Saving Phoebe Murrow

Saving Phoebe Murrow by [Feely, Herta]THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “IN TRANSIT,” BY KATHLEEN GERARD AND “TWO THIRDS WATER,” BY RODGER LeGRAND, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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THE BOOK: Saving Phoebe Murrow.

PUBLISHED IN: 2016

THE AUTHOR: Herta Feely.

THE EDITOR: A number of editors were involved in the revision process, including Emily J. Williamson, who also acted as my agent in securing the UK publisher; Ann Starr, the publisher at Upper Hand Press (US); and Joel Richardson, my editor at Twenty7 Books in the UK. Numerous other writers and readers provided invaluable insight into the story, the characters and how the novel could be improved. I’ll be forever grateful to all of them.

Herta B. FeelyTHE PUBLISHER: Upper Hand Press, based in Ohio, is the US publisher. Ann Starr’s goal is to publish the works of authors who are passionate about their stories, and whose work she admires and connects with. At Twenty7 Books in the UK, an imprint of Bonnier-Zaffre, it was wonderful to work with a very talented staff, from book cover design to editors to marketing and promotion.

SUMMARY: A cyber-bullying episode, which targets 13-year-old Phoebe Murrow, is at the heart of Saving Phoebe Murrow, told through the eyes of five characters, including Phoebe and her mother. Set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, the novel tells a story of the devastating impact social media can have on teen girls. Isabel, a DC lawyer, does everything she can to keep Phoebe from harm, but fails when the mysterious Shane appears on Facebook and flirts with her teenage daughter. Mother-daughter relationships, teen girls, self-harm, bullying, and modern society’s attachment to electronic devices are topics I explore. Thematically it’s about love and betrayal. Especially the latter.

THE BACK STORY: In 2008, I read an article in the Washington Post style section about Megan Meier, a 13-year-old who was cyberbullied and then committed suicide. The boy she’d been flirting with on MySpace (Josh Evans) turned out to be a 47-year-old woman, the mother of a former friend of Megan’s.

It was shocking to me that a mother (Lori Drew) was capable of such meanness, and I thought I might want to write a novel to understand how someone could do this. As a latecomer to social media, I was also intrigued by this method of communicating: how MySpace or Facebook or Twitter (and all the rest) could go from being a friendly venue to a vicious and destructive one, and how easily people can make nasty comments when not having to face the person they are aiming their darts at. The idea gestated in my conscious and subconscious mind for three years, but took only nine months to complete the first draft, then several more years before the final draft could be submitted to agents and publishers. Perhaps it should be noted that although Megan’s story “inspired” my novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow is not “based” on that event.

WHY THIS TITLE? The title was one of the most difficult aspects of this novel. I went through various working titles, including The Dangerous Edge of Things and The Strange Shape of Love, but my publishers weren’t wild about either one. In tossing around different ideas with my UK publisher, I suggested Saving Phoebe Murrow, which is the title both publishers ended up using. On a side note, quite a long time ago I wrote a short story about Marilyn Monroe, titled “Saving Norma Jean.” And, in another life, I co-founded an organization with the name Safe Kids Worldwide.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If you like novels about domestic dramas, ones that tackle a few social issues along the way, I think you’ll like this. It’s been compared to Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarity) and some of Jodi Picoult’s novels. Saving Phoebe Murrow just won the 2018 National Indie Excellence Award for Contemporary Novel and was a finalist in the Women’s Fiction category, which might be an indication of who will enjoy this most, though a number of men have read it and given it a thumb’s up. I’ve been invited to a couple dozen women’s book groups where discussions around parenting, mean girls, cutting, and social media’s impact on teens (and adults) grew quite lively. The two women in the novel have very opposite parenting styles, and the teens in the story are at their mercy, so that raises a lot of conversation (some of it quite loud!). Finally, it’s fairly fast-paced and I’ve heard people say they stayed up all night reading the story! (Music to an author’s ears!).

REVIEW COMMENTS: “A little frightening in today’s world. A must read for mothers!” –Joyce Chaplin (Colleton County Memorial Library) June 28, 2016

“Feely’s novel reminds us of the heartbreaking fragility and mystery of the teenage mind…a finely crafted plot…and compulsively readable.” –Washington Independent Review of Books September 9, 2016

“I thought at first this story would mainly be about (Phoebe) being bullied, but there is so much more! Infidelity, work stress, the difficulties of raising children…and the struggle between being a good mother and a good wife. I flew through this book…each chapter ended with my curiosity being piqued and I lost a few hours of sleep!” –Kara the Redhead Book Blogger

“This novel is both thought provoking and frightening! It sucked me in and then left me with mind-numbing, stomach-turning feelings.” Kim Gay, Book Reviewer (remitted 5-star review to NetGalley) June 30, 2016.

AUTHOR PROFILE: For more about my writing see: hertafeely.com. Briefly: my work has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, and I received the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and a DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities artist fellowship.

