Twisted Tales 2016: Flash Fiction with a Twist!

Twisted Tales 2016 Cover

I know it’s a bit late, but the publication of Raging Aardvark‘s flash anthology is finally here! Please visit FaceBook for the Launch Party if you’d like to congratulate the authors, and I’m including some helpful links below for purchasing the book. I’m very happy to say my flash story, Mirror, appears in this anthology!

If you’d like a paperback copy of the book, it’s selling for only $6.25. Twisted Tales is being sold without a profit, in order to promote the art of flash fiction. If you feel generous, please write a review when you are done. Flash Fiction, for those of you not exposed to it before, is simply very short fiction–usually a complete story under a thousand words. Every year there are events for (Inter)national Flash Fiction Day, and this anthology is a celebration of both the event and the writing itself.

If you can not afford to buy the paperback, you can also read the stories online at the publisher’s personal website, linked below. Simply scroll back though the stories, and enjoy!

I’m very happy to have been included in this anthology, and I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have. Now, go read some flash fiction!



Books Read in 2016



In the interest of reflection, I am posting a list of the books I read in the past year. Included in my list are ebooks, audiobooks, paperbacks, and graphic novels. I do not discriminate due to the amount of pages or words in any given work, whether fiction or nonfiction.

If you read my list from last year, you will note that I read fewer books than the year before–eighty-nine versus fifty-eight, which I attribute to consuming more poetry and less graphic novels. I also read a few paperbacks, which tend to take more time than ebooks, primarily because I usually forget to take them with me. Mainly though, I take more time when I read poetry, because I don’t usually feel I’ve gotten the full meaning and impact of a poem with just one reading.

Also, I’ve created this handy little color code, to make things easier:

Ebooks (novels, non fiction, & graphic novels): Red

Audiobooks: Blue

Physical books: Black

Because the list is long, I’m not going to comment on each book. You’re welcome.

  1. The Autobiography of James T. Kirk

  by David A. Goodman (ebook via Overdrive)

  1. Mort(e) by Robert Repino (audiobook via Overdrive)

–a truly unique scifi story about a revolution where all the animals become sentient and (many) humanoid to overthrow the human race. In the midst of all this chaos, one sentient cat is searching for his best friend, the neighbor’s dog.

  1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk  (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison (paperback)

–the book that Soylent Green was based on, though the movie bears very little resemblance to the novel. Harrison wrote this novel as a warning about unchecked population growth.

  1. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Planet of the Damned by Harry Harrison (ebook via, read using the Overdrive app)

–one of my favorite books, a man-versus-environment adventure that demonstrates the necessity of understanding versus a brute force approach to environmental and social problems. I know that description doesn’t sound exciting, but trust me. The entire book is filled with life and death struggles, assassination attempts, poison, you name it. If you haven’t read this yet, check it out NOW.

  1. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer (audiobooks via  audible)
  1. Doctor Horrible by various (graphic novel via my Barnes &  Noble gift card)
  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Primary Phase (audiobook via Audible),  by Douglas Adams
  1. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (ebook via Overdrive)

–a scifi book that takes place almost entirely on Earth from the point of view of a human raised by Martians. What else is there to say?

  1. Deathworld by Harry Harrison (paperback)
  1. Bossypants by Tina Fey (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Deathworld 2 by Harry Harrison (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Doctor Who: Peacemaker by James Swallow (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Leonard by William Shatner  (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Doctor Who: Autonomy by Daniel Blythe (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Flow my tears, the Policeman said by Philip K. Dick (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  UBIK by Philip K. Dick (audiobook via Overdrive)

–in this world created by PKD, people communicate (via technology) with the dead for a limited period of time after passing. Also, humans regularly travel to the moon, and there’s anti-psychics and conspiracies.

  1. The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman  (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Fool by Christopher Moore (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Walking Dead: No Turning Back (paperback graphic novel) by various authors
  1. Poetry on the Fly: 3WW by Tony Noland (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Investigating Lois Lane by Tim Hanley (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Aimless Love by Billy Collins (poetry) (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. The Places We Find Ourselves by Diane Kendig (paperback)
  1. And a Pencil to Write Your Name: poems from the Nicaraguan Poetry Workshop, translated by Diane Kendig (paperback)
  1.  I, Iago by Nicole Galland (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Quantum Lyrics (poems) by Van Jordan (paperback)
  1. The Wasteland and Other Poems by TS Eliot (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Geek Wisdom: the Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture by Stephen H. Segal (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  Crisis on Infinite Earths (graphic novel via Hoopla) by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
  1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (paperback)
  1. Darth Plagueis by James Luceno (audiobook dvd)
  1.  Poets’ Corner compiled by John Lithgow (ebook and audiobook)
  1. Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay  (ebook via
  1. A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay (ebook via
  1. The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (ebook and audiobook via Overdrive)

45.The Absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (ebook via Overdrive)

