May 24, 2024

“Homicide at Heavensgate” by Sentinel Studios

“Homicide at Heavensgate” by Sentinel Studios

When a mysterious guest is found dead during the grand opening of a new lunar resort, two detectives are sent to investigate. What they find is a rich assortment of potential suspects, and the emergence of a mystery that goes deeper than they imagined. Former cop turned private detective Bianca Buchannan gets an unexpected phone call, takes a new case, and finds all is not well in the gates of heaven. Homicide at Heavensgate stars Marta da Silva as Bianca Buchanan, Lofty Fulton as Cole Duncan, and features the voice talent of David Ault — June Yoon — Joanna Tope — Antonio King — Sasha Masakowski — Ethan Carlson — Andy Harvey — Daniel Cross — Hesham Elshazly — A. G. Willoughby — Joseph Narducci — Nato Jacobson — Joseph Narducci — Laura Richcreek —…

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May 22, 2024

Book Excerpt: “The Last Train to Chicago” by Michael Gray

Book Excerpt: “The Last Train to Chicago” by Michael Gray

*Featured image courtesy of Mado El Khouly on Unsplash* Michael Gray has given us the honor of publishing an excerpt from one of his upcoming pieces. Check it out and tell us what you think in the comments below. I’m just back from the dumpster, the Chicago train’s horn blaring its warning, as Hundley waltzes in with his load on and orders the blue plate special. It’s getting late and we only stay open until ten now because there’s not enough traffic. The blue plate is all we’ve got left, a mishmash of creamed corn or potatoes. Sometimes fries if there’s any in the fryer that haven’t drowned in oil. He’s not picky, Hundley. What drunk is? He stops by to soak up the alcohol with whatever we put in front of him. And of…

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May 15, 2024

“First Impressions of India” by Jon Meyer

“First Impressions of India” by Jon Meyer

*Featured Image courtesy of Naveed Ahmed on Unsplash* Travelling can always lead to some memorable experiences, and Jon Meyer certainly made some memories in his visit to India. Read a snippet of Jon’s trip in his nonfiction piece, “First Impressions of India.” First Impressions of India It was 1973, and I had been a follower of Meher Baba for three years. The white light from Lord Meher through Darwin was powerful, and was still sustaining me even though the constant bliss was somewhat diminished.  I spent a year at the Orrefors Glass School in Sweden and came home to be offered a job at Steuben Glass in Corning, NY. This work was quite varied, which I enjoyed. It entailed being in charge of the new apprentice program in addition to my other duties. Since the…

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May 13, 2024

“Who is Izzy Jean?” by Arvilla Fee

“Who is Izzy Jean?” by Arvilla Fee

*Featured image courtesy of Kris Atomic on Unsplash* I’ll be straight with you, FC readers. This was one of my favorite stories, and I think you’ll enjoy it as well. Let’s give Arvilla Fee a warm welcome as she joins our community with her wholesome story, “Who is Izzy Jean?” The line at Make it Strong Café is long and snail-inches forward; I stare, without focus, at my phone while adhering to my personal rule #8—never engage with anyone before coffee. You may wonder why that’s rule #8, but I assure you, my first seven are equally, if not more, important. “Excuse me, dear,” comes a voice in front of me. I look up wearily and am staring down at the tiniest woman I’ve ever seen. Four-foot nothing, probably 80 pounds. Her hair is white…

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May 10, 2024

“Faust in Wonderland” by the Faustians

“Faust in Wonderland” by the Faustians

Conjured from a cauldron of Company actors coveting to conserve their chops, conflicted and confused concurrently with the Covid crisis, Faust in Wonderland was conceived. As it happened one day, a director, an actor and a poet deliberated on what Faust in Wonderland could artistically convey and all agreed that alliteration should be both alleviated and allayed. Beyond that critical caveat, a consensus was categorically codified that the characters in the Company would conduct plays and monologues as radio podcasts on their website, Facebook and YouTube. Because many of our thespians are also playwrights, they collectively hope to perform their original plays, monologues and “commercials,” as well as present established repertory stage and film scripts. So, wandering like black poodles, the players of Faust in Wonderland hope you enjoy our actor’s modified, but meager memes…

