Review: “Her Next Door” by T.R. Robinson

“Her Next Door” by T.R. Robinson is a short story that can be classified as both thriller and drama. Within these pages, Ms. Robinson creates an in-depth main character, Tara, with a backstory that makes the reader concerned for her well-being. Of course, in the scope of a short story, that is a rather difficult task, but Ms. Robinson pulls it off with great success.

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The quality of the writing is neat and clean. No glaring errors in punctuation, spelling, or gaping plot holes. Also, the copy editing was well done, with no repeated words, amateur body language, or dialog flubs.

The protagonist is affable. Despite her horrific backstory, Tara gives other people a clean slate, unless they do or say something to warrant an apprehension. Here’s where T.R. Robinson’s writing skills shine. At first, we’re not sure if Tara’s mental “red flags” are real or if she’s merely hyper-sensitive on account of her past. You’ll have to read it to find out.

The use of setting for thematic purposes is also well done. Tara’s new home serves as a metaphor for her life. The run-down condition of the house represents her former existence. As the story moves forward, now she’s forging ahead, reconstructing her surroundings as she also reconstructs her life. However, houses exist within a community of other dwellings, and those homes have people, too. Will “Her Next Door” neighbors live up to her suspicions? Or will she open and proceed through “Her Next Door” to a new and better life?

 

I highly recommend this little gem. “Her Next Door” is the first in T.R. Robinson’s series called “Bitches.” The series has progressed from an initial short story into a series of six. If this story is anything to go by, all of them should be great reads. You can readily find all of them on T.R. Robinson’s Amazon Author Page.

T.R. Robinson has a rather in-depth author blog among other social media locations.

Connect with T.R. Robinson on Twitter and FaceBook.

Swiggers by Joey Pinkney

In the brevity of a short story, Swiggers by Joey Pinkney manages to give us some great insight into a subtle aspect of the African-American community. Also, Joey’s Author Notes at the end give us more to ponder as he discusses the inspiration and life experiences that he called upon to create this little gem.

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Within these pages, we’re given a glimpse into the “theater of reality.” Except, within this particular theater, it is the Greek Chorus which serves as the main character. The theater is a shady park bench near a corner liquor store and the play is the daily habits of the townsfolk. A group of older men meet at the park bench, drink, tell stories, relate jokes, and offer commentary on the people who frequent the store.

Remember, in the play “As You Like It,” Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances…” However, what can a humble Greek Chorus commenting on the theater of the real do when their little piece of the world stage begins to change? I don’t like to put spoilers in my reviews, so you’ll have to read it to find out.


The jokes are rather funny too. I think my favorite was the one about the Pussy Willow.


About the Writing

PinkneyI did not come across any oddly constructed sentences or glaring errors. With Swiggers, Joey Pinkney has produced a clean product. There are some word repetitions here and there, but not enough to destroy the reading experience. The dialog is quite natural and flows well despite that it is written with something of a U.S. Southern accent.

FaceBook Page  https://www.facebook.com/joeypinkney

Twitter @JoeyPinkney

Blog  https://joeyspen.com/

 

Overall, this was an enjoyable, easy-to-read little story that kept me engrossed all the way to the end.  Highly recommend!

 

 

2020: Writing Goals for the New Year

For the New Year, I think it best to keep working on what I have already written, rather than start a new writing project. The first draft of M&M: The Tales of Tyrennia, Book II, is done and the first ten chapters are ready for beta reading. Therefore, a release of Book II looks rather promising.2020

My short story collection, that has been “on the back burner” for far too long, should be completed. I’ve decided to alternate between Book II and the collection. Edit a chapter, then edit a short story, then back to another chapter and so on. The shorts collection has seven titles, so it will be done relatively quickly and I can shift my undivided attention back to Book II.

I’m sure some minds are saying, “Shouldn’t this be titled ‘editing goals’ rather than ‘writing goals’”? Not in my case. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts long ago, I write bare-boned drafts (mostly dialog) and edit in an additive manner rather than a subtractive one. My first editing pass involves a lot of writing, like detailed descriptions, body language, ambiance, and the five senses.

On another note, I also plan on doing many more reviews this year. Of course I’m going to restrict them to books by Indie Authors.

Yes, I know these aspirations appear thin, but I believe in keeping things simple. I’ve found that when I set too large a goal and fail to reach it, I turn into my own worst critic.

What do you plan on writing about this year? Do you already have a work in progress? Are you already planning for NaNoWriMo 2020 in November or Camp NaNoWriMo in April?

Every Time You Reply Little Patrick Doesn’t Cry

Looking Back Upon 2018

2018 has been something of a roller coaster ride.

