Weather Report, Sept. 28

(David G. Brooks and friend)

Our currently featured books, “Toward That Which Is Beautiful,” by Marian O’Shea Wernicke, “Winter Light,” by Martha Engber and “Percivious Insomia,” by J.J. and A.J. Cook, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN  A BLIZZARD, SEPT. 29-OCT. 5

“THE GRASS LIBRARY,” BY DAVID G. BROOKS

Originally published in Australia, The Grass Library is a philosophical and poetic journey by “one of Australia’s most skilled, unusual and versatile writers” (The Sydney Morning Herald). Both a memoir and an elegy for animal rights, The Grass Library portrays the author’s relationship with his dog, four sheep, and myriad other animals in the home he shares with his partner in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. This collection of essays—with its lyrical language, its honesty and vulnerability, its charm and wit—will delight and inspire all animal lovers, and especially those who rescue animals.

“PRIVILEGE,” BY THOMAS H. CARRY

It’s a crime noir/satire hybrid set at an elite university. The protagonist, Professor Daniel Waite, is in a funk. He has a brilliant wife, tenure at the fabled University, and is well liked by colleagues and popular with students, who flock to his film studies courses. And he hates his life. He can’t bring himself to write, disdains academia, barely gets through his class lectures, and spends a lot of time hiding in his office in a stupor, pondering his collection of movie posters.

All that changes when his new teaching assistant shows up at his door. At first, he’s thrown by the eccentric and intense Stacy Mann, but he soon finds in her a kindred spirit of sorts: an outsider, a cynic who shares his antipathy for the University, someone receptive to his alienation and resentment. And, most importantly, her knowledge of movie trivia rivals his own. But he soon suspects she is not who she appears to be, that there may be a hidden agenda, one that threatens his very standing. Murder and mayhem ensue, all against the backdrop of the University, an ivy-covered asylum for the tenured.

“ON AIR” BY ROBIN STRATTON

During the 1980s Eric Storm was Boston’s hottest radio personality, but 20 years later he’s a full-grown beagle heavier, divorced, and out of work. Complicating matters is Ma, whose sudden deterioration frightens him. She has loved him, shouted at him, praised him, criticized him, and driven him completely nuts, and he’s done the same to her – a comfortable set of dynamics that has worked fine for almost fifty years. Unprepared to take on his new role as caregiver, he responds by becoming obsessed with a sexy young street musician who’s only been alive for four presidents and is probably way out of his league. Then Ma makes a deathbed confession, the diary she kept years ago reveals a shocking truth about the father he never met, and suddenly he has two new roles to play.

“THORNWORK,” BY RUTH BAUMANN

Writes Ruth: “Several years ago, I started to really look at my relationships and my behavior in them. I realized that there was a lot of room for growth, and that also there was grief that needed to happen before I could make true healthy connections (at least romantically). These poems come out of that period– some are essentially autobiographical, but also there is a large prose poem envisioning the perspective of a drunk mother, which is fictional and seeks to interrogate both ways that we limit ourselves and ways that societal roles might limit us. The long poem also tries to see the true love and the goodness that persist despite our human limitations, which is what all of these poems want to do– find what is genuine and nourish that, while grieving and acknowledging what must be left behind. “

 

 

Toward That Which Is Beautiful

This week’s other featured books, “Winter Light,” by Martha Engber and “Percivious Insomnia,” by J.J. and A.J. Cook, MD, 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: Toward That Which Is Beautiful

PUBLISHED: 2020

THE AUTHOR: Marian O’Shea Wernicke

THE EDITOR: Brooke Warner

THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press, an independent publishing company, and winner of the 2019 Best Independent Press Award.

SUMMARY: In June of 1964 in a small town in the highlands of Peru, Sister Mary Katherine, a young nun from St. Louis, Missouri, slips away from the convent with no money and no destination. Challenged by the harsh, austere climate at 12,000 feet, disoriented by a culture not her own, and afraid of her love for an Irish priest with whom she is working, she runs away. She spends eight days on a journey that leads to both friendly and dangerous encounters until she arrives at a startling destination.

Marian O'Shea WernickeTHE BACK STORY: The great American writer Toni Morrison said, “Write the story you want to read.” I have very seldom read any novels that portray 20th century nuns in a realistic way. Having been a nun myself, and having served for three years in Lima, Peru, from 1968-1970, I was often asked by my students why I had become a nun, and why after eleven years, I decided to leave the religious life. So the story is my attempt to portray a normal, fun-loving American girl who becomes a teaching nun and volunteers to serve in a remote area like the Altiplano of Peru. The novel takes the reader on a journey into the heart of Peru and Bolivia in the early 60’s, a time when Latin Americans were increasingly questioning the social and economic injustice in their countries. This young woman begins to question her very presence there when several Peruvians challenge her about why she’s come to Peru when there are so many problems in her own country. I hope readers will enjoy being immersed in the beauty of Peru and Bolivia and also in the heart of Kate as she searches for her way in life.

THE TITLE: The title is taken from the word Achirana, the name of an ancient canal in Peru built by the Incas to bring fresh water from the highlands to the desert area around the city of Ica. The word Achirana means “that which flows cleanly toward that which is beautiful.” This phrase describes well the journey that Kate travels in the novel.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The story is one that has not been told very often in a realistic way. Many books and films involving nuns portray them as either cold, frigid, kill-joys or naive, singing, childish fools. In contrast, this is a love story between two dedicated people who want to be faithful to their vows, but who find themselves falling deeply in love with each other. In addition, people who have traveled to Peru and Bolivia, or who would like to, will enjoy the breathtaking scenery of this part of the world.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Kirkus Review praised the novel as “a moving, emotionally resonant tale of one woman’s crisis of faith.”

Christine Bell, author of The Perez Family, says this novel is a “lyrical journey of faith and love. Wernicke’s writing is graceful and heart-rending. A most elegant novel.”

Herta Feely, author of Saving Phoebe Morrow, says, “Not since Bel Canto have I enjoyed a novel set in South America as much as Toward That Which is Beautiful. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it down.”

