Colleen’s #Book #Reviews: “The Shadows We Breathe, Vol. I,” by Sarah Brentyn, @SarahBrentyn

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

From the Author

WE ARE ALL PART SHADOW

Life promises joy and sorrow. Alongside the light, there will always be traces of darkness. It is the nature of being human.

In this anthology of short fiction, we explore relationships—how they sculpt us, hurt us, help us, and reveal our deepest desires.

Eight artists, whose words paint worlds, bring you stories of heartache, loss, hope, and forgiveness. They unveil the intimacy and complexity of relationships.

Whether family, friend, or lover, connections to others can hold us up or break us down.

Within these pages, beautiful words are spun into tales threaded with darkness.

Discover the shadows we breathe.

Amazon.com

My Recommendation

“The Shadows We Breathe,” is an anthology of short fiction edited by Sarah Brentyn, which includes contributions of flash fiction from eight talented writers. From the front of the book: “This compilation of stories revolves around the stories of our hopes, dreams, fears, and failures as they shape us through the darkness of our uncertainties, mistakes, and regrets.”

The author states: “The stories in this anthology stay within one theme, yet the authors provide a variety of narratives, voices, and styles. This first volume explores relationships, including encounters with lovers, family, friends, and even strangers. What those experiences mean and how they affect us are much of what this book deals with. Along with traditional bonds, the authors have included connections with memory, addiction, hope, and revenge.”

Divided into three sections, Part 1 shares stories totaling 500 words, Part 2 deals with stories of 50 words, and Part 3 gives us 10 word stories.

From page one onward, I was struck by the sincerity of each story. I identified with so many of the feelings and emotions expressed by the writers that I literally reread the book a second time. This collection was a deeply emotional read for me. I guess I have a few of my own shadows to deal with… who doesn’t?

Flash fiction deals in the brevity of words, but don’t think the messages these stories impart won’t blow you away. Prepare yourself for the shortest of tales. Given one word, the writers created original 10-word tales around the theme of relationships. Almost like haiku or senryu, these micro burst stories will leave you with emotional mind impressions long after you’ve finished reading the book.

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“Witch’s Brew with Morgana Blackwing,” #FlashFiction

The Carrot Ranch September 9, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the cooking show. It can be any cooking show, real or imagined. Who is there? What happens? Make it fun or follow a disaster. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 14, 2021.

“Witch’s Brew with Morgana Blackwing”

“Welcome to this week’s broadcast of Witch’s Brew. Please welcome our guest, Morticia LeFay. This barista-witch knows how to mix her infusions!”

“Thank you, Morgana. This week, we’re brewing up a new concoction called Writer’s Essence.”

“Sounds perfect for all the writers out there.”

“That’s right, Morgana. It’s guaranteed to stop writer’s block!”

“How’s it made?”

First, bring a kettle of water to boil. Drop in a pinch of periwinkle, a shot of vodka, and some lemon juice. Let the tincture cool. Next, set your intention. Drink up!”

“Thanks for stopping by witches! To your health, bottoms up! Wassail.”

*Wassail means “be healthy.”

“When Pigs Fly,” 99-Word Story, #flashfiction

The Carrot Ranch August 26, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a flight of pigs. It can be farm or fantasy-related. The idea can be a tale, poem or memory. You can use the phrase as an expression. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by August 31, 2021

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

“Come one, come all, the circus is in town,” bellowed the bearded lady.

Me and Jude stood at the side of the road and gawked at the circus wagons. The calliope played with such fervor we had to cover our ears from the noise. We’d never smelled so many smells at the same time.

When the wagon of monkeys stopped, the critters screeched and pointed, like we were the funny ones.

“What do you think, Jude? Is your ma gonna let you go?”

“I hope so. Last year when I asked her all she said was, “When pigs fly!””

© Colleen M. Chesebro

“The Meltdown,” #FlashFiction

The Carrot Ranch July 15, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word meltdown. You can use it to describe an event or emotional reaction. You can create a new meaning or explore the word origin. You can Go where the prompt leads! Respond by July 20, 2021.

Not again! My spell had failed. I gazed at the mess covering my newly painted kitchen walls. Green goop ran like rivers into puddles on the floor.

How could this be? I’d followed the recipe from my mother’s ancient Grimoire. There were no herbal substitutions.

“Oh, this is really bad,” my husband muttered from the doorway. “What did you forget this time?”

My meltdown was now complete! How dare he insinuate that my memory was failing! “Nothing. I forgot nothing,” I answered frostily.

“Oh,” he answered. I’ve got that eye of newt you asked me to get for you.”

“New Beginnings,” #flashfiction

June 10, 2021, Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a new way to office. Has the office changed? Can we return to normal after big changes or time away? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by June 15, 2021.

“New Beginnings”

“Hello, Judith? Gather the others and meet me out back in half an hour.”

