Book Review: Black Crow Speaks @FrederickAnder2 #shortstories

In my post yesterday, I mentioned having read a third book last week but not having the time to write a proper review. Black Crow Speaks is a book I have been patiently waiting —okay, not so patiently—to release. The author shies away from promotion so I wanted to make certain I gave it the attention it deserves. I know I will be reading many of the stories in this collection over again.

First some background . . .

I started following Frederick Anderson’s blog a few years ago and was immediately enthralled by his gift of storytelling. I’ve been hoping (I even did some pestering) that he would cobble a collection of short stories together for a book. When I realized he had released Black Crow Speaks, I was ecstatic. This intelligent, literary, diverse, often bizarre, but always riveting collection of tales is not to be missed!

Let me explain the crow of the title­—Black Crow shows up at various times throughout the book to discuss everything from neighbors (blackbirds), immigrants (seagulls), family matters, homelife, kids, the wife, temptation, getting old, and social matters. Given Fred is British, I can get away with the expression “bloody brilliant.” Crow has a unique take on life.

book cover for Black Crow Speaks by Frederick Anderson shows a large black crow with book title beneathHere’s a sample from Corvid Values, my favorite crow story. Crow speaks first, followed by Fred.

He fidgets uneasily, preening a troublesome mite from his breast feathers. “S’pose. Yes and no. There’s the immigrants, see?”

He hasn’t lost his capacity to surprise: “Immigrants?”

“Yeah. You must have noticed – fousands of ‘em. Same every winter, innit? They comes flockin’ in just because they reckon there’s free food and everyfin’. They takes all the best bits and we don’t get a look in. Bleedin’ gulls!”

“Oh, the seagulls! The bad weather drives them in from the coast. The westerlys don’t trouble them so much, then? They can fly into the wind, can they?”

“Well, they work harder, don’t they? They work all the bleedin’ time, them!” He fluffs furious feathers. “They don’t even go to roost, most nights. And…and!” He squawks his emphasis; “They eat almost anyfin’. Jus’ anyfin’!”

“Surely there’s enough for all? I haven’t noticed you losing weight over the winter before.”

“Ah. Ah! But I don’t demean meself, me! You won’t catch me turnin’ over house rubbish like a – like a bleedin’ fox, for fox sake!”

“Oh, really? I seem to recall…”

“Never mind what you ‘seems to recall.’ Never mate, never! I’ve got my pride”

I treat him to one of my penetrating inquisitorial looks. “They’ve been raiding the bins at the back of the Pizzeria, haven’t they? That’s one of your favorite haunts, isn’t it?”

The crow hunches his wings and dips his head. I cannot remember seeing him so annoyed. “That place is a place for crows, gettit? Crows! Respec’able birds, mate. I got a right to that place!”


First, let me point out that no one—no one—does accents like Frederick. The ones he spins in this book are spot on. Second, the message of this story hits with a thunderclap at the end. The first time I read it, it stayed with me for days.

But the crow only makes up a few stories in this collection. As the preface says you will meet “a crow with wisdom we call could learn from, an airline pilot who qualified by correspondence course, an enthusiastic accordion player with a portal to the universe under his dining table, tales of fairies and goblins and ghosts within the machine.”

There are plenty of humans too—some who face heartbreak, others who find their lives altered in unexpected ways. Twists and surprise endings abound. Scene setting is off the charts with descriptions that are sometimes lyrical, other times gritty and raw. Every story brings something unique, but I must make special mention of Birdie, A Visitation from Mary, Goblins, Gloves, Reincarnate, Siobhan, and The Newquay Train. Wow. Just…WOW!

If you like smart, witty, and riveting fiction, don’t pass this collection by. I can’t recommend it highly enough. The great thing about short stories is you can read a few at a time or many at once. However, you read them, do read them. 5 Walloping, glittery, gargantuan stars!