The other part: I’m originally from Europe…born in Yugoslavia then moved to Germany at age three, and finally, to the US when I was seven and a half. It was a tough transition, and I was subjected to bullying (the old-fashioned kind before social media) for being German. I believe I unconsciously drew on this painful experience in writing Saving Phoebe Murrow.

Most of my short stories and memoir pieces seem to end up focusing on some issue that I feel passionate about, though it’s not something I’m aware of until the work is finished. One of my memoir pieces, “The Wall,” featured in two lit magazines, is about immigration, an issue very close to my heart. I’m very sympathetic to the refugee situation and feel terrible about the prejudice and discrimination that’s happening around the world.

In 2011, I co-edited a book titled Confessions: Fact or Fiction? that explores the very murky boundary between memoir and fiction through the stories of 22 writers.

I’m also the co-founder of Safe Kids Worldwide, started back in 1988. In addition to working on my next novel, Her Other Life, I own a small business (Chrysalis Editorial) that aims to help writers hone their work for publication and develop their writing skills.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I encourage writers to believe in their creative abilities. For that matter, I encourage all people everywhere to believe in their own creativity regardless of the subject, the problem, the issue they’re facing. We are highly creative beings. With Saving Phoebe Murrow, I hoped to stimulate conversation about social media and this thing called the Internet – everything from the problems inherent to social media to the limitations of the Internet. We now live in a world that’s more “connected” than ever, and yet in our attachment to electronic devices (cell phones, in particular) we are also becoming isolated and failing to connect with the people sitting beside us. This is something very new we are all grappling with and need to figure out, using our creative abilities. Finally, I thought it would be helpful to readers and book group discussions to provide some resources on cyberbullying, which I do in the back of the book along with a reader’s discussion guide.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Saving-Phoebe-Murrow-Herta-Feely/dp/0996439560/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=&dpID=512xNW6Tl-L&preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=detail.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Local bookstores carry the novel, but if it’s not in stock, you can always ask them to order it. (I encourage readers to frequent their local booksellers.)

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Upper Hand Press (The latter offers paperback only.) PRICE: $17 paperback; ebook price varies (between $8-$9.50); audiobook from Barnes & Noble is $14.99, but $26.80 on Amazon unless you have an audible membership, and then it’s free.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I love hearing from readers, so you can contact me through my website: hertafeely.com or email: herta@chrysaliseditorial.com. I have a personal Facebook account and an author page (Herta Feely)…happy for you to “friend” me or follow me. My twitter handle: @HertaFeely If you’re interested in finding out more about Chrysalis: chrysaliseditorial.com. And my blog: http://chrysaliseditorial.com/blog/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Transit

In Transit by [Gerard, Kathleen]

THE BOOK: In Transit.

THE AUTHOR: Kathleen Gerard

PUBLISHED: Hard cover, 2011; e-book 2012.

THE PUBLISHER: Five Star (Gale-Cengage-Thorndike Press); 2011; Untreed Reads; 2012; Trade paperback: Kathleen Gerard.

SUMMARY: Can a rookie cop survive the men who cross her path in the NYPD?

When a psychic in a shopping mall tells Rita Del Vecchio that she is “destined for greatness,” and she will “marry a man in uniform,” the restless, wet-behind-the-ears, 22 year-old decides to finally take control of her life. Rita sets out on a quest to become a New York City Police Officer. But can a spry, feisty, single woman thrive in the gritty world of New York’s Finest?

Leaving behind the suburbs of New Jersey and a job as an under-tipped waitress, Rita Del Vecchio hangs up her apron and ballet slippers for a bullet-proof vest. But will she wear it? And if she does, will it protect her on the mean streets of Manhattan? Can it also protect her from Cupid’s arrows if they should land amiss?

Rita is assigned to the New York City Transit Police Squad and gets more than she bargained for. Riding the Lexington Avenue Subway Line, Rita winds up meeting not one man in uniform, but many.  Whom will she love?

In Transit combines romance and suspense. This woman-in-jeopardy story delves into the ordinary lives of NYPD career cops and how their fates are determined by people who hold secrets as dark and as labyrinth-like as the New York City Subway System.

THE BACK STORY: At the time I wrote, In Transit, I was in the process of recovering from multiple surgeries that kept me housebound for a long time. A good friend of my mine from high school used to visit me regularly en route to her job working the midnight to 8 a.m. shift in the NYPD Transit Division. My friend had studied to become a teacher of early childhood education and when she couldn’t find work that would sufficiently pay her bills, she decided, on a lark, to take the NYC police exam. I always marveled at how her life switched gears so quickly and profoundly.

Every time she would stop in to visit me during my convalescence, it was hard for me to fathom that while I was confined to bed, in search of healing, she was prowling about the New York City Subway System all through the night. That’s when I started to germinate the seed of her life story inside my imagination. And voilá! A fictional story–a woman-in-jeopardy story–began to grow.

I was intrigued by my friend’s line of work. And I was even more in awe of her courage. However, whenever I tried to get her to talk about life in the NYPD, she was tight-lipped and downplayed the importance and perils of her job. She was more willing to share the laughs she’d had with coworkers and the pranks they’d pulled, rather than what it was really like to fight crime in the greatest city in the world.

