Six Months in the Midwest

OUR OTHER TWO CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “CODA,” BY ARTHUR LEVY AND “REPTILE WINES,” BY JOHN HEWITT, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING ON THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.


THE BOOK: Six Months in the Midwest

PUBLISHED IN: 2014

THE AUTHOR: Darci Schummer

THE PUBLISHER: Unsolicited Press.

SUMMARY: In the dark heart of a Minneapolis winter, a young boy struggles to understand his mother’s failing health as she teaches him Polish, the language of her dead mother. From a distance, a frustrated English professor dines with her mentally ill ex-husband in a park on which a mansion once stood. A single mother struggles to let go as her teenage son seeks his independence. A drag queen and his partner battle a snow storm while debating the future of their relationship. A retired garbage collector finds solace in the ballet, and the owner of a liquor store tries to find companionship on the streets and in the bars of Minneapolis. Equal parts bitterness and beauty, the sixteen stories in this collection are plotted snapshots of a city in its most unforgiving season.

Darci SchummerTHE BACK STORY: Shortly after moving to Minneapolis, my car died, and I decided not to buy a new one. I spent a lot of time riding the bus, which gave me a different perspective of the city. I fell in love with Minneapolis while riding buses—its shifting neighborhoods and people—and I wanted to write a dark love letter to the city and its people. At this time, I was also greatly influenced by Edward P. Jones’ collection Lost in the City, a book which pays careful attention to the geography of Washington, D.C. It didn’t take long for me to connect these two influences, and Six Months in the Midwest was born.

WHY THIS TITLE?: All the stories in this book take place during the cold months in Minneapolis, which is essentially half the year. Cold weather is one of the defining factors of life in the upper Midwest, and it has a strong impact both on human interactions and human behavior. Once I started calling the collection by that name, I couldn’t call it anything else. The title just stuck.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Fans of character-driven fiction will enjoy the depth and complexity of character that propels these stories. Readers who revel in a strong sense of place will appreciate the attention to setting throughout the book, and those who like sad stories will bask in the melancholia of each piece.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“In this ambitious debut collection, Darci Schummer inhabits the secret houses of the lost and lonely in the often-overlooked Midwest. Truthful, wise, gifted with empathy and imagination in equal measures—this is a writer to read.” — Sheila O’Connor, author of Keeping Safe the Stars and Sparrow Road

“Darci Schummer’s “Six Months in the Midwest” is a potently observed portrait of Minneapolis, an ode to its peculiarities and its characters. Many people call the Midwest “flyover country” but the clarity and humanity in Schummer’s sixteen stories will make them want to land.” — John Jodzio, author of If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home and Get In If You Want To Live

“Darci Schummer’s debut collection of short stories opens with a calm and provocative preface—and then we are taken into some defining moments in the lives of many characters brought to life by this fine writer. These defining moments are both small and large, and many speak to the sad and compelling distances between people. Here are characters demanding something that another cannot give, or lies told to protect another that have the opposite effect. The opening story is a beauty, about real loss, and the legacy of love and language. It reminds us of how any of us might call out in the dark for one we love. Schummer’s gift is her deeply felt yet fiercely unsentimental portraits of human beings who struggle to understand their choices and their fates.” — Deborah Keenan, author, most recently, of From Tiger to Prayer, and so she had the world, and ten other collections.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Darci Schummer, a Wisconsin girl, lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and teaches writing at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. She enjoys long walks down busy streets, cheap drinks, and bruised paperbacks. In addition to Six Months in the Midwest, she co-authored HINGE, a collection of 30-word poetry and prose pieces, with poet Liza Docken.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Here’s where you can perhaps tie your book to some larger issue, or what you hoped to accomplish.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Read a story from the collection here: The Parade. http://www.around-around.com/parade/

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com or Unsolicitedpress.com.

PRICE: $16.00.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Contact me at http://www.darcischummer.com, and like the Six Months in the Midwest Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sixmonthsinthemidwest/.

Coda

THE BOOK: Coda, A Tale of Tchaikovsky’s Secret Love

PUBLISHED IN: October 1, 2016

THE AUTHOR: Arthur J. Levy

THE EDITOR: Ken Harrington

THE PUBLISHER: Köehler Books, www.KoehlerBooks.com

SUMMARY: At the peak of his career and popularity, Russian icon Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky died mysteriously. Rumors were that he died of cholera – unlikely, as Tchaikovsky’s house staff was well aware that water should be boiled. There are other possible scenarios of the untimely death of this healthy man in his early fifties.

