Tone Milazzo And His Spirit-Trapping Characters

Running Wild Press

I’m delighted to introduce my readers to Tone Milazzo, author of “The Ginger Jar” in Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. I love this story, which opens with a character checking his trap line — a spirit trap line!

Here’s Tone Milazzo (and what looks like one badass Poodle):

Tone Milazzo

Let’s start at the beginning, the first paragraph of Tone’s story:

Cinque Williams finished his geometry homework in time to patrol his turf and check his traps for spirits. He knocked on his cousin’s open door. Darren lay back on his twin bed, lights on, headphones on, eyes closed, blocking the window. Cinque leaned in to the older boy’s face. “Yo.”

I can see that so clearly. What inspired you to write The Ginger Jar?

Two things.

1) I wanted to revisit Cinque Williams, the character from my first novel. A YA urban-fantasy called Picking Up the Ghost. The book didn’t get the exposure it deserved and I’m hoping The Ginger Jar changes that.

2) I’ve always wanted to ripoff a bit from an episode of the Twilight Zone.  “Talent borrows. Genius Steals!” If I’m successful, then no one will recognize what I’ve stolen and they’ll have to acknowledge my genius. Somehow. Maybe. I don’t have the logic worked out all the way.

What would you like readers to take away from The Ginger Jar?

I’d like to leave the reader thinking, “Boy that was a neat story. I’m going to ripoff a bit of it and call it my own.”

My late father, an artist, always said, “If your work is good enough to steal, then you’re pretty damn good at what you do.”

How long have you been writing?

I started working on pitches for comics book series back in 2000. After a few years, I decided it might be easier to get a novel published than to break into comics. Artists are expensive. There were a number of things that bugged me about the fantasy genre at the time. After I wrote them up in a list. ( I decided to put my money where my mouth was and write a book that inverted these seven tired tropes. That’s where Picking Up the Ghost came from.

The Faith Machine is my second novel and it’s currently out with my agent, seeking publication. It’s a psychic, espionage thriller inspired by Jon Ronson’s non-fiction book The Men who Stare at Goats. The elevator pitch is, “A Korean-American James Bond leads the X-Men through a case from the X-Files.”

Sounds like a fascinating read! Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

I wish. I used to be a web developer, but I’m changing careers. I haven’t been happy with tech for awhile. When I got into it in the late 90s it all seemed so Utopian. The Internet was going to bring us all together as a benevolent hive-mind. Now it’s all tracking codes, ads, and trolls. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m still stuck with a day job. I’m not sure what it will be.

I wish, too. So many of us must have day jobs. We can live in hope, eh?

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

For novels, I’ve had success with plot outlines. I used the classic Hero’s Journey outline for Picking Up the Ghost. But it tends to break down when writing anything other than an origin story. I wanted The Faith Machine to be film friendly, so the core plot of that book is based on the Save the Cat screenwriting outline. Save the Cat applies to a wider range of stories, but it’s not enough to fill a novel on it’s own. Fortunately, The Faith Machine has an ensemble cast and I was able to fill out the page count with side quests and subplots.

Short fiction is just too short for either of those. I’m still working out my preferred starting structure for short fiction. I’m testing out Dan Harmon’s 8 point plot structure and the try-fail cycle.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

Whenever I can get in a Pomodoro. That’s a 25 minute sprint of writing followed by a 5 minute break. If I’m lucky I can get in two or three in a row. Sometimes that’s all I need to get in 1000 words for the day.

I envy writers who can write good stuff during blasts. I’m one of those sad writers who need long binges to produce anything worth reading.

Speaking of reading, what’s on your list?

I’m not too crazy about the book I’m currently reading, but I’m going to finish it because I might meet the author one day and don’t want to admit I gave up on them.

Oh, gosh, it’s one of mine, isn’t it? It is, I just know it. Not that I have confidence issues or anything . . . but back to your reading list.

Let me talk about the last thing I really enjoyed reading; Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy; Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. They made a movie out of the first one. Unfortunately they cut out all the paranoia and politics.

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

I’m pitching a comic book series called Dead Women. It’s Seven Samurai but instead of swordsmen the heroes are undead women; a ghost, a vampire, a bog zombie, a skeleton, etc. The first six pages are finished and posted here:

For my third novel I’m trying to tap into American, white, male frustration in a positive way. We’ll see how that goes. No title yet, but it’s about a guy who traveled back in time to save the world. When he returns to the present no one remembers his great heroic act, and there’s a better, more likable version of him with his wife, career, home and otherwise living his life. “What if you saved the world and nobody knew? Or cared?”

I love that idea!

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

There’s a lot of advice out there, none of it’s law. Pick and choose what rules to follow until you find what works for you. And what works for you one day might not work next week.

Where can readers learn more about you and your works?