Police work is often over-dramatized and glamorized in books, movies and on TV. The reality is that those who carry the badge, day-in and day-out, are just ordinary people who have passions, hopes, fears, flaws and insecurities like everyone else. That’s why personal dynamics and the psychology of those who wear the NYPD uniform became as intriguing to me as the details surrounding police work, and I wanted to explore those aspects creatively on the page. And while the most common adage in fiction writing is, Write what you know. In this case, In Transit was borne of the adage, Write what you don’t know about what you know. 

WHY THIS TITLE?:  The title of In Transit is both reference to the fact that the female protagonist of the novel works for the NYPD Transit Division and the protagonist is also “in transit” in terms of changes in her life.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  Readers (adult men and women) who like a fast-paced, suspenseful story will enjoy spending time with a diverse cast of characters, the dynamic flavor of a NYC setting and short chapters. The story combines romance with elements of mystery and suspense, while shining a powerful light into the lives of ordinary beat cops.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Rita Del Vecchio is a great, fresh character; vulnerable yet tough . . . IN TRANSIT is suspenseful and rings with authenticity. Ordinary citizens are usually unaware of the role of the transit police and seeing Rita work against the very real backdrop of New York City is a real treat.”  — Barbara D’Amato, Agatha, Anthony and Mystery Writers of America award-winning author of AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY  and DEATH OF A THOUSAND CUTS.

 

“The characters are as big as real life and the story realistic and dramatic . . . IN TRANSIT is a winner!” — Romance Reviews Today

“If you enjoy suspense and danger with romance and great characters, you will enjoy this book . . . It is quick paced and full of action, with an eye to realism and human emotions.”  — Seattle Post Intelligencer

  
“Gerard creates a female protagonist who is easy to root for. IN TRANSIT may revolve around cops, but it is centered around the workings of a woman’s heart.” —  The Examiner

 

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Kathleen Gerard is a writer whose work has been awarded and nominated for many literary prizes including Best New American Voices, The William Faulkner-William Wisdom Prize, The Mark Twain House Humor Prize, The Saturday Evening Post “Great American Fiction” Prize and Short Story America. Kathleen writes across genres. Her short prose and poetry have been widely published in magazines, journals and anthologies. Her essays have been broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR).  Several of Kathleen’s plays have been staged and performed regionally and off-Broadway. Kathleen writes for Shelf Awareness, a publication of the book industry. Kathleen is also the author of COLD COMFORT, a heartwarming story about the bonds of family, old flames, food and Thanksgiving. Kathleen’s “romantic comedy,”  THE THING IS, centers on a crafty therapy dog named Prozac that rescues a woman in grief.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: In Transit won The New York Book Festival – “Best Romantic Fiction” category

SAMPLE CHAPTER:  https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B009RR815S&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_KFDhBbH0V7GYH

WHERE TO BUY IN TRANSIT:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Transit-Kathleen-Gerard-ebook/dp/B009RR815S

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-transit-kathleen-gerard/1100224645?ean=9780692399538

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/in-transit/id570827954?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/in-transit-2

Untreed Reads Publishing: https://www.untreedreads.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7_48_697&products_id=648

PRICE:

Trade Paperback $14.95

ebook = 4.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

To learn more about IN TRANSIT, visit: http://www.intransit-thenovel.blogspot.com

To learn more about Kathleen Gerard, visit: http://www.kathleengerard.blogspot.com

Follow Kathleen Gerard on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kathleengerard

Like Kathleen Gerard on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathleengerard.writer

 

Two Thirds Water

Two Thirds WaterTHE BOOK: Two Thirds Water

PUBLISHED IN: 2018

THE AUTHOR: Rodger LeGrand.

THE PUBLISHER: Flutter Press.

SUMMARY: Two Thirds Water extends naturally from LeGrand’s previous collection, Seeds. Without water, a seed can’t grow. Transitions are often difficult. The growing in this collection is revealed through inverse relationships. These poems imagine the “Sea Without Water”, setting aside unfulfilled dreams in “Sleepwalking”, and the negation of self in “Spilled Moon”. Seeds is a collection about embarking upon transitions. This collection, Two Thirds Water, is about how we try to find our way while in transition.

Rodger LeGrandTHE BACK STORY: “Two Thirds Water was written to link with Seeds. I’m working toward building this sequence out into a triptych. It is difficult to say how long it took to write these poems. They were started last year when I was still living in Philadelphia before moving to Boston. I think about chapbooks as being quick glimpses of insight. Layering a sequence of chapbooks, from Seeds to Two Thirds Water, and the on to the third book in the sequence, is a lot of fun. It gives me room to play around with the chapbook genre. I hope that’s what you’ll find in these two collections. I want them to work as a models of the genre while connecting naturally to form a larger perspective on the themes in both collections.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title, Two Thirds Water, establishes a series of parallels—the planet and body are two thirds water, and water in various phases appears in two thirds of this collection.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? People might be interested in Two Thirds Water if they are interested in poetry that pays attention to itself. I think about poems as being made things.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “Poetry fans will sink happily into this exquisite new collection by Rodger LeGrand, where sleepwalking lovers wake alone, where desolate parrots pluck out their feathers, and where water continues to poison a community. But here too, snowflakes and memories in the lovely quiet hours have their own distinct shape, basic math demonstrates how—despite our presumed busy-ness—the universe goes on with or without us, and “moonlight spills through the blinds like milk.” Each word is deliciously chosen; each poem, a glorious triumph.”

