Bella Vita

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses, closeup and indoorOur other currently featured books, “The Death Spiral,” by Sarah Giragosian, “Hunted,” by Sarah Biglow and Molly Zenk and “In the Awakening Season,” by Matthew Mumber, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: Bella Vita, an Island Dogs Tale

PUBLISHED IN
: 2020.

THE AUTHOR: B.M. Simpson

SUMMARY: In Island Dogs, Pellet ended up in a bar in the Caribbean. In Avis Humphrey, Avis is a small town guy who won a billion dollar Powerball jackpot and is Pellet’s cousin. In Bella Vita they join forces in the Caribbean to find Bella Vita… and hopefully survive.

THE BACK STORY
: Writing… it’s just what I do. The Caribbean… it’s just where I keep ending up. Writing books about it seems like the next logical step.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Bella Vita translates from Italian to English, beautiful life. We all want it. We all strive for it. Wayne “Pellet” Pelletier is just like the rest of us. He’s striving for Bella Vita.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?
Life is about everyday people and what they do in their everyday lives. The gang in Anguilla is just like everyone else. They’re just trying to make it through the day and hopefully have a little fun.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “Fantastic book! I loved Island Dogs and Avis Humphrey but this book really brought it all together. It was great to be reintroduced to characters and see the next chapter of their lives. Simpson has a way of pulling you into the entire tale, even the exciting side stories that have a way of reintroducing themselves later in the book. I found myself laughing out loud as I felt like I was right alongside them. I won’t dive into the details of this book because I don’t want to ruin it but do yourself a favor and buy this book today. In fact, if you haven’t already picked up Island Dogs and Avis Humphrey, buy them and read them in order to get the full experience. I have raved about them so much even my wife has started reading them. Thank you for the time away from real life as I felt like I was transported onto Anguilla. I cannot wait for your next book.”

AUTHOR PROFILE
: B.M. Simpson was born in rural Maine.  He joined the Air Force at 18 and lived and moved across the U.S. and Europe.  After retiring, he spent many years living, working and traveling in the Caribbean. On the islands of Anguilla, St. Kitts and Grand Cayman, he discovered a passion for island life and formed friendships second to none.  Today, Simpson calls West Bay, Grand Cayman, home. After 30 years of writing poems, songs and short stories, he wrote his first novel, Island Dogs, Avis Humphrey and now, Bella Vita. 

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write because it is what I am called to do. My novels are to escape to a place where we find interesting characters going through the bumps of life, just like the rest of us.

SAMPLE CHAPTERhttps://www.amazon.com/Bella-Vita-Island-Dogs-Tale/dp/0986395447

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Kindle, and Books & Books.

PRICE:

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: email: bmsimpson@gmx.com  FB:https://www.facebook.com/BMSimpson.authorwebsite: www.bmsimpson.com

The Death Spiral

THE BOOK: The Death Spiral.

PUBLISHED IN: 2020.

THE AUTHOR:  Sarah Giragosian.

THE PUBLISHER: Black Lawrence Press.

THE BACK STORY: I discovered the “death spiral,” also called the “cartwheel display,” while conducting research for a poem. The “death spiral” is a courtship ritual among eagles. Locking talons in mid-air, they cartwheel toward earth, risking death until determining when (or if) to let go. If they survive the stunt, they validate the fitness of their potential mate. If not, the test can end in a fatal collision with the earth.

Like the eagles in their precarious death dance, we are each of us mutually dependent upon one another, entangled, and yet survival in this age, the Anthropocene, may be a practice of letting go, learning a position to one another and the earth that is less rapacious. For me, it is a practice of letting go of the world as I have known it; The Death Spiral is part-love letter, part-death notice to the earth and its creatures. It is also a search for sources of resilience in the queer imaginary and queer intimacies, some of which extend beyond just the human.

Sarah Giragosian: The CondorThis manuscript asks what it means to human in our age, to be at once a meddler, a tinkerer, a destroyer, a killer, as well as a rehabilitator and steward. It is addressed to those who are interested in re-thinking our role in the natural world from a position of dominance to one of co-existence. I write for those concerned with re-imagining our planetary citizenship as one defined by an ethics of responsibility towards one another, the earth, and its creatures. The Death Spiral asks what is “Nature” but something of us and beyond us? It is the incarcerated bittern so isolated from her own species that she falls in love with the zoo director, the seacucumbers slick with oil, the smokestack-studded sky, the scientist toying with the extinct mammoth’s DNA.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The “death spiral,” also called the “cartwheel display,” is a courtship ritual among eagles. Locking talons in mid-air, they cartwheel toward earth, risking death until determining when (or if) to let go. If they survive the stunt, they validate the fitness of their potential mate. If not, the test can end in a fatal collision with the earth. This phenomenon is a conceit in the collection for living and loving in our fraught political times. 

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Those interested in the Anthropocene and ecopoetry, as well as queer lyric poetry may have an interest in the book.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “Death spiral, which signifies the cartwheeling display of the American bald eagle as it plummets to the ground, is a not only a poem in this excellent collection, but a metaphor for the current state of the country. These beautifully rendered poems ask when will we roll out of our “death dance,/ and fall upwards, in thrall of sky”? While there are other books that address topics found here such as climate change, racism, and our wrought political times, what sets this book apart is its lyrical precision, imaginative leaps ,and arresting imagery.  Sarah Giragosian is a truly gifted poet.” — Charlotte Pence, author of Many Small Fires.

“The Death Spiral grounds us in the Anthropocene (a time of mass extinction and climate change), yet refuses to adhere to that “fact.”  Instead, the poet finds a way not only to merge her consciousness, her being, her”I,” with that of the absolute other(s)—the animal kingdom, and love—but also to chart a field guide of dazzling formal execution out of our times of terror and loss.  Clear-eyed, resilient, and brave, Giragosian both acknowledges “hope’s atrophied muscles” while suggesting another path—one wherein “irrepressible nature” (neither cruel nor moral)leads the way.  Resplendent with the “ecstasy of disaster,”origin stories, and the “blood relation between mammal and stone,” the poet states her desire plainly:  “To rend.”  And in this rending (reminiscent of a Dickinson gone wild), and praise, we are given a ”test of [our] freedom,” an unleashed mind, an otherwise-tragic narrative of death undercut by glorious song.” —Virginia Konchan, author of Any God Will Do.

