can…

…or can they?

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Bridget’s trembling fingers remained mere inches from the gun. It was as if she was afraid to move, like I’d paralyzed her in fear. I didn’t feel like waiting for her anymore, though. I gave her a chance to leave. I put the muzzle back to my forehead and squeezed my eyes shut. The last thing I saw was her fighting back a sob, tears dribbling down her rosy cheeks, her saddened eyes staring into my soul. The image was burned into my brain, perhaps forever. I was about to slip my finger in front of the trigger again when I felt a clammy hand wrap around my wrist and pull me down. She was surprisingly strong, so strong that if I kept my eyes closed, I could easily imagine it being a man’s grip. I tried to push her away with all the strength I could muster, accidentally sending her head back against the wall. She clutched her head with both hands, no longer able to hold back her whimpering. She was mean, sure, but I never wanted to hurt anybody. A hard pang of guilt struck at my core.
“I didn’t mean to do that. I’m sorry.” I sobbed even as I spoke. I scampered as far as I could to the other side of the stall, bringing the gun back to my temple. The crinkled fabric of my dress slacks pressed into the skin of my knees. I saw my reflection in the stainless steel panel of the side of the stall. I didn’t want to be her anymore. I didn’t want to be anything.
I heard Bridget shifting on the floor behind me, right up until she was on her knees behind me. I felt her icy fingertips on my shoulder. “Please… Please, listen to me. Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”
No, get away. Get back,” I breathed, pushing her hand away. My heart was thumping at an overwhelming pace and I couldn’t wait for it to stop. I slipped my finger in front of the trigger for a final time. I spoke without turning back what would be my last words. “How could He love a piece of shit like me?”
Sabine, you’re not—”
I let my last breath go, pulling the trigger and losing all the feeling in my limbs. It all disappeared in a haze of black.

About the Author:

Chelsea Vanderbeek, Author

Chelsea Vanderbeek has been writing fiction and poetry for over eight years. She has previously been featured in Ars Poetica, the small-press publication of Warren County Community College. She currently lives with her family in New Jersey. She would encourage you to visit her website,, where you can find updates on her upcoming releases.

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Author Interview:

Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? Well, thanks for having me! I’ve been writing for over eight years now, and I have to tell you that the passion has only grown. You start out writing crap. That’s just a given. The first novel I ever remember writing was about a girl who got intense migraines (and it turned out she had brain cancer–I KNOW IT SUCKS), and she also had weird experiences. For example, she crashed her car into her garage and destroyed it, and five seconds later it was back to normal–and THAT was because she had a guardian angel. Now, this is probably the stupidest story idea you’ve ever heard in your life, but hey. We all have to start somewhere. I started in Craptown, and I’m now (thankfully) miles and miles away. Unfortunately you can’t drive those miles… Metaphor. Yeah. I guess what I’m saying is there wasn’t a shortcut. It took a lot of backspacing crappy words and banging my head against the desk, but ta-da! I’ve published a book and here we are, chatting it up like a couple bros.

How many books do you currently have published? Oh, you caught me on my debut.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release? I’m frying up more books as we speak. I’ve got two in the editing phase (one about two girls on the same co-ed football team that often butt heads, and another about high schooler struggling with her sexuality). Not to mention I have lots of ideas I’m nurturing, some of which I could be starting first drafts on as early as November. So you’ll definitely be hearing more from my side of town in the future (but definitely not Craptown).