In 19th century Russia, being gay was perilous. The punishment was severe; knowing someone was gay and not reporting it warranted torture, if not death. Tchaikovsky was gay.

Arthur J. LevyThis account of foreboding doom reveals a secret between Tchaikovsky and his lover, Ivan, encoded in sheet music. Tchaikovsky’s plan is to stealthily evade death. That encoded blueprint survived to this day. Coda is fiction, but is anchored on carefully researched historical literature and Tchaikovsky’s letters.

In a parallel, current-day story line, Fred is given this mystical music in a Russian antiques shop in NYC and finds that there are modern-day zealots that will stop at nothing to destroy all evidence that Tchaikovsky had a lover. These zealots have crosshairs on those who know too much. The adventure takes Fred and friends from Brooklyn to Moscow to save a life. 

THE BACK STORY: Coda is a story stirred by personal experience, anchored to historical events. Some time ago, I inherited a stack of piano music from an old man. I turned the yellowing pages, looking for interesting pieces to play, and became fascinated by one sonata that was curiously annotated with scrawling notes. The depth of the comments gave a haunting feeling that these were not ordinary teacher’s comments. This was a love letter encrypted in a scattering of loosely connected impassioned phrases. Except for the crumbling pages, I had no perspective of the period of these writings nor the motivations of the author. The enigmatic warmth of the annotations projected images in my mind of a covert relationship and a possible drama, perhaps a secret gay connection that mustn’t have been discovered?

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was in just that predicament. He was idolized and cherished by his Russia. Nineteenth century Russia competed with France and Germany as the center of culture. They desperately needed to parade world-known and loved Tchaikovsky as their awless, signature icon to promote commerce as well as their culture. Tchaikovsky was aunted as unblemished; if otherwise, it would have threatened the beloved Russia and the Tsar.

But Tchaikovsky was gay in a country that tortured, exiled and executed homosexuals. I looked at the cryptic notes in my music and pictured Tchaikovsky communicating to his lover—a plan, some cryptic plan, to elude the Tsar’s spies and the powerful Russian Orthodox Church.

I assumed the writings that did survive were sought after by zealots of the Fatherland and were a deadly danger to those who possessed them.

The last year of Tchaikovsky’s life, culminating in his enigmatically constructed final symphony, the Pathétique, is shrouded in mystery. The accounts of his death are steeped in secrecy and rumors as if published in a 19th century tabloid. This story is one interpretation of those final years. Some of the characters are purely fictional. 

WHY THIS TITLE? The coda, in music, is a pathway to the end, an escape. The symbol is a crosshairs.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The underlying philosophy of Coda reflects the dangerous alliances that power must make to sustain control. It happened in 1890’s Russia and is happening the identical way with Putin. Because of the timeliness of the novel’s view of LGBT oppression in today’s Russia, I believe that a wide audience will be very interested.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“This is an ‘I can’t put it down’ thriller. Its plot is intricate, its characters fully developed, and its descriptive passages rich in detail. is is a highly recommended work.” —Dan Clancy, Playwright

Coda is a thriller that forever changed my view of Tchaikovsky’s life and times. As it reminds us of the corrupting price of power, it is especially meaningful today.” —George R. Zuber, Filmmaker/Director

“Arthur Levy scripts a compelling narrative that kept me glued to the page. Tchaikovsky’s doom in the extreme prejudice of Czarist Russia parallels the status of today’s Russian gay community. Levy proves a plausible and unique conclusion for the Pathetique Symphony in place of the traditional music history legend.” —Dr. R. Paul Urbanick, Professor Humanities/Music

Coda is fascinating reading that makes history and the story of Tchaikovsky come alive. What makes Coda an exceptional novel is the quality research behind this book, which animates the action in the reader’s imagination. Arthur Levy gives life and insights to life by writing about one of the most interesting musicians in history, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. I listened to his sixth symphony as I read this intriguing book. Don’t miss the opportunity to be drawn into a mystery that you won’t want to put down.” —Dr. Tim White, Author, Ulysses Dream, Adjunct Professor, Northwest University.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Arthur J. Levy is a musician, physicist and writer. He has appeared in Carnegie hall, played with the NYC All City Orchestra and other settings in New York. His writing includes: the book, Trouble in Flatbush, A Year in the Life of a Boy in Brooklyn, two plays and many short stories published in a local magazine. His heritage is Russian and has a kinship to Russian history and music. 