“Giragosian’s fierce, gorgeous poems embody our role as one in body and mind with other peoples, plants and animals—living and extinct—arguing a familial connection integral to the survival of species including our own: “he is a thrashing turtle/on a bone hook, speaking from otherwhere/of his apartness. I point to hearth, to kin…” These poems hope we won’t find ourselves with, “Nothing left on Earth to love or fear,” as they invoke the beauty around us, and in us. —April Ossmann, author of Event Boundaries.


AUTHOR PROFILE: Bio: Sarah Giragosian is the author of the poetry collection Queer Fish, a winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize (Dream Horse Press, 2017) and The Death Spiral (Black Lawrence Press, 2020). The craft anthology, Marbles on the Floor: How to Assemble a Book of Poems, which is co-edited by Sarah and Virginia Konchan, is forthcoming from The University of Akron Press. Sarah’s writing has appeared in such journals as Orion, Ecotone, Tin House, and Prairie Schooner, among others. She teaches at the University at Albany-SUNY. 

SAMPLE: https://www.spdbooks.org/Content/Site106/FilesSamples/9781625578143.pdf.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Schenectady Trading Co., Open Door Bookstore, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Market Block Books, Spotty Dog Books and Ale

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

PRICE: $16.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: sgiragosian@albany.edu, https://sarahgiragosian.wordpress.com.

   

 

Hunted

THE BOOK: Hunted.

PUBLISHED IN: 2020.

THE AUTHORS: Sarah Biglow (top photo) & Molly Zenk (bottom photo).

THE PUBLISHER: Cayelle Publishing.

SUMMARY: Fans of the supernatural vampire series True Blood, Twilight and Vampire Diaries will soon have a unique new series they won’t want to put down. In order to save his younger brother from a vampire recruitment weekend disguised as a live action role-playing game, Vampire Hunter Darren Paxton must team up with Vampire Edith Dorset and things get…complicated.

Molly ZenkOn the hundredth anniversary of being turned into a vampire, Edith joins her adopted daughters and their friends at the Heartsong Clan’s annual “vampires vs humans” LARP recruitment event where she meets an eager Dan Paxton. Dan’s older brother and vampire hunter, Darren, thinks he is merely chaperoning a trip to a nerd convention, but when Darren discovers Dan miss ing, he follows the only lead he has to the Heartsong Clan’s residence on Tombstone Row. He’s determined to keep his Hunter instincts in check, rescue his brother, and make a clean escape. When an impromptu late-night encounter leads Darren and Edith to be honest with each other about who and what each of them are, Edith longs to keep Darren and his brother close, even though it goes against Clan rules. The two start to grow closer as they seek out the truth from Edith’s Sire, Mr. Heartsong, and soon Darren is finding it harder than he thought to snuff out Edith and her family. With diverse characters, and tons of action and twists, readers won’t want to miss the first in the HUNTED trilogy releasing November 17th by USA Today bestselling authors Sarah Biglow and Molly Zenk.

Hunted

THE BACK STORY: Back in the fall of 2018, we decided we wanted to try co-writing together for a multi-author boxed set that was aiming to hit the USA Today Bestseller list. We ended up putting a shifter story into that set
(and we hit the list), but our first foray was this quirky alt-history social justice novel about two people really striving for humanity in different ways. We had a blast building the world, ensuring there were parallels between how vampires were treated throughout history and how marginalized groups were treated in reality. We wanted to make our vampires sympathetic. In terms of writing, it took us maybe a little over a month or so to write the first draft. We alternate chapters (and narrators). We’d planned out the overall story arc but sometimes it was a bit of a surprise to read the end of a chapter and go “oh boy, now where do we go from here?” We’ve stuck with this method for all of our joint projects and it has worked out well.

WHY THIS TITLE?: When we were coming up with the titles for this series we looked to books like Divergent and the trend for one-word punchy titles were the “in” thing. Plus, it was very much a game of cat and mouse and our characters were hunting for different things: acceptance, revenge, love. So, Hunted seemed a good title and it stuck.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? We think anyone who enjoys a good paranormal tale will enjoy Hunted. If you are at all into social causes and social equality, we think the themes of this book will touch you. We are also
proud of the unique twist we’ve put on our vampires. Our vampires can only turn others with knowing verbal consent and after seven people, the vampires die. It felt like a different take on vampires in general and we are very proud of them.

REVIEW COMMENTS: Early reviewers on Google Play have said that Darren pulled them in from the start and that “vampire fans won’t be disappointed” by this book!

AUTHOR PROFILES:

SARAH BIGLOW is the USA Today Bestselling author of several urban fantasy, cozy mystery and paranormal romance series, including the Seasons of Magic Urban Fantasy series, the Reverend Margot Quade Cozy Mystery series, the Celestial Academy young adult paranormal romance series, co-authored with Molly Zenk. She is a licensed attorney and spends her days combating discrimination as an Investigator with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. In her spare time, she is a TV lover and enjoys shows ranging from Call the Midwife, The Flash and Killjoys to This Is Us and A Million
Little Things. She lives in Boston with her husband and son.


MOLLY ZENK is the USA Today Bestselling author of several Young Adult, dystopian, paranormal, romance, and historical fiction books. She has degrees in Secondary Education, English, and Creative Writing. She spent six years using those degrees teaching High School English, Poetry, and Creative Writing
before going on hiatus to focus on being a stay-at-home/work-at-home Mom. Molly’s writing credits include Operation Boyfriend, Haunting You, the Captivity series and Celestial Academy series (both co-written with Sarah Biglow) and short stories and novellas in multiple boxed sets. Molly is married to a
Mathematician/Software Engineer who complains about there not being enough math or info about him in her author bio. They live in Arvada, CO with their daughters.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: As we mentioned above, we really wanted to touch on social issues of class in this book in a new and different way. Most of our joint works have some sort of social justice bent to them. That’s what you get with an English teacher and a lawyer at the helm.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, B&N, Bookshop.org.

