Are There Enough Chairs In Heaven – Cullen Spurr

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Memories are the pathway to our souls…

I’d like to start by saying I am delighted to be the first person to review this author’s debut short story, bringing his work into the blogging world is truly an honour, as well as giving him the recognition he fully deserves. Pushing his work into the spotlight and paving the way for his future works to be shown to the world. If his other work is as good as this short story then we are all in for a treat!

Firstly we dive straight into the story with a stream of consciousness as the protagonist starts to describe his surroundings and the confusion in which they bring, already the sense of darkness fills the gaps as we go along the characters journey. Guessing at each turn on who this character is (as no names are given), where he is and what has happened to him, which only increases the mystery.

As we progress through the characters memories we are taken on a trip through his childhood, dipping into his adolescence and falling in love. However don’t let this description fool you, the darkness behind the words slips out as we slowly discover the character’s emotions (feeling numb to the world) with a glimmer of hope when ‘she’ walks into his life. Even when all seems like it could be a ‘happily ever after’ situation his world comes crashing down beneath him.

One of my favourite things about this story was the break of consciousness, snippets of the protagonist swaying from his past recollections and bringing more mystery into his words. The fact that he realises he’s breaking from his trip down memory lane and giving away clues to the reader without them knowing how they piece together.

Another way to know if a story is good usually falls into the lines of wanting to know more, with this story it is open to interpretation on what actually happened with this man. Not giving you a clear black and white ending you find yourself questioning whether the break in consciousness earlier in the story meant that the ending wasn’t all that it seemed.

If you like a bit of darkness, some mystery and a story that pulls you in from the beginning and doesn’t let go then this is a story I would definitely recommend. Cullen Spurr is an unknown author for now, but I have a feeling that his work is going to capture a wide audience and have something special behind every cover.

Until next time…

If you would like to read this yourself it is available for download by viewing the PDF here – Are There Enough Chairs In Heaven – Culln Spurr

Bio: Cullen Spurr
Throughout his school life he was reprimanded for being outspoken and a little different, with the exception of his English teachers, who praised his creative writing and inquisitive mind. He developed a passion for all forms of creative writing early on in his life. This developed through many mediums such as music, poetry and prose. He self-released a short novella through Amazon’s Kindle store in 2013 but then took a step back from writing to pursue music throughout university. After graduating university Cullen rekindled his passion for writing and started working on, what he hopes to be, his debut novel.

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Author Interview – Gary Buller

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Digging deeper into the lives and career of authors…

As promised I’ve done another author interview to highlight and give thanks to the lovely authors that gave me the support and encouragement I needed for my blog to flourish and grow. Hopefully this will give some very well deserved recognition to Gary Buller, an author who gave me a chance and allowed me to start something I’m passionate about, my blog! So without further delay let’s get to know him a little better…

When did you decide to become an author?

Only last year. It came out of the blue to friends and family- even my girlfriend of sixteen years, but was an idea I’d been toying with for a while. I wasn’t very confident initially, but when the story acceptances started to roll in I felt better about my abilities.

Where do you get your story ideas?

I get ideas from things that happen day to day, no matter how mundane. My story ‘Shelf Life’ (Hindered Souls anthology) had origins in supermarket trips with my other half. Pushing the trolley along behind her, bored out of my tree, I wondered what would happen if this experience lasted forever?

Authors are traditionally cast as reclusive loners. Are you?

No, not at all. I’m very sociable but most of all I’d say that I’m a family man. On social media I’m quite cheeky and full of innuendo which I think goes completely against the grain for horror writers. I think some of them balk a little at some of my tweets. I have a good sense of humour and am not easily offended. I find it quite odd when horror writers talk about pushing boundaries in one breath and in the next they’re getting upset over a rude shaped vegetable or something. Writers can take things far too seriously.

Does your writing require research?

Sometimes, especially when it’s about something that I’m not overly familiar with. Google is handy for occasions like that. When I’m writing from experience though I’ll just go with what I know. I have a fairly short attention span when it comes to research, and get bored fairly quickly.

