Review: Dark Flash, by @MariaHaskins

Title: Dark Flash
Author: Maria Haskins
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Eight stories of dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Featuring unicorns, pirates, a cat, a demon, magic, and glimpses of mythology (among other things) – there’s a pinch of everything in this collection of flash fiction! All eight stories originally appeared on R.B. Wood’s Word Count Podcast, and are now available as an ebook for the first time. (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve read some of Maria Haskins poetry and flash fiction in the past. because I’ve enjoyed it, I decided to give a collection of her flash fiction a read. I’m happy to have done so.

As with most flash fiction, it can be a hit and miss. Length is a major factor that shapes each story and what can be done within the limited word count. Haskins has more hits than misses, in my opinion. Not every story wowed me, but many did. She’s able to work a lot of “story” into each story, keep the pace fast without making them feel short, and come up with a variety of ideas that also work together nicely.

I’ll definitely continue to read Haskins’ work. Especially the flash fiction. Having finished Dark flash, I’m now also curious what Haskins can do with a longer form, whether it’s short stories or novels.

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You can grab this story from:

Amazon | SmashwordsKobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

self3Maria Haskins is a Swedish-Canadian writer and translator. She was born and grew up in Sweden, but since the early 1990s she lives just outside Vancouver on Canada’s west coast with a husband, two kids, and a very large black dog.

Her English language debut ‘Odin’s Eye’ – a collection of science fiction short-stories – was published in March, 2015. Her book ‘Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 – 2015’ was released on November 9, 2015, and includes both new poems written in English, and her own translations of her previously published Swedish poetry. She is currently writing fantasy and science fiction short stories. Two new short stories that will appear in an anthology in the Mind’s Eye Series, set to be published in 2016.

Find out more:

Story Time…#Christmas

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christmas lineToday is Christmas, for those who celebrate. And for those who don’t, it’s simply another Friday. Either way, it’s time for another installment of Story Time Friday.

There have been a lack of STF posts, as many of you probably noticed. Because of this, I decided to do my best to gather a group of authors for a special holiday post. Turns out my reach isn’t that far these days, but I did have two veteran poets jump at the chance to help me. For today’s special post, I have returning poets Ben Ditmars and Mari Posa. I also have a poem I wrote recently. I have a few others I’m still working on, but this one felt polished enough to share. I hope you like it. I’m sure you’ll like Ben and Mari’s work. And if you do, be sure to check out their other pieces. You can find links to their sites and where to get their books near the bottom of the post.

Don’t be shy if you’d like to be a future guest poet or flash fiction author for Story Time Friday. I’m always looking for people to feature. More info on how to go about submitting a piece is below, as well.

Hope you enjoy these poems. I hope you’re enjoying whatever holiday(s) you do or do not celebrate. And I hope the new year gets off to a great start, if I don’t talk to you before them. Happy Christmas everyone. (Yes, I’m American, not British. But Merry just doesn’t make sense. Happy is for all the other holidays. Christmas doesn’t have to try to be better than the rest.)

One last thing…I have another present for everyone. At the end of my poem, I’ve put a coupon code to use over on Smashwords. You can get a copy of From Where I Stand with it, just add the book to your cart and enter the code at checkout. That coupon’s good until the end of 2015.

Shall We Stand?

by Ben Ditmars

we shall not stand
or come to pass, this way
with tinsel strewn
across an ocean warming
lights submerged by
a melody of peace,
a memory of frost
and what went wrong.

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Who Will Cry?

by Mari Posa

Who will weep for him, this little Syrian boy
Adorned in red soaked cloth and filth
This little boy who once knew joy
He feels pain and sadness and fear
He loves and laughs and cries as you do
If you could pick him up and save him would you?
If you could wrap him in your arms
My bank account can’t reach so far
I cry for your sisters and your mothers and fathers, too
If I had the means to answer this call
The same as you do
But my country has the potential to be great
If we weren’t so fueled with fear
I imagine a world where everyone is free
Not how we are, no, see they’ve lied to me
I know that’s what I’d do.
Unable to be his star
But I cry for you, sweet soul
If I could I’d save you all
They call for a bigger wall
They call for deeper pockets
They want to ship others back
Keep them hidden away
No one should stay
You’re unamerican they cry
If you don’t like it leave
With hate
Why have I been blessed to feel
Ironically it says “In God We Trust”
They are wolves in sheeps clothing
Parading False Prophetic Paradigms
Teaching the youth to fear what they tell them to
I weep for you
I weep for you
God, tell me what can I do?
So much, so much
But there is no God here,
God, please tell me what to do

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Some Trees

by Robert Zimmermann

Some trees
are covered
in lights,
glass balls,
and sparkle
with glitter and

Some trees
more or less
of one thing
or another.
While some trees
are a mess
of color and bright,
blinding cheer.

