Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Beyond The Wail" Reviews...T. N. Payne's "Dead Man Hocking"

What do you get when you cross gambling and zombies?

T. N. Payne's Dead Man Hocking, that's what.

Since I've been in a couple of Xchyler Publishing's anthologies, I've gotten to know several of the other Xchyler authors. I've never read anything from this author before. Shame. Her story was a lot of fun.

Don't get me wrong--the story's not based on a lot of "fun" things. It's about a guy named Kyle who is a zombie. We first meet Kyle as he's digging up a corpse in a graveyard, and he's doing this because he made a deal with someone. That deal turned him into a zombie.

When Kyle was alive, he had a gambling problem. The problem was so serious, it ended up destroying his family. When Kyle lost a couple of grand during a losing streak, his wife took their small child and left. Before he could make it up to them with a big win, he was murdered.

Payne's story was "fun" to me because of how we get to learn about Kyle. The first-person narration is crisp and conversational. We learn about the flawed man and his struggles. The story's beginning sentence expertly sets the tone for the entire tale: "Every sinner must pay a price for the foolishness of their choices. I was paying mine now." Kyle says this as he's digging up a grave. As the story continues, we're introduced to several colorful characters, a black market cad, a witch willing to strike a bargain. I never knew what was coming next. 

This story differed greatly from the others in Beyond the Wail. But I liked this change. It was the first zombie story, a less-than-perfect undead creature trying to do the right thing, trying for redemption. Chances are you've not read anything like this either. And, chances are, if you like stories about gambling and zombies, you'll definitely like this one!

Friday, October 30, 2015

"Beyond The Wail" Reviews...F. M Longo's "Shrine Of Mirrors"

I just finished F. M. Longo's Shrine of Mirrors. Of all the stories I've read so far in Xchyler Publishing's latest anthology, Beyond the Wail: 12 Graves Stories of Love and Loss, this one is pretty different.

It's a story that reminded me a lot of an Indiana Jones adventure, only this time the tale is set in the Far East. It's a first person perspective where the narrator takes us along on a journey to find three relics, relics with magical powers.

Longo effectively uses a documentary style to set up the story. He's created an exotic world and filled it with magical items, ferocious dangers and personal sacrifices all in an attempt to join the relics. The advice that begins the story, "Trust one!" serves well our narrator.

Like I said before, Longo's story is unique when placed among the other first six or seven stories in this collection. I enjoyed the change of pace. It not only adds a new flavor to the book, it expands the richness of the anthology in general. Beyond the Wail isn't just about ghosts and scary cabins in the woods, it's more than that. I'm hope if you give the book a chance, you'll agree.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Beyond The Wail" Reviews...Ginger C. Mann's "The Poltergeist And Aunt Betty"

Do you have one of those crazy relatives--the ones who you're convinced they're not quite all there? Now, imagine if that crazy relative sees ghosts?

And with that premise you have Ginger C. Mann's The Poltergeist and Aunt Betty. 

I'm just over halfway through reviewing the entire Beyond the Wail anthology and each story has been consistent, not only in being true to the theme, but also in length. As I read Ginger's story and I was reaching what felt like the middle, I wondered, "where's the ghost?"

To be fair, the author is not completely void of ghostly elements, it's just she's created a character so charming and zany, that the woman might not be able to see ghosts at all--it could be her wild demeanor or the multiple prescription medications she's on.

This is one aspect I loved about the story. When we're faced with a situation where there could very well be a legitimate haunting, there are ways to explain away any oddities. "Sure, your home could be haunted, but it could be wind moving a loose shingle that makes it sound like someone is in the attic walking around." These kinds of thoughts went through my mind as I read this story, but I knew this was a ghost story so I expected a poltergeist to show up at some point.

And Ginger didn't disappoint.

I had to smile several times while I read this tale. The author definitely knows what it's like to have a house full of kids and the challenges found therein. Having raised four kids ourselves, it brought back  many memories. Aunt Betty is a great character, as well. The story unfolds with Aunt Betty becoming more and more unpredictable. But are her actions solely the fault of her own, or are there other factors contributing to the madness?

