Malak

Malak by [Sadre-Orafai, Jenny]THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “SWIMMING IN HONG KONG,” BY STEPHANIE HAN AND “AUTUMN COLORS,” BY DAWN LAJEUNESSE, 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: Malak.

PUBLISHED IN: 2017

THE AUTHOR: Jenny Sadre-Orafai.

THE EDITOR: Jennifer K. Sweeney and Michelle Tudor.

THE PUBLISHER: Platypus Press.

SUMMARY:  The book investigates what we inherit from our families and also what we pass down—specifically between women. It’s an exploration of who we are and how we come to accept this. The poems are infused with a lot of natural elements as well as the metaphysical and the spiritual.

Jenny Sadre-OrafaiTHE BACK STORY:  The collection took roughly four years to write and was written after my chapbook Avoid Disaster, which deals with superstitions and how they can infiltrate and dictate our lives if we let them. This interest in superstition combined with my grandmother’s death really led me to start thinking about her, spirituality, and the metaphysical. It was an organic process and quite the opposite of my first collection.

I wrote the poems “After the Hard Part Comes the Future” and “Karaj” first and then the other poems started falling into place. I realized that I had tapped into something significant and most importantly something that I was curious about. This led me to write the creative non-fiction essay “It Came From.” The essay was very deliberate—it was a sort of defense of magic and the supernatural. I felt a real need to document everything that I was experiencing that couldn’t be explained. I didn’t realize, though, that the essay would be a bridge from my grandmother to me.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Malak was my grandmother’s name and she is at the center of the collection, every word orbiting around her. I sent the collection out with other titles like After the Hard Comes the Future and It Came From, but Malak seemed simple while also intriguing.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I think the collection is unique in that it explores what is passed down from generation to generation but not in just physical traits. This can also include psychic gifts. The book also consists of poetry and prose. This is partially because I really admire collections where you can tell the writer/poet allowed it to be what it needed to be and sometimes that means including multiple genres (Kate Greenstreet’s Young Tambling was a huge influence). It was also my way of coming at the same subject matter in different languages (prose and poetry). My hope is that it is an exploration of what it means to be unable to explain phenomena while also still believing in them. Ultimately, I think Malak is my way of finding out who I am and what that means in a world that doesn’t necessarily want or accept me and I think that’s relatable for many, many people.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Malak is a work of intimate and intricate craft. — Sarala Estruch

“[A] dazzling and precious collection of personal poems, which reward the reader with deep-felt emotion. — Lyn Greenwood.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Some of my favorite conversations I have are with my good friend and poet Komal Mathew. We co-edit the literary journal Josephine Quarterly together and we have these terrific discussions about the work we receive. It’s such a gift to be able to be a part of the literary community in that way. I love celebrating other poets and artists and having the opportunity to give back.

I’m also grateful for the dialogue I have with my poetry workshop students. I learn something about poetry every semester and it’s such a wonderful thing to be a mentor to them. While I’m not necessarily writing poems, essays, or short stories in either of these situations, they’re so important to who I am as a writer.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: It’s very important to me to be who I am even if I am reminded constantly how this country or the world feels about me, an Iranian-Mexican-American woman. I really wanted to let people into what it is like to be me as much as I could. It’s also my hope that people come to the book open and willing to learn not only about other cultures but about those things we can’t explain (like clairvoyance and psychokinesis).

SAMPLES:

“Karaj” (from Malak) in Thrush Poetry Journal http://www.thrushpoetryjournal.com/may-2014-jenny-sadre-orafai.html

Three poems from Malak in The Collapsar https://thecollapsar.org/the-collapsar-archive/2016/09/21/three-poems-by-jenny-sadre-orafai

WHERE  TO BUY IT: Platypus Press: http://platypuspress.co.uk/malak

Amazon (Kindle Version Only): https://www.amazon.com/Malak-Jenny-Sadre-Orafai-ebook/dp/B0761TXY88 PRICE: $16.00.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: jennysadre-orafai.com or on Twitter (@jennys_o)

Swimming in Hong Kong

THE BOOK: Swimming in Hong Kong.