PRICE: Print 11.99; digital ebook 4.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHORS:

WEBSITE: http://www.sarah-biglow.com / http://www.mollyzenkwrites.wordpress.com
TWITTER: @SBiglowWrites / @UnsinkableMoZe
INSTAGRAM: @sbiglowwrites
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/SarahBiglowAuthor / http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMollyZenk

In the Awakening Season

Matthew P. MumberTHE BOOK: In the Awakening Season

PUBLISHED IN: 2020

THE AUTHOR: Matthew Mumber

THE PUBLISHER: Leapfolio, an affiliate of Tupelo Press. Leapfolio is a commercial collaborative publishing venture established by the executives and staff of the nonprofit company Tupelo Press, one of the most respected literary book publishers in America.

SUMMARY: In the Awakening Season was written as a part of my daily contemplative practice. The foundation of that practice is awakening to a deeper experience of this present moment, in the midst of my concrete, daily life.

Moments of awakening tend to occur out of the blue for me. They are usually accompanied by an experiential realization that everything feels like a part of an oceanic oneness, including me.

My periods of enlightenment tend to come and go in flashes. Rarely, these moments extend for hours to days and lead to a more extended period of transformation. I try to put myself in the way of these spontaneous moments of spiritual experience by removing obstacles to their occurrence. Basically, I try to remain open to holding whatever comes up without trying to fix or judge it. Fixing and judging, clinging and resisting, tend to pull me into the past or project me further into the future where the lessons of the present are not available.


How can I be in this moment and allow this moment to inspire, surprise and move me?

THE BACK STORY: One practice that has been especially helpful for me is Lectio Divina, specifically as taught by Jim Finley, a former Trappist monk who had Thomas Merton as his spiritual advisor in the monastery. I met Jim through the Living School for Action and Contemplation.

The way that we hold whatever comes up will be unique to us. In Jim’s book Christian Meditation and in oral teaching, he related the way that he has developed his own process of Lectio Divina, first envisioned by Guigo, a Carthusian monk in the 12th century. Guigo had a vision of a ladder to heaven while gardening, and this ladder was a way for him to have a firm foundation in spiritual teachings while safely exploring their depth and breadth. It is important
when we are on a ladder that we can safely and securely ascend and descend in order to accomplish our particular task. It is just as important in contemplative practice to feel grounded and safe.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The theme of the book came about after piecing all of the poems together. There are 3 sections: awaken, falling and deeper. These 3 sections describe the process of awakening that can occur when I bring my focus and attention to what life is trying to teach.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The book is ideal for readers looking for poems that can be read as a part of contemplative practice. Lovers of the poetry of Mary Oliver and Rilke will likely enjoy it as well. Given that I am an oncologist, those dealing with cancer may find it helpful.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“These poems evoke an intimate sense of the mystery of the most foundational aspects of our lives. Sitting with their evocative simplicity becomes a meditative practice, a way of awakening to the gift and miracle of being alive and real in the world. The holiness of life shines out between the words.” — Jim Finley, author of Merton’s Palace of Nowhere and Christian Meditation.

“In this book of poems, In The Awakening Season, Matthew Mumber, physician and poet, applies his powers of observation and appreciation to a wide range of topics, from death to blossoming, parenting to untrustworthy politicians, nature’s glory to dealing with the hard decisions of doctoring. He is not afraid to talk about killing wasps right next to a poem about spiritual deepening. Overall, there seems to be a primarily optimistic, spiritually oriented urgency to this assemblage as demonstrated in his wonderful line ‘everything will be refilled to overflowing.’ He reminds us that no matter the unexpected and the difficult there will always be flowering.” — David Watts, M.D. author of Bedside Manners, and The Orange Wire Problem.

“This isn’t a book, it’s a blessing. These poems could only be written by someone who not only loves life, but serves it. A Medicine for the soul.” — Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, author of, Kitchen Table Wisdom.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Matthew Mumber, M.D., practices medicine as a board-certified radiation oncologist with the Harbin Clinic in Rome, GA. After entering private practice, Matt attended and graduated from Dr. Andrew Weil’s fellowship in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona, where he met Rachel Remen and attended trainings on facilitation of physician-patient retreat groups through Commonweal. Subsequently, Matt attended and graduated from a 2-year program on spirituality at the Living School for Action and Contemplation through the Rohr Institute, where he studied with Jim Finley. An author of academic and lay press texts on the subject of healing, Matt has edited an academic textbook entitled Integrative Oncology: Principles and Practice and also co-wrote a lay-press health and wellness book, Sustainable Wellness with Heather Reed. He has served as the president of the Georgia Society of Clinical
Oncology. Matt’s poetry, which draws on his personal, professional, cultural and natural-world experiences, stems from his lectio divina meditation and spiritual practice. Matt has facilitated groups and retreats focused on transformation and healing for over twenty years. His first book of poetry, In the Awakening Season, was published in 2020. He lives in Georgia with his wife and three sons.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: This book is a good way to begin a practice that includes stopping, being calm and at rest.

SAMPLE POEMS:

https://drmattmumber.com/poems?author=5a0db38a5e0ed88f0deded6a

OUTLETS: https://www.tupelopress.org/, Amazon.

PRICE: $17.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: mmumber@gmail.com

Weather Report for Nov. 30

(Photo from Travel + Leisure)

OK, so what happened to the week of November 24th? Typically, I don’t put up any posts that week because it wouldn’t be fair to those authors (the holiday distractions for potential readers, and all of that). Same with Christmas week.