You'll have to read it to find out! I'm glad I did.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Beyond The Wail" Reviews...A. F. Stewart's "The Weeping Lady"

And the distance between them swelled with the soft tremor of tearful regret and mourning."

A. F. Stewart's story begins with Eva Douglas returning home and she is none too happy about doing so. Knowing what I now know about Eva Stewart's story, I understand why.

The Weeping Lady tells Eva's story and her tragic past, a past she's forced to confront yet again. Eva returns home because her younger sister is missing. As bad as this situation is, Eva must also deal with her mother. It's very evident their mother/daughter relationship is, in a word, strained. The search for the missing sibling is concentrated on a nearby stream.

The stream and Eva share a terrifying past, and it has to do with a weeping lady. The above quote comes from the story. It's a sentence located near the end and I included because I loved the language. Stewart beautifully paints a world of wonder and horror. As she describes the story's pivotal scene, I became uncomfortable because I knew what was happening and could see it in my mind. It was something I didn't want to see, something humans are capable of doing--the darkest side of ourselves.

The story culminates with a battle of wills, a battle I actually didn't know how it would turn out. Eva is strong and when she must face her past and battle for her future and that of her sister, she shows this strength. I know I'm being vague, but I don't want to give too much of the story away.

Like the other short stories in Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Stories of Love and Lost, The Weeping Lady has lost love, and a hope for the future. Well done, Ms. Stewart!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Beyond The Wail" Reviews...Jay Barnson's "Cold Spot"

In Xchyler Publishing's Beyond the Wail, there are two stories by authors with the last name "Barnson." This post focuses on the second story, the second Barnson, Jay Barnson's Cold Spot.

For those of you who don't know, Jay is a computer guy, which helps explain his story's premise. It begins in an office/warehouse setting where Mike Bradshaw's computer is missing. But, it's not missing in the traditional sense. He believe's he's misplaced it. Nope. He's checked everywhere. The only other option is, it's been stolen.

Well, sort of...

Mike solicits help from his best friend, Nate, computer genius. The two find out the computer's not missing, but is still at work. Thus begins the mystery. Jay's story reminded me of something Stephen King would conjure up. If you've read Insomnia you might understand why it came to mind while reading this. I also saw a bit of Michael Crichton in the story with the use of technology throughout the story.

Mike and Nate become prisoners of a sort. They're trapped and have a short period of time to escape. Due to their technical knowledge, they utilize cellphones and wi-fi signals in an attempt to save themselves from certain death. Jay's story could have been longer, and I don't mean this as a criticism. He's introduced many fascinating elements to his mystical world, a world full of traps, creatures and alternative universes. I wish the story could have been longer to explore some of these elements, but I understand why it wasn't. Like Stephen King, Jay could easily expand the take advantage of the characters, their situations and the world in general.

I've explained in previous blog posts that I feel a certain level of responsibility for seeing Jay's stories in print. We met several years ago and I introduced him to Xchyler Publishing and how Xchyler finds new authors. Of course, he could have spoken to someone else had I not been to that particular convention. I'd like to think that if I weren't there, he would have sought out someone and submitted his story to another anthology, the anthology that published his first story. But, it was he and I that spoke and now I'm fortunate enough (as are all of you...) to be able to read about Mike and Nate and the cool--and frightening--situation in which they find themselves.

It's a great little story! You can get it through Amazon, or on Kindle and read it instantly before Halloween. I recommend it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

"Beyond The Wail" Reviews...Amanda Banker's "Dead Water"

I've read three of these stories and with nine left to go, I read the first one today that gave me chills. Today I spotlight Amanda Banker's Dead Water

It was spooky!

Now, this isn't to say that the first two stories I've reviewed weren't spooky--they were, but this author spent a lot of time setting up one scene in particular which made the experience creepy and very cool.