Instagram (mostly pictures of dogs):

Thanks so much for being here. Readers, go check out Tone Milazzo at his links. And for the love of Pete, read his book PICKING UP THE GHOST at And don’t forget to download the Anthology

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When One Big Paragraph Becomes A Short Story – Andrew Adams

Author Andrew Adams

Running Wild Press


As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. I’ve been sharing the first paragraph of each short story. I can’t do that today, because—TA DA!!—Andrew Adams’s short story is one paragraph, one very big paragraph. In fact, it’s called “The Life and Death of  One Big Paragraph.” Andrew was kind enough to give us a chunk of it:

With seven short words he was born. One could argue that he was conceived with the first word or even before the first word, but with seven words it was clear that he had been born. He grew bigger with each word. He had not figured himself out yet and did not know how his life would be, but merely invented what he would do next through trial and error. Part of him knew that as he went along and learned to walk and tripped and jumped to keep his balance, that his life would surely end and that the faster and longer he went on, the closer he came to his inevitable demise. It did not bother him at first so he continued walking and talking and doing whatever seemed right at the time. As the days passed he grew nervous and thought obsessively of his impending doom. Since he knew it was to end someday, he drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, experimented with drugs, masturbated, and had sex with any partner he could find. He realized that his hedonistic actions would most likely shorten his lifespan even more, but was happy with the fact that they added a few more sentences to his life. He knew that it was important for him to try everything he could: travel, read great novels, try great wines, look for God, and maybe even find true love. He picked up the guitar and learned to play. He stayed up late and stared at the stars, reflecting on how small he was in this great universe. He met a woman, married her, and they had children. He wanted his children to be happy so he got a job at a successful company so he could pay for their education, food, candy, toys, and movies. The job was grueling work and it took up a lot of his time. His wife and children complained that he was never at home. He told them that he was working at the job because he loved them, but he also knew that he shouldn’t be spending his short life away from his family, bombarded by work. He eventually quit the job when he had accumulated enough money. He and his wife went on a vacation with their kids who were teenagers and complained about things their parents said or did, but they all loved each other underneath it all and were happy.

Here’s Andrew.

Author Andrew Adams

Andrew, welcome to the blog. What inspired you to write “The Life and Death of One Big Paragraph?”

Back in 2011, I had this idea of a story falling down. That a story wasn’t just a story but something that was doomed to end just like life ended in death. Then I started writing it and must have been partly inspired by EL Doctorow’s Ragtime and Raymond Carver’s “Will You Please be Quiet Please?” which make their own sort of cameos in the piece. 

What would you like readers to take away from your story?

I would like them to laugh, especially at the parts which made me laugh, and I hope they don’t get too bogged down by the format of the giant paragraph but just find the playful rhythm within.

How long have you been writing?

Since early high school, maybe even earlier if you count silly imitations and comic stories I wrote for school back in 5th grade. Maybe even earlier if you count the beginning of a novel I started co-writing with a friend during free period in 4th grade; it was a knock off of those Redwall books except the main characters were squirrels if I remember correctly, but I didn’t start setting a real intention and discipline until 2010, the year I graduated from college.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

Unfortunately, I do not. I open doors for people who make more money than I do, more specifically I work security at fancy retail stores in New York. I also work in catering and have done background work on TV shows. In addition to writing I am pursuing acting, having just recently graduated from a 2 year program at The William Esper Studio.

Those are the kinds of jobs that provide lots of writing fodder! I’ll bet you spend a great deal of time “people watching.”  

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

I think short fiction is my favorite because I can finish them while they’re hot. I get a lot of ideas and can often give up on would-be novels due to lack of a consistent schedule but often boredom and subsequent doubt of the project as a whole. Having said that I have written various novellas, 2 (or 3) novels, 2 screenplays, a TV pilot, and 2 plays.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

It used to be different before I moved to New York: I would grab a coffee or tea then go into a room and write at least 500 words. Now it happens whenever I get the time, solitude, and focus, and anything better than 1 word is progress. It requires quiet and no distractions. Distractions include the apocalyptic churning of the latte machine and any conversation whatsoever. Cafes don’t work for me unless they share the vibe of a library with trapdoors on the floor threatening to expel those who talk into The Sunken Place.

I believe we might be writing soul mates. I cannot tolerate any conversation when I’m in the zone. This is me, when interrupted:


What are you currently reading?

Generation of Swine by Hunter S. Thompson, mainly. I have also recently gotten into graphic novels, finishing the brilliant Watchmen last month and moving onto another by Alan Moore: Promethea. I have also started Demons by Dostoyevsky and Pere Goriot by Honoré de Balzac. I also just reread The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, one of my first influences. My current (but also deceased) favorite author is Graham Greene.

Your reading list makes mine look like this:


Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

My novella Horatio is forthcoming, also by Running Wild Press, in Running Wild Anthology of Novellas, Volume 2.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

The same most writers already give: Read a lot and write a lot. And live a lot. And when you have time away from living, write what you learned. 

I would also recommend On Writing by Stephen King, to any aspiring writer. On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner was also helpful for me.

I think the main thing for an artist and really anyone to realize is that even if you aren’t published, rich, famous, successful, you are still inherently worth it, as long as you are out there trying. I wrote my story seven years ago and it got published now, not because I’m any better or successful now, but just because that’s the way life works. 

Sound advice. Where can readers learn more about you and your work? and I also recently did a podcast with Tone Milazzo on Soundcloud here:

Thanks for being here, Andrew. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future.
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Suzanne Grieco-Mattaboni, Author of “Dawning”

Running Wild Press

Running Wild Press

As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Please welcome Suzanne Grieco-Mattaboni, author of the short story “Dawning.” Here’s the first paragraph to get us started:

The first week I met Renata, she sat in my visitor’s chair in my colorless casket of an office and laughed. She doesn’t have an office so she hangs out in mine. Her hair is this fake yellow/orange except at the roots, all wavy and flying.

