Posts Tagged ‘short stories’


About the Book

Title: Seven Threads

Author: Jason Atkinson

Genre: Short Story Collection

Seven Threads is a book of 7 short stories full of twists and turns. A girl on the run, a man accused of murder, a homeless man who finds his way, and much more. While each story is unique, they all offer the same human compassion that is sometimes lacking in today’s world. The reader is sure to find each story a page turner full of emotions, and left wanting more!

 

Author Bio

Jason Atkinson is a 32 year old, married man with one adorable toddler. With Seven Threads being his third book, he certainly enjoys writing and also spending time getting to know new people.

Links

www.alifeofheart.com

Book Excerpts

The Gentle Man

Part 1 – Forgiveness

With a somewhat stern and yet gentle approach in his voice, he suddenly speaks. “Forgiveness won’t change the past—but it will change the future. Your future.”

He looks around the room. “Okay,” he says with a broad grin. “Who wants to go first?”

He scans the room with expectant eyes.

A chair creaks as the man shifts in his seat uncomfortably, both from the metal chair being too harsh and because of the looming topic before him. Toward the back of the room, he hears a cough.

“No one wants to go first?”

The room, even though crowded with people, feels chilling and eerie, as if you are in fact alone with your thoughts. No one makes eye contact with him, since that might have been a sign of indulgence in this new topic.

It is getting late into the evening, and usually at this time the wrap-up begins, ending the night the same way it always ends.

Wandering eyes look toward the coffee pot. A few look toward the windows at the top of the walls. It is snowing outside, gentle but consistent. The lamppost illuminates the flakes as they glide slowly down past the window’s limited view. Even though the view may have looked quaint, it only resonates with the harsh reality of what winter often brings, and also what this group discussion can often bring.

As the second hand on the clock ticks away, the leader of the group rises to his feet. Everyone watches.

“I think that will be all for tonight,” he says with a meager smile.

Reluctantly, and of course thankfully, sighs of relief fill the room. Chairs scrape the floor without a care while people mingle amongst themselves and eventually disperse into the cool night air.

Left alone to clean up, the man who had brought them all together mutters to himself,

“Will my words ever get through?”

Walking away, he heads toward the door, turning around one last time to check that the room is clear.

There is no smile this time—only the face of a tired man who just wants to make one ounce of difference.

The lights go out, and he goes out the door, up the steps, and onto the street above. The door slowly closes, the last noise being the latch of the lock clicking into place. The room once again becomes dark, all except for that glimmer of light from the windows at the top of the wall.

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Middle Grade Science Fiction
Date to be Published: December 6, 2017