AUTHOR PROFILE: Marian O’Shea Wernicke is the author of a memoir about her father, Tom O’Shea: A Twentieth Century Man. She is also co-editor, with Herta Feely, of a collection of short stories and memoirs called Confessions: Fact of Fiction? She studied under poets Derek Walcott, Maxine Kumin, and Mark Jarman at the Sewanee Writers Conference. A professor of English for 25 years at Pensacola State College, Wernicke also served as department head of English/Communications at the college. As a nun for eleven years, Wernicke taught in St. Louis and in Lima, Peru for three years. Married and the mother of three grown children, she and her husband now live in Austin, Texas.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

Chapter One

Thursday, June 25, 1964

At noon on a brilliant June day in the highlands of Peru, called the Altiplano, Sister Mary Katherine slips out the back door of the convent of Santa Catalina. She crosses the courtyard, gliding past fat little Tito playing in the shade of the eucalyptus tree near the convent wall. He looks up expectantly, but for once the tall nun does not return his grin. His mother Marta, the convent cook, comes to the door to check on her son, and, as she wipes her hands on her faded blue apron, watches in silence as Sister Mary Katherine pulls the large wooden gate open and disappears.

Sharp angles of sunlight fall on her black veil and white habit. She walks swiftly, inhaling the olive oil and garlic smells of noonday meals in the village, her footsteps echoing in the hushed streets. Not even a dog barks. She crosses the dirt road heading north of the parish, past the infirmary, shuttered now for the siesta, and enters the main street of Juliaca. The market stalls are still open, but only a handful of women and children squat in the shade, half-heartedly guarding their baskets of potatoes, onions, carrots, and mushrooms, their dogs huddling together for warmth in the early winter sun. A young girl in a green poncho greets her shyly, “Buenas tardes, madrecita.”

Soon Kate—for she has never stopped being Kate beneath the long white habit and black veil of the Dominicans—reaches the edge of town, where one rusting taxi is parked in the shade of the train station, the driver lounging in the shadows. She thinks briefly of buying a train ticket, but, smothering a laugh dangerously close to a sob, realizes that she has no money—and

even worse, that she has no destination. You have to buy a ticket to somewhere, after all. All she knows is that she is running away.

The nun walks at a steady pace down the dusty road winding through sparse fields. By late afternoon she realizes she is headed toward Lake Titicaca. Solitude hangs over the land like mist.

Kate has heard the Aymaras’ stories of the great hungry god of the lake. Once she and the other sisters went out on a Sunday afternoon in a balsa boat with a local guide. Raul was paddling gently around when the sky darkened and the wind picked up. In a determined voice, he announced that they were heading back to shore. Kate remembers how she protested, but that Magdalena, their Peruvian novice, shook her head and put her finger to her mouth.

“Don’t insist,” she whispered in English. “Raul says that storms are very bad here on the lake. If we capsize no one will come to rescue us, for the native Andean prople believe that the god of the lake gets hungry—and we’d be his lunch!” Her eyes laughed. She was from Lima, and the ways of the highland people were as foreign to her as they were to the

American nuns she had joined. But her face stayed serious as she nodded to Raul in assent. Despite the other sisters’ grumbling, Raul’s back remained straight beneath the wool of his poncho, and his slender hands gripped the oars firmly as he brought them safely to shore.

By now Kate’s feet hurt. Her sensible black oxfords were fine for everyday work in the parish, but they aren’t right for hiking; she wonders what she’ll do if she gets a blister. She finds a dry spot in the reeds encircling the lake and sits down to take off her shoes. She is thirsty and hungry, too. By now they would have missed her at the convent.

She gazes at the sun’s slanting red rays, glinting on the lake. Sister Josepha will be at Vespers now, trying to chant the psalms by herself. Kate murmurs the opening verse:

The morn had spread her crimson rays,

When rang the skies with shouts of praise,

Earth joined the joyful hymn to swell,

That brought despair to vanquished hell.

Despair. What’s happening to her? She lies back among the reeds—so tired, tired of fighting herself, of trying to live the life she had vowed, of trying not to love. Trying not to love.

Lying on her back, she sees a condor circling the lake in a wide leisurely arc. His white throat gleams in the dusk. He is a good omen, Kate thinks as she closes her eyes. He will watch over me.

Chapter Two

Kate wakes, feeling the damp ground beneath her. Now it is night. How long has she slept? Her face and hands are freezing, and her feet in the cotton stockings are numb. She pulls on her shoes. She has to get up, to move. This is crazy, she knows, this panicked flight. Suddenly she thinks of Jane Eyre fleeing from Rochester. She finds the road again.

In the black sky, the stars shine icily remote and unfamiliar. She meant to study these constellations of the Southern Hemisphere ever since she came to South America, finding it so strange at night not to see the Big Dipper and Orion in their familiar spots. Tonight there is no wind, and above the distant peaks of the Andes, the moon is rising. She holds up her watch— eight thirty. It will get much colder, she knows, a twinge of panic tightening in her throat. Somewhere along this road is an old colonial Spanish house that the local manager of the train station refurbished. But the family moved out last year, and Kate doesn’t know if anyone lives there now.

Finally, off to the right, she sees a light flickering through some scrubby bushes. She follows the wooden fence up to the gate and reaches through to unlatch the iron bar within. She pauses for a moment, waiting for a dog’s bark, then makes her way quietly up the flagstone path that leads to a wide veranda. As she knocks on the door she thinks she can hear music. The door opens and the outline of a man is framed in lamplight.

“Bloody hell!”

Kate, surprised to hear a British accent, sticks out her hand.

“Sister Mary Katherine, from the Dominican Sisters at Santa Catalina,” she says in what she hopes is a firm voice.

The man steps aside to let her in; now she can see his dark hair, graying along the temples, the angular face. His eyes are shadowed in the dim hall. As Kate shakes his hand, his wool sweater scratches her arm.

“Come in, come in. I’m sorry this place is such a mess.” Confused, he looks around the room. Her glance follows his. On a table with two kerosene lamps burning are several notebooks piled neatly next to a typewriter. A fire flickers in the great stone fireplace across the room. Now the music is clearer—Mozart, Kate realizes as she notices the short-wave radio on a table in the corner. It is the familiar music that does her in, hearing it in this desolate foreign night. Her voice trembles.

“I’m sorry, it’s just that I’m so tired and cold. I fell asleep on the ground. My habit is damp.” She tries to keep her voice steady.

Her host, looking closely at her, seems to relax at the sight of her tears. “Okay, mysterious sister of the night, come in. I’m going to get you warm clothes. While you change, I’ll reheat some lovely soup that I have left from my supper. A hot toddy might be in order, too.”