The disruptions began in January when we renovated the master bathroom. Sawing, sanding, and tiling took its toll on us. Not to mention, the piles of construction materials in the garage, sawhorses, and tools scattered about.mb4

Little Frankie stood and took his first tentative steps.

Then in February, my wife uttered another surprise. “My boobs hurt. I think I’m pregnant.”

gb4By March, we were ready to tackle the guest bath. Back to the aura of pandemonium that comes with construction.

My wife mentioned the problems of renovating the kitchen with two children. Better to get it done before number two arrives. We spent April and May planning yet another project. Kitchens are much more difficult than bathrooms. Cabinets are unforgiving if you’ve measured something…anything incorrectly. Also, these were the months for doctor visits and ultrasounds; which of course, meant many trips to Boise.

Frankie was walking, but only on level surfaces. We took him to the park where he learned about different surfaces.

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Also in May, I feel as if I’ve worked the manuscript for my fantasy novel as far as I can.

Throughout the year, I dedicated as much time as possible talking to mom. I was getting news second-hand and worrying.

On June 1st, the old cabinets were torn out. Of course the contents of those cabinets were in boxes around the house. You’d be amazed about how much foodstuff and gadgets are in your kitchen. There is nothing more disruptive to your home life than kitchen construction. Yes, the project spilled into July. Therefore, for almost two months, we stepped over and around boxes, ate frozen food or take out.k6

For the rest of July we set up the new kitchen, and emptied the contents of all those boxes into the new cabinets. I enjoyed cooking my first meal in a functional kitchen. Naturally, I started off with two of our favorites, chicken cutlet parmigiana with penne alla vodka, and Costeletta di maiale picante (pork medallions with hot cherry peppers).

During the first week of August, the news that I had been dreading came. Mom passed away. I’m not going to dwell upon this subject.momndad copy

Off to New York City with Frankie and a very pregnant Ruth. She was carrying low and large. Most people didn’t believe her due date was two months away, because she looked like she was ready to pop.

In the final weeks of August, I submitted a short story “Road Kill” for a horror anthology.

Pat1Mixed emotions ruled for the rest of the year stating with the birth of Patrick Hunter in September. Joy intermingled with despair and regret. I will never see mom holding him. Little Patrick was born three-and-a-half weeks early and weighed only five pounds three ounces.

By October, I sent my novel out to beta readers. I’m still editing according to their feedback, and the reading out loud process has begun. My short story “Road Kill” was published for the Halloween release of Dark Visions.  The anthology has garnered some enthusiastic reviews.Dark Visions

Little Patrick is gaining weight at a proper pace.

November is for #NaNoWriMo. With a new baby, I knew I couldn’t partake in the festivities. Although I wished my fellow wordsmiths luck on their journey. I did manage some editing and rewriting of Book II.

On Christmas Eve, Patrick gave me a smile.pat16

Now December is almost gone, along with 2018. We celebrated Christmas as a family. Frankie understands the concept of opening a gift. As usual, I purchased three presents for my wife; something practical, something goofy, and one romantic gift.

I can’t help but reflect upon past holidays. The clamor of twenty to thirty people at mom’s for two days of festivities. Like ghosts, the voices of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends refuse to grow dim over time. With so many others gone, I cling tight to my wife and children.

Christmas is not about the food, or presents; stay focused on the company you keep.

Every Time You Reply – Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry 🙂

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2017: A Prolific Writing Year

Hopefully, 2017 will be my most active year as an indie author.

The first novel in my fantasy series, “The Tales of Tyrennia Book One: An Easterly Sojourn” will be (not should be) released this year. The editing is cruising along. The problem was continuous editing. We would get about seven chapters done, and then either the Queen or I would learn something new and start over again.

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The reason we would jump into repetitive editing was simple. We were not satisfied with the end product. Therefore, after learning something new about editing, it seemed obvious to go back to square one.

I’m happy to report that I am satisfied with the quality. As we complete each chapter, I create a manuscript file. I can’t wait to print out copies and send them off to beta readers.

Draft version 0.5 of “The Tales of Tyrennia Book Two: The Frozen War” is done and waiting in the wings. I call it version 0.5 because of my scant writing style. A strange habit, but rather than cutting the first draft down, mine tend to swell.

What About Short Stories?

I’m so glad you asked. Two short singles will be released as well in 2017, “Little Red Revolution,” and “Psychic Confidence.”

“Little Red Revolution” is a best described as a satirical-vampyrical-romp. I had some compañeros from my former critique group who enjoyed #writing vampire fiction. So, I put this piece together mostly as gag and to poke some fun at the genre. In the end, they loved it.

“Psychic Confidence” should finish up at around five-thousand words. It’s a thriller with a complicated plot, coupled with characters that have aliases. I had worries that I could lose a reader too easily, but my first reader breezed through it without any problems.