For Explorers of All Ages!
Tumble forward in time with the fourth collection in the series Kirkus Review called “a must-have in science fiction collections.” These twenty-four imaginative, entertaining tales take readers of all ages to exciting places — from star ships to Mars to alien adventure!
“There are not very many action, adventure, superhero, or sci-fi stories that feature girls, but there needs to be. I have read this whole book and now I have become even more interested in space and robots and things like that.” ~ Lily F. (10 years old)
Excerpt from one of the Short Stories
THE GREAT BROCCOLI WI-FI THEFT
 by Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress is the author of thirty-three books, including twenty-six novels, four collections of short stories, and three books on writing.  Her work has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.  Most recent works are the Nebula-winning novella “Yesterday’s Kin” (Tachyon, 2014) and THE BEST OF NANCY KRESS (Subterranean, 2015).  Forthcoming in 2017 is TOMORROW’S KIN (Tor), the first novel of a trilogy based on “Yesterday’s Kin” and extending its universe for several generations.  Kress’s work has been translated into Swedish, Danish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Croatian, Chinese, Lithuanian, Romanian, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Russian, and Klingon, none of which she can read.  In addition to writing, Kress often teaches at various venues around the country and abroad; in 2008 she was the Picador visiting lecturer at the University of Leipzig.  Kress lives in Seattle with her husband, writer Jack Skillingstead, and Cosette, the world’s most spoiled toy poodle.
Do you know what a pas de chat is?  I didn’t either, two months ago.  But I know now, and it’s going to make me a hero.  Really!  Everybody will applaud for me so hard their hands will sting—especially Mom!  They’ll give me a medal!  It’s going to be great!
I’m going to solve a mystery that nobody else can solve.
Just as soon as I figure out how.
#
My name is Nia.  I’m ten.  I live sometimes on the moon, at Alpha Base, and sometimes on Earth, in Illinois.  I like both places, but Illinois has a big problem: GRAVITY.  There’s too much of it here.  I wish they could just ship some of this gravity to the moon and even things out a little bit, but it doesn’t work that way.  On the moon there isn’t enough gravity to keep human muscles strong unless you exercise a lot, and I got lazy.  So now I’m back on Earth because my mom’s job moved us here—again!—and my muscles aren’t strong enough.  Which is why I was in ballet class doing a pas de chat.  It was not my idea.
“No, no,” said Mademoiselle Janine, who was in charge of the class.  “Nia, you must land lightly.  Lightly!  Ellen, show her the pas de chat.”
Ellen smirked at me and raised her arms.  Pas de chat means “step of the cat,” which is a really stupid name because it doesn’t look anything like a cat.  I know—we have a cat.  In the pas de chat you bend one leg, jump off the other leg, bend that one in the air, then land lightly.  If you can find a cat that can do that, I’ll give you a million dollars.
Ellen did the step.  She landed lightly.
“Now you try, Nia,” Mademoiselle said.
I landed like a baby elephant.
“Well…” said Mademoiselle.  “These things take practice.”
Did I mention that ballet class was definitely not my idea?
#
“I want to quit ballet,” I said at dinner.  “I’m no good at ballet.”
Dad said, “You’re probably better than you think.”  Dad is always on my side.
Mom said, “You might not be good at it, but you can’t go on quitting things when they get hard.”  Mom is always on the side of doing hard things.
“But I stink at ballet,” I said.  I pushed my mashed potatoes around with my fork.  “I’m not good at anything.”
“That’s not true,” Dad said.  “You’re good at a lot of things.”
I said, “Name three!”
“Well…you’re good at spelling.”
“Nobody needs to spell good.  Autocorrect fixes it.”
Mom said, “Nobody needs to spell well.  ‘Well,’ not ‘good.’”
“See?” I said.  “I’m not good at sentences, either! I’m not good at anything!”
“Yes, you are,” Dad said.  “You’re good at training our pets.”
That was true.  We have a dog named Bandit, a robot-dog named Luna, and a cat named Pickles.  I trained Bandit to fetch.  I programmed Luna, which is the closest you can get to training a robot.  I couldn’t train Pickles to do anything, but…cats.  They do what they want.
I said, “That’s only two things.”
Mom smiled.  “You’re good at getting into trouble.”
Dad said warningly, “Angela…”
“I’m teasing!  Nia, I just wanted to make you laugh!”
I wasn’t laughing.  Mom never understands!
But then she said, “Look, Nia, everybody has to practice and work hard in order to get good at something.  Do you know how many times my broccoli has failed?”
Mom is a plant geneticist.  That means she changes plants’ genes to make them better.  Right now she’s changing broccoli, which in my opinion can’t ever be made better no matter what you do to it.  I hate broccoli.  She was just making me feel worse.
She knew it, too, because she put her hand on mine and said, “Nia, honey, after dinner let me show you something.”
I said, “As long as it’s not broccoli.”
To be continued in the 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide!
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About the Book

Title: Fallen Star Dust

Author: Morgan Straughan Comnick

Genre: Collection (Poetry, Short Stories, and more)