AUTHOR COMMENTS: This is a fast-reading mystery/thriller/LGBT/historical novel.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). http://www.CodaTheNovel.com

LOCAL OUTLETS: Any bookstore

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com (search “CODA LEVY”)

PRICE:SOFT COVER: $18.95, 978-1-63393-303-3    HARD COVER: $28.95 978-1-63393-305-7    EBOOK: $4.99, 978-1-63393-304-0

 

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: AnfBox05@gmail.com

Reptile Wines

 

John Hewitt

THE BOOK: Reptile Wines

PUBLISHED IN: September 2016

THE AUTHOR: John Hewitt

THE EDITOR: My manuscripts are always reviewed by a respected editor as well as several professional copy editors before publication.

THE PUBLISHER: Pump Island Tales

SUMMARY:  When a leading family in California’s wine-obsessed Napa Valley confronts a rebel daughter they call “The Reptile” she launches her own label, and ignites a revolution that’s out of this world.

Wine country tour guide Miles Trout vows to find the truth behind the suspiciously public death of his cousin, Reptile Wines co-owner, Lucky Tarpitz. When the corpse disappears, Miles is pulled into a dark world of loan sharks, money launderers, charlatan diviners and overzealous federal agents. Lucky’s scheming mother Angelina, the high-voltage spark behind Reptile Wines, continually leads Miles astray while Lucky’s distraught relatives mount a nonstop campaign of booby traps and ambushes.

In his crazed search, Miles spends extravagantly on Lucky’s lazy racehorse Love Blisters, dances with a witch and carries on a stumbling love affair with female jockey and former exotic dancer, Pixie Limber.

Then Miles strikes pay dirt by unearthing the hideout of an allegedly dead winemaker and astronomer who’s been inviting space aliens to the wine country. The ATF and FBI have their man, but Miles knows one more place south of the border where Lucky may be resting—but is he dead or alive?

THE BACK STORY: Miles Trout is related to a character in my 2015 novel, One Shoe. The Trout are adept at overcoming upsets and setbacks, while navigating their peculiar circumstances. A little clueless about cause and effect, but endearing to readers and other characters, the Trout’s are an amusing clan, if a little blind to irony.

Reptile Wines was a chance to put Miles Trout up against the self-conscious and a bit pretentious DellaContorni family, and have some fun with the setting in the Northern California Napa Valley Wine Country. The story took a cosmic turn when I read a news item about aliens in the French wine country in 1954.

“On September 15, 1954, a New York Times Paris dispatch said: “A spate of reports of extraterrestrial visitors to France, coming from regions where the wine is more noted for its strength than is vintage, spread yesterday with the speed of a space cadet.”

It went on to say that the storied French wine village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape passed an ordinance forbidding the landing of flying saucers in the area. Since then, none have been reported.

Whether the village council believed this was real, or just treated the news as a marketing opportunity for grape growers, I had a perfect zany plot twist.

WHY THIS TITLE: The title refers to the snaky and conniving DellaContorni heir apparent, Angelina, whose pastime is embarrassing her heritage as she cultivates her bohemian lifestyle. One of her many revenge plans is to form the brand “Reptile Wines” as a competitor to the family cellar. Hence, she is called “the snake” — which is a fine emblem.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Reptile Wines is an entertaining escape vehicle for readers who might have a passing or professional interest in the rigid world of wines and vineyards, or readers who prefer to cheer on the successes of an underling in the tourism hustle.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“An outrageously weird yet delightfully charming wine-country tale…Hewitt’s prose, littered with deliciously bizarre dialogue and other vivid details, makes his larger-than-life world fit for the big screen.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Another Hewitt romp, fast-paced and funny!” —Laurie McAndish King, author of the travel anthology, “Lost, Kidnapped and Eaten Alive”

AUTHOR PROFILE:  A native of the Los Angeles area, I went to the San Francisco Bay Area to study at Santa Clara University, then earned a masters in journalism at Columbia and later a doctorate at San Francisco State University. I’ve worked as a newspaper, magazine and television reporter, editor, and documentary film producer. Over the past 40 years my films and books have explored a mosaic of cultures and nationalities, drawn from extensive travel in Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Reptile Wines is my fifth novel, others include One Shoe, When a Gold Rush is Not Enough (2015), set in the Northern California Sierra foothills, and a trilogy from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula: Drone Baloney (2014), Under the Padre’s Thumb (2012) and Stranger in Baja (2015)