PUBLISHED IN: 2016.

THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Han.

THE EDITOR: The staff of Willow Springs Books out of Eastern Washington University.

THE PUBLISHER:  Willow Springs Books is a university press that is housed at Eastern Washington University.

Stephanie HanSUMMARYThe stories cross the borders and boundaries of Hong Kong, Korea, and the United States. This is an intimate look at those who dare to explore the geography of hope and love, struggle with dreams of longing and home, and wander in the myths of memory and desire. The stories explore the personal conflict that arises when we confront difference, the role of women in multiple cultural contexts, and the struggles of how we invent and remake ourselves, forever led by feelings of love, curiosity, and pathos.

THE BACK STORY: I wrote the first story of this collection in 1997 and while the majority of the stories were done by 2005, the last story of this collection was published in a journal in 2007. The vast majority of these stories were rejected from 100-150 times. I had to wait for the Internet to happen, for people to see polyculturalism in action, or at least through their screens.

WHY THIS TITLE?: It’s the name of the last story of the collection. It is set in a swimming pool in Hong Kong. But I like this title as I also think that it works as it defines an idea of chaos, mixing, and movement through an unexpected area or geographic region.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? People who are interested in lives around the globe, readers who enjoy work that presents the point of view of women protagonists would enjoy this. People who may be keen to understand some aspect of Asia and Asian American life are probably the ones who would be most compelled.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Swimming in Hong Kong is a fine debut. Han captures a host of young people caught in the complexities of global identity with easy authority; the result rings with authenticity and feeling.” — Gish Jen, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self.

“Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong features precise and subtle meditations on cross-cultural experiences, from Asian Americans in the Midwest and Asia to women negotiating male-dominated worlds. Han gracefully traverses a complicated terrain fraught with the politics of race, sex, class, gender, and culture. Readers will be grateful for having spent time with these quiet and insightful stories.”  Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer, Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

“In this poignant, bitter-sweet, sometimes playful, collection, Swimming In Hong Kong, the characters are in search of home, identity, love, respect. They are mostly from China, Korea, and other countries, with some connections to the U.S. Their interactions and intermingling are often full of confusion and misunderstanding as they deal with issues of history, culture, religion, family, displacement, identity. The reader is enlightened as the characters try to cope with complex issues in their lives. The settings are full of striking details. The tone and voice, are varied and engaging.” — Nahid Rachlin, Judge of the 2015 AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction.

“Lovely, searing emotions course through the stories in Swimming in Hong Kong as Stephanie Han beautifully explores the intersection of longing and ethnicity.  Her characters achingly search for connections across societal and racial barriers, struggling to discover love across stereotype, desire without fetish.” — Trey Ellis, Platitudes and Home Repairs.

“Our language when spoken is invisible.  When we write, our words are visible, our stories are visible.  Stephanie Han works this line between visibility and invisibility, between anonymity and naming for the Korean and Korean American characters in this collection with such subtle force that we find that boundaries and borders were moved when we were silently reading to ourselves. Han’s powerful narrative voice doesn’t tell you what it is you don’t know, especially if you’re the colonizer feeling at home.” — Shawn Wong, American Knees and Homebase.

Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong captures the struggle of living between cultures and between identities. Like the people in WG Sebald’s books, Stephanie’s characters live in exile and don’t quite know what to do with themselves. Filled with humor and heartbreak, these stories always feel true and smart.  Stephanie achieves an emotional honesty we rarely see in contemporary fiction.”– Jason Brooks Brown, author Driving the Heart  and Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  www.stephaniehan.com. 

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I want people to read this to be entertained and to feel. I would like my readers to think that love and connection can happen across time, culture, nation, and difference.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Han/e/B001K8YJ7G

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

PRICE: $19.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: www.stephaniehan.com;word@stephaniehan.com; stephaniehan@wordsteph twitter

Autumn Colors

Autumn Colors by [Lajeunesse, Dawn]

THE BOOK: Autumn Colors.

PUBLISHED IN: 2011

THE AUTHOR: Dawn LaJeunesse.