When I reached the point where adult life began to make its presence known right after high school graduation, I looked to the sky. I hoped to see a shooting star that would light my way and I wished that it would leave a trail of star dust behind to remind myself to stay young at heart. Thanks to writing, the enchantment of youth has never left me. In the next chapter of my life, I began college to follow my dream of being an educator. I developed my career, found out who I was an independent being, stopped hiding my passions, figured out my role in my lifelong relationship with my now-husband, and realized that it was okay to question the world. There was darkness that needed to be seen as well as the light. The poems, short stories, scripts, essays, and other works in this second collection are my everything: the shoulders I cried on, my joys, my bravery when the road became too twisty or too safe. It led me to a waterfall of creativity. That fallen star dust gave me the drive to become who I am today: a teacher, an author, a nerd, and a person of morals, love, and magic.

 

Author Bio

Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.

For more information about Morgan and her works, check out her website, which also have links to all her social medias: http://morganscomnick.com.

 

Links

Website: http://morganscomnick.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Morgan-Straughan-Comnick-167241833430209/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MorganSComnick

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7510773.Morgan_Straughan_Comnick

Youtube: channel

Amazon sales page


Excerpt

To Bear a War (Summer 2014)

It is April and by now, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, so bright, so vibrant they glow in the night like pink fireflies.  Their fragrance fills the air, stirs your soul, clings to your clothes as the petals dance in your hair.  But, you do not mind for they put a spring in your step.

Oh, how I miss the cherry blossoms of my home!

All I smell is decay and dried blood, mud and illness, rot and uncleanness, smoke and death.

All I hear are barks in my tongue and in ones foreign to me, screams of pain, whimpers of fear, gun fire…yes, tons of gun fire; my ears are not trained to know anything else.

All I see is a desolate wasteland, dust and smoke clinging to the Earth like death’s shadow, mounds and mounds of hills that I used to think of as brothers.

Oh, how I miss the cherry blossoms of my home!

I should be in college, studying landscaping like I dreamed of since youth.  I should be eating a home cooked meal with mother as father reads his newspaper carefully, smoking his pipe.  I should be able to watch my sister grow up, to see if she is becoming a young lady or is still an annoying, childish brat.  I should be with…

BANG! A shock ran through my body, zapping my blood.  My teeth chattered uncontrollably and my ears rang like the bells of a shrine during the New Year’s season.  My body reloaded my gun by instinct as I crept through the dirt, mud hugging me like a second skin.  I became primal, animalistic, but as our general told us: ‘We were in war; survival, victory, and dying with honor if it came to that was our only focus…’

I shot my gun, saying the key words in my head like a mantra: Survival…Bang! Victory…Bang! Honor…BANG!  The world popped around as I heard something I was not used to; silence, China sighing from the weight we had put on her.  The battle was over.

I gasped, not positioning my gun down for a second.  When you get into a survival state, it is hard to wind down from it, relax, become a man again…Am I still a man?  I kill, I kill for honor, but, it is still a death…So, am I still…a man when society had barely considered me one?  When I, at nineteen, have not considered me one?

I felt a hand on my shoulder and flinched.  It was Hisao, my buck mate.  He gave me a tight smile of understanding, soot smeared across his cheek, his helmet catty-cornered.  I hopped down from my spot and followed him as he jabbed his thumb hard towards our camp.  His grin became one of joy.  I knew what that meant.

It was time for food.

We unpacked our gear in our bunks, boots sloshing like it was the rainy season, which I suppose back home, it was near.  As I walked slowly to my assigned area all the way towards the back of the base, something on my bed caught my eye.  It was a box.  I walked a little faster, then it became a light jog until I was sliding all over the place, trying to get my footing.  Good thing none of the generals saw that! I shook thinking of a punishment they would give me.

Hisao came to my side, gawking at the package as well as if it was a woman randomly laying on my bed, which, in his mind, was probably what he was wishing for.  He had such a dirty mind! His commentary while we played cards made me squirm!

He was drying his short hair with a towel and he gave me a sly grin, like a fox demon catching one of his subjects stealing from a human, “Oh oh! What’s this?!  Takeshi got a package?  I wonder who it is from? Your osake?  A lover?  You stud!”