  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. BLINK by Larry Koller  (beta–pdf)
  1. Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady by Sandra Gurvis (paperback)
  1. Phantasmagoria and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll  (ebook via
  1. The Walking Dead,  volume 25 (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  1. The Walking Dead, volume 26 (graphic novel via Hoopla)
  1. Crafting with Feminism by Bonnie Burton (ebook via Overdrive)
  1. On Writing by Stephen King (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. The Geeky Chef by Cassandra Reeder (ebook via Hoopla)
  1. The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba (audiobook via Hoopla)
  1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu  (ebook via Hoopla) (audiobook via Overdrive)
  1. Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins (ebook via Overdrive)
  1.  Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, poetry collection by Langston Hughes (ebook via Overdrive)


I did notice that some books are easier to consume as audiobooks, depending on the skill of the reader. For instance, Mort(e) was an incredible audiobook; however, if I’d just read the text, I would have missed the reader’s insight and humor. On the other hand, I think I would have enjoyed Winter, the last installment of the Lunar Chronicles, much more as pure text. The voices the reader chose to give the characters didn’t necessarily fit, and sometimes I just found them annoying.

Poetry, in general, I prefer to consume in paperback form in order to preserve the formatting. However, some poetry books were either only available as ebooks or simply easier to acquire in digital form. Overdrive, the library checkout program I use, has a system in place for some poetry so that minimal formatting is lost.

If you’d like to discuss any of the books in my list, feel free to comment below or contact me through Twitter or FaceBook. In the meantime, have a lovely week!

Books: Best Reads of 2015

In 2015, I read (as well as put down) more books than in previous years. As a result, I plan on simply posting a non-descriptive list of the fiction and non-fiction I’ve consumed in the past year. However, the wonderfully witty and erudite John Wiswell posed the questions:

What are your favorite books that you read this year? Not what was written or published in 2015, but that you personally read and loved for the first time. Fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry and sequential art are all welcome. You can handle the number and format as you like.

The answers, via twitter, will be posted under #BestReads2015. And since I’m waiting to post my list until later to include as many books as possible, I’m looking forward to this as a supplemental description of my favorite reads of the year.*

As far as I’m concerned, format does not matter. Ebooks, paperbacks, graphic novels, and audiobooks all count as books. Saying a paperback is the only “real” book makes as much sense as saying only scrolls count as real texts, because bound manuscripts are for wusses. I am not including books I have read previously and chose to read again. Oh, and I’m including books series as if they were single books, because–well, let’s face it, many times they read as one extended story. I may have already read one book of a series, but I’ll count the whole series if I continued reading it in 2015.

The Walking Dead graphic novels:

I read the entire series, volumes one through twenty-four, in a two month period. I had already read the first five books, but since I had forgotten them I had to reread them before moving on. I couldn’t put the series down. For those of you who have been living under a rock, The Walking Dead is not about zombies. It’s about people surviving in the zombie apocalypse and how this adversity changes them. Specifically, it follows a good man, Rick Grimes, as he’s forced to rethink his approach to life in a uncivilized world where he must fight to survive and protect those he loves. The questions the series asks are deep, the characters layered, and anyone who says graphic novels don’t count as actual books needs to actually pick one up and read it.

The Dorothy Must Die (novel series) by Danielle Paige:

Since I’ve always had a penchant for reimaginings of classic stories, this continuation of the Oz stories struck a special chord with me. I’ve read Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise and am anxiously waiting for my library to make the next few books available to me.*** While not particularly deep, a quality I do not think all fiction needs to have, they are pure fun.

The Giver Quartet (novel series) by Lois Lowry:

The series begins with The Giver, a young adult classic, which I had already read several times. However, I only discovered this year that Lowry had continued the story of Jonas and the world in which he lived. While the second book, Gathering Blue, was about a completely different character, the third book Messenger ties the first two books together. Son, the final installment, is an epic and wonderful morality tale.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott:

I listened to this audiobook in order to participate in a historical fiction book club at one of my local libraries. One of my resolutions for 2015 was to read more nonfiction, and I’ve never been drawn to bibliographies nor histories. However, this one was an exception. The book, while fiction, focused on the lives of four real female spies: two for the Union, two for the Confederacy. Belle Boyd and Rose O’Neal Greenhow conducted, rather flamboyantly, espionage for the South, while Emma Edmonds and Elizabeth Van Lew fought in their own ways for the North. I thought some of the focus was a bit skewed, with the author picking unlikable Southern characters and more admirable Northern ones, but it was still fascinating. When I finished the book, I conducted some of my own research and determined to read more historical accounts of these (and other) fascinating women.

The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen:

I searched out material on Mary Bowser because I felt her story hadn’t been addressed as well as I would have liked in Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. Born a slave, she was freed by her owner and recruited to spy in the Confederate White House as a maid. Filled with danger, intrigue, and compelling personal history, this fictionalized account of her life is another book that I simply couldn’t put down.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

Another book outside my comfort zone, I downloaded this through Earlier in the year, I had read Hemingway and how much he admired Dostoyevsky’s writing. I was admittedly a bit intimidated from previous exposure to Russian literature, but after hearing Crime and Punishment described during an episode of Freaks and Geeks, I decided to give it a try. Who says you can’t get good book recommendations from television?

