I finished my short story collection. I am very excited because the stories turned out to be great.

I decided to write stories with real life challenges. Basically, I put my characters into realistic scenarios that can happen to just about anyone. The trick is that the scenarios challenge the characters morally, psychologically and/or philosophically. I start my collection with a simple moral challenge. With every story, though, the characters face increasingly strange situations that end with a tale of a person in an absolutely bizarre circumstance. I move from the simple to the bizarre to force my characters, different in every story, face ever greater challenges, having to make choices while almost always left to their own devices.

My first story is very short. Entitled “Biker’s Destiny,” it is about a biker who stops to offer a ride to a fellow motorcyclist left on the side of the road with a motorcycle that would not start. When he declines the help, the biker suddenly takes off, refusing to even stop at the next repair garage to let the mechanics know about the stranded motorcyclist. The second story, called “My Chosen Path”, is about a female security guard who finds drug dealers at an abandoned warehouse on the property she guards at night. She radios her co-worker in the office for help. As things get complicated, she finds herself running for her life. The third story, entitled “Magical World”, follows a video-gamer, bored of everyday life, who finds himself in a battle with his game characters one night on the way home from work. The bizarre event spills over to the next day. The gamer struggles to find explanation for the mysterious events taking place around him. The fourth story is called “The Hermit’s Journal”. The protagonist is a psychology professor who isolates himself on a mountain at winter time, living without any human contact, in order to write a book. Even though he is aware of the fact that only one woman lives on the mountain across, he keeps seeing two women. The mystery behind the two women captures his attention while he is also dealing with the psychological effect of isolation on the day-to-day basis. In the final story, called “Lucidity”, the protagonist finds herself walking on Grey Street with a pressing need to complete three chores. With ever increasing bizarre events taking place, she finds the chores difficult to complete, until she figures out the cause of the bizarre happenings. Aware of the cause, she needs to make a choice about how to proceed given this knowledge.

I am truly delighted with the way my stories turned out. Some are cliff-hangers. Some are retold by a number of characters until all information is revealed. And, one story has three alternative endings. Now, I am just left with the task of having my work proofread, finding a new graphic designer for my cover (my previous graphic designer quit) and, getting it published. Wish me good luck!

M. J. Mandoki

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