The next edition of Snowflakes will be posted either Dec. 1 or Dec. 2. If it’s the latter, I’ll adjust the schedule to Wednesdays until the Christmas break, to make sure no one gets shorted a day. There will be no Weather Report next week.

Meanwhile, I’m thankful that this next edition of Snowflakes will top 800 books featured since May of 2015. I’m also thankful for all the authors who have participated and the book lovers who have become followers of this blog. And I’m simply thankful for books in general.

Just to tweak your interest about tapping into the Snowflakes list for a Christmas gift, check out this “Books by subject” list. If one intrigues you, go to our Authors page (in the menu to the left of the landing page) and click on the author’s name for more information.

https://snowflakesarise.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/books-by-subject/

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, DEC. 1-7

“BELLA VITA,” BY B.M. SIMPSON

It’s appropriate that Brian’s book pops up on our 800th anniversary week. His “Island Dogs” was the first book ever highlighted on Snowflakes.

In Island Dogs, Pellet ended up in a bar in the Caribbean. In Avis Humphrey, Avis is a small town guy who won a billion dollar Powerball jackpot, and is Pellet’s cousin. In Bella Vita they join forces in the Caribbean to find Bella Vita… and hopefully survive.

Writes Brian: “Writing… it’s just what I do. The Caribbean… it’s just where I keep ending up. Writing books about it seems like the next logical step. Bella Vita translates from Italian to English, beautiful life. We all want it. We all strive for it.

“THE DEATH SPIRAL,” BY SARAH GIRAGOSIAN.

Sarah writes: “I discovered the “death spiral,” also called the “cartwheel display,” while conducting research for a poem. The “death spiral” is a courtship ritual among eagles. Locking talons in mid-air, they cartwheel toward earth, risking death until determining when (or if) to let go. If they survive the stunt, they validate the fitness of their potential mate. If not, the test can end in a fatal collision with the earth.

“Like the eagles in their precarious death dance, we are each of us mutually dependent upon one another, entangled, and yet survival in this age, the Anthropocene, may be a practice of letting go, learning a position to one another and the earth that is less rapacious. For me, it is a practice of letting go of the world as I have known it; The Death Spiral is part-love letter, part-death notice to the earth and its creatures. It is also a search for sources of resilience in the queer imaginary and queer intimacies, some of which extend beyond just the human.”

“HUNTED,” BY SARAH BIGLOW AND MOLLY ZENK.

OK, I’ll admit that I normally don’t gravitate toward the standard vampire tales because they tend to be so predictable. This one, however, has enough plot twists in it to make it unique.

Fans of the supernatural vampire series True Blood, Twilight and Vampire Diaries will soon have a unique new series they won’t want to put down. In order to save his younger brother from a vampire recruitment weekend disguised as a live action role-playing game, Vampire Hunter Darren Paxton must team up with Vampire Edith Dorset and things get…complicated.

On the hundredth anniversary of being turned into a vampire, Edith joins her adopted daughters and their friends at the Heartsong Clan’s annual “vampires vs humans” LARP recruitment event where she meets an eager Dan Paxton. Dan’s older brother and vampire hunter, Darren, thinks he is merely chaperoning a trip to a nerd convention, but when Darren discovers Dan miss ing, he follows the only lead he has to the Heartsong Clan’s residence on Tombstone Row. He’s determined to keep his Hunter instincts in check, rescue his brother, and make a clean escape.

When an impromptu late-night encounter leads Darren and Edith to be honest with each other about who and what each of them are, Edith longs to keep Darren and his brother close, even though it goes against Clan rules. The two start to grow closer as they seek out the truth from Edith’s sire, Mr. Heartsong, and soon Darren is finding it harder than he thought to snuff out Edith and her family. With diverse characters, and tons of action and twists, readers won’t want to miss the first in the HUNTED trilogy releasing November 17th by USA Today bestselling authors Sarah Biglow and Molly Zenk.

“IN THE AWAKENING SEASON,” BY MATTHEW MUMBER

Matthew says: “In the Awakening Season was written as a part of my daily contemplative practice. The foundation of that practice is awakening to a deeper experience of this present moment, in the midst of my concrete, daily life.

“Moments of awakening tend to occur out of the blue for me. They are usually accompanied by an experiential realization that everything feels like a part of an oceanic oneness, including me.

“My periods of enlightenment tend to come and go in flashes. Rarely, these moments extend for hours to days and lead to a more extended period of transformation. I try to put myself in the way of these spontaneous moments of spiritual experience by removing obstacles to their occurrence. Basically, I try to remain open to holding whatever comes up without trying to fix or judge it. Fixing and judging, clinging and resisting, tend to pull me into the past or project me further into the future where the lessons of the present are not available.
How can I be in this moment and allow this moment to inspire, surprise and move me?”

 

 

 

 

 

Of Color

Author Jaswinder Bolina discussing and signing his book "Phantom... News  Photo - Getty Images

This week’s other featured books, “Bad Dog,” by John Philpin, “The Proctor Hall Horror,”by Bill Thompson and “New Twists,” by Don Tassone, can be found by scrolling down below this post or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: Of Color

PUBLISHED IN: 2020.

THE AUTHOR:  Jaswinder Bolina

THE EDITOR
: Daniel Levin Becker: he’s not credited on the copyright page, but he was essential to the book’s existence.

THE PUBLISHER
: McSweeney’s

SUMMARY: The book touches on how race has affected my life as a writer, my views of the U.S., and my personal relationships with family, friends, and strangers. It’s mostly an account of how issues of race and class, issues that a younger me so desperately hoped would not define me, came to define me anyway. Most of the essays were written individually over the course of nine years, a stretch that included, both, the presidencies of Barack Obama and his successor, and so the book is also an accounting of how my views on race, class, and place changed over that time. The book tries to sort out, as I say in one of the essays, how race becomes metaphysical, but the writing style isn’t quite so philosophical as that might sound. The essays strive to be, both, personal and conversational as they offer my experiences, observations, and conclusions about race, kin, and country.