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I find the Napa Valley a fascinating arena for characters that all depend on two industries—vineyards and tourism. When it’s harvest time in Napa, normal life subsides and things get crazy. Also, with 500 wineries in competition within a 30-mile patch of land, there is a great compulsion to do only what has been successful in the past. This conformity allows renegade characters to shine.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: A short excerpt is available at John Hewitt’s website: or read a full chapter via Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, at https://www.amazon.com/dp/099770540X/ref=rdr_ext_tmb#reader_099770540X

LOCAL OUTLETS: Reptile Wines is available at independent bookstores in the San Francisco Bay area.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Order Reptile Wines online at Amazon.

PRICE: $13.95 for Paperback and $4.99 for Kindle and eBook, online discounts available for both formats.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://WWW.johnhewittauthor.com https://www.facebook.com/johnhewittauthor/ jh@johnhewittauthor.com

Weather Report, Sept. 26

Image result for Napa Valley wine + free photos

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “MONUMENT ROAD,” BY CHARLIE QUIMBY, “BURIED,” BY FRANK TROY AND “PERFECTLY NEGATIVE,” BY LINDA CARVELLI, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON THE OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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If there’s a theme to this week’s Snowflakes in a Blizzard offerings, it might be this — things you didn’t know about things you thought you knew.

You could start with Darci Schummer’s short story collection, “Six Months in the Midwest,” which is set in a part of the country largely ignored by fiction writers. Darci reminds us that a good story is a good story, whether it takes place in New York City, Paris, or the frozen tundra of Minnesota in winter.

Most music lovers whose curiosity takes them beyond the work of Peter Ilyich Tchaichovsky and into his personal life know that he was said to have been gay, despite his short-term marriage and several long-term relationships with women. If your response to that is “So what?”, Arthur Levy’s historical novel “Coda” adds a new element — the great composer’s sexual preference may have been life threatening in mid-19th century Russia.

Finally, there is John Hewitt’s comic take on the Napa Valley wine country. Read it, and you will never think of that place again without smiling.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, SEPT. 27-OCT. 3

“SIX  MONTHS IN THE MIDWEST,” BY DARCI SCHUMMER.

In the dark heart of a Minneapolis winter, a young boy struggles to understand his mother’s failing health as she teaches him Polish, the language of her dead mother. From a distance, a frustrated English professor dines with her mentally ill ex-husband in a park on which a mansion once stood. A single mother struggles to let go as her teenage son seeks his independence. A drag queen and his partner battle a snow storm while debating the future of their relationship. A retired garbage collector finds solace in the ballet, and the owner of a liquor store tries to find companionship on the streets and in the bars of Minneapolis. Equal parts bitterness and beauty, the sixteen stories in this collection are plotted snapshots of a city in its most unforgiving season.

“CODA,” BY ARTHUR LEVY

At the peak of his career and popularity, Russian icon Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky died mysteriously. Rumors were that he died of cholera – unlikely, as Tchaikovsky’s house staff was well aware that water should be boiled. There are other possible scenarios of the untimely death of this healthy man in his early fties.

In 19th century Russia, being gay was perilous. The punishment was severe; knowing someone was gay and not reporting it warranted torture, if not death. Tchaikovsky was gay.

This account of foreboding doom reveals a secret between Tchaikovsky and his lover, Ivan, encoded in sheet music. Tchaikovsky’s plan is to stealthily evade death. That encoded blueprint survived to this day. Coda is fiction, but is anchored on carefully researched historical literature and Tchaikovsky’s letters.

“REPTILE WINES,” BY JOHN HEWITT

When a leading family in California’s wine-obsessed Napa Valley confronts a rebel daughter they call “The Reptile” she launches her own label, and ignites a revolution that’s out of this world.

Wine country tour guide Miles Trout vows to find the truth behind the suspiciously public death of his cousin, Reptile Wines co-owner, Lucky Tarpitz. When the corpse disappears, Miles is pulled into a dark world of loan sharks, money launderers, charlatan diviners and overzealous federal agents. Lucky’s scheming mother Angelina, the high-voltage spark behind Reptile Wines, continually leads Miles astray while Lucky’s distraught relatives mount a nonstop campaign of booby traps and ambushes.

