Archive for the ‘Thumbnail’ Category

Thumbnail Sketch; Top 5 Of 2015

December 25th, 2015 by Jim Fox

As the first day of Winter rolled around for 2015, we did a quick survey of Anthology Builder’s best sellers to date. Click on the italic link to view the anthology contents. Click the stories to preview them. Click the author’s name to view other stories they have in the AB database, scroll down to find other anthologies containing their stories.

Heading the top sellers list was They Laughed at Me in Vienna and other stories by Tim McDaniel. In his intro to this collection of science fiction tales Tim defines the lead story “Domestic Arrangements” as the story of an unusual household, as is his “Why the Aliens Did What They Did to that Suburb of Madison, Wisconsin.” He leaves it to the reader to decide which is more appealing.

Next on the list was another anthology by Tim McDaniel, Dungeons and Dental Plans, a compilation of some of his fantasy and science fiction works. The lead off story is “Seasons Greetings” which is a spoof of those holiday letters people send out to update the readers on the past year. Tim has included letters from superheroes, aliens, mad scientists and even an art teacher! A fun humorous read.

At spot number three was Transfusion by Deborah J. Ross. The anthology‘s title is also the first story, exploring the intriguing concept of redemption for a vampire. Deborah describes her style of writing as sometimes finding a story inside herself. “…I find one inside myself. I rage and pace and weep as I write, praying all the time I can manage to come close to that vision. Sometimes it feels as if I have not so much written the story as been midwife to it.”

The next spot was nabbed by Awards Weekend, containing stories  by eleven attendees of the 2012 Nebula Awards. The lead-off story, “Jaiden’s Weaver”,  is by 2011 Nebula Award Honoree, Mary Robinette Kowal. Most of the other authors in this anthology have stories published among several anthologies in the AnthologyBuilder library. Click the author’s name to find other stories in the AB database, and scroll down to find other anthologies containing that author’s stories.

The fifth spot was held by Soldier’s Song, an  anthology by James Fox. A collection of stories by Classic writers, such as Kipling, Jack London and Steven Crane, as well as a modern writer. These are not stories written by the soldier, but by those who follow the wars closely; the correspondents traveling with the troops, as well as the families back at home, carefully reading the dispatches and listening to the nightly news.

  • enjoy    –   foxtale

***Linked POST – Lawrence M. Schoen, one of the authors in ‘Awards Weekend’, also has a story in ’bout dogs and DOGS’ available through the AB Library. His latest Sci-fi novel, BARSK, is being released through Amazon, December 29th.


Thumbnail Sketch of “Total Two”

April 12th, 2015 by Jim Fox

The anthology, Total Two, in the AB database is a compilation of short stories by two dozen writers, several of them well known.  And the remainder of the stories are from emerging new writers. But what is unique is how much can be said, or read, in just two pages. Each of the stories in this thin but intriguing book is only two pages long.  Running the gamut from Science Fiction, to Mainstream Humor, TOTAL TWO is an enjoyable collection, and a brief look at some of the work produced by these writers. Click on the anthology, then to peruse the stories, Click on the titles. From there, Click the author’s name to scan through their other works, or Scroll down to see other anthologies in the AB Library that contain more of their work.

Enjoy  –  foxtale

** Linked note: – Lord Dunsany, whose short Alone the Immortals, is presented in this anthology, also is published in the anthology, Mortal Immortals, along with stories by modern writers as well as by other luminaries of past eras, such as Mary Shelly and Oscar Wilde –

Thumbnail – NEW FICTION From the AB 2014 Data-base

December 29th, 2014 by Jim Fox

Here are a few thumbnail sketches by authors of new fiction that they added to the Anthology Builder Archives in 2014.

Click the stories to preview, then click authors’ name to preview their other stories in the data base,

and scroll down to see anthologies containing one or more of their stories. Or build your own custom anthology, it’s easy!