THE BACK STORY
: As I mention above, many of the essays were written over the course of nine years for various journals and media outlets. I didn’t really have much ambition to publish a book when I started writing them, but over time, the work accumulated, and the essays hung together around the central theme of race. 

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title didn’t occur to us until pretty deep into the editorial process. Daniel and I had been batting around ideas for a long stretch until it finally occurred to me that this phrase “of color” kept appearing all over the place, in nearly every essay. It might have a slightly different context in each—”writer of color,” “person of color,” “son or husband or parent of color”—but it just kept appearing. Because the essays were written over the course of several years, I’d been searching for some kind of unifying idea as the title, and this is the one that struck me.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
I hope that the personal, conversational tone of the writing makes it unique as well as its focus on, both, a life in writing and the private life of a person of color. While it does grapple with difficult subject matter, the book isn’t polemical or filled with prescriptions. I’m most hopeful that it’s an approachable collection that more or less accompanies the reader on an exploration rather than one that tells the reader exactly what to think. I think its focus on the racialized experiences of a member of the Desi diaspora also makes it unique among the many books out there grappling with race.  

REVIEW COMMENTS: “These companionable essays squeeze one’s arm with the firm, fraternal pressure of a trustworthy adviser.” —Ron Slate, On the Sea Wall.

“Eminently readable… entrusts us with an honest conversation that we all should be having with each other.” —Ploughshares.

“Maybe it’s because Bolina’s humility has proved so difficult to conjure in my own life that I see it so clearly here, why I’m marveling, as if watching a magician at work. Bolina waves a comma like a wand and the positive space recedes, the negative space rises to the surface, the play of words proffering a sense of relief.”—The Rumpus.


AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m mostly a poet by trade with three published collections: The 44th of July (2019), Phantom Camera (2013), and Carrier Wave (2006). Beyond my writing, I teach at the University of Miami. I’m also an only son of Indian immigrants, a happy half of a mixed-race marriage, and father to a mixed-race son. Maybe just as relevant, I’m a full-blooded Chicagoan who lives and dies—mostly dies—with the Cubs, and I’d give anything for a proper stuffed pizza or gyros sandwich if anyone knows a good way to ship hot and fresh to South Florida.
  
AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 I hope the larger issues of race and nation are apparent from what I’ve already written above, but what I really hope is that readers walk away from this book more empathetic towards people of color than when they start it. After all, this isn’t a collection of op-eds. It’s more like a series of witness statements that strive to be as sincere and honest as possible.

SAMPLE CHAPTERhttps://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2020/06/30/american-indian/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Books & Books

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: McSweeney’s website (https://store.mcsweeneys.net/products/of-color) or Bookshop.org

PRICE: $18.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Twitter: @jaswinderbolina; Website: www.jaswinderbolina.com (anyone interested can reach me via the site)

 

Bad Dog

John Philpin – Author and independent criminal profiler.THE BOOK: Bad Dog

PUBLISHED IN: 2012

THE AUTHOR:  John Philpin

THE PUBLISHER: GenPop Books

SUMMARY: Bad Dog is about war. It’s also about the lies that have led us into war, about the rapid drift from the founding principles of the nation, and about the widening chasm between government and the governed. Our protagonist carries with him a missing girl’s Book of Lies, notes and questions from a thirteen-year-old. “If you expect to see what I see,” Zoe Garnier writes, “and to hear what I hear, you have to come around to my side of the table and look at you.” Zoe is French-American, born in Saigon, whisked away to the United States when her mother is murdered, and embarked on her own search for the Nightmare Man: “I don’t like meeting him like this when I don’t know who he is.”

Bad Dog by [John Philpin]In Bad Dog,  the author-protagonist has written the book he always wanted to write: “…one book, true and not true, with characters who drift in and out, a plot that fades and flashes and fades again, a story that is fragments, bits of this and that just like life is, with no real chronology because what seems important at one moment is reduced to shit the next. At the end, every detail, every thought, every idle reference will be connected, all one.” 

The result is a tale of living through two bouts of national madness. The first “was a time of dreams and desperation, drunken days, Day-Glo nightmares, schemes to stay alive, funerals, madhouses filled with the sane, a killer soundtrack, and murder.” Today: “I gaze out my window now, thirty-eight years later, and I see the new haze — a world filled with evil-doers, plastic wrap, duct tape, and bad tunes — and I know the toilet has backed up again.”

THE BACK STORY: Bad Dog was 50 years in the living, 5 years in the writing. It’s an autobiographical novel and it marked my departure from the “publishing industrial complex”. I had fired my agent and broken the relationship with my publisher after too many years of demands to write according to formula. I’d written psychological thrillers, true crime books based on cases I had worked as a psychologist-consultant, consistently refusing to adhere to formula by insisting on psychological accuracy. It was simple, really: I would write what I wanted to write in whatever form (if any) that I chose. I wrote a poem in high school—something apocalyptic, angry, without punctuation or capital letters, lines ending or beginning capriciously. My teacher said, “Know all the rules before you break them.” It was the kind of sage advice that transcends the medium of the moment. I learned the rules, then embarked on a life dedicated to challenging them.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Long a fan of the poetry, music, philosophy, and activism of the late John Trudell, I was thrilled when he appeared at a Powwow near here. That evening I heard his “Bad Dog” for the first time. “There’s a way we’re expected to obey,” he said, and his words resonated with me just as the words of Lenny Bruce, Muhammad Ali, or Bob Dylan had so many years ago. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” Trudell continued, “Don’t you know what freedom means? Bad dog.” My protagonist says that all he wants is to be left alone, but he is told, “That’s the one thing you can’t have.” The leash may remain attached to the collar, but the collar is empty.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Through the years I’ve often said that the only reason to write a book is to light a fire in the reader’s head. Bad Dog is not entertainment; the book is intended to spark thought–free, independent, non-linear, unconditioned and unconditional thought. I confess my love affair with words, with the hypnotic power of language. Handled properly, an abrupt shift in narrative is the best of all possible cures for those who demand all things be linear and neatly ordered.