“My friends tell me, Renata, you have no shame, girl,” she smiled. That first day, she told me she was twenty-two. When I asked her where she lived, she said with her older brother.

Great opening! What inspired you to write Dawning?

When I graduated college, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’d always been a high achiever, looking to make a B-line toward success, to make everyone proud, to ascend triumphantly and swiftly up the ladder. Then you get to the real world, and you’re at the bottom of the sh*&% pile. You’re everybody’s lackey, and you realize true success is an exasperating zig-zag. That’s defeating knowledge at first. I was also just fresh out of school, which was full of parties, and care-free living, and exhilarating new relationships. It’s a hard wall to hit when you realize that things are changing. This story is about that moment, when you realize you have to tear yourself away from a post-adolescent world and move toward an adult world. There’s a friendship in the story that represents one of the universes in question here, and a work relationship that represents the other. The protagonist in the story starts to realize she’s miserable because she’s stuck between those two worlds.

What would you like readers to take away from Dawning?

It’s okay to let go of your former self. You’re not limited by whatever you were when you started out. Change is imperative, and it will propel you toward whatever it is you choose to be. The story pulls a line from Norman Vincent Peale’s work.  He says, “Act As If.” E.g., however far you away you are from who you want to be, act as if you already are that person. That’s what makes you into who you become.  I almost entitled the story, As If.

That sounded a little too glib without context, though. Like Cher in “Clueless.”

How long have you been writing?

I have notebooks with song lyrics in them dating back to second grade.

My first professional publication was in Seventeen magazine when I was in high school. The next year I won first place in their Art and Fiction Contest. I’ve been in several anthologies and literary magazines since then, and won a few contest. I eventually went into advertising and PR, though, because the pay was better.

Impressive! Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

I’m a public relations consultant, so I write for a living, although not fiction. Corporate work is actually a good living, especially since I work with companies in the technology sector. I’ve always held my head up high by saying I found a way to earn presentable money as a writer. It’s given me a great edge to have a creative side, because I’m known as the PR gal people come to for the cool idea that no one else thought of. That and I literally have clients for whom I ghostwrite say to me, “It’s amazing how you’ve captured my voice.” That’s a fiction writing thing that I apply to my business.

I’ve also been a freelance journalist over the years. I was a community service reporter for Newsday and wrote for various regional lifestyle magazines on more fun topics like parenting, weddings, Hamptons travel, etc. I’ve done some blogging for The Huffington Post, although avoiding anything political. Again, more of a lifestyle focus. And I had an essay in a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” anthology, which is a best-selling series.

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

I’m not sure how different it is, writing short stories and writing novels. I’ve learned things as I go along in one discipline, and then have gone back and apply that to my work in the other disciplines each time. I think the clash in rules maybe be more glaring between assorted genres than between short and long forms.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

I don’t have writing days. I have writing nights. I stay up too late, typing away like a zombie on fiction, and then am a wreck the next morning. Then come the work days, where I am sucked into a vortex of press releases and reporting and conference calls. I make things happen anyway, though. I’m good at my job. Jobs.

I have no doubt. What are you currently reading?

I just finished Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, because I had been thinking the main character, Louisa Clark, was quirky and artsy yet very determined in her goals, and was therefore maybe comparable to the art student protagonist in my own novel. It’s a beautiful book—go get it right now. That, and I also just finished Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter, which I read because she grew up in the same restaurant community where my book takes place. I have to say I don’t know if I’ve read such lush and gorgeous language in a long, long time. I hope she’ll consider writing a blurb for me if, I ask really, really nicely!

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

I’m in the process of pitching a novel, women’s fiction called Excuse Me, Waitress, Is That New Jersey?  Set amid the ‘80s new wave music scene, it’s an irreverent, girl-power discovery journey type of thing.  It chronicles a group of college women, the first generation of girls who were told they could have it all—relationships, careers, friendships, creative fulfillment—and what happened when they tried to get it. Add a love triangle, slam dancers, a drag show, some bi-polar depression, and you’ve got the gist.

It’s not exactly released yet, but I’m forging forward with that supposition.

Act As If, remember?

Yes! I expect to see that book on my shelf one day.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

When I finished my novel and started going to writer’s conferences in earnest, people said, “Good luck on your journey.” They always used that word. I thought, Geez, I’m trying to publish a novel, not training to climb K2. Let’s not get dramatic.

I was wrong.

Uh huh.

My advice would be that, yes, this is an outrageously long and daunting process, fraught with abject rejection, even if you are very good at what you do.  So stick it out. Hook up with several associations and critique partners and support groups so you realize you’re not the only one facing this extended road. Journey is accurate. Maybe Epic Odyssey is accurate.

Epic Odyssey sounds about right to me.

Where can readers learn more about you and your works?

I’m revamping my web site, but you can reach me or read more rantings at:

Twitter @suzmattaboni


Good Reads


Thank you for taking time for us, Suzanne. Readers, go check her out!

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What If a Suit of Armor Could Give You The Heart of A Knight?

