Book Review for APRICOTS IN A TURKISH GARDEN by Carrie Jane Knowles

Title: Apricots in a Turkish Garden
Author: Carrie Jane Knowles
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Genre: Short Stories
ISBN: 978-1630661090
Apricots in a Turkish Garden

Apricots in a Turkish Garden
by Carrie Jane Knowles

Book review by Nicole Eva Fraser

Carrie Knowles is a great writer, pure and simple, and her gifts shine in this collection of short stories with a crazy-quilt of characters we can recognize and identify with. In her stories, conversations are key—imagine! People talking face-to-face and on the telephone to each other! People conversing at length without their minds and eyes wandering to their smart phones! Knowles brings her individual characters, their relationships, and their realities to life so richly, through her heart for people’s stories and her ear for real conversations. What impresses me most is that the stories flow so naturally, without hiccups, false notes, or contrivances. Knowles wields her writing prowess quietly and effortlessly. These stories brought me back to the land of the living.
07-2014-nicole-eva-fraser-230x280Nicole Eva Fraser received her MFA in creative writing from NEOMFA consortium in northeast Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude from Baldwin-Wallace College with a double major in English and communications. She is an adult-literacy activist in Cleveland, Tanzania and Malawi. She runs 10Ks (slowly), used to speak French, and often can be found putting her foot in her mouth. Fraser is the author of It’s the Hardest Thing in the World and I Don’t Think It’s that Simple.


Book Review for APRICOTS IN A TURKISH GARDEN by Carrie Jane Knowles

Title: Apricots in a Turkish Garden
Author: Carrie Jane Knowles
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Genre: Short Stories
ISBN: 978-1630661090
Apricots in a Turkish Garden

Apricots in a Turkish Garden
by Carrie Jane Knowles

Book review by Dene Hellman

The ten stories told in Apricots in a Turkish Garden are penetrating explorations of sensitive relationships that try the souls of their participants. Carrie Knowles writes each with a perceptive voice that takes no prisoners. Mothers and daughters cope with Alzheimer’s; a daughter grows up adjusting and readjusting to her father’s blindness; a woman dismays her relatives with her determination to find family ties to Clint Eastwood. It isn’t a stretch to think we must have met all of Knowles’ characters at one time or another and that we now know them for who they are.
A native of Iowa, Dene Hellman has lived in North Carolina since the ‘80s. She is a graduate of The University of Wisconsin Green Bay and has written professionally in numerous genres, including corporate publications, executive speeches, newspaper feature writing, commercial videos, and two books of poetry with Annie O’Dell. She is the author of The Ninety-Ninth Reunion and The People Under the House. She currently lives and writes in Winston-Salem, NC. Dene has four daughters and six grandsons.

Change is in the Wind, a Collection of Short Stories by Second Wind Authors and Guests

Change Is in the Wind is a fresh, challenging collection of seventeen short stories by as many authors, all dealing with the theme of change and renewal. Virtually every major theme in modern literature, including romance, mystery, crime, science fiction, religion and even nature find their way into these marvelous, eclectic stories.

Stories include:

“Salamander” by Deborah J Ledford: What a beautiful life, to be a smart, sexy artist traveling all around the world—and hoping they don’t catch you. Deborah J Ledford hooks us in short order with a dangerous little tale of revenge reversed.

“Nerd of Prey” by Noah Baird: Funny, original and full of pathos, Noah Baird’s brief offering to our volume captures every stage of the published author’s life span—in two pages.

“Fifty-Two Years” by J J Dare: JJ Dare is legendary for possessing beautiful, evocative descriptive powers. Those abilities are revealed so clearly in this bittersweet story of timeless love running out of time.

“Pain Killer” by Dellani Oakes:In this science fiction action-adventure story, Dellani Oakes continues to build the legend of her anti-hero Wil. The tale moves as swiftly as the Colonel moves on his targets.

“Cache-22” by J. Conrad Guest: What an irony, that J. Conrad Guest, a man’s man, is truly a romantic at heart—and he brings out the romantic in all of us.

“The Willow” by Pat Bertram: How does that old scripture go—unless a seed die and fall on the ground it cannot live? In just a few pages, Pat Bertram captures the essence of timeless love and the new life that comes from loss.

“Gratitude” by Claire Collins: Lasting love and family empower us to endure the hard realities of life, as Claire Collins reveals in her brief tale of family, loss and redemption. As with all her narratives, she does not spare readers the harshness nor the joy of life.

