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This is the first story in Best American Short Stories 2010. They did the stories alphabetical by author this year which...I don't know how I feel about. It's fair, but I think there is some merit to editorial flow which can make a book more enjoyable.

I don't give bad reviews as a rule, so if I really didn't like this story I wouldn't review it. My feelings about this story are complex. It's about a psychiatrist with a bit of a gambling problem who is treating a professional poker player. The psychiatrist is generally "hated" by his colleagues, and he's portrayed as less than a good guy. And the mounting conflict between doctor and patient doesn't make either character any better even if they're not quite villainous.

The ending, which I won't give away, was quite predictable, but what wasn't predictable were my emotions about what happened. It certainly wasn't a happy story, and since I've started trying to write romance, that seems to be important to me. (too important?) But my empathy for someone who may not deserve it is interesting, and perhaps Mr. Almond's ability to create intensely flawed but redeemable characters is something to be studied.

I'm not going to give the story a grade or a star rating, but I think, despite my mixed feelings, it deserves a thumbs up. Certainly makes one ponder human nature.

Oct. 13th, 2010


No real news from me. I haven't made much progress on "Sweet Sailings" or on "Front List Kiss" or any other Dina Troy romances. Haven't heard from Fido about "Steal My Heart." I wonder what happened? (Edit: I read my contract. Everything is fine. I just haven't made $25 yet, so I haven't heard from then. I kind of figured I'd make very little from sweet romance so no big deal.)

I've been reading David Rakoff and Josh Goldfaden. I read the first story of Josh Goldfaden's in Human Resources, and it's wonderful. Very droll. The type of literary humor I aspire to write. Perhaps someday. :)

Jun. 5th, 2010


Haven't been here in a while, and I haven't been writing. I stalled out on my second story called "Sweet Sailings" although I may get back to it at some point.

I've been reading some more short stories. The one I recommend most is "On The Line" by Wayne Lee Gay. It can be read online at SNReview. It's a bit sad, but very powerful.

Last month I got to meet the authors of two of the stories I mentioned in previous posts. That was fantastic. :)

My book is out


It's 12,000 words, so calling it a book seems a bit much, but I'm happy.



Here is the link: Fido Publications presents Steal My Heart

cover art




What do you think? I wonder how hard it was for the artist to find a purple heart-shaped gemstone? I hope that didn't drive them crazy. There's an amethyst heart in the story, and while it's the least expensive piece of jewelry the character, Lauren, receives, it's the one that's most special to her.

The idea of having the dial of a safe on the cover was entirely the artist's, and I thought that was pretty neat.

The model on the cover looks a little too Hispanic to be Lauren and a fair amount too young to have already been divorced like Lauren, but she is stunningly beautiful, so I didn't want them to change anything.

I like the purple lettering that matches the gemstone. It looks like they put a lot of thought and effort into it, doesn't it? My friend, K, said she was glad that they made my author name so prominent. Hmm, I guess her name is kind of long, so it's much easier to have a bigger typeface with Dina Troy.

Hmm. Very nice :)

New short story review


The most recent short story I read was "Best Friend" by Jeff Solomon. (Hmm, I knew a Jeff Solomon in high school, but I don't think this is the same person.) For me, the story was a bit hard to follow at first because I'm so literal. However, once I took my literal hat off, I started to see the tragedy of a teen boy's fantasy life. Other authors have done something similar--Sapphire, James Thurber, Ellen Conford, and even David Sedaris. Sometimes it's done with humor and sometimes pain. "Best Friend" is merciless as it seems the fantasy world brings the character, Scott, more and more external torment which sinks him deeper into the fantasy world. Thus, the reader fears Scott is entering a vicious downward spiral.

Definitely a tale that makes a deep impression. One can't help but experience pathos after this powerful work.

p.s. This is not from Fool for Love like the previous reviews. Another writer asked me to read a different anthology called Best Gay Stories 2009, so if you see another review or two, it will probably be from this book for a while.

Jan. 7th, 2010


I haven't been keeping up this blog very well, but here's some news. My story, Steal My Heart, is due to be released on February 15th. I had thought that it would be my one and only work as Dina Troy, but I've been busy working on a second.

I'm rather surprised at myself. There's very little money in sweet romance, but working on this story has been fun, and I'm enjoying the characters.

Short story for today


It would probably make sense to do this on one of my other blogs that someone might actually read, but I guess my Dina Troy persona is the one who reviews short stories.

Today's was "Heart" by `Nathan Burgoine, again from Fool for Love. This was a story that was both sad and fulfilling at the same time. While it's a story of love lost, it's also a story of perfect love--of a match practically made with magic. The narrator, Aiden, may actually possess a little bit of magic power although I'm not very good at knowing when something is metaphor and when something is literal.

The attention to colors - gold, green gray - makes this a very visual story and the imagery adds to the ethereal atmosphere. There is more to these characters than what limits most of the human race. Aiden seems to be able to hold onto a connection, an ability to communicate, with his grandmother despite her passing, so one wonders if perhaps there is nothing that can take away Aiden's love. A moving and thought-provoking story.

Nov. 21st, 2009


I read a story today called "At The End of The Leash" by Jeffrey Ricker. It's from the same anthology as the last story I read. I probably will run out of romance stories to read, but I'll stick with them while I can.

The story is about a dog walker who meets a man who actually fired him from walking his own dog. It had some classic romantic elements: A character who knows a lot more than he's telling. A false presumption that leads to the conflict. I won't explain further because I don't want to ruin it.

I did have a couple questions. The business man (who fired the dog walker) never asks what company he walks dogs for nor does the dog walker have a cell phone number or any way to contact the business man when he's asked by his company to start walking that dog again. I wonder if the worst of the tension could have been realistically avoided.

It's not an r-rated piece, but there is some great passion, and Mr. Ricker does a great job making the reader feel as attracted to the business man as the dogwalker feels. Also, it made me want to pet a Weimaraner. I like dogs sometimes, but Mr. Ricker's description of Casey (the Weimaraner) made me think of pure affection and warmth. Wonderful. :)

Hmm...this is difficult


I'm at a bit of a loss of how to approach this blog.  I don't want it to be a plastic promotional blog, but then what do I write about?  As you might guess, Dina Troy is a pseudonym, and I'm feeling pretty out of my element. 

Here.  I can write about a story I read today.  The story is called "Everyone Says I'll Forget in Time" by Greg Herren, and it's in an anthology called Fool for Love.  The collection apparently was originally called Moonlight and Roses, but was changed to allow for a wider range of love stories--I suppose that means they don't have to all end happily although I haven't read all of the stories yet.  

Mr. Herren's story (I know the author a tiny bit, but I'll still refer to him as Mr. Herren just to be polite.) very nearly made me cry.  To me, he really captured the essence of a long-time couple.  The existence of a secret language.  The little acts of love like surprising someone with pancakes.  The adorable facial expressions no one else gets to see. 

I don't want to give too much away, but it's a cathartic and hopeful story at the same time.  It's written in a way that truly feels like the author knows what it's like to be in love.  Colors are brighter.  Music sounds happier.

I hope if I continue writing romance that I learn to capture the details that make the reader say, "ah, yes, this is love."   In my humble opinion, Mr. Herren has them down perfectly.