EDITORS: Terri Valentine and Mark Spencer.

THE PUBLISHER: Author House.

SUMMARY:  Kerry Waite is a 49-year-old freelance copywriter. Married 20 years to Charles, a research scientist, she’s reasonably content with her life, except for recurrent black periods, mostly in the autumn, when all she can focus on is how different her life would have been with Tom. Tom died in a car crash nearly thirty years ago that also claimed the life of her unborn baby and any chance for future children.

A letter from Tom’s sister informs her that Tom’s mother has died, and a memorial service is planned. Kerry has had no contact with Mrs. Crandall for many years, but the finality of the woman’s death opens old wounds and thrusts her into the past. Through the story’s transitions from present to past, she recalls her relationship with Tom as it struggled and grew into a deep love, only to lose him when they were about to be married. At Tom’s funeral, she watched the faded colors of the falling leaves, trying to focus on anything but the flower-draped casket about to be lowered into the ground.

Kerry chooses to go to the memorial alone, leaving behind a hurt and angry Charles. By the end of Mrs. Crandall’s memorial service, she is embarrassed by the intensity of her sobbing. She realizes her tears are not so much for Mrs. Crandall as they are her unwept tears for Tom. After the ceremony at the gravesite, where Tom also is buried, Kerry stays behind as the others drive off. It’s time to have closure with the past. She bids an emotional final goodbye to Tom.

Driving home to Vermont, Kerry senses a new lightness of spirit. For twenty years, her memories of Tom have blinded her to the fullness of her love for Charles. The image in her mind now is of Charles, not Tom. It is Charles who has been her love and support through good times and bad for 20 years, Charles who wasn’t threatened by her need to be independent, even when she was sometimes distant.

But the house is eerily quiet when she arrives home. A note from Charles tells her he’s gone to visit his friend Andy in NYC and to rethink their relationship. He’s tired of being cut out of her life. When Kerry calls Andy’s apartment, Charles refuses to talk to her. Has she repeated the same pattern of aloofness with her husband that had marred her relationship with Tom for so long? Will she now lose Charles at the moment when she finally recognizes the depth of her love for him?

During several days with more tears than she knew she had in her, Kerry relives her years with Charles with growing understanding of how she hurt him by her distance. Determined to make up for lost time, she drives to NYC to beg Charles to forgive her. When he finally agrees to see her, he says he loves her, but won’t continue to compete with a dead man.

She tells him about her realization after the memorial service, pleading with him to give her a chance to show him how much love has been locked away inside her.

Warily, he agrees to go home with her and they begin to heal. The story ends a year later, reflecting the companionable relationship they’ve always had, with the added depth of mutual love.

THE BACK STORY: New writers are told to “write what you know.” Autumn Colors is a fictionalized version of a personal struggle with letting go of a lost love and learning to cherish, unequivocally, the man I married.

WHY THIS TITLE: The memories drawn from to form the story took place in autumn.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Nearly everyone has one or more losses that impacted their lives in a powerful way. It’s the kind of novel that lets the reader immerse herself (or himself) in the emotions attached to those losses. As one reviewer said: “This talented author knows how to evoke emotion, so much so that delving into her work hurts….Autumn Colors is an enlightening, though often aching, reflection on young love brought to a catastrophic end and a poignant description of spiritual healing. Expect more from this gifted writer.”

REVIEWS: Rated Four Stars (out of Five), Julia Ann Carpenter, ForeWord Clarion Review.

OTHER REVIEW COMMENTS:

…The author does an excellent job of steering us through the emotional highs and lows of Kerry’s life and leaves us grateful she finally realizes happiness was in front of her nose all the time… Rated: Four Hearts (out of Five). — Bob Spear, Publisher & Chief Reviewer Heartland Review.