The man leads her down the hall to a back bedroom, unused it seems, except for an open suitcase that lies, neatly packed, on a love seat. When he leaves the room, she walks over to the peeling gilt mirror above the dresser. It is a Peruvian mirror in the colonial style, made of mahogany, and framed by tiny irregular pieces of mirror inlaid in the dark wood. The pieces glitter in the lamplight and reflect her image in a thousand broken fragments. She stares, her face pale beneath the black veil, and the white scapular that hangs straight from her shoulders to the hem of her long skirt is smeared with dirt.

“These should do all right.” His voice is brisk, and he does not meet her eyes as he thrusts a pair of soft, faded flannel pajamas, a red checked bathrobe, and a pair of cotton socks into her arms. “Freshen up now. There’s a sink and a toilet in the courtyard off this room. I’ll have something hot ready in a moment.”

Kate walks back to the mirror. She unpins the black veil from the white cap covering her hair, folds it neatly in a square, and places it on a chair. Then she pulls off the tight cap and runs her fingers through short, curly brown hair. She takes off the wimple covering her neck, the scapular, and finally her skirt and blouse. The image staring back at her is almost boyish, a tall slim body in a white cotton T-shirt.

She grabs the towel he has left and pushes open the door to the courtyard. The thin crystalline air stings her as she hurries through her wash at the sink. She returns gratefully to the bedroom, which, although chilly, is well lit and comforting with its maple single bed, so much like her old bed at home in St. Louis. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she cinches the bathrobe tightly around her waist and pads back to the living room in the Englishman’s warm socks.

He is stooped over the stove, stirring the soup. “I forgot to introduce myself,” he says, not looking at her. “I’m Peter Grinnell, on loan from Cambridge University to study Andean history and culture. Actually, I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m off for a month or two of vacation in Surrey. Summer’s quite green and pleasant there.”

She is grateful for the easy way he chatters on. Somehow he’s sensed her deep embarrassment at appearing before him without her habit and veil.

He hands her a glass of amber liquid. “It’s whiskey and honey. There should be lemon too, but try finding lemons anywhere up here.”

Kate thinks of her father. A hot toddy was always his favorite cure for a cold or the flu, or even for the desolation of a windy February night. “Thanks. May I help?”

Unsure of protocol, Kate sits clutching her glass of whiskey. After a sip, she feels the warmth invade her empty stomach.

Peter serves the soup carefully and sits down across from her. He pushes his chair back from the table and lights a cigarette. “You don’t mind?”

“Of course not.” Kate knows she is devouring the soup greedily, but doesn’t care. There are biscuits, too, hard but filling.

“Well, Sister Mary Katherine, you frightened me a bit when I saw you all white and ghostly in the moonlight. I thought you were a spirit. The Aymara talk about the mountain gods who sometimes appear in the form of animals, birds, often the condor, but also as people—even as foreigners.”

Kate remembers the condor she’d seen over Lake Titicaca. She grins at him, relaxing for the first time that day. Fortunately, this cool, middle-aged Englishman doesn’t seem shocked by an American nun sitting by his fire in his pajamas, enjoying his whiskey and soup.

He squints through the cigarette smoke, and asks abruptly,

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-five.”

“Ah, a little young for the solitary life of the Altiplano, I suppose.”

Solitary? Since she’d left St. Louis she hadn’t been alone for a minute, and yet she realizes with a jolt that there is a deep core of loneliness inside. She answers slowly. “Well, I suppose I am still pretty green. I came to Peru from our Motherhouse in St. Louis a year ago. Then a month in Lima, followed by five months in Cochabamba at the Maryknoll Language Institute. I’ve been here in Juliaca since January.”

“Did you study Aymara in Coch?”

“Very little—most of the course was Spanish. I had about three weeks of Aymara.”

Peter gets up abruptly and paces across the room. “I must say, you Americans can be damned naive at times. Green, happy, middle-class innocents flocking in droves to do good—not understanding the people or the culture, putting up buildings, bringing in U.S. dollars and medicine.” He glances over to see if she is offended. “What do you do up here anyway? You’re a nurse, I suppose?”

“No, but I wish I had studied nursing.” Kate shoves her empty bowl away and takes another drink of whiskey. “At least then I could be sure I was really doing something useful. Of course, Sister Jeanne Marie—she’s our nurse—says that by the time she sees the patients it’s usually too late to do much—T.B., cholera, dysentery.” Kate knows she is rattling on but is unable to stop. Is it the whiskey? she wonders. “Anyway, my job is teaching the children to read in Spanish, and I give catechism classes to the women and teenagers, with an interpreter who translates my halting Spanish into Aymara. God knows what message comes out!” She falters, “Actually, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

She looks up to find his eyes on her; they are green, she sees, fringed by thick dark lashes, like a girl’s. “What made you want to be a nun in the first place?”

Kate stares into the fire for a few moments. “I felt called somehow.”

He laughs at this. “Okay. Second question: What are you doing wandering around the Altiplano alone at night?”

She looks up, catching his ironic stare. She looks away. Because I’m burning up with love, she wants to say. She thinks of St. Augustine’s Confessions: “Burning, burning, so I came to Carthage.” Would he recognize the quote? In the firelight she sees a face—Father Tom’s as he had appeared that morning in his gold and white vestments at Mass. His dark, unruly hair slicked back, his eyes closed as he raised the Host at the consecration. His hands had gripped the Host as if willing God’s presence into the damp old church. And she, a nun, drowning with love and desire for him.

Peter waits. The music rises and falls, a stream rushing out to the sea.

“I had to get away. I was suffocating.”

“Do the other nuns know where you are?”

“No.” She doesn’t even know where she is.

Kate watches him as he gets up and walks over to a table beside the front door. He picks up his keys. “I’ll take you back now, if you like.”

She begins to shiver. The warmth of the fire cannot reach the cold within. He walks over and stands in front of her. “Sister Katherine—whatever your name is—they’ll be worried about you.”

She rises to face him. She forces herself to speak calmly; he must not think she is crazy. “Peter, I’d be so grateful if I could stay here tonight.”

“Look, I have to leave in the morning. I’m going in to Arequipa to stock up on some film, get my mail, and see a few friends. Then on Saturday I go to Lima for the flight to London.”

“Do you think I could catch a ride with you to Arequipa?” Kate strives for a light tone—as if she were a college girl going away for the weekend.

Peter gazes into the fire, avoiding her eyes. “You really ought to go back to Santa Catalina, you know. They’ll be worried about you.”

“No, I can’t.” She tries to keep the edge out of her voice. “I just need to get away so I can think. I’ll let them know somehow that I’m all right. Please, Peter, you’ve been so kind.” She stops, afraid to say more.