Some trees
are better
left outside.
Left to grow,
thriving for another
new year.
Left to be
in fresh snow.

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For a free copy of From Where I Stand use:



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About the Authors:

Ben Ditmars is a bestselling author of gnomes, plays, poetry and more.  He was first published in his college publications the Cornfield Review and KAPOW.  Since then he has been featured in several online literary journals including: Flurries of Words, Samizdat Literary Journal, and Shine Journal. You can find his collections of poetry, plays, novel, and short stories for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Ben lives in Marion, Ohio and is currently working toward his Master’s Degree in education at the University of Findlay while substitute teaching. He hopes to instruct high school social studies full-time within the next year.

He loves historical documentaries and all things gnome.

Find out more:

Website | Twitter |Facebook |Goodreads | Amazon Author Page | Smashwords Author Page

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Mari Posa is the adult child of a substance abuse parent. She lived in various locations, Colorado and California mostly, but found her way up to the state of Washington after her mother’s death. Here she worked hard to overcome her past and the obstacles presented to her. Mari now spends her days living her dreams as a wife, mother and writer.

Mari has published a collection of poetry, written when she was still a child. She chose to publish these poems because she felt they showed from an adolescent perspective what it is like to live as the child of a substance abuse parent.

Mari is currently working on a full length novel, Clipped Wings, a memoir of her time before adoption and how she overcame the odds.

Find out more:

Website |Twitter | Amazon Author Page

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How to Submit:

For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip one in 😛 ): Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

Back from NY. It’s My Birthday. Want #Free Books?

I’m back from my New York trip to be at my brother’s wedding…which I ended up being the best man for. Got back home yesterday afternoon after being awake (aside from a few hours here and there) since Friday morning. So I definitely passed out for a long time last night. But I woke up…and it’s my birthday!

I didn’t get to reading much of what I planned for the plane rides. I had the Kindle filled with a good amount of stories, but I tried a few and couldn’t get into them. I guess I’m just more picky than I thought when stuffed into a plane. But I’ll revisit them down the road. I did start an ARC for Tara Sivec’s new book (comes out soon) and it’s GREAT so far. Just how I knew it’d be. I’ll finish that up this week and show you all my review.

But enough about the past. What about today: my birthday? Well, you could all give me presents (I wouldn’t tell you no). However, I like doing something different on my birthdays. I like to offer my books for free. I do this at other random times of the year and barely anyone takes advantage of the opportunity, but maybe today will be different. Two of my poems and an erotic flash fiction story are always free from me. Today I’m adding my two poetry collections to the list. But TODAY ONLY! They’ll be free for the rest of October! So hurry! All the links you need will be below. Please share it with your friends and even strangers if you know any (ha…ha…I’m so funny).

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From Where I Stand (200X300)

From Robert Zimmermann comes From Where I Stand, an emotional debut poetry collection.  Zimmermann explores strained parental relationships, loss of life, and the despair associated with grief.  Alongside these darker themes, he delves into the small areas of life that often go unnoticed but become the hope we are searching for.

From Where I Stand is the winner of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Award, in the poetry category (Winter 2013)

FREE with coupon code: NV72D

Use code at checkout HERE

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Winter's Homecoming CoverWinter’s Homecoming and Other Poems is an eight poem chapbook by Robert Zimmermann. In this insightful new collection, Zimmermann shares his love and appreciation for the beauty of nature and the changing of seasons, as well as the endless search for happiness.

FREE with coupon code: CV66H

Use code at checkout HERE

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I mentioned that I have three other titles free. Just click on these covers and you’ll find links to grab them all at the store of your choice.

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Breakfast in Bed (200x300)

Line curvyP.S. – If you’d like to just buy the books, feel free to do so. No one’s forcing you to grab them for free 😉 Ok, maybe I’ll force them on you when they’re free. It’s just money. I just want you to enjoy reading, no need to spend all the time. Though, if you want a copy of From Where I Stand on your real bookshelf, you can always find links to the print version on its main page here.