“Autumn Colors is competently written and … scenes and characters both ring true and have the vitality of invention. It will be interesting to see what the author does next. Rated: “Very Good!” —Bookreviews.com

“AUTUMN COLORS is a marvelous time machine of a novel that moves elegantly back and forth from one decade to another, vividly evoking past and present – people and places – reminding us ultimately that although the past is always with us, it doesn’t have to rule us.” —Mark Spencer, author of LOVE AND RERUNS IN ADAMS COUNTY and THE WEARY MOTEL

“Dawn Lajeunesse’s first novel AUTUMN COLORS is a tender, engaging read that surely will hold the heart of anyone who has lost someone to death who they intimately love. This story of letting go to love again makes this novel one of those that you just won’t want to put down.”  —-Gloria Waldron Hukle, author of MANHATTAN: SEEDS OF THE BIG APPLE, THE DIARY OF A NORTHERN MOON and THREADS – AN AMERICAN TAPESTRY.

” . . well-written story that will touch the emotions of the reader.” — Terri Valentine, author of STORM DANCER

“Dawn Lajeunesse is a fine writer whose characters capture the reader’s interest right from the start of the novel.” — Daniel Hayes, author of THE TROUBLE WITH LEMONS and MY KIND OF CRAZY; awarded two ALA Best Books for Young Adults commendations.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Dawn Lajeunesse grew up in Troy, NY, the daughter of an Armenian “meat and grocery” man and a stay-at-home mom. She went to public schools and hoped to turn her love of English into a writing career. But her guidance counselor and parents pushed her in what they thought was a more practical direction, nursing or teaching. She chose nursing, since she liked biology.

“I never made it through surgery without passing out,” she says. “Great career planning, huh?”

After years in the health care field, she finally pursued her writing passion. She published her first novel, Autumn Colors, followed a few years later by In Her Mother’s Shoes and in 2016 released Star Catching. “I enjoy creating stories from ordinary lives, about relationships, families, friendships and other life connections.” Her new novel, The Eyes Have It (currently in search of a publisher) is a young adult, coming-of-age romantic fiction—a twenty-first century Romeo and Juliet meets Splendor in the Grass. Her senior year of high school, Liv finds love for the first time. Then a terrorist attack strikes at the heart of America and at the heart of her romance.

Married to Dennis for over half her lifetime, she feels fortunate to have found a man who is a great friend and playmate, in addition to the usual husbandly roles. He also cooks and does the grocery shopping! They lead active lives, frequenting the gym, biking, running, canoeing and cross-country skiing. She is an avid animal lover, and says, “I doubt I’ll ever write a novel that doesn’t include them.”

The Eyes Have It features a sweet Border Terrier based on my Border Terrier, Nala. Currently, she adds, “I lavish love and attention and loads of energy on my Russell Terrier, Dubby, who likely will appear in a future story.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: See the Amazon page.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Available on Amazon and B&N as paperback, or for Kindle and Nook; also can be ordered through any bookstore if not in stock.

PRICE: Dependent upon source and format.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://www.dawnlajeunesse.com or mtn

 

Weather Report, Oct. 15

dried maple leaves

(Photo by Greg Shield)

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “PETER’S MOONLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY AND OTHER STORIES,” BY DINA RABADI, “HISTORY OF GONE,” BY LYNN SCHMEIDLER AND “GET BACK,” BY DON TASSONE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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We dream of love in spring, pursue it in summer, and celebrate it in winter. Fall usually gets lost along the way.

For Dawn Lajeunesse, however, the year’s third season provided the perfect backdrop for her first of three published novels, “Autumn Leaves.” Something about the tumbling leaves and shrinking daylight reminds us of our mortality, and sometimes — as in the case of Dawn’s main character — prompts sober speculation on how our lives could have turned out differently.

“New writers are told to ‘write what you know,'” Dawn says. “Autumn Colors is a fictionalized version of a personal struggle with letting go of a lost love and learning to cherish, unequivocally, the man I married.

“The memories drawn from to form the story took place in autumn.”

This week’s two other featured books, Stephanie Han’s “Swimming in Hong Kong” and Sadre-Orofai’s”Malak,” also have their roots in personal history and reflection.

The stories cross the borders and boundaries of Hong Kong, Korea, and the United States,” writes Stephanie. “This is an intimate look at those who dare to explore the geography of hope and love, struggle with dreams of longing and home, and wander in the myths of memory and desire. The stories explore the personal conflict that arises when we confront difference, the role of women in multiple cultural contexts, and the struggles of how we invent and remake ourselves, forever led by feelings of love, curiosity, and pathos.”