There will also be a new collection of #shortstories called “Wondrous Stories: Seven Vile Uplifting Tales.” The stories are quite an assortment. However, there are some binding themes running throughout. Like, what happens when the iron fist of government points a finger at you? Or what happens when individualism clashes with a mob mentality?

Although I’m talking about a lot of work, I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be a very good year.

What are your goals, writing or otherwise for 2017? Are you #PoweredByIndie?

DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW!

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A New Short Story

Although it will not be ready for another month or two, I finished a new long short story last night. Right now it stacks up at 22 pages, but with my scant writing style, I can see it expanding to almost 30 pages.

The end came as a pleasant surprise. #NaNoWriMo ended almost a month ago, and I’ve been furiously editing my fantasy novel “An Easterly Sojourn.” For some reason, I got the #amwriting bug a few days ago and hammered out the last half of the new short. The first half had been floundering in stasis for over a year. Then in an instant, the rest of this very complicated plot flashed in my mind.

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Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

I never told or discussed this story with my resident grammar nazi…editor…wife…um…The Queen. I felt that it would be important for her to read through it without any previous knowledge. Therefore, I’d know if the plot got too confusing, had glaring holes, or paths of least resistance were sufficiently blocked. Also, some characters have more than one name. I was somewhat worried about that as well. In the end, she read through it without confusion. Phew (*wipes brow), looks like I’ve managed to handle those potential baddies.

What will win in the end, love or greed? Well you’ll have to read it to find out. You didn’t really think I’d offer a spoiler at this moment, did you?

At first, this short story had the working title “The Psychic.” However, after numerous attempts to re-title, I’ve narrowed it down to two others, either “Psychic Games,” or “Psychic Confidence.” I’m leaning heavily toward the latter over the former.

Keep an eye out for a cover reveal in January

What have you written lately? DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW!

Click the Pic and Go Straight to Ernesto’s Author page on AMAZON!

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Star Trek Turns 50 (Part II)

Tomorrow is September 8th and therefore, I must watch a few Star Trek episodes. The trouble is which ones to select. The original pilot episode “The Cage” is an obvious choice and a must view on this very special anniversary. Others include “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

***Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Star Trek Captain!***

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I’m also considering the episodes “Darmok” and “The Offspring” from Star Trek: The Next Generation

A great Voyager episode would be “Tinker, Tailor, Doctor, Spy.”

How about “Trials and Tribble-ations” from Deep Space 9?

As for Star Trek: Enterprise, “Carbon Creek” or “The Xindi” or “North Star,” are wonderful episodes as well.

***Visit Ernesto’s Amazon Page and Choose an awesome short story***

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What are your choices? Did I pass on one of your favorite episodes? Perhaps I should add more episodes and turn this September 8th into a four day #StarTrek weekend?

***Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Star Trek Captain!***

 

What Is the World’s Favorite Past time?

You’re about to be incredibly surprised. I bet most of you were thinking about Soccer or Baseball?

Well…it’s not a sport. Rather, it’s Big Lie #Anti-Catholicism.

Let’s face facts, if anyone spouts a big steaming pile of B.S. and nonsense concerning The Church, the PC crowd, you know who I mean, the so-called self-proclaimed Guardians of tolerance and justice will give you a rousing applause and compliment your bravery.

One doesn’t have to dig deep to find these ridiculous posts of bile-spewing ignorance and hatred. They are very prominent and readily available on Twitter, Facebook, and of course You Tube.

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I understand that there will always be “lunatic-fringe” groups on any subject. However, whenever I stumble upon one of those aforementioned “lunatic-fringe” posts and see that it has over 100,000 views and page after page of supportive commentary from netizens around the world, it turns my stomach and I completely lose my faith in humanity.

Perhaps I’ll do a future blog post called “Character Assassination” to demonstrate how the system of misinformation operates. This scheme is engaged not only to destroy individual Catholics like Pope Pius XII, but also the Church as a whole.

Of course I’m NOT talking about those who have some type of disagreement with a particular Doctrine of The Church. That’s someone who has done research, and has reached a conclusion. I have respect for them, although I can still disagree with them, because I can draw a different conclusion from the same evidence.

What I’m talking about are headlines / video presentations like…

“Proof: Pope Performs Satanic Rituals” or “Pope Kills Babies in Vatican Basement.”

Isn’t it sad? Remember, over 100,000+ views with supporting commentary. I will not provide a link, because I’m not in the business of giving these loons some free advertising.

Yet, if a man named Muhammed shouts “Allahu akbar” just before detonating a suicide vest and killing a crowd of people, these are some of the same individuals who will shout “Islamophobe,” if anyone dares to utter the words “Radical Islam.” Go figure?