Anyway, the novel follows the thoughts and actions of Raskolnikov, a student who reasons to himself that he would be doing the world a favor by killing an immoral pawnbroker and using her money to perform good deeds. With the exception of the actual crime, which is incredibly brutal, not a lot happens at first. There’s a lot of introspection, he walks around depressed and gets sick, and his family and friends worry about him even though he’s incredibly rude and cruel to them. I have to admit, it took me awhile to get into the characters and see what drew people to this classic of Russian literature. But I did see it.

I began by only reading 2.5% each day (Thor bless ebook software), because it seemed slow to get into but perhaps worth the effort. However, halfway through the book, I began to read faster and become attached to the characters. By the end, nothing was as simple or as black and white as it first appeared. Everything was nuanced and layered, and I still think about this book frequently. It’s one of the most thoughtful books I’ve ever read.

Old School by Tobias Wolff:

I read this book as part of The Big Read, an annual event sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts. Every year, the Massillon library, Massillon Art Museum, and several other local places take part and promote whatever book has been chosen for the year. 2015’s selection, Old School, was given away for free in various places around Massillon, Ohio; book discussions and promotions were done throughout the month; and the program culminated with a public talk and book signing by Tobias Wolff. My son and I attended the talk and are both proud owners of autographed copies. It was incredibly inspiring and instructional.

The actual book itself was something that–had I not heard so much about it–I would never have picked up on my own. Old School is a semi-fictionalized autobiographical tale of a young boy attending an all boys school. The school held a writing contest for its students each year, and the winner would get a private audience with a famous author. Over the course of the novel, the scheduled authors are Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, and Ernest Hemingway; literary legends that the teenage students idolized and competed heavily to win an audience with. However, for the main character, events unfold in a way he never anticipated. This book is proof positive that great literature must be unreservedly honest, and it both breaks your heart and makes it soar. I know how corny that sounds, but just trust me and read the book. It’s incredible.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day:

I read this autobiography because 1. I adore pretty much everything Felicia Day does, 2. its release this year lined up with my resolution to read more nonfiction, and 3. the title caught my attention (yeah, I admit it). While Felicia Day may be known to you as the creator and star of The Guild, she also began the Geek and Sundry YouTube channel, starred in Doctor Horrible, and earned a double major degree in math and music when she graduated college at the age of nineteen. This biography felt very honest and personal, and I truly felt I learned some life lessons within its pages.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:

This book came with a LOOTCRATE delivery, and I had saved it for my son since he’s obsessed with videogames. However, I got tired of waiting for him to read it, snagged the book for myself, and loved it. It’s a nostalgic and fun trip for anyone who was a teenager in the eighties, and I was surprised to discover it even had a moral and at times made me cry (in a good way).

Shada (Doctor Who) by Gareth Roberts, based on material from the Douglas Adams screenplay:

If you are familiar with my online presence at all, you probably are aware of my obsession with the work of the late, great Douglas Adams. If not, I’m obsessed with the work of the late, great Douglas Adams. In addition to writing the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, the Dirk Gently books, and Last Chance to See, he also wrote for the television series Doctor Who. I was surprised and delighted to find that he drew on his Doctor Who experience when creating the Hitchhiker and Dirk Gently series, and Shada contained many things I recognized from his other books. This was an informative look into the workings of my favorite author as well as an incredibly fun read.

Counter-Clock World by Philip K. Dick:

This book is weird. I mean, really, really Weird–with a capital W. That’s the main reason it stayed with me. And although there is a plot with a love triangle and racial tensions, the main thing about this book that is so weird is that people live backwards. They think forwards in time, as we do, but for some reason they live physically backwards. They aren’t born, but they rise from their graves; then people go to cemeteries listening to hear people calling to be let out, and they dig them up. People age backwards. They don’t really eat, instead they…well, you don’t want to know. Like I said, weird. Memorable, but weird, but so completely out of the box that I had to include it in the list.

So, what books have you really enjoyed in 2015? What books do you plan to read in the coming year? I look forward to your reading recommendations!






*I know that favorites and best are not necessarily synonymous. Rather, I chose to highlight the books I either couldn’t put down or that stuck with me long after I set them down.

**I prefer ebooks, but I am currently boycotting Barnes & Noble Nook books because they removed the ability to download the books without having to go through the Nook app. It’s the format I have always preferred, so now I either check out my ebooks through the library, buy or download them through another party. I also dislike Kindle format. As a result, I haven’t been able to get the next books as quickly as I would have liked, even though I would happily pay for them. Library digital checkouts were completed largely through the Overdrive app, as well as Hoopla.