Running Wild Press
Running Wild Press

As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Please welcome Amelia Kibbie, author of the short story “Idylls of the King.” Here’s the first paragraph to get us started:

James glanced at his mother every few moments as they walked briskly towards the train station. Her expression was blank, though she raised her lace-trimmed handkerchief to the corners of her eyes from time to time. Once, she caught him looking, just as another family with their children trotted past, toting small luggage. The two young girls wailed openly and their mother streamed silent tears in a continuous torrent.

What inspired you to write this story?

I actually wrote this for another anthology called “Heart of Steel.” The prompt was to write an LGBT love story that featured a knight of some sort and had a happy ending. I heard about it in a writing group and wanted to participate. However, I didn’t want to go the traditional fantasy route. So I thought, what if an old suit of armor could help someone have the heart of a knight, even if they weren’t one in the traditional sense? I also have to give credit to the sequel to “The Woman in Black” which isn’t a good movie but has a cool premise — the kids removed from London to escape the bombings and move in to a isolated manor house.

I could use a suit like that!

What would you like readers to take away from your story?

This is a story of bullying, and yes, the bullies get their comeuppance, but the only way that happens is when someone EMPOWERS the bystanders. That is one of the underlying lessons here that anyone can take away. You might not be the one being targeted, but if you stand there and watch you are complicit.

An important—and timely—lesson indeed.

Amelia, how long have you been writing?

Since third grade. We had a our first ever creative writing unit and I wrote a Superfudge fan fiction.

Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

I work for a small school district. We are preschool-12th in one building and we have a daycare with babies as young as three months! I spent 10 years teaching middle school English, one year in high school, and now I am a teaching coach and part time MTSS interventionist. That means I work with kids who face barriers to success that are not in special ed. So this would include things like emotional regulation, executive functioning, some forms of autism, home problems, etc. It keeps me VERY BUSY!!

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

I used to only write long, long novels. I wrote a few short stories and considered them practice. When I hit 30 and decided this writing thing was something I really wanted to try and do, I started taking them more seriously. Especially after one won a prize. I wrote a novel but I pretty much hate it now. I love writing short stories because you get to the meat of the conflict without the extra stuff. Also editing is a breeze, and beta readers are easier to get because it isn’t such a big time commitment. If your short story fails, you wasted your time maybe, but NOT as much time as I wasted on that novel I’m sick of.

I understand all too well.

However… I am working on a novel again!

Oh, no!

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

I don’t have one. I work full time and I have a toddler. You gotta get while the gettin’s good. Mostly when she is napping on the weekends I try to get something done. I steal little bits of time when I can.

A toddler and a demanding job? I am secretly vowing to never complain about being busy again. Is there any chance you squeeze in time for reading, just for enjoyment?

My husband and I just celebrated our sixth anniversary. He planned the whole thing, which he dubbed the Anniversary-Scary. He gave me a bunch of books to read before we went on a secret spring break trip. They were ghost stories from Lincoln and Broken Bow, Nebraska, Cheyenne, Wyoming, and a new copy of The Shining. We road tripped down to Estes Park to stay at the Stanley Hotel. I powered through all those books before the trip and I’m still working on King’s collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

That. Is. Amazing. Well done, husband! (Mine sometimes pretends to be interested when I run plot ideas by him. Ha!)

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

I have a short story in the pro-human science fiction anthology (made famous by tumblr) called Humans Wanted. It’s a fantastic collection and I’m honored to be featured with other authors of such talent.

Fabulous! Readers, check that out.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

First, live a rich life. I’ve based so many of my characters and locations on places I’ve visited. You have to DO STUFF so you have a great treasure chest to pull ideas from. I think fanfiction is a great gateway to writing. I’m not hating on ff in any way, but I see it as a stepping stone to your own original work. Some people I know want to write, but they are so nose-deep in consuming the narratives of other people that they don’t give themselves room to come up with their own ideas. Lastly, keep a notebook with you for ideas, lists, clippings, etc. I call mine a commonplace book (in the tradition of the old English variety) and I can’t live without it. One night I thought I lost it and I cried for an hour before I found it.

I get it, man. I get it.

Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

Check out and click on the tab “read Amelia’s work.”

I hope they will. Thank you for being here!

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Nick Mazzuca Talks about “Buck It And Bolt”

Nick Mazzuca

Running Wild Press

As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Please welcome Nick Mazzuca, author of the short story “Buck It And Bolt.” Here’s the first paragraph to get us started:

My rig has a big ass. She moves slow – if you count hurtling through vacuum at 29000KPH as slow.  Turns like a pig and pitches like a clumsy drunk. She’s a whale. I bet my life on her every single shift.

She hasn’t killed me yet.

Intriguing! What inspired you to write this story?

It started out as an outline for a radio drama. I had the idea for a story where two people in a high-risk, high stakes situation had to communicate over radio where only one has eyes and knowing how to use the tools in front of you is how you get out alive. After running into roadblocks in creating the sound effects I needed for the ambient atmosphere of the piece I decided to turn it into a short story. Also, I have long enjoyed the notion that even in the science fiction future we’ll still need highly-capable working class folk to do the dirty, dangerous work. I got to know the bus drivers who worked my morning commute, all of whom were smart, capable, and determined – always on the bottom of the totem pole, always necessary, and just trying to get to the end of their shifts.

I usually find them more interesting than anyone else on the bus!