REVIEW COMMENTS: 

“Bad Dog is a remarkable novel in more ways than one, starting with the dialogue. It’s smart and fast and real, bare of explication, the kind of talk screenwriters aim for. Philpin, though, does something I’ve never quite seen before, embedding the distilled dialogue in a narrative that almost seems an opposite language—a wildly diffusive monologue inside the teller’s brain, ranging unrestricted through memories, riffs on history, outbreaks of anger, the lost dreams of America. On the way to breaking the standard rules of fiction, Bad Dog delivers something that lies at the heart of every novel—our need to make sense of the world.” — Josephine Humphreys, author of Nowhere Else on Earth.

“Bad Dog is a fictional memoir about crime and life by an author who understands both well. At the center of the tale is a double murder and the abduction of a child, but the biggest crimes of all are the lies perpetrated by a government bound and determined to wage war. Head down the rabbit holes of Vietnam and Iraq with a trippy, disillusioned guide who refuses to dance to the drumbeats of death. You’ll feel compelled to read non-stop but forced to pause to contemplate the truths on each page. An unforgettable read.” —Diane Fanning is the author of ten works of true-crime and five mystery novels including Twisted Reason, the most recent in the Lucinda Pierce series.

“Philpin starts at a flat run and never once slows down. Here is murder and kidnapping seen through the lens of a good-hearted draft dodger whose mantra is “Reality does not have my consent.” — Jessie Hunter is the author of Blood Music.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am a retired psychologist, author, and consultant on serial murder cases living with my wife of 52 years in northern New England. Although I live a reclusive life, I do enjoy occasional spirited conversation. I still receive a few inquiries wondering if I’m “the guy who does murders”. Although memory does fade with age, I remain fairly certain that I’ve never killed anyone.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The history of this country is a tale of an ever-widening gap between government and the governed, rulers and the ruled. We are taught from day one that obedience, compliance, conformity are good; independent thought is bad. Our history is a binary tale–either/or, right/wrong, when the fact gnaws at the fabric of society that the number of choices available under any system is infinite.

SAMPLE CHAPTERhttps://www.amazon.com/Bad-Dog-John-Philpin-ebook/dp/B006UV7ONO/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=bad+dog+philpin&qid=1604796219&s=books&sr=1-1

LOCAL OUTLETS: https://genpopbooks.com/john-philpin/bad-dog/

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon 

PRICE: $14.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: The easiest way to contact me is through the comment section on my website: http://johnphilpin.com/.

— 
“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience.” ~ Howard Zinn 

The Proctor Hall Horror

The Proctor Hall Horror (The Bayou Hauntings Book 7) by [Bill Thompson]THE BOOK: The Proctor Hall Horror (The Bayou Hauntings Book 7)

PUBLISHED IN
: 2020

THE AUTHOR:  Bill Thompson

THE EDITOR
: Pauline Nolet

THE PUBLISHER
: Ascendente Books

SUMMARY: Could fourteen-year-old Noah Proctor have slaughtered his family in ther beds, arranged their bodies on a couch and put their heads on a mantel? Everyone in town thinks so, but Noah’s not talking.

Proctor Hall is one of Lafourche Parish’s oldest sugar cane plantations. After Noah murdered his parents and little sister in 1963, he went away to an institution while caretakers maintained the place. Twenty-six years later the man who never spoke returned home. A girl disappears and people believe Noah’s up to his old tricks.

Four college students visit the now-abandoned farmhouse as part of a class project, and they fall victim to whoever – or whatever – still resides within its walls. Famous paranormal investigator Landry Drake conducts a séance there, uncovers long-hidden secrets and learns that the horror of Proctor Hall is still at work.

Bill ThompsonTHE BACK STORY: “This is my seventh book in the Bayou Hauntings series. I wrote the first one, a ghost story called Callie, just to see how my readers would accept a different genre from me. My previous books were archaeological thrillers (a la Indiana Jones) and when Callie was released, it soon became my top selling book by far. The series has won many awards, and people obviously love a good old spooky story, especially one that unfolds way down south in the eerie bayous of Louisiana.

As with my others, this book took about three months to write, once I finished my onsite research and interviews. Before anything else happens, I drive the back roads of Cajun country looking for settings. I want interesting houses and buildings, quirky towns and people, and I go to the local bar and ask residents if they know any ghost stories about the area. When I’m finished, I’m armed with lots of goodies to get my book going in the right direction.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The house in The Proctor Hall Horror is loosely based on some old farm plantations I saw in Lafourche Parish around Thibodaux, Louisiana. I also enjoy weaving the bayous into my tales, and this book began life as I sat on the bank of Bayou Lafourche in Lockport and watched some alligators sunning on a far bank. I imagined how things would be if this bayou ran past an old abandoned farmhouse with a dark history. I began framing a tale that ultimately became this book.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
Many of my readers say they appreciate the local flavor I include. I visit the places I write about. I know how the restaurant looks inside, how many columns the antebellum courthouse has and how far you have to drive to get to the next town. I want my readers to be there with my characters as they walk the streets and drive to the old mansions. The story’s important, but for me the setting should be as enjoyable as the narrative.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I attended Tulane University and for two years, I played honky-tonk piano at night in a Bourbon Street club. I love history, and there’s no place more filled with history and spooky stories than the French Quarter of New Orleans.

I’ve also been a corporate entrepreneur, buying, selling and running companies. I’ve been a mayor, the head of a state prison system corrections board, and a member of Lloyds of London. My life has been interesting, blessed and full of adventure, but what I do now – spinning yarns that make my readers say they can’t put down – is as gratifying as anything I’ve ever done before.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  I hit a perfect place when I wrote my first ghost story. It was a hit with readers, but more importantly, it was my first venture into a genre I’ve always loved. I wrote spooky stories when I was a child, and when I had boys of my own, I created eerie tales for them. Now I’m gratified to have readers who say they can’t wait for my next book. It doesn’t get any better than this!  