Dead Water focuses on two brothers as they journey from Chicago to lands up north. They're trying to find a retreat in Wisconsin, but a beater pickup truck strands them in the night. With no cell service, they're forced to use a road map from 1984 to help guide them. The map becomes the least of their worries.

The brothers--one wounded in an attack while a soldier in Iraq--make their way to what appears to be a deserted town on the shores of an immense lake. With more questions than answers the pair find themselves involved in ghosts, disasters and long-lost vendettas. 

What I love about short stories is how, in a short period of time, you can enter a world, come to know the characters and their struggles and see how the conflict is resolved. Good short stories do this very well. This author I can include in that number. She spends time setting the scene so that, even though there's less action going on in this story as happened in the other two, it feels just a full, just as complete as its sibling stories. 

If you're interested, check out Beyond the Wail at Amazon or Xchyler Publishing's website: HERE. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Beyond The Wail" Reviews...Julie Barnson's "Go Gentle"

It's my second installment of Beyond The Wail: 12 Gave Stories of Love and Loss reviews. Today it's Julie Barnson's turn. She wrote the second story in the anthology, Go Gentile.

I met Julie years ago, but it was her husband that I spoke to back at the 2013 Salt City Steamfest. Jay and Julie and their family were all dressed up for the event and Jay and I began talking about publishing. He was a p/t writer I suggested he look into Xchyler Publishing.
He did and he got published. Then both he and his wife were published in Beyond the Wail. How cool is that?

Julie's story begins with a simple fact: Robbie West was dead. Thus we begin a tale of lost love, ghosts and a special musical instrument that allows anyone playing power over those who've passed beyond.

I liked the straightforward approach taken by Julie. She presents us with a situation, a girl loses her boyfriend. Yes, Robbie West died. This sets up a situation where the grieving girlfriend begins a quest to find out more. She's reminded of her grandfather who relays a story so unbelievable, she must find out if it's true. We are introduced to a violin, one with a history millennia old, an instrument she uses to find out what happened and to ease the pain of the dead.

Julie's story fits perfectly with the theme: stories of love and loss. It's a very quick read and if you're like me, you'll be intrigued by the violin and the way it operates. It's a fascinating literary device and Julie's made an already interesting item even more so.

This is the first story of Julie's I've read. I hope it's not the last.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Beyond The Wail" Reviews...Tirzah Duncan's "Of Mice And Monsters"

My last week of October is going to be madness. And when I say madness, I mean, completely crazy! I'm going to be working all day at my regular job, and since the amusement park where I have my part-time gig is open every night the week before Halloween, I'll be doing that too.

Doing two jobs I can do, but my biggest hurdle will be keeping my daily blog going. I had an idea on how I can keep writing every day and helping out some friends. Xchyler Publishing has just released their latest anthology, Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Stories of Love and Loss. I'm going to write a short review of each short story. For me, it's a win-win!

I've already highlighted one story, The 'Grim' Reaper, L. K. McIntosh's great story. So, I'm already one down. The story for this particular blog post is Tirzah Duncan's Of Mice and Monsters

This first story of the anthology is a perfect way to introduce the theme of "love and loss." Duncan's first-person present story introduces us to Benjamin, a man who just lost his love to a suicide. As Benjamin moves on with his life, he's haunted by an cryptic text found on a scrape paper.

Soon Benjamin finds Tina and a relationship begins. As they grow together, we learn more of Benjamin's past, things we need to know, but would rather not know.

I don't want to give too much away, except I loved the way Duncan paced the story, not revealing too much too quickly, but allowing the reader to see the twists and turns of these two people. And yet, I never knew how it would turn out.

This is the first story of the anthology. Now I've got two under my belt with only ten more to go. It's a great way to get ready for Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Dentist's Office...Not All That Dissimilar To The Judgement Bar Of God

I had my semi-annual dental check-up this morning. Maybe it was when I was in the waiting area, maybe it was when the x-rays were being developed--I don't know exactly when but during my visit a thought entered my mind...

Going to the dentist is kind of like the Final Judgement.

And NO--I had not been given any laughing gas, nor was I under any other chemical influences at the time.