What would you like readers to take away from Buck It And Bolt?

I want them to get the sense of triumph and adventure that comes from being very good at a dangerous, dirty job as well as the sense of comradery that comes from sharing said job with another person.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been composing character-based narrative since the first time I got my Star Wars action figures back in the 80’s.

Funny, I was learning about romance in the 80s.


Do you write full-time? If not, what do you do for a living?

I write part-time on an as-needed basis. I left my educational admin job and became a full-time freelancer where I do mixed media, photography, video, translation, and assorted dogsbody work.

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)

I write play scripts and screenplays in addition to short fiction. In one sense short fiction is wildly different because play scripts are character- and dialogue-based. Screenplays are image- and movement-based. They’re similar that that all three are, essentially, minimalist, efficient art forms that require you to establish your characters and do your world building right off the bat.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

I pre-schedule my “shift” in my google calendar and set research, outline, pre-writing, and page goals the night before and leave a block of freestyle time to map it out on the whiteboard, then plug away.

So jealous of your discipline and organizational skills. This is actual footage of my writing style.


What are you currently reading?

I’m currently doing a re-read of Warren Ellis’ hard-boiled dystopian absurdist comic Transmetropolitan. Think Blade Runner meets Hunter S. Thompson with bigger guns and better drugs.

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

My cyberpunk trans narrative play I, Weapon got picked up for reading at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Alaska.

Oh, my gosh, congratulations!

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Keep pushing the boulder. And when it rolls back over you, give it a bit, then get pushing again.

Also: sometimes trying to get to the end of a decent draft is like punching through a wall. The wall doesn’t heal, but your hand does – so keep punching until the wall breaks.

Where can readers learn more about you and your works?

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @nickmazzuca

Check out My Interviews for more opening paragraphs from great Running Wild Press authors like Nick Mazzuca.



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Author Laura Selinsky Talks About “Seawall”

Laura Selinsky

Running Wild Press

As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2.Today, I’d like to welcome Laura Selinsky to my blog. I thoroughly enjoyed Laura’s “Seawall” short story last night. If you have aging parents, you will, too. Here’s the first paragraph:

“There were dunes here once. Great tall dunes. Wright Brothers coulda launched their plane in Jersey rather than down in Carolina.  When your grandmother was little, the town fathers burned the dune grass and pulled down the dunes.” Eleanor swept her hand towards the sea.

What inspired you to write this story?  After Hurricane Sandy, I was looking at pictures of the destruction of my 85-year-old dad’s hometown, Sea Bright, New Jersey, and I was struck by the cyclical nature of our relationship with the sea. How many times have I seen the seawalls raised and destroyed along the shore, and in alternate eras, how many times have I seen the dunes raised or leveled?  I thought that image, the seawall, made an excellent metaphor for the raising and collapsing of walls between people, even in deep-rooted relationships. In the story, I explore that cycle with a mother and daughter.

I know it well, which is perhaps why I connected instantly. The mother-daughter scene in traffic was especially good. It made me remember a trip I took with my mother to Cape May. Shoreline roads are truly challenging, especially with an elderly parent in the passenger seat.

What would you like readers to take away from your story?

I’d like them to see the hope of changing cycles in human relationships.  The reader and the well-loved may be on opposite sides of a wall now, but no wall stands for ever.

How long have you been writing?

I have written prose and poetry since I was a very little girl.  In elementary school, I even wrote an “opera” and twisted my little sisters’ arms until they performed in it for me.

Meanwhile, my siblings were twisting mine so I would stop singing. Ha!

Do you write full-time?

I write daily, as a high school English teacher for students with significant learning difficulties, but most of that writing’s in the form of reports and emails. Last year, I was privileged to write about my students for a national magazine.  I edit constantly, working with/for students, friends, and relatives.  Fiction-writing, which I love dearly, is limited primarily to school breaks.

Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.) 

I am passionate about and intimidated by a YA high fantasy series that I’ve worked on for almost a decade- that’s currently two novels and two outlines. From my perspective, the biggest difference between long and short forms is organizational.  Making sure that the character’s hair color or nephew’s age or whatever doesn’t shift from chapter to chapter is big. On the practical side, Deadlines are a very effective motivator for me, and the short window deadlines associated with short form writing are wonderful for making me get work done.  For novels, there’s no practical equivalent to having a short story drafted in two weeks to fit a submission window.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

Forty-two weeks a year, there is no “typical”— writing gets shoehorned in between other responsibilities. During spring break week, and six weeks of the summer, I garden early, then write from 9:00 am until I have to start cooking dinner.  If I have a challenge, such as a plot problem to unknot, I’ll pack my lunch, as I would for school, and take my lunch bag and coffee into my study, where I’ll confine myself to the computer until the problem is resolved.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Vic James’ contemporary fantasy Gilded Cage and Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about? 

Right now I am working on two short stories of under 1000 words that I hope to read on an upcoming podcast. Shells is about an autistic child of five and his relationship with his grandmother; I was inspired to imagine the early childhoods of persons with autism.  Pooh Sticks imagines the effects of a difficult mother on adult sisters.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

1. Write! And don’t let anyone tell that that you wasting time or doing something trivial.  There are people spending hours a day watching reality TV or nattering on about craft beer, so why shouldn’t you pour your time into writing.

