My collection of free short stories. Because nothing else in life is free.


An Interview With The Sly Ben Sobieck

L. Vera: Ben Sobieck, It’s nice to have you here. If you haven’t been keeping up, I’ve been interviewing non stop for over a week, and I’m pretty much on a roll here. So I’m happy I tracked you down.

Ben Sobieck: I wear a lot of camo, so it’s understandable. I’m happy to be back here in reality, virtually.

 L. Vera: So here’s a quick, offbeat question. Tell me the best place to hide in your home if anyone played Hide and Seek there.

Ben Sobieck: Anywhere but the office. I rarely come out of my hole.

L. Vera: Hopefully no thieves are reading this.

I really enjoyed your story “The Last Injustice”. I think any story with a grandfather and their grandson causing trouble, is always a fun read? Please don’t tell me this is based on a true story.

Ben Sobieck: No, it’s not a true story. It involves a terminally ill grandpa going nuts one night. He brings along his grandson/daughter (I never make it real clear so as to allow the reader to insert him/herself). The grandkid tries to figure out what’s making grandpa be so crazy, outside of the illness. It’s a rhetorical question that isn’t completely answered. I want the reader to take a bird’s eye view of life and create their own meaning.

L. Vera: So why have this piece in Burning Bridges? Was it something written especially for the anthology?

Ben Sobieck: First off, “Burning Bridges” is one helluva anthology. It has this punk rock/indie spirit running through it. A bunch of authors, disgruntled with how they were treated by a particular individual, got together to make a statement. It wasn’t anything vengeful. More like, “We got hosed, but we’re not slowing down. We’re burning a bridge and we’re never looking back.”

The grandpa character in my story feels the same way, but with life overall. His only purpose left in life is to die, and he can’t stand to go through with it. He can’t look in the past, either, since it’s too painful. He’s stuck, full of guilt, and he just goes nuts. On the other side of things, the grandkid has an entire life to anticipate. Using this contrast, I wanted to show the two options you can take in life: You can let the past eat you alive or you can look forward. I thought that matched the theme of the anthology perfectly. I hope readers agree.

L. Vera: Why should other readers download it? And what piece should they start reading first?

Ben Sobieck: They should download it because it’s full of great writing. We put this thing together out of want. We’re not making a red cent off it. This is pure passion for writing. Start from the beginning and enjoy yourself.

L. Vera: What other craziness should we expect from you in the future?

Ben Sobieck: I have these two sides to my writing. One is serious, the other is humorous. On the serious side, I’m chipping away at my next crime novel. On the lighter side, there’s always another Maynard Soloman stories on the way.

L. Vera: Ben Sobieck, a fun writer. I plan on reading on reading Cleansing Eden and maybe later I’ll grab one of your humorous detective collections. Everyone should keep up with Ben by visiting his blog and facebook page . Thanks Ben.


An Interview With The Multiple Personalities of Edith Maxwell

L. Vera:Edith Maxwell it’s nice to have you all here. If you noticed the title to this interview, I think you might have an idea of where I’m going to go with this.

Edith Maxwell: I do! We’re happy to be here, too.

L. Vera: How many pen names do you have?

Edith Maxwell: Tace Baker is the first pen name I am using professionally. My three-book Local Foods Mysteries contract with Kensington Publishing specified that I couldn’t publish any other mysteries as Edith Maxwell during the terms of the contract. When I landed a contract with Barking Rain Press to publish Speaking of Murder, the first in my Speaking of Mystery series, I needed to come up with a pseudonym. You can read about my process here.   I finally settled on Tace, an old Quaker name, because my protagonist Lauren Rousseau, is a Quaker linguistics professor. And Baker is at the front of the alphabet and easy to spell (and I love to bake!).

L. Vera: I’ve also had plan to use the pen name, “4”? What do you think? I was thinking of releasing my sci-fiction under that name and having a whole persona behind it.

Edith Maxwell: “4” is intriguing. I wonder if it would be difficult to make people understand it is a name, though.

L. Vera: The reason I chose L. Vera was because it’s hard to tell my gender. Just by correcting people, I’ve met lots of people.

So you and Tace Baker each have a story in Burning Bridges. Why did you decide to get those stories in “Burning Bridges”?