PURCHASE FROM:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

You can find Frederick’s blog HERE if you’d like to give a looksee as to what else he gets up to. I’m presently enjoying a novel he has been serializing, but he’s hinted there is short fiction around the bend and Crow will return. You have no idea how happy that makes me!

Thanks for checking out this special review today. Given I’ve been badgering Frederick to publish this book, I am more than happy to help promote such a fabulous collection.

That’s My Plan and I’m Sticking to It #Publishing

No one is wild about change, and it usually happens when you least expect it. Several weeks ago, my publisher informed me they would no longer be considering new material from me. I wasn’t entirely shocked, given Cusp of Night and End of Day have not followed in the path of my previous releases. A Thousand Yesteryears, A Cold Tomorrow, A Desolate Hour, and Myth and Magic did very well for Lyrical Underground/Kensington Publishing, and they expected the new series to perform in the same vein. Sadly, those numbers have been lacking. To top it off, the senior editor who liked my work, and requested new material from me, took a position with Marvel shortly after contracting Cusp of Night. I believe he would have taken another series given my past numbers, but the new editor is not inclined.

So now what?

Directional arrows pointing different ways

If nothing had changed, I would have been happy to continue submitting books to Kensington, but their decision has made me re-evaluate what I want to do moving ahead. As I see it, I have three options:

Seek out an online publisher
Indie publish
Try to gain an agent and go after the Big 5 publishers

Each has its own value. I’m not sure I want to go with a small press, although there are several with excellent reputations. I’m more likely to go Indie or seek an agent. I spent one night thoroughly bummed over Kensington’s decision, but can’t say I was shocked. The same thing happened to two friends last year. I have no idea why my Hode’s Hill series has not performed like my previous books, especially given I dumped more paid promo and online promotion into Cusp than previous works. Maybe the type of books just didn’t resonate with readers like the others did. It’s puzzling.

A woman with confused expression, thinking, question mark above her head

I won’t miss the deadlines (the last one nearly did me in), though I will miss the promo Kensington did for my books, especially Book Bub. I am, however, a strong believer in fate, and that everything happens for a reason. I have to trust that this is part of God’s plan for my life.

With that in mind, I hope to seek an agent while releasing a few indie works. My current WIP, The Keeping Place, is mainstream mystery with just a twinge of folklore. No monsters, creatures, or ghouls, just the hint of an old legend from the 1900s. It’s a different direction for me, so perhaps the timing is good. I have a lot of faith in this book, and feel it will end up the strongest of anything I’ve written. Once finished, I hope to approach an agent for representation—although I dread the research involved.

In the meantime, Eventide, book three of my Hode’s Hill series, will release the end of December through Kensington. I’ll be jabbering more about that as the time nears.

I have a book of short stories I originally planned to indie publish the end of summer or early fall. I’ve now decided to hold that until April of 2020, as I’d like to continue to strive for two releases a year. That also gives me plenty of time to play with cover design. I’m still not settled on the title, but this book will include a story I hope to spin into an ongoing series of novellas. Remember the name “McDoogal.” 🙂

I also have plans for a string of novellas featuring a character from my Point Pleasant series. If that isn’t enough to keep me busy, I’m going to have to re-release my older works as the rights release back to me. And I thought I was juggling too much with a full time job before. Oy, vey!

I’ve got a lot to wrap my head around, but it won’t stop me from writing. I’ve dilly-dallied long enough not trying for the Big 5. This is the push I needed. It’s time I buckle down and search for an agent. And in the meantime, I can stay active with smaller indie publications.

So, that’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it!

The Life and Times of Ichabod Brooks by Charles Yallowitz #NewRelease #Fantasy #Magic

Charles Yallowitz has a new release to share!

Spend your summer with Ichabod Brooks in this 11 story collection!  $2.99 on Amazon!

Cover Art by Circecorp

Enter the world of Windemere with 11 action adventure short stories featuring a man who is out to make an honest living.