~Robin Stratton, Editor-in-Chief, Boston Literary Magazine

“Many of the 16 poems in Rodger LeGrand’s latest collection, Two Thirds Water, are like sweet liquid disguising bitter medicine—until the aftertaste kicks in. As he picks his way along the narrow and treacherous boundary separating acceptance from surrender, LeGrand adds rich imagery and clever metaphor to that currently popular disclaimer, “It is what it is.” Put another way, his work grafts the Oriental philosophy that informs his world view onto the rock-bed American sensibility of his origins. For all its beauty, however, the world that LeGrand views is often unkind. In “Baby Elephant,” he begins with the practice of securing a chain around a baby elephant’s leg, there to remain even as the flesh grows around it. Like that elephant, he writes, human beings often grow up with ‘the sense of being trapped inside, chained to memories. That is how we live.’ Some of his one-liners go right to the bone. ‘One person always loves the other more. Love is not equal.’ ‘Age makes its move every day, in a race we’ve been losing from go.’ And, in ‘DIY’, he describes a man carving his own tombstone: ‘Hard work, but some things are better done yourself.’”

~Darrell Laurant, The Kudzu Kid, Inspiration Street, Snowflakes in a Blizzard

AUTHOR PROFILE: I teach writing at MIT, and I have started giving readings in the Boston area. When I’m not teaching or reading poetry I’m studying Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu. I started teaching Ving Tsun Kung Fu in Massachusetts this year. If anyone is interested in chatting about Kung Fu philosophy and the arts, please send me an email.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: There is another layer to these chapbooks which is not clearly stated in any of the poems at this point. I study and teach Ving Tsun (pronounced Wing Chun) Kung Fu. The forms—Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu, and Biu Jee—are physical, and in this context they also act as metaphorical guides for how I am thinking about layering this triptych. I used my interpretation of this sequence of open-hand forms as a way of planning for this trilogy of chapbooks. To be clear, these are not Kung Fu poems or poems about Kung Fu philosophy. Rather, in terms of modeling out the sequence of poems, I’m more focused on the structural progression of the forms and what they teach us than I am focused on writing about the content of the forms or interpretations of Kung Fu philosophy, at least so far.

The follow up to Two Thirds Water that will mirror Biu Jee, a recovery form that trains the hands to return to centerline whenever you find yourself in an unfavorable position. In the Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu system, we refer to Biu Jee as the standard compass so that our hands always return back to center, the way a compass always points north. Grandmaster Moy Yat was a painter and calligrapher, and I hope he would be happy to hear that I’m exploring ways to bring these two arts—one of the body and movement, the other of the body and language—together.

SAMPLE POEMS:

DIY

Takes the chisel

and mallet, kneels

in his overalls,

blade angled

to get the right line.

His future, an oval

slab of granite.

Swings

the mallet,

initials

chipped in.

Hard work,

but some things

are better done yourself.

 

In Line Waiting for Salvation

Chest to back for eternity.

An endless line on an endless

subway platform waiting for

Godot or to go next?

Shuffle-foot forward

every millennium

or so. Lines. Our straight line

across a curved world,

into a vacuum state of energy

spiked through the largest atom,

the universe, or the smallest atom? Lines.

A line of geese clunking across the morning.

Curved red line where her favorite dress

meets her thigh. Vein line beneath

wax paper skin. 29 Powder blue horizons

falling down the page. A line of thought, line

of sight. One line breaks

off, blends into white space

and dangles for a breath.

Then another?

Is that the answer? Continue putting

everything in line? One line,

then the next. Highway

lines painted over and painted again.

Soup kitchen lines, ladled up and marching

into battle. A line of thread dangling

from a shirt sleeve. The line from Freeport, IL

to Jupiter’s eternal tornado.

A line of poetry, a line of cold mud

shaken off a boot. Silence

between two people

after a lifetime together,

the way a fault line opens

and fills with rain.

Sedimentary Rock

Flint fragments, unwanted stones

kicked to the curb by half-flat,

fat speeding tires. What does history look like

from inside a clogged pipe? What would

the American present look like

if sifted through purifying carbon filters?

The Stone Age in this age, the Flint, Michigan age.

Stone tools, cutting tools, edged blades

for removing flesh from a carcass. Smacked

against steel, spark, excite, to ignite

the old factories long smothered with vines,

re-claimed by trees. To breathe

sooty exhaust again, to hear the shift-ending

whistle again. Time doesn’t roll backward,

sediment doesn’t roll uphill.