Edith Maxwell: Speaking of Murder  is the book for which I burned a bridge behind me, by withdrawing from my contract with a fraudulent so-called publisher. I wanted to honor the other authors who went through the same kind of grief by joining the collection. And since Tace is just starting her writing career, she needed a short story pub credential.

L. Vera:What can we expect those stories to be about?

Edith Maxwell: Both of my stories are about revenge and burning bridges of a sort, so I thought they’d be a good fit. One describes a writer who needed an idea for a crime story, and decided to make it come true, as well. The other could be seen as murder out of compassion or out of greed, or both. My villains are just that, kind of bad people at heart.

L. Vera:In the future, where will we find your stories in? And any other pen names we should look forward to seeing?

Edith Maxwell: Speaking of Murder will be out from Barking Rain Press in early fall of 2012 in both paperback and e-formats. Look for, @tacebaker, and Tace Baker on Facebook and Amazon. I’d love a follow and a Like! The first Local Foods Mystery,A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, featuring organic farmer Cam Flaherty, will be out next spring from Kensington Publishing. I hope a few other short stories will pop up here and there, too!

A lot of friends actually call me Max, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I found a way to write under that name, too.

L. Vera: Thank you, Edith Maxwell. It was a pleasure to have you on my blog and I look forward to reading your stories in Burning Bridges. Please visit Edith Maxwell’s blog and amazon page, follow her on Twitter, and give Edith M. Maxwell a Like on Facebook.

Edith Maxwell: Thanks so much for having me on, Luis. And good luck with your writing career, too.

An Interview With The Super Human Heath Lowrance

L. Vera: Heath Lowrance, man of many words, at least I would hope so. It’s nice to have you here Heath.

Heath Lowrance: Thanks, L.

L. Vera: Tell me a little about how you became a writer? Was it radiation? Revenge? Standing to close to a microwave?

Heath Lowrance: I was bitten by an irradiated Harlan Ellison, and eventually learned that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

L. Vera: I knew it. I’ve read your story “A Freeway on Earth”, and it’s so far my favorite story in Burning Bridges. Did you specifically write this one for me?

Heath Lowrance: I wrote it for you and every other working stiff living a life dictated by an alarm clock. Really, “A Freeway on Earth” was born out of frustration with the day job, and how such a huge chunk of our lives are very jealously owned by someone else. I hate that. And I hate that I would get so anxious and nervous about being even a minute late, because the people that owned my time would read me the riot act about it.

So “Freeway” is about day job anxiety.

L. Vera: Why did you choose to get Burning Bridges together? You and Ben Sobieck were the brains behind the operation, you guys don’t have better things to do?

Heath Lowrance: It just seemed like something that needed to happen. Here’s this group of diverse and amazing writers, all with one thing in common (they’d each been burnt by an unsavory experience with a small press). They’d all crossed over a particular sort of bridge. I loved the idea that this one common experience had brought all these different sorts of writers together. Someone (I think it might have been YOU, L., but I can’t really remember) suggested, maybe half-jokingly, that we do an anthology, I seconded it, and bamm-o, next thing you know here we are. I volunteered to compile it because, you know, I only had three other projects that were way past due, why not add a fourth?

L. Vera: It may have been me. I know I’m always trying to get writers together to make our own website, but no such luck so far. I’m actually very happy this anthology happened. I have already heard lots of good things about the other writers and it was an honor to be included. Was there another writer out there that you wanted to include, that didn’t make it onto the pages of Burning Bridges?

Heath Lowrance: Well, I would’ve loved if our Nigel Bird had the time to do a story. I admire his work greatly. But despite that, I think we managed to gather up a pretty stellar list of contributors.

L. Vera: I was hoping to find him in there as well. Where will I be able to find your books and what else should expect to see you in?

Heath Lowrance: You can always hit my Amazon page. My novel THE BASTARD HAND is still available, as is my short story collection DIG TEN GRAVES. My second full-length novel, CITY OF HERETICS, is coming out soon from Snubnose Press. And there’s two or three other things coming in the next couple of months. Follow my non-award winning blog, Psycho Noir, for updates and details and what-not.