“Apres Holiday” by Susan Surman: It’s vintage Susan Surman: intertwined loves and love stories that work out somehow just as they are supposed to, seasoned with world travel, life and death, adolescent verity and worldly wisdom. And by the time the brief read is over, we are once again in love with life.

“Caddo Creek” by Lazarus Barnhill: With his well-known ear for dialogue and surprising spontaneous interactions, Lazarus Barnhill breathes life into another quirky, unique cast of characters—this time on an Arkansas mountainside in spring.


Change is in the Wind is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and by special order from your favorite book store.

Excerpts From “The Storm is Coming: An Anthology” published by Sleeping Cat Books

Storms can come out of a clear blue sky, or they can build over a long period. They can take many forms, all terribly destructive: a tornado or hurricane that destroys all your belongings, an abusive spouse who destroys your sense of well-being, or human actions that can devastate an entire society.

In this collection of short stories, poetry, non-fiction, and images, you will find the range of approaching storms, and the range of emotions involved in such cataclysmic events. Within these pages you will find Mother Nature on the warpath in the form of tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, and vengeful plants. You will find storms approaching in the form of an abusive spouse, a fed-up spouse, and the down-trodden. You will find murder and suicide. But, as is always the case after a storm passes, you will also find life beginning anew.


It’s happening again. A familiar rage unfolds its sticky wings within the captive interior of my chest: a monstrous butterfly emerging gracelessly from its cocoon.

It’s the same every night. The taste of panic blooms bitter on my tongue. Swallowing hard, I wonder how much longer I can bear this charade.
—from “The Wait” by Farah Ghuznavi

After her taillights disappeared into the gloom, Vittorio shook his head and turned away from the window. It would all work out. God willing. Of course, that’s what he’d believed when they’d left their small village in Sicily a decade ago, thinking that California would be the answer to all their problems.

But nothing had changed, even after he and Rose Maria and 18-year-old Chiara had become American citizens. They were barely getting by on his wife’s income while Chiara went to public high school and worked an after-school job at McDonald’s. Three years ago, Vittorio had been laid off by UPS, and while he drew unemployment pay, Rose Maria had started the job at Days Inn, leaving him to stay home to take care of Paolo.
—from “Pride and Joy” by Carole Bellacera

Leaving the mugs behind he strolled down the corridor to the bathroom. He took a pair of latex gloves from his pocket and put them on. He didn’t want to leave fingerprints here. Opening the bathroom cabinet, he located a bottle labeled Lunestra. They were Matt’s sleeping pills. Back in the kitchen he dropped two tablets into his mug of coffee and left the open bottle next to the coffee machine.

Taking both mugs he went into the living room and put them on the coffee table. He stood upright and glared at the body sprawled across the marble floor.
“Don’t bother to get up,” he muttered, seeing the bruise on the side of Matt’s forehead coloring up nicely.
—from “Sowing the Wind” by Alan Philps

“All right, you guys! Let’s hit the beach and let’s hit it hard!” the sarge yells, waving us on. “Move your sorry butts like there’s no tomorrow and you just might make it to tomorrow! Remember, fellas. Those who hesitate are the ones that won’t leave this beach alive. Let’s go!”

With that, the tank lurches forward, surrounded by the landing party, with Corporal Wooten leading the way, Sgt. Johnson shepherding us from the rear. The coolness of the clear water feels mighty fine, shoving aside the heat that was radiating from all that metal aboard ship and sendin’ beads of sweat down our foreheads.
—from “Poor Mama” by Tony Brown

Clara focused on the sound of the shutter banging in the wind, tracing it to a bedroom at the front of the house on the second floor, a room she hadn’t entered in years. The sound transported her back in time, back to that black day—the flash of temper, the crush of his fist, the pool of blood at the bottom of the staircase, the empty nursery.
I didn’t mean to hurt you…
—from “Weeds” by Suzanne Alexander

Days passed and the drought came upon us. The children now spent long hours in a trance-like state, often while congregating together. They had become a close group, still speaking with the rest of us, but keeping their secrets to themselves. Even the other parents could no longer ignore that something was wrong.