Adds Jenny: “It’s very important to me to be who I am even if I am reminded constantly how this country or the world feels about me, an Iranian-Mexican-American woman. I really wanted to let people into what it is like to be me as much as I could. It’s also my hope that people come to the book open and willing to learn not only about other cultures but about those things we can’t explain (like clairvoyance and psychokinesis).”

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN  BLIZZARD, OCTOBER 16-22.

“MALAK,” BY JENNY SADRE-OROFAI.”

More from Jenny on her collection of mixed verse and prose: “I think the collection is unique in that it explores what is passed down from generation to generation but not in just physical traits. This can also include psychic gifts. The book also consists of poetry and prose. This is partially because I really admire collections where you can tell the writer/poet allowed it to be what it needed to be and sometimes that means including multiple genres.”

“SWIMMING IN HONG KONG,” BY STEPHANIE HAN.

Notes Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose first novel won a Pulitzer Prize: “Stephanie Han’s Swimming in Hong Kong features precise and subtle meditations on cross-cultural experiences, from Asian Americans in the Midwest and Asia to women negotiating male-dominated worlds. Han gracefully traverses a complicated terrain fraught with the politics of race, sex, class, gender, and culture. Readers will be grateful for having spent time with these quiet and insightful stories.”

AUTUMN COLORS,” BY DAWN LAJEUNESSE.

Nearly everyone has one or more losses that impacted their lives in a powerful way. It’s the kind of novel that lets the reader immerse herself (or himself) in the emotions attached to those losses. As one reviewer said: “This talented author knows how to evoke emotion, so much so that delving into her work hurts….Autumn Colors is an enlightening, though often aching, reflection on young love brought to a catastrophic end and a poignant description of spiritual healing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History of Gone

THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “PETER’S MOONLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY AND OTHER STORIES,” BY DINA RABADI AND “GET BACK,” BY DON TASSONE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.

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THE BOOK: History of Gone

PUBLISHED IN: 2018.

THE AUTHOR:  Lynn Schmeidler.

THE EDITOR: Laura Cesarco Eglin.

THE PUBLISHER: Veliz Books, an independent literary press run by book-lovers.

SUMMARYHistory of Gone is a collection of poems inspired by the life and unsolved disappearance of Barbara Newhall Follett, a once-famous child prodigy writer of the early 20th century. By the age of 14, BNF had published two books to glowing reviews and H.L. Mencken was congratulating her parents for raising her. She was expected to be the Next Great American Writer. Instead, her father left; she and her mother set sail on an open-ended sea voyage; The Great Depression hit, and she found work as a secretary; she met a fellow free spirit, travelled to Europe with him for a few months and returned to marry him. Then, one December night in 1939, after arguing with her husband, Barbara left the house with a notebook and $30. She was never seen nor heard from again. She was 25.

Image result for Lynn Schmeidler + author + photographsIn the book, the poems appear in different sections: the SHEs where I write about Barbara Newhall Follett, the I’s where I write as Barbara, the ADDRESSES where I write to Barbara. There are also the LISTS, an  imagined interview with Barbara and finally, an erasure.

THE BACK STORY: I first heard about Barbara Newhall Follett from an article written in a literary magazine. I was immediately taken with her story— the early promise, the mysterious disappearance, and I soon found I couldn’t get her out of my mind. How could this woman who’d once been so famous be so utterly forgotten? Soon I became obsessed not only with her life, but with the themes it illuminated: creativity, femininity, autonomy, erasure.  I wrote the poems over a couple of years, both hearing Barbara’s voice in my ear and seeing my own world through her eyes, so throughout that time, she was both my muse and my mirror.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I came close to naming the collection Clean Sneak, which is a jazz-age slang term for a disappearance without any clues left behind. In the end, though, I wanted a title that spoke to the larger concerns of the book.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The book is full of the joy and play of language. If you like poetry and are interested in history, feminism, art, biography, mystery and love you’ll enjoy it.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“In these smart and haunting poems, rich with human vulnerability and wit, Lynn Schmeidler playfully explores the nature of genius, love, and celebrity against the backdrop of a mysterious disappearance…These poems weave, reverse and reveal longings for reinvention we didn’t even know we had.”