L. Vera: Heath Lowrance, an incredible writer. It was glad to have you on my blog and I hope to see more of your stuff. Till then I just started Dig Ten Graves, great so far and if others want to keep up visit Heath Lowrance’s blog and amazon page.

Heath Lowrance: Thanks for having me.

An Interview with the Flying Allan Leverone

L. Vera: Allan Leverone, it’s a pleasure to have you here on my blog.

Allan Leverone: Hey, Luis, thanks for having me – I hope I don’t drive away all your readers…

L. Vera: Impossible. I hope.

Once again, I like to start off with a little off-beat question. So off the top of my head, since I know you’re an air traffic controller . . .  who’s worse Pilots or Airport Security?

Allan Leverone: Well, I don’t have to deal with airport security on a regular basis, but on the other hand, I’m not normally in danger of getting groped by pilots, so it’s probably a wash. And, while pilots can occasionally be difficult to work with, if it weren’t for them, I’d be out of a job, so I can’t complain too much about them. Plus, if they want to land at the airport they have to do what I say, so most of the time we get along fine.

L. Vera: Sounds like a fun job. Ever think of a story idea while telling pilots what to do?

Allan Leverone: Occasionally, although it’s kind of funny – I was having little to no success getting anyone to pay attention to my work back in 2007, when I attended Thrillerfest, in New York. I was pitching a novel to an agent and he was completely uninterested in the concept. To pass the time, he asked me what I did for work, and when I told him, he looked at me like I might just be the dumbest person he ever met. He asked why I hadn’t written an air traffic control thriller, and I had no good answer for him. A couple of months later I began work on the manuscript that eventually became FINAL VECTOR, and things have gotten better and better, writing-wise, ever since. I wish I could remember the agent’s name, because I would love to thank him!

By the way, I’m not saying I’m NOT the dumbest person that agent ever met, but I figure literary agents meet a lot of people in their line of work; what are the odds this one never met anyone dumber than me?

L. Vera: Low, I hope.

I’ve read “Dead Weight”, found in Burning Bridges, and wondered where the inspiration came from for such a story?

Allan Leverone: “Dead Weight” is a story with real relevence for me, because the major plot element is something I have personal experience with. I’m not a mob accountant in real life, so if you read the story, you can probably figure out which major plot point I’m talking about. While I didn’t handle the situation in the manner my main character does in “Dead Weight,” I can’t say the thought didn’t occur to me. But in the end, the story is about a parent giving up everything for his child, a subject most parents can relate to pretty easily.

L. Vera: Why Burning Bridges? Why did “Dead Weight” find it’s way with those lovely band of misfits?

Allan Leverone: I was really excited to have the opportunity to contribute a story to BURNING BRIDGES, not just because of the ideal it represents, but also because it was being edited by Heath Lowrance, a guy I have a tremendous amount of respect for. Everyone who contributed to the anthology was burned by a relationship with an unsavory upstart publisher a while back, and a few months ago, someone had the idea of striking back through an anthology. BURNING BRIDGES is the result, and while I admit I’m a little biased, I think the result is truly spectacular.

L. Vera: What should we expect from you in the future, besides fame and fortune?

Allan Leverone: Well, while I’m certainly not about to turn down fame OR fortune should they come knocking, my goal is always to concentrate on the things I can control. For a writer, as you know, that means continually working to improve, and putting out the highest quality work I can. There are so many outstanding writers generating so much outstanding material that it’s really easy to get lost in the shuffle, and there’s a very real element of chance involved in determining who gets noticed and who falls by the wayside.

That said, I have a lot of stuff coming up that I’m very excited about. I just released my third horror novella, THE BECOMING, about a twelve year old boy who accidentally unleashes a horrific force when he explores a long-abandoned coal mine in Pennsylvania. I regained the rights to my first thriller, FINAL VECTOR, from Medallion Press and will soon re-release it in ebook form. And I’m working hard on the sequel to my novel, PASKAGANKEE, which should be available in a couple of months, titled REVENANT.

I just keep writing and hope good things happen.

L. Vera: I’ve already read half of Burning Bridges and think it’s a must read for anyone who simply like good short stories. I think a gateway drug to many other crazy books, but I suggest you delve in and not look back. Also check out Allan at his blog and on Amazon.

Allan Leverone: I couldn’t agree more. Thanks very much for having me, Luis, and here’s to brisk sales a great reviews!

An Interview with the Menacing Joshua J. Mark

L. Vera: Hi. It’s a pleasure to have you here on my blog.

Joshua J. Mark: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

L. Vera: I wanan start with an important question. Which do you prefer dogs or cats?

Joshua J. Mark: Definitely dogs. I live with one dog and four cats. We’re outnumbered. It’s a tragic scenario. My wife and daughter are cat lovers so my evil plan to leave the back door open for a night and then say, “Cats? What cats? We had cats?” will never be realized.

L. Vera: I read on B. R. Stateham’s blog you once had a dog named “Milkbone”. Ever write him, symbolically, in a story?

Joshua J. Mark: Yes, he’s shown up in various forms through the years mostly as a symbol of loss having nothing to do with an actual dog. He does make a realistic appearance in my novel `Other People’s Dreams’, though.

L. Vera: Should we expect a dog in “Safety First”, found in Burning Bridges?

Joshua J. Mark: No dogs in `Safety First’ – only on obsession which steadily grinds down the mind of the narrator.

L. Vera: Why Burning Bridges? Why with such a colorful authors?

Joshua J. Mark: I’m really, deeply, honored to be included with the other writers in`Burning Bridges’. I think the title is great, the stories are great, and I love how the project developed in response to a disappointment we all shared together in the publishing world.

L. Vera: If I were to stalk your work what should I expect to see in the future, at the end of my binoculars.

Joshua J. Mark: I’m presently marketing my Paranormal Young Adult novel, `The Girl from Yesterday’ and I have two others already written in the Rebecca Pender series (a girl who sees and talks to ghosts)so I’m hoping you’ll see that in the not-so-distant future. I’m also in the process of re-writing this other novel, `Other People’s Dreams’ about a guy who discovers he can make everyone around him happy by lying to them about pretty much everything.

L. Vera: Awesome, I’m actually about to read your story in my copy of Burning Bridges, which is out today. Free on Smashwords and .99 on Amazon, which will be donated to “Literacy for Incarcerated Teens”. Thank you and I hope to have you on again.

Joshua J. Mark: Thanks. It was a pleasure.

An Interview With The Scottish Mouthed McDroll

L. Vera: McDroll, I’m happy to find you busy and awaiting the release of Burning Bridges. It is a pleasure to have you on my blog and don’t worry I’m already a pro at this.

McDroll: I’ve read your previous interviews and I’m surprised you’ve not already got your own Saturday night chat show.

L. Vera: Oh, you. Let’s talk about you. If you had to chose one word that I (being an American) would need to know, if I was going to visit Scotland? Keep in mind I already know many foul words.

McDroll: There’s so many colourful words that I could teach an impressionable young lad like you Luis from shoogle to foochle but if you were ever to visit Scotland then you’d definitely need to have a grasp of bahoochie as you Americans are always talking about your ass.

L. Vera: “Bahoochie” I’ll try to fit that in a conversation today. So, “No Turning Back”, is in Burning Bridges. Why did you chose Burning Bridges for your story?

McDroll: I jumped at the chance to be included in an anthology with so many brilliant writers. I love Julia Madeleine and her novel No One To Hear you Scream was one of my top 10 reads of the year so I’m just thrilled to be in her company!

L. Vera: So what’s inside the story, “No Turning Back”?

McDroll: One of my friends happened to mention that the police have a new tactic in the local drug dealing business and as soon as I heard about it, I just knew that I had to use it in a story! I can’t say anymore because of spoilers!

L. Vera: I notice in your stories a lot of kids can’t speak properly. Do you think kids nowadays are just lazy? Or just don’t care?

McDroll: Even in Argyll, land of hills and glens, the youth of today are influenced in their speech by all the American TV that swamps the airwaves;-) I love eavesdropping so that I can pick up little gems in conversations. I love how people talk to each other, it’s so colourful and something I overhear will spark off a story.

L. Vera: Which came first, the title or the story? Because I must know.

McDroll: The story always comes first with me. I find titles quite hard so always wait until the story’s finished hoping that some kind of inspiration will hit!