2. Find a good critique group and stick with it. I rely on the women with whom I critique to keep my looking honestly at my writing (or my not writing if I’m slacking).

Where can readers learn more about you and your works?

I am easy to find through search engines. The name Selinsky is unique; Laura Nelson Selinsky, even more so. Look for “Laura Selinsky” on Twitter; I’d love to meet readers there.

If my readers search for “Julie Doherty,” they may find Miss Universe UK 2006. Oddly enough, no one has ever mistaken me for her. I wonder why . . .

Thanks for being here, Laura!

Check out My Interviews for more opening paragraphs from great Running Wild Press authors like Laura Selinsky.


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Meet New York Author Elan Barnehama

Elan Barnehama

Running Wild Press

Elan BarnehamaAs you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Today, I’d like to welcome Elan Barnehama, a New Yorker by location and a tortured Mets fan by default. He wrote “Just Be,” a short story I heartily recommend.

Elan is no stranger to publishing. His first novel, FINDING BLUEFIELD (2012), explores what happens when society’s invisible become visible. His work has appeared in many publications online and in print, and some of his stories have aired on public radio.  Elan has taught writing and literature at several colleges, led community-based writing workshops, was a fiction editor, worked with at-risk youth, coached high school varsity baseball, had a gig as a radio news guy, and did a mediocre job as a short-order cook.

Here’s the first paragraph of “Just Be” to get us started:

I returned to school in the new decade, but it felt indistinguishable from the last one. The walk to school, the classes, the teachers, the piles of homework, and the war in the jungles of Vietnam, they were unchanged.  Except Samm. Her brother had killed himself on Christmas Day, just four months after returning from Vietnam. She had changed.

Elan, what inspired you to write “Just Be?”

It’s an excerpt from ESCAPE ROUTE, my novel-in-progress.  Set in 1969 NYC, ESCAPE ROUTE is narrated by 14 year old Zach who is obsessed with the war in Vietnam, finding an escape route for when the US decides to round up its Jews, and a girl named Samm.

What would you like readers to take away from “Just Be?”

I’m hoping readers connect with the idea that often the best way to deal with tragedy is to focus on the present.

Do you write full-time?

I teach college writing and do some freelance writing and/or editing as well.

What are you currently reading?

I’m in the middle of a couple of novels.  The first, on my nightstand, the second, for when I am on the subway: The Gargoyle Hunters, John Freeman Gill, and Things That Happened Before The Earthquake, Chiara Barzini.

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

I was one of three editors that worked on a collection of stories from eleven global women. The book, A Mile In Our Shoes: Personal Stories of Global Journeys, will be published this fall by Whyte Tracks Publisher, Denmark.

Where can readers learn more about you and your works?

Twitter: @elanbarnehama

Thank you for joining us today, Elan. I hope for your sake the Mets have a good year. 😉

Check out My Interviews for more opening paragraphs from great Running Wild Press authors like Elan Barnehama.

Meet Ninja Author Tori Eldridge

Author Tori Eldridge

Running Wild Press Short Stories

Author Tori EldridgeAs you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Today, I would like to welcome Tori Eldridge to my blog. Tori wrote “Life After Breath” in the Anthology.

Man, I thought I was badass because I own a sword and a couple of tomahawks, but Tori Eldridge puts me to shame. Let’s get to the deets. First, here’s the first paragraph of “Life After Breath”:

The acrid tang of seawater and kelp clung to my skin and pierced my sinuses. The coast had been like this for days. A: a thick marine layer, trapped the heat around my legs and bit my face with cold, wet fog.

Tori, what inspired you to write “Life After Breath?”

I lived in the boonies of Malibu for twenty-two years and habitually broke my writing day with a hike up the mountains or a walk along the coast. One day, I headed out in the summer heat and got caught in a fast moving fog that was so dense it swallowed the shore and absorbed all sound except for the caw of a pair of crows racing to escape. Rather than return home, I continued walking and let my imagination run wild.

Sounds like a pretty surreal experience. It’s obvious you carried the tone of that day into the story.

What would you like readers to take away from “Life After Breath?”

I’d like the readers to delve into pathos of love, loss, horror, and redemption and come out of the story with a renewed joy for life.

How long have you been writing?

Writing is a relatively new career for me. I began my journey as an actress, singer, dancer on Broadway, television, and film before I tried my hand at writing screenplays in the late 80s. I wrote my first novel in the 90s, followed by a non-fiction about physical and emotional protection a decade later (after I earned a 5th degree black belt in To Shin Do Ninjutsu), but didn’t commit to pursuing writing as a career until six years ago.

Oh, is that all?


Do you write full-time?
Yes. I write almost every day. And because, I’m an immersive type of person, I no longer teach Ninjutsu, sing professionally, or perform in theatrical or TV/film productions. However, that’s not to say that I support myself and my family through writing. My husband does an excellent job of that, a blessing which allowed me to “stay at home” with our kids (not counting the fourteen trips to Honolulu to shoot motion capture for Final Fantasy or the tri-annual trips to various ninja seminars!) and now affords me the luxury to write full-time.

Do you only write short fiction?