SAMPLE CHAPTER

“What’s the most haunted plantation home in Louisiana?”

All sixteen students raised their hands, and Julien Girard said, “Camilla, let’s hear your choice.”

“The Myrtles in St. Francisville.”

“A logical choice,” Dr. Girard said, asking the class who agreed with her. As usual, the vast majority chose it, too. Only three had other ideas. Oak Alley. Chretien Point. San Francisco Plantation. They always pick the same ones.

“You’ve made four excellent choices, but the title ‘most haunted’ depends on who you ask. Every Louisianan has an opinion, and if you ask a hundred
people, you’ll get a variety of answers.

“Here’s my idea. The most haunted plantation house in Louisiana is Proctor Hall in Lafourche Parish. Not many people know about it.”

He flashed a picture on a screen. “As you can see, it’s not a beautiful old mansion like the ones you just mentioned. It’s a farmhouse on a plantation along Bayou Lafourche.

“Proctor Hall was the scene of one of the most grisly mass murders in the twentieth century and the most horrific ever in that parish. Here’s your assignment for the weekend. Research the story, find out as much as you can about what happened there, and turn in a report on Monday. There’s more to the story of Proctor Hall than you might expect, so the top grades go to those of you who dig the deepest. We’ll discuss it then.”

As the students filed out of Julien Girard’s classroom on the third floor of Tulane’s Hebert Hall, he considered which of them would do the minimum on this project and who would really embrace it. There was plenty about what the press dubbed the Massacre at Proctor Hall, but almost nothing about the other eerie things that had happened there over the years. The only A’s for this assignment would go to those who learned more than the obvious. After teaching history for twenty-eight years, Julien knew almost every tall tale and spooky story there was. But when he created a course called Appreciation of Louisiana Culture, he’d
found his true calling.

For the past three years he’d been enchanting his students with the legends of Cajun country. Julien was a master storyteller, and every semester there was a
waiting list of people who wanted to take his course. His rugged good looks and black hair pulled back into a ponytail didn’t hurt his popularity with the coeds, either.

The part of his job he loved most was preparing his curriculum for the next semester. He spent summers driving the back roads of southwestern Louisiana, exploring old houses and hearing about mysteries and ghosts. In town after town, he listened to stories from ordinary people who claimed to have witnessed unexplainable events. All that research ended up as fodder for his students to ponder.

Although it had happened a few years before he was born, Julien knew every detail about the Massacre at Proctor Hall. It fascinated him to watch his students dig into the mysteries there. Would they turn up all the secrets the old house held? Not a chance. Nobody ever did, because they’d been so well concealed all these years.

On Monday morning, his students drifted back into the classroom. He could tell from the looks on their faces who had enjoyed working on Friday’s assignment and who gave it the usual “just enough to get by” effort.

“I hope everyone had a great weekend,” he began. “And I hope you found researching Proctor Hall intriguing. It’s one of my favorite stories. Is there anyone who didn’t do the assignment? Dog ate my homework? I had the flu? My mother grounded me and I couldn’t use the computer?”

Everyone laughed, but no one raised a hand. That was always gratifying. At least they all tried.

“Who thinks their research is best? Who among you thinks you’ll get the top grade today?”

One hand shot up before he’d finished the first question — Marisol de Leon’s. No surprise there. Over the years, a variety of students had passed through his classroom and his life. Underachievers, overachievers, those who struggled, the cocky, the shy, those who loved his subject, and those who took it to fill an elective and graduate.

Marisol had a classic type A personality — driven, ambitious, ruthless and determined to be best at whatever she did. Naturally she’d consider her work the best. And it probably was, but he had to be fair to the class.

“Okay, Marisol, we’ll save the best for last.”

He and she laughed, but the others didn’t. Early in the semester they had tired of her ego trips. By now it was fifteen against one — the class against the beautiful, sultry senior from southern California.

“How about you, Andy?” Girard asked, looking at the only other senior in his class.

Andy Arnaud slouched in his chair, chewing on a toothpick and exhibiting his trademark “don’t give a shit” attitude.

Andy was one of those who did just enough to get by. He was here for one reason. His parents wanted him to have a degree. Andy couldn’t care less because he wouldn’t be job hunting after he walked across the stage. His father owned a dozen car dealerships across the state. Andy’s folks were what wealthy people in the deep South called “new money.” It wasn’t a flattering term.

“I looked it up like you said,” the boy replied. “Old house, kid kills his whole family, he’s nuts so they can’t fry his ass, yada yada yada. That’s the ten-second version of Proctor Hall.”

“If minimizing the horrors of Proctor Hall had been the assignment, you’d be the winner for sure,” Julien snapped, but why get angry? Andy wouldn’t change, and he wasn’t worth the effort.

He listened to summaries from a few more before asking the big question. “How many of you came across the name Marguey Slattery?”

Eight hands went up, Marisol’s first and highest. Half the class.

“Okay. Now here’s a question for those who didn’t come across Marguey’s name. Don’t yell out the answer. Raise your hands. Who killed the three members of the Proctor family in 1963?”

As he had expected, all eight students raised their hands. And six out of eight fell for the trick question, just like they did every semester.

Six said, “Noah Proctor.”

Julien asked the other two, “If Noah didn’t do it, who did?”

“Nobody knows who killed the family,” they said, and they were right.

Julien said, “Six of you answered as most people would, but the facts are clear. Noah was never charged and never convicted. You drew a conclusion from an improper basic premise. If everything else in the report you turn in is right, I’ll give you a C, but that’s the best you can hope for.”

At last he called on Marisol. “You think your report’s the best. Tell us the story of Proctor Hall.”

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc. 

PRICE: $12.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR

Website: billthompsonbooks.com
 

New Twists

THE BOOK: New Twists.

PUBLISHED IN: October 2020.

THE AUTHOR: Don Tassone.

THE PUBLISHER: Adelaide Books.