He comes toward her. “All right. I’ll probably be arrested for abducting a nun. We’ll leave here in the morning at six thirty sharp, when the fog’s burned off. I want to make Arequipa by nightfall.” He reaches out as if to touch her hair, then drops his hand. “Good night, Sister,” he says with just a touch of mockery.

After the warmth of the fire, the guest room is freezing. Kate flings the bathrobe on the foot of the bed and slips between the sheets. She pulls the rough woolen blankets around her. They smell musty; Peter mustn’t have much company. In the dark, she starts to tremble. What is she doing? She has taken the coward’s way out, she knows. Running away from Santa Catalina isn’t helping her think straight. She is only worrying a lot of good people who have other, more important things to do than chase after a twenty-five-year-old nun who should know how to handle falling in love. Falling. Yes, fallen.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Book People, Austin, Texas; Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Missouri; Bodacious Books, Pensacola, Florida.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes&Noble

PRICE: $16.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Facebook: Marian O’Shea Wernicke.

Winter Light

Winter Light by [Martha Engber]

THE BOOK: Winter Light

PUBLISHED IN: Oct. 6, 2020 (now available on pre-order)

THE AUTHOR: Martha Engber

THE EDITOR: Melissa Slayton

THE PUBLISHER: Jessica Bell, Vine Leaves Press

Martha EngberSUMMARY: WINTER LIGHT is the story of 15-year-old Mary Donahue of suburban Chicago, a kid on the cusp of failure during the brutal blizzard winter of 1978-79, the end of a hard luck, hard rock era sunk in the cynical aftermath of the Vietnam War.

The language of WINTER LIGHT is simple and stark as Mary’s internal landscape. Though a smart, beautiful kid, she’s a motherless girl raised by an uneducated, alcoholic father within an extended family of alcoholics and addicts. Aware that she’s sinking, she’s desperate to save herself and so reaches out to an unlikely source, Kathleen, a nice, normal kid from English class.

Though initially bleak, this story of redemption combines literary with historical fiction and is aimed at anyone who loves classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye where youths struggle at the abyss of a brutal adult world.

THE BACK STORY: I set this story in the same time and place of my own high school years. I didn’t intend to write a coming-of-age story. Instead, I wanted to convey the sadness and desperation I felt during high school when I’d see other kids failing. Typically they were smart kids with sharp wits and a streak of independence and guts I admired. Yet if they were smart, why were they failing? I wished I could do as Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye and spread my arms wide and catch them before they ran blindly off the cliff.

What I didn’t learn until years later, of course, is that they didn’t want to fail. They just didn’t know how to succeed. Nor did they have the privileges and advantages I possessed.

Through this story, I wanted to convey the life and death reality experienced by the teen have-nots only an arm’s-length away from the haves. The harshness I witnessed never matched the pleasantness of the coming-of-age stories often marketed to teens of my era. Instead, the realization of the dire life circumstances some kids have to deal with — incest, domestic violence, addiction — woke me up to what a true fight for survival looks like.

WHY THIS TITLE: I purposely set the story during a brutal blizzard year as both a method of foreshadowing — will Mary survive? — and a reflection of the desperately cold emotional state of existence, meaning almost no close family and no helpful parental involvement.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Coming-of-age stories are so important for helping us unravel those strange, awful, awkward, confusing moments we experienced in that vital time between childhood fantasies and adulthood. We all know someone like Mary!

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Winter Light tugs at your heart, reminding you of what it’s like to be a young person growing up, unsure of what to wear, how to behave, who and what to care about. Unsure of anything. The story is a ride through Class V rapids that will keep you hanging on white-knuckled till the end. A great read.” — Jana McBurney-Lin, author of My Half of the Sky

“Winter Light is the heartbreaking tale of a teenager so desperate to rise above her bleak circumstances she reveals the true courage of a survivor.” — Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Broken But Not Dead and Dead Witness

“Martha Engber plunges us into the cold, deep waters with her protagonist and lets us drop to the bottom, reminding us of the fragility and vulnerability of teenagers, and the incredible power of a little kindness.” — Paulette Boudreaux, author of Mulberry

AUTHOR PROFILE: Martha Engber’s next book club novel, WINTER LIGHT, will be published Oct. 6, 2020, by Vine Leaves Press. She’s also the author of THE WIND THIEF, a novel, and GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS FROM THE GROUND UP: A THOROUGH PRIMER FOR THE WRITERS OF FICTION AND NONFICTION. A journalist by profession, she’s written hundreds of articles for the Chicago Tribune and other national publications. She’s had a play produced in Hollywood and fiction and poetry published in the Aurorean, Watchword, the Berkeley Fiction Review and other journals. She’s also a freelance editor, workshop facilitator and speaker.

She currently lives in Northern California with her husband, bike and surfboard.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’m a huge advocate for providing resources to at-risk populations. The better people do in life — the more support and education they get and the better jobs they attain — the better we all do as a society. I hope this story helps promote the notion of helping one another!

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

WHERE TO BUY IT: Barnes & Noble, San Jose, CA

PRICE: $14.99 for paperback, $3.99 for Kindle

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

My website: http://marthaengber.com

Facebook fan page (Martha Engber’s Creatives): https://www.facebook.com/MarthasCreatives/

WordPress writing blog: https://marthaengber.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marthaengber

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marthaengber/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martha-engber-a2a429a/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/marthaengber

GoodReads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/674291.Martha_Engber

Pinterest

– business account: http://www.pinterest.com/MarthaEngber

Percivious Insomnia

JJ CookTHE BOOK: Percivious Insomnia

PUBLISHED IN: 2020

THE AUTHORS: JJ Cook & AJ Cook, MD

THE EDITOR: Janet Layberry

THE PUBLISHER: FriesenPress

SUMMARY: As an unlikely collection of scientists and citizens come together in a race against the clock to find a cure, disturbing revelations about the underlying cause of the insomnia epidemic come to light that could completely unravel civilization as we know it… and throw into question humanity’s place in the universe.

The first book in the “Percivious” trilogy, Percivious Insomnia is a gripping work of contemporary fiction centered on an ominous and otherworldly mystery, and a story which brings together two unique perspectives to create a realistic medical thriller with an imaginative sci-fi twist.

A jetset thriller meets sci-fi adventure with an unforgettable cast of characters. Percivious Insomnia presents an alternative history so compelling that it could possibly be true. The first book in the Percivious Trilogy from husband and wife duo JJ Cook & AJ Cook MD. Percivious Insomnia sets a unique and original course for fiction of the future, and paints a timely, prescient portrait of today’s globalized society…and what may exist beyond the realm of our current understanding.

