Frank Balara

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Smashwords book reviews by Frank Balara

  • Potatoes on Sep. 12, 2011
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    Potatoes is a classic father-and-son story that takes you on a scenic trip to the "big woods" while leading you to the truth about loss and regret. D.K LeVick's writing is thoughtful, well-paced and, at times, poetic. I look forward to reading more from this this talented writer.
  • Flash Fiction Addiction 22 Short Short Stories on Oct. 25, 2011
    star star star star
    No one sets out to become an addict. For me, it all started innocently enough. I found myself in the same circle of Facebook friends as Garden Summerland. Not knowing she was a major dealer, I decided to check out her blog, Wallpaper Dreams http://gardensummerland.blogspot.com/. What I found there were Garden's extremely short, but very complete stories. They ran the gamut from romantic thrillers to paranormal horrors to simple everyday life themes. What made her stories special to me were their ability to make me feel a certain emotion - be it anger, love, hatred, jealousy, fear - in a concentrated form. As I read her stories I felt I was eating the literary equivalent of a Whitman's Sampler. And just like with that treasured box of assorted chocolates, I found I couldn't stop at just one story. I kept coming back for more. Quietly at first, a little embarrassed, because some of the stories had romantic themes that produced those concentrated feelings and it was hard admitting that a big, burly middle-aged man like myself could enjoy stories like that. But I was hooked on all of them (there wasn't a smooshed up green piece in the whole box, to continue with the sampler analogy) and I needed to tell someone, so I told Garden and I became a follower of her blog. Eventually that wasn't enough, though. I broke down and subscribed to Wallpaper Dreams, so each sweet nugget of a story could be delivered to me via email fresh off the presses, so to speak. Just when I felt these gems weren't coming fast enough, Garden announced her first book. Aptly named, Flash Fiction Addiction is a collection of 22 short short stories; some from her blog and some new ones. It was so popular she quickly released a second collection. After reading this first collection, I hope there's a third, fourth, fifth, etc. because, even with 22 stories, the first book only runs 58 pages and, being an addict, I went right through it. I think for the second collection I may have to ration the stories to make it last longer. More on Flash Fiction I asked Garden if she could tell me more about flash fiction in general. "Apparently, it is not a definitive style as yet as far as the industry is concerned." She explained, "there are so many different 'definitions' and not really one set standard for flash fiction. Some people consider it to be under 300 words and the maximum word count that I have ever seen is under 1000 words, so that's what I keep it at." After researching a few sites on my own, it's clear to see there is an active debate on word count in flash fiction, but everyone seems to agree on one thing: it is a complete short story containing an exposition, climax and resolution. The rising and falling actions just move extremely quickly. There's a definite challenge and an art to flash fiction. You only have so many words to tell a vivid, compelling story, so you need to choose your words more carefully. It's that challenge that continues to draw Garden. If you pick up one of her books or visit her blog, you'll see she has more than met that challenge. In fact, she's mastered it. More on Garden Summerland Garden started writing for fun at the age of ten and "just never stopped. It is deeply ingrained in who I am," she explains. Flash Fiction Addiction Volume I is her first published book. Her experience with self publishing has been "extremely rewarding," and she highly recommends the do-it-yourself process to anyone looking to publish their work. She is currently working on a novel, Sister Sugar, which is based on a short story you can read on her blog: Wallpaper Dreams: Sister Sugar But there is a glimmer of hope for my fellow addicts and me: "I would love to say that Sister Sugar is my main focus right now, but I cannot fight my ties to flash fiction." She continues to dedicate her blog to flash fiction and, "due to the unexpected popularity of the first two collections, I may find myself writing a Volume III of Flash Fiction Addiction before all is said and done. Additionally, one day, you just may find my collections in print!" This is one reader waiting excitedly for his next fix. Find out more about Garden Summerland and her books, including where to purchase them at: http://www.gardensummerland.com/
  • Flash Fiction Addiction 22 Short Short Stories Volume II on Dec. 02, 2011
    (no rating)
    If you read my review - http://frankbalara.blogspot.com/2011/10/... - of Garden Summerland's first volume of Flash Fiction Addiction, you know how much I enjoy her writing. I wasn't disappointed when I recently read this, her second volume of Flash Fiction Addiction. If you don't want to take my word for how good her stories are, you can read quite a few samples on her blog, Wallpaper Dreams - http://gardensummerland.blogspot.com/ - and find out for yourself. Careful, though. They really are addicting! You've been warned.