What do you enjoy most about writing? I honestly love creating and getting to know my characters. I always say that character development is 50% of my writing process. I actually think that one of the most important things for a story to have is believable and authentic characters (because when you know your characters well enough, the story actually starts to tell itself… or they tell it to you…). I find an image (using Pinterest or Google Images) of what I envision my character looks like, because visual aids go a long way with me. I fill out a bio (with stuff like birthdate, age, good/bad traits, likes/dislikes, family, the whole shebang) for each of my characters, even minor ones. I interview the hell out of my characters (mostly mains, but minor characters do find their way into the mix as well) to get an idea of their “voice.” All of this happens before I type word number one in my first draft. It really is one of my favorite parts of the process.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? I actually wrote a college paper on writer’s block, believe it or not. The thing about writer’s block is that it can be more of a psychological problem than you’d think. A fear of rejection, thinking that your writing is gonna suck before you even put a single letter on the page, can clog the drain pretty quick. It could also be that you’re bored with your own story and you need to change things up. Knowing the cause has actually been a substantial help; I can think of at least one story I wouldn’t have written without this knowledge (and it was over 40K words). I give myself permission to suck in the first draft. No, really. I type it in the literal document. “This story has my complete permission to absolutely unmercifully suck and, in the interest of getting words down, I shall let it.” A first draft is like a toddler: he makes a mess and you clean it up, in that order.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? Mmmkay, *SPOILER ALERT* In my debut Forget Me, I have this character named Bridget. Now, this girl took twists all over the place. In earlier drafts, she wasn’t nasty at all and stayed alive the whole story. But then, as I developed her? She out of nowhere decided to A. Call Sabine a retard, and B. Commit suicide herself. I mean, sure she did all this wild stuff I wasn’t expecting at all, but actually? I was pretty proud of myself. To have a secondary character (who was actually pretty damn minor in the first few drafts or so) come to life like that and demand and push her way into the story like that? Pretty cool.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers? There’s so much I could say, but I’ll try to give you some good ones. Hmm… write for yourself. Don’t write what you think other people want to read, because there’s a good chance they don’t even know you exist and won’t for a while even after you’re published. If you do it for you, then you get the enjoyment, happiness and fulfillment out of it and money and recognition become less important. Also, if you write something that makes you laugh/cry/squeal with delight/make you physically upset, you’ve probably got a winner. If your writing makes you feel something, there’s a good chance it’ll make your reader feel something too. But it’s all about being honest with yourself. And that’s another thing: if you want to be a writer, you can’t be afraid to take punches. You can’t be afraid to admit that the one plot twist you once thought would make Stephen King jealous is just damn stupid, or that you need to get rid of that one character and his intrusive afro because he and it serve no purpose, or that you need to toss the word “mite” in that sentence because it sounds dumb. If you can learn to take constructive, honest criticism you’ll be set. Showing your work to other people isn’t easy (and I’m sure a lot of you newbies out there wouldn’t DREAM of showing another living entity your work), but I really think that’s where I turned a corner. It takes guts, but it’s so worth it. Above all? Don’t rush this stuff. Some of the most beautiful things in this world take time to grow.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character? Okay, since you said “extras,” well, I created a playlist to go along with my story. I’ve assigned a song to every chapter, and you can get a look at it here: I’ve been told by some that it’s diverse, and others that it’s really cool. Oh, and one more thing? If you heeded my spoiler alert before, just look out for Bridget. She does some pretty unexpected stuff.

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of William Sleator, but he was one of my favorite authors in my childhood (and he still is). My favorites of his were Singularity and The Duplicate. The Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson is pretty cool too.

What about television shows? Movies? Yeah, I’m a sitcom junkie. Seinfeld, King of Queens, Reba… I dunno, relaxing stuff to laugh at and get my mind off life. I could watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off a thousand times and still get a kick out of it. Jim Carrey’s great too. Liar Liar was cool.

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words or under, what would you say? Err… “Notebook in hand at all times.” Yeah, I think that kinda sums it up. I never stop writing. I could tell you all the places I’ve written (even in my swimming pool, for example) but I think that’s another story for another day… I know I’m nuts.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers? I’m giving out cherry-flavored lollipops for anyone who may want to leave a review on my Amazon or Goodreads page! But they’re imaginary. And they’re not cherry, they’re internet-flavored. But no really, thanks for taking the time to check out my story and this nice little interview here! Hit me up on social media if you like. Let’s be pals!

Fiction Feature and Author Interview: The Acorn Stories by Duane Simolke

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Fiction, Humor, Short Stories

the acorn stories

Acorn, Texas Book 1

From romantic comedy to razor-sharp satire to moments of quiet reflection, The Acorn Stories transform a fictional West Texas town into a tapestry of human experiences. “A lush tangle of small-town life branches out in this engrossing collection of short stories.” –Kirkus Reviews. “There are people that you like, some that you can’t wait to see if they get theirs.” –Joe Wright, StoneWall Society. “A well-crafted collection of short stories.” –L. L. Lee, author of Taxing Tallula.

The Sky Is Always Falling in This West Texas Town!

These tales explore the humor, drama, secrets, and scandals of a small town.

From romantic comedy to razor-sharp satire to moments of quiet reflection, Duane Simolke’s award-winning tales transform a fictional West Texas town into a tapestry of human experiences.

˃˃˃ The Individual Stories:

“Acorn”: When we arrive at the fictional West Texas town of Acorn, the narrative keeps shifting between Regina and Dirk, who both seek control over their relationship.

“Flip, Turn”: A different scene from the narrator’s amusing but unproductive life comes to him every time he turns to swim in the opposite direction.