                 –    enjoy,     foxtale    –


They were the enemy in a no-quarter war.  The Junior war.  No mercy, no prisoners.  Except one day they took one  -FMK

In the third year of the Junior Wars, we captured one. We dragged it to the castle kicking and screaming, fighting us every step of the way. It bit Marco on the shoulder, hard, and for a minute there the rest of us were fingering our weapons, eyeing him with a mixture of fear and incipient hatred, though we knew it wasn’t contagious. Not that way at least…

Prisoner of War   Floris M. Kleijne


September 4, 1909 – He was the most striking man at the auction.  Lourdes found her eyes drawn to that unknown man on the far side of the paddock – JKC

The mare wasn’t the one she’d come for, but Lourdes kept her eyes fixed on her anyway. The horse danced nervously in the corral. Calm, Lourdes thought at the creature. Safe. The mare’s nervous steps stopped and she stood still…

Snowfall–  J. Kathleen Cheney


A gadget geek’s excitement over his new -Ambient Web smartphone-,  already tempered by the producer’s apparent submission to commerce,  turns to dust when his best friend’s sister goes missing – FMK
“Hello, David,” the voice sounded softly in his ears. That was one rumor confirmed: the Gen4 team had decided to bypass the built-in speakers if the user had implants. He could see how that might become annoying at some point, and made a mental note to ferret out the relevant setting…

Mashup  Floris M. Kleijne


In the distant future mankind sent a ship with five thousand people into the depths of space to colonize a new world called Terra Seconda: Second Earth. But their journey takes 400 years – SW

It wasn’t paradise on this vessel. Robert could only imagine the torment and torture these five-thousand people experienced… the Arbitrators predicted the population to double by the time they arrived at Second Earth… Robert knew without tough controls …over sex… the population would … overtax the delicate resources of the ship. Humans bred like rodents and he was the exterminator to control the numbers…

UnyieldingShane Ward


It’s Halloween, and all the kids are trickin’ and treatin’. But is all that candy good for them… or bad… or worse – FMK

Sander’s face was a grinning skull painted in an unhealthy shade of dull creamy white. His own dark eyes all but disappeared into the black holes Jane had drawn around them; his nose was a sharp black triangle; gaping and crooked teeth were painted over his lips. Jane had used a black dye to color his hair…

Trick or Treat Floris M. Kleijne


***Linked Note***  ‘The Girl Who Wanted To Fly’  by Shane Ward, is currently in the anthology  Celestial Horizon

Thumbnail Sketch of 6 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Christmas

November 19th, 2012 by Jim Fox

Need a stocking-stuffer for this Christmas? Selections of short stories in paperback are ideal for commuters on mass transit, students, retirees and people on coffee breaks, in my opinion.  For less than $15 at Anthology Builder you can select stories from their data base of reprints (including many classics) to build a gift anthology, or order anthologies already built by others.    – foxtale

Click anthology title to open, click chapter titles to preview stories.

For soldiers and their families, I recommend Soldier’s Song, a collection of stories written not by soldiers but by those that follow the soldiers; the families back at home and the correspondents, such as Jack London, Stephen Crane and Rudyard Kipling.

And the genus Homo is just precisely what he is—a highly intelligent animal with an amazing spiritual endowment that, on occasion, individually and collectively, functions in violent and destructive ways. War must be dreadfully human, else why did all those well-cultured, ethically trained men in the smoking room and observation car talk the way they did… delighting in war fever… – excerpt from Jack London’s Red Game Of War –

Recall your Summer Camp days and nights and the stories, legends and pranks? The Camp Staff Escalator is a good choice as the stories are arranged in a virtual tour of camp, to reflect the various programs, trials and tribulations staff and campers alike experience.

As our wagon, heavily loaded with tents and camp materials, approached the herd they all threw up their heads and “rolled” up their tails, then with a deep vibrating bellowing let us know in no unmistakable manner that we were trespassers on their domain… – excerpt from Dan Beard’s Charged By A Herd Of Buffalo –

Eclectic vampire stories may be your passion, so From The Shadows would be a good selection as it includes the Bram Stoker short story which introduced the genre more than a century ago.

“Mrs. Romanek, Valeria Romanek?” The man at the door waved a badge. “Leo Martinez, L. A. Unified Child and Welfare Attendance Counselor. That’s a newfangled way of saying, ‘truant officer.’ I’m investigating an anonymous tip that you have two children who are not currently enrolled in school. May I come in?”