—Kim Garcia, author of DRONE and The Brighter House

“A daring conceptual feat of reanimated biography… replaying the “stolen reel” of a forgotten life…. A cautionary tale of the erasures of domesticity, a vocational fable, an inside-out bildungsroman, this book envisions the prismatic possibilities when the self makes a “clean sneak,” and the result is nothing short of levitation.”

—BK Fischer, author of Radioapocrypha

“Schmeidler understands the slippery masks of the intellect and imagination… This book, made up of distinctive and perceptive lyrics, surreal list poems, evasively truthful Q&As, and found poems, ends in memoriam with an erasure. Open the book and you will always find her.”

—Amy Holman, author of Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window and Wait for Me, I’m Gone

AUTHOR PROFILE: I write fiction as well as poetry and my work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize as well as Best of the Net and has been shortlisted in Best American Short Stories. My poems and stories can be found in various magazines including The Awl, Barrow Street, Boston Review, Conjunctions, Hobart, The Georgia Review and The Southern Review. My first poetry chapbook, which won the 2013 Grayson Books Chapbook Competition, is a collection of poems each about a different rare neurological disorder. http://graysonbooks.com/curiouser–curiouser.html My second poetry chapbook collects poems about the three romantic L’s: Lust, Longing and (unrequited) Love. http://graysonbooks.com/wrack-lines.html I’ve written stories about a variety of unusual characters: a Stevie Nicks impersonator, an art forger, a con artist, and a woman born with the unformed body of her identical twin inside her. Tell me something strange and likely it will make its way, somehow, into my work.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I enjoy connecting readers to the sides of themselves that may otherwise go unseen or unrecognized. Poetry has a way of saying what otherwise feels too tricky to get at.

SAMPLE POEM:

The Opposite of Substance is What I Am a Woman Of

You know me.

I’m the one sitting at the small round table outside in winter.

If a tree falls in Paraguay I feel it.

I understand crazy

on its back in the open field eyes closed arms splayed

waiting for transport

LOCAL OUTLETS: Your local bookstore can contact Veliz Books who will be happy to help them stock it.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

Small Press Distribution https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9780996913478/history-of-gone.aspx

Veliz Books https://squareup.com/store/veliz-books/item/history-of-gone-by-lynn-schmeidler

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/History-Gone-Lynn-Schmeidler/dp/0996913475

PRICE: $16

CONTACT THE AUTHORhttp://lynnschmeidler.com/contact/

Peter’s Moonlight Photography

Peter's Moonlight Photography and Other Stories by [Rabadi, Dina]THE BOOK: Peter’s Moonlight Photography and Other Stories.

PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR: Dina Rabadi.

THE EDITOR: Eric Christensen

COVER DESIGN: Kady Dennell

COVER PHOTOGRAPH AND AUTHOR PHOTOGRAPH: Victoria Shapow.

THE PUBLISHER: Dina Rabadi .

SUMMARY: Influenced by the Czech artist Mucha’s series on women and seasons, the title story of Dina Rabadi’s debut fiction collection follows an aging moonlight photographer’s quest for success and his models’ (all ordinary women) quest for a sense of beauty. Like the women in Mucha’s series, each of the women represents a season—summer, fall, winter and spring and in representing seasons represents Everywoman. Other stories range in theme and setting from the questionable success of the building of the atomic bomb to a motherless Spanish boy who becomes a perfume maker in the south of France.

THE BACK STORY: No matter how many times people ask me, “Why did you decide to write this book?” I am filled with awe. I am filled with awe at the creative process, the spiritual world and the way art is given birth. I have been writing since I was a little girl and have felt such little control over deciding what to write, just that I had to. The stories wanted to come out. The stories are told to me and they want to be shared with the world. Having said that, there are other factors that I refer to as, “influences.” The stories in this collection have all been partially experienced in some way or partially, deliberately imagined. My father died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 21– just a couple months after I graduated from Smith College. I was devastated and struggling with the meaning of life. I suppose the timeline is that these issues come up mid-life, mine came up that summer at 21.