“Keeping A Secret”: A little boy wants to shield his mother and his little brother from a dangerous situation.

“Survival”: A young high school teacher, deaf and gay, clashes with a popular football coach.

“Paying The Rent”: In this politically incorrect tale, an inarticulate young man hopes to marry a rich woman so he can pay the rent, but he finds her repulsive.

“Morgana Le Fay”: A widow finds her new romance disrupted by her Siamese cat’s strange behavior.

“Your Daughter”: Gretchen’s approach to raising a daughter and maintaining a marriage requires ignoring problems and carefully orchestrating conversations.

“Knock”: A father sees his daughter abandon her Mexican heritage, and he now fears other types of abandonment.

“Come With Me”: The conflicting influence of her overbearing sister and her supportive husband forces Becky to re-evaluate her ambitions.

“Dead Enough”: Farcical look at English departments, tabloid TV, the publishing industry, and America’s superstar culture.

“Mae”: Standing by her husband’s grave, an elderly woman looks back at the joys and challenges of marriage and motherhood.

“Timothy Fast”: In this satirical retelling of the Faustian myth, a Jewish businessman finds himself pulled into small-town politics.

“Mirrors: A Blackmail Letter”: The owner of an art gallery becomes the target of a “family values” witch-hunt, spear-headed by Acorn’s closeted (and supposedly “ex-gay”) mayor.

“Echoes”: A time of unexpected changes for Becky and her husband.

“Oak”: Julie Briggs can only talk to her mother by leaving messages on her answering machine, but she refuses to give up her voice.

“Acorn Pie”: An unusual weekend in the life of an unusual town.

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I pulled myself up enough to see the alarm clock just across my room. 10:15! It had happened again: after dreaming during the night that my alarm clock was buzzing, I had gotten up and turned it off, realized I was dreaming, stayed in bed wondering whether I had also dreamed turning it off, then fallen asleep without turning it back on.

“Swimming,” I mumbled into my pillow. I was supposed to have met Jimmy Jacobs at Acorn College’s indoor pool around ten. Since I hadn’t gone swimming in weeks, I had no idea where my alumni I.D. was. I searched my disintegrating wallet, pulling out shreds of napkins, envelopes, and newspaper with scribbled numbers. Some of the numbers looked like combinations for P.O. boxes or lockers, while others looked like phone numbers, but none of them had words on them. My wallet housed numbers detached from their purpose. I thought I should keep them in case I needed them one day. But how would I know if I needed them, or which ones to use? Then I found a phone number with a familiar handwriting.

I could have called all the phone numbers to see if I recognized the voices of the people who answered. Then I could just hang up. Maybe that’s what people are doing—the people who call me then hang up. Maybe they sorted through old wallets and purses, found my number on a scrap of paper. After finding my I.D. in the dark recesses of my wallet, I stuffed all the numbers back in to recreate whatever equation they had formed, knowing I would probably not see them again until my wallet fell apart.

After pulling on swim trunks, T-shirt, and tennis shoes, I walked outside into Mom and Dad’s yard sale and suddenly remembered that I really need to get my own place.

Jimmy Jacobs wasn’t even at the pool when I got there. I decided not to mention it to my mother—never mind that I’m twenty-eight—because she would just say, “I’ve told you about that Jacobs boy.” From junior high ’till well past high school graduation, no teenagers within a forty-mile radius of Acorn could get drunk, stoned, beat up, arrested, or pregnant without their parents asking, “You’ve been hanging around with that Jacobs boy, haven’t you?” By the time I graduated from college—a lot of good that did me, the new assistant manager at Ice Cream Dream—he was a husband, a father, and the pastor of Zionosphere Baptist Church.

Youtube Book Trailer:


About the Author:

Duane Simolke wrote several books, including The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Holding Me Together, and Sons of Taldra. He edited and co-wrote The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer; that book is both a stand-alone spin-off of The Acorn Stories and a cancer fundraiser.

Three of his books received StoneWall Society Pride in the Arts Awards, and one received an AllBooks Reviewers Choice Award. His writing appeared in nightFire, Mesquite, Caprock Sun, Midwest Poetry Review, International Journal on World Peace, and many other publications.

Education: Belmont University (B.A., ’89, Nashville, TN), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., ’91, Abilene, TX), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., ’96, Lubbock, TX), all with a major in English.

DuaneSimolke.Com includes some of his writing, as well as a variety of links. He lives in Lubbock, Texas.

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Author Interview:

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?

It’s a tie.