Some heroes seek fame. Some seek fortune. Others simply want to save the world. Ichabod Brooks only wants to put food on the table for his family.

Known and respected as the man who can get any job done, Ichabod has seen his share of adventure. Most of which have been highly exaggerated by bards. Still, the man has his famous reputation for a reason. Whether it be climbing a temperamental mountain for eggs or escorting orphans to their new homes, Ichabod takes every job seriously and makes sure he is as prepared as he can be. Not that it helps since things always take a turn for the worse.

Available on Amazon!

Add it on Goodreads!

Excerpt: Preparing for Galaces

“Is this any way to greet an old friend?” a dwarf in dark gray chainmail asks before plugging his ears with his dark red beard. Wanting the bard to stop, the mountaineer marches over and puts a hand over the young woman’s mouth. “Are you supposed to use her as bait? I did hear there’s a hobgoblin pack that moved in a few months ago. You know how those drooling scavengers love elf flesh.”

“Sorry about that, Dex. She latched on at my last stop and I haven’t been able to shake her off,” Ichabod replies, shaking his guide’s hand. He rubs his own black and white beard at the sight of how his friend shows no sign of graying. “I have to give this one credit for tenacity, but this is where we part ways. Galaces Mountain is not a place to go unless you have experience, an excellent guide, and common sense. So far, I don’t see you having any of those things and I’m not going to babysit.”

“I must go. That’s the only way I can write about your newest adventure,” the bard insists, unwittingly proving Ichabod right. She crosses her arms and meets the icy stare of the dwarf, who she considers leaving out of her tale. “Being the first to speak of your climb will help my reputation. I promise not to cause any trouble and pull my own weight. Elves are graceful and agile, which makes us perfect companions for whatever it is you’re doing. Besides, Galaces Mountain doesn’t look like that bad a climb. The stories must be nothing more than colorful exaggerations.”

Ichabod puts on a pair of white-palmed gloves and slips a blue band on his finger, a charge going through his body to enhance his lungs. “I suddenly relate very well to this mountain. Take a look at the empty space between us and Galaces. You’ll see why this place has earned a reputation.”

The bard puts her lute over her shoulder and walks to the yellow rope, which sparks with a mild magic. At first, she is unsure of what she is supposed to pay attention to among the shrubs and fallen rocks. It takes the elf a few minutes to recognize weather worn bones sticking out from under a boulder. The limbs are splayed since the climber plummeted with the rough stone pressed against his back and the landing embedded him in the ground. Knowing what to look for, the bard realizes that there are at least ten old corpses hidden by the mountain’s litter. The bard spots the fresh body of a yellow-skinned creature sitting behind a shrub, the armored creature crumpled from landing butt first after its fall. She is about to ask a question when a small pain runs up her arm and she collapses into a magical slumber.

“Guess that’s more humane than knocking her on the head,” Dex mentions while Ichabod carries the young woman to the dwarf’s cart. He shields his eyes as he stares at the churning clouds that have been trapped around the peak. “Looks like the eagles captured a storm beneath their nest this year. Means the winds are going to be brutal and the tunnels are infested with horned spiders and revelers. Not going to be an easy trip. Sure, you don’t want someone else to take this contract?”

“I’d love to hand this off to someone else, but Chef Zyrk always insists that I take the job. I have no injuries, diseases, or family events, so I’m here,” Ichabod replies, sheathing his sleep-inducing shortsword. As an afterthought, he grabs a horse blanket and tosses it over the bard to hide her from view. “The Starwind Eagles lay eggs every ten years and now is the time to get to them. Wait any longer and the mountain will be crawling with hunters. A youngster wouldn’t know that or have you as a guide.”

The dwarf grins as he lifts the rope and gestures for his friend to lead the way. “They also don’t have your wife making deals that you can’t say no to. She mentioned that you’re getting three times the usual pay because this baby is going to be prepared for Duke Solomon’s wedding. Personally, I’m looking forward to your wife’s cooking after this. Surprised your gut isn’t huge considering that woman can make a pot roast even the gods would praise. Did you happen to bring some of her dishes for the road?”