L. Vera: So what’s next for McDroll?

McDroll: (I’ve now published 3 parts of my serialised novel, The Wrong Delivery. I need to get busy on part 4 which will probably be the last part, I think. It’s a crime drama set in Argyll, not a place particularly known for crime in Scotland, and shows how people’s lives can spiral out of control from making just a few poor choices. When I’m finally finished with that project, I’d like to try to write something longer about my two favourite characters, Beeny and Jango.

L. Vera: McDroll at her finest. Grab Burning Bridges on Amazon on Today. Also, check out McDroll at her blog and buy her books on Amazon.

An Interview With The Rootiness Tootiness Writer, B. R. Stateham

L. Vera: Wow, B. R. Stateham. I’m happy to have the chance to ask you a couple of questions. I hope you feel comfortable here at my blog.

B. R. Stateham: No problem, Luis. Always willing to have a conversation about writing, writers, my characters, and about creating story lines. A writer talking with writers, and fans of writers, is always a pleasant experience.

L. Vera: Thank you. Okay now with the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get to the guts and blood. When was the last time you killed someone?

B. R. Stateham: Let’s see . . . it was day before yesterday, I believe. Wrote a Smitty story about Smitty having another ‘talent’ in his hit-man trade; that of being a professional ‘cleaner.’ Cleaning up the mess others leave behind. Come to think of it, in another piece I am writing (not a Smitty piece) a couple of characters are about to get whacked. Hmmm . . . bloody old fart, aren’t I?!

L. Vera: After reading “A Gift”, in Burning Bridges, I’m convinced Smitty, the cold blooded killer, is actually you. How close I’m I from the truth? And don’t tell me if you tell me you’re going to have to kill me.

B. R. Stateham: Mmmmmm . . . maybe deep down in the subconscious you might be right. I think both the writer and the fans find characters they identify with and secretly wish they could clone into. Certainly a few fans have come to enjoy the Smitty stories that way. The consummate killer who knows how to kill and disappear into the night? There’s something vicariously intriguing about that concept. We find that character thru several genres from Horror thru Westerns. The mystery/detective genre is full of ’em.

L. Vera: So what will we find inside the story, “A Gift”?

B. R. Stateham: An acquaintance of Smitty’s asks the killer to protect his only child from harm. He does, and in the process (and in an allegorical sense) gives the acquaintance an opportunity to cross a bridge and embrace a different life. A simple explanation, to be sure; but the story is a little more grimly painted.

L. Vera: Awesome. How many Smitty stories are out there? And where could we find them all?

B. R. Stateham: Oh goodness, who knows!! Smitty hopefully will last a long time. Currently I’m writing his first full length novel. And then I collect the Smitty stories when enough of them have been written and put them in an on-going anthology. Two of them are out now. Call Me Smitty: Dirty Little Secrets and Call Me Smitty: See You in Hell are available thru Amazon. As to where yo can find the individual stories I send them out to many of the on line ezines. And I share a few of them on my blog site In The Dark Mind of B.R. Stateham.

L. Vera: When you came up with the story, which came first, the title or the story?

B. R. Stateham: The story comes first. Always the story. The title usually comes from a line out of the story itself. For me it seems so easy to find a line or two that can be used for the title. But the story first (and I might add it’s usually first an image, or an idea, first set down and then the building of the story around that image or idea). I like writing this way. It’s fresh and exciting . . . and many times quite surprising . . . what comes along doing it this way.

L. Vera: How many more deaths should we expect in your writing career? (Please talk about future stories and books with your writing that’s coming out)

B. R. Stateham: Haven’t a clue! Currently I’m piddling with four novels I’m writing plus numerous short stories. There’s the Smitty novel (tentatively called The Ripper). And then the third book in the Turner Hahn/Frank Morales series (a couple of homicide detectives); and there’s the second book in the art thief/detective character named Jake Reynolds. And the third book in the Roland of the High Crags Fantasy series. So there’s enough there to keep me going for a long, long time.

L. Vera: That’s B.R. Stateham folks and I was glad to have him here. Don’t forget to read Burning Bridges hitting the #1 free spot on Amazon on Today. Also, check out B. R. Stateham at his blog, but tread lightly I swear he’s a cold blooded killer.