This was really too bizarre, Valeria thought, a human asking permission to cross her threshold! But refusing entry would not change the fact that the authorities had become aware of her and her children… not that they knew she was a vampire… Valeria blurted out, “I teach them everything they need to know.”

“Home schooling, eh? You’re a certified teacher?” Martinez countered.

“Not exactly—” Valeria fought back a wry smile…     – excerpt from Survival Skills –

That monthly collection of short-short stories which used to arrive in print magazines might have brought a smile or sigh or warmed your heart.  Then the anthology Before Kindle would be your cup of tea; a baker’s dozen of stories from the print world.

The caped hero’s voice crackled over the phone, “Well, I’m currently trapped in one of Dr. Nefario’s death traps… ”   

Startled, the psychiatrist held the phone closer and asked his client, “Really? Are you safe?”

“Well, you know, Doc, safe is a relative thing in my profession, but I have you on the headset, and I’m picking the lock on these handcuffs as we’re talking. I think I’ll be fine, the piranhas are still 5 or 6 feet below me…”  – excerpt from The Death Trap Of Doctor Nefario –

Spoofs, puns and imaginative stories might be your forte’ so select Joy’s Galaxy of Fun for 16 quick read stories.

What would the new species think of Labyrinth! Brawls threatening to mix atmospheres, cowardly progeny, toxic drinks too near the airlocks.

“I have provided a safe, friendly place for species to make contact, negotiate trade, and solve mutual problems,” she nearly screamed at her negligent son. “And you jeopardize it all.”

The monitor in her spectacles showed her offspring wading into the midst of the brawl. His smooth skin, a legacy from Ab’nere’s Labyrinthine ancestry, protected him from scrapes and bruises better than the thin membranes of the ammonia breathers… -excerpt from First Contact Cafe –

A sampler of submitted stories is available in An Eclectic Ten From Twelve at AnthologyBuilder; 10 stories from among over 30 submitted for Fall 2012.

Swarthy Zub was a simple fur trader who would barter tree-limb clubs and flint-pointed spears for fur pelts which he worked up into garments for the cave people. With bemusement, Zub often found that he was trading his finished garments for the very clubs and spears he’d exchanged earlier in the year. His old friend, Not-tall Zuk, liked to expound on this phenomenon, which he called “a balanced budget,” but Zub usually just smiled and shrugged and kept on scraping hides, for he wasn’t much into politics or civics lessons… – excerpt from Zuk And Zub, A Fable For Our Time –

For the holidays, select an anthology for your family and friends, or treat yourself!


*linked note* Bram Stoker had to publish a chapter of his novel Dracula to convince his publisher people would read it!

Thumbnail Sketch for Each of Five Recent Releases to AB Library

September 27th, 2012 by Jim Fox

Five Recent Additions in A-B library for your Fall 2012 reading pleasure .

Click the Library Link to visit each anthology.  From there, Click chapter titles to preview the stories and click author’s name to view other short stories available in the anthologies shown below the story list.  Then Click covers to view those anthologies.     –      – Enjoy,  foxtale



Library LINK  – Harlan Ellison’s DANGEROUS VISIONS anthologies pushed against the boundaries of the acceptable and challanged readers to confront their own preconceptions.  These stories selected from AnthologyBuilder attempt to do the same.


Cat Futures and Other Feline Fiction

Library LINK  –   Steven and Amy are a couple of college kids at the beginning of a relationship.  They’re very fond of each other and Steven’s thinking things could become serious. But that thought gets put on hold when Amy reveals that her cat, Mr.  Buttons, has expressed a desire to speak with him.


The Mind of the Beholder

Library LINK   –   This little book contains four stories that will change the way you think.  From physician David Goldman’s exploration of neurological blind spots to essayist Sandra Tayler’s tale of a child adrift in her own mind… From Nancy Fulda’s vision of autism in the future to Marissa Lingen’s heartrending story of medical intervention gone wrong…

This collection will challenge your preconceptions and leave you with a priceless gift: A glimpse of the world through minds that are utterly different than your own.


Awards Weekend – Collectors Edition  

Library LINK   –  The May 17-20, 2012 Nebula Awards Weekend –  Dear Reader, This anthology is composed of stories by eleven of the authors in         attendance. Thanks for supporting our dreams and our careers.