“I can cook too, you know.”

“You can bake, Ichabod. Not the same as cooking in my book.”

“So you don’t want the cookies I brought.”

“Oatmeal and cranberry?”

“With a touch of cinnamon.”

*****

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com

Twitter: @cyallowitz

Facebook: Charles Yallowitz

Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order: The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack #Speculative Fiction #MicroFic

Wow! You can grab your copy of this book for just $.99 by pre-ordering from Amazon today!

I positively love cover reveals and this one is AWESOME! It was created for C. S. Boyack’s new release, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack, by talented designer, author, and blogger Rachel Carrera. I think it’s an fabulous cover for what promises to be an intriguing book of short stories and micro-fic. What a perfect match!

IMG_1297

I think the cover speaks to all of the wonderful oddities that surely await within, much like opening a cabinet of curiosities.

BLURB:
A speculative fiction selection of micro-fiction and short stories. These were designed to be short reads for your commute, coffee break, and other times when readers are pressed for time. This book contains a bit of science fiction, some fantasy, and paranormal stories.

And Craig’s personal message:  “I’m excited to see short fiction returning in popularity. I hope you will enjoy these stories as much as I did.”

And don’t forget the best part:

You can pre-order your copy of The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack for just $.99.  I’ve already grabbed my copy from Amazon. Snatch yours up here!

Author C. S. BoyackConnect with Craig at the Following Haunts:
Blog 
Twitter 
Goodreads 
Find all of Craig’s novels here  

Mythical Monday: Beware the Ebb Tide

If you’re like most people, the thought of an ebb tide brings a feeling of tranquility. Who doesn’t love to walk along a barren stretch of beach with the glittering hem of the ocean gently receding from shore? The eastern seaboard has been my second home through countless springs, summers, autumns and even winters. I know areas of it as intimately as my own backyard. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked on sunbaked beaches or sand cooled by twilight after the sun was swallowed by the vulture-beaked rim of the Atlantic.

I’ve picked up shells, stones, and pieces of driftwood, scattered souvenirs left by the lap and kiss of the receding tide. Although I find those strolls on the beach rejuvenating, the myths of yesteryear would have me believe differently.

In days of yore, people thought an ebb tide capable of draining someone’s spirit. Anyone who dwelled by the sea knew the receding tide would steal the spirit from the body. New ventures were best embraced when the tide was high. By the same token should someone fall ill, their soul was likely to depart with the ebb tide. Plantings of any kind were done when the waters were high so that their essence was not whittled away and carried off by the vanishing waters.

For today’s Mythical Monday, I offer a snippet from a short I wrote many ebb tides ago called Kin-Slayer:

I remember the ocean, glittering with a thousand faceted eyes as sunlight kindled diamonds on its surface, the scent of salt heavy in the air, twined with the black smoke of cooking fires and the reek of fish left to dry beneath the sun. My home was nestled in a simple village. Small and secluded, Ceadon squatted on a bluff overlooking the water, a ragged sphere of thatch-roofed hovels. She was a giddy perch, erected high on a pinnacle of wind-blasted rock. As children, E’ana and I often sat on the edge, watching the tide roll from shore as it carried our father and the other fishermen from sight.  In the evening we would meet them on the beach, anxious to view the day’s catch…seaweed draped pots brimming with lobster and crab; nets so heavy they hugged the sand as the men unloaded a bounty of bluefish and tuna.

It was a simple life, fitting and welcome in those idyllic days of childhood.  But childhood, like all things, fades with the passing of time.

Old wives’ tales and superstitions aside, there is something magical about an ebb tide. The next time you happen upon the soft lap of water on sand, take a moment to appreciate the inherent mystery in the song of the ocean. The symphony is as magnetic and ancient as the corridors of time.