In his crazed search, Miles spends extravagantly on Lucky’s lazy racehorse Love Blisters, dances with a witch and carries on a stumbling love affair with female jockey and former exotic dancer, Pixie Limber.

Then Miles strikes pay dirt by unearthing the hideout of an allegedly dead winemaker and astronomer who’s been inviting space aliens to the wine country. The ATF and FBI have their man, but Miles knows one more place south of the border where Lucky may be resting—but is he dead or alive?

 

 

 

Monument Road

THIS WEEK’S TWO OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “BURIED,” BY FRANK TROY AND “PERFECTLY NEGATIVE,” BY LINDA CARVELLI, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING ON THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

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THE BOOK
: Monument Road

PUBLISHED IN: November 2013

THE AUTHOR: Charlie Quimby

THE EDITOR: I’m thankful for the developmental comments from Kirsten Johanna Allen once the book found a publisher—and from my wife, Susan Cushman, from the very start.

Charlie QuimbyTHE PUBLISHER: Torrey House Press, an independent nonprofit publisher of transformative stories that illuminate important facets of the American West and our ever-changing planet. Its tagline is Voices for the Land.

SUMMARY:  Leonard Self has spent a year unwinding his ranch, paying down debts and fending off the darkening. Just one thing left: taking his wife’s ashes to her favorite overlook, where he plans to step off the cliff with her. But perhaps he’s not as alone as he believes.

Stark, beautiful landscapes attract all kinds. Artists and gawkers. Love birds and the lonely. Believers and scientists. Seekers and losers. Many have taken this same road past estrangement and loss to healing and hope. Though not all have returned, they can still help Leonard answer whether his life is over after all.

THE BACK STORY:  I started Monument Road in January 2009 with a premise based on a fragment of a radio transmission I overheard on a ride-along with my brother, a police officer in Grand Junction, Colorado. A woman who had a dispute with her boyfriend thought he might be headed up into the mountains to take his life. Although the story evolved from my original concept, I kept the image in my head of a man making such a lonely drive. As I worked, I also heard echoes of  David Rhodes’s Driftless, which powerfully evokes an influential landscape and close community relationships.

Western Colorado is where I was born and where family are buried. Coming back to it forty years later, I could write about the land and its people with both familiarity and distance.

WHY THIS TITLE? Monument Road is the name of the actual road that twists to the top of Colorado National Monument, where much of the action in the story unfolds. Since I describe actual views and landmarks along the scenic road, it made sense to put real names in the novel.

But even in the abstract, Monument Road speaks of an important journey and hints at the nature of the landscape Leonard will pass through. And a “Road” title places the novel in a distinguished company.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?  Monument Road is first of all a novel for readers who enjoy character-driven fiction. It features an uncommon love story that seems to appeal to men as well as women. Although bad things happen to some of the characters, the book is ultimately hopeful. Readers who enjoy fiction set in the contemporary west have found similarities with the novels of Kent Haruf and Louise Erdrich. Readers who have farmer uncles have wondered how I knew them.

REVIEW COMMENTS: 

“Quimby’s storytelling, his humane impulses and his lyrical passages on the meaning of love and time, and on the history, geology and botany of the region, will surely impress readers. In this spirit-haunted place, Inetta’s life, even in death, circles outward to redeem Leonard. For Leonard Self, now ‘seventy-some years’ old, much remains to live for in a land where the ground is ‘so parched and bare, men can’t help but look skyward. Its no wonder, Inetta used to say, God chose the desert to reveal Himself.’” —Minneapolis StarTribune

“His love of character and the West is evident in every essential detail. Part modern western, part mystery, this first novel will appeal to fans of Louise Erdrich and Kent Haruf. Quimbys prose reads so true, it breaks the heart.” —Booklist starred review

“This is a book of confessions and connections, fear, forgiveness and, ultimately, the stirrings of redemption.” —High Country News

“What a gorgeous novel this is–the kind that seems straightforward yet reverberates with layers of meaning. Scenes unfold as if a sudden guest appears at the door then later one discovers every guest has a purpose. The landscape of Monument Road is both beautiful and fraught with danger; so too are the risks one must take in one’s journey towards what has heart and meaning. Leonard, a man who lives close to the land but not to people, discovers what gifts his beloved deceased wife gave him in their long life together and discovers a different way to open himself to what others are offering him now. Everything about this novel is vivid and memorable. I was enthralled.”—Sheryl Cotleur, frontlist buyer, Copperfield’s Books

AUTHOR PROFILE:  With a college background in theater, I began my career as a writer in the arts and later moved in marketing, where my specialties were executive speechwriting and demystifying complex information for a variety of industries. After meeting deadlines for 35 years, I sold to my employees the agency I’d founded and turned my attention to blogging and helping nonprofits raise money and influence public policy.

