Why I Write Short Stories

I could list several reasons why writing short stories are beneficial to writers. Practicing your craft, immediate gratification, and flexibility to name a few. And yes, all of those reasons are marvelous. I highly encourage authors to write short pieces.

But this is why I write short stories.

I want to escape into worlds I've never explored before. Some of them are awe-inspiring. The only science-fiction I've written has been in short form. I love strange planets, exotic aliens, and futuristic technology. I can play among the stars.

Some worlds are beautiful and happy. The perfect societies. What would life be like in a place where we had no environmental or political issues? What kind of problems would my protagonist have when all her family loves her? I love finding the flaws in what seems perfect and diving into hidden cracks.

Other worlds are horrifying. More than what goes bump in the night. What motivates that monster, if it really is a monster at all. Maybe it's fighting against something much more frightening. The tight suspense and hair raising terror. I love to scare myself.

I've written western, sci-fi, horror, steampunk, romance, sword & sorcery, mystery, and fairy tale retellings. I get to jump into these magnificent worlds and hop back out again. There's no limit on the places I can go in my stories, and through short stories, I can go to hundreds of them.

If you're an author, have you written any short stories? If you're a reader, do you read short stories?


Ghosts of Fire sneak peek! Demon in the Basement by River Fairchild

Every house has its own personality. Its own history. Its own tales of dread and horror… if you dare to listen hard enough. Old houses have always creeped me out, wondering what untold stories hid in the shadows. What might lie beneath creaking floorboards. How about you? Care to step inside with me?

Excerpt from Demon in the Basement:
Like a mouse, I stood frozen, considering my next move. I’d intended to come in like a lion, all teeth and claws, but my brave plan evaporated the moment I stepped inside. Fear of the unknown could do strange things to a person, but fear of the known was far worse. I saw my death flash before my eyes and knew who had put it there.
Perhaps the house feared me? That somewhat feeble thought bolstered my courage, even though a part of me knew I was grasping at straws.
“Welcome home, Robert.”
The sibilant voice reminded me I wasn’t dealing with wood and shingles, but rather an entity who wore the house as one would don a shirt and pair of slacks. The fact that it hadn’t left in all these years must mean its tether was here; no doubt the mysterious closet I’d never been able to find as a teen. I meant to find it now, even if I had to dismantle the house piece by piece.
My hand slid up the banister as I moved upstairs, memories rushing through my mind, a thousand pictures of times I’d performed the same motion. The smooth wood felt warm and inviting; lethargy stole over me so I was tempted to give up and sit down to rest for a while. I jerked my hand free, the house laughing at my terror.
By the time I reached the attic, my limbs shook and my head drummed a rhythm of doom. I was a man in a desert, dying of thirst.
I must have slept for hours as the sun had passed overhead and now lengthened the shadows of the trees outside the attic windows. The electricity wasn’t on—for some reason I hadn’t felt the need to have it—and the candles I’d brought were in my suitcase. Downstairs. I berated myself for that foolish oversight even as I dreaded making the trip up the stairs all over again. What made me think this would be quick?
My feet pelted down the stairs in time to the creaks of the house as it laughed in victorious amusement. I walked out the front door and breathed in the fresh air that I thought was lost to me forever, just happy to be alive for the moment. I told myself I wasn’t finished, only regrouping, and went back to the hotel after a quick stop at the store.
Tomorrow would be different, I told myself. With a bottle of scotch on my nightstand, I drank myself to sleep so as not to dream.


Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. 

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Cathrina's Review:

If you like to read YA speculative fiction about immortal's, faeries, shape shifters, and action, then you'll love A Court of Thorns and Roses. 

Sarah J. Maas has written an intricate tale of dark wickedness interwoven with brilliance. The main character Feyre is strong and tenacious and is the mainstay of her impoverished family. While hunting for sustenance, she unwittingly kills a massive wolf, an immortal, shape-shifter fae. If you've read the wonderful blurb our author has written there's no need for me to repeat it.

I did get a tad bored as our determined Feyre settles down into a mundane existence while living in Tamlin's beautiful spring court. But continue to read because there is underlying intrigue which will be revealed. The climax and the end is exciting, harsh, and wasn't expected. 