THE BACK STORY: “About 8 years ago it struck me. I said to my husband `Wouldn’t it be an interesting premise for a book if someone (or something) was able to exploit your sleep hours? It is the one thing that still remains ours, uninterrupted (for the most part)’. I didn’t know it at the time, but the book was hanging in in the balance as I waited for his reply. As it turned out he loved the idea and the premise for Percivious Insomnia was conceived.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: The definition of Percivious: 1 a) the ultimate in altruism 1b) Self sacrifice in order to benefit others with no regard to reward or reciprocity. “The ultimate in altruism lives at the heart of the Percivious Trilogy,” share JJ & AJ of their inspiration to pen this series. “Something pure that has been lost is now found in a new version of our own evolution.”

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? In a year as surreal and stressful as 2020 has been, it’s little wonder that people around the world are experiencing more sleepless nights than ever before; in fact, “sleep is emerging as the latest casualty of the COVID-19 crisis” according to a recent forum hosted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where experts called the current situation a “perfect storm of sleep problems” and noted the “severe” implications of chronic insomnia. In Percivious Insomnia – insomnia isn’t just an unfortunate side effect; it is the pandemic sweeping the globe, leaving people unable to function and society on the brink of collapse. Percivious Insomnia appeals to adult and young adult readers across demographics who are looking for an original story, one that’s never been told till now.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“This was an unexpected thriller! It is a blend of genres driven by a cast of alternating characters. I think the way the characters shifted added a lot to the tension as it moved between them rapidly. The stories of each held tightly to the plot though as if the characters were marathoners running near each other and passing off the tale as they collided For the first part of the story I thought I had an idea of where things were going and then a wonderful turn comes along and things change, deepening the plot. A fast-paced medical/sci-fi thriller that is sure to be way more than readers anticipate.” — Diana (Lucretia) Stanhope, via NetGalley

“Unique premise and well-drawn characters, with plenty of “left turns” along the way to keep the reader intrigued. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to all readers searching for top-rate writing. Perfect summer read!” — Cindy McBride, via NetGalley

“There were definitely a lot of twists in this book that kept me on my toes. I haven’t been so engrossed in a thriller book like this in a long time. I read this almost in one setting. The characters and plot were well developed that it didn’t feel drawn out at any point. Great read!” — Jenn Kim, via NetGalley

“I really really enjoyed this book. The characters were well developed and the story kept my interest the entire way through. I thought the story was going to go one way and I was surprised by the way it did go. I am looking forward to the next in the series.” — Erika Estrela, NetGalley

AUTHOR PROFILE: JJ COOK’s background in marketing across a spectrum of industries (including technology, finance, and the arts) brings insight and depth to characters spanning an array of disciplines, ages, countries, and cultures.

AJ COOK, MD’s current role as chief of pediatric urology at the Alberta Children’s Hospital has allowed him the opportunity to author and contribute to numerous published studies, honing his writing skills, while his experience as a surgeon — as well as the relationships he’s developed with his young patients and their guardians — has contributed credibility and realism to the narrative.

They attribute the creation of Percivious Insomnia — the first volume in the Percivious Trilogy — to the marriage of their unique skills and perspectives.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Drawing on AJ’s direct experience as a medical doctor and pediatric surgeon and JJ’s background across a range of industries, giving insight and depth to characters spanning an array of disciplines, ages, countries, and cultures, the “Percivious” trilogy sets a unique and original course for fiction of the future, and paints a timely, prescient portrait of today’s globalized society… and what may exist beyond the realm of our current understanding.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc. One of summer 2020’s most exciting Canadian fiction debuts, Percivious Insomnia has been released in hardcover, paperback and ebook on August 4, 2020 wherever books are sold, with an audiobook edition to follow in Fall 2020 exclusively through Audible.

PRICE: Prices in US dollars: ebook $5.99; paperback $9.99; hardcover $18.99

CONTACT THE AUTHORS: Find the authors of Instagram and Facebook (@percivious), and at https://percivious.com/

Weather Report, Sept. 21

peru, trek, mountain, travel, andes, peruvian,free pictures, free photos, free images, royalty free, free illustrations, public domain

(Peru photo from iStock).

Our currently featured books, “Hillbilly Hustle,” by Wesley Browne, “Jaws of Life,” by Laura Leigh Morris, “A Wife in Bangkok,” by Iris Lav and “Thwe Tumble Down Road Poems,” by Howard Camner, 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, SEPT. 22-28.

“TOWARD THAT WHICH IS BEAUTIFUL.” BY MARIAN O’SHEA WERNICKE.

Writes Marian: “The great American writer Toni Morrison said, “Write the story you want to read.” I have very seldom read any novels that portray 20th century nuns in a realistic way. Having been a nun myself, and having served for three years in Lima, Peru, from 1968-1970, I was often asked by my students why I had become a nun, and why after eleven years, I decided to leave the religious life. So the story is my attempt to portray a normal, fun-loving American girl who becomes a teaching nun and volunteers to serve in a remote area like the Altiplano of Peru. The novel takes the reader on a journey into the heart of Peru and Bolivia in the early 60’s, a time when Latin Americans were increasingly questioning the social and economic injustice in their countries. This young woman begins to question her very presence there when several Peruvians challenge her about why she’s come to Peru when there are so many problems in her own country. I hope readers will enjoy being immersed in the beauty of Peru and Bolivia and also in the heart of Kate as she searches for her way in life.

“WINTER LIGHT,” BY MARTHA ENGBER

WINTER LIGHT is the story of 15-year-old Mary Donahue of suburban Chicago, a kid on the cusp of failure during the brutal blizzard winter of 1978-79, the end of a hard luck, hard rock era sunk in the cynical aftermath of the Vietnam War.

The language of WINTER LIGHT is simple and stark as Mary’s internal landscape. Though a smart, beautiful kid, she’s a motherless girl raised by an uneducated, alcoholic father within an extended family of alcoholics and addicts. Aware that she’s sinking, she’s desperate to save herself and so reaches out to an unlikely source, Kathleen, a nice, normal kid from English class.

Though initially bleak, this story of redemption combines literary with historical fiction and is aimed at anyone who loves classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye where youths struggle at the abyss of a brutal adult world.

“PERCIVIOUS INSOMNIA,” BY J.J. COOK AND A.J. COOK, MD.

As an unlikely collection of scientists and citizens come together in a race against the clock to find a cure, disturbing revelations about the underlying cause of the insomnia epidemic come to light that could completely unravel civilization as we know it… and throw into question humanity’s place in the universe.

The first book in the “Percivious” trilogy, Percivious Insomnia is a gripping work of contemporary fiction centered on an ominous and otherworldly mystery, and a story which brings together two unique perspectives to create a realistic medical thriller with an imaginative sci-fi twist.

A jetset thriller meets sci-fi adventure with an unforgettable cast of characters. Percivious Insomnia presents an alternative history so compelling that it could possibly be true. The first book in the Percivious Trilogy from husband and wife duo JJ Cook & AJ Cook MD. Percivious Insomnia sets a unique and original course for fiction of the future, and paints a timely, prescient portrait of today’s globalized society…and what may exist beyond the realm of our current understanding.

 

 

Hillbilly Hustle

Wesley BrowneThis week’s other featured books, “Jaws of Life,” by Laura Leigh Morris, “A Wife in Bangkok,” by Iris Mitlin Lav and “The Tumble Down Road Poems,” by Howard Camner, can be found by scrolling down below this post. Or, just click the author’s name on our Authors page.

—————————————————-

THE BOOK: Hillbilly Hustle,

PUBLISHED IN: 2020

THE AUTHOR:  Wesley Browne

THE EDITOR: Abby Freeland

THE PUBLISHER: West Virginia University Press

SUMMARY: Knox Thompson thinks he’s working a hustle, but it’s a hustle that’s working him. Trying to keep his pizza shop and parents afloat, he cleans out a backroom Kentucky poker game, only to get roped into dealing marijuana by the proprietor—an arrangement Knox only halfheartedly resists.

Hillbilly Hustle by [Wesley Browne]Knox’s shop makes the perfect front for a marijuana operation, but his supplier turns out to be violent and calculating, and Knox ends up under his thumb. It’s not long before more than just the pizza shop is at risk.

THE BACK STORY: My family owns a pizza shop in Richmond, Kentucky that’s been around since 1981. Before we owned it a previous owner sold marijuana out of the store. That was the inspiration.

WHY THIS TITLE?: There is a misconception about our region. Most people around here hustle their asses off to get by. That’s the heart of this book.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? It’s rural noir/crime fiction but it’s humor and pop culture heavy. Reviewers have noted that it avoids clichés and features well drawn characters.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Wry, thrilling debut … will appeal to fans of Daniel Woodrell and Charles Portis” – Publishers Weekly  “A top-notch debut with a winning narrative voice and unexpectedly multi-dimensional character” –- Kirkus Reviews.

“Astounding debut … whip smart” — Chapter 16 

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m a pizza shop owner, attorney, and poker player, all of which figure prominently into HILLBILLY HUSTLE. I host the Pages & Pints Reading Series at Apollo Pizza in Richmond, Kentucky.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: First and foremost I wanted to write a fast-paced exciting book with heart. In the process I also hoped to give a more well-rounded and nuanced view of my region and its people than you sometimes find in works about the region. I started HILLBILLY HUSTLE in 2014 at the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop and I finished it after attending the 2018 Tin House Summer Workshop. 

SAMPLE CHAPTER: The first chapter is available on the Appalachian Review website: https://appalachianreview.net/2020/03/10/excerpt-from-hillbilly-hustle-a-novel-by-wesley-browne/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Joseph Beth Booksellers (Lexington, Kentucky) Carmichael’s Bookstore (Louisville, Kentucky) 

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Bookshop.org, Indiebound, West Virginia University Press Online, Barnes & Noble, Target, Amazon, Waterstones

PRICE: $17-$20

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: https://www.wesleybrowne.com/get-in-touch.html

Jaws of Life

THE BOOK: Jaws of Life

PUBLISHED IN
: 2018

THE AUTHOR:  Laura Leigh Morris

THE EDITOR
: Abby Freeland

THE PUBLISHER
: West Virginia University Press

SUMMARY: In the hills of north central West Virginia, there lives a cast of characters who face all manner of problems. From the people who are incarcerated in West Virginia’s prisons, to a woman who is learning how to lose her sight with grace, to another who sorely regrets selling her land to a fracking company, Jaws of Life portrays the diverse concerns the people of this region face every day—poverty, mental illness, drug abuse, the loss of coal mines, and the rise of new extractive industries that exert their own toll.

While these larger concerns exist on the edges of their realities, these characters must still deal with quotidian difficulties: how to coexist with ex-spouses, how to care for sick family members, and how to live with friends who always seem to have more.

THE BACK STORY: While I never intended to write a story collection about West Virginia, I found that after moving to Texas all of my story ideas were centered on my home state. Turns out, I needed to leave home to really need to write about it. That distance allowed me to think about where I’m from and to miss the landscape itself, which led to stories. An early draft of the collection turned into the central part of my dissertation and forced me to think deeply about what it means to leave home and to become witness to a place and way of life that doesn’t define me so centrally any longer.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Jaws of Life is the title of one of the stories, which is pretty standard for a collection. More interesting is that one of the readers for WVU Press suggested another story title as book title – Photographing the Dead. While I love that title, and some days I love it more than the title the book ended up with, I did not want to give death such a central place in a book about Appalachia. The region is often given such a bad rap and is often seen as a place without life and a future, and I didn’t want my book to add to that. Instead, I wanted the book title to focus on the dynamic lives that people in the region live.  

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
There are so many stereotypes about West Virginia, and unless you spend time there, it’s difficult to get beyond them. The stories in this book open the door to some of the people you might meet there and gives as much more human perspective on their lives.

REVIEW COMMENTS
:

Through all the stories, Morris focuses on the quiet struggles. She elicits deep compassion for characters who seem to be on a ride that keeps trying to buck them off. This is a timely and important read bringing us closer to what it means to live in rural America. – Aurora D. Bonner, Colorado Review

It’s tempting to compare a new author with established ones who have treaded similar paths—in this case, Bonnie Jo Campbell and Ann Pancake come to mind—but Morris has a voice of her own, and her ability to tell rugged tales with crisp prose are the markings of a writer to watch. – Gonzalo Baeza, The Observer

Morris’ stories are refreshing in that way, tales of real people being real, faced with real situations, forced to make real choices. – Michael Czyzniejewski, Story 366



AUTHOR PROFIL
E: Laura Leigh Morris is the author of Jaws of Life: Stories, published in 2018 by West Virginia University Press. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina, where she teaches creative writing and literature at Furman University. Before that, she spent three years as the National Endowment for the Arts/Bureau of Prisons Artist-in-Residence at Bryan Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas. She’s previously published short fiction in Appalachian Heritage, Louisville Review, Notre Dame Review, and other journals. Originally from north central West Virginia, all of her fiction is set there, the place she is most at home. From the landscape to the rich variety of people to the long history of resource extraction, the region serves as a rich backdrop to both her life and her stories. She is currently at work on her first novel.


AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 West Virginia is home, though I haven’t lived there in 20 years. This book reminds me of who I was when I lived there, and it reminds me of the people I still love who live there. 

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Check out me reading an excerpt of the opening story “Frackers” on Inside Appalachia on WV Public Radio:https://www.wvpublic.org/post/whos-telling-appalachias-story-appalachian-writers-discuss-their-work#stream/0


LOCAL OUTLETS: Find the book at the WVU Press site: https://wvupressonline.com/node/719 or at Greenville, SC’s own Fiction Addiction: https://www.fiction-addiction.com/


WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Any major retailer 

PRICE: $18.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Contact me through my website: www.lauraleighmorris.com or on Twitter @lauraleighwrites or on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/lauraleighmorris

Laura Leigh Morris, PhD

(she/her/hers)

Assistant Professor, Department of English

Co-director, Furman Prison Education Partnership

President, AAUP, Furman Chapter

Furman University

——————

864.294.3159

Furman Hall 100R

——————

www.lauraleighmorris.com

A Wife in Bangkok

THE BOOK: A Wife in Bangkok: A Novel.

PUBLISHED IN: 2020.

THE AUTHOR: Iris Mitlin Lav.

THE PUBLISHER: She Writes Press, recipient of the 2019 Independent Publisher of the Year award.

SUMMARY: Crystal’s husband, Brian, suddenly announces that the energy company for which he works is sending him to manage the Bangkok office, and that he expects her and their children to come along. She doesn’t want to leave the job she loves and everything familiar in their small Oklahoma town, but it’s 1975 and Crystal feels she has to be a good wife and follow her husband.

Crystal finds beauty in Thailand, but also isolation and betrayal. Fighting intense loneliness and buffeted by a series of frightening and shocking events, she struggles to adapt to a very different culture while battling a severe depression. Ultimately, she must decide whether her broken relationship with her husband is worth saving.

The struggle causes both Crystal and Brian to grow in resilience and resourcefulness — albeit, for Crystal, with some outside help. It is about overcoming the stigma of depression, and about the eventual triumph of love.

Iris Mitlin LavTHE BACK STORY: When I retired from my long career in public policy, I felt that I wanted to write a book set in Thailand. I had moved to Bangkok in the mid-1970s with our family when my husband was posted there for his job, and my friends and colleagues always enjoyed stories I told about the country. I didn’t want to write a memoir, but did want to use the country as I remembered it as a backdrop for a book of fiction. I began writing the book in early 2016, so it has taken 4 ½ years from the thought to publication.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My in-depth knowledge of Bangkok and other parts of Thailand brings the country alive for the reader. When I lived there, I learned to speak the language, studied the culture, and traveled extensively around the country. Given that one million US tourists visit Thailand each year (prior to the Coronavirus and hopefully after it is under control), this book provides a window on the Thailand that few tourists ever see. It should be of interest to people who have themselves lived overseas, to frequent travelers, to women who have felt at risk to losing their identity and autonomy in their marriage, and to the mental health community for its story of recovery and resilience.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I wanted to emphasize the word “wife” because I wanted to highlight the problems “trailing wives” – those who have moved overseas for their husbands’ jobs – have in adjusting and adapting to circumstances in a new country, having given up their own good jobs and support network. Despite all the advances in communication since the1970s, a recent study finds that more than half of expatriates were at high risk for internalizing problems (such as anxiety and depression), a rate 2.5 times their U.S.-based counterparts. Although today we might more properly say “trailing spouses” than trailing wives, the phenomenon is still a current problem.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“The growth process she [Crystal] experiences by being an American wife transplanted to the alien culture and conditions of Bangkok makes for a mesmerizing story that follows the logical progression of her evolution with an astute attention to detail and psychological development.” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

“A Wife in Bangkok by Iris Mitlin Lav was a very interesting read, and certainly well-researched as evident by the author’s own time in Thailand….. Overall, the novel itself was well-written and delivered at a steady pace that made me feel an attachment to the characters. I would definitely read another book by this author in the future.” – Readers’ Favorite.

Over the course of this novel, Lav presents an ambitious tale about overstepping
cultural boundaries and losing one’s autonomy within a marriage. . . . an unusual
glimpse of life in Thailand in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.” — Kirkus Reviews.

“The adept handling of the main character’s conflict and the redeeming nature of love are matched only by the rich descriptions of the land, the people, and the culture. Indeed, Thailand is the other main character in this fascinating novel of a US family in that “faraway-country” of 1975.” — Jean P. Moore, award-winning author of Water on the Moon and Tilda’s Promise.

AUTHOR PROFILE: “I started writing A Wife in Bangkok when I was 70 years old. I had just retired from a long career in public policy, largely dedicated to improving circumstances for low- and moderate-income households. It is my first effort at writing fiction, and I am very happy and grateful that it is being published. I grew up on the south side of Chicago, in Hyde Park, met my husband at the University of Chicago, and moved with him to Washington, DC in 1969. We have three adult children and two grandsons.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: While set in Thailand, this book offers readers several themes that transcend its setting. One is loneliness, an affliction that research suggests affect one in five Americans at any time – a state which is detrimental to their mental and physical health. Another is the process and possibility of recovery from depression and personal resiliance. And still another is the possibility of overcoming obstacles and re-finding love.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://irismitlinlav.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Wife-Bangkok-Excerpt.pdf

Or https://www.amazon.com/Wife-Bangkok-Iris-Mitlin-
Lav/dp/163152707X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3RN7YJUH4B3BR&dchild=1&keywords=a+wife+in+bangkok&qid=
1599063109&sprefix=a+wife+in%2Caps%2C144&sr=8-1

LOCAL OUTLETS: Politics and Prose Bookstore http://www.politics-prose.com.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, http://www.indiebound.org
http://www.Bookshop.org.

PRICE: paperback $16.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: irismitlinlav@gmail.com; https://www.facebook.com/Iris-
Mitlin-Lav-author-102608721488847; irismitlinlav.com

The Tumble Down Road Poems

Howard Camner (Contributor of Poets and Artists (July 2010))THE BOOK: The Tumble Down Road Poems

PUBLISHED IN
: 2019.

THE AUTHOR:  Howard Camner

THE PUBLISHER
: Cyberwit. Published in India.

SUMMARY: The Tumble Down Road Poems is a strange journey along an imaginary road that begins with the narrator’s demise and ends with his preparing for that demise. Along the way he encounters many bizarre characters who teach him a thing or two that he uses in his travels down the road.

THE BACK STORY
: This collection began as one long poem, which was my original intention. I wrote it in two different parts in two different locations. One half was written in Miami. The other half was written at what I call my single-wide lake mansion, which is a mobile home I have on a lake in a small town called Interlachen in Florida. It’s my hideout from the world and a good place to sort things out. I was going to put the two halves of this long poem together and create the main journey. Just as I was about to put it together, I was contacted by this publisher in India who wanted me to publish the book with them but they had very specific requests as far as how to put it together, which was 50 poems, 85 pages. We went back and forth about that since it was very different from my original plan, but in the end I was able to work it out to a result that we both were very happy with.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The Tumble Down Road Poems is a journey. The narrator is groping in darkness, trying to find the light switch, a candle, anything that will help him see and understand what life is, as he winds his way toward his finale.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?  I
imagine the appeal is to see how a fellow traveler stumbles through and makes his way to whatever lies ahead.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “Camner defies the traditional aesthetic concepts of poetry. He targets a world of ideas in a rather active way as opposed to the more passive , meditative aspects found in most poetry. There is a linguistic simplicity to his poems, an almost transparent quality, over a rather complex web of experience and thought. His poetry is life…’All you have to do is look, – The obvious and not so obvious.” — Marta Braunstein, editor, Cambio Literary Journal.

“I recognized Camner was Pulitzer caliber. A postmodern hybrid of Dylan and Gothe. His work is deeply existential with depth charges of meaning.” — Peter Hargitai, panel discussion on contemporary poets.

“Camner writes in terse, stark, real verse that would make Hemingway raise his scotch glass in honor.” — New Times Newspaper.

“The Tumble Down Road Poems provide ample proof that the poet is full of powerful imagination and profound feelings.” — Amazon review

AUTHOR PROFILE: Howard Camner is the author of 20 poetry books including the Pulitzer Prize nominated “Poems from the Mud Room”, the acclaimed autobiography “Turbulence at 67 Inches”, and the self-help humor book “Happy Birthday to…Who? The Definitive No-Holds-Barred Father’s Guide to Surviving Kids’ Birthday Parties”. His books and sound recordings of his work are in prominent literary archives worldwide, including historical archives in the U.S. and royal collections in Great Britain. He was a founding member of the West End Poetry Troupe and the Literary Outlaws in New York. He was named “Best Poet” in the New Times “Best of Miami” edition of 2007 and was inducted into the Miami Dade College Hall of Fame for Literary Arts in 2014. His comedy play “Flaming Floss” was featured at the Edward Albee Theatre Conference in 2003. Camner’s 1980s comedy talk show “Life is a 4 Letter Word” is housed in the Paley Center for Media in New York, the Barco Cable Television Archives, and the UCLA Film and Television Archives. He received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I don’t know if The Tumble Down Road Poems will be my last poetry book or not, but I can say that I believe that poetry is a search of some kind. It could be a search for one’s self, something to believe in, just about anything. Through the many decades I’ve been writing, sometimes I feel like I’ve said everything I’ve had to say. True or not, I believe this collection, this journey down this odd road, wraps it up for me. As a line toward the end of it all states: “Tumble Down Road begins where it should end, just as life ends when it should begin”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Readers can view the book on Amazon.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Books and Books

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publisher at Cyberwit.net 

PRICE: $12 – $15

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: email:  hcamner@aol.com

Weather Report, Sept. 15-21

21,542 Appalachian Mountains Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from  Dreamstime

(Photo from Dreamstime)

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, SEPT. 15-21

JAWS OF LIFE,” BY LAURA LEIGH MORRIS.

In the hills of north central West Virginia, there lives a cast of characters who face all manner of problems. From the people who are incarcerated in West Virginia’s prisons, to a woman who is learning how to lose her sight with grace, to another who sorely regrets selling her land to a fracking company, Jaws of Life portrays the diverse concerns the people of this region face every day—poverty, mental illness, drug abuse, the loss of coal mines, and the rise of new extractive industries that exert their own toll. While these larger concerns exist on the edges of their realities, these characters must still deal with quotidian difficulties: how to coexist with ex-spouses, how to care for sick family members, and how to live with friends who always seem to have more.

HILLBILLY HUSTLE,” BY WESLEY BROWNE

Knox Thompson thinks he’s working a hustle, but it’s a hustle that’s working him. Trying to keep his pizza shop and parents afloat, he cleans out a backroom Kentucky poker game, only to get roped into dealing marijuana by the proprietor—an arrangement Knox only halfheartedly resists. Knox’s shop makes the perfect front for a marijuana operation, but his supplier turns out to be violent and calculating, and Knox ends up under his thumb. It’s not long before more than just the pizza shop is at risk.

A WIFE IN BANGKOK,” BY IRIS LAV.

Crystal’s husband, Brian, suddenly announces that the energy company for which he works is sending him to manage the Bangkok office, and that he expects her and their children to come along. She doesn’t want to leave the job she loves and everything familiar in their small Oklahoma town, but it’s 1975 and Crystal feels she has to be a good wife and follow her husband. Crystal finds beauty in Thailand, but also isolation and betrayal. Fighting intense loneliness and buffeted by a series of frightening and shocking events, she struggles to adapt to a very different culture while battling a severe depression. Ultimately, she must decide whether her broken relationship with her husband is worth saving. The struggle causes both Crystal and Brian to grow in resilience and resourcefulness — albeit, for Crystal, with some outside help. It is about overcoming the stigma of depression, and about the eventual triumph of love.

THE TUMBLE DOWN ROAD POEMS,” BY HOWARD CAMNER.

The Tumble Down Road Poems is a strange journey along an imaginary road that begins with the narrator’s demise and ends with his preparing for that demise. Along the way he encounters many bizarre characters who teach him a thing or two that he uses in his travels down the road. Writes one reviewer: “Camner defies the traditional aesthetic concepts of poetry. He targets a world of ideas in a rather active way as opposed to the more passive , meditative aspects found in most poetry. There is a linguistic simplicity to his poems, an almost transparent quality, over a rather complex web of experience and thought. His poetry is life…’All you have to do is look, – The obvious and not so obvious.”