I mean, I KNOW it's not exactly like that, but there are some similarities.

Those of us fortunate enough to be able to go to the dentist twice a year get our teeth checked. The dentist's office has our files--all the medical information concerning our teeth. When we go in for an appointment, our files are pulled and the hygienist sets up for the exam.

"How are your teeth doing?"

I could lie, but I don't. "Fine," I say. They really are doing pretty good.

"Are you brushing and flossing every day?"

I could lie here, too. But I'm sure that people who work with teeth for a living can tell if someone is lying, especially if they're really lying--flat-out, having not brushed their teeth in years, don't know how to even properly use floss, lying.

"Yeah, I say--every day." And it's true.

Then comes the judgement. When we die, we'll be judged. We can say that we did good things (brush, floss, etc...), but the evidence of whether we're telling the truth will be on display. We can't hide if we haven't brushed in days, months, years. We may also have had good intentions. "I really wanted to brush, know, things came up." Or, "I really wanted to help others, but you know how it is."

Nope! Not going to fly--whether you're in the chair or before the bar.

I thought about this as I sat and was checked. My teeth were fine--as verified by the dentist. I had been taking care of my teeth for six months and my reward is I do not need to visit the dentist for another half year. Clean bill of health, as far as the teeth are concerned. Those of us who believe in an afterlife and a judgement of our deeds and thoughts know we'll be judged. The evidence will be there; there'll be no hiding the facts. It will be too late.

Since it's Halloween, the dental office had a Harry Potter theme going on and this was the note for those of us finished with our appointments/judgements got to see. Personally, I loved it.

At least, for another six months...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mmmmm...Sliders, But Better Fries!

I mean, it's Thursday--last work day of the week for me. And (more importantly...) it's Payday Thursday! Which means, I decided to take a short walk just before lunchtime and visit the food trucks that rally near the Wells Fargo building, downtown SLC every Thursday.

I'm as close to a food truck virgin as possible (I've only partook food truck cuisine once before...), so all those trucks, all those decisions confused me. I looked for a line (others with more experience know what's good), but not too long a line (I only have a few minutes to eat...) and I decided on Black's Sliders.

Should I get two sliders? I know they're small-ish, and I know I could easily eat two. No, I decided on one chicken slider and a side of fries.

I know that food bloggers make sure to include pictures of the food they're blogging about in their posts. But I'm not a food blogger (primarily...) and I was so hungry that when I returned to work to eat my delicious grilled chicken sandwich, I inhaled it before I could snap a picture.

If you're downtown SLC on Thursdays around noon-ish, stop by the state's tallest building and if you're in the mood for a good slider, give Black's a try. 

And I do know one thing now that I didn't know before. They had the BEST fries I've had in a LONG time! They were so good, I'm glad I didn't get the second sandwich. Good fries!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Neil Gaiman's "Trigger Warning"...A Book Review

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances*

It takes the author at least one audiobook chapter to get to the stories. But it was in Mr. Gaiman's description of how these particular short stories came to be collected into one edition that gave me a personal sense of satisfaction. He explains that an anthology should contain tales of similar genres and themes. He then proceeds to tell his customers and library patrons that this book ignores that very important rule.

The reason I was glad to hear this is because my singular published work is also a collection of short stories with no central theme. So, I suppose there's hope for me, too.

The stories in, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances are as varied as Mr. Gaiman's imagination. If you've read any of his works, you'll understand just how varied this is. Trigger Warning is the author's third short story collection. I need to read the other two.

What I love about his writing is the way he takes a normal situation, or a character we think we know and he opens another page--another dimension of the subject. And as I read, I think to myself, "of course--it makes so much sense." Mr. Gaiman allows us to see a point of view that is completely understandable, if not unexpected.

I have my favorites, The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury, Nothing O'Clock (a "Dr. Who" story...), and Black Dog. There's something special about short stories. For me, they showcase better an author's personality and the way the man thinks than do a novel or a longer work. I may be completely off base, but that's the way these short stories make me feel.