SUMMARY: The 20 stories featured in this collection are based on abiding themes but with new twists, stories that explore old ideas in today’s world. What does tolerance look like, for example, at a time of such great divisiveness? Fifteen of these stories are longer. Five are very short. All are an invitation to think anew.

THE BACK STORY: For this collection, I wanted to write about enduring truths through stories set in the modern world. I also wanted to write longer stories. Some of my readers have told me my stories are too short. “They’re a tease,” one said. So 15 of the stories in this collection are among the longest I’ve ever written. For those who like a tease, I’ve sprinkled in five very short selections too.

Don TassoneWHY THIS TITLE: Each of the stories in this collection puts a new twist on an old theme — friendship, for-giveness, hope, fear, loneliness, compassion, etc.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: You can read Aesop’s Fables, and you can watch the news. New Twists combines both.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Don Tassone’s thoughtful new collection of wide-ranging stories delves into the connections made throughout our lives—from the perils of teenage angst to the precariousness of life at the top of the corporate world. Communications play a huge part—by iPhone, executive phone, in heartfelt handwritten letters, and even when the characters find themselves off the grid. Tassone knows whereof he speaks, and the “New Twists” ring true!” – Mary Ann Presman, author of The Good Dishes.

With authority and compassion, Don Tassone brings his characters to life on the page
and makes us care about them—whether a teenage Mexican immigrant who resents his hard-working father or a hardboiled executive prepared to fire her mentor. You find yourself pulling for these characters as they reach small epiphanies or suffer shattering disappointments and loss.” — John Young, author of When the Coin is in the Air.

AUTHOR PROFILE: After a long career in the corporate world, Don Tassone has returned to his creative writing roots. New Twists is his fifth book. The others are the novel Drive and three other short story collections: Sampler, Small Bites and Get Back. His second novel, Francesca, and fifth story collection, Snapshots, will be published in 2021. Don and his wife Liz live in Loveland, Ohio. They have four children.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write as an invitation to think more deeply. I hope the stories
in New Twists do that.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Here’s one of five very short stories in this collection.

CAROUSEL.

I found myself standing on a spinning carousel, holding onto a twisted brass pole.
A panoply of images encircled me, people and experiences from throughout my life.
I watched them all pass by: every friend and enemy, every success and failure,
every joy and sorrow. They all blended together.

I wanted to stop and behold the miracle of my daughter being born again. I
wanted to unsee my mother dying. But I couldn’t stop or close my eyes or pick and
choose.

It was all my life, every part indispensable, and as I held on tight and looked
around, I felt grateful for the whole of it.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

PRICE: Kindle $7.99, Paperback $19.60.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: dptassone@gmail.com, https://www.dontassone.com.

Weather Report, November 16

456 Dog Snarling Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from Dreamstime

(Photo from Dreamstime)

Our currently featured books, “The Fire in His Wake,” by Spencer Wolff, “On Trair Lar Beach,” by Dianne Ebertt Beaff, “Memories in the Drift,” by Melissa Payne and “Camp Winnapooka,” by Scott Laudati, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

—————————————————————–

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD

“BAD DOG,” BY JOHN PHILPIN.

Bad Dog is about war. It’s also about the lies that have led us into war, about the rapid drift from the founding principles of the nation, and about the widening chasm between government and the governed. Our protagonist carries with him a missing girl’s Book of Lies, notes and questions from a thirteen-year-old. “If you expect to see what I see,” Zoe Garnier writes, “and to hear what I hear, you have to come around to my side of the table and look at you.” Zoe is French-American, born in Saigon, whisked away to the United States when her mother is murdered, and embarked on her own search for the Nightmare Man: “I don’t like meeting him like this when I don’t know who he is.”

“OF COLOR,” BY JASWINDER BOLINA.

Jaswinder writes: “The book touches on how race has affected my life as a writer, my views of the U.S., and my personal relationships with family, friends, and strangers. It’s mostly an account of how issues of race and class, issues that a younger me so desperately hoped would not define me, came to define me anyway. Most of the essays were written individually over the course of nine years, a stretch that included, both, the presidencies of Barack Obama and his successor, and so the book is also an accounting of how my views on race, class, and place changed over that time. The book tries to sort out, as I say in one of the essays, how race becomes metaphysical, but the writing style isn’t quite so philosophical as that might sound. The essays strive to be, both, personal and conversational as they offer my experiences, observations, and conclusions about race, kin, and country.”

“THE PROCTOR HALL HORROR,” BY BILL THOMPSON.

Could fourteen-year-old Noah Proctor have slaughtered his family in ther beds, arranged their bodies on a couch and put their heads on a mantel? Everyone in town thinks so, but Noah’s not talking.

Proctor Hall is one of Lafourche Parish’s oldest sugar cane plantations. After Noah murdered his parents and little sister in 1963, he went away to an institution while caretakers maintained the place. Twenty-six years later the man who never spoke returned home. A girl disappears and people believe Noah’s up to his old tricks.

Four college students visit the now-abandoned farmhouse as part of a class project, and they fall victim to whoever – or whatever – still resides within its walls. Famous paranormal investigator Landry Drake conducts a séance there, uncovers long-hidden secrets and learns that the horror of Proctor Hall is still at work.

“NEW TWISTS,” BY DON TASSONE.

Explains Don: “The 20 stories featured in this collection are based on abiding themes but with new twists, stories that explore old ideas in today’s world. What does tolerance look like, for example, at a time of such great divisiveness? Fifteen of these stories are longer. Five are very short. All are an invitation to think anew.

For this collection, I wanted to write about enduring truths through stories set in the modern world. I also wanted to write longer stories. Some of my readers have told me my stories are too short. “They’re a tease,” one said. So 15 of the stories in this collection are among the longest I’ve ever written. For those who like a tease, I’ve sprinkled in five very short selections too.”

NEWS

Here is the latest coronavirus-related post from Susan Levenstein, a former Snowflakes author who practices medicine in Rome, Italy.

http://www.stethoscopeonrome.com