The media might have stopped

covering it, but if I were you,

I still wouldn’t drink that water.

Spilled Moon

Lights out and moonlight spills

through the blinds like milk,

a ladder of white-blue light

across the hardwood floor.

Where might it lead

if I were to climb

past the windowsill?

A soft-sand bed on at the edge

of the Sea of Tranquility?

To the moon’s dark side?

To tomorrow and the morning sun

that will rise, as it does, the same way

every morning? Or to a few years ago

when we were happy and excited

just to know the other existed?

One person always loves the other more.

Love is never equal. You’re in the next room

talking to someone on the phone.

I hear you say my name so softly

that it feels like I don’t actually exist.

 

Linekin Bay, Maine

—with Henry

Trees along the shoreline,

luminous, molten,

early morning

blown-glass reflections

on the water’s surface.

No wind, no people.

Greeted by a lone porpoise

that hardly makes a ripple

as its dorsal fin feels for sunlight.

Boaters have left for the season.

Lobster traps have been slugged

from the water. The season changes

as it always does, the way the sun rises

as it always does. A few half-sleeping

cormorants slap their wings

against the water’s surface,

a sounding drum keeping time.

Winter will be here soon.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Flutter Press.

PRICE: $6.75.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://www.rodgerlegrand.com

Weather Report, June 18

Image result for New York City transit police + photos + free

(Photo from 123RF.com)

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “SID,” BY ANITA FENG, “ART, SEX, POLITICS,” BY WILLIAM EATON AND “LABOR,” BY LISA DeSIRO, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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Writers rarely compete with one another, at least not overtly. That’s one of the things I like about us.

Wouldn’t it be nice if politics were conducted the same way, candidates striving to win  votes on the basis of their own merits, rather than taking out adds warning how awful it would be if their opponent was to win?

I suppose it’s true that we are involved in a contest, millions of books hoping to grab the attention of a finite number of readers. And sure, there are times when a struggling writer might look at a more successful one and mutter: “I don’t see what’s so special about what he/she is doing.”

But we generally don’t say that to the world, and most writers are — quite literally — an open book. If they’ve discovered some tricks of the trade, they will gladly share them. If they have the chance to call attention to someone else’s book, they’ll do it.

As an example, I cite one of this week’s Snowflakes in a Blizzard authors, Kathleen Gerard (“In Transit”). Her blog, Reading Between the Lines (kathleengerard.blogspot.com), offers a wide range of in-depth reviews, and that’s a real service. Given the glut of books currently on the market, an author’s main challenge is simply getting noticed. Blogs and Websites like Kathleen’s are a step in that direction.

The main character in “In Transit” is  a woman who becomes a New York City transit cop. Kathleen writes: “Police work is often over-dramatized and glamorized in books, movies and on TV. The reality is that those who carry the badge, day in and day out, are just ordinary people who have passions, hopes, fears and insecurities like everyone else. That’s why personal dynamics and the psychology of those who wear the NYPD uniform became as intriguing to me as the details surrounding police work, and I wanted to explore those creatively on the page.”

Herta Feely’s novel “Saving Phoebe Murrow” flips that dynamic and tells its story from the point of view of a victim.

In 2008, says Herta, “I read an article in the Washington Post style section about Megan Meier, a 13-year-old who was cyberbullied and then committed suicide. The boy she’d been flirting with on MySpace (Josh Evans) turned out to be a 47-year-old woman, the mother of a former friend of Megan’s.

“It was shocking to me that a mother (Lori Drew) was capable of such meanness, and I thought I might want to write a novel to understand how someone could do this. As a latecomer to social media, I was also intrigued by this method of communicating: how MySpace or Facebook or Twitter (and all the rest) could go from being a friendly venue to a vicious and destructive one, and how easily people can make nasty comments when not having to face the person they are aiming their darts at. The idea gestated in my conscious and subconscious mind for three years, but took only nine months to complete the first draft, then several more years before the final draft could be submitted to agents and publishers. Perhaps it should be noted that although Megan’s story ‘inspired’ my novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow is not ‘based’ on that event.”

Finally, we have the second Snowflakes offering from poet Rodger LeGrand, “Two Thirds Water.” His is poetry that is earnestly and eloquently trying to say something important — and succeeds.

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JUNE 17-23.

young desperate and depressed freelance worker or student woman working with computer laptop alone late at night in stress suffering internet bullying victim of social network Stock Photo - 33993073“SAVING PHOEBE MURROW,” BY HERTA FEELY

A cyber-bullying episode, which targets 13-year-old Phoebe Murrow, is at the heart of Saving Phoebe Murrow, told through the eyes of five characters, including Phoebe and her mother. Set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, the novel tells a story of the devastating impact social media can have on teen girls. Isabel, a DC lawyer, does everything she can to keep Phoebe from harm, but fails when the mysterious Shane appears on Facebook and flirts with her teenage daughter. Mother-daughter relationships, teen girls, self-harm, bullying, and modern society’s attachment to electronic devices are topics I explore. Thematically it’s about love and betrayal. Especially the latter.