Another wonderful addition to this anthology is Mr. Gaiman's commentary on each story, its origin and how the tale came to be. Brad Torgerson did the same thing in his Lights In the Deep collection. I appreciate very much the background offered by these authors.

I've said it before it's hard to beat an audiobook narrated by Mr. Gaiman. It's an audible treat for the mind. If you're in the mood for excellent literature, you can't go wrong with this one.

* Photo used without permission from:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The $15 Drone...Too Good To Be True

"You should check out the website Geek! They have a ton of sales--great prices," the patron at Lagoon Amusement Park told me on Saturday night. "If you've got a smartphone, open an account."

"Do they have drones?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah! Check it out!" The patron then did a quick search. "Look at this!" he said excitedly.

I did look. I then became excited.

"This drone's regularly $113, but it's on sale for only $17! And if you click here..." I watched him click. "See what the final price is."

I did see. It was $15. I also noticed there was a one-hour time limit on the "sale." I checked my watch. In one hour I would be home and could buy this thing. Yippie!

I had done some drone pricing as of late. My little drone had a mishap last spring and so I'd like to replace it, but I don't have a lot of money. I noticed that drones costing over $100 would have some of the features I wanted, mostly a camera attached. Even though the picture on the website he showed me on his phone was small, I saw it had a camera. Still, I couldn't tell how big the drone actually was. Since it cost $113, it couldn't be that big.

I got home and had about five minutes to pull up the site, enter in my credit card info and place the order. I think I made it with seconds to spare. I was excited.

I then did a google search for the drone I had just bought. Guess what! The drone in the picture--the same drone that was pulled up on the patron's phone was nice, not just one-hundred dollars nice, but way nicer than that.

"Uh-oh," I said to my wife.

It was then I did a little checking. Turns out that drone in the picture costs between $600-$700. And what I bought was this:

That's right! I bought four propeller guards.

Fortunately, I was able to immediately cancel my order for drone self-tighten propeller prop guards for a drone I didn't have. Had I not checked, I would have received the package in the mail and been very disappointed.

A couple of things got me...wanting something for nothing (or, in this case, something somewhat expensive and pay very little for it...), the time limit--always a way for customers to make stupid decisions and not knowing that this particular drone would never sell for only fifteen bucks.

Have I learned my lesson? I guess we'll have to see what I do next time.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Where Were You When You Saw...The Trailer?

I had an errand to run after dinner tonight so I thought I might miss it. Turns out, I didn't.

Because I've been busy with rehearsals and other things, I haven't watched Monday Night Football in a while, but I turned it on just before halftime. I had no idea when the trailer would be showing, so I hoped.

The movie is already a phenomenon--I have friends, many friends who already have purchased their tickets.  I'm sure I will, too, eventually. 

Watching the short two minute and thirty-five second video connected me with millions of people. We gathered in front of TVs, computers, cellphones and tablets--all with similar feelings and wishing it were December.

I doubt this will become one of those "Where were you when...?" moments, but I know I'll (hopefully...) never forget the feelings I had when I first saw Star Wars, Memorial Day weekend, 1977. Maybe I'll never forget what happened a few minutes ago, either. You can see the trailer: HERE. The film looks awesome.

* All screenshots were taken from the YouTube video and used without permission.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Today In Church We Talked About Death...

This is a picture of the front of a Mormon Church. It's the church we attend. It's not the typical Mormon church, at least not the ones the church has constructed for the past thirty or so years. No, this part of our church is old; it was built between 1861 and 1863.

Both of my parents had their funeral services in this church, my dad in the old chapel, my mom in the new. I suppose when my time comes, I'll do the same. Of course, no one known when or how that will take place--I'm hoping not for a while.

In today's Sunday service, the topic was death--not "death" specifically, but how we can look on the event with a spiritual perspective. And what better place to do that than church?


I think I'm like most people...I don't think about the subject too much. I must confess that it enters my mind more as I get older, especially as my next birthday looms. It's not an all-encompassing thought, but I think about it more now than I did twenty or thirty years ago.