I worked on Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure off and on for much of my life. After its publication, I wrote two revised editions. Though it’s set in an alternate reality, it captures many of my thoughts and experiences. It reflects my writing journey and my life journey, which often intertwine. Besides, I made it something I would want to read: a scifi book with diversity and time travel.

The Acorn Stories also borrows from my life and experiences. It blurs short story conventions, captures my love for Texas, and pays tribute to a variety of places and authors. Of course, it isn’t science fiction, but I like it just as much as Degranon. Anyone new to my work should start with The Acorn Stories. It’s a fast, fun read with a lot of quirky characters.

Are you currently working on a book?

I’m writing a short story and hope to finish it soon. It will eventually appear in a new collection of my work.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Revising, giving the work texture and solid word choice.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Yes. Sometimes I write anyway, even if it’s just rambling. Otherwise, I wait and try again later. The ideas often hit when I’m not writing, sometimes even entire scenes.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?

It happens to me a lot, and I love it! If my characters surprise me, they might also surprise readers.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Why?

It’s a tie between two strong women. Taldra in Degranon and Sons of Taldra is an Iroquois scientist who challenges oppression. Becky in The Acorn Stories and The Acorn Gathering is an artist whose mental challenges and overbearing sister could keep her from her goals. They’re both inspirational and entertaining characters.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?

The following excerpt is from the short story “Fat Diary,” which appears in the stand-alone spin-off The Acorn Gathering. Readers can also order “Fat Diary” alone as a free eBook from or Smashwords.Com. Like the story I shared from above, it uses a first-person narrator.

Dear Fat Diary,

My nutritionist told me to write in you every day, until I can come to terms about why I’m not happy with my weight, and why I want to change. I’m supposed to call you my “love diary,” but I’m not trying to get rid of love; I’m trying to get rid of fat. We’ll talk about love later.

No, on second thought, we’ll talk about love now. I don’t have love because I have fat. If I didn’t weigh 260 pounds, I might be writing a love diary, and teenage girls would read it and swoon, while listening to the latest boybands and dreaming of that guy who sits in the second row of their American history class. Wait, that’s what I did at the University of Texas in Austin.

My name is Pamela Mae Willard, named after my Aunt Mae and my father, Samuel Carsons (yes, as in “Carsons Furniture, Acorn’s best-kept secret”). He wanted a Samuel Carsons, Jr. He had to settle with a Pamuel, which became Pamela, due to the mercy of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and my passive-aggressive mom. She kept “accidentally” referring to my father as “Samueluel,” and when that bothered him, she said she “didn’t give a damnuel,” and when he wanted supper, she said he could fry some “Spamuel,” and if he wanted someone to keep him warm, he could “buy a cocker spaniel.” Even though she never actually said how much she hated the name “Pamuel,” the message came through clearly enough, and he eventually asked if Pamela Mae would be all right.

Pamela Mae sounded sufficiently dignified and Southern for a member of Acorn’s beloved Carsons family, so she consented, and soon began cooking meals that weren’t primarily composed of meat byproducts. Harmony soon returned to our home, and my parents adopted an unwanted newborn baby just over a year later, naming him Samuel, of course, but calling him “Sam.” If they were going to go through all of that just to call someone “Sam,” they probably could have named me Samantha! Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite in a position to impart my keen sense of logic at the time.

Alternate Historic Fiction Spotlight: The Value of Equality by Cristie M. Locsin

Disclosure: This post contains compensated affiliate links and/or sponsored content. Click here to read more.

Alternate Historic Fiction/Lovestory

Value of Equality

Release Date: 6/12/2017

In 1969, the powerful hacenderos in the province of Azusa had been known to create political leaders. The hacenderos’ desires to keep their land and abolish the rebels groom Mayor Karlos Vasquez to enter the world of national politics. Daria Hernandez, Señor Enrique Hernandez’s daughter, paved the way for the ambitious and idealistic Mayor Vasquez. The mayor’s false beliefs and the people’s weariness ended democracy and tore the country apart, leading to a new form of government. The Value of Equality is the second book of a trilogy.

Buy this book now at:

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“Today we mark a new era in our beloved republic. We are no longer a nation of inequality. Today we establish a new government. I present to the world the People’s Republic of the Philippines.”

About the Author:

My interest in writing started at an early age as my father is an avid writer. I hold a degree in Journalism and was a reporter for various local ethnic newspaper. When I became a mom, I took a break and became and advocate for children with special needs. My passion for writing never left me and finally I wrote my first book The Value of Equality. The book depicts the story of hacienderos and political makers. This is the first book of a trilogy.