I examined the package carefully like it was a precious newborn infant, but there was no indication of where it came from; it simply had my name on it along with my division’s number. So, this person knew I was in China, at this base, but how?  I was shocked we could even get more than a simple letter out here. We were in the middle of a war, for Budda’s sake!

Hisao clicked his teeth together and looked at me deviously, giving my back a hard, but playful smack that bounced off the walls.  I grunted, still holding the package for dear life.  I bared my teeth at him and he chuckled, his eyes shining with sheer wonder and happiness for me.

“Go ahead and open your package there buddy; might be something I do not want to see. If you get any nice pictures from any lovely ladies, however, you ARE sharing?  Does that sound fair?”

I opened my mouth to respond, but before a sound escaped from my lips, Hisao slapped the back of my head and walked off, waving his hand flippantly in the air, repeating “You promised” in a cocky voice.

I ignored his usual, but comforting weirdness and sat down on my bunk, package sitting on my lap. With the utmost care, I took out my pocket knife and let the tape that bound it fall to the floor like ribbons of cascading water in a waterfall.  I lifted the lid with ease, my eyes half shut from fear and half closed for wanting to make this moment last longer.

The mystery was revealed as I moved the flaps of the lid and my mind was absorbed at what was inside: it was a teddy bear.

I picked him up with care, feeling his soft fake fur.  I could tell he was handmade for there was some unevenness in the stitching, but it was secure, tight, and made very well.  His light brown color was warm and inviting and his eyes had a twinkle to them.  He had a little, endearing smile sewed on to his charming face.  I felt bad that he had to smile for all eternity, but I suppose if I was forced to feel one emotion forever, that would be the one I would pick.

He even had a different shade of brown and material to make the paws and feet!  I could sit him down easily and he stayed how I posed him.  Someone took a lot of time and attention to make this…was it really for me?  To top it all off, the bear had a pink ribbon tied aound his neck.  That pink…it reminded me of something, but my mind was fuzzy, ticking me …

Images of a moon-filled night, the breeze dancing around my body, embedding messages into my hair as someone stood beside me, someone who smiled brighter than the moon, their hair smelling like it was bursting with flowers from every land.  The sky was as dark as pitch, but every time I blinked, I saw neon shapes of pink that made everything look magical, like I could believe in miracles and that impossible things could come true, that dreams were not wishes, but pathways for ourselves that had not yet been paved…

I blinked, my head beginning to throb.  I looked at the little bear again and gave his head a pat.  I would give him a home and protect him.  He would give me something to come back to, something I could see every day.

I was about to place him back in the box for now and under my bed when a small piece of white paper became visible.  It clung to the bottom of the box.  I peeled it off and opened it.  I was a note, written in Japanese, and addressed to me.  So, the bear was truly for me! Someone had made it for me!

Excitement coursed through my veins, volts of excitement crackling the air around me.  With an eagerness I was not aware existed in me.  I read the message:

“Takeshi, let us look at the cherry blossoms…”

That was all it said.  I scanned the page left and right, up and down, close and far, but saw no signature.  The box also did not have a name or location on it.  Eh?  Who could have made me this bear, this little bear who filled me with such a numerous amount of emotion that I almost forgot where I was at?  And what was with this message?  I had just been thinking about the cherry blossoms.

The bell sounded for us to go get our dinner, but as I reluctantly closed the box with the bear and letter inside, I noticed one more clue to this mystery: a date.

The letter and package were both sent to me on February 14th.

***

“Nani?!  What?! The package was sent to you on February 14th?  You, my good sir, have a lover.” Hisao’s expressions were all over the place and after he flung his spoon out of his hand, he leaned back in his chair all too casually, rocking back and forth on two legs with his arms crossed behind his head.  A man whose voice could drown out a fighter plane and then go act like all of this was no big deal, like I was a lonely priest to his godliness, irked me.