And I find it weird whenever it comes up in conversation. I mean, our congregation has several hundred people in it. We have several senior citizen as well. I'm not a statistician, but there's a chance someone might not be in attendance next week, or next month. There's more than a good chance we'll have our ranks thinned by this same time next year. When people talk about death and dying, it seems like after they speak of it, someone passes away. Of course, had the conversations not taken place, it would have happened anyway.

In church today, the speakers spoke of the time we all will leave, but they also spoke of faith. In our church we believe we will live on and not only that, but have the opportunity to live together with our loved ones. I can think of no greater thought than this. One speaker talked of a time she attended a funeral where those attending believed they would never see their loved one again. I can think of no worse thought than this.

After the services, we all left and continued with our lives. I wonder what the future will bring.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Facebook...Doing Something I Should Be Doing On My Own

 Looks like Facebook is doing something for me I'm failing to do myself, namely, not just create memories but allow me to recall them as well.

If you're a Facebook person and you post things (I've posted something everyday for almost four straight years...), you might see these memory reminders pop up on your Facebook feed. I've only had a few, but they've brought back some great memories. 

Facebook wants me to then share the picture with everyone. But I shared this picture with everyone a year ago today. Do I really want to do it again?


I had a thought come to me when I saw this adorable picture of my youngest when I checked Facebook this morning. They are doing what I should be doing! I've taken a lot of digital pictures in the last six or seven years, tens of thousands of them. I take them because they're practically free and I enjoy photography. Plus, I want to keep a visual record of my family, the good times, the not-so-good times, the ups and downs. 

And I believe I've done that, but what I haven't done, is gone back and enjoyed those memories. Maybe it's because I've taken SO many pictures--there's just too many to sift through. Maybe it's because I'm too busy taking new pictures to take time and enjoy the older ones. Whatever the reason, I'm not enjoying the memories like I thought I would. 

One day I'd like to take every digital picture I've taken and make a ton of photo albums. Okay, maybe not every picture--just the good ones. That will be quite an undertaking, but I want to do it, because when it's all said and done, all that exists are pictures and words.

So, I suppose I should be thanking Facebook and whoever came up with the idea.

Thanks Facebook (and whoever came up with this idea...). Thanks for the memories!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Simpsons...What A Great Pre-Birthday Gift!

My birthday's not for another month and change, but co-worker Steve dropped off a few pre-birthday gifts for me last week at work. He picked up four Simpson's figurines and delivered them to me at work. Several months ago he saw three other figurines and picked them up for me. I placed them atop one of my computer monitors at work.

I don't care that he found them at the Dollar Tree store--they're way cool and they add a certain awesomeness to my work space. In true Steve fashion, he apologized that the Bart figurine was unavailable. Hey, I've been to those dollar stores. I would be surprised if even one of the Simpson's figurines were left. He found four. There's no need to apologize.

(I think it's interesting that the Homer and Marge figurines at rated a 3+, and yet the the two daughters are not--I wonder why...)

Of course, I'm sure he didn't buy them for my birthday. He may not even know when my birthday is (even though, it's one of the biggie birthdays...). He was just being nice and a good friend.

So, now the three existing Simpson's characters, Mr. Burns, Chief Wiggum, and Krusty the Clown have been joined by the whole Simpson's family...almost. And that's good enough for me.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Danyelle Leafty's "The Fairy Godmother Series: The Complete Dilemma"...A Book Promotion

The Fairy Godmother Series: The Complete Dilemma (The Fairy Godmother Dilemma)*

I got a notice a little while ago about a story collection from Danyelle Leafty and I'd like to let you know about it.

I've only read one of Danyelle's stories, The Curious Leaf: An Adventure in Wishing. I blogged about it back in July, 2014. You can read my review of that story: HERE.

I remember that story. It was sweet and endearing. This collection includes six stories, or one big story broken up in six parts. I have absolutely no idea what these stories are about, but I do know Danyelle and her husband. They're good people and I'd love to see some help come their way via sales from her writings. Life is adventure and sometimes those adventures are more intense than other times. And when those times are a bit crazy, it's nice to get a little support.