There is a sequel. I'm undecided if I want to read it. I liked how this one ended. I did thumb through the second novel. It's quite a read to tackle which only deterred me into buying it for now.

There is one thing I must mention. A Court of Thorn and Roses is in the YA category on Amazon. However, the characters exchange in explicit love scenes. The mc is 19, and I feel this is a mature fantasy and should be in the New Adult category. 


Ghosts of Fire (Elements of Untethered Realms book #3) is HERE!

Ghosts of Fire
Book three of the Elements series is finally out, just in time for the spooky season!
Get it: Amazon US, UK, CAAU, DEGoogle Play, Kobo, iBooksSmashwords. (More links added when live)
See it on Goodreads

The anthology blurb:
From USA Today, Amazon bestselling, and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Ghosts of Fire, a supernatural anthology of ten thrilling tales. Meet paranormal detectives, imprisoned dragons, dark demons, cursed jewels, and handsome prophets. Explore shifting realms trapped in mirrors and a disturbing future where a president aims to rid the world of Otherkind. Ghosts of Fire is the third, long-awaited Elements story collection from the dynamic and inventive Untethered Realms group.

The stories:
“The Flaming Emerald” by Jeff Chapman: When Orville finds an emerald in a pawnshop, Jimmy suspects there’s trouble ahead, which is precisely what they encounter, trouble of a very weird and supernatural kind. Will they rid themselves of the cursed jewel before the flames scorch them? This is another story in Chapman’s Huckster Tales series.

“The Cost of Greatness” by Meradeth Houston: The newly elected President swears that he will rid the country of Otherkind, no matter the cost. When violence breaks out, one question must be answered: what is the cost of peace?

“On Day 168” by Cherie Reich: For 168 days, a dragon imprisoned Astryd in his cave, but the chieftain’s daughter has escaped to discover the dragon may not be her only enemy. This story takes place several hundred years before Reich’s series The Fate Challenges.

“The Vagaries of Eloise Stanton” by M. Pax: Lucy’s family disappeared when she was a child, lost in a world of mirror. No one believed her, yet the reflections of her family’s faces haunt her, plead with her for rescue. On the verge of at last being reunited, Lucy must battle the cruel woman, who isn’t quite human, standing as a barrier between the two realms.

“Mind the Gap” by Gwen Gardner: Carl James wants to impress the lovely Detective Inspector Madison Perry by helping her  catch an international art thief. Little does he know how his world will change when he steps through the ancient standing stones and finds himself an unintentional Gap Walker.

“Ryan” by Misha Gerrick: As the oldest griffon in existence, nothing thrills Ryan more than hunting down Aleria, the most powerful phoenix alive. But when the blitz traps both immortals in a struggle for life and death, he discovers she might be more than his prey. She might be his salvation. Ryan and Aleria’s stories continue in Endless.

“Rollerskate Boys” by Catherine Stine: An old shoe warehouse seems like the perfect place for artist Lily to set up a studio. But after moving in, she is tormented by startling clatters in the hall and the ghostly trails of boys on roller skates. When a deadly fire erupts, she’s no longer sure of what is real and what’s a figment of her nightmares.

“The Torchbearer” by Christine Rains: Sent to a dark crossroads by Hekate’s command, Desma must listen to the words of a handsome prophet whose ominous message mystifies her as much as he captivates her.

“In Plain Sight” by Angela Brown: Kazel and Amandine are best friends with their own little secrets to hide. When a boring study session at the library comes to a screeching halt, it forces them to put all their cards on the table and into plain sight. Readers of Neverlove and Frailties of the Bond will enjoy the return to the Shadow Jumpers and NEO worlds.

“Demon in the Basement” by River Fairchild: A man returns to his childhood home, determined to destroy the evil residing within it… or die trying.

Authors of Ghosts of Fire

Angela Brown battles in the corporate peon trenches with other minions by day and then goes home where she and her rambunctious daughter conquer dinner, dust bunnies, and homework problems together. Reading and writing are her passions. Interested readers can find out more at her blog publishness.blogspot.com.

