Another Excellent Christmastime Story from Dr. Paul Bennett.

Yesterday, in my usual whiney way of lamenting, I pointed out that Rob Cely had shamed me with his fine story. Looking back over the past week, all of the other members of the Fondue Writers Club have produced excellent works. Each has made me work a little harder on my story for Christmas Eve. Now, I will have one for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Seems only fair that Santa do some heavy lifting.

Now, today, Paul Bennett rolls in with a story that deserves it’s own Hallmark Movie. If you ding-dongs at Hallmark ever read this, or someone who does read these knows  anyone at Hallmark, you’d better hire Dr. Bennett to write at least one movie. 

But, I digress. His story is the kind that makes tough guys wipe away moisture from the eyes and say, “I’m not crying. Who’s cutting onions in my living room.”  Yeah. That good. So click the link and read it. Then come back here and look at the stuff below the school bus. 



Come back tomorrow for another story! Now, here’s the link to The COVID Quarantine Cantina.

We hope you’ll visit the other authors who comprise this collection: Paul Bennett, Robert CelyDerek Elkins, Jamie D. Greening, Kathy Kexel, and Joe Shaw. As always, there’s no fee, we’re doing this to help you pass the time. We do ask that you buy our books/audio books to help pay the freight here. But that’s up to you! Mine are all on the right margin of the blog.


Now, we’re going to do something new here on the blog: we’re posting an Amazon review of our book. We loved the review so much it deserves to be shared. We’re mighty proud of our work, and having an author like Mr. Moynihan recognize us is a big deal.

The Covid Quarantine Cantina is a clever and much-needed collection of short, almost-flash fiction by a gang of authors from the Athanatos Publishing Group: Joseph Courtemanche (also the Editor), Jamie Greening, Joe Shaw, Kathy Kexel, Derek Elkins, Robert Cely, and Paul Bennett. The collective idea here was that each of these authors pledged to write and publish a daily piece of fiction on each other’s blogs while stuck in quarantine during the 2020 pandemic. There were several goals here including a desire to keep writing instead of falling into a coronavirus funk, keep each other engaged on their author social media platforms, and, if all went well, capture a record of the times with some good fiction that might stand the test of time. None of them probably thought, back in the heady days of March 2020, that the quarantine and pandemic would last more than several weeks or months at most. But alas, it has stretched into 2021. And the first edition of collected short stories from this experiment, The Covid Quarantine Cantina, has arrived clocking in at nearly 400 pages of fun. And fun these stories are, written by some of the best writers in the little known “alternative Christian Fiction” world that prefers to keep things edgy, sometimes dark, never trite, sometimes literary and lyrical, and always inspirational in contrast to the bland offerings of the mainstream Christian publishing world. This stuff has crossover appeal, shall we say, without ever compromising on the Christian worldview. And I call it “almost-flash fiction” because several authors here clearly cheated with stories that are a bit lengthy for “Flash” but none the less are still shorter than a novella or novelette (thankfully, I hate weeding through a long dull story in the middle of an otherwise high-energy short story collection).
There are multiple genres and story types represented here. The only thing binding these stories together is COVID-19. But since we are all living through Covid together and often end up sharing pandemic stories with each other in those rare instances when we can gather, it feels like one of those conversations. Everyone’s story and perspective is different. Everyone gets a chance to share. It works. And that surprised me, because so many short story collections do not work for that very reason. But this one does.
And the writing! Author Joe Courtemanche (Assault on Saint Agnes, Nicolas of Haiti) has done a masterful job editing this project. But he is helped by the fact that these authors, although little known, are masterful writers indeed. All of them have books published by Anthony Horvath’s Athanatos imprints and give credit to Mr. Horvath for helping them to perfect their craft. All of them are outstanding storytellers with good ears for the human dimension of Covid-19 (even if some of the stories take place in another dimension). Pandemic fears, social disruptions, conspiracy theories, frustrations, tragedies and triumphs are all captured here. And through it all runs a strand of inspirational faith and hope that is much needed in these trying times. Like all good fiction, many of these stories will stay with you long after you’ve read them… and hopefully long after the pandemic nightmare of 2020 has passed us all by.
There isn’t much good coming out of this pandemic. But this collection is a bright shining exception.
And it’s with mixed emotions that I add, I hope there isn’t much material for a 2021 Covid Quarantine Cantina edition. But if there is, bring it on!
The Covid Quarantine Cantina is highly, highly recommended reading.

See you tomorrow!

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