“TWO THIRDS WATER,” BY RODGER LeGRAND.

Two Thirds Water extends naturally from LeGrand’s previous collection, Seeds. Without water, a seed can’t grow. Transitions are often difficult. The growing in this collection is revealed through inverse relationships. These poems imagine the “Sea Without Water”, setting aside unfulfilled dreams in “Sleepwalking”, and the negation of self in “Spilled Moon”. Seeds is a collection about embarking upon transitions. This collection, Two Thirds Water, is about how we try to find our way while in transition.

“IN TRANSIT,” BY KATHLEEN GERARD

When a psychic in a shopping mall tells Rita Del Vecchio that she is “destined for greatness,” and she will “marry a man in uniform,” the restless, wet-behind-the-ear 22-year-old decides to finally take control of her life. Rita sets out on a quest to become a New york City Police Officer. But can a spry, feisty, single woman thrive in the gritty world of New York’s finest?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sid

Sid by [Feng, Anita]THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “ART. SEX, POLITICS,” BY WILLIAM EATON AND “LABOR,” BY LISA DeSIRO, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.

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THE BOOK: Sid

PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR: Anita N. Feng.

THE EDITOR: Andy Francis.

THE PUBLISHER: Wisdom Publications.

SUMMARY: Sid weaves the traditional tale of Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be with the story of Sid, an everyman who finds himself waking up amid the reality of work and family life in the modern world. Returning to the standard tale with careful consideration of the relationships in Buddha’s life—to his wife, parents, and child—Feng’s narrative embodies the Mahayana perspective of living one’s enlightenment in the world. Beautifully told in poetic prose, Sid teaches that the key to the story of the Buddha’s life is that the story could be about any of us. Includes beautiful black and white illustrations, created especially for this book.

Anita FengTHE BACK STORY:  I think it grew organically, from a number of sources. As a Zen student and teacher I have always loved the Siddhartha story. I appreciated the fact that it was a story, based, no doubt, on a real human being. But still, a story. So why not bring it up to date? Just being alive in the world brought so many many Buddhas-to-be to my doorstep, I felt the time had come to write a Siddhartha story of my own. As a writer, I had been enjoying a collaborative exercise with artist, Linda Davidson, wherein we had been participating in a “conversation”. The rules that we decided upon for this dialog: Linda would send (via snail mail) an ink painting, and within two weeks I would send a poem as reply, then she would reply to that, and we continued this exchange for a couple of years, if I remember right. What evolved was a series of incidents/works of art/poems about a rabbit and a crow. These poems and drawings became the nucleus for my book, Sid.

WHY THIS TITLE?:  Sid just seemed like a natural translation of the name, Siddhartha! And as a name, it also sums up a great deal about the book, all in a single word.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  Did you read Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse? If you loved it half as much as I did, you might really appreciate Sid, which retells the story in a contemporary way, but also with a literary, poetic flavor. Also, for anyone tired of run-of-the-mill story structure, this will wake up your reader’s senses!

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Sid is a magical read, sweet, sad, beautiful. A haunting Zen imagining of the Buddha’s life and our own.”—James Ishmael Ford, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

“Maybe three times in my life I’ve wept at the sheer beauty of a book. This is one of those times. Sid is deep spiritual teaching clothed as a contemporary retelling of the story of the Buddha. There is heartbreak. There is humor. There is joy. There is aliveness and compassion. And there is love, great love. I bow to the ground in gratitude.”—Geri Larkin, author of Close to the Ground

“Feng tells us a story in luminous prose-poem paragraphs about an ordinary contemporary high school math teacher whose journey parallels the Buddha’s. Sid reminds me that I, too, ordinary as I am, have Buddha nature, and that my seeking is not in vain.”—Susan Moon, co-editor of The Hidden Lamp

“Anita Feng’s book is mythical in spirit and light in tone, making it accessible for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. Sid’s experience of enlightenment is a relevant one for an increasingly egocentric society; he does not become a famous teacher, but rather an individual who exudes curiosity and compassion for the world around him.”—Publishers Weekly

“Anita Feng’s Sid is a sensitive and imaginative meditation on awakening. The contemporary story of Sid, interwoven with the story of Siddhartha, evokes a vibrant

stillness in the midst of suffering that meditators come to know so well.”—Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Abbot at ZCLA Buddha Essence Temple, Great Dragon Mountain

AUTHOR PROFILE: Anita Feng, of Issaquah, WA, maintains a three-cornered career: ceramics, writing and Zen, all of which are focused on the question: what does equanimity look like? Major writing honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, an Illinois Arts Council grant and the Pablo Neruda Prize. In addition to her new novel, Sid, she has published two award-winning books of poetry, Internal Strategies, and Sadie & Mendel. Anita is a graduate of Brown University’s MFA program in Creative Writing.