Jeff Chapman writes software by day and speculative fiction when he should be sleeping. Fueled by dark hot chocolate, his imagination churns out dark, creepy, comic fiction ranging from fairy tales to fantasy to horror and ghost stories. There are no ghosts in his house, but it is crowded with a spouse, children, cats, and more books than bookshelf space. Visit his website at www.jeffchapmanbooks.com.

River Fairchild believes in Faerie crossings and never staying in one place for very long. Speculative Fiction wordsmith. The secret to her stories? Spread lies, blend in truths, add a pinch of snark and a dash of tears. Escape into her world. She left the porch light on so you can find your way down the rabbit hole at riverfairchild.blogspot.com.

Gwen Gardner is a paranormal cozy mystery writer who loves to plot murder from the safety of her armchair. Since ghosts feature prominently in her books, she has a secret desire to meet one face-to-face—but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does. Find out more about Gwen Gardner’s books at gwengardner.com.

Misha Gerrick lives in the Western Cape, South Africa, where she uses the gorgeous scenery as inspiration to write. Curious readers can find out what she’s reading and writing at mishagerrick.tumblr.com.

Meradeth Houston is an author, scientist, and professor. She prefers to be found at a café sipping coffee and writing. Her most recent release, Travelers, is a time travel mystery with a dash of romance. Visit her website at meradethhouston.com.

M. Pax is the author of the space adventure series, The Backworlds, and the urban fantasy series, The Rifters. Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckon to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. Find out more and discover more reads at mpaxauthor.com.

Christine Rains is an author, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood but make her a great Jeopardy player. She has one novel and several novellas and short stories published. Her latest urban fantasy serial, Totem, brings ancient Inuit myths to the modern day world. Visit her website at christinerains.net.

Cherie Reich owns more books than she can ever read and thinks up more ideas than she can ever write, but that doesn’t stop this bookworm from trying to complete her goals, even if it means curbing her TV addiction. A library assistant living in Virginia, she writes speculative fiction. For more information about her books, visit smarturl.it/CReichWebsite.

Catherine Stine is a USA Today bestselling author, whose novels span the range from futuristic to supernatural to contemporary. She suspects her love of dark fantasy came from her father reading Edgar Allen Poe to her. She loves “bad” reality TV, traveling to offbeat places, and attending book conventions to meet her readers. Visit her website at catherinestine.com/wp.

Read about & get ALL the Elements series here!


Who is UR in 2016?


Huzzizzle of the Realms - September 2016 UR News #amreading

Catherine Stine

My futuristic thrillers in the Fireseed series have all new covers, updated interiors and a brand new sequel novella called Blue House Magic. To celebrate, I've put Fireseed One (book 1) on sale for 99 cents (free on KU), and made the sequel novella absolutely FREE! If you haven't read the series, it's a great time to nab book 1.

Here's a link to the landing page, with all the info and links. And here are the pretty new covers!

* * *

Buy links:
Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Smashwords

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Cathrina Constantine

"Don't Forget to Breathe encompasses so much: heartbreak, mean girls, the bad boy, the good boy, murder, mystery, and ghosts. Seriously what more could you ask for???" ~ MYBLISSFULBOOKS review

A Great Read for this time of year!!! A Psychological Thriller!!
AMAZON: One Click: smarturl.it/dontbreathe
Available in AUDIO: smarturl.it/dontforgetbreathe-au

Which seeds will aid Bex in saving her world?

In a world ruined by long-forgotten ancestors, Bex sets off to establish a new homestead with her ideal man. The fact he’s a robot and has to do everything she says is wonderful. For a day. When she arrives at the plot of earth, from which she will nurture the precious seeds she’s been entrusted with, it’s already occupied. By a man. And he’s no robot. He has radical ideas as corrosive as the air.

Also included is the Deadly Sins Collection:

The Fall: A battle with aliens for the last habitable planet will determine humanity’s fate. Are we the supreme life form in the galaxy?

Poetic Greed: The wrongs keep piling up as a heroic doctor attempts to right her life. Two greeds don’t make a right.

Blood is Thicker than Time: An anger so violent, so virile, it transcends time.