An opportunity also came up to help start a sort of “Atlantic Monthly” on DVD in Los Angeles. I took it. My college friend and I drove cross country and I settled in Santa Monica. While working for the start-up, which was then called Short Cinema Journal, I became friends with an incredibly talented photographer named Steve Nelson. He shared some of his moonlight photographs with me and I was stunned at their beauty and his vision. Steve’s moonlight photographs and his stories behind capturing these shots inspired the title story, “Peter’s Moonlight Photography.” Steve Nelson, the actual photographer, is very different than the character I created in the fictionalized piece. I don’t want to get into too many details because that would spoil the story for new readers! Steve’s work can be seen via the G. Ray Hawkins Gallery among other places.

After a couple of years in Los Angeles, I decided that I wanted to get to know my Czech grandmother while I still had the chance. At that point, she was the only living grandparent I had. My other grandparents had passed before I had the chance to know them.

My parents had met and married in Prague and we left what was then communist Czechoslovakia when I was a child. It was expensive and complicated to visit Prague regularly and I was always saddened that I never really got to know grandparents on either side. I very much value history and heritage.

My father’s passing shifted my priorities and I decided to move to Prague for a while. So at 25, I did.

What an incredible year that was. I spent my time learning Czech, studying the history of the Czech Republic, and physically exploring the city and country.

One of my excursions was visiting the Mucha Museum in Prague. I was taken with the work of the world-acclaimed Czech art nouveau artist, Alphonse Mucha. Mucha lept to fame in 1895 with his poster, “Gismonda” created for the famous actress, Sarah Bernhardt . He created a series of decorative panels—one of these series, titled, “The Seasons” influenced my short story, “Peter’s Moonlight Photography.” Mucha personified each of the seasons with a woman—a woman who seemed magical, spiritual, sensual and powerful all at the same time. More about Mucha can be found here at http://www.mucha.cz or at the Mucha Foundation http://www.muchafoundation.org.

When I returned from Prague, I began to write the title story.

WHY THIS TITLE?: My short story collection is not linked. I know a book marketer would probably be frustrated with me for that but I wanted to showcase a range of stories and settings. I chose the title because, “Peter’s Moonlight Photography” set the tone for the high artistic standard I was shooting for. Only my readers can tell me if it worked 😊

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My work tends to explore larger life questions that I am in the process of figuring out. I would love to have my readers join me in figuring these things out together! Between work and bills and social visits and dentist appointments, we have such limited time to reflect on these larger questions—questions about loneliness, grief, obsession and reconciliation. I hope my stories give my readers a chance to do that.

I also respect and admire nature. My writing and my thinking are heavily influenced by nature—I hope that comes through and allows my readers to see that nature isn’t just about a potted plant or a walk in the woods—but its cycles, its creation, its brilliance, its healing power.

Finally, I try to be very pure about my work—I was told by agents going into this, that they loved my writing but short stories — and especially a short story collection that is not linked — won’t sell. I don’t care. I have always kept a day job so I can control what I write—so I can write what I feel compelled to express and what I feel needs to be written to possibly help another human being. We are all doing this earthly experience together and if something I write helps another person make a better decision or see a new perspective…. that’s what’s important to me.

It is difficult to answer what makes my book unique when my soul is in it. I am too blinded by that. This is my first book out so I am not sure about niche audiences yet. What I do value is making literature accessible to anyone who wants to learn and grow. I know a lot of people are not sure what to read next or they want to read “literary” books but are not sure where to start or how to analyze them. I don’t want people to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by literature. This may also be my teaching degree coming out!

REVIEW COMMENTS:

Editorial Reviews

“… wit, charm, feeling, depth”– David Evanier, Author, The One-Star Jew and former fiction editor, The Paris Review.