In addition to her work as a writer, she has worked as a ceramic artist for 40 years. The first thirty years were devoted to making functional musical instruments out of clay; the last ten, she has specialized in silence—in creating figures of unconventional equanimity. Examples of both her ceramic and literary work can be found at http://www.golden-wind.com. Anita’s writing and sculpture are informed by over forty years of practicing Zen meditation. When she is not working with words or clay, she serves as the guiding teacher and Zen Master at the Blue Heron Zen Community in Seattle, Washington.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/sid/selections

LOCAL OUTLETS: https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/sid.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

PRICE: $16.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: fenganita@gmail.co

Art, Sex, Politics

Art, Sex, Politics by [Eaton, William]

Image result for william eaton + author + photosTHE BOOK: Art, Sex, Politics

PUBLISHED IN: 2017.

THE AUTHOR: William Eaton.

THE EDITOR: Walter Cummins, himself a short-story writer and long-time, esteemed teacher of literature and writing.

THE PUBLISHER: Serving House Books, an imprint dedicated to offering readers the work of distinguished essayists, poets, and fiction writers from around the world.

SUMMARY: A provocative new collection of essays in which William Eaton, the author of Surviving the Twenty-First Century, shares the pleasures of questions, tastes, reading, and more visual arts. “That we are animals, that is as sure as ever. How savagely we behave! And how affectionately rub up against one another. How, desperately, make love?”

The drawings, also by Eaton, were inspired by a practice of Cy Twombly’s: drawing in the dark, unable to see either what one is drawing or how one is drawing it. Twombly used this technique, in his youth, to get away from figurative drawing. In Art, Sex, Politics it becomes a way to allow the unconscious to have a say, to briefly escape from the super-ego, and to simplify.

THE BACK STORY: Art, Sex, Politics offers a selection from Eaton essays appearing in publications from Agni to Zeteo (The Journal of Interdisciplinary Writing). Selection was governed by the title’s themes and by a desire to offer readers a wide range of approaches to the essay form, pieces long and short, serious and satirical, and pieces that championed both savoring (close attention to life) and conversation.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The title touches on a fundamental feature of the American experience. For example, in recent decades secular champions of progressive politics and of new products have also been proponents and practitioners of traditionally taboo sexual practices and supporters of non-traditional approaches to art. We might say, offhandedly, that we used to have “blue movies”; now we have blue states.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Art, Sex, Politics is for people who love reading, art, and sex perhaps, but certainly new thoughts and unexpected connections! The Utne Reader once praised William as a “joyful skeptic,” and said the writer Nahid Rachlin: “What other writer could find a bond among Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana, Camus’ Oran, a Russian landlady, and LBJ?”

REVIEW COMMENT: “In this remarkable collection of essays. Eaton writes of topics as seemingly earthy, and diverse, as gun control, voting patterns, and real estate transactions. Yet these topics serve to deliver insights which carry the reader into a world of mindfulness. One of the pleasures of reading a book by Mr. Eaton is to witness the author peeling away the layers of his stories. His essay concerning “savoring,” for example, first touches on food habits, yet is in fact a call to live with intention; to savor life as one would savor a meal.

“One particularly lovely quote used to wrap up the author’s take on our species: ‘By the winds of capitalism and of less-human elements, we are swept along and through vast changes, driven here and there by forces much more powerful than any one of us and then all of us put together.’ Sounds heady? This lovely prose is followed up with a reflection concerning Dr. Seuss’s Lorax. And it makes perfect sense.” From Claire Stewart, author of As Long as We Both Shall Eat.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Readers of Surviving will know that—even more than a writer or artist or multilingual intellectual—Eaton has been a father. In the essay “On Savoring” he writes:

“My son Jonah and I have our best conversations when walking somewhere together, and thus one of my top priorities as a parent (and having greatly enjoyed conversations with Jonah!) is to make sure we take walks together. And thus I noticed, too, and savored in a certain way, a morning when I walked with Jonah to school, and we seemed in no way angry with one another, and yet said nothing, just walked together.”

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Midway between sex and politics we find the imperfect (increasingly imperfect?) art of friendship. This was a topic that greatly interested Plato who may well have suffered from what we now call “social anxiety disorder.” The essay “Friendship, Deception, Writing” proposes that in the end friendship is both Plato’s Lysis and our own ineluctable topic. While Plato insists on hiding many of his feelings about and experiences with friendship, he reveals while pursuing such things as seduction and power, we often get what we really need and most enjoy. I would define this what—this essence of friendship—as a kind of rubbing against other human beings, a rubbing and being rubbed by them. This analogy may seem more appropriate to sex or wrestling (and to the retirees who play paddleball every day at my YMCA), but certainly conversation, too, is a contact sport.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:

Drawing, Conversation, Life

Most artists, before they have begun to draw—in a studio, with a model—have made any number of decisions. What materials they are going to work with and on; the scale of the work; what sort of results they hope to achieve—a likeness? classically proportioned beauty? an evocative gesture? This outline allows us to speak of another, ideal drawing process in which decisions would not have been made. Perhaps the artist ends up doing nothing, or at least not making any marks, and this without shame. The artist’s hand and eye respond to the model, the moment, the lighting, her own emotions and emotions in the room, her technical capacities and limitations, political and economic circumstances surrounding the room, . . . All of which might paralyze or inspire the artist, but could, more likely, less extremely, result in art works that, however great or small, are of their time and place.

