‘The Things We Write’ is now available in a paperback edition

You should assume I’m biased when I say this is a beautiful book. What an honor to be part of it. Now it’s out in paperback, supplementing the PDF and e-book editions.

From the Publisher

Seven Thomas-Jacob Publishing, LLC authors bring you 15 of their short stories, excerpts, and poems. Sometimes offbeat, always captivating, the selections include historical fiction, magical realism, crime, psychological suspense, literary fiction, coming of age, and poetry for both children and adults. The works are grouped by author name, not genre, ensuring a surprise each time you turn the page.

Poet Scott Zeidel contributed the cover art. You can also see his artwork on the cover of his collection of poems, Welcome, and in his wife Smoky Zeidel’s book Who’s Munching on my Milkweed.


Book Review: ‘A Certain Kind of Freedom,’ edited by Beryl Belsky

A Certain Kind of Freedom: Stories and Poems from the Writer's DrawerA Certain Kind of Freedom: Stories and Poems from the Writer’s Drawer by Beryl Belsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“My objective when choosing the pieces for the anthology was to ensure that they reflected not only literary merit but also the multicultural nature of the website [Writer’s Drawer], as well as universal themes with which we can all identify.” – Beryl Belsky, from the Preface

A Certain Kind of Freedom presents ten stories in Short Fiction, ten first-person essays in Stories from Life, eleven poems in Poetry, and three poems in East Asian Style Poetry. While the short stories comprise the most dynamic section of the book, the anthology as a whole successfully fulfills Belsky’s objectives in the preface.

The title story about two young people who go kayaking in a cove that may or may not be dangerous or cursed, superbly introduces feelings of dread and a finely wrought narrative tension that characterizes most of the stories in Short Fiction. Susan Rogers’ “A Certain Kind of Freedom” employs a technique favored by director Alfred Hitchcock: placing everyday people into an unusual and chilling situation.

Kate and Ryan, who are visiting the Mediterranean coast, are experienced kayakers. The day is beautiful and the seas are calm. Yet Kate is preoccupied with “pink sky in the morning, sailor’s forewarning,” World War II dogfights that occurred in the area, and the unknowns of deep water once they paddle outside the sheltering cove. Rogers builds the tension well, foreshadowing a harrowing conclusion that, while not unexpected, is both surprising and sad.

In “Abigail,” Elizabeth L. Abrey also places an everyday person in an usual situation. While exploring her new house, Ruby Jordan gets locked in the basement. Once she extricates herself, everything seems fine. But then it isn’t–just possibly, getting locked in the basement wasn’t an accident.

Especially poignant is Leandré Grobler’s “Cry of the Fish Eagle”about an elderly aboriginal couple living in a secluded valley far from civilization who discover they are being watched by outsiders whom they do not understand. The watchers are well-intended researchers. As the tension builds, the reader can only wait helplessly for the inevitable clash of cultures that will destroy everyone.

Fans of Beethoven will love Tyger Schonholzer’s “Immortal Beloved,” an exquisite fantasy that re-imagines the circumstances behind the master’s famous “Immortal Beloved” letter to an unknown woman. The letter was never mailed. The intended recipient was never identified by historians. Could Schonholzer’s version be true? The romantic amongst us will want to think so.

All of the stories succeed, though some better than others, because they are tightly written and build toward well-plotted and appropriately foreshadowed conclusions. The essays in Stories From Life are generally informal and, while they introduce interesting characters, themes and settings, have a slice of life quality about them that often lacks unity and direction.

Bryan Clark’s “The Smoke Bird,” about an aboriginal mystic, Carrie King’s “The Ticket,” about an expectant mother barred from boarding a ship, and D. K. Srivastava’s “The Decision That Changed Her Life” about a Hindu bride waiting for her arranged marriage to begin are standouts in this section.

The offerings in Poetry are generally free verse with several of the poems falling into the prose-formatted-into-broken lines category. However, the poets’ passions shine through in such words as these in Syed Asad Ali’s “I Have Been in Love Twice”: …with you and with the idea of you; and maybe the reality of love lingers in between both of these.

Paige Lederman’s, memorable poem called “Fear” shows how a ten year old felt when hurricane Sandy hit New York’s Rockaway Beach in 2012, Dev Pillai’s tautly written “Paradox” looks at a moment in the past that was “incomplete yet content,” and Jane Tarlo’s bittersweet “It” bring strength to this section.

The three poems by Leon Zeldis, Jane Tarlo and Yael Shalev in East Asian Style Poetry comprise the strong final section of A Certain Kind of Freedom. These works clearly demonstrate the style and tone expected in the form, perhaps most effectively in Zeldis’ “Seven Chinese Poems” that begin:

Before the leaves went wild wind lofted,
The sky darkened
And I sat down crying.