Although I have several published short stories, I consider myself to be, first and foremost, a novelist. It’s a far more immersive process that requires a marathon mindset and pacing. Fortunately, I’m a self-disciplined, self-motivated person, and organized. I’m good at mapping out and accounting for my progress, which is similar to my method of outlining. Before I being the actual writing, I have the acts and scenes outlined with brief snippets describing their purpose (ie. plot advancement, character development, important info, etc.). Naturally, this changes along the way. But it’s a great comfort to have a road map of the race and an idea of how long each segment should take to accomplish.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

I’m a morning person, so I like to begin my creative work as soon as I’ve fixed my tea and set my laptop on the bistro counter. I’m also a kinetic person (having been a lifelong dancer, ninja, athlete), so I maintain my physical health by standing for the first portion of my writing day (anywhere between eleven and one). I like to snack while I write so there are meals and nuts while standing. Then I break for lunch and switch locations where I’ll either continue with creative work or switch to writing business types of tasks. Having a tiny MacBook and being an agile human, I find some rather amusing locations and positions! When I call it quits, I take a walk or hike in the hills. Then I’m on to other non-writing tasks.

Annnnnd that is why you are so fit and I’m over here planning a wake for my curvy fit pants. 


What are you currently reading?

I’m reading The Devil’s Triangle by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison and listening to Ararat by Christopher Golden.

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

I have a short story written for a disaster relief anthology coming out in the spring and I’m hoping for a book deal soon on my mystery/thriller about a modern-day female ninja with Joy Luck Club family issues that my agent is shopping. Meanwhile, I’ve got stories in Never Fear The Apocalypse and Never Fear The Tarot.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Patience and diligent effort wins the day. Whether you’re writing short stories or novels, the process takes far longer than you imagine. Enjoy the process and it will become its own reward.

That is certainly true.

Where can readers learn more about you and your works?

I have a brand new website! It’s gorgeous with tons free content–my Mindful Musings blog, the 57 podcasts from my Empowered Living Radio show, podcasts interviews with me as the guest–as well as links to all my books. I hope your readers will check it out.

I hope folks will check you out. Thank you for being here. I’m away to chop up some carrot sticks. With my dumb sword.

Check out My Interviews for more opening paragraphs from great Running Wild Press authors like Tori Eldridge.

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When Characters Eat Dirt – Ken MacGregor

Author Ken MacGregor

Running Wild Press

Author Ken MacGregorI’ve been featuring authors from Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Today, I’m delighted to welcome Ken MacGregor to my blog. Now, Ken, forgive me, but when one hosts a MacGregor on the FICTION THAT’S PLAID TO THE BONE blog, one decorates:

Author Ken MacGregor


Okay, that’s better. Sorry, but . . . MacGregor. It needed to be addressed.

Let’s have the first paragraph of your short story, “Like Chocolate,” shall we?

Vera knelt in the cold mud, waiting until she could no longer hear Johnny’s feet crunching through the fallen leaves. Her tongue tingled. A strand of saliva hung from her lower lip, almost to the ground. She worked her mouth until it fell.

Gritty! I love it! What inspired you to write this story?

While researching another story, I came across geophagia (eating dirt), and was fascinated by it. The idea of having a character discover a propensity for it by accident spawned this story.

That is fascinating. What would you like readers to take away from your story?

Hopefully, that, regardless of our circumstances, we’re all basically the same, and that what’s really important is human connection. That, or that dirt might be good to eat.

It would certainly be cheap! How long have you been writing?

Since I could hold a crayon. I’ve been getting paid for it since 2012.

Do you write full-time?

I do not. My other job is bookmobile driver for my local library.

At least you’re around books all day! Do you only write short fiction?

I’ve co-written a novel that will be published serially very soon. The difference between long and short form are fascinating. In my short fiction, I try to engage the reader immediately, and take for a quick, intense roller-coaster ride, leaving them breathless and hungry for more at the end. With a novel, there’s more time to get into the characters and their lives, their dreams, their motivations. There’s time to explore things about the world you just don’t get in the short form. Both are fun and gratifying, but my true love will always be short fiction.

What does your typical “writing day” look like?

I don’t really have one. I write whenever I have downtime: on lunch, on a break, after the kids are asleep, before anyone else gets up, while waiting for my turn at the Secretary of State, in the doctor’s office. I’m either reading a book or writing something whenever I have a spare moment.

Wait, what? What are you doing at the Secretary of State’s office?  Hey, maybe you’re so good at short fiction because you’re so short on time!

What are you currently reading?

A novel by Brian Aldiss, a collection of Isaac Babel stories, and a collection of [author redacted] stories for a publisher (as an editor).

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

My co-written, debut novel, HEADCASE, will be released late spring/early summer (in installments) from LVP Productions. Once the serials are all out, it will be released as a boxed set, and a limited edition, signed hardcover. This book has been in the works for a few years now, and we (Kerry Lipp, my collaborator, and I) are very excited to see it finally realized.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Be patient. This is a long game. You may not have anything see print for a long time. You will get rejections (I’ve had hundreds). You will wait to hear from publishers. Things take time. While you wait, work on the next thing. Also, be nice. Publishers and editors all know one another. If you’re nice, you may not be remembered, but if you’re a jerk, you will be. And they’ll make sure everyone else knows about it, too.

Where can readers learn more about you and your works?