Camp Staff Escalator

Library  LINK  –  The selection of the stories for this anthology was inspired by some of the activities, antics and camp life of the staff during summer camp at Wolfeboro in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Many summer camps have stories and legends unique to their area. The “Secret Camp Staff Escalator” is just such a story…


link note  – The vampire story in Awards Weekend isn’t the only unique take on the genre

Thumbnail Sketch of Five Classic Authors – “Poor dull Concord…”

September 14th, 2012 by Jim Fox

Thumbnail Sketch of Five Classic Authors  

 Each of these authors is either well known to the reading public, or created a genre in literature.  Here are links to some of their short stories in the AB data base and links to anthologies that contain one or more of their stories.  Enjoy   –   foxtale

   Samuel Butler (December 1835 – June 18, 1902) Victorian-era English author. Best known work, the utopuian satire Erewhon.  Butler also wrote on religion as he felt an adult should delve into what they were taught as a child.

Quote – “Man, unlike the animal, has never learned that the sole purpose of life is to enjoy it.”

Author Link      Anthology at AB

   Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) American novelist, abolitionist and early feminist. Best known work, Little Women.  Alcott also wrote social commentary disguised as short stories during America’s Civil War.

Quote – “Poor dull Concord, nothing colorful has come through here since the Redcoats.”

Author Link     Anthology at AB

    Lyman Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919) American author of children’s books. Best known work, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Baum also wrote stories about Santa Claus.

Quote – “As a matter of fact, we are none of us above criticism; so let us bear with each other’s faults.”

Author Link     Anthology at AB

    John Griffith Chaney “Jack London”  (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916) American author, journalist, and social activist. Best known work, The Call of the Wild.  London also wrote humor and futuristic science fiction.

Quote – “Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”

Author Link     Anthology at AB

    Samuel Langhorne Clemens “Mark Twain” (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) American author, lecturer and humorist. Best known work, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Twain also wrote much social commentary in a series of short stories.

Quote – “Fewer things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

Author Link     Anthology at AB

Many Classics are public domain stories that have been uploaded to our AnthologyBuilder database. Many of these stories come from Project Gutenberg, and we donate a share of the proceeds back to the Project.

Click author link for stories available at AB,  click Anthology link for books at AB containing one or more of the author’s stories, some of which may be a surprise to the reader.

Or, why not select several stories and create your own books!

*linked note*  Mark Twain also wrote humorous short stories, such as Hunting the Deceitful Turkey

Thumbnail Sketch of Stephen Cashmore, AnthologyBuilder Submissions Editor

June 29th, 2012 by Jim Fox

Stephen Cashmore was recently asked by Nancy Fulda, creator of Anthology Builder, to come on board as the new Submissions Editor.
Stephen is a qualified proofreader based in Ayr, Scotland, and an Ordinary Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, a professional organization in the United Kingdom. Stephen’s ‘all about me’ website is found at and will link to his proofreading site.  Since early 2011, Stephen has functioned as a reviewer for stories posted on Anthology Builder. Let’s welcome Stephen and see what, as an editor, he expects of submitted stories. – foxtale

Stephen, in your blog you noted that Anthology Builder offers a mixed bag of stories. As well as submitting their own work, people often request public domain classics to add to their anthologies. So, do you have a specific genre you prefer to review?

For preference, I read science fiction and supernatural stories, especially good ghost stories (I’m also assistant editor for the Supernatural Tales magazine.) But I enjoy almost any story as long as it is well written; I’ve certainly enjoyed many of the stories I’ve reviewed for Anthology Builder. I’m least likely to enjoy a ‘humorous’ story – not because I haven’t got a sense of humour, but because writing humour for a wide audience is decidedly tricky, and not many writers can manage it.

Aside from begging, pleading, and demanding that authors actually read the Submission Guidelines, is there something else they could do in formatting, authors notes, etc. that would make your task easier?

I would probably beg for two things. Firstly, that punctuation around dialogue is correct. Anthology Builder prefers double quotation marks. So this is the right way to do it:
“Please get punctuation correct,” begged Stephen.
And I’d ask every author to double-check that there aren’t any awkward dangling participles. Here’s one from something I checked (not on Anthology Builder) a long time ago:
‘As the 20th century arrived, abandoned by its previous occupants, the building slowly degraded.’

