“The characters all seem solid and compelling, and they give good support to the main viewpoint. The husband, in particular, is a good supporting character in the story, with some strong idiosyncrasies that readers will no doubt find compelling. When characters are strong in a story, it provides an ongoing hook for readers.”
____ Mike Foley, Writer’s Review
“You’ve got some wonderful descriptive passages in the story—very good visuals of people and places. Strong description goes a long way in making the story seem real, and that realism is a hook for readers. I think they’ll be easily drawn into the story, and that’s just what you want.”
“The characters are all well-drawn and so they also seem realistic in the story. And when the characters speak, the spoken words sound natural and unique to the individuals. As a result, this sounds like real conversation between real people. That shows me you’ve got a good “dialogue ear” and know how people speak. That will serve you well as you continue to write.”
____ Mike Foley, Writer’s Review
With generally spare, visual language, Diana Grillo's stories depict simple, circumscribed lives which belie the complicated pain and anger that fester underneath. The characters and their environments depict the power struggles and shifts that occur over time in families; the feelings of entrapment; and the street wise survival skills that sometimes allow for freedom. What these people assume may not be correct but it derives from the abuse and anguish they have experienced; determines their world view; and affects their future behavior and choices, perhaps leading to a tolerance of abuse. The "tear" examined under a microscope aptly describes the totality of this very special collection.
Ginger E. Benlifer, Ph.D.
Excerpt From Short Story "An Accidental Murder"
Margie had just hung up the phone from what she thought would be a pleasant call to her mother. It didn’t go quite as she planned. Her mother told her that her sister Connie had just left her house fighting mad and she was on her way over to give Margie a piece of her mind. Her mother told her to try and be the peacemaker and to remember what Connie had gone through and that she just wasn’t right in her mind, ever since those beatings. This was always the excuse her mother made for Connie’s bad behavior. Margie told herself, “Who does Connie think she is, always telling me what to do. We’re not kids anymore.”
Margie heard the car screech to a stop in front of her rental on the first floor of a house she had recently moved into. She lived there with her husband who she planned on leaving. Margie opened the door and watched as her sister Connie storm out of the car in a fury, slamming the door so hard that the papers on the dashboard flew into the air and fell to the floor. Connie rushed towards Margie screaming something about their mother. Margie was so used to her sister’s rants that her words tumbled off her back. Margie’s embarrassment about her sister’s behavior began a long time ago; she tried to manage it as best as she could. By now the neighbors on the street were watching the scene with outstretched necks. Mrs. Costa, who owned the house and lived upstairs with Mr. Costa, opened the window and stuck her head out to make sure she didn’t miss anything. Margie heard Mr. Costa yell to his wife to get back into the house; the window shut, Mrs. Costa disappeared.
Margie braced herself as Connie waddled up to her. Connie was only five feet tall. All the weight she had gained when she was pregnant had settled in her breast and hips. She wasn't like most women that tried to shed the birth weight, Connie wore it with pride. She wore tight low-cut tops that brazenly exposed her breasts. She was partial to clinch belts that pushed her body fat in all directions, emphasizing the rolls on her hips. She kept the belt so tight that it resembled a rubber band that was about to burst. Her long dark hair covered part of her face; she wore black eyeliner with wings on the end of each eye, looking like an evil Cleopatra.
Margie glared at her sister. “What are you doing? Everyone is watching you--are you crazy?”
“I told you that I wasn’t going to do everything for mom anymore,” Connie shouted. I’ve been with mom all morning taking her food shopping and picking up her medication. What are you doing? Nothing! Well, now it’s your turn!”
"Don’t tell me what to do. If mom wants my help all she has to do is call me and ask, she knows that.”
“You know very well mom always relies on me, not you!”
“Oh really! She relies on you? Hah! Maybe it’s the other way around--you rely on her. You take her grocery shopping, so she’ll pay for your groceries. You’re not fooling anyone. And when it gets too much for you, you blame me. Why don’t you just mount your broom and leave. You’re such a witch.”
“You ungrateful bitch,” Connie stormed off back to her car and sped away.
Margie turned to the onlookers with their outstretched necks. “The show is over, you can go home now.” The people on the street turned and walked away.
Once again, Margie was rattled to the core by her sister. She would tell herself she wasn’t going to let Connie upset her anymore, but that never worked. Her hand shook as she filled the tea kettle. She needed a hot cup of tea to calm her down. She decided she’d call her mom later and find out what this was really all about.
My short story "Mr. Anderson first published in "Boundless" A Vinculinc Anthology, is available on line at Vinculinc.com
"An Accidental Murder and Other Stories"
"An Accidental Murder and Other Stories" Is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in Print and Ebook.
An Accidental Murder and Other Stories is a collection of connected short stories about navigating through trauma and overcoming life’s most challenging circumstances. Friends, wives, teenagers, and children struggle with abuse, loss, and self-esteem as they fight to maintain their dignity and exercise control over their lives.