Twitter: @kenmacgregor



Check out My Interviews for more opening paragraphs from great Running Wild Press authors like Ken MacGregor.

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Running Wild Press Anthology of Stories Volume 2 – Gary Zenker

Gary Zenker

Running Wild Press

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring authors from Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2. Today, I’d like to welcome Gary Zenker, author of Stolen Memories.

Gary Zenker

Here’s the opening of his story, which sets the tone perfectly:

That smell! It’s obvious that Little Johnny’s diaper is full and needs changing. I don’t see him but he’s in the room somewhere, that much I know. I start to yell for him and my wife but my voice comes out more as a harsh bark.

How long have I had this cold affecting my voice? A week? Two weeks? I can’t really remember. Maybe it was when I gave Little Johnny my keys to play with. Kids that age are walking …crap, what is the word for it? You know, that thing in a lab where they grow all the germs on purpose. It’ll come back to me.

Yes! Kids are little germ factories! If you’d like to read the rest of Stolen Memories by Gary Zenker, download Running Wild’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2

Gary, what inspired you to write Stolen Memories?

That would spoil the story, so let me say it is a situation many of us have been exposed to, especially once we are at an age where have grown children. I was thinking what it must be like to be on the other side of where we normally are, and started writing in a way I haven’t before, so it was a bit experimental for me. I guess it worked out okay since it was accepted for the anthology.

Your “experiment” sounds fascinating. What would you like readers to take away from Stolen Memories?

Someone’s perspective that isn’t their own.

How long have you been writing?

Since college, so that means…a while ago. I had an irregular fiction column in the school newspaper “The College Reporter” and was editor and co-conspirator of the College humor magazine “Hullabaloo,” for which I write about a third of the content. After college, I had a regular column in a couple of local weekly newspaper, then took a 15 year break from writing fiction, until I found my writing voice again about seven years ago.

Do you write full-time?

I write full time but not fiction. I write and re-write business content, including web sites, ad copy, brochures, speeches, scripts etc etc. Flash non-fiction with a specific purpose.

Do you only write short fiction?

Thus far, mostly short fiction. Short fiction is not necessarily, as many people or publications would have you believe, bite size lit fiction. It is storytelling in a much narrower confine of space. In the same number of words others are just painting their scene, you have to create a scenario people understand, characters people can empathize with or hate, introduce a worthwhile conflict and come to some sort of resolution – even if it isn’t a final resolution. That requires knowing where to leave holes and leave out detail that is unimportant to the story, that the reader can fill in for him or herself. I like the challenge of trying to fit it all in as few words as possible, so that the story is fairly complete in its brevity.

It does boil down to extreme efficiency, doesn’t it? I’ll admit, we novelists find that challenging at times.

What does Gary Zenker’s typical “writing day” look like?

I wake up wondering whether I will ever have another idea for a story and where it will come from. Later, I am in the middle of driving and an idea hits me so I grab a pen and pad and start jotting notes while involuntarily and without warning start driving in multiple lanes. After a couple of honks from nearby drivers, I pull off to the side of the road and try to finish my thoughts on paper. Or I start speaking into the voice recognition module of the phone and watch it record something not-so-close to what I am actually saying. I get home and run to the computer where I type it all in and play with it, skipping from the end to the beginning to the middle, whatever piece of it I have an idea that I want to get down. Then I check through my mail and read all the rejections I have received and wonder whether I shouldn’t be an accountant like my father was, and avoid words as much as possible. Later, I’m drawn back to the piece and I do some polishing. I do more polishing and ready it for critique at my writers groups. Next day, repeat.

Ha! Your days sound much like mine. I even tried handheld dictation, but I hate the sound of my own voice, so that didn’t last long.

What are you currently reading?

Mostly the other work from the anthology in which I am featured, or short stories and novels from other writers in the two writers groups I run.

Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?

I have a podcast I am getting ready to launch, 999 Words Or Less, that features a story from different authors and then a 15-20 minute interview, talking about their inspirations, ideas or whatever comes up.

I’m definitely going to check that out. Sounds like the kind of thing that would be good to listen to while on the treadmill, etc.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Surround yourself with good writers who understand how to help you improve your work without forcing their own thumbprints on it. Understand that not all critique is worth following, even if it is well-meaning.

Very true. I always tell my partners, “Take what you can use, and discard the rest.”

Where can readers learn more about you and your work? – web site featuring my fiction work – My YouTube Channel with readings – Part party game, part writers tool, all fun.

Here is the other stuff you may want to know:

Gary runs two writers groups:

  • The Main Line Writers Group meets the third Monday of the Month at Peppers Restaurant in King of Prussia PA, 7 pm
  • The Wilmington-Chadds Ford Writers Group meets the second Monday of the month at McKenzies Brew Pub in Glen Mills PA 7 pm

Gary’s groups often sponsor public events. Upcoming events include:

  • Noir at a Bar West Chester, Monday April 30, 2018 7 pm – 12 local author read stories of suspense, crime and maybe a bit of murder. Free admission. More info
  • Noir at a Bar Oxford Saturday June 14, 2018 7 pm – a benefit for the Oxford Public Library. Theme – Killing Carey Bresler (Library Director).  More info

Thanks so much for being here, Gary.

Check out My Interviews for more opening paragraphs from great Running Wild Press authors like Ken MacGregor.

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