Which authors influence your writing?

I’ve been compared to Stephen King a couple of times which is both flattering and a curse. I think there are too many King wannabes out there. I have read most of his stuff, but don’t intentionally try to ape his style. I do like Joe Hill, Ray Bradbury and Adam Nevill for my horror and speculative fiction fix. I also enjoy the Helen Grace stories by MJ Arlidge.

What part of writing do you find most challenging?

Finding the time is the biggest challenge these days. Also self-editing. It’s one of the reasons why I initially joined a writers workshop and moved on to be part of a writers circle. It’s very difficult to spot faults in your own works.

Do you write the story, or do your characters take over?

The characters always seem to lead the way when I write. They are an extension of me, I suppose, so it makes sense. I’m currently working on some writer-improvement exercises under my Horror Writer Association mentor, Bram Stoker winner Hank Schwaeble, and he’s of the opinion that you have to incorporate at least a little plot development when you sit down to write.

When a reader closes one of your books, what do you hope they’re left with?

I hope that they enjoy it, and want to read more of my stuff. That’s the challenge- to get your name to stand out amongst the thousands and thousands of fledgling writers. If I scare the reader, or give them nightmares then even better.

Do you have any advice for new/ aspiring authors?

Learn that rejection and criticism is not a bad thing. Take that story and work on it some more. Before long you’ll be looking back at drafts of your work from months ago and seeing an improvement. Join an online writer’s group, or circle. Read other aspiring writers work and critique it, then let them do the same to yours.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/spirit animal, why?

My mascot is my six year old daughter, Holly. She’s my inspiration and I love her very much. She has a short piece of flash fiction in my horror collection ‘Mechanisms of Despair’ called ‘Dog of the Dead’ and absolutely delighted in signing the books when they arrived from the printers.

Do you Google yourself?

Occasionally. It’s never anything very interesting though. Just links to my Twitter and Facebook, and the occasional review or Amazon page.

How did you choose the genre you wished to write in?

I think horror chose me. Since the days of secretly watching video nasties when I was too young to do so back in the eighties, I’ve been interested in the macabre. My grandad used to tell a mean ‘true’ ghost story and it used to really freak me out. I’ve attempted writing other stuff but my eyes glaze over just a little. My heart is not in it.

Do you have any new books coming up that you wish to shout about? 

My short story collection ‘Mechanisms of Despair’ is out now and available on ebook and paperback from Amazon. All my proceeds go to Sarcoma UK, a bone and soft tissue cancer charity, and the publishers proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Foundation in the USA.

I have a short story coming up in a massive horror anthology with a collection of very talented horror writers including John Palisano, Vice President of the horror writers association. It’s called ‘Monsters Exist’ and features cryptids and legendary beasts local to each author. Published by Deadman’s Tome, it should be available June/July time from Amazon and we expect it to do really well.

I would also be amiss if I didn’t mention a project that I’ve been working on with Unnerving Magazine. Hobo Chapbooks will be available in limited editions of 44 from the 5th June 2017. They feature collaborative mashups where horror writers put their slant on other authors works. They are available to pre order here.

Until next time…

If you want to know more about Gary Buller you can have a look on his website for all sorts of updates. Alternatively follow him on Twitter (@garybuller) for regular content!

The Solitary Path Of Courage – M. B. Tosi

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You can be taught how to be ladylike, but courage is always within…

This book is actually the fifth in ‘The Indian Path Series’ so I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn’t know what is going on straight away, however from doing some research each book has its own standalone story that you can enjoy without having read the whole series beforehand. This genre of book is not usually one that I would choose but I’m glad it was brought to my attention as it involves bravery, adventure, hope and discovery. All of these come together to create an in-depth story that give us an insight into how the Old West 1800’s would have been like, hard at the best of times but even harder for a young orphaned woman.