Macy hung up her phone. Productivity at fairy headquarters had slowed during the human pandemic. When the humans quit believing in magic, the fabric of fairy reality faded. The fey hid in the otherworld, waiting. Today, Macy aimed to fix the problem.

The fey folk assembled in the meadow, their new home office. They joined hands and danced. Macy said the magic words:

fairy dance rhythms drift
sacred smoke linger—cleansing
belief in magic
fiery memory's return
summer solstice fires burn

Slowly the veil lifted…

©2021 Colleen M. Chesebro

Our belief in magic is restored with a little help from the Japanese tanka. How cool is that?

“Under the Full Moon,” Flash Fiction

The May 20, 2021, Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about naked gardening. Is it the veggies or the gardener who is naked? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 25, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form on the challenge post.  Rules & Guidelines.

source:
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“Under the Full Moon”

The moon’s glow washed over my garden, lighting up the angelica, feverfew, and mugwort shimmering with healing energy. I gathered my tools and prepared for my early summer gardening ritual. I stripped naked and danced under the full moon.

My garden produced an amazing number of herbs from this tradition. I sold these herbs for sacred baths, teas, and tinctures, and even sewed them into spell bags.

Naked gardening imbued my herbs with strong magick. For years, I’d kept this secret under wraps—literally! Until today when a camera flash exploded in front of me! My secret was out!

“The Green Feet Club,” #FlashFiction

The Carrot Ranch April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by April 27, 2021.

Elsa reached the end of a miserable day. There had been so much death lately. She didn’t know how she would go on.

She stepped down the path toward the park, a new addition at the hospital. Verdant grass beckoned; she could smell it. At the first bench, she removed her shoes and socks. With her feet planted in the grass, she felt the Earth’s energy soothe her jangled nerves.

“I see you like earthing,” said Jake from the E.R.

 “I do. It’s the only way I can recover.”

Jake smiled. “Me, too. Welcome to the green feet club.”

Join me every Tuesday on wordcraftpoetry.com for the Tanka Tuesday Syllabic Poetry Challenge.

“Swift Passage”

The Carrot Ranch April 1, 2021, flash fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a swift passage. You can take inspiration from any source. Who is going where and why? What makes it swift? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 6, 2021.

This is my poetic, 99-word contribution for this week written as a tribute to Sue Vincent. ❤

“Swift Passage”

Sunlight, a pink aurora in the shining sky
from the brushwood, the crows take wing
shadows dance and small birds sing
swift passage comes for ancestral souls on high.

Faery queens gather to welcome their otherworldly kin
she who walked among those bound to the earth
now takes passage within the Bardo of her rebirth,
spring rain washes away the pain of our loss and chagrin.

Raise your arms to the circle of the sun
close your eyes and breathe, inhale the celestial breath
thank you for the golden words of wisdom you've spun
your earthly quest is won.

©2021 Colleen M. Chesebro

Join me every Tuesday on wordcraftpoetry.com for the Tanka Tuesday Syllabic Poetry Challenge.

“I Yam, What I Yam,” #FlashFiction

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction March 4, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes sweet potatoes. It can be part of a recipe, meal, or used as a nickname. Where do sweet potatoes take you? The grocery store? The garden? Mars? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by March 9, 2021.

Image by Steve Adcock from Pixabay

“Excuse me, young man, you work in this department. Where’s the yams?”

“Do you mean sweet potatoes? You know, the orange ones?”

“Yeah, yams. I need ‘em to make my grandson’s favorite dish, Candied Yams.”

“Well now, ma’am. Yams are the brown ones and sweet potatoes are the orange ones. We have Beauregard, Jewel, and Garnet. Myself, I like the purple ones from Okinawa.”

The old woman stared at me and blinked her eyes. “Yams aren’t purple.”

I chuckled under my breath. “No ma’am. Yams are brown and look like roots.”

She smiled. “Yeah, you got any orange yams?”

Join me every Tuesday on wordcraftpoetry.com for the Tanka Tuesday Syllabic Poetry Challenge.

“The Neighborhood,” #Haibun, #FlashFiction

The February 25 2021, Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word frozen. It can be descriptive, character focused, action driven. Go out onto the ice and find a frozen story. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 2, 2021.

“The Neighborhood,” Haibun (99 words)

My first walk in the new neighborhood turned up some surprises. Across the street, a fast-running stream bordered the edge of the forest along the walking path.

So, this is where the deer came from, I thought. We’d spotted deer tracks in the snow as they came right up to our front porch. A real Michigan welcoming committee!

Around the corner, I spotted a pond, frozen beneath the afternoon sun. I day-dreamed about the frogs and crickets serenading us in the stillness of a long summer night.

 frost-bound pond glistens
 cattails rattle in the wind
 mourning dove calls spring

©2021 Colleen M. Chesebro

Join me every Tuesday on wordcraftpoetry.com for the Tanka Tuesday Syllabic Poetry Challenge.