Unfortunately, there was not time to investigate the matter, as we were all much too busy just trying to keep our little colony alive. The entirety of my time was spent prospecting for new sources of water and helping to dig wells. They always came up dry, and I returned home every evening feeling a bit more exhausted and dehydrated than I had the night before.
—from “The Coming Storm” by Dan Devine

Annie looked over to the pillow next to her, as she had done every morning for the past year. Usually, it was at this time that she whispered something to the empty space where he once slept. It was at this time, before the sun burned away the last vestige of the dark, that Annie told her husband how much she loved him, and how much she missed him.
On that morning, she told him about the things he might have forgotten. Small things, like the time he kept the Thanksgiving turkey in the oven too long, burning it. Then the mad dash to the grocery store to find a bird cooked properly. Or did he remember the day he had overslept and was late for work. He put on one brown shoe and one black that morning. How does one do that, she had asked him when he returned home that evening. The question was answered as most were, with a kiss and a shrug.
—from “Eternal” by Randy Mixter

Angela shook her head at them, moving to close the door. Malachi shoved against it, knocking Angela back. Octavia glanced around for onlookers, then followed on his heels as he forced himself into the apartment. He covered Angela’s mouth before she could scream; the child made up for both of them with her terrified shrieks. Octavia crossed the room in three leaps, holding the child firmly enough to cut off her cries.

“Taking the kid, too?” Malachi looked amused.

“Do we have a choice?”

“Not really. Just making sure you didn’t eliminate her.”
—from “The Rescuers” by Ransom Noble

“If you don’t let me off this boat right now, I swear to God, Brian, I’m going to jump overboard.”

She felt ropes tangled and knotted around her arms, her throat, cutting off her wind. She couldn’t see them but felt their pressure, their pinching, strangling her throat, starving her lungs of oxygen. Her heart blew up like a balloon ready to burst.
“Calm down, babe,” he said. “Look at me. I’m calm now. It’s my temper. God I need a cigarette.”
—from “Prisoners of Storms & Tides” by T. Fox Dunham

She sits back, takes him in. The boy looks harder now, like a man. He is eleven and violent. He has been taught this by his father. His mother is a wreck, a drunk, a waste. She doesn’t see her son growing to fill a shadow, to walk in bloody footsteps. She will die knowing she let a brute destroy her family. Meanwhile, his father sleeps with two women; he has a choice.
—from “Turbulence” by Bruce Turnbull


“The Storm is Coming: An Anthology” published by Sleeping Cat Books
Links to purchase paperback, Kindle, and NOOK editions at

Introducing The Books of A. F. Stewart

Once Upon a Dark and Eerie… :

An ebook collection of dark short fiction, sonnets and snippets to make you shiver. A morbid and morose collection of tales designed to scare, dismay and leave you wondering. Open the pages into worlds of horror, dark fantasy, and satire, where things creep in shadowy corners, where they like to hear you scream.

Once Upon a Dark and Eerie… will show you it isn’t safe in space, why fairy tales, clowns and rubber duckies are more than what they seem and why you should lock your doors in the dark.

Chronicles of the Undead:

Temptation, vengeance, redemption. Family Secrets.

Inside the personal journals of the Harrington family, a dark and dangerous odyssey unfolds. Three members of this tormented family, Samuel, his son Edmund, and Edmund’s daughter Charlotte, struggle during the 18th and 19th century in London, England, as the lives of this family intersects with supernatural forces. Two intriguing vampires befriend, manipulate and play with all three souls, altering their lives forever. Their fears, private confidences and weaknesses are revealed as one selfish act ends in horrific tragedy, with far-reaching consequences.

Who succumbs to the seduction and danger of the vampire? Who grapples to combat the evil influence that permeates their lives?

Passing Fancies:

A book of collected short fiction, written mostly in the fantasy genre with a smattering of crime and sci-fi dropping by as well. You will find tales short to long, amusing to chilling, wandering about the pages. Take delight in the saga of werewolves, vengeful gods, and virtual reality. Thrill to accounts of murder most strange, quiver as mummies, ghosts,
and demons walk. See the end of the world and the beginning of space.

Stroll the pages of imagination.

Shadows of Poetry:

Poetry written for the blackness in your soul. Wrenching, dismal, bleak verse for those who want to walk on the dark side. Enter into a fateful and shadowy world. Shadows of Poetry is a collection of introspective poetry that skirts
the darker side of life and imagination. Verses include forlorn musings on nature, a harsher glimpse at life and a grim view of fantasy and myth. No sappy, cheerful love poems allowed.

The Incomplete Guide to Action Movies:

Here it is at last — almost everything you need to know to enjoy an action film! Presenting an irreverent manual for dissecting an action movie, a guide to the nuances of that summer blockbuster. Consider musings about crashes, clichés and cannon fodder. Discover how to survive an action movie.Learn the proper way to watch a bad action film.


A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. The youngest of a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind, and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, and oil painting as a hobby.

Ms. Stewart has been writing for several years, her main focus being in the fantasy genre. She also has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.


See Also:

Interview with A. F. Stewart
The Vampire Eleanor de Burgh from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart

Henri Forain, a Vampire from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart