The Crows of Beara

The Crows of Beara: A Novel by [Julie Christine Johnson]This week’s other featured books, “Begin the Begin,” by Robert Dean Lurie and “When Enemies Offend Thee,” by Sally Whitney, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, just click the author’s name on our Author’s page.

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THE BOOK: The Crows of Beara.

PUBLISHED IN:  2017.

THE AUTHOR: Julie Christine Johnson.

THE EDITOR:Midge Raymond and John Yunker.

THE PUBLISHER: Ashland Creek Press, a boutique press in southern Oregon dedicated to publishing books that focus on ecological sustainability and resilience.

SUMMARY: When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.

Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice—a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind. Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people. Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.

Classes/Workshops — Julie Christine Johnson

THE BACK STORY: May 2002. My first trip to Ireland. Alone, I joined a small group of strangers to hike the Beara peninsula, West Cork. I fell deeply in love with a land of impossible greens, peaches-and-cream sunrises and salmon-flesh sunsets, lashing rain and wind, always wind.

On the flight home two weeks later, I turned my face to the window, sobbing. I was as if torn from a lover, forever. Ireland changed me. Beara gave me a sense of peace and wholeness I had never before experienced.

The years pass and I returned to Ireland several times, hiking the Wicklow Way, Connemara, the Dingle and Kerry peninsulas; exploring Dublin, Galway, Limerick, enmare, Tralee. But Beara remained a dream crystallized in photographs and memories.

I dream of a humped, ragged block of stone perched on hill overlooking Ballycrovane Harbor. One edge resembles the profile of a woman, her furrowed brow arched over a proud nose, her gaze fixed on the Atlantic Ocean. She is An Cailleach Bheara, the Hag of Beara, mother of Ireland. Her story is Ireland’s story, her survival the enduring drama of a tortured land of legendary beauty.

I created the story of a recovering alcoholic who has a marriage to repair and a career to salvage, and another of an artist who cannot forgive himself for the tragedy he caused. As my characters begin to take shape, I know the threads connecting them will be found in the presence of the Hag. Her voice filters through these characters’ pain to reveal their authentic selves.

I wrote the first draft of The Crows of Beara in ten weeks from January to March, 2014. I set it aside for several months, then revised it in in the fall. After I signed with an agent and a publisher for my first novel, In Another Life, in November 2014, I didn’t pick up Crowsagain until late spring 2015, making some agent-advised changes just before it went on submission. I revised the beginning again during summer 2015 before Ashland Creek Press picked it up in September.

Summer 2016-Spring 2017 were spent on story and copy edits and proofreading with my publisher. From first draft to finished book,Crows shed about 30,000 words, several POVs, and had a few minor plot changes, but the story is essentially same one I first penned back in 2014. Whew. When I look at it this way, it takes such a very long time to bring a book to life!

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Even though THE CROWS OF BEARA was published nearly three years ago, the novel’s central theme—the healing power of art—seems even more relevant today. America has become so polarized in this anxious, stressful time. Art, whether visual, literary, musical or theatrical, provides a way to cope with, articulate, escape from and celebrate all that speaks to our hearts. At its heart, CROWS is a story of hope and resiliency, of falling in love with a place, and learning to forgive and love oneself. And if you love Ireland, you will love THE CROWS OF BEARA; if you’ve never been, you’ll be packing your bags after you turn the last page.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Like Ireland itself, The Crows of Beara pulls at something deep inside the reader and won’t let go. In this captivating and thoughtful novel, the enchantment of Ireland heals two damaged souls and reminds all of us that no matter how dark life may be at times, there is always hope.” — Kelli Estes, USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk.

In this important novel, Julie Christine Johnson brings together a remote peninsula in the west of Ireland with environmental issues that threaten a local community and its attachment to the landscape…Written in a lyrical voice with honesty and authority on the environment, addiction and recovery, and the magic of the Irish landscape, The Crows of Beara is a passionate story of one woman’s recovery of her soul.” — Christine Breen, author of Her Name Is Rose and O Come Ye Back to Ireland (with Niall Williams).

A beautiful, powerful novel about the mystical songs of ancient Ireland, two damaged souls fighting for the hope of a second chance, the healing power of place, and the importance of listening to your heart. My heart ached for Annie and Daniel and cheered for their resilience. This is not a novel I will forget.” — Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son and Echoes of Family.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and I live not far from my childhood home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state. Returning to this place of peace and beauty came after thirty years of adventures elsewhere, including high school and college in central Washington, study and teaching abroad in France, Japan, and Chad, graduate school in the Midwest, and a career as university study abroad program administrator that took me around the world. In 2006, I moved to New Zealand where I attended culinary school and entered the wine industry. Returning to Seattle in 2008, I worked as a wine buyer before moving to Port Townsend in 2013. Here, I finished my first novel, completed two more, and am at work on the fourth.

In Another Life (Sourcebooks, 2016), was inspired by the Cathar Crusade and is set in present day and 13th century France. It was named Book of the Year (Fantasy, Adult Fiction) by FOREWORD Indies at the 2017 American Libraries Association Annual Conference.

The Crows of Beara (Ashland Creek Press, 2017), was a finalist for The Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, judged by PEN/Faulkner author and Man Booker Award nominee Karen Joy Fowler. It takes place in contemporary Co. Cork, southwest Ireland, and weaves together themes of industry vs. the environment, addiction, creativity, and hill walking.

My third novel, Upside-Down Girl, follows the journey of Holly Dawes as she emigrates from Seattle to New Zealand, where she befriends a young Maori girl and realizes there is more than one way to fulfill her desire to be a mother and more than one way to lose a beloved child. Upside-Down Girl is currently on submission.

I’m at work on a fourth project, the first in contemporary crime fiction series set in a seaport Olympic Peninsula town featuring Kate Ripley, a disgraced former Seattle PD detective who can’t set aside her desire for truth, justice, and small batch bourbon. The Deep Coil is my working title.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “THE CROWS OF BEARA was meant to be my love song to Ireland. A place was all I had in my pocket when I sat down with my notebook to begin sketching characters. I set the place aside and focused on the who, for it is from the characters that my stories are built. WHERE gives me a foundation; WHO is the framework. I discovered a protagonist and a main character linked by the same weakness and the same strength: addiction and art. Bringing them to stand before each other on a dividing line was a third “character” which I met by chance in my research: the Red-billed chough, a species of crow which cycles on and off the endangered list as one nesting ground thrives and another is threatened. It is found along the southwest coast of Ireland, where cliff meets pasture on one end and ocean on the other. In CROWS, a copper mine would bring needed jobs to a struggling community; it would also destroy the habitat of this beloved small black bird with a crimson beak and feet. The chough became the book’s touchstone.

Deep into revisions, months after CROWS had been accepted for publication by Ashland Creek Press, I met an artist-anthropologist using 3-D photography in a breathtaking marriage of art and science to preserve natural artifacts gathered from manned and unmanned space missions. Through her art, she shows that our cultural heritage is alive in these rocks gathered from places so distant, the mind bends in trying to comprehend. In talking with her, I realized I had been dancing around but unable to name the central core of my characters’ artistic drive. Nature is a cultural artifact that we have the power to preserve, and art can be a unifying force when politics threaten to tear us apart.

There’s a scene midway through THE CROWS OF BEARA where Annie sees Daniel’s art for the first time. And in observing his own work through her eyes, he realizes the power of what he does, how his art can change minds, perspectives, lives. Art as an act of resistance and healing is one of the major themes of the book and it’s very much how I feel about what I do as an artist. Words are my voice, my sword, my hand out to the universe. Art, whether it’s visual, literary, musical, or of the body, connects us to ourselves, to each other, to the greater world. It’s what keeps us moving forward toward light in times of greatest darkness.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

The Beara Peninsula. southwest Ireland.

March 2012.

It is that nervous time between seasons, when chill winds skirt across faces upturned to the sun. Light spills over the eastern hills and dives into the valley, sparkles on the western bays. Two small crows reach with red feet and alight on the Hag. They dance along her spine with measured, delicate steps to the music of instinct. As one creature, the birds lift their heads to the bay and slice the air with their scimitar beaks. They affirm an unspoken request with an echoing “ker ker” before swooping up and careering off air currents that take them south and west to their fragile home in Ballycaróg Cove.

The crows leave behind the Hag, her sightless stone eyes fixed on a point far across Coulagh Bay where the silver-blue water roils across rocks and slips into the Atlantic. Her chiseled profile shows a long, straight nose falling from the soft curve of her brow. Gray hair streams behind her, caught in the forever wind that scours this small promontory, beating the grass down to a nubby carpet. Of her seven lives, she has been captured here in her prime, a woman full and complete, defiant in her solitude as she waits endlessly, some say for her husband, others for mercy that will return her stone body to flesh and blood.

Many travel far to lay a hand on the blade of her back, leaving tokens of gratitude or supplication at her feet, tokens that fade or are torn apart by the rain and carried away on the wind. Still others are born with the soul of the Hag—she who is the essence of Ireland—and carry her spirit into the world, seeking out those in need of her wisdom and lifting them to grace.”

Chapter 1

Seattle, March

Annie turned off the engine and rested her forehead on the steering wheel, gathering strength. Stephen’s SUV sat squarely in the center of the carport, forcing her to park the Jetta on the street. He’d always left the covered space for her. The house hunkered in silent rebuke, complicit in the denial of this small gallantry.

Burdened like a packhorse, her gym duffel strapped across her chest, a canvas grocery tote in one hand, laptop bag hanging from a crooked arm, she trudged past the Koshals’ minivan. The daffodils lining the sidewalk had bloomed with such eagerness just last week. Now they lay flattened against the cement, defeated by the day’s rain.

The back door was locked. Annie dropped the bag of groceries to the cushion of her toes and fumbled in her jacket pocket for house keys. Slamming into the house in a cursing, spilling bundle of exasperation, she tripped on the straps of the tote. The bag went airborne as she yanked her foot free, pinballing loose fruit, containers of Greek yogurt, and cartons of deli takeout into the baseboards. Taking two jump-steps forward, fighting for balance, she met the edge of the cooking island with her hipbone. Profanity did little to ease the pain, but it kept the tears at bay.

The lingering scent of onions sautéed in butter told her that Stephen had eaten already. His anger lurked, tight and dark, in the shadows beyond the kitchen.

She collected the scattered containers and bruised fruit, depositing them in the fridge. Peeling away the foil from a burst yogurt carton, she dipped a spoon in what remained and stirred the chunks of black cherry from the bottom. Dinner. After a few swallows, Annie kicked off her running shoes and tiptoed across the polished fir floors.

Their bedroom door was open, but no lights were on; only Annie occupied that room. Light glowed from underneath Stephen’s office door, and she wondered for the first time if he had returned to their bed during her weeks in rehab, or if he’d stayed in his office—spending nights on the long leather sofa, wrapped in a down comforter, watching ESPN. She rapped lightly with one knuckle and turned the cool brass knob.

He sat slumped on the otter-brown sofa, his feet propped on the coffee table, a beer bottle in one hand, balanced on the flat plane of his stomach. Annie had insisted he not deny himself alcohol because of her, but he’d cleared the house, hauling their prized cellar to a wine storage place down in SoDo. She hadn’t seen him drink since she’d returned home from Salish. Her heart thudded at the evident end of his solidarity with her.

Hey,” she said to his empty stare at the muted TV. A sudden breeze tossed rain at the house, and the soft pattering of drops against window glass broke the silence. He flicked his eyes to her, then back to the blur of moving images. Annie rested her bruised hip against the doorjamb and pressed hard to sear the pain into her skin.

Stephen, are you all right? Did something happen at the store?”

He exhaled a long breath from deep in his throat. She thought of the yogic breathing she used to relax her mind and sink into a pose: lightly in through the nose, audibly out from the back of the throat. But Stephen was not relaxed. Despite his slouched position, his knuckles were white and his legs were taut.

The air around him hummed with an electric storm of tension.

The sudden lift of an arm. The arc of a wrist. Glass exploded beside her head and a tepid wash of acrid hops and sweet malt splashed over her. Stunned, Annie let the liquid drip from her hair to the floor, where the beer bottle lay in shards.

Okay.” She breathed, wrapping her arms around her rigid frame.

What did I do?”

Did you think I wouldn’t find out?”

Find out what?” But she knew.

Spare me the innocent routine, Annie. No more lies. After everything we’ve been through with you, after all I’ve done to get you back on your feet, you go and fuck some guy from your AA meeting. What a fool I’ve been.”

 His feet crashed to the floor, and he dropped his face into his hands.

How did you find out?”

She began to tremble. She’d seen her husband cry only when he won triathlons. This vulnerability frightened her more than his anger. But the worst was over. Admitting to her betrayal was the uprooting of an abscessed tooth: the relief of released pressure greater than the acute agony of opening the wound.

He rolled his forehead between his palms and laughed. When he looked up, his face was dry, but his eyes were rimmed in red.

That’s all you have to say? ‘How did you find out?’ What does it matter? I found out. That’s enough.”

Her cheek was beginning to stiffen with dried beer. Annie could smell the sweet and sour essence of orange and pine, thought of sticking out her tongue to taste it. She had to pee. Sh

It’s been only two months.” A protest, lamely delivered through her sludge of shame and regret, as if she had a right to be indulged because she was trying.

Too weary to counter the dismissal, Annie eased out of the room. The bottom of the closing door slid over broken glass, sweeping it into the hallway.

Annie.”

She stopped just before the door clicked shut. Into the small sliver of light she said, “I’ll go. Give me a couple of days to sort something out.”

Excerpt From: Julie Christine Johnson. “The Crows of Beara: A Novel.”

LOCAL OUTLETS: Buy direct from the Ashland Creek Press store at EcoLit Books and support independent publishing. Free shipping is available.

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

Bookshop

Amazon

Amazon Kindle
Apple iBookstore
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Nook
Kobo
IndieBound

 PRICE: $18.95

 CONTACT THE AUTHOR:Reach me via my website contact page.

Contact Me, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Begin the Begin

Robert Dean LurieTHE BOOK: Begin the Begin: R.E.M.’s Early Years

PUBLISHED IN: 2019

THE AUTHOR: Robert Dean Lurie

THE EDITOR: Steve Connell

THE PUBLISHER: Verse Chorus Press

SUMMARY: BEGIN THE BEGIN is the first biography of R.E.M. wholly researched and written since they disbanded in 2011. It offers by far the most detailed account of the group’s formative years — their early lives, their first encounters with one another, their legendary debut show, early tours, initial recordings, their shrewdly paced rise to fame. The book explores the myriad ways in which the band’s adopted hometown of Athens, Georgia — and the South in general — shaped its members and the character of their art. The South is much more than the background here; it plays a major role: the creative ferment that erupted in Athens and gripped many of its young inhabitants in the late 1970s and early ’80s drew on regional traditions of outsider art and general cultural out-thereness, and gave rise to a free-spirited music scene that produced the B-52’s and Pylon, as well as laying the ground for R.E.M.’s subsequent breakout success.

Additionally, BEGIN THE BEGIN shines a light on numerous figures in the band’s history who were underrepresented in, or absent from, earlier biographies–they contribute previously undocumented stories and cast a fresh light on the familiar narrative.

THE BACK STORY: This book was born when my editor at Verse Chorus Press, Steve Connell, asked if I’d ever thought about writing something on R.E.M. I hadn’t, but it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Steve knew I had attended college in Athens, GA, the town that had given us not just R.E.M. but a host of other great bands. That conversation kicked off a seven-year journey down a very enjoyable rabbit-hole, exactly the amount of time covered in the book.

WHY THIS TITLE: “Begin the Begin” is the opening track of R.E.M.’s classic 1986 LP “Life’s Rich Pageant.” In addition to being a pun on Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine,” it’s the only conceivable title for a book about R.E.M.’s early years!

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s a deep dive into the origins of a great American band that doubles as an exploration of the magic of regional music scenes and the brief golden age of independent, college-radio-supported rock ‘n’ roll.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Hope, yearning, and fear are visceral here, and the portrait painted is of something joyous, mad, and brilliant all at once.”
— David Guterson, author of SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS

“BEGIN THE BEGIN: R.E.M.’S EARLY YEARS is a masterpiece that should take its place alongside other great band biographies. It’s genre-defining. But what makes it so good isn’t necessarily the job it does recovering factoids or sketching personalities from the past. BEGIN THE BEGIN is a well-wrought monument to the passing of time. It’s a testament to the loss that gives life its sweetness.” — Scott Beauchamp, Splice Today

“The start of R.E.M and the rise of the Athens, GA music scene has been the subject of countless books, but few crackle with the ring of truth of Robert Dean Lurie’s fascinating new volume BEGIN THE BEGIN.” — James Mann, The Big Takeover

AUTHOR PROFILE: Robert Dean Lurie is a writer and musician based in Tempe, Arizona. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is the author of WE CAN BE HEROES: THE RADICAL INDIVIDUALISM OF DAVID BOWIE and NO CERTAINTY ATTACHED: STEVE KILBEY AND THE CHURCH.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I don’t believe I would have written about R.E.M. if I hadn’t lived in Athens. The other R.E.M. biographers have already done a great job of telling the band’s story and placing them in the larger context of popular music. So — I felt like the only option that had been left for me was to deepen on place. One of the things I’m trying to get across is that the very specific clique of friends, fellow artists, and rivals in Athens at that time, along with the town’s culture and relative geographic isolation, all contributed to the formation of R.E.M.’s musical identity. R.E.M. assimilated their peers’ best qualities and filled in the spaces that had been left open for them in that unique ecosystem.

SAMPLE \CHAPTER:

https://dangerousminds.net/comments/legendary_r.e.m._performances_captured_before_they_were_famous_1981_with_a_

LOCAL OUTLETS: Changing Hands (Tempe/Phoenix, AZ), Powell’s (Portland, OR), Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Bookshop.org, Amazon.com

PRICE: $19.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: robertdeanlurie.comfacebook.com/robertdeanlurie

When Enemies Offend Thee

THE BOOK: When Enemies Offend Thee

PUBLISHED IN: March 2020.

THE AUTHOR: Sally Whitney.

THE EDITOR: Lori Draft.

THE PUBLISHER: Pen-L Publishing.

SUMMARY: Recently widowed, Clementine Loftis returns to her hometown in North Carolina looking for comfort and peace. Instead, she finds an angry former high-school classmate who sexually assaults her in a bizarre attempt to settle an old score.

When lack of evidence prevents police from charging him, Clementine vows to get even on her own. After her first attempt doesn’t pan out, she escalates her effort. When that fails, she escalates again … and again.

Clementine’s determination to make her attacker pay for what he’s done drives her to walk a fine, dangerous line between vengeance and justice, making her question who she really is and whether she can ever again be the woman she wants to be.

When Enemies Offend Thee is a provocative thriller that will have readers questioning their own friendships, loyalties, ethics, and the possibility of redemption.

THE BACK STORY: My first thoughts about this novel began with wondering how far a person would actually go to right an injustice that had been done to them. As I explored those possibilities and grew to know the main character, Clementine, I also wondered if she went to the edge, even if she didn’t go over, could she ever get back. In other words, could she redeem herself in the end?

The setting of the novel was another strong motivator. My first novel, Surface and Shadow, is set in a small southern mill town in 1972 when the mill is at its peak as the largest employer in town. I wanted to explore the effects on the people of that town 40 years later when the mill is no longer operating.

WHY THIS TITLE: The title comes from a comment by Pete, the town’s hardware-store owner, who frequently misquotes the Bible. “You know,” he remarks, “The Bible also says, ‘Rise up with might when enemies offend thee. From the depths of retribution spring resolution and respect.’” The passage doesn’t exist in the Bible, but it captures Clementine’s state of mind perfectly.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s an engrossing page-turner. As an Amazon reviewer said, “[You] did not have to read very many pages before you knew this book was not going to be easy to put down until the last page was read.” It also raises challenging questions about justice, loyalty, friendship, and redemption.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“An unflinching look at sexual assault, Clementine Loftis’ story is both timely and timeless. In the end, it isn’t Clementine’s quest for justice that saves her but the community she builds along the way. A hopeful tale of overcoming grief and trauma when you least expect it.” — Amy Meyerson, bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays and The Imperfects.

“With evocative prose, complex characters, and an amazing sense of place, When Enemies Offend Thee is a first-rate thriller. And Sally Whitney is a writer to keep your eye on for years to come.” — Tom Bennitt, author of Burning Under.

“When Enemies Offend Thee is a riveting tale of crime, retribution, and healing. Sally Whitney is to be congratulated for creating a protagonist rarely seen in contemporary fiction: a dynamic, sexy older woman.” — Patricia Schultheis, author of St. Bart’s Way and A Balanced Life.

“Sally Whitney’s novel, When Enemies Offend Thee, comfortably begins as the homecoming story of a widow returning to her roots and fulfilling her lifelong aspiration of opening her own antique shop—but her dream is brutally affronted by a relic from her past. The warm and inviting prose makes it easy to stand alongside Clementine every step of the way, even when she takes justice into her own hands in unexpected ways. ‘You never know what you’re capable of until something pushes you to the edge,’ muses Clementine when even she realizes she may be taking a step too far. Whitney’s characters and plot twists offer up more surprises than the most richly curated antique
shop.” –Eric D. Goodman, author of The Color of Jadeite, Setting the Family Free, Womb: a Novel in Utero, and Tracks: A Novel in Stories.

“In her story of a woman in the aftermath of a brutal attack, Sally Whitney probes the uncertain line between the demand for justice and the hunger for retribution. The taut narrative keeps the pages turning in this exploration of what is gained or lost in one woman’s struggle to rebalance the scales of her universe.” -–Jennifer Bort Yacovissi, author of Up the Hill to Home.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Although Sally Whitney has spent most of her adult life in other parts of the United States, her imagination lives in the South, the homeland of her childhood.

“Whenever I dream of a story,” she says, “I feel the magic of red clay hills, soft voices, sudden thunder storms, and rich emotions. The South is a wonderland of mysteries, legends, and jokes handed down through generations of family storytellers, people like me.”

Sally is a fan of stories in almost any medium, including literature, theater, and film. She’d rather spend an afternoon in the audience across from the footlights than anywhere else, and she thinks DVDs and streaming movies are the greatest inventions since the automobile. She loves libraries and gets antsy if she has to drive very far without an audio book to listen to.

The short stories she writes have been published in literary magazines and anthologies, including Best Short Stories from The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest 2017 and Grow Old Along With Me—The Best Is Yet To Be, the audio version of which was a Grammy Award finalist in the Spoken Word or Nonmusical Album category. Her first novel, Surface and Shadow, published by Pen-L Publishing in 2016, tells the story of a woman who risks her marriage and her husband’s career to find out what really happened in the suspicious death of a cotton baron in Tanner, North Carolina in 1972.

In nonfiction, Sally’s worked as a public relations writer, freelance journalist, and editor of Best’s Review magazine. Her articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers, including St. Anthony Messenger, The Kansas City Star, AntiqueWeek, and Our State: Down Home in North Carolina.

Sally is a member of The Authors Guild and has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She currently lives in Pennsylvania. When she isn’t writing, reading, watching movies, or attending plays, she likes to poke around in antique shops looking for treasures.

“The best things in life are the ones that have been loved, whether by you or somebody else,” she says.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: There are a lot of books out there, and I’m always very appreciative when someone chooses one of mine. I hope readers will remember Clementine and her friends and understand that you never truly know how you’ll act in certain situations until you’re in them.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/When-Enemies-Offend-Sally-Whitney/dp/1683132114/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1C995NUSULEXW&dchild=1&keywords=when+enemies+offend+thee&qid=1594052914&sprefix=When+Enemies+Off%2Caps%2C135&sr=8-1

LOCAL OUTLETS: Local bookstores can order When Enemies Offend Thee from Ingram Distribution.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:  

Bookshop.org https://bookshop.org/books/when-enemies-offend-thee/9781683132110

Pen-L.com http://www.pen-l.com/WhenEnemiesOffendThee.html

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-enemies-offend-thee-sally-m-whitney/1136490281;jsessionid=037A2FB70E9F0A781C17B3CECC12B109.prodny_store01-atgap10?ean=9781683132110

PRICE: $15.97 (paperback) $6.97 (Kindle).

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:
Website: https://sallywhitney.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sallymwhitney
Twitter: https://twitter.com/1SallyWhitney
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smwhitney65/

First Tuesday Replay, July 7

This feature has a two-fold purpose: 1. To allow those recently added to our followers list to discover books they might have missed and 2. To make sure previously featured authors and their work aren’t forgotten. If you’d like to learn more about any of the books revisited here, simply click on the “Authors” page, then on that author’s name.

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Giving Paws: Having a Service Dog for a Hidden Disability by [Thompson, Martha L.]“GIVING PAWS,” BY MARTHA L. THOMPSON

Writes Martha: “Anyone who has loved a dog or cat understands their instinct to snuggle with us when we don’t feel well, but not everyone knows how dogs can be trained to assist people with all kinds of maladies and disabilities. My book will be invaluable to anyone who could benefit from having a service dog. It will be particularly helpful to those with “invisible disabilities,” who are considering getting a service dog. The process is not as simple as putting a vest on the dog and bringing them everywhere they go. There will be obstacles, and my story offers solutions and lessons on how to keep going despite the bumps in in the road.

There are a few books on the market about training service dogs, but none that tell a personal account that include all the highs and lows.

“WOLF SEASON,” BY HELEN BENEDICT

After a hurricane devastates a small town in upstate New York, the lives of three women and their young children are irrevocably changed. Rin, an Iraq War veteran, tries to protect her little daughter and the three wolves under her care. Naema, a widowed doctor who fled Iraq with her wounded son, faces life-threatening injuries. Beth, who is raising a troubled son, waits out her marine husband’s deployment in Afghanistan, equally afraid of him coming home and of him never returning at all.

As they struggle to maintain their humanity and love, and to find hope, their war-torn lives collide in a way that will affect their entire community.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51xozzPNUOL.jpg“BITTERROOT,” BY STEVEN FAULKNER.

A modern father and son travel the Oregon Trail with that remarkable 19th-century traveler Pierre Jean De Smet who leads them to the Rocky Mountains where they join Lewis and Clark during their difficult crossing of the continental divide—several weeks that almost killed them. Along that trail they meet the Nez Perce tribe who helped save the lives of Lewis and Clark and their “corps of discovery”. On the return trip, father and son join the Nez Perce in their long flight from General O. O. Howard and the U. S. army.

This is a travel book like Blue Highways or John Graves’ Goodbye to a River, with vivid accounts of historical events along the way: the Chinese Massacre in Rock Springs, Lewis and Clark’s miserable climb through the Bitterroots, the Nez Perce battle at Big Hole, the Battle of the Little Bighorn from the perspective of a Sioux boy who lived through it.

“LAIKA,” BY KATE KORT

Laika desperately wishes for a new life. At fourteen, she’s hardened and independent, living on the streets of southern California. She’s finally free of her volatile home but yearns for true stability.

As Graham, a waiter at a local Russian restaurant, watches Laika steal and struggle to survive, he sees there is something else going on. Something dangerous. An insidious disease that gnaws at her mind and drags her deeper into a world of chaos and delusion.Laika brings to light the often-shrouded world of paranoid schizophrenia. It also examines the socially stigmatized issues of homelessness, addiction, and PTSD, in the hopes of fostering greater awareness and compassion.

Where To?: A Hack Memoir by [Samarov, Dmitry]WHERE TO?” BY DIMITRI SAMAROV

An illustrated work memoir about twelve years driving cab in Chicago and Boston between 1993 and 2012. The book starts with the author’s very first fare and ends with his last, in between are chapters devoted to the inner workings of the cab industry and memorable customers, colleagues, and civic events. In all, it is a portrait of city life from a vantage point which will soon disappear entirely due to the taxi business’s impending doom at the hands of the ride-share racket.

This the follow-up to Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and a summing up of the author’s cabbie career after he decided to walk away.

Where to? was what I asked anybody who got int my taxi. “Hack” the old-fashioned term for a cab driver. Memoir to make sure readers realize this isn’t fiction (as they did when I included the word Stories in the title of my first book.

AMERICAN FLOWERS,” BY TYLER FLYNN DORHOLT

From Tyler: “I’ve been writing prose poems for years and at some point in 2013 I realized I was writing contained prose poems, or lyrical splashes, about themes that related to one another. This might have just been proximity: I wrote all of these on post-it notes and affixed them to the same book, next to one another. I also wrote all of them by the same small window, from an apartment in Brooklyn. Much of the writing was corresponding to ways I was thinking not necessarily about, but out of photographs.

Once I had collected the writing, I was uncertain as to what shape the lyrics/blocks/strophes should be. After being assembled, the book was a finalist at a couple of poetry presses and also a finalist for a Lyric Essay contest, and so I knew it was missing something to make it feel and become its own book. I didn’t have a problem with this sense of hybridity, but it allowed me to understand that the shape of the work was meant to be in blocks, or paragraphs, and that the photographs I was taking in and around the writing were reflections of the writing. Even vice versa. That’s when photographs were added.

Weather Report, July 6

Kilcatherine grave yard, Beara Peninsula, County Cork

(Beara, Ireland:  Photo from Pinterest)

Our currently featured books, “Time is the Longest Distance,” by Janet Clare, “Three Ways to Disappear,” by Katy Yocom, “Living on the Borderlines,” by Melissa Michal and “Flutter,” by Kristin Garth, 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, JULY 7-13.

“THE CROWS OF BEARA,” BY JULIE CHRISTINE JOHNSON.

When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.

Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice—a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind. Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people. Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.

“BEGIN THE BEGIN,” BY ROBERT DEAN LURIE.

R.E.M. | Members, Songs, & Facts | Britannica

(Photo from Britannica)

BEGIN THE BEGIN is the first biography of R.E.M. wholly researched and written since they disbanded in 2011. It offers by far the most detailed account of the group’s formative years — their early lives, their first encounters with one another, their legendary debut show, early tours, initial recordings, their shrewdly paced rise to fame. The book explores the myriad ways in which the band’s adopted hometown of Athens, Georgia — and the South in general — shaped its members and the character of their art. The South is much more than the background here; it plays a major role: the creative ferment that erupted in Athens and gripped many of its young inhabitants in the late 1970s and early ’80s drew on regional traditions of outsider art and general cultural out-thereness, and gave rise to a free-spirited music scene that produced the B-52’s and Pylon, as well as laying the ground for R.E.M.’s subsequent breakout success.

Additionally, BEGIN THE BEGIN shines a light on numerous figures in the band’s history who were underrepresented in, or absent from, earlier biographies–they contribute previously undocumented stories and cast a fresh light on the familiar narrative.

“WHEN ENEMIES OFFEND THEE,” BY SALLY WHITNEY.

Recently widowed, Clementine Loftis returns to her hometown in North Carolina looking for comfort and peace. Instead, she finds an angry former high-school classmate who sexually assaults her in a bizarre attempt to settle an old score.

When lack of evidence prevents police from charging him, Clementine vows to get even on her own. After her first attempt doesn’t pan out, she escalates her effort. When that fails, she escalates again … and again.

Clementine’s determination to make her attacker pay for what he’s done drives her to walk a fine, dangerous line between vengeance and justice, making her question who she really is and whether she can ever again be the woman she wants to be.

When Enemies Offend Thee is a provocative thriller that will have readers questioning their own friendships, loyalties, ethics, and the possibility of redemption.

“THE FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY”

This month, we will re-visit “Where To?” by Dimitri Samarov, “Laika,” by Kate Kort, “Giving Paws,” by Martha Thompson, “American Flowers,” by Tyler Dorholt, “Bitterroot,” by David Faulkner and “Wolf Season,” by Helen Benedict.

 

 

Three Ways to Disappear

This week’s other featured books, “Time is the Longest Distance,” by Janet Clare, “Living on the Borderlines,” by Melissa Michal and “Flutter,” by Kristin Garth, can be found by scrolling down below this post.

THE BOOK: Three Ways to Disappear.

PUBLISHED IN: 2019

THE AUTHOR: Katy Yocom.

THE EDITOR: Midge Raymond.

THE PUBLISHER: Ashland Creek Press, a vegan-owned boutique publisher dedicated to publishing books with a world view. Ashland Creek Press publishes compelling stories about the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife.

SUMMARY: Leaving behind a nomadic and dangerous career as a journalist, Sarah DeVaughan returns to India, the country of her childhood and the site of her brother’s tragic death, to help preserve the endangered Bengal tigers. Meanwhile, at home in Kentucky, her sister, Quinn—also deeply scarred by the past and herself a keeper of secrets—tries to support her sister, even as she fears that India will be Sarah’s undoing.

Three Ways to Disappear: A Novel by [Katy Yocom]As Sarah faces challenges in her new job—made complicated by complex local politics and a forbidden love—Quinn copes with their mother’s refusal to talk about the past, her son’s life-threatening illness, and her own increasingly troubled marriage. When Sarah asks Quinn to join her in India, Quinn realizes that the only way to overcome the past is to return to it, and it is in this place of stunning natural beauty and hidden danger that the sisters can finally understand the ways in which their family has disappeared—from their shared history, from one another—and recognize that they may need to risk everything to find themselves again.

This is a novel about saving all that is precious, from endangered species to the indelible bonds among family.

THE BACK STORY: In 2004, I had just gotten my MFA degree in creative writing from Spalding University’s low-residency program. I was between writing projects and feeling restless. When a tigress at the Louisville zoo gave birth to a litter of cubs, I found myself obsessed. It was a reawakening, I guess, of my childhood passion for big cats. Soon, a novel began writing itself in my head—the story of Sarah DeVaughan, an American woman who goes to India on an idealistic mission to save tigers.

Despite my best efforts at research here in the States, once I started writing the first draft, I quickly realized the only way to write this book was to travel to India. I needed to experience the tiger reserves, visit the surrounding countryside, and see for myself the complexities of conservation efforts. I quickly learned that the goal of saving tigers often directly conflicts with local villagers’ ability to simply make a living. My research in India added so many layers to the story. It also allowed me to imagine Sarah’s life there as a child with her family, including the death of her brother at age seven, an event that became a central element in the story.

This book was a total labor of love for me. I worked on it for more than a dozen years before it was published. You hear stories about authors falling out of love with their projects and eventually abandoning them. But this story always felt alive to me. Always.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The working title was originally “Tiger Woman,” but that was too similar to other tiger-ish titles being published at the time. I came up with Three Ways to Disappear more or less intuitively. I’m often asked about the title, and all I can say is that disappearance—physical, emotional, spiritual—is a pervasive theme in the book. But you could definitely make a case for other ways to interpret the title. For instance, Sarah is one of three siblings, and you could argue that their journeys are the disappearances. To be honest, I like the fact that the title’s meaning is a little elusive. I’m happy for readers to answer that question for themselves.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? To lose yourself in a story about two sisters trying to find their way back to each other from opposite sides of the planet. To spend time in the midst of love in all its forms. To wrestle with the big questions. And, of course, to explore a new country and revel in the glory of the world’s most magnificent animal, the Royal Bengal tiger. I wanted to write a novel that would keep the reader turning pages while also engaging the reader’s head and heart. Can I quote a blurb here? The great Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus (a National Book Award finalist), said, “What a fabulous ride! The characters—both human and tiger—are so alive they practically leap off the page. The drama feels absolutely real. And the urgency of the book’s message has never been greater.”

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“… a book driven by the lives of two complex female characters. …. Katy Yocom has crafted an ideal novel for the unprecedented audience of a 2020 pandemic. Merging entertainment and reality, fear and growth, pain and love … Three Ways to Disappear offers the solace of a novel founded on what makes life meaningful.” –The Roadrunner Review

“…deeply human. …Not only are the characters changed by the end of the story, we are changed for having known them.” – North American Review

“Sarah is enthralling—a savvy traveler whose manner of dealing with antagonists is excellent. …Three Ways to Disappear is informative, refreshingly complex, and ends in realistic fashion. Sometimes answers only beget more questions, and consequences make life, like the future of the tiger, uncertain.”—Foreword Reviews

AUTHOR PROFILE: I became a writer because reading meant so much to me when I was growing up, and even in my adult life I’ve always turned to books to learn about the world—not just the world outside me, but the world inside, too. The human heart. Reading a book is the closest we will ever come to knowing what it’s like to be another person. And imagining being another person is the path to empathy. What’s happening in our country right now is, in part, a call to empathy—it’s asking us to open ourselves to the idea that people who are not like us are, in the end, every bit as human as we are.

I started out as a journalist. I’m very curious about other people, and writing stories—especially profiles—allowed me to ask all kinds of questions that wouldn’t come up in normal conversation! I don’t mean confrontational questions, I mean ones that are deeper than we might otherwise consider it polite to ask a stranger.

Eventually I realized that I was always wanting to find the narrative thread in the articles I was writing—to really tell a story, I mean—and that’s what led me to writing fiction. I also enjoy writing personal essays, and I’ve published quite a few of them, in Salon, Newsweek (an essay about my trip to India to research the book), Lit Hub, Necessary Fiction, and even American Way, the American Airlines in-flight magazine. But Three Ways to Disappear is my first novel.

I’m very happy that the novel has done well in terms of recognition. It was named a Barnes & Noble Top Indie Favorite, which was thrilling! It won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, the First Horizon Award, and the Micro Press Award, and it was short-listed for the Eric Hoffer Book Award grand prize. It was also long-listed for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, alongside books by Ocean Vuong, Kiley Reid, and Taffy Brodesser-Akner, among others, so that was really exciting.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I wanted to tell the story in Three Ways to Disappear because I’ve always felt that the human world and the natural world are equally important. In a sense, my novel tells parallel stories about a human family and a tiger family. All of us—human or animal—have powerful drives to connect, love, and raise the next generation. All of us experience loss. I wrote this book out of my passionate belief in connectedness and coexistence among animals and humans. I wrote it to explore the fragility of relationships and life itself, as well as the healing power of love.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

CHAPTER ONE

Quinn

In the year after Marcus died, their mother stopped loving people, one after another. Her minister, her tennis coach, her friends. Daddy. On a day dripping with the end of the monsoon, she clicked shut the brass latches on her daughters’ suitcases and supervised as Ravindra loaded them into the car. In the courtyard, beneath the peepal tree, Daddy clutched the girls to his chest. Quinn, at eleven, was the responsible one; Sarah, at eight, the remnant twin: widowed by Marcus when he died, if widowed was the word for it, which it wasn’t. There was no word for it. Thin mud soaked their shoes as he kissed their cheeks and begged them not to forget him. It was a terrible thing to hear him say because it opened up the possibility that they could. His voice had gone high with pain, which embarrassed Quinn for him. She didn’t think men were supposed to feel that much.

Mother pulled the girls away, leaving their father to stand alone in the filtered sunlight, arms dangling at his sides as if he didn’t know how they operated. Daddy was a doctor, the reason they lived in India, and India, according to Mother, was the reason Marcus was dead. Daddy’s mouth curled down, and he cried silently as his daughters watched. Behind him, Ayah wept, rhythmic and soft like singing. Beyond Ayah, the watchman stood: the courtyard a chessboard, the adults the game pieces isolated in their separate squares. Ayah’s weeping turned ragged, and Quinn and Sarah ran and clung to her until Mother pried their fingers from Ayah’s damp turquoise sari and pushed the girls, stumbling and crying, into the car. Their shoes muddied the floor mats, but Quinn didn’t care.

Ravindra opened the wrought iron gate and nosed the car into the inchoate, horn-honking flow of Delhi traffic. In the back seat, Quinn turned around and watched their home grow smaller. Before it vanished altogether, she raised her hand to it and said good-bye. Good-bye to everything and everyone and everywhere. Good-bye to Daddy. To Ayah. To every friend, enemy, household staff member, shopkeeper, schoolteacher, gymnastics instructor, swimming coach. It seemed easy for Mother: She had shut down her heart. But she still loved her girls. The proof was that she took them with her.

The other proof was that she hadn’t believed Quinn when she tried to confess her role in what had happened to Marcus. Quinn said the words, but Mother let them fall to her bedroom floor, where they scuttled under the bed and vanished. Which meant that the secret was still Quinn’s to carry. She had spent a long time considering the consequences before she told Mother what she’d done, but this possibility had never occurred to her.

“Remember, young ladies. Always be good,” Ravindra said at the airport curb, his eyes streaming. Sarah and Quinn hugged him hard. They cried. But when Mother told them to leave him, they left, dutiful girls. They boarded an enormous jet and flew west across India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey. Across all of Europe to Paris. Over the ultramarine Atlantic Ocean and down the eastern seaboard to New York. From there to Louisville, Kentucky, the town where Mother had grown up. They were leaving their unhappiness as far behind them as the planet would allow.

Quinn thought she felt it happen. When the plane lifted off from the Delhi runway, she felt an invisible force push her body back into the seat and flow through her, a tide running in the direction of India and the ground. So Mother was right: It was possible to leave things behind, events and stories and history. With a sense of relief, as the plane shuddered around her, she lifted up her secret and offered it to the tide. She would go to America, and she would be free.

She was twenty-eight years old on the day she stopped believing in this magic. Twenty-eight and bare-bellied on an examining table, her husband’s fingers interlaced with her own. The ultrasound tech ran a wand over her midsection, and in a haze of black and gray, the two children inside her revealed their identities: a boy and a girl, just like Marcus and Sarah. Sarah was twenty-five at the time. Marcus was still seven, if he was anything at all.

As she looked at the hazy images of the children inside her, she felt it again: the weight of the plane lifting off and pushing her down. And she knew then that distance and years were nothing, that no matter what their mother said, their histories traveled with them, stitched into their DNA.

*

Peacock blue, she thought at first, but that was wrong. Mineral blue, like larimar. A sky color.

On a stool in front of Quinn, her son kicked his feet. It was the day before Nick and Alaina turned seven, and he was sitting for his portrait, to match the one of his sister that Quinn had completed that morning. Quinn’s eyes wanted to linger on the curve and color of his peachy little cheek, to slow everything down. She wasn’t ready for the twins to be seven. She had known it since the day of that ultrasound: She would never be ready for them to reach this age.

“How come you’re using pastels instead of real paint?” Nick asked. By “real paint” he meant acrylics. In art school, Quinn had loved oils, but she hadn’t allowed them into her studio since the day she’d learned she was pregnant. Too many noxious fumes in the paint thinners and brush cleaners: bad for the babies.

“I want to get you down fast so you don’t have to sit so long,” she said. The cerulean blue of his T-shirt reflected into Nick’s eyes, which were a cool, deep hue, nearly periwinkle, pebbled with white. She touched oil pastel to paper to add the reflected color, just a couple of tiny arcs. Barely there at all.

The work absorbed her as it always did. She registered only vaguely the aroma of applewood smoke that told her Pete was heating the gas grill on the deck below. Giggles from the twins’ room meant Alaina had commandeered her Auntie Sarah, who was back in Louisville between reporting assignments. Sarah had come for a meal and to spend the night; Alaina had brokered the latter part of that deal. Quinn paused for a moment to listen. They were arguing playfully over whether their card game should be called Crazy Eights or Crazy Aunts. Sarah was advocating for the latter.

“What kind of cake are you making?” Nick asked.

“Chocolate with chocolate frosting. Just like you asked for.” She stepped back to assess the drawing. Getting close, although she wanted to do a little more around his mouth and nose. So many complicated curves in that part of the face.

“Mom? Can we be done?”

“Sure, kiddo. You did great.” Before she finished the sentence, he shot out the door, eager to fill Alaina in on the proceedings of the past half hour, no doubt. “Twin summit” was the family term for this mandatory briefing after every separation. “Like heads of state,” Pete had once said as he and Quinn stood watching their children, bemused.

Quinn had begun straightening her studio when Sarah ambled in. “My services were no longer needed,” she said, nodding toward the room across the hall. She straddled the stool and twined her long legs around it, giving the effect of a rider on horseback. “So my last assignment didn’t go so well.”

“No? Where were you?”

Sarah made an impatient noise. “Crappy little dictatorship. Continent beginning with the letter A.” Sometimes she answered questions that way, to avoid scaring her family, Quinn assumed. “I was doing a series on government reforms to help with the refugee crisis. It all looked pretty impressive. I filed a long story about how things were turning a corner, the aid initiatives were working, et cetera. But the day I’m supposed to leave, all the flights get canceled because of a coup attempt, so I come back to the city. On the way, something tells me to stop by one of the sites where I’d been reporting. And it’s gone.”

Quinn stopped cleaning and tried to gauge her sister’s expression. “Gone? Like a massacre?”

“Gone, like it never existed. Poof. They’d struck the whole damned camp like a movie set.” Sarah dismounted the stool and paced to the window. “I’m out there with my driver, walking around this empty field, and the only thing I’m seeing are some tent stakes and a bunch of empty Pepsi cans. And I’m realizing I’ve been played. And then my so-called government liaison shows up, and the next thing I know I’m being detained.”

“Holy hell, Sarah.” Quinn settled her hips against her work table and glanced involuntarily at the door, but the Lego noises coming from the bedroom said the twins were otherwise occupied.

Sarah peered out between the mullions like a prisoner. “They took my cell phone and laptop and parked me in this hotel room with a guard outside my door. In the middle of the night I hear a scratching at my window, and it’s two guys I know, journalists, and we sneak out of there to this little dirt-track airfield and take a puddle-jumper to the next country.”

Quinn blanched. “What would have happened if they’d caught you?”

“By that point, the government had bigger things to worry about than me.”

This Year of Living Dangerously stuff: It knotted Quinn’s stomach. “You must have been terrified.”

Sarah turned around. “I’m pissed, is what I am. That”—she glanced at the doorway and lowered her voice—“that fucking little dictator used me as a mouthpiece. Turned us all into his propaganda whores.”

Quinn wiped her hands on a paper towel. “It’s not your fault. He set you up.”

“But who’s to say this is the first time? Every time I’ve gotten access to some site or some person who was supposedly off limits, maybe it was the same thing. And the damage is done. The stories have already run.”

“You can retract them.”

Sarah shrugged one shoulder. “People remember the story. They never remember it got retracted. Anyway, that’s it for me. I’m done.”

“What do you mean, done?”

“Done. With journalism.”

“Because of one story? That’s a little impulsive even for you.”

“Because of that story, and the one before it, and the one before that. Like the boy soldiers this summer. People read a story, and the next day it’s forgotten. Nobody wants follow-up. Nobody cares. Or at least that’s what the people in charge of the budgets believe.”

Or they care, but they feel helpless so they look away. Quinn considered the set of her sister’s mouth. “You’re shedding a lot of layers these days,” she said. Sarah’s divorce had been final less than a year. It had been a short marriage, but still, it had exacted a toll.

“You know me. I don’t like to mess around.”

Quinn recognized that breezy tone: a classic Sarah deflection. “It’s hard to imagine you without journalism. I’m really sorry,” Quinn said, and for Sarah’s sake she wanted to mean it, but she couldn’t. No more wondering when she’d get the phone call saying her sister had been killed on assignment. “So you’re coming back home, then?”

Sarah turned, planted her hands on the windowsill, and squinted up into the walnut tree. She was tall and blond like Quinn, but Sarah spilled over with half-contained energy. The way she walked, rangy and loose. People watched her wherever she went, a fact she never seemed to register. “Actually, I got a job.”

“Really! Where?” The local newspaper, Quinn hoped.

“India.”

Quinn dropped a tray of pastels, sending sticks of pigment skidding across the floor. She knelt to gather them and came up clutching gaudy fistfuls. “Why would you do that? Why would you go back there?”

“I’ll be doing media work for a conservation NGO. Getting their story out. Fundraising. Whatever they need me to do.” As if that were what Quinn had asked. “I’ll be in Sawai Madhopur,” Sarah added. “Ranthambore.”

“Ranthambore,” Quinn said. “Tigers?”

Sarah nodded.

“You always did love the big cats.” Quinn recognized the expression on her sister’s face: full of the future, in love with the next thing. It stung her that Sarah seemed perfectly content to remain a special guest star in the twins’ lives. She didn’t know how they idolized her, how they imagined her life the way some people imagined the lives of celebrities. “What the hell are you doing, Sarah?”

“I’m going where I’m needed.”

“You think we don’t need you?”

Sarah looked almost amused at that. She spread her arms to encompass the modest but lovely 1920s bungalow, the good husband making dinner downstairs, the two perfect children in the next room. The whole package: That was how it must look to her. “There’s a crisis going on.”

“There’s always a crisis somewhere. Did you ever once think about getting a normal job like a normal person? Like, here in the States?”

“How are the States any more normal than the rest of the world?”

Quinn smacked the pastels onto her work table. “You think I’m small, don’t you? Living my small little life with my small little family while you’re out there risking your life and saving the world.”

Sarah laughed. “Come on, Quinnie.”

The twins appeared in the doorway. “Auntie Sarah, are you going to go live in India?” Nick asked.

Sarah scooped him up in a hug. “I am!” she exclaimed, as if it were the best news in the world.

“How far away is that?”

“Do you have a world map? I’ll show you.” And the three of them disappeared into the twins’ room until Pete called up to say dinner was ready.

At the table, the talk was all India. “Will you get to pet tigers?” Nick asked.

“If I petted a tiger, it would probably eat me for dinner.”

“Whoa!” Alaina laughed through a mouthful of chicken. “Don’t do that.”

“I won’t. I promise.”

Pete said something about the guy he worked with from Bangalore at the tech start-up. Nobody mentioned the DeVaughan family history, or the years that would likely pass before the twins saw Sarah again. It was all just pleasant table talk.

After dinner, the children played with Sarah until Quinn sent them into Pete’s office to say good night. He turned away from his monitor and scooped up Alaina, then Nick for a hug and kiss. “Almost finished,” he said to Quinn, turning back to his database as she ushered the twins from the room. When she and Sarah said good night at eleven, Pete was still clackety-clacking away at the keys. She went to bed and turned off the lights.

Later she woke to the sound of Nick’s coughing. Pete lay next to her. She hadn’t heard him come in.

In the twins’ room, light seeped in, dim and blue around the edges of the blinds. On the nightstand, the digital clock read 2:15. She touched her son’s cheek. “You okay, buddy?”

He nodded, covering a cough. She dosed him with the albuterol inhaler, waited, had him blow into the peak flow meter. Seventy percent, middle of the yellow zone. They sat up together on his bed, her back to the wall. Nick leaned against her, dozing between fits of coughing. She ran her hand over his silky hair.

“Mom?” he murmured.

She kissed his head. “Yeah, sweetie?”

“You grew up in India, didn’t you?”

“Till I was eleven.”

“What was it like?”

“Oh,” she said. “Packed.”

“You mean crowded?”

“Yes, but … more like being inside a great big kaleidoscope. Everywhere you looked, there were a million things to see. Beautiful bright colors. People. A million things going on all at once.”

“Like that time we went to the carnival?”

“A lot like that.”

Across the room, Alaina slept on her back, arms flung over her head.

Nick fell quiet, his forehead wrinkling as he tried to puzzle something out. “Mom? Are you Indian or American?”

“I’d say I’m American.”

“What’s Auntie Sarah?”

She smiled. “Auntie Sarah is a citizen of the world.”

His readings stayed in the yellow zone. Just another interrupted night. At five o’clock, the meter showed 82 percent—back in the green—and he drifted into a sleep that held. Quinn slipped back to bed.

At seven she pulled her blond curls into a messy ponytail and stumbled into the kitchen, where she found Sarah rummaging through cupboards, her duffel by the door. It was still dark out. The windows reflected back the overhead lights.

“In the freezer,” Quinn said.

Sarah threw her a glance. “You okay? You look like hell.” She pulled open the freezer, came up with a bag of Italian roast and thumped the door shut.

“Nick was up coughing. He’s still asleep.”

“Sorry. I’ll be quiet.”

When the coffee finished brewing, they stood together cradling hot mugs of it, hips propped against the counter. It was a family trait, standing when other people would sit. “Hey,” Quinn said. “I’m sorry about that thing I said yesterday.”

Sarah glanced at her curiously. “Which thing?”

“About you thinking my life is small.”

“I don’t think it is small,” Sarah said. “It fits you perfectly.”

Quinn squeezed her gritty eyes shut. “God! Can you hear yourself?”

“Aw, Quinnie.” Sarah set her mug on the counter and cuffed Quinn lightly on the shoulder. “We’re different people. So what? I got a job I’m excited about. Can’t you be happy for me? Just a teeny bit?” She held up her palms and peeked between them. “Pretty please? Just that much?”

Quinn laughed in spite of herself. It irked her. Sarah would do exactly as she pleased, so why did she want Quinn’s blessing? It seemed greedy. Yet some tender spot inside her was grateful for the request. Sarah was not one to ask for things.

She considered her sister’s laughing, hopeful expression. Sarah was so elusive to her, always had been: first because she was a twin, then because she was grieving, then because she was gone. “All right, you,” she said, because what else could she say? “Do what you want. Go save those tigers.”

Sarah grinned. “You’re the best.” She picked up her mug for a last gulp of coffee, and set the cup in the sink. Then she gave Quinn a surprising kiss on the cheek, and she was gone.

You can read more using Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, Kentucky, 502-456-6950.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, EcoLit Books.

PRICE: $18.95 paperback, $28.95 hardcover, $9.99 e-book.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Facebook: Katy Yocom Author. Instagram: @katyyocom1. Or email me through my website.

Time is the Longest Distance

Time is the Longest Distance by [Janet Clare]THE BOOK: Time Is the Longest Distance

PUBLISHED IN: December 2018

THE AUTHOR: Janet Clare

THE PUBLISHER: Vine Leaves Press, Australia

SUMMARY: Set in the harsh desert of the Australian outback, Time Is the Longest Distance is a moral story of immorality in a place where “night comes on like a door slamming shut.”

Lilly, a 45-year-old New Yorker, is persuaded by her newly found father, Cameron, to take on the Canning Stock Route, the most difficult outback track in the country. Crossing the dead heart of the Great Sandy and Gibson deserts, she is joined by her half-brother, Grant, and his twenty-something daughter, Jen.

Like a moon walker far from her life, Lilly becomes entangled in an unlikely love affair and a witness to an unsavory death. The hard days and long nights provide time and space for Lilly to recall the years with her ex-husband, Stephen, artist and all-around drunk—the greatest love and disappointment in her life—forcing her to examine her own imperfections as she learns, first-hand, about the power and destruction of secrets, sexual taboos, and the thrill of transgression.

Full sizeTHE BACK STORY: Years ago, I heard about a man who, having spent most of his life in the United States, returned home to Australia for his father’s funeral only to find he had a whole other family living on the other side of the country. It started me thinking about that vast land, and all the spaces where we hide ourselves. How separate we can be from people–often family and those we love—who we see every day. And, too, the longing for those lost from our lives.

WHY THIS TITLE: “I didn’t go to the moon. I went much further—for time is the longest distance between two places.” Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: If you enjoy reading about a place far away and mysterious with an added touch of danger and romance, dive in.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “…Loved the structure and love Clare’s depiction of Australia’s outback. Lots of themes running through this book–mothers/daughters, lost love–and also a taboo subject you rarely read about. You’ll have to read the book to find out.” Barbara de Marco Barrett, Writers on Writing, KUCI-FM.

How could you not love a novel set against the Australian outback? About fierce love, endless longing, ravenous desire, and the secrets that derail us and ruin others. A phenomenally moving experience (it’s so much more than a novel), Clare’s debut shows a complex web of relationships that shifts as much as a desert itself—and is just as gorgeous.” Caroline Leavitt, author of Cruel Beautiful World and the New York Times bestsellers Is this Tomorrow and Pictures of You.

“In deft, clear prose that reminds of both Cheryl Strayed and Michael Ondaatje, Janet Clare’s debut explores—in riveting, unflinching detail—a woman’s search for connection and meaning. In Lilly’s journey, with unfamiliar family in unfamiliar territory, we have a protagonist wanting in the ways we are all wanting: to find that thing that will make us complete. There are depths in these characters and I loved every word.” — Christian Kiefer, author of The Animals, Phantoms

AUTHOR PROFILE: Originally from New York, Janet Clare lives in Los Angeles with her husband. She studied at UC Berkeley and UCLA and she’s had short fiction and essays published in literary journals online and anthologized. Her first novel, Time Is the Longest Distance was published December 2018 by a small press out of Australia, where the story is set.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: All any writer could hope for is to have readers want to turn the page, so I hope you enjoy Time Is the Longest Distance, and if you do, I would greatly appreciate your posting a review.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://janetclare.com/excerpt-time-is-the-longest-distance/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Ask for it at your favorite Indie.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: https://www.amazon.com/Time-Longest-Distance-Janet-Clare/dp/1925417824 audio and kindle available.

PRICE: Paperback: $14.99, Audio: $13.97 Kindle: $2.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: @janetclare1 Janetclare.com

Living on the Borderlines

THE BOOK: Living on the Borderlines: Stories

PUBLISHED IN: 2019.

THE AUTHOR: Melissa Michal

THE EDITOR: Aleya Canada

THE PUBLISHER: The Feminist Press. The Feminist Press publishes books that ignite movements and social transformation. Celebrating our legacy, we lift up insurgent and marginalized voices from around the world to build a more just future.

SUMMARY: Both on and off the rez, characters contend with identity as contemporary Haudenosaunee peoples. In Living on the Borderlines, intergenerational memory and trauma slip into everyday life: a teenager struggles to understand her grandmother’s silences, a man contemplates what it means to preserve tradition in the wake of the “disappearing Indian” myth, and an older woman challenges her town’s prejudice while uniting an unlikely family.

Melissa MichalWith these stories, debut writer Melissa Michal weaves together an understated and contemplative collection exploring what it means to be Indigenous, which introduces contemporary Haudenosaunee women who grow up in the city or small towns and are affected by intergenerational trauma. Its sixteen stories examine relationships informed or split wide open by the trauma, as well as the way Haudenosaunee women break destructive stereotypical and racist representations of American Indians from popular culture.

THE BACK STORY
: I wrote some of these stories over a series of several years. I was in a PhD program at the time. They were something to turn my mind away from my critical work and to creatively work through the issues of trauma and genocide that I was so focused on. The summer I was finishing my dissertation, I saw an advertisement for the Louise Meriwhether first book prize. I decided to put down working on my novel and to finish my short story collection in order to submit it by the deadline. I had a month and a half to write 17, 500 words to meet the required word count. I never thought that I would make it further through the contest’s decision process. I merely treated it as a deadline to at least finish the collection. I wrote 800 words nearly each day and also went back and revised a story already written each week to make the deadline. When the press notified me that I was a finalist, I was floored and quite happy. Although I was not the winner of this prize, I sent a thank you e-mail to the press when the winner was announced. They immediately e-mailed me back desiring to publish my book anyway. I was truly elated. Always send athank you e-mail!

WHY THIS TITLE?: This title derives from the title story/ first story. But that wasn’t the only reason I chose it. As Indigenous peoples, like the story, we are constantly forced inside boxes, or there are borders drawn by outsiders defining our living spaces and our identities for us. Borderlines are metaphorical of what causes much of our trauma. That title story also reveals our resilience, which I truly hope the collection also illuminates. We may have these lines forced upon us, but we are who we are anyway and we can break through them.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?
 My book focuses on my Haudenosaunee community off of the reservation and the after effects of Indigenous boarding school periods. These periods saw many Indigenous children kidnapped from their homes (or families lied to about the education to take place or when their children would return) and taken to schools far away, forced to speak only English, sometimes beaten or verbally abused, and live there until they either ran away or were 18. Not many books include my community, let alone lead female characters discussing the boarding schools. It’s important to see Indigenous experiences from strong female perspectives, as well as relationships with grandmothers, mothers, and daughters. I also include some speculative stories which see the world through Indigenous ways of interacting with bending story format which include alternate universes, ancestor interactions, and creation stories. This collection would be good for markets dealing with lyric flash fiction, women and gender studies, Haudenosaunee studies, ethnic studies, slipstream, Rochester, NY, Indigenous boarding schools, and trauma studies.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Susan Power, author of Sacred Wilderness said that“The stories in Living on the Borderlines cross bloodlines, heart lines, and cultural lines, powerfully charting what it is to be human in a world that works to divide us.”

The familial relationships here are strong and tender, no matter who they bond: long-lost siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, spouses and friends, the dead and the living. Melissa Michal has created potent stories around all of them, with disturbing and beautiful elements all at once. All of the characters, even in the shortest stories, are full of depth and nuance, making this one of the more underrated short story collections of the year.” — ​Sarah Nielson, Literary Hub.

Living on the Borderlines is a beautiful window into understanding Indigenous worldviews. Indigenous cultures think primarily in terms of space, and Western Europeans think in terms of time. Yet, Indigenous stories sharing original wisdom is how the first peoples of this land survived despite countless attempts to eradicate our race, culture, and way of life. This book is an unapologetic contemporary perspective of the truth of healing through Indigenous storytelling.”—Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy.

“Living on the Borderlines is a hauntingly beautiful collection of stories of contemporary women and girls who live in the spaces between the reservations and traditional Indigenous territories and rural and urban communities stretching across western New York to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and beyond, to the island of Haida Gwaii off the coast of British Columbia. Despite the family choices, personal losses, intergenerational and historical traumas that separate Melissa Michal’s characters across time and space, both they and their stories are woven together by their ancestral bloodlines, spirits and voices that dance and dream, spelunk and sing them from the past, through the present and into a resurgent future. Michal’s debut is a stunning achievement.”  –Nikki Dragone, Visiting Assistant Professor at Dickinson College

AUTHOR PROFILE: Melissa Michal is of Seneca, Welsh, and English descent. She is a fiction writer, essayist, photographer, and a literature and creative writing professor. She loves helping young writers find that they too can write. Her PhD in literature from Arizona State University focused on education and representation of Indigenous histories and literatures in curriculum. She strives to develop lesson plans that are inclusive and work students may not yet have encountered. Michal herself didn’t experience reading any American Indian authors in the education system until many years later in a Master’s level class with an Indigenous professor. She never wants her students to experience the feeling of erasure this caused her. Both her creative and critical work also seek to make visible underrepresented experiences in ways which readers can connect, understand, and empathize with. This is why it makes a huge difference to her when she hears from readers directly! Her short story collection, Living Along the Borderlines (2019), out with Feminist Press, was a finalist for the Louise Meriwether first book prize.  Her first novel, Along the Hills, and non-fiction lyric essay collection, Broken Blood, are both finished. She is excited to be working on a new dystopian novel where women and Two-Spirit folx must bring balance to their communities. Michal lives in Providence, RI and spends her time beach combing and learning from the land.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I truly hope that readers find in this collection a sense of the differences of what it actually means to be American Indian, and specifically Haudenosaunee. We are not the Hollywood Indian and my goal is always to wander the multiple different types of journeys we take as humans who happen to be Indigenous. I also hope that readers read more Indigenous literatures by Indigenous authors as I can’t possibly be representative of all American Indians, let alone all Haudenosaunee peoples. But we too often get relegated to the stiff, unmoving image of us. Let these stories shake those images to their core.

 

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Please see the sample on Amazon, or other linked pieces on my webpage.

LOCAL OUTLETShttps://www.feministpress.org/books-a-m/living-on-the-borderlines-stories

Local library
Gramercy Books (Columbus, OH)

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon.
PRICE:  $16.95 US

CONTACT THE AUTHORwww.melissamichalwriter.net; twitter: @melissamichal16

Flutter

THE BOOK: Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream.
 
PUBLISHED IN: 2020.
 
THE AUTHOR:  Kristin Garth.
 
THE EDITOR:  Renee Firer.
 
THE PUBLISHER: TwistiT Press.
 
SUMMARY: Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream is the story of Sylvia Dandridge, a sixteen year old in 1883 Pensacola dying of scarlet fever. She’s a survivor of the yellow fever epidemic and many maladies of childhood that have left her isolated and her imagination full and fertile with friends and fantasies. During the fever dreams of the scarlet fever, Sylvia Dandridge’s imagination reaches its peak with the creation of spectral mermaids, a boyish bee demon who woos her and she believes changes her to a flower. She has visions of infants hanging in baskets from a lemon tree, and all of her visions become real for the reader. They actually outlive the storyteller as is the way of art — powerful art. We follow these creations to their ends long past the demise of Sylvia Dandridge on Longleaf Estate.
 

THE BACK STORY: I have been writing Shakespearean sonnets for most of my life, since high school, and I’m a woman in my 40’s now. Shakespearean sonnets are my passion, obsession, addiction. I’ve published hundreds of them — more than Shakespeare did in his career. I love that the structure forces me to be bold and brief as the form only allows 14 lines of 10 syllables each. You have to get to your point but if you want to be a memorable poet you also have to do it with style.

Early in my career as a poet, with the publication of my first book, I began to offer annotated copies of my books to readers. By an annotated copy, I mean that I inscribe my thoughts onto the pages in, often, my signature pink ink — sometimes other colors for different books.  By annotating, often there was a great expansion and explanation of the poem. Sometimes I included bonus poems I wrote after the publication.  Sometimes I cried and talked about a hard day I was having.  They are all different.  People really respond to my annotations, and I have lots of regulars who order them for themselves and friends.  It is a joy to me create those as much as the books themselves.

Because of doing these annotations, I started to think that I could perhaps marry my love of poetry writing with my desire to write prose or a novel.  I had actually done a book called Puritan U about some tragic experiences I had in my life resulting in me going to a puritanical university where I was assaulted.  To make the book a memoir accessible to anyone, I had actually included footnote annotations inside the book that expanded and explained the sonnets.  When I decided to do Flutter, it really began as an epiphany that I could write a novel just like this except that instead of incorporating true events of my life, I would simply be writing fictional footnotes of a life and an imagination.  I called Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream a novella, but I’m writing an even longer book in this style that is a full novel called Crow Carriage.  It’s more of a horror story.

The content of Flutter was inspired by my locale as much as the form of the book was inspired by my stylized writer’s voice.  I’m a womanchild of the south.  I call myself a womanchild, as readers of my work have heard time and time again, because though I am biologically very much a woman, I’m always still that little southern pageant girl I was at five, too.  I have lots of other books that go into that aspect of my psyche, in particular Candy Cigarette: Womanchild Noir.  It goes into my years as a topless dancer in cheerleading uniforms and schoolgirl outfits.  I did that all in Pensacola, Florida, an hour from Mobile, Alabama.

Doing that sort of a job in the puritanical Deep South, one can feel very ostracized and maligned.  During those years that I did this job I became quite a loner.  I worked mostly on the weekends and was home a lot during the week, and I wrote and kept to myself more and more.   I eventually ended up living in the house where I live now which is extremely remote in the woods, surrounded by not very many people but countless longleaf pines.  When I moved to this property, the trees overtook my imagination.  I felt such magic around me buzzing in the woods.  It occurred to me that this property seemed timeless in a way, undisturbed by man, and I started to ponder who might have lived on such land a hundred or more years ago.

This was the birth of Sylvia Dandridge in my mind.  Sylvia and I share some qualities.  She is very imaginative and lives in the midst of the longleaf pines as I do without many physical friends.  She has an even more compelling reason to not be around others.  That reason is her fragile health and her many fevers.  Sylvia like many inhabitants of Pensacola in the 1880’s suffered from the yellow fever which was a terrible problem that killed many here.  Sylvia lives through this fever though she is weakened and unfortunately contracts another dreaded fever of the time, scarlet fever.

Scarlet fever was the number one killer of children in Sylvia’s time — though not long after her death the numbers sharply decreased.  She was born at the wrong time, and yet that is her life.

And, yes, I just told you that my protagonist dies.  Midway through the book.   But what lives is her imagination, and her imagination is a universe of fierce mermaids, suave boyish bee demons, beautiful progeny who will worship at her grave and have intrigues of their own.  All of this, Sylvia and her creations, was inspired by the longleaf pines I live among.  They are magnificent slender muses.

I wrote the first poem (you can read in the next question) a couple of years before the rest, and so there was a gestational period for this book in my head.  Once I started writing, I think it was about six months I spent writing it.  I truly can say that despite some tragic circumstances in my life that occurred during the writing of the book, it was the best writing experience of my life.  I loved it so much the marriage of poetry and prose I chose to try to recapture that with Crow Carriage in a darker way.  It was a purely delightful period of writing.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Flutter was originally inspired by a poem, this poem, I’ve included below, was published by Hedgehog Poetry Press and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

FLUTTER

Estate enchantment on a lake, a lass

extends a finger, her mistake, to moths.

A moonlit flutter does disguise their mass,

a swarm, not butterflies, as maidens caught.

Surprise that lands with chestnut wings on hands

it covers, mottled message sings.  Its tale

of death, disease and woe.  Its dark demands,

details she should not know become her veil.

Surrounded, followed fearsome flaps, human

contact reduced to shrieks and gasps.  The beasts

she wears are tragedy.  Their flitter fans

all misery — from dark wings, no release.

A solitude of secrets insects utter

since she first saw death in darkness flutter.

Sometimes when I write a sonnet, I know that is far more than one poem, it is a universe.  Those usually turn into books.  This one took a couple of years for me to ponder.  I think I was living in the wrong house when I wrote it.  It took me moving me into that house in the woods and meeting my beloved longleaf pines for this poem to make sense and take on its context. The second part of the title Southern Gothic Fever Dream I felt was important because this book is very southern gothic from the plights of its invalid narrator, the creatures she both spawns and is up against.  And the last two words fever dream are exactly what most of this book is — it is the fever dream of a dying girl that, like the best stories, lives on long past the storyteller.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I wrote Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream before the pandemic but I feel its relevance during the pandemic has even grown.  Sylvia Dandridge practiced social distancing long before I had ever heard that term or even imagined it as a thing I would ever experience.  She lives on Longleaf Estate sequestered to this place I’ve shown you in an illustration below.

The illustrator of Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream is Mathew Yates, and his whimsical style matched the teenage heart of this book I felt very well.  I included another of his illustration in the sample chapter below.  They touch my heart and echo the passion and beauty of the southern woods and this sensitive adolescent soul they shape.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Here are three reviews I loved so much I put them on the cover:

Image preview

AUTHOR PROFILE: Kristin Garth is a womanchild, sonnet stalker, kneesock enthusiast and author of 14 books of poetry and also a hybrid novella and novel, Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream and Crow Carriage.  She has been writing sonnets since high school since an assignment and never stopped though she never published but one of those sonnets until she was in her 40’s.  A dying friend, a fellow poet used up some of the last moments of his life marred by a brain tumor to inspire Kristin to realize that life is not guaranteed to be long and that if she was going to use this talent, now was the time.

Since Kristin Garth started publishing on her own in 2017, she has as of today published her 600th piece of writing.  She has 16 books to her name, thus far, and poetry and stories in magazines like Glass Poetry, Five:2:One, Barren Magazine, X-RAY Lit, Cheap Pop, Yes Poetry SWWIM among many others.  You can read more.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  Like my own life and career as a writer, I think the message of Sylvia Dandridge’s story is that our work, if we put our soul into it, will outlive our mortal bodies.  The imagination trumps the flesh.  While I am a bigger walker in the woods, there are days that I don’t exercise my body but there are no days that I do not exercise my mind.  I feel that Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream speaks to that part in us that may be social distanced or weak or confined and whispers that escape is only a daydream away.  Let those daydreams grow into universes and tell them to your children.  Give them a name.  This is creation and writing and art.  We pass these down and a piece of us lives on and goes to far away countries in bindings that other touch and feel touched by — it is the greatest honor and privilege to be a creator.  And you can do it wherever you are, if you have no one else around you.  The best thing is if you get lucky, these books even make you friends.

SAMPLE CHAPTER POEM:

Rosemancy
 

Did he believe you were a bloom? Not rashed

abashed, adolescent doomed, entombed  up-

stairs, crimson cheeked, viewed through cylinder glass

pistil pink — peeked pointillism amok

by candlelight, to pluck or pollinate,

demonic birthright.  Did he see buried

thorns, subcutaneous, to liberate

like horns — erupting, furious, bleeds

the season mortality recedes? Did

he see himself in you, his powdered lip

a golden hue, amaretto, eyelids

half closed, pollen undertaste of tulip

tuberose?  Swallowed demonology

a bedroom above adult gossiping —

a better medicine is blossoming.

This poem is one of my favorites in a book of 100 pages of poems and prose.  I felt I really captured the upstairs, downstairs feelings of children and adults and the desire to have your own private life from your parents, romance, intrigue.  Sylvia Dandridge wants that so much that even in her social distancing she finds a way to have it.  That’s a lesson we have all been learning during this strange time in the world.

LOCAL OUTLETS:

Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream is available in Pensacola my home town at Bodacious Bookstore.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:  You can also buy Flutter at my website kristingarth.com — the link for it there is: https://kristingarth.com/kristin-garth/books/flutter-southern-gothic-fever-dream/

You can also buy Flutter at Amazon:

https://kristingarth.com/kristin-garth/books/flutter-southern-gothic-fever-dream/

You can also purchase a copy from my publisher TwistiT Press:

https://twistintimemag.com/twistit-press/

Or Barnes & Noble:

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/flutter-kristin-garth/1136098317?ean=9781733974424\

PRICE:  $15.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

kristingarth.com

kristingarth@icloud.com

Twitter: @lolaandjolie

Instagram:  @kristiningridgarth

Weather Report, June 29

Vegetation/biome analogues of Australia (or how other places in ...

(Australian Outback: Photo from Reddit)

Our currently featured books, “Beginning with Cannonballs,” by Jill McCroskey Coupe, “The Miracle on 98thStreet,” by Natasha Nesic, “Happy Like This,” by Ashley Wurzbacher and “The Hidden Machinery,” by Margot Livesey 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, JUNE 30-JULY 6 

“TIME IS THE LONGEST DISTANCE,” BY JANET CLARE.

Set in the harsh desert of the Australian outback, Time Is the Longest Distance is a moral story of immorality in a place where “night comes on like a door slamming shut.”

Lilly, a 45-year-old New Yorker, is persuaded by her newly found father, Cameron, to take on the Canning Stock Route, the most difficult outback track in the country. Crossing the dead heart of the Great Sandy and Gibson deserts, she is joined by her half-brother, Grant, and his twenty-something daughter, Jen.

Like a moon walker far from her life, Lilly becomes entangled in an unlikely love affair and a witness to an unsavory death. The hard days and long nights provide time and space for Lilly to recall the years with her ex-husband, Stephen, artist and all-around drunk—the greatest love and disappointment in her life—forcing her to examine her own imperfections as she learns, first-hand, about the power and destruction of secrets, sexual taboos, and the thrill of transgression.

“THREE WAYS TO DISAPPEAR,” BY KATY YOCOM.

Tiger free stock photos download (160 Free stock photos) for ...Leaving behind a nomadic and dangerous career as a journalist, Sarah DeVaughan returns to India, the country of her childhood and the site of her brother’s tragic death, to help preserve the endangered Bengal tigers. Meanwhile, at home in Kentucky, her sister, Quinn—also deeply scarred by the past and herself a keeper of secrets—tries to support her sister, even as she fears that India will be Sarah’s undoing.

As Sarah faces challenges in her new job—made complicated by complex local politics and a forbidden love—Quinn copes with their mother’s refusal to talk about the past, her son’s life-threatening illness, and her own increasingly troubled marriage. When Sarah asks Quinn to join her in India, Quinn realizes that the only way to overcome the past is to return to it, and it is in this place of stunning natural beauty and hidden danger that the sisters can finally understand the ways in which their family has disappeared—from their shared history, from one another—and recognize that they may need to risk everything to find themselves again.

This is a novel about saving all that is precious, from endangered species to the indelible bonds among family.

“FLUTTER,” BY KRISTIN GARTH

Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream is the story of Sylvia Dandridge, a sixteen year old in 1883 Pensacola dying of scarlet fever. She’s a survivor of the yellow fever epidemic and many maladies of childhood that have left her isolated and her imagination full and fertile with friends and fantasies. During the fever dreams of the scarlet fever, Sylvia Dandridge’s imagination reaches its peak with the creation of spectral mermaids, a boyish bee demon who woos her and she believes changes her to a flower. She has visions of infants hanging in baskets from a lemon tree, and all of her visions become real for the reader. They actually outlive the storyteller as is the way of art — powerfu​l art. We follow these creations to their ends long past the demise of Sylvia Dandridge on Longleaf Estate.

“LIVING ON THE BORDERLINES,” BY MELISSA MICHAL.

Both on and off the rez, characters contend with identity as contemporary Haudenosaunee peoples. In Living on the Borderlines, intergenerational memory and trauma slip into everyday life: a teenager struggles to understand her grandmother’s silences, a man contemplates what it means to preserve tradition in the wake of the “disappearing Indian” myth, and an older woman challenges her town’s prejudice while uniting an unlikely family.

With these stories, debut writer Melissa Michal weaves together an understated and contemplative collection exploring what it means to be Indigenous which introduces contemporary Haudenosaunee women who grow up in the city or small towns and are affected by intergenerational trauma. Its sixteen stories examine relationships informed or split wide open by the trauma, as well as the way Haudenosaunee women break destructive stereotypical and racist representations of American Indians from popular culture.