After a few years of this early semi-retirement, I felt a need to take on something new and substantial. I’d never been serious about writing fiction, though I had started and set aside a novel in the early ‘80s. In 2009, without job or child-raising distractions in my life, I decided to see if I was up to the challenge.

Monument Road was hailed by Publishers Weekly as one of the Big Indie Books for Fall 2013. Booksellers named Monument Road an “Indies Introduce” Debut and Indie Next Great Read and picked it for the Reading the West shortlist. It was also Booklist Editors Choice 2013 and a Colorado Book Award Literary Fiction finalist.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: After Monument Road was published, I decided to write a sequel called Inhabited, which has an October 11, 2016 publication date.

Meg Mogrin sells pricey houses, belongs to the mayor’s inner circle and hopes her hometown can attract a game-changing development. Isaac Samson lives in a tent, abhors disorder and believes Thomas Edison invented the Reagan presidency.

Displaced by the towns crackdown on vagrancy, Isaac struggles to regain stability, while Meg contends with conflicted roles assisting the developer and serving on the homeless coalition. Then Isaacs quest to return a lost artifact intrudes into Meg’s tidy world, shaking her sense of security and virtuousness. This character-rich novel explores the dimensions of loss, the boundaries of compassion and the endurance of love.

It’s an eerie experience to come out with a second novel after a debut that receives unexpected attention. Before, I had no reputation and no expectations. Now I have actual readers to please or disappoint, but in other respects, I have lost that interesting, virginal glow.

I’m looking forward to the reception of Inhabited and hope it will induce readers to discover Monument Road.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://greatdivide.typepad.com/authorsite/have-a-taste-of-inhabited.html.

LOCAL OUTLETS: I’ve done so many events in independent bookstores, I have too many favorites to mention. However, a look at the events page on my website will give you an idea of stores that will be happy to order the book if they don’t have one on the shelf. http://greatdivide.typepad.com/authorsite/events.html

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: All the usual suspects online, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon for print and e-books, as well as iBooks and Kobo can help you.

PRICE: $16.95 print

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Charlie@charliequimby.com http://www.charliequimby.com

@charliequimby https://www.facebook.com/CharlieQuimbyAuthor/

Buried

Buried: The Discernment of Pagans in Ancient Rome by [Troy, Frank]THE BOOK: Buried: The Discernment of Pagans in Ancient Rome.

PUBLISHED IN: 2011


THE AUTHOR:
  Frank Troy

THE EDITOR
A professional editor I hired through services provided by Createspace.

THE PUBLISHER
Createspace, the publishing platform of Amazon. The book is available in both print and Kindle editions.

Frank TroySUMMARY In the year 385 CE, Aeneas, the only son of a Roman statesman, is sent to Alexandria for his compulsory military service and falls hopelessly in love with Hypatia, a beautiful and brilliant scholar at the Library of Alexandria. Aeneas and Hypatia become lovers and plan a life together, but at the end of his service his father orders him back to Rome. The empire is rapidly destabilizing and Aeneas is charged with taking his only sibling Honoria north across the Alps to join their father at the supposedly safe military outpost of Augusta Raurica. Within months the entire empire erupts into warring factions. When their father dies as the result of a military conflict, Aeneas and Honoria make a dangerous journey to safety at a family property on the African side of the Mediterranean. A short time later Aeneas travels to Alexandria to find Hypatia. He discovers that she has been murdered by Christian monks because of her prominence and refusal to embrace Christianity. Devastated, Aeneas returns to his African estate. He is genuinely happy when Honoria finds love, marries, and has children, but Aeneas is unable to find a wife because all women, in his mind, pale in comparison to Hypatia. He remains true to her memory as the years pass. Growing old, he and Honoria watch their beloved Roman civilization fade into history as the West descends into the Dark Ages.