“These are stories Harold Ross would have chosen for the New Yorker because they are so intelligent and literate, but stories about an America he could have never envisioned. Dina Rabadi offers an honest voice about the country that evolved. They are haunting, lonely and so true.”– Vincent J. Schodolski, author and previous West Coast Bureau Chief, The Chicago Tribune

“Dina Rabadi guides us through the labyrinthine complexities of human relationships, embedded as they are in the world of nature.”–Abel Alves, Professor of History and author of The Animals in Spain

AUTHOR PROFILE: Dina Rabadi was born in Ajloun, Jordan in 1974 to a Jordanian father and a Czech mother. Dina and her family immigrated to the United States in 1978. A graduate of Smith College, she has been published in over twenty periodicals including The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and Fiction. Rabadi is the recipient of grants and awards from the Illinois Arts Council, the Vogelstein Foundation and a writing residency from the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Oregon.

Dina believes that artists have the potential to solve social problems in creative and innovative ways. Strongly influenced by the work of Vaclav Havel, playwright and former president of the Czech Republic, Dina founded the Global Alliance of Artists when she was 32. More about her vision for Global Alliance of Artists can be found in this interview: http://www.chicagoartistsresource.org/artist-stories/dina-rabadi.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Keep reading, read widely. There are so many adventures to be had in books. So much wisdom on those paper pages. Be curious, ask questions, and then go out and find a book, a story, a poem that tries to answer it.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Please feel free to visit my Amazon page for a sample of my book.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Smashwords or you may email me directly for an autographed copy mailed to you.

PRICE: $5.20 paperback via Amazon. $8.99 via Kindle. Please email me if you would like an autographed copy mailed to your home $12.99 (shipping fees are included.)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Rabadid@gmail.com http://www.DinaRabadi.com (may or may not be done by time of publication. If not, please come visit soon!)

https://www.facebook.com/dinarabadibooks/

https://www.facebook.com/GlobalAllianceArtists/

Get Back

Get Back: Twelve Short Stories by [Tassone, Don]THE BOOK: Get Back

PUBLISHED IN: March 2017

THE AUTHOR: Don Tassone

THE EDITOR: Betsy Delmonico

THE PUBLISHER: Golden Antelope Press.

Don TassoneSUMMARY: In a busy world, we can lose touch with who we really are and where we belong. This is a collection of 12 stories about people who, through time and circumstances, have become separated from their true selves — and, in one way or another, get back.

THE BACK STORY: After a long career in the corporate world, I decided to pursue cre-ative writing. In college, I majored in English. But three decades of business writing had nearly killed my creativity, so I went away to a week-long writing workshop to learn to write creatively again. I had to start over. After the workshop, I began writing short stories and getting them published.

Get Back is a collection of 12 of these stories. It was my first book. Writing these sto-ries was the result of my own journey back to one of my original interests.

WHY THIS TITLE: Paul McCartney wrote: “Get back to where you once belonged.” I drew from this.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: I hope this book will not only entertain but serve as an invitation to rediscover your original interests, to find your way back. No matter where you are, it is not too late, and it will light you up.

REVIEW COMMENTS

“Don Tassone’s stories, like so much of what we love to read, are about the boy next door, growing up and finding a way in the world — a way that often involves finding a way back to one’s first loves and dreams. Take a break from the over-serious world we live in and spend time remembering the way it was, the way it sometimes can be again. Though loss and sadness are here, this is ultimately a joyful, hopeful book.”

— Murray Bodo

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories in Get Back by Don Tassone. The collection explores themes of solitude, loss, and (re)connection and of holding on in stories that offer strong dialogue, character development, and description, as well as writing that is a pleasure to read.”

— Joanna Marshall

AUTHOR PROFILE: Don Tassone is the author of two short story collections, Get Back and Small Bites, and a novel, Drive. He also teaches at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He and his wife Liz live in Loveland, Ohio. They have four children.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write to make people think and feel more deeply. I hope the stories in Get Back do that.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Get-Back-Twelve-Short-Sto-ries/dp/1936135280

LOCAL OUTLETS: Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

PRICE: $14.95.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: My email is dptassone@gmail.com, and my personal web-site is dontassone.com.