“Hamlet” Script Rewrite:

Morgan (as Hamlet): “Man, nothing seems to be going good for me lately.  I mean, I’m still so heartbroken that my father was murdered and here, nearly a month later, my uncle, my father’s creepy brother, becomes the new king of Denmark.  Not only that, but my mother, my worry wart MOTHER, married my uncle a month after her husband was killed!  I don’t think everything is right. I don’t trust my uncle; he’s too moody.  And I just don’t understand my mother. Did she marry my uncle for love, for power, for…other stuff that makes me sick to think about?!” (Throwing up noise and shakes).  “Note to self, NEVER imagine your uncle like that!  Maybe I just don’t get women…Maybe that’s not a bad thing…” (Smacks head).  “Oh, and on top of all this, some stupid Norwegians are trying to invade too! AHHHHHHHH! I suppose it could be worse; I could be reading a play for a high school class.  But, I’m sad.” (Gives puppy pout) “MAN!  I need a drink.  OH!  F.Y.I. guys, I’m not promoting drinking or anything, but…yeah, you guys all took D.A.R.E.”

Krystil: (Reading from script) “So, poor Hamlet was basically depressed about his deceased father.  Now, when the story takes place, two men run in fright, seeing a ghost, which they believe is the dead king.  They tell Horatio, Hamlet’s best friend, who tells him the news.  Horatio also sees the ghost king and runs to find Hamlet, who is still whimpering like a puppy dog.”

Horatio (student):  (calling) “Hamlet!  Hamlet! Where are you dude?”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (muffled) “Below you, get off my face bro!”

Horatio (student):  (steps off) “What in the world are you doing?”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “I tried to jump over the table last night, but I didn’t make it and so I took a nap.  What do you want?  Oh! Secret handshake!”

Horatio (student):  “That was weak…anyway!  You need to follow me; I saw your father last night…”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (stands up): “Say what?!  You’re pulling my leg.  My father is…he’s…”

Horatio (student):  (pats shoulder compassionately) “Let it out buddy…”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (cries) “He’s swimming with the earthworms man…”

Horatio (student): (rolls eyes) “Anyway, I really saw him!  In front of the watch tower.  He was all, see through and ghost like.”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (yawns).  “Dude, isn’t that something Scooby Doo should handle?”

Horatio (student):  “I think he wants to talk to you…”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “Well…I do miss my father and Project Runway isn’t on tonight…Okay.”

Krystil: “Hamlet and Horatio wanted front row seats to the event so they waited all night in the bitter cold.  They were about to give up when the ghost came and spoke to them.  It was indeed, King Hamlet, Hamlet’s dead father as a spirit.”

Ghost King (student): “Hamlet, my son…”

Horatio (student):  “AHHHHH!!! Run away before he remembers I owe him $5!”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “Shut up!  Father, it is good to…see through you.  Please, what do you want from me?”

Ghost King (student): “Hamlet, I must tell you the truth…Claudius, your uncle and my horrible brother, murdered me by pouring poison in my ears. He has always wanted my beautiful Gertrude and my beloved Denmark. I demand from you a great task: avenge me!”

Morgan (as Hamlet):  “I’m not sure I have the time, I mean, prom’s coming up and…”

Ghost King (student): “Hamlet!  I’ll haunt you boy!  Look inside yourself; what is right…”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (deeply sighs, thinking) “Avenging you father.  I agree and will make it my mission, even if it makes me breathless!”

(The ghost vanishes after this, saying “weee!”)

Horatio (student):  “Man, that was flippin’ nuts!”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “I have a great task.  I’m not sure if the ghost can be trusted, but I will study hard.  I will pretend to be insaner than Mr. Young in order for others to leave me alone.”

Horatio (student):  “You can hide in the library; nothing important is in there.”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “Excellent idea!  And how true.  Now…I’m off!” (flips a pretend cape and glides off to the side)