99c ebook at: 
Amazon / UK / AU / CA / DE / FR / ES / IT / NL / IN / JP / MX / BR / Googleplay /iBook / B&N / Kobo / Inktera / Smashwords
Corrosive story only (no sins) at Bookcessories for 75c

The Journeys story bundle. Three women face the start of their life. 

Plantgirl   /  A journey from hopeless to hope. Ba Rainey can barely make the effort to get through each day. In hopes of bettering her life, she puts Miracle Gro in her shoes.

Translations  /  A journey brushed by magic. Nora Elliot travels to the Mid East with Mr. Allen to translate ancient inscriptions. He barely notices her until the tomb seals him inside and she’s the only one who can save him.

Omens and Lifesavers  /  This new New Yorker’s journey begins with a naked man on the No. 7 train. This story was a contest winner and based on true events.

75c Available for all ereaders HERE


Ghosts of Fire Sneak Peek! On Day 168 by Cherie Reich #fantasy

"On Day 168 by Cherie Reich - For 168 days, a dragon imprisoned Astryd in his cave, but the chieftain’s daughter has escaped to discover the dragon may not be her only enemy. This story takes place several hundred years before Reich’s series The Fate Challenges.

Reborn, the first novel in The Fate Challenges, was published back in 2014, and Cherie hopes to publish the rest of the series sometime next year.
Astryd etched another line into the cave wall. Despite making 167 previous marks into the stone, the diamond’s edge hadn’t lost its sharp point. She blew the rock dust away and ran her finger along the groove. One hundred and sixty-eight days since the dragon stole her from home. The same number of days as number of children her father had sired during his three hundred plus years of life. Her vision wavered and throat tightened. She refused to die in this cave.

She gripped the diamond until her hand ached. Sunlight peeked from a crevasse in the cavern’s ceiling. The beams struck the gold and multicolored gemstones in an array of rainbow colors. When she’d first arrived at her prison, she thought the jewels were pretty and marveled at the dragon’s wealth. Yet she soon discovered they had nothing on the evergreen trees emerging near the pike fence surrounding her village or the stars sparkling in the nighttime sky.

She threw the diamond. It bounced against a stalactite and disappeared among a pile of jewels. A scream of frustration built inside her.

The spirit—a male elf a few years older than she—appeared before her.

She swallowed the yell before she could voice it. Bitterness coated her tongue. When Llewyn was alive, he’d arrived at her village to marry her, an agreement made between his father, an elvish prince, and hers, a human-elf mixed village chieftain. But Llewyn had vanished before the ceremony, and the dragon kidnapped her the next morning. He’d haunted her since mark thirty-three.

“What do you want?”

He pointed toward the dragon’s area.

She peered into the darkened maul that led to the main cavern. The dragon hadn’t harmed her, but he had blocked her escape at every turn. He left her food and water. She had shelter from Norvadia’s prolonged winter. Despite his attentiveness in keeping her alive, she would never view this place as home.

Llewyn drew closer and jabbed his finger toward the darkness again.

“Oh, very well.” She braided her white-blond hair and tied the end off. Her gaze darted to the spirit as she grabbed a fur-lined cloak. She missed the bright rich blue of his skin, a darker shade than hers or even her father’s, who was closer to the elvish line than she. She wrapped the cloak over her shoulders and marched past him.

Her shoulders almost touched the sides of the tunnel. At one point, she had to turn sideways and suck in a breath to squeeze through. The dragon couldn’t navigate this part of the cave, which was why she typically stayed there, but she had to find out what Llewyn was so insistent she see. With an exhale, she entered the main cavern.

Hills of gold gave the area a reddish-yellow luminescence. Astryd stumbled up one mound, her feet sliding every fourth step. At the top, she gasped and dropped to her knees.

The dragon wasn’t there.


Ghosts of Fire Sneak Peak! The Flaming Emerald by Jeff Chapman #SpecFic

“The Flaming Emerald” by Jeff Chapman. When Orville finds an emerald in a pawnshop, Jimmy suspects there’s trouble ahead, which is precisely what they encounter, trouble of a very weird and supernatural kind. Will they rid themselves of the cursed jewel before the flames scorch them? Don your hat, saddle your horse and ride into another weird western in Chapman’s Huckster Tales series.