The female protagonist is not the stereotypical ‘tough’ heroine, Sam O’Brien is a strong willed and courageous young lady that has been leading a double life. Being raised by only her father for most of her life she learnt that ‘hiding’ as a male made it safer, especially if she wished to stay close to her father on the railroads construction sites. Not learning how to be ladylike she adapted to the male environment (perhaps not necessarily for the best) which allowed her to have a straightforward talking personality and hard skinned attitude. Once her father passed away she soon learned that in her new family this kind of attitude would not be accepted.

As for the story itself, it really keeps you entertained and educated as we follow Sam on her journey (from orphan to outcast then professional) as we already know Sam is able to disguise herself as a male, after she leaves for Lewiston she becomes a newspaper reporter (being a talented writer already this suits her perfectly). Able to write about the current issues with the Indian’s she makes a name for herself. This story really flows beautifully allowing the reader to become fully engaged with Sam’s journey but also with the characters she meets along the way. It is a fast paced book that is full of adventure that will keep you turning the pages with excitement and intrigue.

As for the educational side of this book, don’t think I mean you will be reading a textbook on Indian history, this is much more exciting than that! It really gives you an insight into how life would have been in that era, especially for young women like Sam but also the Indian tribes. How things such as the gold-rush can cause issues (always the case when money is involved) and how we need to think about other people rather than just ourselves. There will always be conflict in this world but if we choose to be courageous, kind and fair then hopefully we can live in peace with one another.

This story really comes to life, making you feel what Sam is feeling. The grief for her father, the anger for her stepbrother, the fear of the unknown and the happiness of discovery. It really is a whirlwind of emotions that you feel when you read this book, painting the story in your mind (from imagining hiding from the Indians in the haystack, to working as a man on the railway site to journey’s into the unknown towns). A good book gives you all of these things, this one most definitely allows your imagination to run wild!

I must say that I will be reading the rest of the series (even if I’ve done it a bit backwards) as I really think that the writing style and story line that M. B. Tosi has created really speaks out to me and I wish to see what else she has in store.

Until next time…

Bio: M. B. Tosi
M.B. TOSI is a bestselling author of The Indian Path Series, which includes five books, The Sacred Path of Tears, The Secret Path of Destiny, The Crimson Path of Honor, The Thundering Path of Spirit, and The Solitary Path of Courage. She also has been an editor of non-fiction books and a weekly newspaper. She teaches piano and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in education. Born in Pierre, South Dakota, she has lived in Alexandria, Virginia; Bucks County, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio. She has three children, five grandchildren, and a spunky Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Ava.

Author Interview – Theresa Braun

Getting to know the woman behind the books…

I’ve been keen to bring my blog to a new level and give some more engaging posts for my readers, so why not give thanks to the authors that have supported me from the beginning by interviewing them and shining a well deserved light into their career and personal life! I hope to keep this type of post going so that you can get an insight into the authors I’ve had the pleasure of working with as well as the people behind my book reviews.

Why did you decide to become an author?

I’ve always enjoyed being creative. When I was younger, I was more of an artist, painting and drawing (which I still do on occasion). Then at some point I shifted into creating stories. It became a great way to escape. And, there’s a thrill in creating an entire world with words. I think most writers would say that it’s in our blood. It’s a drive that we can’t control and it makes us feel alive. At least that’s how I feel about it. If I’m not writing, there’s something missing. So, every chance I get, I follow through with the compulsion, despite all the frustrations and challenges that come with it.

Where do you get your story ideas?

As far as where I find inspiration for what I write, lots of the time I’ll get something that pops into my head and I write it down and expand on it later. Or, I’ll hear something on the radio or the news and it will spark my interest. And, on occasion, I have some pretty twisted dreams that can be used as material. Lately, I’ve gotten a few ideas from my students. One of them will say something in class and I’m like, that would make a great story. The shower is another awesome place where ideas run rampant.

Authors are traditionally cast as reclusive loners. Are you?

Well, writing does take a considerable amount of alone time. That part is very true. Sometimes I do feel like withdrawing completely. I could easily disappear and be happy. However, I try to balance it out by getting out with my friends or hanging with my writing buddies. It’s great to have people who understand the struggles of being a writer. I do enjoy the solitude that comes with creating, but I often crave socialization if I’ve been secluded for too long. It’s a balance.