This outline allows us to speak of an ideal conversation which would begin, or not begin, amid similar aspirations. Two people—strangers or friends—find themselves intersecting, perhaps seated facing one another, sharing a meal, perhaps side by side in an elevator or walking out of an abs-butt-and-thighs class together. Of course often (always?) there are things we need to say to someone, anyone, to another human being. But in the particular ideal process I am sketching here, any such need is no more than faint. Above all there is this other person who is sharing space with us and who is, to at least some degree, open to hearing what we may say. “I” respond to “you” and you to me, and there is—like a boat blown by a wind across some surface of a vast sea—a conversation.

Might we then go on to speak of an ideal way to live—without planning, but with our eyes, ears, and hearts open, with our hands and our lips ready to respond to others, to our circumstances and feelings? We might.

Although, of course, the artist through drawing learns things, or his hands and eyes do. And if we talk with someone a second, third, fourth time, our minds are no longer unfilled. We come to these subsequent conversations laden, at times happily, with material that cannot be unchosen.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Art, Sex, Politics is available (print on demand) from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble

ALTERNATE TEXT: Now available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble: Art, Sex, Politics &/or Art, Sex, Politics.

PRICE: $12.99, or $9.99 for Kindle

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Readers are encouraged to e-mail any comments or reflections to the author at Eaton0824 AT gmail. He notes that writing and drawing are quite self-involved activities, but they are also one of the strange ways humans have come up with for reaching out toward other humans. Reaching out—and, at times, touching—is our most significant artistic, sexual, and political act.

Those interested in Eaton’s newest, emerging work (much of it now poetry) are urged to visit Montaigbakhtinian.com.

Labor

Labor by [DeSiro, Lisa ]THE BOOK: Labor

PUBLISHED IN: March 2018

THE AUTHOR: Lisa DeSiro

THE EDITOR: Michael McInnis

THE PUBLISHER: Nixes Mate

SUMMARY: This book is a collection of poems about work and life in contemporary urban communities, particularly the Greater Boston area.

THE BACK STORY:  This book developed from separate pieces written during the 25 years I’ve lived in Boston and Cambridge, MA. Some of the poems date from the 1990s and early 2000s; some were written during April 2013 in response to the Boston Marathon bombing; some are from September 2016 when I participated (for the second time) in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project (writing 30 poems in 30 days); some were written in response to the most recent presidential campaign and election. I had started gathering these various components together, not sure if the collection as a whole was “done” or ready for submitting to publishers. Then I was contacted by Michael McInnis, the editor/publisher of Nixes Mate. He’d read some of my poems online and asked if I had any manuscripts. When I sent him Labor, he accepted it (to my delight!) and he helped me fine-tune it prior to publication.

WHY THIS TITLE?  The title Labor had been suggested by a colleague for one of my other (not yet published) book manuscripts. I decided to use it instead for this book, because this collection contains a group of prose poems about odd jobs and a poem written on Labor Day; also these poems focus on people laboring through issues related to race, gender, and equality.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  The book is full of observations and commentaries on current events as well as everyday occurrences, showing the complexities of both. Anyone who’s worked mundane or temp jobs may relate to the “Odd Jobs” section. Readers who’ve lived in Boston or any other large city may especially appreciate the poems of place. And some readers might find it interesting that the book contains a variety of poetic forms: acrostics, free verse, prose poems, sonnets, rhyming quatrains, haiku, syllabics, a ghazal, a golden shovel, a triolet, and an elegy. For those who might be intimidated by poetry: my style tends to be straightforward, using accessible language.

REVIEW COMMENTS:  “I have to keep looking; try to see more, speak more, turn away less,” says Lisa DeSiro in her fine first book, Labor. And this is what her poems do: they keep their eyes peeled, their ears open, and their hearts receptive. (Boston street bustle comes vividly alive in many of these poems.) But receptivity demands a tolerance for paradox, and DeSiro’s poems—in disarmingly simple, idiomatic language—plumb the secrets of the world’s contradictions. “Go ahead, enjoy this day” begins a poem titled “9/11 Anniversary, Public Garden.” At home with the prose poem as well as the tightly rhymed lyric, DeSiro distills memorable music from the most colloquial moments — “We were all thumbs on our dumb phones” — and offers readers a vibrant panoply of sights and sounds, captured and conveyed in her impressively taut writing. — Steven Cramer, author of Clangings and Goodbye to the Orchard

SAMPLE: See Amazon page.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  http://www.masspoetry.org/newbookdesiro/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Grolier Poetry Bookshop, Cambridge, MA

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Direct from publisher (http://nixesmate.pub/labor-lisa-desiro/) or from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Labor-Lisa-DeSiro/dp/0999397133/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520115873&sr=1-1&keywords=nixes+mate+books)

PRICE: $9.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: thepoetpianist.com