#Review Repost: An Unexpected Date, by @SusanHatler

Just over three years ago I read my first story from Susan Hatler. After that, I continued to read more or her work, but the first one stuck with me. It was short, simple, and a great, quick romance.

Recently, Hatler released a sequel/continuation to that story. Before I go out and read that one, I wanted to reread the first to get ready for what comes next. I did that today and I enjoyed the story just as much, if not more the second time around.

Instead of re-reviewing it, I decided to post my old review of the story. It reflects pretty much the same way I feel about the story today, and also it will give you a glimpse of where I was as a reviewer at the time since it was one of my early reviews. I hope I’ve shown improvement since then, tough.

Without further rambling, here’s my 3 year old review of Susan Hatler’s An Unexpected Date. (Stay tuned for a review once I read story two, and story three when it’s released.)

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An Unexpected DateTitle: An Unexpected Date (Treasured Dreams #1)
Author: Susan Hatler
Rating: 4/5 stars

Holly loves living in her cozy mountain town and all the surrounding beauty soothes her soul. She treasures beading jewelry for her own small business while watching nature and its amazing creatures outside her window. But, her mom begs her to move back to the city so she can find a man to marry. Holly doesn’t want to give up on her dreams, but does that mean she’ll have to give up on love? (description from Goodreads)

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This short story was just what I needed to rewind from the day. It’s lighthearted just like I enjoy when I read a romance like this one. The main character can be anyone who’s out there working her dream job, even if it doesn’t pay the bills, and enjoys it. Her spirit is great. This could be a good set up for a mini series of stories. I was left wanting to read more, but in a good way. It was complete in itself, while at the same time leaving it open to the imagination for what will happen next.

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You can grab a copy of An Unexpected Date from:

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

And if you want to continue Holly’s story…

An Unexpected Kiss

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

An Unexpected Love

Amazon (PRE-ORDER)

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About the Author:

Susan HatlerSUSAN HATLER is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. Many of Susan’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, and Italian. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too.

For more:

Story Time Friday – New to the Neighborhood

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

 by Robert Zimmermann

“Really? More bloodsuckers? Just what we need in the neighborhood. That last family settled in so perfectly.”

“Matt! What did I tell you last week about your attitude?”

“‘Vampires are people, too,'” Matt responded in a mocking tone.

“Exactly,” his mom said. “Now how about you go over there and introduce yourself. You know it’s difficult for them to be moving in so early in the day.”

“Do I have to, Mom?”

“Yes. And make sure you invite them over after dinner tonight. I’d like to meet them myself.”

“Fine. But I won’t like it.”

Matt walked down the street to his new neighbor’s house. A many was trying to drag a box into the house with one hand, while he shaded himself with an umbrella in the other. the whole family was moving around in a similar fashion.

“Hi, I’m Matt,” he said awkwardly.

Giving up on the box, the man replied, “Hello. I’m Don. I guess we’re neighbors.”

“Yea. I live a few houses down. My mom would like to invite your family over later, if you’re not too busy. Oh, and would you like some help moving your stuff inside?

“Thank you, Matt. We’d appreciate the help. Though, we were just about to take a little break. Would you like to come in for a drink? It’s hot out here today.”

A few hours later, Matt started walking home. Don and his family were close behind as Matt reached the front door and opened it.

“Mom, we’re here!” Matt shouted inside.

“Come in, come in!” His mom rushed to the door. “Matt, you should have just shown our guests inside. Where are your manners?”

“It’s ok, we didn’t mind waiting for you. I’m Don and this is my wife Jill and daughter Anna.”

“I’m Matt’s mom, Jane. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

In the days to follow, Jane only slipped out of the house after the sun set to run some errands. Matt went out a little earlier, but only to go down the street to spend time with Don’s daughter Anna. Life in the neighborhood certainly does change when vampires move in.

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How to Submit:

For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip one in 😛 ): Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

Story Time Friday – Thar be #Dragons!

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Thar be Dragons? Yes, that’s right. At least there are in this story. It will also be the theme for my themed book recommendations post in two weeks. Getting a good list going for that. There are many to pick from, but I’m getting some help narrowing the titles down and getting a better list. If you’re a dragon fan and would like to help with recs, let me know.

Until then, enjoy this little story.

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The Storybook of Our Lives

 by Robert Zimmermann

“DRAGONS!” Tim ran into the house, screaming.