Does your writing require research?

Yes, most of the time I’m doing research as needed.. I’ll open the Google page on my laptop and search up something on the spot. It makes me laugh sometimes to think about someone looking at the history on my computer. I’ve searched up a lot of bizarre things over the years. The most recent one is what happens to a body when it’s run over by a train. It could appear rather incriminating to someone who doesn’t know I’m a writer.

Which authors influenced your writing?

I’m lucky to have some authors in my circle who I really admire. As far as the famous bunch of writers out there, I’d have to say Stephen King is one of my biggest inspirations. Furthermore, there’s definitely an echo in my work of some of the classic authors like Shelley and Stoker, just to name two.

What part of writing do you find most challenging?

That would be a tie between writers’ block and some of the patience it requires to write and get a story out there. I think all authors have doubts while crafting a story. We wonder if we are approaching it right, using the appropriate POV or other techniques. There are times I have to sit on a story until it’s done. Many times it doesn’t come out in a straight shot. Lots of writers have a file of unfinished stories that they might not get back to for years, or ever. And, when a story is complete, then it’s a matter of getting it out there. Where to submit? And the rejections can be discouraging or it can take months to find out if something has been accepted. That is always a thrill, but then we have to wait for the publication to come out, which can also take months. In short, there’s a lot of waiting involved. So, one has to have a few projects going to feel there is a forward momentum. It helps to be connected to other authors so we can cheerlead each other along the way.

Do you write the story, or do your characters take over?

In the past, I’ve always been in control of the story. However, I’m starting to let the characters talk to me more. When that happens, it’s pretty cool. It’s kind of like channeling their feelings and actions. That can also be rather scary, since the writer doesn’t always know where things are going. Doing this requires quite a bit of trust. But it can be extremely rewarding when it’s all over.

When a reader closes one of your books, what do you hope they’re left with?

My biggest hope is that I’ve moved the reader in some way and he or she cared about what happened to the characters. An added bonus is if I’ve given the reader something to think about. The best stories that I’ve finished of other authors have left me haunted and contemplating life or a deep philosophical question. At the very least, I hope people are entertained by my work.

Do you have any advice for new/aspiring authors?

The best writing tip is to read. Stephen King has been quoted as saying that if you don’t read, you will never become a good writer. I think that’s so true. You have to see how other authors are treating plot, characterization, and setting, including how to write about gore or how to leave it out or imply it. I’m part of a writing group and some of what we do is read established writers and talk about what they do that works. It’s really helpful.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/spirit animal, why?

I’d like to say it’s a bat or dragon or something like that. However, my writing mascot is one of my cats. He’s always by my side when I’m writing at home, like he is giving me support or helping to rein in the inspiration. When I get excited about something, I often hug and squeeze him. I probably shouldn’t admit it, but it’s true.

Do you Google yourself?

I haven’t Googled myself in a long time. As of late, I’ve been too busy with other things to worry about what’s out there on the internet about me. That doesn’t mean that I won’t at some point. Just right now it doesn’t interest me enough.

How did you choose the genre you wished to write in?

I’ve always been into dark subject matter and the workings of human nature and the mind. Horror is the perfect genre to explore these things and to delve into the grim aspects of humanity and existence. However, I can see myself crossing over into other genres. I’d like to write more sci-fi, for example.

Do you have any new books coming up that you wish to shout about?

Unnerving Magazine is putting out an anthology called Hardened Hearts which will include my piece entitled “Heirloom”. It’s about a therapist who inherits a mirror that has the power to send her into the past against her will. Her whole world gets turned upside down. I’m really excited about its release. And, I’m finishing up a monster story that will be in an upcoming Deadman’s Tome collection called Monsters Exist. There will be about 15 amazing stories in there, and I’m thrilled to be alongside some very talented storytellers. My other pieces are still looking for homes at a number of magazines. Fingers crossed.

 Until next time…

If you want to know more about Theresa Braun you can have a look on her website for all sorts of updates. Alternatively follow her on Twitter (@tbraun_author) or like her Facebook page.