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May 7, 2024

“Complete Stop” by Frank Diamond

“Complete Stop” by Frank Diamond

*Image courtesy of Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash* Frequent contributor Frank Diamond honors us again with another one of his amazing pieces. Take a look at “Complete Stop,” where our elderly protagonist is faced with making a very important life decision. Margaret Johnson should know better. She’s driving through Lakelock Manor Borough, after all. Infamous suburban speed trap. But at 10 in the morning? She comes to an intersection, stops (a “rolling stop” the cop would contend), sees nothing in any direction except a parked SUV. Margaret continues on her way, and suddenly the SUV U-turns and tailgates her, headlights flashing the way undercover police cars do. She pulls over. “I am going to meet my husband, officer,” Margaret explains to this kid who’s about as old as her eldest grandchild. “He’s in Grantmyer Groves.” In…

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May 6, 2024

4 Poems by Joe Farina

4 Poems by Joe Farina

*Image courtesy of Amber Kipp on Unsplash* National Poetry Month may be over, but we still have plenty of great poetry to share. Let’s give a warm welcome to Joe Farina as he joins FC’s family with his collection of somber poems. street dreams does a street have a memory, beneath its many coats does it remember every soul, who walked upon it does it long for a return, to cobblestones and carriages or quicken to the thunder of street cars on silver tracks drugged by combustion engines does it remember being fashioned by the din of picks and shovels wielded by strange speaking labourers until it gleamed, new, in overcoats of smooth concrete and asphalt marked with cryptic symbols does this street have my dreams leaking out its cracks does it smile, as i,…

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May 2, 2024

Michael Larrain’s “The Life of a Private Eye”

Michael Larrain’s “The Life of a Private Eye”

“You’ve made it,” says the narrator of the Firesign Theater’s “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him.” “You’ve made it. Welcome to Side Six.” This is Part 6, the last noirvelette about Michael’s nameless private eye. Thanks to all of you who have commented, so enthusiastically, about this series. It makes Michael and your Baristas so happy to know you’ve enjoyed it. And this last one you are sure to enjoy as well, as it takes place in the Hollywood film business. Its resonant irony will have you grinning and you will appreciate the identity mashups. So without a commercial break or a single coming attraction, we pull the curtain back and roll ’em with “The Pontiff & the Wiener-Monger.” The Life of A Private Eye A Noirvelette in Verse By Michael Larrain Part…

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May 1, 2024

The New FC Anthology is Now Published!

The New FC Anthology is Now Published!

The Strong Stuff, Volume 2, presents the best creative work we published from 2018-2020 500 full-color pages of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and art from our members This is one handsome book, and it’s big – 8″ wide by 10″ tall, just a few pages shy of 500 pages of stimulating writing and art. The cover art is an original design by one of our former baristas, Amanda Grafe. Using Amanda’s original painting, Barista Melanie Marston prepared the book’s front and back covers. The interior design and page layout was designed by Sophie Hanks, who has worked with us on several books now. FC Partner Antony Woooten guided it through publishing and printing with Ingram/Spark.  The back cover. Each contributor’s color photo and bio appear in the book. This contributor’s poetry, accompanied by their art….

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April 24, 2024

Michael Larrain’s “The Life of a Private Eye”

Michael Larrain’s “The Life of a Private Eye”

No, you’re not seeing double. This is Part 5 of the poet’s extraordinary narrative poem about his fictional private eye. Each is told by our one and only gumshoe, each a separate adventure in the streets of Los Angeles, and in each a dame. Of course. If he can figure her out, he can solve the crime. Let’s see how he does in this episode. One more to go next week. The Life of A Private Eye A Noirvelette in Verse By Michael Larrain Part 5: Quadruple Indemnity Original illustrations by Katherine Willmore My doctors had been advising me to get more exercise, so I learned how to put myself into a trance and slipped a couple of useful ideas into my post-hypnotic suggestion-box. The first was to take nightly sleepwalking perambulations. The second tricked…

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