I usually enjoy a double scoop of ice cream, but double standards are very difficult to swallow.

It must be plainly obvious that this subject is close to my heart. Naturally, it has surfaced in one of my short stories called “The Mystical Body” in the forthcoming collection “Liberty Is Dead: Six Mind-Numbing Tales.”

***Visit Ernesto’s Author Page on AMAZON***

P.S. >>> After writing this post, I searched for a portrait of Pope Francis. There were many to choose from and I think I made a pretty good choice. However, some were memes with scripture concerning The Beast from “The Book of Revelations.” Will it ever end?

When Authors Break the “Rules”

I think I’ve actually got a handle on most of the rules of writing. I’m not talking about punctuation, grammar, plot, character building, or anything in that venue.  What I am talking about are the finer polishing points that turn my pages from talking to singing.

My latest editing discovery concerned “echoing headwords” for lack of a better term coined by the writing website Immerse or Die. In other words, repeating consecutive sentences with the same first word or more than one paragraph per page doing the same.

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Spring has been a busy time for me and I have not done as much reading, writing, and editing as I should have. Therefore, now that I feel like I’ve got this whole “rule” thing clear in my head, I’ve decided to sit down re-read one of my favorite books. After all, isn’t that a piece of advice you see all over author blogs? Good writers read a lot. This re-reading would of course be a different experience, because I have new eyes.

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I am not going to name the book or the author, and I am not offering this as a form of criticism. It is simply a moment when you throw your hands up and roll your eyes and say, “Just when I thought it was safe to read again.”

I lounged back in my favorite recliner and opened the book. Alas, everything that I have learned about “echoing headwords,” overuse of “to be,” and naming too many people and places in the first chapter, was completely ignored by the author.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Probably something like, “Well you know, once an author is an established thoroughbred, s/he can break all the rules they want to break.” Cough…gag

Did I happen to mention that this great book (and a major seller) was the author’s first book?

I put the book down and went for another one from my trusted overcrowded shelves. Another first book from another famous author that flaunted all of the rules again!

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What’s a little-ole-self-pubbing-indie to do?

Well…perhaps I should offer those rule breakers some admiration.

Thus far, applying some of these tried and true methods has improved the quality of my writing, and I am quite happy and contented with the results. If someone else wants to throw some rules out the window…let them. I have no problems with another author nestled in their “comfy zone,” as long as their formula is working well for them and their readers.

Despite my confusion, I’ll maintain a “live and let live” attitude.

How do you feel about those who not only break a few rules, but do it well?

***Visit Ernesto San Giacomo’s Amazon Author Page and check out a short story for your e-reader today! Choose one or all – Night Flights – Stasis – Ragged Souls – Gematria²***

 

A Narrative Balancing Act

Some stories advance by plot or character or both. Certainly, the character of James Bond doesn’t grow because spy thrillers are plot driven.

Sometimes a character gets swept up by outside events, goes through a traumatic adventure, and then tries to regain the solace and peacefulness of their former life. The film The Outlaw Josey Wales (which is a loose re-telling of Candide by Voltaire) directed by and starring Clint Eastwood would be an example of such a narrative device.

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There’s More Than One Way To Balance

Reversals create a balancing as well. In The Natural, Roy Hobbs is a star pitching prospect. His agent bets that he can strike out “The Whammer” (a Babe Ruth figure). He does it and later in the story he becomes a famous Home Run hitter. In a play-off game, the Pirates bring in a Nebraska farm boy with a blazing fastball to strike out Roy Hobbs.  It’s a role-reversal of the bet that happened years earlier.

Last night my wife and I curled up on the couch and watched The China Syndrome. This particular movie used a balancing device that I sometimes like to use in my short stories. The opening and ending shots of this film are the same. Yet, the end shot conveys much more meaning and emotion than the opening image.

And In My Writing

In some short stories, my opening and ending paragraphs are almost identical. Of course, just like in film, the ending carries a weightier meaning and evokes a heightened emotional response. I can think of two examples, “Night Flights,” and “A Purveyor of Odd Things,” from the Ragged Souls collection.

In “Night Flights,” when Peter hangs a new painting at the end, the reader has a deeper understanding of the odd visions the character has been experiencing.

In “A Purveyor of Odd Things,” the transformation of character is complete, yet he is standing in the same place as the beginning and performing the same task.

I wish I could do this in all of my stories, but not every plot lends itself to this particular device. My forthcoming fantasy novel An Easterly Sojourn uses one of the above Balancing acts. However, I’m not ready to give anything away just yet.

Do you use a form of balancing in your writing? Have you tried to use it? Have you noticed it elsewhere?

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