Being a writer means leaving yourself open. And whenever you submit your creation to the world there's risk. It's scary when you trust, especially when you're trusting those you don't know. I have a lot of respect for someone who not only goes through the pain, occasional heartache, and unbelievable joy that comes from writing a book. Danyelle has written many stories and they're all available. So, if you're interested, check out this collection, and maybe some of her other books. You'll not only get some quality literature, but you'll be helping out a great family.

* Photo used without permission from:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Writing On A Wall...

"Hey, you want to see something?"

My neighbor called me over Monday. He bought the house where I grew up, a home my father was building when he died and that we sold after my mother passed away. My neighbor is a builder himself, so as he's provided some much-needed remodeling to the home, he's invited me over to see some interesting sights--some hidden treasures--held within its walls.

He showed me an intact piece of sheetrock. 

"Recognize that?" he asked.

And I did.

Because my father wasn't able to finish the house, our basement was unfinished for years. We had a phone downstairs, a wall-mounted dial phone. This was back when a second phone line was very rare (you had to pay extra $$ for even a second phone line--hard to imagine...). And since none of the walls were finished, when we needed to remember a phone number, we just wrote it on the wall.

There's a bit of a history lesson here as well. Officially, Farmington's seven-digit phone number began with 867. But we only had to dial 7-xxxx to reach someone in town. That's why most of these numbers only had 7, then the number.

I remember some of the names, but most I have forgotten. I think the number with the area code of 714 was to a relative, most likely my Uncle Arlin and Aunt Coralle. They lived in Chino back then. 

Other times when my neighbor has invited me over, he's shown me something interesting my dad did when building the house. We both agree the man was ahead of his time. I've said on this blog before, but I know he would have loved to see all the amazing things that have been invented, especially over the past two decades. I'm sure he'd have the latest iPhone.

I'm glad my neighbor called me over. He wanted to show me the wall before he broke it up and threw it away. I'm glad he did and I'm glad I took some pictures. It brought back a lot of memories.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Announcing "Beyond The Wail" Including The Short Story "The "Grim" Reaper," By L.K. McIntosh

Xchyler Publishing has released Beyond The Wail, an anthology including 12 grave stories of love and loss. And this post is to spotlight one of those stories and its author.

The story is, 

The "Grim" Reaper,

and the author is,

L. K. McIntosh.

Here's a little background on the author:

L.K. McIntosh has been making up stories about the people around her since she learned how to talk. She eventually discovered cultural anthropology, a fantastic and often macabre world of research rabbit holes and bare bones tales just begging to be fleshed out. She is irrationally terrified of sharks, which makes perfect sense, considering she has always lived in a landlocked state, and she is a proud supporter of the Oxford comma. She is currently working on two speculative fiction novels and several short stories. She physically lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, but tends to live life vicariously thanks to the Internet, books, television, and a vast array of interesting people.

As far as the story goes, the main character of The "Grim" Reaper is just who you'd think he is, the ol' soul collector himself. I've always found Mr. Reaper to be a fascinating character. Does this entity, who makes the decision of when our time is up, have a soul of his own? And what's going through his mind when he's not making those decisions.

McIntosh gives us a story about one who carries this burden. What I enjoyed most about this story is the Grim Reaper is not the only fantastical character. There's magic, witches, teleportation and other mystical elements crammed into this short story. We find out some of the thoughts someone who has lived for millennia is thinking.

I couldn't help hoping that this cannot be all to the story. I have to believe there's a whole novel out there either written or living in the mind of the author just waiting to be let loose. There's just too much of a well-established world to play with and explore for this to be all there is. I would like to know more about Mr. Reaper and how this story continues.

I have not read the rest of the stories in this anthology, but I want to. You can order it now through Amazon by following the link: HERE. I consider some of the authors in this collection friends and I always love reading stories written by friends and people I know. If the one story I read is an indication of the rest of the book, it's going to be a good one.