“Shut the door, Timmy,” his mom replied. “What’s this about dragons?”

“There…are…dragons…outside,” said Tim, gasping for air.

“Tim, you know it’s not nice to lie to your mother,” I said from my seat at the kitchen table. “Now, tell us what you really saw out there.”

“I didn’t lie, dad. I really saw dragons. Three of them. They were flying out over the cornfields by the high school.”

“What did I just tell you about lying? Do I have to send you to you…”

“Honey, maybe Timmy is telling the truth,” interjected my wife. “Would it be that out of place with all we’ve seen lately?”

She had a point. The other day, when I was driving home from work, a werewolf ran in front of the car. Good thing they’re fast, or else I would have hit the thing. And Jane swears the new doctors who worked overnight with her at the hospital is a vampire. Pale skin, fangs, and all. It wasn’t her first encounter with the undead either. More and more vampires were taking over the graveyard shifts all over town.

Come to think of it, dragons are only to be expected with how things have been going lately. It’s as if someone tore apart some storybooks and piled the lose pages all together.

Next thing you know, I’ll be out getting the mail and…No, I don’t even want to image that. Let’s hope no one added pages from one of His books to the pile.

“Tim, would you like to show me those dragons? We should add a picture of them to our scrapbook.” I put my arm around my son’s shoulder and walked him out the door. Not to worry though. I made sure to grab my staff and Tim wasted no time shouldering his quiver of arrows. We’re no fools.

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How to Submit:

For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip one in 😛 ): Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

Story Time Friday – Depressing #FlashFiction

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I’ve been posting mainly poetry these last few weeks. Oops. It IS called STORY Time Friday, is it not? Well, I’ll keep this short for you. I have a new piece of flash fiction to share. It’s not a happy one. It’s not a great one. But it’s an idea I had for an end of the world with no hope kind of thing that I’ll revisit at some point. But at least I got some ideas on paper for now.

Don’t get too depressed reading it 😉

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 by Robert Zimmermann

I’ve been alone in this tower for a few years now.

The last time I saw another person, alive, it was my parents. Both of them. I still remember the look on each of their faces. The pleading in their eyes. I couldn’t take their lives, though, no matter how much it hurt to watch them suffer as they did. There are many ways to die. They chose to chance starving in order to give me the bigger share of our scavenged meals.

Fortunately, they died quietly enough, in a sleep brought on by weakness. As peaceful as this world can allow, at least.
That’s why I’m along up here, in this tower that reaches into the clouds over. I can gaze in whichever direction I want to, out at a grid of smaller buildings, then beyond that water and more buildings. I still have a hard time believing the tales my parents told me about this place.

I know we weren’t the only, but I think they were exaggerating. Probably wanting to make the world seem like it was more exciting. The world Before. There can’t have been millions of people on this island. There’s no way. Where did they all go? How could there have been even more than that in the world? No, I can’t believe all of those bedtime stories.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll last here, either. My parents seemed to have done well enough for themselves, and me when I was born. It’s too dangerous to hunt and scavenge at surface level. I’ve had many close calls with beasts just as hungry as I am. I don’t think I could chance another close call.

Maybe I should see if there’s anything left in the garden. We could barely grow a thing up here. There’s too little rain and too much wind. A few things grew if we did it just right. Some of it edible. Some of it what my father called “a backup plan”.

I don’t know what kind of plant it is, but it’s what my parents tried getting me to feed them when they were dying. My father told me that it would be a quick death for anyone who ate it. Painful, but quick. Still, it’s not a task you ask a child to partake in. If it’d have been now, years later, it might be a different story I’m telling. A story where I tell you how I killed both of my parents, a mercy killing.

I know I’m going to die soon. I’m not sure when, though. Starvation is a tricky thing when the body is used to being depraved all of its life.


It’s days later now. I haven’t had anything to eat, still. I don’t think I have much longer in this world and I’ve come to peace with that. This isn’t a world to do anything more than survive in.

I’ve also tossed all of the “backup plan” plants out of the tower. If my parents weren’t allowed the luxury to choose their death dates. I denied them that. I’m denying it for myself now.

I’m going to sit here, staring out at the vast expanse of skyline, empty for as far as the eye can see, alone. Maybe I’ll see my parents again soon, if that bedtime story turns out to be true, at least. Still not to sure about all the things they told me when I was younger.

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How to Submit:

For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip one in 😛 ): Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!