Belsky concludes the book’s preface with the hope that A Certain Kind of Freedom will become the first of a Writer’s Drawer Book Series. Belsky and her contributors have made a strong start with this collection. For authors of future books in the series, this volume sets the bar high; for readers, it offers enjoyable prose and poetry that deserve multiple readings to fully explore.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the contemporary fantasy “The Seeker,” a story about a mountain vision quest, a flood, a girl, a swamp, and a summer romance on the rocks.


Forever Friends Blog Tour

Today it’s a pleasure welcoming Shelagh Watkins who is here to talk about the new “Forever Friends” anthology from Mandinam Press:

Thank you for reading this blog entry! This is the eleventh post on the blog tour. If you are new to the tour, welcome! If this is the eleventh blog you have read, thank you for following the tour! As I write this, the tour has reached the sixth day and Shelagh’s Weblog, where all the blog posts on the tour have been posted, has received over three hundred views between December 1st-5th. A special thank you from me to everyone following the tour on my weblog!

Forever Friends is gaining in popularity every day, as more books are sold daily on amazon.com.

Earlier this week, I answered questions posed by Sue Durkin. Today, I will be answering Malcolm’s questions:

1. What are the primary benefits of your Published Authors group? What does it provide that authors weren’t getting elsewhere?

I set up the Published Authors Network on August 5th 2007 to give authors a chance to meet and exchange ideas about publishing and marketing books. At the time, there were similar Ning networks such as Book Marketing and Book Place. The difference between the Published Authors Network and other networks is the additional forum, where members of the network gather on a public forum to discuss anything in general and writing in particular. It’s a fun place as well as a place to discuss serious issues about writing and the publishing industry.

2. When the group decided to do an anthology, how was the theme chosen? What were the benefits of a theme approach rather than including poems and short stories about any subject?

I suggested to the group that Mandinam Press, which I set up in January 2008, would be willing to publish an anthology of short stories and poems without giving any real thought to how it might be set up. However, one of my poems, Hope for a Safer Place, was chosen for inclusion in the anthology Stories of Strength, with the obvious theme of ‘strength’, which gave me the idea to use a theme for the Published Authors anthology. Friendship seemed to be an obvious choice because of the friendships on the forum. The main advantage of a theme was giving the contributors something to focus on. It concentrated the mind!

3. Does the anthology have a primary audience or age group?

No. There really is something for everyone for nine to ninety!

4. How would you describe the book to your prospective audience in 25 words or less.

This book will delight and entertain you: from everlasting love to broken friendships, from childhood to old age; there really is something for everyone!

5. If you could say more, what else would you tell them?

This is a book that will grow on; a book you will cherish. You will love the cover, love the depth and variety of its contents and love the feel of it in your hands. Put it on your coffee table, by your bed, on your desk or by the phone so that you can dip into it anytime and read something new.

6. Where can the anthology be purchased? (include links if you know them)

Forever Friends is available now from all major online stores, including amazon.com:

Forever Friends

and barnesandnoble.com:

Forever Friends

7. What other book projects have you been involved in?

I set up Mandinam Press to self-publish The Power of Persuasion, a book that is on the list for Wales Book of the Year. The latest project that I might be involved in is the serialization of Mr. Planemaker’s Flying Machine on local radio. The project is in the very early stages of development and, until I know more, I can’t say if it will actually go ahead or not. Watch this space!

8. Does the group plan to issue new anthologies in the coming years?

There is nothing planned at the moment. I will see how things go and maybe consider a second anthology next year. I will not be making any decisions about this before spring 2009.

I would like to thank Malcolm for inviting me to talk about Forever Friends. Malcolm’s poem, Debt, Paid in Full is a wonderful tribute to an old friend, Mr. Henry, whose life was saved by a doctor. The doctor’s son was a one of Malcolm’s pals. Every Saturday, to repay the doctor, Mr. Henry drove from his farm into town to pick up Malcolm’s pal, and his pal’s brothers and schoolmates. From town, they all rode out along the canopy road north of Tallahassee, Florida, eating sticky buns that Mr. Henry had waiting and ended up at what appeared to be an infinite paradise: a creek down in the woods where the boys looked for minnows, sailed boats, and watched for snakes. With the writing of the poem, the debt has now been paid in full!

Buy the book and read the poem along with all the other wonderful poems and stories. You will not be disappointed!

Thanks again for reading this and best wishes for the holiday season!

Shelagh Watkins

Please follow the tour to learn more about the book.

Blog Tour

December 1 Chelle Cordero
December 2 Zada Connaway
December 3 Mary Muhammad
December 4 Helen Wisocki
December 5 Pam Robertson
December 6 Dick Stodghill
December 7 Philip Spires
December 8 Milena Gomez
December 9 L. Sue Durkin
December 10 A. Ahad
December 11 Malcolm R. Campbell
December 12 Lynn C. Johnston
December 13 Dianne Sagan
December 14 Donald James Parker
December 15 Karina Kantas
December 16 Grace Bridges
December 17 Tiziana Rinaldi Castro
December 18 Yvonne Oots
December 19 Dana Rettig