A-B’s Submission Guidelines advise that it does not have the resources of a large publishing house and does not copy-edit manuscripts. Although stories have been previously published I’m sure your professional eye catches a few errors here and there. How would you prefer the author handle errata?

This raises a number of issues. First, just because a story has previously been published, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will make the Anthology Builder database – most will, but we’ve all read stories in magazines and wondered why they were ever accepted. Second, even previously published stories can contain the odd grammatical error. Unless it was a major problem, I’d just correct that editorially.
Third, an author might inadvertently send in a version of a story which isn’t the same as the published version, and it might need some minor changes.
So the answer is that I would make minor editorial changes to grammar and punctuation, but if there was anything major that needed correction, I’d either reject the story or go back to the author and say ‘I can’t take this just now, but if you can sort out such-and-such, then I probably would.’
(If an accepted story gets uploaded onto the site and the author spots some resulting errors, then he or she just needs to contact me, or Nancy Fulda, and we’ll put them right.)

Lastly, not to put you on the spot, but aside from an editor, who do you yourself use as your best critic once you’ve finished writing a piece?

Ah, an easy question at last. I’m a member of the Glasgow SF Writer’s Circle which boasts several published authors and lots of experienced writers and reviewers. Every fortnight they meet up to ‘crit’ a story. They know what they are doing and if a story isn’t quite right for some reason, they will tell you politely but in no uncertain terms what’s wrong with it. Although ‘SF’ appears in the name of the Circle, in practice anything goes – and it doesn’t have to be a short story, either: several books have been ‘critted’ there during the three or so years that I’ve been a member.

Thank you, Stephen.

Thumbnail Sketch of Alethea Kontis

May 25th, 2012 by Jim Fox

Alethea Kontis has described herself for Anthology Builder as a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess! There has got to be more to this thumbnail sketch than she lets on. Let’s find out! – foxtale

Alethea, already a bestselling author and with film credits in your bio (,  you recently launched a Young Adult fairytale novel.  Why this genre?

My whole life has been working toward this moment: Publishing a fantasy novel like the ones I used to love when I was a young girl. The alphabet books and the anthologies and the movies and The Dark-Hunter Companion have been amazing opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have along the way (what girl in her right mind would say no?), but the fantasy novels have always been my goal.

Your short story “Blood and Water” is in currently in the anthology “From the Shadows” as well as  “Awards Weekend”  at Anthology Builder; what enticed you to retell the little mermaid story as a vampire tale?

My parents always worry about me writing in the car. I keep this little notebook beside my parking break that I scribble mad notes in when at a stoplight, or stuck in traffic. I showed it to my friend Brandi once. She turned a page and said, “What’s a ‘Vampire Mermaid?'” Two completely separate ideas were suddenly smashed together like chocolate and peanut butter. Combined with my love of Hans Christian Andersen and all the research I had done for my marine science minor on hydrothermal vents…VOILA! The story sprang from my head like Athena. With Pirates.

“From the Shadows” is an eclectic collection of Vampire tales, including Bram Stoker’s “Dracula’s Guest” which established the vampire genre, with some of the aspects likely mirrored by Johnny Depp’s vampire in the film “Dark Shadows.” So, will you go see the movie?

Despite my work on this story, Blood and Water (and The Dark-Hunter Companion), I’m really not a vampire fan. I have never found them appealing or sexy, and I hate watching horror movies. (Making them is SO MUCH MORE FUN.) Dark Shadows may surprise me, since I have such low expectations, but I’d much rather go see Avengers again.

Lastly, about teddy bear Charlie: is he a muse, a keepsake or just a cuddly pillow?

Thank you for asking! Charlie was my Christmas present when I was fifteen. His full name is Charlemagne Montesque, the Marquis of Albec, and he is my very best friend. He has dried many a tear and chased away many a nightmare and he knows my deepest, darkest secret (which is that I have no deep, dark secrets). And yes, I still seek his comfort and guidance, even twenty years later. The need for a best friend never goes away.

——————- Alethea, thank you for indulging the AB blog ———————–