“I don’t know, Orville. Maybe we oughta just drop it back in that bin where you found it and skedaddle.” “And you oughta watch the master and learn, apprentice.”

I frowned at Orville’s broad back wrapped in his yellow tweed jacket and followed him inside. He always claimed we were staying on the right side of the law. I knew Orville would never stoop to simple thievery, but sometimes stealing and cheating seemed damn near the same thing as outsmarting, even if it was legal. Sometimes I longed for the simple days of the ranch hand life, grub and coin for a day’s labor, honest work that got your hands dirty but didn’t leave your soul feeling slimy.

We found the old woman behind the counter, playing with the beads on her bracelet.

“Who’s there?” She stared in our direction through those spectacles, her eyes magnified to the size of teacups. Her lower lip bulged with snuff, and I wondered with eyes so foggy how she ever hit her spittoon.

“Humble bearers of a fine jewel to augment your collection, ma’am.” Orville leaned forward with the hint of a bow as he doffed his black derby.

The old woman tittered with a glimmer of girlish delight peeking through her hardened countenance. Was Orville trying to flatter her or look stupid? Either way, I think the old woman let her guard fall just a bit.

“We’ve fallen on hard times, you see, and must part with something most dear to right our leaky boat. This belonged to my great aunt, God rest her soul. I loathe to part with it, but she left it to me for just such a fit of troubles.”

What my grandma would call a witch’s grin—cruel, mocking, and hungry—curled across the old woman’s wizened face. “Well you’ve come to the right place for help, you have,” she muttered. “Honest Abigail will do you right every time.”

“A paragon of integrity I’ve no doubt,” said Orville.

“So what’s you got for me?”

“A mere trinket,” Orville assured her, “but perhaps your generous heart will take pity upon us?” Laying it on awfully thick, Orville was. Did that woman even know I was there? Her gaze hadn’t flicked once in my direction.

Orville pulled the emerald out of his jacket pocket and laid it in Honest Abigail’s outstretched hands. A grin warmed her features as she fingered it, and then she brought it up level with her nose, within range of her spectacles I suspect.

The scream she let loose sent Orville and me flailing backwards. I’d seen twisters blow with less violence. Who’d have thought her old lungs had it in them? The emerald bounced once on the counter and then lay still.

“Where? Where’d you get that? You… you thievin’ buzzard!”

“Now you listen here, you dried-up crone,” yelled Orville, dropping all pretense of simpering civility. “I ain’t no thief. I bought that there jewel from you fair just the other day.”

Whatever color hid in the valleys of those wrinkles drained away. “I sold it to you?” She flicked her fingers at it, pushing it back to Orville. “No, no. ’Tain’t true. Can’t be true. You thieved it. Tryin’ to trick me you are, you lyin’ scallywag. I’m callin’ the sheriff. Thief! Thief!”

I stepped to the door, ready to make a retreat, but the one thing Orville couldn’t tolerate was being called a thief. His face flushed red and his bluster rose like a locomotive building a head of steam fit to burst. I don’t think any of us saw exactly what happened just before all flaming hell broke loose. Was there a warning? A spark? A wisp of smoke? A red glow before the tinder caught?

We missed the warning, but we didn’t ignore the storm.

A tower of flames shot skyward from the emerald, green just like in the hotel room, and licked the ceiling. Branches of flame roared from the trunk. Looked more like a spruce tree aflame than any normal fire. A crackling roar deafened me, and a wind hotter than a desert at high sun blasted my face. I recalled the cruelty of that fiery face from the night before, but this inferno was different, hotter and hungry. It wasn’t no messenger. Red flames spread where the ceiling had caught fire. The whole counter danced with red and orange, and at the center was the green tower spouting from the emerald, lashing out to set every corner of the shop afire. Black smoke churned overhead like an angry spring tornado. Only a fool could miss it. Martha Grimsey’s ghost intended to burn the place down, along with anyone in it.
Intrigued? You can get “The Wand,” another short story in the Huckster Tales series for free at www.jeffchapmanbooks.com.