THE BACK STORY
: Throughout my college teaching career I taught a historical survey of Western literature, and I gradually became aware of an important bias in the textbooks. The role of polytheistic religions in pre-Christian Western literature was dismissed as unimportant or ignored altogether. With few exceptions, textbook authors have considered only the Christian religion to be worthy of discussion. Eventually I regarded this as an act of disrespect comparable to, say, the Taliban destroying the 1,700 year-old Bamiyan Buddha statues, or ISIS destroying ancient Roman architectural splendors in Leptis Magna. After retiring from teaching I decided to attempt a fictional portrayal of the sophisticated Greco-Roman pagan worldview. I knew the impossibility of portraying a culture not my own with complete accuracy, but decided it was better to do something than to do nothing. Buried was written over a period of about 19 months and was the product of many years of reading, research, and thinking.



WHY THIS TITLE?: Because pre-Christian Greco-Roman religions, through their stories, offered their followers abundant discernment—insight and wisdom that gave rise to notable philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, and writers such as Homer and Sophocles. In our day we too readily forget that classical Greek and Roman civilizations were a product of that ancient, pagan worldview. Since it gave us the foundations for geometry, architecture, art, democracy, sports, philosophy, science, and much else—indeed, two of the most highly developed civilizations in history—we should at least try to understand its rudiments and acknowledge its role in shaping the present.


WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?
To me, fiction writers share goals with magicians and actors—they create temporary illusions that transport us into an alternate reality, entertain us, and make us think. Buried is an attempt to create the illusion of felt life in a highly developed and sophisticated pagan civilization. At the heart of the novel is a love story that involves Hypatia, a real person now celebrated by feminists as a role-model who defied patriarchal stereotypes with professional achievements as a teacher, mathematician, scientist, and philosopher. While her professional achievements are reasonably well documented, little is known about her personal life. The 2009 movie Agora starring Rachel Weisz presents one fictionalized account of her personal life; Buried presents a different fictionalized account. However, although Buried is a work of fiction, it provides abundant, well documented factual details about Hypatia and, on a larger scale, about ordinary daily life in the Roman Empire. Numerous characters based on real people are portrayed according to known facts. Scenes are realistically described and range from various urban and rural Mediterranean settings to the once-important city of Augusta Raurica in modern Switzerland. (Augusta Raurica is now a Roman archeological site and open-air museum that can be visited online or in person. I used the museum’s resources extensively, and the last time I checked, Buried was available in the museum’s bookstore. All of my sources for the novel are chronicled in the bibliography.)



REVIEW COMMENTS
Here are three reviews from the book’s Amazon page:

 
1) “Buried is a novel with compelling and believable characters and a plot that pulls you forward and makes you want to pick the book up again and again. But what I’m most impressed about is the range of knowledge about Roman times it reveals, from metal-working to boxing to the look of the countryside between Italy and Germany. This book satisfied both my fiction-reading and my learning-new-things sides. I recommend it highly.” – Margaret A. Miller
 
2) “I was truly impressed with Dr Troy’s depiction of life in the shadow of the waning Roman empire. Anyone looking to understand the evolution of religion in our world needs to understand human history and the way each system of belief evolved. But rather than write a long, boring essay, Dr Troy weaved a tale akin to a dramatic movie plot placed in very good historical context. The book started out exciting but slowed down greatly for me in the middle of it. However, towards the end, I was captive to the events that unfolded—depicting the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire. I found myself emotionally bound to the believable main characters and imagined myself in their shoes. This feat could only have been accomplished by Dr Troy’s amazing description of the smallest details and daily events. The ending is a roller coaster ride of emotions and made me truly glad to have read it! My reason for reading this book was understanding the demise of the pagan belief system in Rome and the rise of Christianity. This is a worthy (or essential) read for those studying religion and spirituality in a historical perspective.” – G. Koble
 
3) “I found this novel exciting, thoughtful and packed with well researched details of Roman civilization. It paints a fascinating picture of the period. The characters involve [the reader] in environments that run the gamut from being surprisingly familiar to quite the opposite. This novel makes you think, and it would make an exciting addition to a college level history course. It would encourage discussion of the many situations that differ from current norms. The author does an excellent job of addressing these with his ending comments.” –  Russw


AUTHOR PROFIL
E: I was born in 1939 in the small town of Appomattox, Virginia. My education led me to a PhD in English from Emory University. I taught at several universities but spent the last 30 years of my career at Lynchburg College. Since retirement I’ve published four books, all available on my Amazon author page. I’m currently (in 2016) co-writing a novel with Ellen Ross.


AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 Buried provides, I hope, an attention-grabbing and reasonably accurate journey into a distant time and place and a markedly different way of regarding the world. It demonstrates the surprising power of human intelligence, ingenuity, and creativity. It shows that political and social events in the 5th Century CE have remarkable parallels in the 21st Century.

 
Please keep in mind that the opinions in this book belong to fictional characters who saw Christians as enemies conducting a war against pagan civilization. Christians were the victors and have since written this era of history in their own terms. I tried to follow the example of Howard Zinn’s wonderful book, A People’s History of the United States, and write an alternative history of pagan civilization from the perspective of those who lost. The views expressed in the book are not necessarily my own.

SAMPLE CHAPTERSample chapters can be found by navigating to my Amazon page, <https://www.amazon.com/author/franktroy&gt;, then clicking on “Buried,” then clicking on the “Look Inside” tab directly above the image of the book.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon online.


PRICE: Currently $21.95 print, $5.99 Kindle.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I may be slow to respond to emails at <reader2357-1@yahoo.com>, but I will respond when I can.

Perfectly Negative

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51798lQg3zL._SX150_.jpgTHE BOOK: Perfectly Negative:

PUBLISHED IN: May 2016

THE AUTHOR: Linda A Carvelli

THE EDITOR: Stuart Horwitz, Maria Gagliano, Linda Feldman

THE PUBLISHER: Linda Carvelli Enterprises

SUMMARY: Perfectly Negative: How I Learned to Embrace Life’s Lemons/Lessons is an inspirational story of love, loss, and resilience.

As spring approached, Linda focused on beginning her first marriage until she received the devastating news of her mother’s terminal illness. No one could have anticipated the avalanche of tragedy that filled the next ten years. What surprised Linda the most was that when she eventually reflected on that most painful decade of her life, she realized how each tragedy gave her more courage and strength to face the next one.

Perfectly Negative introduces a cast of real, relatable characters who will have you crying, laughing, and ultimately rejoicing in Linda’s triumph and determination to make sense of the overwhelming heartbreak she endured. This insightful memoir reveals nuggets of wisdom to reassure you as you face your own life lemons lessons.

THE BACK STORY: I am a 14 year breast cancer survivor and lost my mom, sister and dad to cancer. When my sister died in 2005, I started to journal more frequently and started taking writing classes. In 2011, I had the first real cancer recurrence scare and then one week later I lost my 14 year senior level position as a technology project manager in Corporate America. I started to believe that all the negative events over the past 14 years had happened for a reason and that I was meant to survive so I could spread a message of hope after tragedy. I became a full-time writer, hired a writing coach/editor/book architect and set a goal to publish my memoir.

WHY THIS TITLE: Perfectly Negative are the words my oncologist used when he gave us the results of my first PET scan just one week before I lost my job. Perfectly Negative also refers to the fact that even the most negative events in my life are positive, or perfect, in that they reveal lesson…always a message or a reminder for me to move forward in my life with courage.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: For inspiration; to help put life in perspective; for someone who is facing any life challenge (medical diagnosis, divorce, death, etc.), to read that I survived through all of those challenges in a ten year period, offers hope and motivation.

REVIEW COMMENTS: Honestly, best to read directly on Amazon.com. I am blown away by the impact of my experiences/words.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Linda is a certified life coach helping people regain control of their lives, discover a new perspective, create possibilities, and move forward with confidence, courage, and purpose. She is a breast cancer survivor who co-facilitates Sisters in Survival, a support group for cancer survivors and their caregivers. She enjoys making and drinking wine, exploring Italy, playing number or word games with anyone who dares take her on, and napping. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband, two step-teens, and Enzo Vino, the family dog who follows Linda everywhere.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Visit the Look Inside feature on Amazon.com

LOCAL OUTLETS: RI Bookstores: Barrington Books, Barrington Books Retold, Books on the Square, Brown University Bookstore, Wakefield Books.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com and Books2Read.com (Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc)

PRICE: $20 paperback; $9.99 eBook

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: linda@lindacarvelli.com or http://www.lindacarvelli.com